The 2002 Flora Springs Napa “Trilogy” ($49.99) is another winner in a long line of top California Bordeaux blends. The 2002 Trilogy is comprised of 50% cabernet sauvignon, 29% merlot, 13% cabernet franc, 4% malbec and 4% petit verdot. The majority of the fruit used in this wine comes from the Komes Ranch Estate vineyards, which surround the winery in Rutherford. The wine is vibrant, rich and dark. Flavors of red currants, blackberries and mocha are followed a full, lush and well-structured finish. A few more years in the bottle will help to round out the ripe, firm tannins. The 2002 Cabernets continue to impress us. The 2002 Vine Cliff Napa Cabernet Sauivignon ($34.99) is a blend of 86% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc and 4% petite verdot. This wine really shows the fleshy, ripe fruit that is typical of many great 2002s. Hints of mocha, ripe cherry and black currants jump from the glass! Switching gears to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Taz Vineyards is a winery to watch. The 2004 Taz Santa Barbara Chardonnay ($12.99) is a well focused, rich-fruit driven wine. Eighty percent of this wine comes from a southwest-facing slope on the inland side of the Cat Canyon Vineyard in Los Alamos. Their current Pinot Noir is the 2003 Taz Santa Barbara Pinot Noir ($17.99). In blending this 2003 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, the folks at Taz pulled together fruit from Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Rita Hills—two very different sites with contrasting signatures. The final product shows a blackberry burst in the wine with cola spice and juicy jammy berry notes, supported by a balancing act of tannins and structure. Another value in Santa Barbara Pinot Noir would be the 2004 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Pinot Noir ($17.99). This wine is just easy to drink. Whether with fresh grilled salmon or left-over roast chicken or just in a glass by itself, the pretty plum and spring strawberry flavors of ABC’s Santa Barbara Pinot are simply delicious. —Trey Beffa
I can’t believe I haven’t written about Terra Valentine yet, considering how great these wines are and how much the entire Redwood City staff loves them. It’s been over a year since I desperately asked Trey if we could carry the 2001s and now with the rip-roaringly good 2002s just released, it’s a perfect time to introduce them now, and not just because it’s February! Terra Valentine is a family-owned, small-production winery that sits deep and high inside the spectacular Spring Mountain Appellation, truly one of the best regions for growing Cabernet in all of Napa Valley. Eighteen hundred feet above the drums of the winery divas below, this extraordinary 14-year-old, 35-acre vineyard produces wines of profound character and intensity, displaying amazing personality and a chiseled, age-worthy structure. The true masterpiece, however, is owner Angus Wurtele’s choice to price these stunners at absurdly reasonable levels. For such magnificent quality, you can easily pay a lot more (and trust me, you mostly do!). In fact, I performed a little experiment a couple weeks ago when I had glass of 2002 Terra Valentine Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.99) next to that of an ultra-prestigious winery whose focus one might say is its famous white label. There I was, sitting on the patio sipping Terra Valentine next to a $100+ dollar bottle thinking to myself, “In all fairness I can’t say that T.V. is better (or worse) than this luxury brand next to it. Wow!” The kicker was that it had all the depth and elegance of greatness, but none of the price tag. As if that wasn’t enough, the 2001 Terra Valentine “Wurtele Vineyard” Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($44.99) is something else!! Winemaker Sam Baxter selects fruit from two exceptional, volcanic-soil blocks within this killer vineyard to make a truly special wine that turns up the muscle and concentration, demonstrating astonishing fruit and refinement that’ll make your mind salivate. I’m going to be blunt about this. There is no California Cabernet under $50 that will make it flinch. Not one. If you find one, you email me at email@example.com and tell me, because I want to buy it. Enjoy! —Martin Reyes
Olivet Lane vineyard is an incredibly desirable source of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit in the Russian River appellation of Sonoma. The grapes are higly sought after by wineries such as Williams Selyem and Merry Edwards, but the way to buy is directly from the owners of the vineyard under their own Olivet Lane label. Pellegrini Family owns this vineyard, and under the astute direction of Robert Pellegrini these wines are truly world class. Both wines are wonderful values and have proven themselves with our staff and our customers. Give each a try and see for yourself how you can buy cult level wines at great prices. The 2002 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir ($19.99) is wonderfully opulent with nice dark cherry fruit filling the palate, accented by delicate notes of sweet spices, blackberry, integrated oak and a long plush finish. Good tannins provide structure, but the velvety texture of the wine smoothes these out into a wine that is hard to resist right now. This is luxury in a bottle, and at a price we all can afford. This is truly new world-style Pinot Noir at its best and avoids the ultra-extraction crutch that hides the true character of Pinot while exhibiting the unctuous ripeness that the Russian River appelation uniquely adds to the world of Pinot styles. The 2003 Olivet Lane Chardonnay ($14.99) also shows how great the Russian River can be for the prodction of world-class Chardonnay, with a wonderful offering of ripe pear to apple fruit with notes of stone, cinnamon and a touch of vanillin oak. With all this ripe fruit, you might expect a lack of acidity or structure, but it comes through here in this great food wine. This is a Chardonnay to please everyone! Consistent year after year, this has been a favorite of our customers (and staff) consistently. —Shaun Green
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