September 2006 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 103
Rejected: 82 Approved: 21 Selected: 6
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." -Albert Camus.
The Brutocao family crafts wines to create memories with your family and friends. There were only 2000 cases of this Cabernet produced and we are thrilled to share this special wine with you.
2005, Fantelli, Torrontes,
The wines from the Fantelli family are described as "los vinos del sol," meaning "wines of the sun." Gifted with dry, hot weather, Mendoza is the perfect place for growing Torrontes, and this wine is an excellent example.
2003, 2820 Wine Company,
Napa Valley, California
2820 is a small company producing less than 1000 cases of wine. They pride themselves on taking the time and dedication to only growing the highest quality fruit. They say, "We feel strongly that wine should be good, fun and affordable." The wine speaks for itself.
2001, Lucas & Lewellen,
Santa Barbara County,
Royce Lewellen, Louis Lucas, and Daniel Gehrs are engaged in making the finest wines in Santa Barbara. Their standards of uncompromising quality shine through with every sip of this great wine.
One of the reasons the wine industry is such a great place for a family business is that both families and wine are built around sharing." These wise words come from the winemakers of Brutocao Cellars, a small, family owned and operated winery in Mendocino County on the northern coast of California. Brutocao Cellars is the product of two families joined in marriage: the Bliss family who purchased 475 acres in Mendocino in the mid 1940s, and the Brutocao family who brought their love of wine with them from Venice, Italy. When the family began making wines in 1991, they designed their label with a lion patterned from St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. The Lion of St. Mark's symbolizes their pride in their family, as well as their wines which have won awards at wine competitions across the country.
Brutocao's winemaking is "simple"—winemaker Fred
Nickel believes in letting the grapes do all the work. There are no synthetic chemicals used in the vineyards. He selects only the highest quality grapes and ferments the grapes in small lots to intensify the fruit's flavors. He says, "Barrels do not make wine; people do." So instead of masking the fruit with excessive oak, he uses oak sparingly to complement the wine. Finally, the wines are bottled unfiltered to retain all their flavor and complexities.
The wine pours a dark cherry red color. The nose is abundant with dark, ripe fruit, dark chocolate, cedar, and a touch of earth. On the palate, the wine is dry, full-bodied and complex with blackberry fruit, earth, cigar box and healthy tannins. The finish is focused and enduring. This is a classic Cabernet and will pair beautifully with all your grilled meats and strong cheeses.
Dark cherry red
Black fruit, dark
Dry, ripe fruit,
earthy, cigar box
Classic, age worthy
Cuyo is the wine region of the mountainous area of central-west Argentina, comprised of the provinces of San Juan, San Louis and Mendoza. The region receives little rain, but water is plentiful from the snows of the Andes which melt and flow in the rivers criss-crossing the dry plains. The climate is sunny and dry, with warm summers and cold winters. The soil is deep and sandy, with little organic material so it's remarkably unaffected by pests. All in all, it's an especially healthy environment for vineyards.
In 1557, during the Spanish colonization, the first vine cuttings were brought from Spain to Argentina. For hundreds of years, these quiet vineyards produced wines that were consumed domestically. In 1974, just as the world wine market started to expand, Jesus Fantelli & Sons was founded as a fruit and viticulture operation. In 1993, to meet growing international
demand, the winery updated to state-of-the art cooling equipment, filters, and stainless steel and oak barrels. They are now producing super premium wines that are enjoyed by wine lovers around the world.
Torrontes is a grape from northwest Spain, but it's been so successfully cultivated in Argentina that it's now the "white wine emblematic of Argentina." The most important characteristic of Torrontes is its strongly perfumed, distinctive aroma. It's not like Chardonnay or any other white wine, except maybe Gewiirztraminer for its memorable aromas. The color is bright yellow with green undertones. The nose is decidedly floral, yellow roses, cherry blossoms and sweet scent of lychee nuts. The palate is crisp, smooth, and alive with fresh fruit flavors and not a hint of oak. The finish is crisp and light. This is a perfect wine with salads, fish and poultry dishes.
