In the new 2007 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia! Gambero Rosso uses a 1-3 glass rating system. The RED signifies in the final competition for the 3 Glass taste off, so 2.5 Glasses * Signifies a particularly good price to quality ratio Sesta di Sopra 2001 Brunello di Montalcino 2 Glasses 2004 Rosso di Montalcino 1 Glass La Fortuna 2001 Brunello di Montalcino 3 Glasses 2004 Rosso di Montalcino 1 Glass Casisano Colombaio 2001 Brunello di Montalcino 2 RED Glasses 2004 Rosso di Montalcino 1 Glass Rocca di Montegrossi 2003 Chianti Classico 2 Glasses (2006 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia) 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva “San Marcellino” 2 Glasses (2006 Gambero Rosso) 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva “San Marcellino” 3 Glasses (2006 Gambero Rosso) Upcoming Rocca di Montegrossi vintages 2003 Geremia IGT 2 RED Glasses 2003 Chianti Classico Riserva “San Marcellino” 2 RED Glasses 2004 Chianti Classico 1 Glass Fattoria Poggiopiano 2003 Rosso di Sera 3 Glasses (2006 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia) 2003 Chianti Classico 2 Glasses (2006 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia) Upcoming Fattoria Poggiopiano vintages 2004 Rosso di Sera 3 Glasses 2004 Chianti Classico 2 Glasses Ermacora (Due December 26, 2006) 2005 Pinot Bianco 2* RED Glasses 2005 Pinot Grigio 2* RED Glasses 2005 Sauvignon 2 Glasses 2005 Tocai Friulano 2 Glasses 2005 Verduzzo Friulano 2 Glasses 2004 Refosco 2 Glasses Blason 2005 Tocai Friulano 1 Glass 2005 Sauvignon Tocai 1 Glass Ruggeri Corsini (Due December 26, 2006) 2002 Barolo 2 Glasses 2004 Nebbiolo delle Langhe 2* Glasses 2003 Barbera d’Alba Superiore “Armujan” 2 Glasses 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba 1 Glass 2004 Dolcetto d’Alba1 Glass 2004 Barbera d’Alba 1 Glass (2006 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia) IN STOCK NOW Upcoming Ruggeri Corsini vintages 2004 Barbera d’Alba Superiore “Armujan” 2 Glasses Silvano Follador Prosecco di Valdobbiadene “Cartizze” 2 Glasses (Due December 26, 2006) Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry 2* Glasses IN STOCK NOW Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut 2 Glasses IN STOCK NOW
K&L Wine Merchants, Redwood City, 1p.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $15.00 per person. The following wines will be poured: 2005 Saint Chinian Blanc Domaine Rimbert -$11.99 2004 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône Blanc Château d’Estoublon (ORGANIC)-$19.99 2004 Lirac Alain Jaume « Clos de Sixte »- $16.99 2004 Côtes du Rhône Château de Segries « Clos de l’Hermitage »- $18.99 2004 Saint-Joseph Les Vins de Vienne «L’Arzelle»- $25.99 2004 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine du Colombier «Cuvée Gaby»- $24.99 2004 Cornas Vincent Paris «Granit 30» -$29.99 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape Moulin Tacussel- $24.99 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape Bosquet des Papes «Tradition»- $32.99 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape Pierre Usseglio «Tradition» –$34.99 Clairette de Die Cave Carod - $12.99
Mr. Ravenswood himself greeted me waist high in his pool. He had told me I might find him there as I make my way to his pool house for my stay. He said he wanted to grab some exercise before our Cru Carneros II commencement dinner/last year's taste-off (I'll explain this in more detail later). As I swerved though roses, shrubs and Oak trees, crunching over practically polished pebbles, the world suddenly opened and leapt into my lap. Atop a hill in Somona perched Joel Peterson's impeccably detailed Craftsman style home. His large lap pool and my quarters the pool house benefited from this sweeping view. So as much as I tried to look Joel in the eyes, I struggled because of the depth and longevity of his view that spread and stretched down to the tide flats. There was just too much tootin’ topography to take in on a clear day. I quickly blew the dust off my now betamax looking digital camera (clearly outdated in the age of credit card size cameras) and imagined all the gorgeous photos I could take submerged in varying light and cloud configurations. Eventually Mr. Joel Peterson, founder and head wine-maker of Ravenswood Winery, toweled off and climbed into a fluffy maraschino cherry red robe. As he turned, I notice there were some extravagant ninja-like symbols embroidered on the back, which threw me off, indeed, as they didn't seem to match his outward middle age and even temperament. However, this excited me—character in the raw. The mystery nudged me along. For all I knew, he could be a professional Ninja star thrower, a renowned sword collector, a firecracker nut, or even a closet thigh-master junkie; the options were truly endless, but the quest for more information scorched each step I took with my heightened curiosity. Clearly in my short stint working with him, I wouldn't learn all I'd love to know about this domestic icon, but hopefully, I'd walk away with engaging stories from his past and a better understanding of wine-making from his perspective. Within minutes Mr. Mystery Zin man appeared in saggy, faded Levi 401 jeans and leather hiking boots- He was on a mission to keep the deer from demolishing his budding balls of color, his prized roses, by applying some stinky chemical. I must say, it was nice to see a financially successful man taking an active role in his own garden. I smiled—even more character for me to chew on. From the candy red robe to earth tone leisurewear, I certainly was in store for more surprises. After Joel’s stink patrol, he invited