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
The warm fuzzy feeling I get right about this time of the year can only mean one thing... I’ve been drinking some great Zinfandels recently! Yes, the most joyous, generous, luscious elixir of our Golden State, with its heady perfumes and decadent flavors is just perfect for December. You better believe I have some great choices up my sleeve: If there can be such a thing as grace and elegance within power, the 2002 Storybook Mountain “Mayacamas Range” Napa Zinfandel ($25.99) achieves it. Deep in the heart of Cabernet country, legendary owner/winemaker Jerry Seps has been quietly making world-class Zinfandel for over 20 years. This refined effort shows the beautiful and classy side of the powerful grape. True, premium, dinner-friendly Zinfandel is so hard to come by nowadays, but you’ll find exactly that here! Not too hot or too ripe, it’s just right for a fairytale romantic evening for two. 2002 Storrs “Rusty Ridge” Santa Clara Zinfandel ($24.99) Santa Clara Zinfandel, yes indeed! This wine’s made up of a couple old vineyards perched on two ridges of rust-colored, iron-rich volcanic soils that add a touch of personality, as you’d expect. Dry farming and meticulous attention produced a wine of amazing concentration and varietal identity. One of the rare, but incredible Zinfandels made entirely from Bay Area fruit. 2003 Scott Harvey “Old Vine” Amador Zinfandel ($19.99) Old-vine Zins achieve some of their greatest expressions and concentration in Amador County, and this wine’s a fine example. The tarry, spicy deep black fruit comes out strong and persuasive. The nose reminds me of those Christmasy sweet baking aromas of nutmeg and clove that warm the heart and soften the worries of the day. In fact, this one just begs for a fireplace, the clink of glassware and the hum of joyous holiday parties! Enjoy! —Martin Reyes
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