- Q & A
February 2005 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 218 Rejected: 204 Approved: 10 Selected: 4
February is the month to show our feelings and we taste and select these wines with you in our hearts and minds. Love is defined as a feeling for someone or something of which one is fond of and so it is safe to say that you will be fond of these February selections. Love is in the air and in the glass!REGULAR SERIES:
2000 Sonoma Creek Merlot
from Sonoma, California is attractive and appealing. This is the wine to open for that special dinner for two. A great vintage, a great wine, a great value! Be sure to have some on hand when friends come over, too.
2002 Kangaroo Ridge Chardonnay
warms our hearts with its Kangaroo charm and lively label. It romances our palates with its rich flavors of tropical fruit and toasty apple. The wine is new to the US but has been very popular Down Under and in Europe. Welcome, mates!
2001 Gloria Ferrer Merlot
has all the char¬acteristics of a lovely and memorable wine. It has a dark red color with smells and flavors of chocolate, cassis and cherries. Sound deli¬cious? It is and we guar¬antee that you will be infatuated with it.
2001 Buehler Reserve Chardonnay
salutes our faithful affection to this grape. You will fall in love with its creamy texture, its ample body and great nose. Snuggle up with a glass and renew your dedication to this Russian River classic!
Domestic SelectionSonoma Creek... "our passion, your wine!" For more than a decade since the first crush, Sonoma Creek Winery has been producing quality wines of exceptional value. Sonoma Creek believes that great wines are made in the vineyard and produced by people with a great emotion for nature. The land of Sonoma Creek has a colorful history dating back to the late 1800's. Hence, the colorful label. This attractive label depicts the history of pedigree horses and rodeos; there is evidence that the late August Sebastiani once won a roping trophy. From a successful dairy operation to Brahma Steers, pedigree horses and rodeos, the ranching and rodeo heritage inspired the horse on the label and the colors symbolize the wineries assorted past. Sonoma Creek Winery is located in the western reaches of the Los Carneros appellation, situated in the cool climate of the famous Carneros region of Sonoma County. Tim and Becky Larsen grow organic, dry-farmed grapes for their award winning wine. The Merlot receives extended barrel ageing in American and French oak. The lengthy summer develops red grapes that are intensely fruity, mature, and complex. The grapes are hand-harvested. Then the crushed and whole berries are allowed to ferment naturally. After 21 days of skin contact, the wine is pressed and aged in French oak barrels for 19 months. The results? Dark saturated crimson color. What an intense nose of ripe plum, black cherry and red roses! The palate has supple textures full of red fruit flavors, cassis, vanilla, and dark spices. The flavors compound in the glass and a dry finish reminds you that Merlot is not for 'sweet tooth's'. This is no wimpy Merlot; it is complex and full-bodied. The winery suggests that you drink it with Pork (see page 13 for recipe). We however, suggest that the Sonoma Creek Merlot is about as balanced and delicious as Merlot gets, making it an excellent choice to serve on its own with all of your friends. Enjoy!
Sonoma Creek Vineyard
Sonoma County California
Dark crimson color.
Nose of ripe plum, red roses and black cherry.
Cassis, vanilla, dark spices on the palate.
Dry lengthy finish.
Imported SelectionKangaroo, how do you do? It is so nice to have you here in the United States. Once exported mainly to Western Europe, Kangaroo Ridge is now being sold stateside and we are so very pleased to have the honor of introducing this exclusive wine to you. After taking Europe by storm, Kangaroo Ridge has hopped in to our hands, mouths, and hearts. Our Aussie mates are known for creating wine with humor, a sense of fun and full of aggressive personali¬ty and this is no exception. Mr. John Geber is founder and CEO of Kangaroo Ridge. Established in 1991, Kangaroo Ridge has a long, successful background of producing high quality, value priced wines from Australia. Mr. Geber said, "My dream for Kangaroo Ridge was to create the most Australian of all the Australian wines". He has combined wit, wisdom, and hard work and created a wine that is bold, straight¬forward, clean, fresh, and easy drinking! Very much Australian, don't you think? The vibrant label shows Australia's most recogniz¬able icon, the kangaroo. The sun-drenched hills of South Eastern Australia grows quality fruit which is outstanding for making soft, well rounded wines for everyday drinking. The grapes from each vine-yard are tasted to ensure their ripeness. Once the fruit is picked, the Chardonnay parcels from each vineyard are ferment¬ed separately. Remember that Australia has mas¬tered the art of vineyard and regional blending; nowhere in the world is it done any better. After fermentation, the grapes are masterfully blended and then aged in small oak barrels. The result? A wine of light golden color. A nose of melon with a hint of citrus and pineapple. There is strong, rich tropical peach on the palate with subtle oak. This is a wine where the richness and sunshine of the Australian landscape comes shining through. A good Aussie will drink this wine today but it will keep at least a year for future enjoyment. Hop into the fridge for a glass of Kangaroo Ridge!
South Eastern Australia
Light Gold Color.
Nose of citrus, melon and pineapple.
Pear, peach, apple and soft oak on the palate.
Good length with toasty nuances.
