March 2007 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 105
Rejected: 87 Approved: 18 Selected: 8
March is no longer winter, but not yet spring. She is part fireside and books, and part seed catalogs and birdsong. This month's wine selections will complement all the moods and activities of March. Enjoy.
2005, Copper Fish,
Petite Sirah. California
In the past 15 years, Petite Sirah has come into its own and has won awards world-wide. It even has its own fan club affectionately named "P.S. I love you." P.S. We think you'll love this selection, too.
2006, Monkey Puzzle,
Maule Valley, Chile
The Monkey Puzzle tree is native to Chile. When mature, they stand 75' tall and resemble a tangled mass of monkeys' tails. In contrast, this Sauvignon Blanc is straightforward and simply delicious to drink anytime.
2003, Casale dello Sparviero,
Chianti is always a very pleasant wine and this one is no exception. Hand-harvested and made with TLC, this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
2005, Torea, Sauvingon Blanc.
Marlborough, New Zealand
Marlborough magic is in this bottle. No other region in the world produces Sauvignon Blanc that is this good and at such reasonable prices. No cellar should be without this wine.
2004, X-Winery, Cabernet
X-Winery utilizes new technology with traditional winemaking to create wines with the texture and flavors of wines that normally cost two to three times the price.
2005, Durandi, Pinot Grigio.
You can't beat a glass of fresh, crisp Pinot Grigio to complement chicken and veal dishes. Be sure to have one in your refrigerator to open when guests drop by.
Over 3200 hectares of Petite Sirah are planted in California, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. The grapes are saturated in color with very dense fruit clusters. The wines are fragrant, dark red, and concentrated. Vineyard legends told that the grapes were really the French grape "Durif." Was it true? In 2003 researchers at U.C. Davis used DNA testing to unravel the family history of this popular "California" grape. In this case, the legend was true: Petite Sirah and Durif are not just related; they are the same grape.
In the late 1800s, Durif was propagated as a cross between the mildew-resistant Peloursin with the flavorful Syrah. The French vintner, Dr. Francois Durif, named the grape after himself. When the grape was brought to the United States, it was renamed by the American importers to sound more appealing, much as Mondavi calls Sauvignon Blanc "Fume Blanc." The vineyards were planted during a time when
California growers were more concerned about blends than the distinct characteristics of the varietals. The history of Petite Sirah was forgotten.
The flavor of Petite Sirah can never be forgotten. The newly emerged Copper Fish Vintners know how to make the most of this grape. The Vintners at Copper Fish have complete faith in the take-notice flavors, value, and quality of Petite Sirah.
The 2005 Copper Fish Petite Sirah is being hailed as one of the best of the decade. The grapes were harvested at perfect ripeness. After almost a year in small American oak barrels, the wine was bottled. The result is a dark red color. The nose is rich and concentrated with dark red fruit smells, cinnamon spice, black pepper, and oak. It is a full-bodied, huge mouthful of wine, with chewy tannins and lush deep fruit flavors. The finish is endless. It's a great match with grilled meat, barbeque, and strong cheeses.
red fruit, spice, sweet
rich red fruit,
Long lasting finish
Chile has an old, storied wine making industry. The first vines were brought to Chile in the 1500s. Over the next century the growing wine industry threatened Spanish exports, so King Phillip II of Spain levied taxes and restricted plantings on Chilean wineries. Even so, Chilean winemaking thrived. In the 1700s the French varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, were planted. By the late 1800s Chilean wines were exported throughout Europe. But the 20th century brought political unrest to Chile, along with prohibition-like taxes and policies. Vineyards were abandoned. The wine industry weakened, but did not die. Thankfully, since the 1990s Chile has experienced a Wine Renaissance. Thousands of hectares of vineyards have been planted. The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005. Chile is once again a world player, and the fourth largest exporter of wines to the United States.
