- Q & A
March 2006 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 211 Rejected: 193 Approved: 12 Selected: 6
Emily Dickinson wrote, "March is the month of expectation." The holidays are over; we can fully relax. We wonder, "What will March bring?" The March selections will truly surpass your expectations for drinking enjoyment and value. Starting this month, check out our Limited Series special insert pages for alternate selections. Expect and get more from your Wine of the Month Club.REGULAR SERIES
2001 Armstrong Ridge Merlot; Sonoma County, California
We selected this wine because it meets all our expectations for a great Merlot—and then some. It's generous with delicious, soft berry fruit, and silky tannins. It's paired with a great price, too. Rarely seen, this wine is normally priced at more than $20 per bottle. Enjoy!
2004 Apalooza Mendoza White; Mendoza, Argentina
We've come to expect wonderful wines from Argentina. In this selection, the local grape, Torrontes, is blended with Chardonnay for a 110% palate pleaser. Its rich fruit, and touch of mineral and oak, make it a soul mate for many foods.
2004 X-Winery Red Blend; Lake County, Paso Robles, Napa, California
X marks the spot for this extraordinary bottle of wine at an excellent price! We're ecstatic to bring you this blend of four grape varietals. It's approachable now, and also a good candidate for cellaring.
2001 Bridlewood Syrah; Central Coast, California
The Syrah grape is full of possibilities; you can never grow tired of it. The Bridlewood Syrah we've chosen for March is jammy, and peppery with gutsy, chewy tannins. This wine screams for BBQ and grilled tri-tip. The added bonus of Carignane, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre in the blend makes for a great drinking bottle of wine.
Domestic SelectionWhen you want to be an everyday wine drinker, you need to be a bit of a detective. There are so many wineries with so much juice, that many quality wines are being made by the big producers as "second labels." The quality of these second labels is good, and sometimes better than the "first label." For example, Mondavi makes the Papio label, and now Kenwood is making Armstrong Ridge. Kenwood, founded in 1970, is one of the most noted and respected wineries in California. Kenwood is committed to producing premium wines that reflect Sonoma County's finest vineyards, and the true character and style of the region's grape varieties. Kenwood has earned the reputation for crafting wines that offer consistent high quality and outstanding value at every price level. Armstrong Ridge Merlot is made with the same meticulous attention that all the Kenwood wines receive. Winemaker Bob Stashak has thirty-one years experience in winemaking, with a passion for making wines that are elegant as well as easy to drink. He specializes in wines that are versatile, matching well with a wide variety of foods. "I want to bring out fruit flavors harmoniously, without over statement," he says. "Wines should be complex, with many layers of character, but not over bearing. I want to make wines that people come back to enjoy, just like a favorite supper." The vineyards for the Armstrong Merlot are located in the Sonoma, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys. The cooler Sonoma Valley fruit is blended with the warmer Dry Creek and Alexander Valley fruit to create a wine that is ripe, supple and well-proportioned. We think that you will agree that this is a wonderfully approachable Merlot, easy to drink and deliciously priced. The color is a rich purple. The nose has lush, fruit aromas of black plums, black cherries and a hint of vanilla. The palate is dry, rich with black fruit and kissed with hints of mint and vanilla. The finish is soft and lingering. This very drinkable Merlot is an ideal complement to grilled salmon, leg of lamb or Filet with Merlot Sauce. (See recipe on page 13.)
Sonoma County California
Color: Rich purple
Nose: Lush, fruit, black plums, vanilla
Palate: Dry, rich with fruit, mint
Soft lingering finish
Imported SelectionMendoza, the heart of the growing Argentinean wine industry, lies on the west side of Argentina, about 100 miles east of Santiago, Chile. The Andes Mountains separates these cities, contributing to the beautiful setting and the diverse geography that make the region ideal for vineyards. There is the cold mountain climate with snow during the winter, and the warm climate of the plains during the summer. The region has little rainfall, but is well irrigated with run-off from the mountains. The altitude of the mountains causes the wet winds from the Pacific Ocean to provide humidity to the area. When the air crosses the flat lands, it turns into dry hot winds, called the Zonda winds. This is the classic continental climate grapes love. Apalooza is a new project founded by Jean-Michel Arcaute of Bordeaux, France. Jean-Michel Arcaute was twice elected "winemaker of the year" by The Wine Advocate for his achieve-ments at Chateau Clinet, La Croix de Casse, Beau Soleil, and many others. His creative energy is now focused in Mendoza, one of the best locations for grape growing. With his reputa¬tion preceding him, Michel is enjoying the fruits of his labors making great tasting wines that are world-class in quality with down-to-earth prices. We all love Chardonnay, and when it's blended with Argentina's prolific Torrontes grape, the result is a wine that will soon become a household favorite. Apalooza Blanco is a great white alternative and will work with many foods. The color is a light, golden yellow. The nose is assertive with cherry blossoms, gardenia and citrus. The palate is dry, medium-bodied, with a distinct mineral flavor coupled with the citrus fruit notes found on the nose. The finish is fresh and lingering. Argentinean cuisine is a mixture of Spanish and Italian. Empanadas are common throughout the country. These pastries are stuffed with chicken, beef, cheese, or vegetables. They're fried or baked, and served as appetizers or a main course. See our recipe for Vegetable Empanadas in Curry Dough on page 13 for an exquisite pairing for the Apalooza Mendoza White. Cheers!
