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Featured in 2003

December 26, 2003


Krug Grande Année Brut
It does not get much better than that. We have tasted a few Champagnes lately from value bottles to top of the line prestige cuvées… and if you dare to bring the two concepts together – which we did; it’s hard to beat a Krug Grande Cuvée Brut. Elegant, fine, well crafted are a few of the many positive adjectives to be applied to this incredible wine. For a few generations now so much care has been used throughout the process that we are all rewarded sip after sip.
Rating: 17.5/20
Suggested retail price: $130

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December 19, 2003

Pol Roger NV Brut
Now what a different wine that is! For sure it's worth every penny. We'd even lick any drops. Beautiful nose and splendid layers of a cornucopia of flavors from flowers and honey to deeper yeasty malt, and nuts. It continues to a nice progressive finish. Due to its structure you may pair it with the standard array of holiday foods like foie gras, poultry and desserts.
Rating: 15.5/20
Suggested retail price: $40

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December 12, 2003

Moët & Chandon 1996 Millésime Rosé
A special wine crafted with all three Champagne grapes with a dominance of Pinot Noir. Though you'll be able to pair it with a variety of dishes from the start of your meal to the end (crab salad, duck with cherries and raspberry tart) it remains a delicate and complex wine. Lots of fruit components jumps to your nose, like dried apricot, figs to deeper flavors of chocolate and exotic spices.
Rating: 14.5/20
Suggested retail price: $50

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December 5, 2003

Segura Viudas NV Brut Reserva Heredad
A perfect gift due to the package; a distinctively shaped hand blown bottle with pewter attributes all in an impressive gift box. This limited production crisp and refreshing -- The predominance of Macabeo -- cava is an outstanding deal. You also get high quality Parellada grapes. You might not even need a reason to celebrate. Try it with shrimp cocktail.
Rating: 14/20
Suggested retail price: $20

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November 28, 2003

Grand Burge Filsell 2001 Barossa Shiraz
Viva Australia! Or is it "G'day Mate?" Here is one for you, a big Shiraz with rich tannins and deep extraction. With a deep color and a richly flavored nose of red berries, dark cherries and plums, this offering from the Barossa Valley packs a full punch. Pleasant in the mouth and unveiling a lighter body than expected, it will still hold against barbequed tri-tip and some good sheep milk cheeses. Put it away for a couple of years and you'll have a mighty nice bottle.
Rating: 14/20
Suggested retail price: $25

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November 21, 2003

Dynamite Vineyards 2002 Sauvignon Blanc
Looking for a versatile, inexpensive, fruity and floral white in the Sauvignon Blanc category? Look no further. This Lake County offering from winemaker Malcolm Seibly is not only a great bang for the buck option, it will not disappoint your taste buds, either. Sip on it, pair it with oysters, sushi and spicy foods, or try it with salads and even turkey. We did say versatile!
Rating: 13.5/20
Suggested retail price: $10

November 14, 2003

Summerland Winery 2001 Merlot
Bilo Zarif has been around the vino world for a while. With his experience and contacts on the Central Coast, he set up a new negociant type operation. This is the first wine we have tried from that venture, but there are quite a few to follow from Central Coast designations to Single Vineyards low production cuvées: all at most reasonable prices. We found this Merlot to be fruity—plums and berries—with a light to medium body and ready to drink, right now. Nice to drink by itself and food friendly to boot: with light meats, salmon and possibly swordfish.
Rating: 13/20
Suggested retail price: $14

November 7, 2003

Frank Family Vineyards 2000 Chardonnay
Straw gold in color, this is a wine with elegance from appearance to finish. A great nose hints of the good things to come. A mineral quality carries through its subtle flavors. Perfect oak treatment lets the grapes express themselves with peach, pineapple and vanilla flavors. This Chard lingers on the palate with buttery softness. As well, it will hold against food, maybe even a pork chop.
Rating: 14.5/20
Suggested retail price: $28

