2006-01 January 2006 Newsletter

January 2006 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 201 Rejected: 189 Approved: 12 Selected: 4

This has never happened. But I had to do it. This was such a great opportunity for my members that we bought it all. that would be the 1998 and the 1999 Havens Merlot. Yes, we are splitting a vintage. Why? Because they are both great, so some of you will receive the 1998 and some of you will receive the 1999. You may reorder either to compare. Please note: A limit of 3 bottles per customer will apply. A wine from 'Down Under' and two great wines from California complete this month's line-up.

1998/99 Havens Merlot, Napa Valley, California

Since 1984, Havens has established itself as one of the classic wineries in Napa Valley. These Merlot wines are great examples of the soft, jammy fruit from Carneros. Delicious!
2004 Deakin Estates, Sauvignon Blanc, Victoria, Australia
When you are looking for a wine that is rich and refreshing, then this wine is for you. It is bright and juicy with tropical flavors. It is terrific with seafood and Asian style food.
2003 Bennett Family, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California
This is 100% Chardonnay fruit from the Russian River Valley. The grapes are hand-harvested from the best appellations. It is rich, creamy, and delicious.
2001 Vina Robles, Syrah, Paso Robles, California
Vina Robles' mission is "to produce modern, elegant wines from manicured vineyards adapted to the local terroir." The warmth of Paso Robles is perfect for ripening Syrah. Try this wine with grilled meats.

Domestic Selection

Havens' vision for Napa Valley wines that offer complexity and longevity made with classic varietels starts with Michael Havens' nose for great terroir. In the 1980's, Havens Wine Cellars began its commitment to make superior wines. Michael and Kathryn Havens started making wine at home in the early seventies while Michael was earning his Master's in Theological studies and then his Doctorate in Humanities. He made wine at Truchard for five years before branching off on his own. The soil of Carneros is well-drained with clay, and the moderating influence of the nearby San Pablo Bay make for vines which produce completely developed fruit. Michael Havens says, "Complexity is no accident." This is his motto at every stage of the winemaking process. He strives for complexity and refined elegance in the glass. He achieves this in all of his wines. He points to elevage as the key difference. Elevage is a French term that refers to the practice of nurturing a wine along from the vineyard to ageing in the cellar, and then selecting only the very best juice for the bottle. For wines so beautifully crafted, Havens wines are also known for being very reasonably priced. Havens Wine Cellars' goal is to make wines that heighten the pleasure of food, not monsters to showcase for awards. Havens brags that each bottling has its own virtues. Havens Merlot is blended with Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc offers sweet fruit and fills out the middle palate. Once considered an unorthodox place to grow grapes, Michael Havens has made Carneros the best place to grow Merlot in North America. His reputation is justly deserved as you will see after just one sip of his wine. The color is inky purple. The nose is red cherry, cola, plum, tobacco, currant and mint. The palate is supple, soft and round. The flavors of red and black berries, mocha and currants are rich and full. The finish is soft and lingering. The wine is to be enjoyed now but will also age gracefully for four or five more years. Perfect to enjoy on its own with some warm French bread, it shows its best qualities with meat stews, grilled meat, pastas, and antipasto plates. Please note: A limit of 3 bottles per customer will apply.
Carneros California
Inky, purple.
Nose: Red cherry, cola, plum, tobacco, currant, mint.
Flavor: Soft, round, red and black cherry, mocha.
Soft lingering finish.

Imported Selection

The Deakin Estate property was purchased in 1967. Almost the very next day, vineyards were planted. Initially, the grapes were picked and sold as fruit. In 1980, a winery facility was built and the quality and wine production improved dramatically. In 1994, Deakin Estate was launched. Their wines are all about flavor. They claim that the wines are "easy going and distinctive, you can virtually taste the Australian sunshine in every glass." Deakin Estate vineyard is located at Red Cliffs, near Mildura in north-west Victoria. The region is an oasis surrounded by arid, desert country. The name Mildura means "red soil." The town is really just endless vineyards, fruit orchards and olive groves. There is extensive irrigation making this one of the richest agricultural districts in Australia. The weather is hot, with long sunshine hours, low humidity and little rainfall, which makes irrigation absolutely essential. The soil is also unique to this region. It is known technically as calcareous earth and ranges from brown to red-brown sandy loam. Behind the scenes at Deakin Estate is an experi- enced and enthusiastic team. From vineyard to winery to bottle, the team at Deakin Estate nurtures a culture of commitment and innovation. The Australian spirit of openness, good humor, and integrity unites their team and contributes to the ultimate success of Deakin Estate wines. Dr. Phil Spillman is Deakin Estate's winemaker. He was formally at Villa Maria in New Zealand. Phil is originally from Perth, which is also a warm and dry climate, so he is right at home at Red Cliffs. His personal objective is to further develop the wine styles for the international market. For the 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, individual vineyards were harvested and then cold fermented separately to preserve the varietels' flavors. Careful blending has produced a wine with complexity and excellent balance. The color is a very pale straw with a green tinge. The nose is fresh and pungent with tropical fruit, pear, and citrus with a marked herbaceousness. The palate is fresh and zesty with great fruit. The finish is lingering with citrus. This is a great aperitif wine. Classic matches would be white fish, asparagus, risotto, oysters and Asian dishes.
Deakin Estate
Sauvignon Blanc
Victoria Australia
Very pale straw with a green tinge.
Nose: Tropical fruit. pear, citrus.
Palate: Dry, zesty, medium-bodied, herbaceous.
Citrus finish.

