May 2004 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 217
Rejected: 199 Approved: 18 Selected: 4
This month when you are celebrating Cinco de Mayo or having a barbeque over the Memorial Day weekend, enjoy one of this month's selection of excellent wines which will pair wonderfully with grilled meats or spicy foods.
Critics are calling the 2002 vintage in California's North Coast even better than the great 2001 vintage. The 2002 Lakeville Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is a great opportunity for our members to experience a soon to be legendary vintage first hand.
Can you say "Viognier" without smiling? Maybe you
can, but once you drink our 2001 Equus Viognier, you won't be able to wipe that smile off your face!
The 2000 Terroir Napa Valley Merlot lives up to the word "terroir" which is the French term for earth and all of the factors that contribute to the nuances in the quality and taste of fruit grown in a specific vineyard.
The 2002 Konzelmann Pinot Blanc comes from the shores of Lake Ontario where the wonderful balance of sun, soil, airflow and moisture conditions are ideal for the production of premium quality wines.
Lakeville Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is a deeply scented, dark colored and richly fruity Cabernet Sauvignon which represents an outstanding example of the very highly rated 2002 vintage in California. It originates from one of the state's most rigorously quality conscious "negociant" firms Namdar and Son, located in Marin County a hotbed of wine activity just north of San Francisco.
Namdar and Son are second generation growers, negociants, bottlers, custom label designers and shippers working with only the finest small lots of hand selected wines, from their own vineyards and those of neighbors they have known since the Sixties and Seventies. He is intimately familiar with the North Coast's finest fruit sources and has had over a dozen years of blending these wines into ultra premium varietal statements. This 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception, and is thought to be one of the finest the firm has yet made. The family's large wine estate in Sebastopol provided some of the grapes
used in this blend and older portions of the vineyard were specifically sourced for the best possible fruit.
Ultimately, the 2002 Lakeville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon became a blend of Sacramento Delta, Yolo County and Sonoma vineyard sites. The wine is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, a classic blend where Merlot is brought in to add backbone, fruit and aroma to the rich and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. 2002 was a hot and long maturing year and this wine has an intensely dark color with a penetrating aroma of berry, bramble, cassis, raspberry, smoke and red licorice stick. After a traditional skin maceration for maximum color and flavor extraction, the wine was fermented in stainless steel, then racked into a combination of new and used American and French oak barrels. Most were small cooperage in the 60 gallon range with a few larger size oak uprights also employed. The wine was aged for 14 months with minimal handling and minimal racking. Bottled largely
unfiltered and only lightly fined, it is a whopping but well balanced and lip-s-macking good example of a young California Cabernet sauvignon.
Aroma of berry, bramble, cassis, rasp¬berry, smoke and red licorice stick. Whopping but well balanced. Decant at least an hour before consuming. Great with grilled red meats or ripe cheese.
Domestic Selection 2
Located in historic Templeton, Equus is part of the Wild Horse Winery which was named for the wild mustangs that roam the hills east of the vineyard estate. Descendents of the first Spanish horses brought to California, these mavericks suggest a free, noble spirit. They are the ideal symbol for the Wild Horse commitment to spirited winemaking.
Originally selected for its low vigor soils, proven ground water table and proximity to Estero Bay, the vineyard and winery location — a midpoint in the Central Coast — would later prove to be ideal for sourcing fruit from vineyards to the north and south of the winery.
The Wild Horse estate vineyard was planted in 1982, while the first crush took place in 1983 with fruit from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Even then, founder Ken Volk recognized the synergism of blending grapes from the great vineyards of the Central Coast.
The 2001 Equus Viognier
captures the aromatic charm and richness of this varietal. It displays aromas of ripe apricot, nectarine and honeysuckle blossom. Similar lush flavors are complemented by a hint of ginger and spice. The wine is well-balanced by bright acidity and the minerality characteristic of the Paso Robles vineyards.
After hand-harvesting, the fruit was whole cluster pressed in a modified champagne cycle to avoid over extracting the bitter phenolics inherent in aromatic varietals. The juice was cold settled for 48 hours, prior to racking off its solids. Fermentation was initiated in stainless steel at 55 degrees. After a slow yeast population build up, half of the Viognier was transferred to neutral French oak to complete fermentation in the barrel while the balance finished fermentation in stainless steel. The barrel fermented fraction created a supple mouthfeel, richness and minerality. The stainless steel portion preserved the fresh fruit elements. This delicious wine is a perfect aperitif. Its
crisp, aromatic character holds up well to typically spicy cuisines. We recommend trying Viognier with Pacific Rim and Cajun dishes of shellfish, seafood and chicken. Google this one and we know you won't find a better price anywhere on the web!
Displays ammas of ripe apricot, nectarine and honeysuckle blossom. Hint of ginger and
spice. Acidity is well balanced.