October 31, 2003

Champagne Mumm Joyesse
We all love Champagne and most of us like sweet things. Mumm has combined both concepts and some joie de vivre in this brand-new demi-sec offering. The dominance of Pinot Meunier from the Marne Valley packs in the fruitiness, next is Pinot Noir for body and deeper color and Chardonnay for elegance. A sugar infused liqueur d' expedition from aged wines gives the blend its true identity. Best served with dessert, you can also apply it with foie gras preparations or use it to cut through spicy Asian dishes.
Rating: 13.5/20
Suggested retail price: $36

October 24, 2003

Grgich Hills 2000 Zinfandel
It would be difficult to find someone more suitable than Mike "Miljenko" Grgich to handle the Zinfandel grape, since the varietal's origin was identified as being in Croatia, Mike's birthplace. After a stellar run at prestigious Napa wineries, Mike set up shop in 1977 and has been producing excellent wines ever since—even in Croatia now. This small cuvée (450 cases) shows how pleasant a Zinfandel can be, starting with a complex nose from red berries to more woodsy material, a silky smooth body and a long finish that unleashes all the many spices and aromas packed in this tasty release. Believe it or not, you can pair it with an array of foods; it will work with lighter meats and even salmon. Zivili!
Rating: 17/20
Suggested retail price: $59

October 17, 2003

Michaud Vineyard 2001 Pinot Noir
Here is an example of passion and devotion. You'd have to drive to the vineyard to understand the full story. We are pleased to present to you Michael Michaud's coveted baby—he was the winemaker at Chalone for many years. Benefiting from an unusual limestone soil condition, the wine shows its crushed rock characteristic but also reveals black cherry and raspberries flavors. The two assets you'll get from this wine are its ageability and its power against foods like duck and mushrooms.
Rating: 13.5/20
Suggested retail price: $45

October 10, 2003

Trefethen Vineyards 2001 Double T Red Wine
Double T. The French would say très tannique. We certainly enjoyed this new release from the prestigious Napa Valley winery and found no fault in the complex flavors or other components of this well-crafted beverage. The five essential Bordeaux grapes (Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot) combine beautifully into a drink-now wine, but can certainly age well over the next few years. We only wish it were a little less expensive.
Rating: 13.5/20
Suggested retail price: $20

September 26, 2003

Robert Keenan Winery 1999 Napa Valley Mernet Reserve
Only 300 cases of this deep, rich, extracted—and full of many red fruit flavors—wine have been produced. Pick from a cornucopia of black cherries, black berries and some currants coupled with vanilla and chocolate flavors. Enjoy the strong tannins and put the polyphenols to work. This is not a wine for beginners, even with age, but it will hold firm against some of your most robust game preparation. A fine example of Meritage from this Mayacamas winery with a cute made-up name.
Rating: 14.5/20
Suggested retail price: $75

September 19, 2003

Wild Horse 2001 Malvasia Bianca
Since Ken Volk was trained as a fruit scientist, having studied at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, it was logical to get a job in the vineyard. When not creating hybrid tomato plants and playing with his orchids, Volk's life and passion are his wines and grapes. He has devoted considerable time preserving heirloom varietals like Negrette and Verdelho and is accredited for convincing the BATF to add Blaufränkisch to the list of prime grape varieties in the United States. You know him from his label: Wild Horse. And, here is a delectable offering from his vineyard in Monterey. You will be surprised to discover that the wine is dry and crisp and, while it can be enjoyed as an aperitif, also pairs well with spicy cuisines. An outstanding value, we think.
Rating: 14/20
Suggested retail price: $14

September 19, 2003

Chappellet Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2000
Want to try something special? How about a Cabernet Franc from Chappellet's Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard? As the varietal gains momentum in the Golden State we wanted to share with you our discovery of this luscious beverage. We are talking complex aromas of dark berries in layers with mocha, chocolate tobacco and other spices. There is no problem with drinking it now, but it's for sure a keeper. Only 300 cases of the 2000 have been released.
Rating: 14.5/20
Suggested retail price: $60

