May 2007 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 157
Rejected: 142 Approved: 15 Selected: 6
"A little madness in the Spring, is wholesome even for the King."
CheapSkate's Miser Meritage is quaffable and delicious with a price to make your jaw drop. Cheap Skate wines are not cheap on quality, just price. This blend is perfect for your after-taxes dinner party.
2006, Martin Fierro,
Chardonnay / Torrontes.
San Juan, Argentina
Blends of Chardonnay and Torrontes are becoming a trademark for Argentina. Full of the lush tropical flavors of Chardonnay, and
balanced with the acidity and fragrance of Torrontes, this wine is hard to resist.
2003, Cosentino, Syrah. Napa
Syrah is a particular, demanding grape. It cannot be grown everywhere. However, Mitch Cosentino knows exactly where this grape thrives. His wine is a perfect example of Napa Valley Syrah. Lush and fruity, it's the wine for grilled meats and stews.
2002, Koonowla, Cabernet
Sauvignon. Clare Valley,
There is so much to like about this wine. We love that it's bottled with a screw cap so that we can pour a glass to savor now, and easily recap it for tomorrow. This is a great Cabernet at a great price.
CheapSkate has six rules to make wine by: 1. Make only stunningly good wines; 2. Sell them at outrageous value; 3. Use humor and honesty; 4. Let the wine sell itself; 5. Use smart and inexpensive packaging with lots of creative thought; 6. Foster long-term relationships with both growers and consumers.
CheapSkate Winemaker Clark Smith has been making wine since 1971. His approach is sensible, imaginative, and savvy. Here's what he has to say about his budget-minded Miser project: "These are seriously good wines, made in classic styles for progressive-minded people. What we love to do is to make beautiful wine and to sell it for almost nothing. The catch is, we don't make very much, so only those savvy enough to know will buy everything we make."
CheapSkate's Miser is a Meritage (rhymes with "heritage"), a Bordeaux-style blend with lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, some Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Merlot. To be designated as Meritage, a wine must meet the following standards: 1. It
must be a blend of two or more Bordeaux grape varieties—for red wines these are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Gros Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot and St. Macaire. No more than 90% of any single variety be used; 2. It must be the winery's best wine of its type; 3. It must be produced and bottled by a U.S. winery from grapes that carry a U.S. appellation; 4. Its production must be limited to a maximum 25,000 cases per vintage. CheapSkate is an official member of the California Meritage Society and is proud to be the lowest-priced member. The grapes are sourced from prestigious vineyard sites in Lodi and surrounding areas. This is a poor man's Opus One, and tasting is believing.
The color is a deep red. The nose is full of ripe fruit, herbs, chocolate, tobacco, and tarragon. The palate is quaffable with deep flavors of ripe red fruit, soft tannins, and dark chocolate. The finish lingers like a $60 bottle. You saved some money with this bottle. Spend it on rib eye steaks or spicy sausages to serve with your glass of Miser Meritage.
Ripe fruit, herbs,
bodied, soft tannins,
When an Italian man immigrates to a new country, he looks to fill his wine glass. When Don Jose Borbore immigrated from Italy to Argentina in 1936, he wanted to feel at home, so he planted grapes and started a winery. He soon gained a reputation for producing interesting, good wines, especially his licorice wine. The historic Borbore Winery has outlived two major earthquakes and the political upheavals that almost destroyed the country's wine industry. In 2000, the Pulenta family bought the winery. The family has a long winemaking tradition in the region. They have renovated and upgraded the winery, and incorporated new vinification systems. They are ready to make the most of their winery's reputation by producing quality wines for the world market.
The vineyards are located in San Juan, Argentina, at the
foothills of the Sierras de Pie de Palo, in the Tulum Valley. It's north of Mendoza, and it's a warmer climate than the other growing regions of Argentina. Torrontes is a grape that thrives in the warmth and soils of San Juan. Chardonnay also loves the sun, which promotes fresh fruit with good acidity.
