September 2004 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 218
Rejected: 202 Approved: 16 Selected: 4
It's the second most wonderful time of the year...dah, dah, dah, etc. That is right gang, it is back to school time. Whew....couldn't have been a day later. We just returned from a 3 week stint in Italy (details to follow) and I am exhausted (not from the trip, the kids!). So, these wines will help us ease into our new schedule that leaves our days to ourselves.
I get the biggest thrill when I bring you these selections. I think they are all great...but some really stand out. This one I am giddy about. Oh, yes it is good....but, the least expensive I can find it anywhere is $16.99, how does $9.99 sound? I thought so... 2000 Equus Syrah.
If we told you we have a wine that exhibits intense
flavor and mineral charac-teristics, as well as structure and complexity that are not common in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanes, what would you say? No way? Way! As in our 2001 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc.
Boy am I tired. Some of these sales guys really put up a fight. But this is why I am here. I almost had to pass this one up, I just couldn't seem to get the guy to see it my way... then, out of the blue, he called back and said "Ok" to my offer. Here you go...the 2001 Grove Street Cabernet Sauvignon
The Running of the Bulls just took place in Spain but we doubt you could run any faster then when you run to the phone to order more of our 2001 Casa de la Ermita Jumilla!
We just couldn't pass this one up! A few months ago we featured the Equus Viognier and it was a tremendous hit with our members. When Equus asked us to try their Syrah, it was a "no-brainer" (slight pause for those of you who want to throw in a comment or two.) There was no way that we could pass up this offering from Paso Robles. Long, dry, hot days followed by chilly nights are the ideal conditions for producing ripe, succulent and delicious Syrahs.
Located in historic Templeton in Central California, Equus is part of the Wild Horse Winery which was named for the wild mustangs that roam the hills east of the vineyard estate. Paso Robles is red wine country and it is fast becoming one of America's premier wine regions. The town is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is considered the center of the Central Coast Wine Region. The climate and diverse soils provide optimal growing
conditions for a number of varieties. During the 1990s plantings of Rhone varietals increased significantly including Syrah which is now the third most planted red varietal in the area with just over 1,800 acres planted in the Paso Robles Appellation.
Using a combination of open and closed-top fermentors, this Syrah was given a cold soak for 48-72 hours prior to inoculation. Open-tops were initially pumped over to homogenize must temperature, then punched down by hand 2-4 times daily. Closed top fermentors received 3 daily pump-overs. A rack-and-return to tank was performed on both types of fermentors mid-fermentation. This was done for aeration, stem and seed removal and to allow for complete mixing of grape must. Malolactic fermentation was completed and the Syrah was pressed at cap fall. The wine was aged for 14 months in predominantly French oak barrels with individual vineyard lots kept separate throughout their cellar life.
This elegant Syrah will prove an ideal companion to a variety of foods and preparation techniques. We recommend pairing with roasted or grilled lamb or pork loin and rustic Mediterranean cuisine.
The 2000 Syrah offers
aromas of ripe
blueberry, cherry, plum
and spice. Bright fruit
and good acidity lead to
a supple, creamy
mouthfeel and lovely full
New Zealand's arrival on the world wine stage has been swift and dramatic. Over the past decade, as British author Hugh Johnson has written, "New Zealand has made an international impact with white wines of startling quality. It is now regarded as the foremost cool, climate viticultural region among the world's new wine countries."
Marlborough is the most prestigious of all New Zealand's wine regions. From the endless rows of vines marching across the pebbly, pancake-flat Wairau Plains, flow perfumed and vigorous, vibrantly fruity white wines with a breathtaking intensity of flavor. The winery bears its name from the Wairau River (pronounced why-raow) which means "A Hundred Waters."
Wairau River's graceful, low-slung headquarters lies in the heart of Marlborough's finest grape-growing area. Phil and Chris Rose, the proprietors of Wairau River, pioneered the planting of vines on the warm north side of the
Wairau Valley, in 1977. After over a decade of growing grapes for established wineries, in 1991 the Roses launched their own label, Wairau River Wines - with instant success in wine competitions and on the international market.
Today the Roses' stony, silty vineyards, which lie along the banks of the Wairau River itself, cover more than 250 acres, and are principally planted in Sauvignon Blanc. Wairau River wines are awash with the fresh, penetrating flavors of Marlborough grapes. Fragrant, vibrantly fruity and appetizingly crisp, they are exceptionally attractive to drink in their youth but also age very well.
Wairau River's Sauvignon Blanc has fruit-forward taste, intense flavor and mineral characteristics, as well as structure and complexity that are not common in New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
Classic Marlborough characteristics shine through in these Sauvignon Blanc wines. Wairau River Marlborough Sauvignon
Blanc is perfect as an aperitif or with many varied cuisines. This wine can be enjoyed young or if given time will age gracefully over a period of four to five years.