me up from some champagne. We sat and got acquainted, talking of his non-conformist kids, his past as a chemist, his parent's proclivity toward French wines throughout his childhood, his father’s perpetual and very advanced wine tasting groups, his wife's travels, my dogs, my past jobs (which made him tilt his head in wonder), his political and religious predispositions, and mine; needless to say, we got along famously, and so it became clear where his flair for expression came from. Marinating in our fast friendship, we zipped off to Domain Carneros for dinner with the group and also to meet last year’s group and listen to the judge’s taste and analyze their pinots. This was a blind test, where other prominent Carneros pinots were included as well. I quickly realized I was poorly dressed for the fall chill, as such I hurried to the first mushroom heat lamp. There I began to meet some of last year’s participants. Energy and goose bumps were certainly abound, as most jogged in place, as they tasted through a sampling of Carneros wineries out on Domaine Carnernos’s luxurious patio. Soon, we were herded into a near by room for the beginning of the taste off. How did group one, Pinot envy fare against group number two, Pinot Rage. Each of these groups had a two-day behind the scenes, hands-on harvesting experience. Their wine, through the guidance of mentors to the likes of Larry Hyde and Michael Havens, was crushed, fermented, aged, and matured; and now, a year later their wine was in bottles and ready to sample. Momentum was building as this would be my fate, and shortly this year’s groups and mentors would be selected. I was called to Joel’s group and was surrounded by eight other restaurant wine directors, sommeliers, etc. We congregated around a long dinner table and began to talk strategy. Scott Wallace and Jeff Stewart from Buena Vista accompanied us and served to be a wealth of information, as the fruit we would pick the next morning was to come from Buena Vista Ranch. They both brought samples for four different Merlot clones and wines that had been made from that clone the year before. Our first task was to decide on one clone or rather to conjure up a blend of the various clones. This was difficult, as the mind wanted to latch on to the taste of the finished wines made from LAST YEAR’S grapes, instead of relying on the taste of this year’s fruit. We had to really get a group consensus on the end result. Did we want a more lush and fruit-forward merlot, or did we want an acidic, structure, earthy merlot. Fortunately, just based on the fact that this fruit was coming from Carneros predetermined some of the overall flavor profile. Despite any of our decisions, we were dealing with a cool climate and grapes that inherently had a good amount of acidity and structure. We ended up going with a 50, 40, 10 breakdown. We all favored a more structured style, but of course keeping balance as the ultimate goal. As a group we tackled the misty morning at Buena Vista ranch, each of equipped with a tub, gloves and a vine knife. I will report that no one left with any missing digits. It was hard for me not to be so discriminating. I was on the hunt as it were for the perfect cluster, coming from the strongest vine, with the perfect plumpness and no molding or raisining. That didn’t last long. What did last long was the incredibly sticky mud that married to my tennis shoes, by 10am the mud rose ankle high. Our handy tractor trudged along, tootin’ our grape collections until we were officially done with our first task. Next, we were off to the Ravenswood crush facility where we sample tons of different wines in various stages of fermentation. We then crushed our grapes, and began to discuss all the other decisions Joel would have to make on our behalf throughout the year. We decided on native yeasts, three punch downs a day, some initial oak chips added to mitigate the typical Carneros green-vegetal aspect that can dominate. We talked extensively about the prolific use of Oak adjunct or supplements use in today’s market. Joel talked very openly about how many like to deny the use of oak ships and other cost-cutting procedures most all employ. He told us that to make a wine that would sell for say ten dollars, you’d have to use these types of techniques, otherwise you are dealing with the cost of barrels that run up to $1,000.00 a piece. No one can make money in that respect unless the cost of the bottle is considerably higher. He agreed that the romanticism is diminished in many a mind, but that this is the competitive state of affairs. Getting back to our decisions, we agreed to employ the saignee method to create a bit more flavor concentration, and finally we agreed to use some new oak only initially then move it into neutral oak for the remainder. The sun was schizophrenic that day. By 11am it had turtle headed out of its hovel. By noon, it was a sugared toddler, playing hide-and-go-seek, and by 1pm it was in full Jack-in-the-box mode. I felt the sun’s full assault as we concluded our Cru Carnernos II at Ceja Winery in Carneros. We all enjoyed a wonderful wine-pairing lunch outside and in the middle of Ceja’s vineyards. The sun pulled its childish pranks, local chefs were on panel discussing cuisine and ideal wine-pairings, but mostly we were focused on the food in front of us after a laborious morning’s work. It would be a year before we’d all get to taste our group’s end result. We all exchanged cards, pats on the back and "safe travels." Ultimately, we’d just have to linger in the reality of winemaking: delayed gratification! --Keelyn Healy
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