Edna Valley is much more than just the winery everyone knows about (whose wines I find rock-solid, and wonderfully priced!). There are other producers making terrific wine in this under-appreciated appellation. Tolosa Vineyards was one of the first families to plant grapes in Edna Valley, and for many years sold flawless fruit off their 720 acres to other producers. Only recently have they held back the top 10% of their crop to make a wine under their own label. Boy, am I glad they did! The 2004 Tolosa Edna Valley Chardonnay ($16.99) is every bit as yummy as Chardonnays from the Edna Valley appellation can be. There’s something about this region that produces a very distinct style of juicy, fresh, tropical fruity goodness. Call it terroir, call it predilection, but Tolosa’s hit the mark. Delightfully ripe and fresh, this light-golden liquid does wonders on the palate. Zesty and fresh, this Chard’s my pick for white of the season. As tradition suggests, a great Chard-making region often means a great Pinot Noir-making region, and the 2003 Tolosa Edna Valley Pinot Noir ($19.99) delivers on that promise. Floral, vibrant, with persistent dark cherry and plum flavors and a thoroughly enjoyable finish, this deserves a place at a dinner feast as epic as Gilgamesh. A stunning value for under $20! Now, if you end up liking these wines, I do have Tolosa Edna Valley Syrah ($190 per case) available for special order by the case. Email me at email@example.com if you’d like a box. Happy Turkey Day, and as always, enjoy! —Martin Reyes
This month meet me a hop, skip and a jump away from the Franco-Spanish border, or more precisely the French winegrowing region known as the Roussillon. About 20 minutes north of Perpignan a critical mass of both young and more established vignerons is forming and making GREAT wine from old vines, low yields and very poor soil. Some of the big guns include Gauby, Mas Amiel, Olivier Pithon, Marjorie Gallet at Roc des Anges. I would also invite rising star Eric Sonne of Clot de l’Oum to join as the newest member of this elite group. Eric purchased vineyard land here in the late 1990s and produced his first vintage in 2001. His 18 hectares are divided amongst 33 different parcels within the communes of Maury and Belesta. Although the soil types are quite varied, one finds a predominance of granite (think Cote Rotie and Hermitage!) and smaller amounts of schist and gneiss. Erics parcels lie between 400-600 meters in altitude on predominantly sloping hillsides, which contribute to great exposure, more long, slow ripening and fresh elegant wines. The 2004 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Clot de L’Oum “Compagnie des Papillons” ($18.99) is composed of old-vine grenache and carignan, and owes its name to the numerous butterlies which, after nearly a decade of organic viticulture, have returned to the vineyard. At once spicy, peppery and deep, there are copious amounts of ripe dark fruits, Spanish lavender and black olive notes, along with graphite and smoke on the finish. Rich and balanced Roussillon red at its best! —Mulan Chan
Returning for its third D-I engagement of the last twelve months is the Aimery Sieur d’Arques “1531” Cremant de Limoux ($9.99) and with its six months of further bottle development, it is even better than before. It offers up layers of green apple, pear and citrus fruit with a fine bead and an oh so delicate hint of hazelnut. If you loved the 1531 the first time around we suggest you stock up. More lushness, more viscosity and an even finer bead. Eby has told me that this is our everyday house sparkler for the year. The 2005 Kalinda Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99) offers a lovely nose of fig, red clover, and melon lead immediately into a viscous, lush sauvignon blanc that is not only a lovely wine to have as a cocktail, but one that would be well-suited for an ahi tuna or salmon dinner. Vanilla has informed me that this little gem is our other house white for the month. The 2005 Domaine de Chevalier Rosé, Pessac-Leognan ($10.99) is here just in time for the holidays. With its bright strawberry to raspberry fruit characteristics underscored by that typical Graves minerality, this dry, clean, crisp cabernet-based wine will work wonders at your table. And I do believe this is our first offering of rosé from Domaine de Chevalier, which is one of my favorite Graves producers. From a 40-year-old property, the 2003 Château Serilhan, St-Estèphe ($19.99) is a stunner, loaded with cassis, currants and other black fruits both on the nose and in the mouth. It is complex, layered and long, and is vinified to be drunk near-term and over the next several years. This will be one of our house reds for the month. Finally, returning for its third DI engagement this year is one of my favorite wines, the 2003 Château de Montfaucon, Cotes du Rhone ($9.99). It is rich, broad, ready to drink, worth a case or two in your cellar for day-to-day consumption (especially for such meals as stews and ragout), and enough written… buy it and thank me later. Anderson has for the third time informed me that this is our house red for the month. If you have any questions about these selections, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy this month’s wines! —Jim, Anderson, Eby and Vanilla
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