March 30, 2009
Clos Pepe Estate
2006 Pinot Noir
Sta. Rita Hills, California
Located in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, Clos Pepe is in the perfect position to produce Burgundian-style wines, both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Yet, at its core, this family-run winery focuses on wine growing, cultivating grapes not only for themselves but also for other well-known wineries including Ken Brown, Loring Wine Company and The Ojai Vineyard. Aromas from the Pepe’s 2006 Pinot Noir—the winery’s flagship bottling—are fruit-driven with cranberry and cherry lollipop notes. On the palate, the Pinot is bright and tangy with tart cranberry, blackberry, currant and a touch of spice. It has great weight on the mid-palate for such a light and youthful wine, and its lingering finish hints at caramel and espresso. A slight medicinal quality may be this Pinot Noir’s only flavor flaw. Try a pairing with duck breast or roasted pork loin in fruit sauce, or with the “stinky” cheeses of Burgundy. Cellaring for a few years would let the fruit flavors fully integrate with the wine’s hints of earth and spice.
Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
Check out our guide to the Santa Barbara Wine Country
For more information, visit www.clospepe.com
March 23, 2009
Justin Vineyards & Winery
Paso Robles, California
Embodying the somewhat laid-back lifestyle of California’s Paso Robles region, the folks at Justin Vineyards & Winery never seem to take themselves or the business of wine too seriously—except in the crafting of their award-winning cuvées. The winery’s primary focus is producing American wines from the Bordeaux varietals. In general, Justin’s wines tend to provide very good value for their price, and even offer a bit of humor to the all-too-often staid wine world with cuvées bearing names like Justification, Obtuse, Orphan and Savant. The 2006 Savant, a blend of 59 percent Syrah and 41 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, combines the Syrah’s up-front friendliness with the Cabernet’s sturdy structure. A whiff of this wine is like opening a cedar box filled with fresh and dried berries, cinnamon and cardamom. Berries and spice also dominate the palate with a nice tart, cranberry acidity toward the back. The finish is somewhat lean, but offers a lingering hint of cocoa and espresso. A lovely choice with roast chicken, pheasant or a gamier squab, Savant also pairs nicely with dark chocolate, and could make an interesting accompaniment to a bittersweet dessert.
Other Red Blends we have tasted
Check out our guide to Paso Robles
For more information, visit www.justinwine.com
March 16, 2009
L’instinct Vignerons Fitou
Mont Tauch is based in Tuchan, France, a remote town in the heart of Languedoc’s Fitou appellation, known for its red wines and idyllic Mediterranean landscape dotted by castles and rosemary, lavender and juniper-laden hills. The winery, named for the nearby mountain, is operated by a cooperative of grape growers centered on the villages of Tuchan, Paziols, Villeneuve and Durban. Since it was founded in 1913, the cooperative has grown to encompass 300 growers with approximately 7,000 small vineyards throughout the Fitou and Corbières regions. Mont Tauch produces AOC and Vin de Pays wines from primarily Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grapes, which come from low-yielding vines cultivated on the region’s steep slopes and diverse soils. Other varietals grown include Grenache Blanc, Maccabeu, Marselan, Merlot, Muscat and Cinsault. Mont Tauch’s L’instinct Vignerons Fitou is a good example of the company’s combined efforts and the appellation’s red varietals. This full-bodied red blend, consisting of 40 percent Carignan, 35 percent Grenache and 25 percent Syrah, exhibits a concentrated fruit character and pairs well with grilled meat, game and cheeses.
Other Red Blends we have tasted
Check out our guide to France
For more information, visit www.mont-tauch.com
March 9, 2009
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Maison Louis Latour
2006 Viré Clessé Chardonnay
Maison Louis Latour is the Old Faithful of Burgundian wine houses. All too often, an inexpensive bottle emblazoned with “White Burgundy” is made from a glut of over- or under-ripened grapes and carelessly crafted so that it can be delivered at a rock-bottom price. However, the Latour label affixed to a bottle’s neck assures that the wine is a real bargain. How does this winery consistently produce such value wines? Practice is a factor; Latour has been in operation since the seventeenth century and has been running its own shipping company since 1797. The grapes for Latour’s 2006 Viré Clessé Chardonnay hail from the northern part of the Mâconnais region, north of Pouilly-Fuissé. The wine’s aromas and flavors are a combination of crisp apple, citrus and canned pineapple with just a touch of minerality. On the palate, the Chardonnay has an acidic zip as well as respectable length for a white wine in this price range. Try complementing the vino’s bite by pairing it with a plate of hard cheeses, or contrast the acidity with white fish in a decadent butter sauce.
Other Chardonnays we have tasted
Check out our guide to France
For more information, visit www.louislatour.com
March 2, 2009
Castello di Amorosa
Napa Valley, California
One of Napa Valley’s newest wineries, Castello di Amorosa opened its doors in 2007 and quickly became a popular destination in Calistoga. The much talked-about estate, a pet project of Daryl Sattui of V. Sattui winery, is a detailed replica of a medieval Tuscan castle, featuring a moat, drawbridge and functional torture chamber. Castello produces a wide range of wines from Napa fruit as well as with grapes from across the Golden State. Their winemaking program places heavy emphasis on Italian styles, with a Super Tuscan, Pinot Bianco, sweet Moscato and Rosato of Sangiovese offered in addition to the winery’s noted Sangiovese. On the nose, their 2005 Sangiovese offers cooked strawberry aromas mixed with black cherry and cola. The red’s flavor, also fruit-driven, exhibits a strawberry sweetness with the tartness of cranberry for balance. Well structured, it is made in a style both pleasurable to savor on its own and to serve with a meal. Pair it with a simple supper of grilled meats and roasted potatoes, or even a grilled tuna steak. The wine will also hold up to aged, sharp cheeses like Pecorino or Gouda.
Other Sangiovese we have tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit www.castellodiamorosa.com
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