Vintage 2006 is one of the best on record for the San Juan region. The grapes were destemmed, crushed, drained quickly, and chilled. There is no malo-lactic, and no oak influence. This is ultimate everyday drinking wine at good price
The 2006 Martin Fierro Chardonnay/Torrontes has a clear and pale yellow color. The nose is fresh with peach, lychee, and guava. It's full-bodied with flavors of ripe citrus, lychee, and spice. It has a lingering, crisp finish. This wine is ideal with rich foods, Asian food, and a simple dish such as Onion Tart. (See page 13.)
Clear, pale yellow
citrus, lychee, spice
Limited Series Selection
Cosentino Winery has been a staple in the California wine community for 25 years. The winery has an unblemished reputation for producing ultra-premium wines with passion and skill. Mitch Cosentino is the heart and soul of all these award-winning hand-crafted wines. He began making wine in small lots in 1980 in Modesto, California. In 1990, he moved to Napa Valley and founded Cosentino. His hands-on, old world approach to winemaking sets him apart. The use of labor intensive punched cap fermentation, hand selecting grapes, and his complete "micro" approach to winemaking give all the Cosentino wines a unique signature. All his wines are exceptional; he currently makes 13 different varietals. His keen eye for selecting fruit and his awesome palate for blending are unparalleled in the industry.
Mitch chooses his wine-making team with the same high standards. Jason fisher studied oenology at UC Davis and worked at Grace Family Vineyards. Dan Newlan has made more
than 40 award-winning wines for Cosentino. Jeff Labard worked for Fess Parker. Together they are a force to be reckoned with. Their passion and skills mesh perfectly. They are inspired by Mitch Cosentino's artistic approach to winemaking. Each year the production is different. Why? "I let the wines speak for themselves, based on the quality and yield of the vintage. I want the art developing the business, explains Mitch, "not the business creating art!'
Syrah is a tasty treat which can vary in style from light to lush. The grape is an ancient varietal dating back to Roman times. It is the same grape used for the great wines of the northern Rhone Valley and is also known as Shiraz in Australia.
Cosentino Syrah is a deep black red color. The nose is ultra fruity with black fruit, red meat, and spice. The palate is full-bodied with ripe fruit flavors, minerals, currant, and black pepper. The finish is endless. Open this with prime rib, BBQ ribs or lamb shanks. Delicious!
Dark inky red
Minerals, black fruit,
red meat, spice
Dry, full-bodied, ripe
deep fruit, currant,
Limited Series Selection
The Clare Valley is one of Australia's oldest wine regions. In the 1840s immigrants from Poland, Ireland, and England settled the area and planted vineyards. Their now-historic buildings give character to the region, and today's wineries are also part of their legacy.
Clare Valley is a beautiful natural setting with a rolling topography. The climate is moderate continental, that is, cool to cold nights and warm to hot summer days. There's a lot of rainfall in the winter. The dry hot summers ensure that the vines experience few fungal diseases. The soil varies from red clay to brown over rocks. Because of the diversity of topography and soils, Riesling, Semillon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon are all successfully grown in the Clare Valley. There are now more than 40 wineries in the region. Most are small boutiques making exceptional wines.
Koonowla was established in 1892. In 1926, most of the winery was destroyed by a tragic fire. Nonetheless, Koonowla continued to
make wines over the years, although in very limited amounts. In 1999, Andrew and Booie Michael bought the homestead. They renovated and upgraded Koonowla to transform it into one of the largest and most technically advanced wineries in the district. Kudos to them! We're happy to enjoy the fruit of their labors.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in terra-rosa (red clay) soil. To ensure vine health and ripeness, Koonowla uses mulching, crop sowing, and foliar wires to achieve even ripening. All the grapes are hand-picked. Chief Winemaker, Andrew Hardy keeps a watchful eye on the entire process.
The 2002 Koonowla Cabernet Sauvignon is dark black red from extended maceration. The nose displays classic Cabernet qualities such as smoke, cassis, milk chocolate, and ripe plums. The French oak is soft on the palate and the fruit is warm with sweet berries and soft tannins. The finish is long and inviting. This wine is a wonderful dinner companion. Enjoy.
Smoky, cassis, milk
warm, bacon, sweet
berries, soft tannins
Long and soft
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