Cliff Lede Vineyards was established in 2002, when Canadian businessman Cliff Lede purchased approximately 60 acres in the northern end of the Stags Leap District. The property, formally known as S. Anderson, is planted to Bordeaux varietals: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot. Mr. Lede put together an all-star team, which includes winemaker Michelle Edwards (formerly of Colgin), Vineyard Manager David Abreu (Harlan, Colgin, Bryant Family Vineyards and Screaming Eagle) and internationally renowned winemaking consultant, Michel Rolland (Harlan, Bon Pasteur), to help create a wine from Napa that he could be proud of. 2005 Cliff Lede Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99) Fresh, crisp and still rich complex fruit explodes from the glass and finishes with a hint of lime and citrus. This mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorites from Napa. 2003 Cliff Lede Stag’s Leap District Claret ($29.99) Offering delicious blackberry fruit with a rich, concentrated middle, lush and fleshy finish, the Claret is a blend of 69% cabernet sauvignon, 24% merlot, 6% cabernet franc and 1% malbec. This wine can be enjoyed now with a bit of air. 2003 Cliff Lede Stag’s Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon ($47.99) Build for the long haul, this Cabernet shows deep, concentrated fruit, hints of mocha and spice and a firm backbone. It will be at its best with several more years of bottle age and should develop even more over the next 10 years. —Trey Beffa
With a refreshing aromatic nose of white flowers and a note of lavender, the 2005 Raventos i Blanc Parfum de Vi Blanc, Penedes ($13.99) is a blend of macabeo (60%) and muscat (40%), that finishes clean and bright. A splash of ripe peaches also shows through on the palate, with great acidity and a long, fresh finish. Serve as aperitif, with appetizers, or right up to the turkey! A little more lemony citrus, with great floral character and nice acidity, the 2005 Bodegas Angel Rodriguez Martinsancho Verdejo ($14.99) is lovely. Josh Reynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar gives it 88 points: “Pungent, grassy nose, with vibrant scents of lemon, green tea, ginger and jasmine. Spicy and incisive, with brisk citrus flavors accented by herbs and minerals.” (Sep/Oct 06) This will be on my table November 23 with the turkey, of course. Perhaps you’d prefer a red wine with your roast beast? The 2004 Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos Roble, ($14.99) from Ribera del Duero boasts a tannic backbone surrounded by cherry and a hint of cocoa. Robert Parker gave it 88 points: “…Displays elegance as well as dramatic aromatics with scents of flowers, cherries, and berries…A medium-bodied, nicely concentrated style.” (06/05) A week without drinking Rioja is a terrible shame. The 2000 La Rioja Alta, Alberdi, Rioja ($18.99) makes for an affordable indulgence. This is a classic blend of tempranillo (90-95%) and a touch of mazuelo, exhibiting dried berries, spice box and a hint of vanilla. Its softly refined tannins will please neophyte and veteran Rioja lovers alike. Did I mention lamb, ham and turkey? —Dan Buckler
2005 Mas Que Vinos, Ercavio Blanco, La Mancha ($8.99) Airen is not one of those grape varieties that receive a lot of press. Here at Bodegas Ercavio, they have raised this lowly grape to a truly terrific wine. Blended with a bit of sauvignon blanc, this white wine is dry, fresh and crisp. Reminiscent of the kiwi style of Sauvignon Blanc, I love it as an aperitif. 2005 Finca Luzon, Luzon, Jumilla ($6.99) 88 points Parker: “The 2005 Luzon is a blend of 65% Mourvedre and 35% Syrah that exhibits a dark ruby/purple color in addition to loads of blackberry and cassis fruit, good ripeness and richness, decent acidity, and a freshness undoubtedly due to the vineyards' lofty altitudes of 2,000-2,300 feet. Consume it over the next several years.” 2004 Candela Carro, Murcia ($8.99) 89 points Robert Parker: “There are 6,000 cases of the 2004 Carro, a tank-fermented and aged, un-oaked blend of 50% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo, and 10% Merlot. It reveals terrific fruit intensity, copious black cherries and wild mountain berries, and notions of licorice, flowers, roasted meats, and chocolate. With supple tannin, low acidity, and abundant fruit, it is a joy to drink as well as a spectacular value. Consume it over the next 12-18 months. This estate is one of the top discoveries of all my tastings.” 2004 Mas Que Vinos, Ercavio Roble, La Mancha ($8.99) The 2003 sold out so fast that if you blinked, you missed out! The 2004 is even better—more length, depth and concentration. Made from 100% cencibel, the local name for tempranillo, this tinto is made using a blend of traditional and modern methods…spending some time in large clay amphoras known as tinajas and aged for five months in a mix of French and American oak. Full and fleshy, this red from La Mancha has plenty of ripe black cherry fruit and a long finish. Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett, firstname.lastname@example.org
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