Ripe tropical fruit &
gooseberry flavors abound
leaving a long clean taste
on the mid and back
palate, warm and uncut-
¬ous with a smooth acid
touch just apparent.
Limited Series Selection
Yes, that does say Alexander Valley on the label, your eyes aren't deceiving you. When you think Alexander Valley, you have to think "Cabernet Sauvignon." The best Cabernet Sauvignons from the Alexander Valley appellation exhibit depth and con¬centration of fruit and are supple and smooth wines.
Haven't heard of Alexander Valley? Well, have you heard of Silver Oak, Geyser Peak and Lancaster Estate? These are all well-known wineries that produce superb Cabernet Sauvignons from Alexander Valley fruit. This area is prized for its soft Cabernet Sauvignon and once you taste our Grove Street selection you will know why Alexander Valley is synonymous with world class Cabernet Sauvignon.
Alexander Valley is situated along the Russian River between Healdsburg and
Cloverdale in picturesque Sonoma County. The Valley ben¬efits dramatically from the cooling effects of the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean. As night approaches, the valley cools down due to the cool air and fog flowing along the Russian River from the coast provid¬ing a quick cooling of high daytime tempera¬tures. This warm day, cool night scenario assures ripe fruit flavors and balanced, bright acidity
Our Cabernet Sauvignon is produced by Grove Street Winery which was established in 1988 in the historic Sonoma County town of Healdsburg. It has been producing highly acclaimed wines from the heart of this world-renowned region ever since. Today Grove Street remains one of the few 100% family-owned wineries in California focusing on the production of super premium, limited production Cabernet Sauvignons,
Chardonnay and Merlot from Sonoma and Napa Counties. The 2001 vin¬tage is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Enjoy this Alexander Valley beauty with a grilled ribeye steak and see why everyone raves about Alexander the Great!
Shows the true
characteristics of the
Valley. This wine
has fine oak flavors
undertones, and a
Limited Series Selection
One of our staff members was travelling through Spain recently and it would be a great story if we could say he discovered this wine while he was there, alas we can't say that, he was too busy running for his life during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona! Some people just don't have their pri¬orities straight, drinking wine or saving your hide. It's a tough call but after you take a sip of the Casa de la Ermita Jumilla, I think you will always choose sipping wine!
Recent reports show that Spain has nearly three million acres of land planted with grapes, more than any other nation in the world. However, this does not translate into leading the world in wine produc¬tion. Spain ranks third in that category behind France and Italy and the reason for this is due to the large percentage of old vines planted in extremely hot, dry, infer¬tile land which produce low yields of grapes.
The Casa de la Ermita is made from grapes grown in the Jumilla [khoo MEE-lyah] DO (Denominacion de Origen) located in the south-eastern corner of Spain near the coastal town of Alicante in the province of Murcia. This area includes the province of Valencia and is known as the Levante. The influences of the dry Levante winds and breezes off the Mediterranean help pro¬duce a semi-arid climate in this region. Jumilla has been known for its pro¬duction of heavy full bod¬ied red wines with 17% alcohol, however in recent years there has been a shift towards pro¬ducing younger and lighter styles of wines.
The grape varieties used in this month's selection are Monastrell (maw-nahs-TRRELL], Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Monastrell is a rustic Spanish grape recently identified as a clone of the Mourvedre grape. Casa de la Ermita is at the fore¬front of recent changes in
the D.O. Jumilla, changes that have led to improve-ments in quality and the production of more com¬plex wines with powerful fruity flavors. Enjoy this wine with Mediterranean dishes of lamb, veal or pork and play some Paco Peña in the background while you imagine your¬self relaxing in the warmth of the Spanish sun.
Casa de la Ermita
Cherry color with
balsamic on the nose and
light oak notes. Lighty
toasted flavors and long
"What effect does the
trellising and training
of the vines have on the
final wine product, if
B.D., Beverly Hillls, CA
Yes, the trellising and training of the vines has a tremendous impact on the quality of the grapes.
In many warm cli¬mactic regions, too much exposure to the sun, especially during the last phase of ripening, causes sugar content to climb very fast and the acid to diminish, resulting in an overripe, flabby wine. This wine in turn has a high alcohol content, which gives you an unwelcome heat/warm feeling in the back of the throat. This can be com¬pensated by using the leaves/folliage to block
the suns intense rays.
In many cooler regions, the folliage tends to obscure the sun, preventing the grapes from ripening properly. Therefore, the pruning of many of the leaves to expose the fruit to the sun helps to increase the sugar and decrease the
¬ acid, which is normally not available in a cooler region.
In many areas which have a high propensity for moisture, the folliage is clipped to allow for evaporation of the mois¬ture to avoid rot/mildew.
In addition, as the ground absorbs heat during the day, it radi¬ates the heat to the vines at night and the distance of the canes from the ground can also affect the character of the wine.