Bright yellow with
yellow roses, cherry
smooth acidity, clean
Dry and crisp
Limited Series Selection
Zinfandel, often called the original "California red," is the second most widely planted red wine grape in California. Zinfandel wines can range from light, fruity pinks to robust, strong, peppery reds. Zinfandel grapes like warm valleys close to the coast, such as the hills of Napa and Dry Creek Valley. These locations are perfect for the small, berry-like grape, but even so, the Zinfandel grape is tough to grow. Its clusters are tight and ripen unevenly. To give the grape plenty of time on the vine, many winemakers wait until late in the fall to start picking.
2820 Wine Company is a project founded on the idea of exploring vineyards and blends to make great wines. The name is derived from the address of the Ballentine Vineyards located at 2820 St. Helena Highway in Napa, California. The Ballentine family has a long history in the Napa Valley. Betty Ballentine's grandfather Libero Pocai bought 60 acres of vineyard land in the early 1900s. The deed to the land recorded that the payment was made in gold coins. Betty Pocai
married Van Ballentine, whose family named their land after their home in Ireland—Deer Park. The marriage joined wine families as well as their vineyards. After 50 happily-married years, Van and Betty Ballentine are still working the operation with their two sons, Frank and Bill, and four grandchildren.
To make the 2820 Wine Company Zinfandel, Winemaker Bruce Devlin used grapes of 40-year¬-old Zinfandel vines, then creatively blended them with a touch of Syrah and Charbono. The Syrah brings certain finesse and the Charbono adds depth and structure. The result is an ultra-ripe yet smooth and complex Zinfandel.
The color is a deep, red violet. The gregarious nose is ripe with raspberries, cranberries, red apples, cracked black pepper with hints of vanilla and caramel. The palate is full-bodied, round and rich with fruit. The finish is warm and lengthy. This wine would be perfect with spicy spare ribs, pork with fruit sauce or grilled tri-tip.
cranberry, ripe red
apple, black pepper
fresh berries, spicy,
Warm and silky
Limited Series Selection
The vineyards of Lucas & Lewellen are located in three areas of Santa Barbara County: the Santa Maria Valley, the Los Alamos Valley, and the Santa Ynez Valley. The valleys are unique in that they run west from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean. This topography allows warm days and cool nights to produce a long, gentle growing season. The soils vary from clay and gravel river deposits to hillside earth, not unlike the soil of Burgundy.
Royce Lewellen, Louis Lucas, and Daniel Gehrs are the guiding hands that created the 2001 Merlot. Royce Lewellen embarked on his wine adventure after retiring from a successful career as a Justice Court Judge. He partnered with renowned grape grower Louis Lucas. Louis, nick¬named "Dirt Man" for his love of the soil and farming, is one of California's premier grape growers. He's described as an innovator and a master of growing practices and techniques. In
Louis's own words, "Growing great wine grapes requires a great deal of work; it is a true labor of caring to find a balance between the soil, the vine, and the climate. All these things must occur at the right time and are critical for vine maturity and quality yields." Winemaker Daniel Gehrs has been making wine for over 30 years. In the 1990s he founded his own winery, Daniel Gehrs Wines, and has since consulted and made wine for many wineries throughout California. Together these three men are making great wines. Royce says, "I don't have time in my life to do anything that is not first class or deal with people I don't trust. I trust Louis and our Daniel Gehrs. They maintain and excel very high standards."
The 2001 Merlot is a dark, rich purple color. The nose is elegant and soft with black tea, blackberries, spice and black earth. The palate is dry, and full-bodied with soft tannins and smooth fruit flavors. The finish is lingering and silky.
Rich dark purple
Black cherry, tea,
soft tannins, earthy
Silky and lingering
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