Apalooza Mendoza White
Color: Light, golden yellow
Nose: Cherry blossoms, gardenia, citrus
Palate: Dry, mineral, citrus
Fresh lingering finish
Limited Series SelectionBe bold and on the cutting edge. Use the latest wine-making research and technology and overlay it with traditional winemaking techniques to coax into eXistence consumer friendly wines of eXcellence and value that make them eminently desirable. Oh, and have fun doing it!" That is the motto and company mission statement at X Winery founded in 2000 in St. Helena, California. Why the X? The winery's staff had fun holding a contest to name the winery. Brand X, Generation X, eXcellent, and X Files were all tossed out. They narrowed the list to three names, then each person put an X next to his or her favorite name. After looking at the list they realized that they liked just the X the best! The marketing department claims that the winery's unique name "conveys a sense of the innovation we use to deliver a superior product at great prices and it's hard to forget, easy to pronounce, and nearly impossible to misspell!" We couldn't agree more. But, more than that, the wine is incredibly delicious and is priced to fill our niche. Today the winery has expanded into three facilities in St. Helena, Napa, and American Canyon. Despite its rapid growth, it has remained true to its goal of providing a strong quality/price dynamic for all the wines it bottles. The grapes for Red X are sourced from Lake County, Paso Robles, and Napa County. In the bottle is a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Syrah. This is a complex and full-bodied wine worthy of ageing. It's a great match for beef stew, pepperoni pizza, and grilled meats. The color is a brilliant dark ruby red. The nose bursts with rich cherry, black berry, blueberry and cassis. On the palate, you are greeted with well-integrated tannins, a note of coffee, deep, ripe fruit, and good acidity. The finish lingers with fruit and soft tannins. Although approachable now, it's worth cellaring for two to five years. This is a wine with a flavor profile worth two or three times the price.
X Winery Red Blend
Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Merlot Petite Syrah
(ka-bur-nay saw- veehn-yawn seer-ah mare-low peh-teet seer-ah)
Sonoma County California
Color: Brilliant, dark ruby red
Nose: Rich cherry, black- berry, cassis
Palate: Well-integrated tannins, coffee, ripe fruit
Lingering fruity finish
Limited Series SelectionBridlewood Estate Winery is a lushly landscaped, landmark mission-style wine estate in the un¬paralleled Santa Barbara wine country. The Bridlewood property was formerly one of Santa Barbara's premier equestrian rehabilitation facilities. In 1998, Cory Holbrook renovated the property to become an estate winery, yet retained the property's architectural charm. Before purchasing the property, he ran a successful floral business. Later, he turned his passion, winemaking, into his new business. His aim has always been to make wines which are delicious to drink and yet easy to afford. Besides making this awesome Syrah, he also makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. The Bridlewood Estate Winery now produces 30,000 cases on 105 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. The Bridlewood Syrah is a wine made with grapes sourced from the Central Coast of California. The Central Coast is a region which stretches from Santa Barbara in the south to Contra Costa in the north. The region is generally warm, except for some areas near the sea. The Bridlewood Syrah is designed to blend the flavors from warm regions with those from cooler climate regions, to enhance fruit profiles, texture, and structure. Within hours of picking, the cold fruit is destemmed without crushing. The wine is then cold soaked for seven days and punched down two to three times per day. The wine is co-fermented with Viognier grapes for added aromas. The skins are left on and macerated for full color extraction. After settling for 72 hours, the wine is racked into small French and American oak barrels for 18 to 24 months. The end result, the Bridlewood Syrah, is a beautifully balanced wine with complexity and exciting flavors. The color is a dark, inky purple. The nose opens with smoke, cedar, chocolate, dark berries and tar. The palate is full of soft chewy tannins, rich, dark fruit flavors, chocolate and some earthy notes. The finish is clean and long. The moderate acidity and alcohol will allow this wine to improve with one to two years in your cellar.
Central Coast California
Color: Dark, inky purple
Nose: Smoke, cedar, choco- late, dark berries
Palate: Dry, chewy tannins, dark fruit, earthy notes
Clean and long finish