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April 1, 2005

Waterstone — 2002 Carneros Pinot Noir

Are you in the market for a good value wine? Possibly a good, fun aromatic Pinot Noir that won’t break the bank? Try this offering from Waterstone. What’s good about Pinot Noirs from cool regions like Russian River or Carneros is their higher levels of the good resveratrols. Ready for your vitamins? This Pinot starts with a rich bouquet of dark crushed red fruits and other robust flavors along the lines of leather. Good oak treatment releases only the proper amount of vanilla. In the mouth, you have a soft tannin and pleasant well-balanced beverage, fine by itself or great with fish or white meats. We’d love to try it three years down the road but it drinks well now. With only 1,600 cases produced, the price is just right.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $18

Other Pinot Noirs we've tasted
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April 8, 2005

Taittinger — Prélude Grands Crus

Produced exclusively from grands crus vineyards in Champagne, Taittinger Prélude combines tradition and elegance in this Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend. The complexity of this Brut is revealed in its firm structure and fine, creamy bubbles, which last on the tongue and in the flute. The wine’s color is a vibrant pale yellow, due mostly to the increased proportion of Chardonnay. A fresh nose reveals mineral and floral aromas offset by a hint of cinnamon. On the palate, the Champagne suggests ripe peach and citrus flavors amid the lasting but not overwhelming bubbles. The finish is long and expressive. With its quality aging potential, we recommend keeping the Prélude for a special occasion.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $70

Other Sparklers & Champagnes we've tasted
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Going to France? See our 72 Hours in Champagne guide.

April 15, 2005

XYZin — 2003 Zinfandel

Are all the Zins created equal? Since Zinfandel is known as an American Vintage Grape, let's start with 80-year-old vines. Let a young and talented female winemaker (Ondine Chattam) blend the appropriate varieties in a co-fermentation environment and you get: XYZin. Sprinkle a few marketing ingredients and you have a brand new wine company boasting one release of Contra Costa County Zinfandel—an entire 632 case production. Will it be “the last word in Zinfandel,” as their tag line claims? For the most part the wine remains true to type with its robust character. It is aged mostly in French oak with only a small percentage of new barrels, which allows the fruits to express themselves. Full-bodied and complex, we hope you will enjoy breaking it apart as we did. It remains tannic but tame in the mouth with flavors of ripe fruit, chocolate, peppermint and eucalyptus. Have you got a steak on the barbecue? It will need some food to tame its lingering and expressive finish.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $29

Other Zinfandels we've tasted
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April 22, 2005

CE2V — 2001 Sangiovese

For this estate bottling, Mitch Cosentino (who now makes 40 wines from 20 varietals under three labels) got fruit from the Pope Valley Vineyard. It’s a bold wine that packs 14.8% alcohol, but due to good acid balance and Mitch’s talent you would not know unless you read the label. Case production hovers around 760, so you get a well-crafted small batch edition with a decent retail price from a reputable house. Those of you looking for the perfect Sangiovese may enjoy its ripe fruit character. An explosion of flavors conquers your mouth in a rather seductive way: vanilla, cherry, pomegranate, oak and tobacco. An even experience in the palate leads to a good finish that’s not over the top. Pair this with braised lamb and pasta.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $30

Other Sangioveses we've tasted
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April 29, 2005

Reilly's — Barking Mad 2004 Riesling

Far away from Alsace or Germany the people with the red dog label are harvesting Riesling grapes from five-year-old vines in Australia’s Clare Valley. This is the epitome of handcrafted wines. The winery produces a handful of varietals—including reds and whites—but suggests you serve this offering alongside white fish with parsley and beurre blanc. Indeed, the good acid content makes for a well-balanced and crisp vino. Very floral on approach and with orange peel and citrus characters, this is a good, inexpensive and refreshing wine for a spring barbecue. We even see some ribs with it.

Rating: 13/20
Price: $12

Other Rieslings we've tasted
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