September 12, 2003

2002 Côtes de Tablas Blanc
The Perrin family arrived in America a few years after Christopher Columbus, but their influence in the wine business is already quite noticeable. They teamed up with the Haas family to bring true Rhône clones to the American table via their nursery and Tablas Creek Vineyard wines. They recently released a quite remarkable and certainly unique offering. We hope you will appreciate as we did its complex aromatics delivered by an assemblage of Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. Try it with scallops, shrimp salads, ceviche and light fish.
Rating: 14/20
Suggested retail price: $22

September 5, 2003

Le Bonheur Sauvignon Blanc
The beauty of the Cape is beginning to convert into quality, especially for white wines from South Africa. Here is a well priced offering from the Southern Hemisphere with typical Sauvignon Blanc smells: we are talking cut grass and fig. Slightly "pierre a feu" (fizzy) with a tropical taste, it makes a great sipping and refreshing beverage. We see it with lightly cooked shrimp in mango salsa. 13.5/20 $9

August 27, 2003

Dutton Goldfield 2001 Morelli Lane Vineyard Zinfandel
Two great families in the wine business got together and established a new label in the Russian River Valley, an area we like for its many characteristics including cooler conditions. They selected fruit from small vineyards including the Morelli Lane, dry farmed and planted over one hundred years ago. What you get is a very fruity (berries) and sweetish (butterscotch) wine with good acid balance and a controlled level of alcohol for a Zinfandel. It is very smooth on the palate, and the wood ageing is perfect. We hope you look forward to a glass of this scrumptious juice as much as we do. $35

August 22, 2003

Roederer Brut Rosé
Put on a blindfold and start sipping this delectable beverage. You'd swear you are drinking something from the official Champagne appellation of France. In fact, you are savoring its American cousin from the Roederer Estate program in the Anderson Valley. The secret perhaps lies in how it's made, untraditionally, with a balanced use of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, obtaining the color by adding a separately macerated batch of Pinot. So you get the color, smell and taste of a fine bubbly Rosé, "Made in America!" $28

August 15, 2003

Emeril's Classics
Consumers still love Chardonnay and in the back of their palates sweet or aromatic wines. In association with Fetzer's Dennis Martin, Emeril Lagasse, the famous chef, has crafted two blends. We have tasted the white which is 75 percent Chardonnay and 25 percent Viognier. A refreshing perfumy blend that could marry well with some of that Cajun cooking. Look for the vinos in grocery stores and specialty shops, like Trader Joe's. $12

August 8, 2003

Vionta Albariño 2002
Spain is hot these days, exhibiting its talent in the food and wine world. Here is a chance to experience a crisp and refreshing wine for the Summer. Well crafted, this wine offers some flexibility at the table: from oysters to Asian fusion foods via simpler white-fleshed fishes. No wood here, so fragrances of citrus and fresh white flowers exist naturally. As the beverage warms up a multitude of flavors fill your mouth and you can even take it all the way to your cheese course.

August 1, 2003

Carina Cellars
2001 Viognier Santa Barbara County
Light in color and not as thick and greasy as could be yet with a complex nose with smells ranging from honey to smoked bacon via anise. Boasting a medium body yet light in the mouth with a short finish. Try it with BBQ fish.

July 25, 2003

Chaddsford 2002 Pinot Grigio
Get this, a burgundian origin, an Italian sounding varietal name and a production from Pennsylvania. A crisp fresh nose, a bit citrusy and steely, is followed by a light bodied beverage encompassing flavors of green apples, quince, hawthorn and a hint of geranium, not to forget some spice on the finish. Perfect for Summer sipping - Shrimp with rosemary and sage anyone? $15.

