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July 2005

July 1, 2005

Del Dotto Vineyards —1999 Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve

We love small production wines and special custom cuvées. With 1,500 cases of the Giovanni, you get a somewhat available but special wine. Its price is not the best deal on the market, but if you are seeking a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend from Napa, it’s not a bad choice.

The wine has good balance and will age for years to come. On approach, a mix of rich red fruit flavors tickles your nose. The robust and dark juice is pleasant in the mouth and delivers additional complexity and flavors: more fruits and spice. It is a tasty match to lightly barbecued meats, great for your summer parties.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $55

Other Red Blends we've tasted
See Del Dotto Vineyards profile

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July 8, 2005

The Little Penguin — White Shiraz 2005

With its clear bottle and hot pink label, Little Penguin White Shiraz will be hard to miss at your local wine store. The brand’s fun, attractive packaging and signature icon penguin stand out against most traditional labels, and is aimed at social drinkers who simply want a good-tasting wine at a great value.

This semi-dry rosé wine is crafted from premium Shiraz vineyards in southeastern Australia. It is surprisingly tasty, with a good body and nose. Ariel Meyer, Little Penguin’s brand manager, comments, “We wanted the Pink Penguin to be fresh and soft, like a French-style summer rosé with a hint of richness from the Shiraz fruit. I’m happy with the result; the Pink Penguin is a standout—very fresh, balanced and clean.”

This is a refreshing summer wine, with bright berry aromas on the nose and a creamy cherry flavor on the palate. There is only a hint of sweetness in its soft, clean finish. Pair it with Asian dishes or fish, or drink it as an aperitif. Its price also makes it a good value choice for your next picnic or pool party.

Rating: 13/20
Price: $8

Other Rosés we've tasted
Visiting Australia? See our travel guide.

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July 15, 2005

Grgich Hills — 2004 Fumé Blanc

We have never not liked a Grgich Hills wine, and this Fumé is no exception. This “Estate Grown” wine is a winner. It is a seriously layered beverage, refreshing with its true-to-type character. The 2004 harvest delivered low yields, and as a result, the fruit concentration was higher than in previous releases. To the drinker’s benefit, there will be a floral bouquet with citrus tones, grapefruit, honeysuckle and a cornucopia of tropical flavors. Although well balanced, the wine packs 14.1 percent alcohol and will be happy to pair up with some food. We tried it with barbecued tri-tip and it worked.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $24

Other Fume Blancs and Sauvignon Blancs we've tasted
Visiting Napa Valley? See our travel guide.
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July 22, 2005

Dievole — 2003 Fourplay N°1

The overall production of Dievole wines peaks at 14,000 cases, but quite a few bottlings are offered in much smaller increments, such as our selection for this week: the Fourplay. The winemaking team packed in four near-forgotten grape varietals from Sicily: Nero d’Avola, Frappato Nero, Nerello Mascalese and Cappicio. They come in together in a playful manner to create a flexible wine that will take you through a variety of different foods. The wine is alive, juicy, fragrant and most original. We also like the price, making it easy to pick up a few bottles for a nice evening summer party.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $11

Other red blends we've tasted
See Dievole's winery profile
Visiting Italy? See our travel guide.
For more information, visit

July 29, 2005

CVNE — 1998 Imperial Reserva

These guys (CVNE: Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana) have been around for a while and produce quite a bit of wine overall. As a brand, Imperial is quite large in Spain and have produced this classic Rioja style since the 1920s. The name comes from a special bottling for the English market called an Imperial Pint, which is approximately 500 ml.

The Reserva is only produced in exceptional vintage years. This week’s selection is the 1998 vintage, with its elegant red ruby robe and distinct Tempranillo scents. It consists of 85 percent Tempranillo blended with 10 percent Graciano and 5 percent Mazuelo, all of which are from Rioja, Spain (the official appellation is D.O.C Rioja). Take in the licorice and blackberry scent as the wine enters your mouth, and taste the rich mature fruit with toasty notes on the palate. A velvety and light beverage, it can be enjoyed on its own or with fish or light meats.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $20

Other Tempranillos we've tasted
Visiting Spain? See our travel guide.
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