- Q & A
August 2005 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 237 Rejected: 227 Approved: 16 Selected: 4
What does Hurricane Emily and the Wine of the Month Club have in common? Nothing much except the fact that it held up our imported selection for this month in the Bahamas. So, we moved up our domestic selec¬tion from September to show you in August. Enjoy these two exquisite California selections.REGULAR SERIES:
2002 Zinfandel "Old Vines" Estrada Creek, Lodi, California
repre¬sents one of the best from the Lodi Appellation where Zinfandel is King. Rich, jammy and full of fruit and spice, this is a deli¬cious glass with big fla¬vors.
2004 Chardonnay Oakhurst, California
pride themselves on selecting the best grapes from California's finest vineyards to produce exceptional wines. This wine is so delicious that it earned a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition.
2003 Malbec Bodega Del Fin Del Mundo, Patagonia, Argentina
will make you appreciate the pride and attention the Argentines have for the Malbec grape. Here is a wine that is loaded with dark berry fruit and hints of chocolate. Malbec is a grape that has great cellaring potential, so make room in your cellar.
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Santo Stefano, Alexander Valley, California
is an example of a family's dedication to making handcrafted wines for four generations. This winery only makes Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the finest vineyards in Sonoma County.
DOmestic SelectionWelcome to Lodi Wine Country! This emerging California wine region is rich with history and beautiful vineyards. The Lodi Wine Country is nestled between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The Lodi Appellation is a federally designated American Viticulture Area recognized for the distinctive quality of its vines. The Lodi region is defined and influenced by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. As temperatures rise in the central valley, cool maritime breezes are pulled directly across the Lodi region creating a unique climate that has allowed premium grapes to grow for over a century. Here is a classic Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cool, moist winters. Two major rivers that originate in the Sierra Nevada, the Mokelumne and the Cosumnes, have brought soils rich in minerals that bring distinctive flavors to the wines of Lodi. Zinfandel is California's grape, and in Lodi, "Zin is King." Dating back to the late 1800's, Lodi has a long history of producing some of the best Zinfandel grapes in the state. These Zinfandel vines survived prohibition and survived the planting booms of the 70's and 80's. Now, these old vines are sought after from growers, vintners, and consumers from around the world. Estrada Old Vines Zinfandel is made from 55-year-old vines that are dry-farmed and head pruned. There is also ten percent 40 year-old-vine Carignan blended in the wine. The old vines provide intense flavors and great character. The Carignan brings bright fruit and richness to the blend. Whether young or old, Lodi Zinfandels are irresistible. We could not resist the Estrada Old Vines! The wine is full of flavor yet soft and supple on the palate. The color is deep, dark violet. The nose features assertive fruit, an abundance of cherry, blackberry, and plum with notes of black pepper and spice. One sip and you will agree that this is a whole lotta wine in one glass. The rambunctious fruit all over the palate with overtones of jam, pepper, and vanilla will keep you going back for another sip. This is perfect to drink alone but will enhance a variety of dishes. Try it with Grilled Garlic Lamb (see page 13), hearty pastas, and aged cheeses.
Color: Deep, dark violet
Nose: Cherry, blackberry, plum, black pepper, spice.
Flavor: Jam, pepper, vanilla.
Domestic SelectionChardonnay pro¬duces wines with one of the happiest of all combinations: growers love to grow it; the winemaker loves to make it; and we all love to drink it. The result is the most sought after varietel in the world. The Oakhurst Chardonnay is no exception. Winemaker Phil Franscioni is pleased and proud to offer you his award-winning wine from one of the oldest and most respected viticultural families in the Monterey/Central Coast Valley area. The grapes are sourced from a combination of estate vineyards from South Monterey County in the Arroyo Seco Appellation to Paso Robles from the Sun View Vineyard. Since many of these vineyards have been in continuous operation dating from the early to mid-Sixties, these vines are among the old-est and most established in the region. Diversity of cli¬matic conditions and soils are a key feature when sourcing grapes from this area. The influence of the Pacific Ocean and the cooling fog gently bathe the grapes throughout the growing season. Add that to the marine influence on the soil, and you have a rare and very special terroir. This pro¬vides the harvested fruit with unusual depth, character and distinctive flavors. The grapes for this award-winning wine were harvested at optimum ripeness and maturity. This meticulous attention to ripeness ensures that the wine will be bursting with fresh fruit and capable of bottle age¬ing. Oakhurst Chardonnay is sure to be a hit at any gather¬ing so be sure to have extra bottles on hand. The wine is artistically crafted with 92% Chardonnay with 6% Viognier (vee-yahn-yeah), and 2% Pinot Blanc added for complexity and to enhance the floral bouquet. The color is light, golden yellow. The nose has a touch of oak from small American and French barrels and a brightness of fruit that is disctinctly Central Coast in nature. There are smells of ripe apple, white pear, apri¬cot, peach and flowers. The pallet is mouthfilling, refreshing and loaded with fresh fruit flavors of apples and pears. The finish is round, refined and lengthy. Delicious! This lovely and fresh wine is ideally suited with sauteed sea bass, roast chicken, creamy risotto, salads and mild, ripe cheeses. While delicious at the present moment, this brisk and bright Chardonnay would love an additional three years of age-ing to improve in a cool cellar.