July 18, 2003

2002 Eberle Viognier
It gets warm on the East side of Paso and this wine shows it in its alcohol content on the label, but good acid balance tames things in your glass. Low yields deliver good fruit concentration and a cornucopia of flavors ensues: peach, apricot, honeysuckle, lychee, a little bit of vanilla and licorice. Thick, rich and fatty yet elegant with its clean wood finish, this wine is guaranteed to seduce your palate with its exotic figure. If you are a Viognier fan, why not try this offering from serious and passionate people producing small batch wines of all kinds. At $18, we see a great value. Try it with sushi!

July 11, 2003

2000 McKeon-Phillips Reserve Pinot Noir
Drinking wine so young is just not the thing to do except if you absolutely have to have a bubble gum fill of carbonically macerated juice each November. Not that 2000 is an old vintage by any means, but this tasting is a good representation of what giving a little time to a wine does. Ardison Phillips has crafted another fine example of a small-batch production with fruit selected from the Lake Marie vineyard in Santa Barbara County's Santa Maria Valley. Aged in new Chagney Oak barrels from France, this multi-layered Pinot shows great fruit character all around to a smooth finish. BBQ duck anyone? $25.

July 3, 2003

2002 Courtney's Post Sauvignon Blanc
Here is a crisp and refreshing offering from New Zealand's Marlborough wine-growing area. This vintage benefits from warm and very dry growing conditions and unleashes the typical pungent character found in wines of the Wairau and Awatere River valleys. Good fruit flavors come through (only five percent fermented in tamed American oak barrels) with tropical aromas. Perfect for your light summer dishes. $15.

June 27, 2003

2001 Eberle Barbera
The Italian varietal Barbera is rather limited in the U.S and California. Here is your chance to try a fine example from the Central Coast. This smooth, seductive bottle from Eberle's Sauret Vineyard features spicy, black cherry and currant flavors with a deep, enticing nose. $18

June 20, 2003

2001 Herman Story Syrah
Russell P. From dedicates this very limited Syrah (150 cases) to his grandfather, Herman Story, who in his words was: "a rancher, logger, swapper, banker, philanthropist, a teller of tales..." He has handcrafted a robust wine, which will pair up heavier meats beautifully. $18

June 13, 2003

2000 Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon
We had the privilege to sip Jeff and Carolyn Smith's 2000 Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon and wanted to share this secret with you. Bob Foley of Pride Mountain crafted this cult-to-be wine from the unusual Cabernet C clone from the St. Helena appellation of Napa Valley. Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Colgin, and Bryant look out! $75

June 6, 2003

1999 Brucher Merlot
This robust, well-crafted wine from Santa Barbara fruit (Bien Nacido, Cuilocas) should satisfy not only your palate but also your wallet. Intense with fruit on the nose and full bodied, we think this bottle will age well. $13.50

May 30, 2003

1998 Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
This a very lush, delicious, and enjoyable wine. Hints of pepper, cherry, cassis, and coffee interact with a long lingering finish. Limited production on this wine. $55

May 23, 2003

2000 Paraduxx Napa Valley Red Wine
An enjoyable effort with bright acidity and strawberry and blackberry jam flavors that give way to mild mid-palate tannins. The smooth finish lingers with hints of white pepper, tobacco and toasty oak. Pairs happily with venison or traditional Mediterranean-style meals. $43

May 16, 2003

Robert Stemmler 2000 Sonoma County Chardonnay
- Three Clone
An ambitious Chardonnay: Creamy textures, fine bouquet of baked apple, macadamia nut and honeydew weaved with tropical layers, harmonious and elegant. $20

May 9, 2003

McKeon-Phillips Bailey's Private Reserve
Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

Opening with essences of blackberry, smoke, tobacco and chocolate, this Cab follows with a dark cherry intensity in its mouth-filling flavors. It is beautifully balanced and complex with a lingering, dry finish. Try it with rosemary-smoked lamb chops. $36

April 27, 2003

2001 Echelon Vineyards Pinot Noir
Dark ruby in color with a complex nose of spice, oak and floral notes. In the mouth, there is almost explosive cherry fruit ending in a long, pleasant aftertaste. Pair this versatile wine with lamb, grilled fish or simply baguette and cheese.

