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June 2009

June 29, 2009

Gundlach-Bundschu 2007 Estate Vineyard Tempranillo Rosé

2007 Estate Vineyard Tempranillo Rosé

Sonoma Valley, California

Gundlach-Bundschu is one of the oldest wineries in California, not to mention one of the most tongue-twisting names in the wine biz. Its founders were husband and wife Charles Bundschu and Francisca Gundlach; Francisca being the daughter of the German immigrant who originally planted the vineyards in 1859. Today, the winery is run by the sixth generation of Bundschu family vintners, who produce an assortment of varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Tempranillo. Their 2007 Tempranillo Rosé is a medium-weight summer pink wine that is refreshing enough to take the edge off even the hottest days of the season. Its aromas comprise oranges and strawberries with a touch of rose petal and other floral notes. On the tongue, the Rosé shows hints of sweetness, but offers a clean, dry mineral finish. It is the sort of wine that tastes best when chilled and sipped outdoors. Pair with a picnic of Spanish tapas, or serve it with other classic Mediterranean flavors such as olives, provençal stews or seafood tossed with garlic, olive oil and fettuccini.

Rating: 13/20

Other Rosés we have tasted
Check out our guide to Sonoma County
For more information, visit

June 22, 2009

J. Lohr 2005 Cuvee St. E

J. Lohr
2005 Cuvée St. E

Paso Robles, California

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is one of California’s recognizable brands, but what most fans do not know is that the winery—founded in the early 1970s—is the vision of just one man, Jerry Lohr. Considered a pioneer in the Central Coast, Lohr was instrumental in putting Monterey’s Arroyo Seco appellation on the world’s wine map. In 1988, the winery expanded into the Paso Robles region, where it concentrates on Cabernet Sauvignon and other warmer-climate varietals. If there were one word to describe their 2005 Cuvée St. E, it would be “restrained.” This wine, created from Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, shows surprising moderation for a mid-priced California/Bordeaux blend, particularly one from Paso Robles. The wine, exhibiting tart cherry aromas with toasted oak and espresso hints, lacks a little power up front on the palate. However, it comes on stronger toward the mid and back of the tongue, with subtly sweet bright cherry fruit flavors and an underlying gamey quality. Pair with roast squab, a rare venison steak or your favorite cut of beef. For non-carnivorous types, enjoy this red with aged, hard cheeses like Dutch Gouda or fine cheddar.

Rating: 13.5/20

Other Red Blends we have tasted
Check out our guide to Paso Robles
For more information, visit

June 15, 2009

Seven Hills 2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot

Seven Hills
2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot

Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Having founded Seven Hills Winery in 1988, owners Casey and Vicky McClellan were among the first vintners to develop Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. As a result, the pioneering couple found themselves in the enviable position of being regional trendsetters. Their “firsts” included planting Walla Walla’s first Tempranillo grapes and bottling its first Malbec. The McClellan’s winery was also among the original estates in the appellation to produce multiple single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, the two most popular varietals in the area. Their 2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot is one such single-vineyard wine, offering ripe blueberry and brambly aromas with a hint of aged cheese. The mouth is attractively full with bright berry flavors and an underlying earthiness. This limited-production red wine is made from some of the region’s oldest vines, a characteristic very much in evidence in the wine’s depth. This Merlot would pair well with a sophisticated dinner of roast duck in berry sauce or with a more casual summertime barbecue.

Rating: 13.5/20

Other Merlots we have tasted
Check out our guide to Washington
For more information, visit

June 8, 2009

Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Joseph Phelps Vineyards
2007 Sauvignon Blanc

St. Helena, California

Joseph Phelps may be considered among Napa Valley’s elite, but in truth, the man behind one of America’s most respected wineries is a farmer, plain and simple. Founding his namesake company in 1972, Phelps has spent more than three decades studying the appellation’s topography, which defines his winery’s terroir-driven program. As a result, Phelps represents the very best of California’s winegrowing regions: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Freestone, Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville and Rutherford, and Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena. The lush, handcrafted 2007 Sauvignon Blanc—first barrel-fermented before being aged in a combination of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks—is one of the Golden State’s more full-bodied expressions, with an oak toastiness evident on both the nose and finish. Flavors include grapefruit and lime with underlying caramel and vanilla (both characteristics imparted by the oak treatment). This well-crafted and complex wine, although made in a slightly old-fashioned style, displays a weight and creamy finish that make it more versatile than your average Sauvignon Blanc. Pair the wine to fresh, spring asparagus and a goat cheese salad with citrus vinaigrette, or a brunch of smoked salmon omelets, crispy potatoes and sliced heirloom tomato.

Rating: 14.5/20

Other Sauvignon Blancs we have tasted
Check out our guide to Napa Valley
For more information, visit

June 1, 2009

Martin & Weyrich 2004 Nebbiolo

Martin & Weyrich
2004 Nebbiolo

Paso Robles, California

This highly regarded boutique winery was founded by the Martin and Weyrich families in 1981, and is currently operated by David and Mary (Martin) Weyrich and their eight children. The families began by investing in the Paso Robles appellation because they believed that the region’s soil and climate would be ideal for creating world class Nebbiolo, the noble grape of Italy’s Piedmont region. Today the Weyrichs produce Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, with an emphasis on the Italian varietals, such as an acclaimed Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Primativo (Zinfandel), Sangiovese, and of course, Nebbiolo, the wine that started it all. Their 2004 Nebbiolo offers bright cherry and cocoa aromas with a hint of cinnamon on the nose. On the palate, tart cherry and cranberry shine through, with a dusty, truffle note towards the back. The wine finishes a little short but offers a fresh acidic character that makes it a fine pairing with spicy pasta arrabiata, wild game ravioli, or a simple plate of smoked sausages and aged cheese. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser at a desirable price.

Rating: 14/20

Other Reds we have tasted
Check out our guide to Paso Robles
For more information, visit



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