Limited Series Selection

The Bennett family wines come to you from the lush vineyards of California and from a family which has been dedicated to the wine and spirits industry for over 100 vintages. The family started in the spirits industry over a century ago with a small whiskey distillery in the Scottish highlands. They jokingly say "it takes a lot of great whiskey to make a great wine." William Grant spent sixteen years saving and planning to put his passion for making whiskey into motion. The Bennett family is a branch of the Grant family tree and show the same spirit and passion as previous generations. William Grant and Sons has become a key player in the worldwide market of fine wine and spirits. The Bennett family believes that all great wines begin with the land. They work only with the best vineyards and have left no detail unattended. Their Chardonnay grapes are grown in the famed Russian River Valley, located just south and west of the town of Healdsberg. Russian River Valley is characterized by warm days and cool nights. The presence of fog during the growing season is significant as this slows the maturation of the wine grapes. Harvest in the Russian River Valley is typically ten days to two weeks later than in neighboring appellations. This longer hang time allows the grapes to develop and concentrate their flavors and acidity. The color is a light, golden straw. The nose is assertive with vanilla, tropical fruit, granny smith apples and toast. The palate is lush and full-bodied, with creamy, toasty oak and ripe tropical fruit flavors. The finish is long and balanced. This classic Chardonnay will be enjoyed with chicken, cream sauces and fish dishes. Enjoy!
Russian River Valley California
Light, golden straw.
Nose: Vanilla, tropical fruit, granny smith apples, toast.
Palate: Lush, full-bod- ied, creamy, ripe fruit.
Long, balanced finish.

Limited Series Selection

Vina Robles is the realization of a long-held dream. Hans Nef was a Swiss restaurateur and developer who was on a world-wide search for the perfect place to grow Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. He selected Paso Robles with the help of a friend and business partner. In 1996, Hans purchased the oak studded land that would become the Vina Robles Estate. The following year he planted vines. The Syrah grape is a rich, full-bodied, complex, spicy, long-lived wine that thrives in the warm Rhone region of France, the heat of Australia, and in the sunny region of Paso Robles. The grape has been cultivated since antiquity and is thought to be a transplant from Persia. It was first planted in California in 1971. There are now over 13,000 acres planted throughout California. Syrah vines are productive, but not too vigorous. They need heat to full ripen, but can lose their varietel characteristics if they become even slightly overripe. The 2001 Vina Robles Syrah is a blend from two vineyards, Pleasant Valley and Huerhuero. The fruit was hand-picked at different times only when the fruit was perfectly ripe. The grapes were destemmed and gently crushed in stainless steel. A cold soak for two days preserved the distinct flavors of the Syrah grape. After fermentation, the wine was aged for 11 months in new French and American oak barrels. Overall, 2001 was declared a "great " vintage as all the grapes ripened evenly with good sugar and acid levels. This Vina Robles Syrah is a rival for some of the village Rhone wines at way less than half the cost. You should stock up on this for all your grilling meals and winter stew recipes. The color is a medium ruby red. The nose has a huge bouquet of ripe cherries, dark fruits, walnuts and dark chocolate. The palate is dry, full-bodied, well-balanced, with ripe, chocolate tannins, and flavors of dark ripe plums, vanilla, and toasted oak. The finish is long with notes of spice. This is a great wine to drink with your choice of meats. On page 13, we have a recipe for Veal Chop with Rosemary. This wine is also great with strong cheeses. Salut!
Vina Robles
Paso Robles California
Medium ruby red.
Nose: Ripe cherries, dark fruits, walnuts, dark chocolate.
Palace: Dry, full-bodied, ripe chocolate tannins, toasted oak.
Long finish with spice.