2004 Bodegas Muga Rioja Blanco ($11.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “The finest white wine I have yet tasted from Muga is the 2004 Blanco, a value-priced blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia. Spring flower garden notes intertwined with notions of honeyed pear and citrus soar from the glass of this perfumed white. It is well-textured, with terrific fruit, wonderful purity, and surprising body...” 2004 El Quintanal, Ribera del Duero ($10.99) Made from 100% tempranillo, El Quintanal is a red wine that is sure to please many a palate. The lush black cherry fruit is complemented by vanillin oak and a long round finish, showing all of the balance and depth of the 2004. Enjoy with grilled lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes! 2004 Vina Y Tia De Lozar, Ribera del Duero ($10.99) 89 points Robert Parker: “Wow! What a super bargain ... A tasty, surprisingly textured, rich offering, it displays notes of melted licorice, creme de cassis, cigar smoke, cedar wood, and spice box. This fleshy, medium to full-bodied, pure, persistent, savory, unfiltered cuvee will provide immense pleasure over the next 2-3 years.” 2001 Bodegas Y Vinedos Pujanza Pujanza, Rioja ($24.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “...Precise notes of graphite, sweet currants and cherries, cigar tobacco, spice box, and subtle wood are present in both the aromas and flavors of this medium to full-bodied, supple-textured, spicy, well-knit offering.” 2001 Finca Villacreces Reserva, Ribera de Duero ($31.99) 91 points Robert Parker: “A blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot ... A complex nose of dried herbs, blueberries, black currants, licorice, and espresso is followed by a ripe, full-bodied, opulent, pure, elegant as well as nuanced wine.” —Anne Pickett
I had a small distributor stop by the San Francisco shop in late January to taste us on several wines, and were they fantastic. All of these wines are new to K&L Wine Merchants. Nothing is more fun and satisfying than finding a small production winery with exceptional wines. 2000 Galleron “Aves” Napa Valley Zinfandel ($17.99) Gary Galleron has made wine at places like Whitehall Lane, Grace Family, Hartwell and Vineyard 29. This wine made us all smile. This Zinfandel has six years of aging on it with fantastic fruit and excellent structure. It’s not a wine for you Turley fans, but if you want a hearty red for a nice steak, this is the one. 2002 Martin “Talty Vineyard” Dry Creek Zinfandel ($15.99) Michael Martin, the owner/winemaker, makes four Zinfandels. From the Talty Vineyard, near Martin’s estate, this wine is big and fruity with hints of spice and pepper. The wine finishes long and clean. 2003 Olabisi Knight’s Valley Syrah ($21.99) Olabisi means “joy multiplied.” Ted Osbourne is the owner/winemaker who was last at Storybook Mountain Vineyards and is now the winemaker at the super premium winery Pina Cellars. This one is big and bright with lovely pepper that explodes in the mouth with layers of flavor. It is a wine that is very quiet on the finish. Decant for best drinking. See you in the City… —Mike Jordan
People in the wine industry have a tendency to generalize California Chardonnay. It is perceived by many as over-oaked, heavy and lacking acidity and balance. While this may be true for some it is unfair to say all California Chardonnay is in the same style. There are many that could easily be confused with a great White Burgundy if tasted blind. Two of these wines I believe are the 2003 Varner “Home Vineyard” Santa Cruz Chardonnay ($28.99) and the 2003 Varner “Bee Block” Santa Cruz Chardonnay ($29.99). Both really show what California Chardonnay is capable of. The Home Vineyard is made up of vines that are 23 years old. The Bee Block's vines average about 15 years old. Both wines are made in a truly “hands-off” approach. Owners Jim and Bob Varner both believe the wine is made in the vineyard and not in the cellar. New oak is kept in check, 50% new French on the Bee Block and 40% on the Home. Both wines show great acidity and freshness, along with rich mid-palates and long spicy finishes. I think with a couple more years in the bottle both will gain even more complexity and richness. Another wine in a similar style is the 2003 Hanzell Sonoma Chardonnay ($54.99). Minimal new oak and very little malolactic fermentation makes this a precise and pure Chardonnay worth lying down for a while. This wine shows mineral-driven fruit aroma with flavors of white pear, green apple and citrus notes. Subtle hints of toast and spice notes remain in the background and linger on the finish. For those of you looking for that “typical” California style, I would recommend one of the best. The 2003 Sbragia “Gamble Ranch” Napa Chardonnay ($34.99) is for those of you who are looking for that rich, lush and creamy texture in a white wine. Owner Ed Sbragia, the current head winemaker at Beringer, has created this wine with all his signature techniques. The wine is rich and opulent with a buttery, nutty quality that seems to linger on the palate for several minutes. —Trey Beffa
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