Woodenhead is back! My favorite Pinot Noir producers in California have just released several new bottlings. Nikolai Stez and Zina Bower both have day jobs. Woodenhead is their passion, and you can taste it in every drop. These wines are very small production, and they will sell quickly. I thought the 2003 vintage was some of the best Pinot Noir I’ve ever had, but these three wines are out of this world. If you haven’t tried Woodenhead yet, you must. 2004 Woodenhead Russian River Pinot Noir ($34.99) This is a combination of several different vineyards, including Buena Tierra , which combines to create a medium bodied, slightly juicy dark cherry and blackberry characteristics. It has a hint of oak with fantastic structure and focus. This wine will age for several years, but I bet you can’t wait that long. 2004 Woodenhead “Buena Tierra Vineyard” Russian River Pinot Noir ($43.99) This single vineyard is the pretty sister to the other two wines. Quiet, light bodied with intense flavors, hints of pepper and a long finish, this wine is my favorite of the three. Though I love them all. They doubled production in 2004. It’s still fewer than 150 cases! 2004 Woodenhead “Morning Dew Ranch” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($44.99) This is the big daddy. Strong raspberry forward fruit, with a bit of cinnamon and clove. This is the first vintage from a vineyard owned by Burt Williams, formerly of Williams Selyem. See you in the City... —Michael Jordan
Back to basics with some delicious wines. Cambria has produced a very consistent and textbook Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for years now, and the prices are truly bargain. Don’t pass by these wonderful wines that we can all afford. From the cool climate of Santa Maria (named for their daughers), these wines are something to be proud of. And they are one of the few wines I have ever shared with the dear late Julia Child. 2004 Cambria “Katherine’s Vineyard” Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay ($12.98) An unctuous nose of ripe pear laced with citrus brightness is highlighted by a smooth, lightly spiced vanillin oak and nut cream. Following through to the palate, a round and mouth-filling lovely texture supports a creamy and fairly rich palate of fruits aplenty. You’ll discover pineapple, pear, peaches and crisp apple flavors and just enough oak to please. A very long finish for a wine in this category finishes off this classic. 2004 Cambria “Julia’s Vineyard” Santa Maria Pinot Noir ($16.98) In a time of wildly expensive pinot noir, it is refreshing to see an under $20 bottle that is real pinot! This label is also an exceptional value every year. Very California with a nose matching the palate of ripe cherry and strawberry, spices , soft earthy characteristics and a wonderful round feel. True cool-climate Pinot and a steal of a price. 2005 Shenandoah Vineyards Amador Special Reserve Zinfandel ($7.99) Just released is this perennial favorite here at K&L, bold and round with a lively palate of brambly fruit and spicy notes. The winery is very proud of this effort and rightly so. This may be the best $8 Zin I have ever tasted. BBQs, parties, or just pizza night, don’t settle for less, grab this little beauty from the good folks at Sobon Estate and see what you can get for so little! —Shaun Green
I have recently seen the light, a true path to happiness and fulfillment. As it would happen, alcohol was involved, as was a very large cut of beef. Having never been to Argentina I have no first-hand experience with their cuisine, but I listen rapturously to the tales of people who have just returned. For me I have to settle for El Raigon, an Argentine restaurant here in the City. This was the sight of my epiphany. I have known of the synergy of Malbec and BBQ, but I have never experienced it on this level. Words fail me, only one thing comes to mind when they bring the plate of Bife de Chorizo out. Happy! Hopefully these wines can increase your happiness as well. 2004 Vistalba Corte C ($9.99) This blend of malbec and merlot is a charmer. The merlot adds an extra degree of depth to the fruit as well as softening the texture. The fruit is bright and expressive, with dark berries and red fruit, and the palate is round and open-knit. 2003 Luigi Bosca, Malbec ($16.99) This blends old world with the new world. Longer, more elegantly structured with ripe pure fruit. It is medium to medium-full with juicy dark fruits that are plump and rich on the mid-palate. The fruit is augmented with smoke, leather, and savory spices. It just begs for meat cooked over an open flame. 2002 Alamos Selección Malbec ($14.99) This is a new project for the company: single farmer wines to showcase the uniqueness of the individual terroirs and the talent and dedication of the people. As a fan of their regular line up, I was enthusiastic to try this wine. It is easily three times better, more concentration and length. Balanced with elegance, this is a wine not to miss! —Kirk Walker
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