Color: Light golden, yellow
Nose: Fresh fruit, crisp apples, cherry blossom, pear.
Palate: Dry, balanced, complex, green apple, pear, vanilla.
Long, refreshing finish.
Limited SEries SelectionPatagonia has been described as "a region of immense beauty with countless landscapes where the final touches of creation can be traced." The Bodega del Fin del Mundo (the end of the world) makes their wines in Neuquen, 500 miles south of Mendoza. The growing conditions here are excellent and they take great care with the grape selection for every bottle of wine they make. They make Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec, Chardonnay, and Semillon. We had little hes-itation selecting this Malbec. Malbec has estab¬lished its reputation for being the star red grape varietel in Argentina. The wines can be ripe, lush, and capable of extended age¬ing. The grape is almost black and thick-skinned. This allows the grapes to withstand the heat and sun while ripening and attain¬ing ripeness. During fer- ¬mentation, the thick skins give the wine its intense color. Chief Winemaker Marcelo Miras puts his heart and soul into every vintage and takes a great deal of pride in every aspect of the winemaking process. Because Malbec is the pride and joy of Argentina, Bodega del Fin del Mundo makes every effort to preserve its repu-tation with every bottling. The wine has a beautiful bright ruby color with a deep saturation. The nose is loaded with dark berry aromas, wild strawberries, and a hint of pepper and chocolate. There are some tobacco and hints of vanilla from the 10 months in French and American oak. It is full-bodied with bal¬anced acidity and soft tan¬nins that linger on the palate. A delicious wine from start to finish! Be sure to keep some in your cellar as it has ageing potential for 4 to 5 years. Great with grilled meats, especially lamb.
Bodega Del Fin Del Mundo
Color: Bright ruby
Nose: Dark berry, wild strawberry, pepper, chocolate.
Palate: Full-bodied, soft tannins, lush fruit.
Fruity, spicy finish.
Limited Series SelectionSince the winery's founding, four generations have carried on the Santo tradition of handcraft¬ing fine wine. In 1938, Santo's nephew Stefano refined and expanded his uncle's compa-ny with a spirit of innovation and dedication to quality that has become a hallmark of the family business. Stefano and Maddalena, their sons, Santo and Steven, their daughter Catherine, and grandson Anthony, honor this tradition with their award-winning wines. The family's dedica-tion extends beyond the art of making fine wine to the sci¬ence of growing exceptional grapes. The winemakers handcraft each wine using the most modern equipment, such as temperature con¬trolled stainless steel tanks, and refrigerated cellars for the oak barrels. As always, their art is a constantly evolv¬ing blend of family experi¬ence and new discoveries. Santo Stefano is a small brand of the historic San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles, California. Santo Stefano is dedicated to making only Cabernet Sauvignon from the finest vineyards in Sonoma's Alexander Valley. Alexander Valley is one of eleven appel-lations in Sonoma County. Alexander Valley is located in the northeast of the county and is the largest region in Sonoma. It runs from the banks of the Russian River into the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains. The area naturally has an almost perfect climate and condi-tions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaker is Karen Culler, a UC Davis graduate who started her career working for Robert Mondavi Winery. She takes meticulous care and has a great passion for her craft. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit is har-vested from Santo Stefano's Demostene and Saiti vine-yards in the Alexander Valley. The color is dark crimson from rim to core, full extracted color. The smells of fresh raspberry and blackber-ry with a sweet vanilla undertone are inviting and assertive. The palate is dry, soft, and silky with bright cherry, currant, and blackber-ry flavors. There is a touch of chocolate and tobacco with a long, bright, and fruity finish. This is a great glass of wine for those who enjoy fruit. Yummy!
1999 Santo Stefano
Cabernet Sauvignon (ka-buhr-nay saw-veenh-yawn)
Color: Ruby red.
Nose: Cherries, cur- rants, dried raspberry.
Palate: Dry, medium- -bodied, rich, complex fruit and soft oak nuances.
Long earthy finish.