Limited Series SelectionOne 'glorious' achievement after another; Gloria Ferrer Winery was once famous for its award-winning bubbly cuvées. But in 1998, the winery program took huge steps when they purchased select vineyard sites for the production of still wine. The Pinot Noir has been a huge hit and now the Merlot seems to be follow¬ing its example. There is no doubt that Gloria Ferrer has come along way in a short period. The cool and windy cli¬mate of Carneros gives this latest endeavor a unique place to grow Merlot vines. The Merlot grapes are planted on the southern end of the ranch called Thimbleberry block, an iso¬lated hillside parcel. The soil is Diablo and Clear Lake clay, which is not typ-ical for western Carneros but very similar to the soil of the Pomerol region in Bordeaux, which produces some of the world's finest Merlot wines. The vines are naturally stressed due to the thin hillside soil and watered as necessary. The cool Carneros climate makes for extra long hang time and as a result, the fruit is very concentrated by the time it is picked. Gloria Ferrer Merlot 2001 is the winery's fourth release. This wine reinforces Gloria Ferrer's promise that truly balanced and expressive Merlot can be grown in a cooler climate. There are soft enticing aro¬mas of blueberry, black berry, cinnamon, and tobacco. The palate is soft and round with balanced yet structured tannins, complex fruit, and spice flavors. The finish is ele¬gant and enduring. It is approachable now but may also be cellared for a decade or more. Roasted or grilled meats are an excellent food choice and this is a perfect wine for the after-dinner cheese course. This is a real crowd pleaser so be sure to have enough on hand for the future.
Color: Dark red.
Nose: Aggressive black berries and cassis
Textured & elegant. Flavors of chocolate, cassis, and dark fruit.
Lingering powerful finish.
Limited Series SelectionBuehler Vineyards encompasses 300 acres of pristine Napa Valley hillside terrain. Most of these acres are dedicated to grape grow-ing and the remainder of the estate is a rugged habitat for deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, coyotes, eagles, mountain lions, and three generations of the Buehler family. The Buehler's acquired it in 1971, full of rocks and rattlesnakes. They cleared the land, built roads, and planted their first blocks of grapes. John and Helen had built a beautiful home with views of the vineyards, Conn Valley and Lake Hennessey. Their grapes initially were sold to such wineries as Cuvaison, Grgich Hills, and Burgess. In 1978, John hand crushed his first release. In 1993, David Cronin joined the winery as winemaker. He came from Far Niente where he is famous for his Dolce wines. After searching for fruit wor¬thy of the Buehler name, the Russian River's East Side Road Vineyard, which is across the street from the famous Rochioli and Allen Vineyards, has been the source for their Reserve Chardonnay. After whole cluster pressing, the juice is set¬tled overnight and then racked into French oak barrels for full barrel fer-mentation. Here it goes through Malolactic fer-mentation, which makes for a fuller bodied wine. The wine rests, sur lie, for 10 months. The wine does not leave the barrel until it is time to bottle. Such Burgundian wine-making techniques result in a wine of deep gold color. The nose is ample, complex and full of clas¬sic Chardonnay smells of peach and baked apples. The palate is rich with oaky, roasted grain, gra¬ham cracker, and Crème Brulee flavors. It is creamy, lush, weighty, and balanced. The finish is endless. This wine stands on its own so serve it with fish or dishes without a lot of spice or textures.
Deep gold color.
Nose of peach, baked apples.
Roasted grain, graham crackers, creme brulee, oaky.
Lush and weighty.
Is there caffeine in wine? We feel hyper when we drink it.
R.T., Chesterfield, MO.
Wine is many things but not a stimulant. All alcohol acts on the body's central nervous system as a depressant.
A person's tolerance and capaci¬ty for amounts of alcohol may vary with age, sex, weight, and drinking history. Most healthy bodies process alcohol in the same way: The first sip irritates the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. It passes to the stomach where some of the alco¬hol is absorbed and then moves into the small intestine where it quickly enters the bloodstream. Eating food before and during drinking greatly helps to delay this absorption. After alcohol hits the bloodstream, the mind-alter¬ing affects begin. Within minutes, alcohol enters the brain, numb¬ing nerve cells and slowing their messages to the rest of the body. The heart's cardiac muscles strain to cope with the alcohol's depressive action and the pulse quickens. This is the point where most people feel the 'rush' of a few drinks. As drinking contin¬ues, alcohol builds in the blood¬stream and the nerve centers which control speech, vision, bal¬ance and judgment go haywire. Alcohol is metabolized mostly in the liver. Our entire blood supply circulates through the liver every four minutes. Enzymes in the liver turn alcohol into acetalde¬hyde, a highly toxic chemical, which is then converted into acetate, and finally into carbon dioxide and water. The process is slow, about three hours for each ounce of alcohol. Therefore, despite the rumors, nothing will speed up the liver or sober you up quickly. Coffee will not quicken the process.
Remember that alcohol is a legal drug. It is a historical but some-times a hazardous anesthetic. Because it depresses the central nervous system, it can produce different results in different people and settings. The shy become the life of the party, the outgoing becomes quiet, some become boring, loud, fighting and bragging.
"It provokes the desire," wrote Shakespeare long before sci¬ence knew anything about our endocrine system, "but it takes away the performance."
In moderation, drinking loosens the tongue, bonds friendships and promotes intimacy.
Always drink responsibly, with food, within your limits, and volunteer to drive when others are and you are not.