2001 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino “Montosoli” $34.99 This was in my top-ten Brunelli of all the 2001s I tried in February with Greg. I was very fortunate to try this wine next to the 1985 vintage, a hint for what this ’01 would someday become! Not that I would wait that long to drink this wine. Layers of spicy dark fruit, a little Montosoli dust and a touch of leather with great tannin stucture. Would give this at least three hours of decanting (if I were drinking this sooner than later), but be patient with this baby! 2001 Casisano Colombaia Brunello di Montalcino $29.99 I found this Brunello to be the most user friendly of the 2001s. Dark ripe fruit, cassis and strawberries with dark chocolate, and lots of oak and soft tannins on the finish. Still needs an hour or two to open up. Try it with your Mom’s pork roast recipe. Life is good! 2001 Ferrero Brunello di Montalcino $29.99 One of my favorite Brunelli for its spiceness! Lots of cinnamon and clove mingle with rich and ripe black cherries on this full-bodied with soft and easy tannins. This is a wine to drink now and over the next five years. Stock up on this one. 2001 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino $34.99 thick, lush yet dazzlingly fresh fruit character is accented with hints of earth, spice and mineral that is wrapped around a powerful foundation. While profoundly concentrated, the silky texture of this wine sends waves of smooth, unctuous texture across your palate. Powerful, complex, drinkable, age worthy, this luscious Brunello shows the great balance inherent in this 2001 vintage. It will age well for another decade plus. Salute! —Mike Parres
Mike Trujillo, winemaker for Karl Lawrence, had full control of Sequoia Grove’s 2002 vintage. Mike’s skill and decision making has given Sequoia Grove a so-called rebirth. This vintage screams, “pay attention!” I was fortunate to be invited to a blind trade tasting where Sequoia Grove’s 2002 and their Rutherford Reserve were up against the likes of Pride Mountain, Opus One, Rudd, Shafer, Groth, Caymus, BV Georges de Latour, Pine Ridge, Whitehall Lane and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Mike has been touring the country putting on these blind tastings for trade folks. And to his credit (and the wines’), Sequoia Grove has gained a new cache. The group of 50 tasters chose the 2002 Sequoia Grove Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.99) as their number three choice. Needless to say, the results surprised quite a lot of predisposed tasters. But what really did it was the overwhelming # 1 vote for the 2002 Sequoia Grove Rutherford Reserve (Inquire)! Mike mentioned that it had been the winner at more than 11 of his 18 nationwide tastings, and always in the top three! I’m happy to say that the group’s number one was my number one. Go Mike! You have made a delicious Cabernet. This is a wine that boosts a wealth of balanced fruit as well as hints of lavender and rich dark chocolate. It’s a powerful yet subtle wine that begs to be swirled and smelled, swirled and smelled again. Not to forget the ribbons of elegant tannin that finish off this experience. —Keelyn Healy
Thanks to Fritz Zweigelt’s 1922 historical creation we now have the varietal aptly known as zweigelt (zv eye-gelt). A crossing of two indigenous varietals, blaufrankish and st. laurent, it was created with the hopes of withstanding frost and disease, and be an earlier ripening grape. Known for all of these features, it is now the most widely planted red varietal in all of Austria. It has even reached parts of eastern Germany. Across the board the character of zweigelt is one of a dark, dense core, rounded structure and aromatics of bright, red cherry fruit. Most of the zweigelt vineyards are now just coming of age. Remember this is a new varietal; you only get to make changes once a year. With that in mind the aging potential is not fully clear. But, I feel with a little more time we will begin to see high-class Zweigelts being put through the test of time and fairing extremely well. There are even some experiments happening that include the blending of zweigelt and blaufrankish. Think of Bordeaux with cabernet and merlot, zweigelt being the merlot. So, with all of that said, here are some wines that will help get your feet wet in the zweigelt pool. 2004 Berger Blauer Zweigelt 1L ($13.99) Yes, a ONE LITER! An easy going, gulpable little bugger that is racy, lush and just down-right fun. By all means, do not consider this wine to be a weak interpretation of the varietal in any way!!!! 2003 Iby Zweigelt Classic ($11.99) This is the Austrian equivalent of a good spicy Cotes du Rhone. Lots of berry notes (you know, the aroma of a crushed summer strawberry that smacks you in the face), and mild tannins make it a fun summer wine when paired with foods from the grill. It is light enough for picnics, too! 2003 Paul Lehrner Claus ($16.99) A blend of 75% zweigelt and 15% blaufrankish, The Claus is a wine with a very subtle bit of tannin due to the addition of the blaufrankish, and a dark, sappy core of lush, juicy fruit that throws out hints of delicate herbs surrounded by a thin coat of smokiness, which will keep you sniffing deeper and deeper into the glass. A happy drinker! —Eric Story
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