The Maule Valley is the most planted region in Chile. It's a massive valley at the base of
the Coastal Mountains and has over 26,000 hectares of vineyards. The region is ideal—a low-humidity Mediterranean climate with loamy, sandy soil. The terroir has lured many top name winemakers there to make wine.
Pascal Marty is one such luminary. He served as Director of Winemaking for Baron Phillippe Rothschild for 14 years. He was the integral factor in launching the joint venture of Opus One with Mondavi. He is now the Co-General Manager of Monkey Puzzle. He has revitalized the vineyards and built a new wine cellar. Monkey Puzzle wines are an important piece of Chilean wine history, and are now achieving top marks throughout Chile and the United States.
Monkey Puzzle 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is a pale yellow color with hints of green. The nose is inviting with smells of granny smith apples, forward citrus, and fresh green parsley. The taste is clean, fresh and youthful with apple fruit and a touch of citrus. It finishes clean and will be perfect with salads, poultry, and quiche.
Pale yellow with
Forward citrus notes,
granny smith apple,
Limited Series Selection
Chianti is a large wine-producing area located in Tuscany in central Italy. It is a designated DOCG along with Carmignano, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia de San Gimignano and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. A DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is a legal category for wines examined, controlled, and guaranteed to be of superb quality and characteristic of the area. The Chianti DOCG is a single appellation divided into seven sub-zones. The Chianti wines are labeled after the sub-zone, or simply "Chianti."
The most famous Chianti sub-zone is Classico, which runs from the Florence region south to the Siena region. Chianti Classico wines are identified by a black rooster ("Gallo Nero").
To use the Gallo Nero label, the wines must pass a strict taste test. Standard Chianti Classico bottles have a Gallo Nero with a red border. Reserved Chianti Classico bottles have a Gallo Nero with a gold border. Reserved Chianti must be aged for at least 27 months.
The 2003 Casale dello Sparviero is an exquisite example of Chianti Classico. The wine pours a beautiful ruby color with hints of garnet and a friendly nose of wild berries, sweet lilac and dried cherry. The taste is dry, robust, and rich with dark red fruit, cherry and sweet oak. This is a wine for all occasions and will pair especially well with meats, especially Arista di Maiale con cannellini (roasted pork with cannellini beans-see recipe on page 13.) Buon Appetito!
Intense ruby red with
light garnet tints
Wild berries, sweet
lilac, dried cherry
Dry, robust, dark fruit,
cherry, sweet oak
Pleasant supple finish
Limited Series Selection
The world's great wines result from the unique combination of a particular grape and a particular place that cannot be contrived or duplicated. Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, is one of these great, remarkable wines. No other place on the planet can replicate the terroir and the resulting grape flavors of Marlborough. Nowhere else does the grape achieve such distinctiveness. Although grown with great quality in France (such as Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, and in Bordeaux for the white blends) only in Marlborough does the grape show its unique aromas and flavor profile consistently year after year. Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Marlborough region imparts a "sense of place" as strongly as any great wine in the world.
Sauvignon Blanc thrives in Marlborough because of the climate, which has plenty of sunshine, but not as much heat. The climate is cool,
especially at night. Sun without excessive heat lets the grapes ripen slowly, which in turn develops deep flavors and good acidity. The soil of Marlborough, gravel with large stones and clay, is also important to this terroir.
Vineyards in this northeast region of New Zealand were first planted in 1973. It's staggering that Marlborough has achieved such greatness in only three decades. It's nature's magic, plain and simple.
The 2005 Torea is classic in every way. The color is pale golden. The nose is bracing with herbal aromas, ripe lime, tropical fruit, and red pepper. It is medium-bodied, dry with bracing acidity and fresh ripe lime fruit and a touch of mineral.
This wine is meant to be drunk young; it's hallmark piercing quality will be lost with age. So enjoy it soon with oysters, grilled fish, or salmon canapes. (See recipe on page 13.)
ripe lime, tropical,
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