2001 Vina Izadi Rioja Crianza ($14.99) 2001 Vina Izadi Rioja Reserva ($23.99) I love the wines from Vina Izadi! The winery is located in the heart of the Basque section of the Rioja known as the Rioja Alavesa. Grown on calcareous clay soils, tempranillo achieves great richness and delicacy. Both the Crianza and the Reserva wines are from the fabulous 2001 vintage, which is the greatest vintage in Rioja since 1964. The wines are made from a blend of 90% tempranillo, 5% graciano and 5% mazuelo. Aged for 14 months in American oak, the Crianza is full of ripe black cherry fruit with a solid core of structure and tannin. Enjoy this wine now with braised pork shoulder, or it has plenty of stuffing to age for several years. The Reserva wine, made only in the best of years, is aged for 25 months in a mix of French and American oak. Big and bold, this red has plenty of rich, ripe fruit intermingled with aromas of spice cake and vanilla. The power and depth of this wine make it a great cellar candidate of 5 to 10 years. 2001 Arzuaga Crianza, Ribera del Duero ($26.99) 2003 Pago Florentino, Arzuaga, La Mancha ($15.99) Founded in 1990, Bodegas Arzuaga-Navarro is located right next door to the venerable Vega Sicilia. Florentino Arzuaga makes Riberas of great depth and elegance. Made from a blend of tinto fino (aka tempranillo) with a bit of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, their 2001 Crianza shows all the hallmarks of this top vintage. Round, ripe blackberry/cherry fruit is balanced with a long elegant finish. This wine would do well with 3-7 years time in your cellar. The Pago Florentino is their new project in La Mancha. Made from 100% cencibel, the local name for tempranillo, the wine is aged for 8 months in a mixture of French and American oak. The big flashy, ripe fuit and long spicy finish make this wine a great choice for the local specialty, Manchego cheese! Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett, email@example.com
2002 Stony Hill Chardonnay ($26.99) This chardonnay has always been my favorite in California. This chardonnay is beautifully balanced with tropical fruit, melon and apple. Good acidity with now oak showing in the mouth or nose. Perfect! 2002 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon ($59.99) This cabernet was in my top 5 in 2001. The 2002 was a bit unbalanced when I tried it 6 months ago but it has definitely found itself now. A fruit-forward style of cab with great structure and finesse. This wine is great now but will hold for another 10 years. 1999 Whitethorn “Hyde” Pinot Noir ($34.99) My favorite pinot in the store and a favorite for all the staff in San Francisco. This wine is almost perfect. Cherry fruit, balance, spice and earthiness all rolled up with a seamless finish. If you love pinot, this wine is a must. Perfect for any holiday dinner or party. 2003 Woodenhead “Buena Tierra” Pinot ($44.99) I wrote up the 2002 in October, and the 2003 definetly deserves to get your attention. A more forward style of pinot, with raspberry, cassis and hints of white pepper and earth. Made by William Selyem veteran Nikolai Stez. 86 cases produced. Happy Holidays, and see you in the City... —Mike Jordan
This month winter, holiday parties and gift giving begin. What better time to tell you about four different cabs…. One is destined to fit in that special someone’s stocking! 2002 Benziger Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99) MMMMM, Lots of sweet blackberry fruit mingled with toasty oak on the nose promises something special here, and doesn’t disappoint. Round, smooth, medium-weight, this tasty treat is bound to grace many holiday parties this year. In the California style of cult-y wines, just a bit more reserved. If you are a fan of the “big gun” Cali Cabs, try this economy version of the same. I’m sure Santa will make sure you are on the “good” side of the list if you pour this for him. 2003 Caymus Napa Cabernet ($64.99) Here’s a big deal Cali Cab that you must know by now. Juicy, plump, round, ripe, black cherry, cassis, red currants, vanillin oak, and ready to drink! Classic Caymus, without the wait. This warm-vintage Caymus is ready to go, so drink up while you’re waiting for your ageing wines to come around! 2002 Roth Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($34.99) All estate fruit, blended with a little merlot plus a touch of cabernet franc. The Roth shows solid and structured notes of black fruits, coffee and a little tobacco on the nose leading into a wonderfully refined palate of black cherry, cassis syrup, elusive spicy notes and fine velvety tannins. This is a serious wine-lovers Cab. Not overly flashy or new wave, this is a beautifully harmonic wine with style and grace. A perfect wine for a dinner party. 2001 Mount Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99) I love this wine! And it is showing the best it ever has right now. An extraordinary rich and complex nose tinged with rose petal, cola, cassis and a bit of mint leads into a serious mouthful of very exciting, intensely fruited cabernet laced with anise, cinnamon, truffles, mocha… This wine simply evolves and evolves revealing layer after layer and getting better and better. Not to stop there, the finish goes on revealing subtle notes of vanillin oak, coffee and a sweet lingery black cherry. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season! —Shaun Green
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