April 18, 2003

Peter Lehmann 1999 Legendary Red
Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are blended to make a generous wine of rich fruit flavours underpinned by the spicy oak characters. Soft and big, it is an accessible wine that says, "Yes, do pour a second glass!"

April 11, 2003

Barnwood Vineyards 2000 Syrah
A very dry Syrah with lingering tannins and an array of reserve qualiteas ranging from richly textured flavors of blueberry and plum to fine nuances of coffee and spice.

April 4, 2003

Jade Mountain Mourvèdre 2001
A lush, silky wine with aromas of raspberry and chocolate, a full-bodied hearty palate and a nice smooth finish. Pairs well with long-braised or simmered full-flavored meats and stews. It's unpretentious enough to go down well with pizza and meatloaf.

March 28, 2003

2000 Vine Cliff Napa Valley Chardonnay
This Chardonnay offers fresh spicy nectarine and mango fruit flavors with nuances of honey and cookie dough. Full bodied palate with juicy, lemon freshness, a rich creamy texture and long lingering finish.

March 21, 2003

1998 Domaines Schlumberger Riesling les Princes Abbés
A floral wine with hints of minerals, fruity, dry and robust. The nose is discrete, the palate vivid and well-presented, followed by a long and persistent finish.
Age another four years or enjoy now with simply prepared dishes, fish and meat. $16

March 14, 2003

2001 Kirralaa Bushvine Shiraz, Rosemount Estate & Robert Mondavi
Farmed in the finest regions in Australia, this isn't yet another ripe, opulent warm-climate Shiraz.
With a bright, powerful fruit structure, a velvet-like palate, elegant spiciness and a touch of red cherry and eucalyptus, here's a wine of complexity and polish.

March 7, 2003

Domaine de Grangeneuve Cuvée de la Truffière 1999
Ruby colored, deep and spicy, this wine is still young with lively tannins and promising grape aromas. Great finesse and aging potential. Match with meats prepared in sauces as well as game birds, hare and roe-deer.

February 28, 2003

2001 Grenache Rosé by Pipestone Vineyards
This dry, French-style Rosé has a deep red color and is full flavored. It has a balanced crispness and fruitiness, a touch of spiciness, and aromas of ripe strawberries, peaches, and raspberries. Serve it chilled with a BBQ or anything spicy.

February 21, 2003 Sancerre La Poussie Blanc 2000
The initial aromas are flowery with broom, eglantine and acacia. Fruity notes of peaches and apricot emerge, followed by a complex mineral component. On the palate, the wine has an initial freshness followed by a pleasant, fruity fullness.
February 14, 2003 2001 Syrah Rosé by Eberle Winery
With explosions of bright strawberry and cherry aromas, this Rosé is perfect for Valentine's day. A little on the sweet side, it is lovely also as an aperitif or dessert wine.
February 7, 2003 "Il" Prosecco by Mionetto
With a fresh and lively flavor reminiscent of acacia honey and ripe apple and 10.5 percent alcohol, this "easy" sparkling Prosecco is ideal at any hour of the day and at any occasion.
January 31, 2003 Canoe Ridge 2000 Merlot
This Merlot surprises with cassis, chocolate, roasted coffee and a touch of leather. Drinks well now with anything cooked on the grill and should show well for another six years or so. $25.
January 24, 2003 1998 La Crema Sonoma County Zinfandel
With plump aromas of berries, currant, toasty vanilla and a pleasant finish, this big Zin is perfect for drinking now.
January 17, 2003 Jean Milan "Cuvée Tendresse" Sec, N.V.
Sweet, lovely and delicious this cuvée was created as a tribute to a happy family—and you can taste it!
January 10, 2003 Seaview 2000 Brut
his favorite Aussie sparkler tingles with kicky peach aromas and feisty bubbles. A high-class wine sold for a bargain price. $6


(Updated: 1/26/11 JC)

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