The holidays are back again? It just seemed like yesterday that we were celebrating New Years and now Thanksgiving is around the corner. It seems life moves at a quick pace the older you get. Remember the days when one could sleep 12 hours with no problem. Those days are over for me. Relaxing is a little tougher these days. Yoga sure helps as does a nice glass of wine… or two. I hope these wines can help you relax during this hectic holiday period. 2004 Eric K James “Bernache Block” Carneros Chardonnay ($14.99) I don’t often write about Chardonnay but this is something special. The wine was prevented from undergoing malolactic fermentation to preserve fruit and crispness and was aged for 11 months sur lie in neutral oak. This shows crispness that highlights its beautiful fruit. Only 89 cases made. 2005 A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir ($16.99) Another great vintage from this Oregon negociant. Sourced fruit from all the great Oregon producers and put it together to showcase the great pinot produce up north. Clear and vibrant, this wine has a beautiful dark color and aromas of mixed berries, earth, smoke, violets, Asian spices and minerals. 2003 Forth “All Boys” Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) All Boys is the happy outcome of the blending of Cabernet grown in the vineyards of the Forths’ two sons, four grandsons and that of a beautiful neighboring vineyard owned by five brothers. Bright, bountiful berries and cherries, toasty oak and supple tannins combine to create a delightfully accessible Cabernet. See you in the City... —Michael Jordan
I’ll be frank: I’m often not a big fan of California wine. When I drink wine, I drink with food, and I don’t want something that will overpower my palate and the flavors that I’m serving it with. But, there’s no reason why local wine can’t play friendly with food, and the 1987 Joseph Swan Zinfandel is a perfect example. In fact, it exemplifies common problems with most modern West Coast wines. Even the lightest of modern Zins dwarf the Swan’s 12.5% alcohol, and most North Coast wineries would do everything in their power to avoid Swan’s lovely acidity. Recently tasted blind with a bunch of like-minded winos, no one guessed the Swan and many pegged it for an Italian wine. It’s a logical guess, considering that the fathers of the modern California wine industry were Italian immigrants whose main goal was to have something to drink with dinner. The modern irony is that the Zinfandel favored by early Californians for its tangy acid is being ripened to raisins. Lately many classic Italian varieties that those farmers were trying to replicate are being treated the same way. Because of this over-the-top treatment Cal-Ital wines are often challenged by the first rule of new world wine; they lack “varietal correctness.” Fortunately, the wines from Palmina in Santa Barbara County buck the bigger-is-better trend. Steve and Chrystal Clifton have an obvious love of northern Italian wines (they were married in Friuli). Moreover they understand how to use Italian grape varieties with integrity. The 2003 Palmina Stolpman Vineyard Nebbiolo ($31.99) has the tar and violets of a Langhe wine. The 2005 Palmina Alisos Vineyard Traminer ($21.99) tastes more like the minerals of that variety’s Tyrolean home than the sweet perfume of most domestic (or even Alsatian) Gewurz. Palmina wines are meant for the table. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste these distinctive wines. —Paul Courtright
This is what a break from harvest looks like in the Rhone. Everyone, meet, once again, Chateau de Montfaucon owner/winemaker Rodolphe "Rudi" de Pins (on the right) and American flying winemaker Dave Potter, who's been pitching in with harvest in the Southern Rhone. In France it's tough to go far without seeing some kind of marvelous monument, and the Pont du Gard, pictured here, is one of the more spectacular ones. The three-tiered arched Roman bridge is actually an aqueduct (those clever Romans!) and spans the river Gard near Nimes. Rudi (who's done his own fair share of flying winemaking), took Dave there for a little sightseeing and R&R during harvest. Speaking of which, the report from Montfaucon is that Rudi is "very happy so far with 2006 even though the yields are low, the fruit that is coming in is lovely." We'll look forward to tasting that good stuff when it's released! In the mean time, Chateau de Montfaucon reports that they've released some older vintages of their wines to K&L, including the Baron Louis 2000 (also in magnum) and Cotes du Rhone 1999. I tasted and loved both these wines when I visited this summer (you can read about it here ) and think that's great news. Cheers! --- Courtney Cochran, aka Your Personal Sommelier, provides personalized wine services to adventurous wine collectors, purveyors and enthusiasts, making wine accessible and fun for those who think outside the mainstream wine box. Visit her site at www.CourtneyCochran.com.
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