Limited Series Selection
Craig Handly is the winemaker and sole proprietor of Terroir Napa Valley Wines. He launched Terroir Napa Valley Wines after 18 years of designing labels for brands that include Karl Lawrence, Robert Craig, Richard Partridge, Elyse, Vinoce, Egelhoff, Surh Luchtel, Axios, Elizabeth Spencer, Phelan Vineyards and Amizetta.
His growing and pas-sionate interest in wine lead to the launching of his own labels. Terroir Napa Valley Wines' focus is small lot terroir in red vari¬etals. The wines of Terroir Napa Valley consist of small lot bot¬tlings from specific vineyard sites. The case productions remain in the 200-500 case range by design and are always 100% Napa Valley.
Terroir is the French term for earth and in a winemaking context includes all of the fac¬-
tors, mineral content, soil type, exposure to the sun, wind and rain, that contribute to the nuances in the taste and quality of the fruit grown in a specific vineyard.
Merlots from the Napa Valley region can be elegant and rich with berry fruitiness. They are usually medi¬um-bodied containing moderate acidity which makes them pair well with all sorts of grilled meats. The 2000 Rutherford Merlot's dark cherry and berry fruit aromas drive the nose with vanilla oak and spice. The wine exhibits a cool mint, cherry, rasp¬berry, cassis body with a touch of cola-berry, and a long silky finish. Pleasant, graceful tan¬nins abound on the close. Ifs finesse and complexity contribute greatly to the appro¬priate food pairings, roasted meats, game and pastas. This is def¬initely a wine that is both a quality wine
and a great value wine with the Napa Valley appellation. Drink up and be sure to reorder before we run out!
Dark cherry, berry fruit aromas with vanilla oak and spice. Cool mint, cherry, raspberry, cassis body with a touch of cola-berry, and a long silky finish.
Limited Series Selection
Konzelmann Estate Winery, Niagara's exclusive lake front winery, was established in Canada in 1984. Herbert Konzelmann, the great-grandson of German winemaker, Friedrich Konzelmann, chose the site on the shores of Lake Ontario because of the micro-climate, as they have been compared to the Alsace region of France where the wonderful balance of sun, soil, airflow and moisture conditions are ideal for the pro¬duction of premium quality wines.
The protection pro¬vided by the nearby Niagara Escarpment, combined with the moderating influence of the lake, provides a longer growing period for the 'noble' Vitis Vinifera vines of Pinot Noir, Riesling, and
Chardonnay grapes. The cool-climate viti¬culture conditions are often enhanced by an 'Indian summer', a warming in autumn which allows for a later harvest, therefore creating a fine acid balance and natural sugar content in the grape. Also, with morning dew that set¬tles on the grapes on the Lakeshore vine¬yards gives the wines a uniquely delicate and fruity character. This positive climate produces grapes with a more constant Brix, or sugar level, a very positive attribute for this area.
The 2002 Pinot Blanc is a blend of 85% Pinot Blanc and 15% Riesling. It was aged in 100% stainless steel tanks. Pinot Blanc wines are noted for their fresh, apple/pear aroma at times with hints of spice. Pinot Blancs can be aged for
a few years and take on delicious honey overtones.
Suggested pairings include spicy Asian dishes, shellfish including mussels and oysters and seasoned white meats.
Pinot Blanc, 2002.
This light-weight, off dry wine offers fresh, zesty fruit, full-mouth flavours of pear and tangerine, and is sliced by a wonderfully crisp acidity.
"How can I be sure that
the wine I am drinking
contains grapes from
the area stated on the
W.T., Covina, CA
Due to space consider-ations I will limit my answer to wine produced here in the United States. Wine producers must fol¬low federal rules and regu¬lations as administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). The BATF began defining wine regions in 1978 and implemented the system in 1983. These wine regions are known as American Viticultural Areas or AVAs.
An AVA is defined strictly by a geographic area. Growers must petition the BATF to designate an area as an AVA. The deci¬sion is based on such char¬acteristics as an area's
topography, soil type, microclimate and elevation.
When a wine is labeled with an AVA, 85% of the grapes used to produce the wine must be from within the confines of the AVA stat¬ed on the label.
When a wine is labeled by county, at least 75% of the grapes used to produce the wine must be from the labeled county.
When a wine is labeled by state, at least 75 % of the
grapes used to produce the wine must be grown in the state indicated on the label. However, in California 100% of the grapes used to produce a wine with a California appellation must be produced in California.
When a wine is labeled with a grape variety (for example, Zinfandel), the wine must be composed of at least 75% of the labeled variety. Some states have more rigid rules.
And when a vineyard is used on the label, at least 95% of the wine in the con¬tainer was produced using grapes grown on the named vineyard, ranch, orchard or farm.