The wine world as it exists today in 2006 is just bursting with a phenomenal amount of great quality wines, from every corner of the world and in every style imaginable. For the wine lover it is a dream-like marketplace. The commune of Margaux in Bordeaux is where two of France’s six great rivers meet, the Garrone and the Dordogne to form the Gironde. The glacial deposits over thousands of years, has always created great diversity in the style and quality of wines produced here. Not so very long ago, the perception of style and quality was real easy; there was good and there was bad. A typical work day was to taste at Ch. Margaux, Palmer, maybe Rauzan-Segla and then head north to St-Julien. There were so many underachievers with famous names that it was shame; but even in those days we would stop and taste the wines of Ch. d’Angludet. Now it is a whole different story, and Margaux is a perfect reflection of our wine world today. A vast selection of fine wine made throughout the entire commune, in different styles and price ranges. Wonderful re-emergence of estates like Ch. Lascombes, Giscours, du Tertre and Cantenac Brown that feature new the world style of abundantly forward ripe fruit and oak, Ch. Malescot St. Exupéry with its bold and rich feel, the same can be said for Ch. d’Issan. Brane-Cantenac is once again the epitome of elegance and purity, owning up to its reputation and 2nd growth status, very similar to Ch. Kirwan and the outstanding smallest classified growth, Ch. Ferriere. Top to bottom this large commune finally has got it all. Clyde and I have always loved the quiet estate and classically styled wine produced at Ch. d’Angludet in Margaux. We sold many vintages in the early years of K&L, 1978, ’79, ’80, ’81, ’82, ’83 and ’85, and we continue today with this consistent performer with a fine track record and aging potential. In fact I’ve bought many, and they are great with age. We taste every year at the chateau with the co-owner James Sichel, the son of the late Peter Sichel who was a great ambassador of Bordeaux wine. The wines of d’Angludet are firm and focused. They feature flavors of deep blackberry/black cherry fruit with a solid core of tannin and lots of mineral tones. Ch. d’Angludet is a K&L favorite and also a favorite of the great Master of Wine, Michael Broadbent from the UK. This trio of vintages we’ve just received are perfect examples of each vintage. The 1999 d’Angludet ($34.99) shows the supple roundness for early drink ability with an hour decant-ing. The 2001 d’Angludet ($34.99) is lively, bright and fresh as well as perfectly balanced and it will drink very well for numerous years. The 2000 d’Angludet ($39.99) shows you the brooding power of this vintage. Broad, dark and deep, this wine is the one for extended aging in the cellar. I’m sure you will enjoy all of them as they are well made wines for the purist. Warm New Year’s wishes to everyone, and please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or advice on the wines of Bordeaux at ex # 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com. Toujours Bordeaux! —Ralph Sands
Just before I started working for K&L, I went to Vinitaly with Greg, and we did a little wine tour through Austria, the Alto Adige and then to Friuli where we stayed at Volpe Pasini. There are seven rooms inside this 17th century villa. You can go to their website for room rates and availably (www.volpepasini.net). One warning though: There’s a church across the street, and at 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the bell tower goes off!! Not just six or nine bongs, either. A full fifteen minutes of CLANGING and BONGING with no tune or rhythm. Not enjoyable. We did, however, enjoy their wines. Years later we are still enjoying them! 2004 Volpe Pasini Chardonnay ($12.99) This medium-bodied Chardonnay will take you away from the winter blues. Crisp with lots of green apple and minerals, you will also find some tropical fruits on the finish along with high acidity. Try this wine as an aperitif or with mushroom risotto. 2004 Volpe Pasini Sauvignon Zuc di Volpe ($21.99) 100% stainless steel, this Sauvignon on the nose will make you think Bordeaux and New Zealand with classic cut grass and grapefruit. On the palate you will find gooseberry, lime zest, slate with nice length to this dry white. Think tomato and basil salad or shellfish. 2004 Volpe Pasini Ribolla Gialla ($18.99) Ribolla is an indigenous grape, it distinguishes itself for its great liveliness and elegant balance, restrained flavors of golden delicious apples and cantaloupes with good complexity and a long finish. Serve with prosciutto and aged cheeses or white meat dishes. 90 points Wine Spectator. Salute! —Mike Parres
MMVI. The New Year dawns and the first opportunity for 2001 Brunello is at hand. Mike Parres and I will be off in a month to get the scoop on the vintage with a power-tasting trip, lambasting our palates to bring back the best for you. One of the most interesting things about Tuscan wines is that you can have multiple opportunities with any given vintage. If you miss a great year in Burgundy it is over and finished. In Tuscany you can get for instance, 2004 Chianti in the marketplace now followed by 2003 Chianti Classico, 2001 and 2002 Chianti Classico Riserva, the 2000 vintage Brunello di Montalcino and finally the 1999 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. We have already seen the evolution of the 2001 vintage through this series of wines and we’ve had some truly extraordinary wines. The 2001 vintage is not legally for sale until January 1, 2006, and many producers don’t release their wines until late spring or early summer. I’m writing this the 1st of December, so I can’t quote you any prices. But we will start to sell shortly after the beginning of the year on a pre-arrival basis. This year we are going to have first “Tranche” (to borrow from the French) prices and they will be real bargains for those who want to put out their money before the points come out. I’ve tasted many of these wines over the course of the last few years, and I can counsel you on how to prepare yourself. The 2001 vintage is very similar to the 1999 vintage in structure; it is a pure sangiovese vintage, linear, aromatic, balanced, whereas the 1999 vintage was graceful, poised and classic. You could think of a dancer’s or swimmer’s musculature—supple, flowing, powerful yet with poise first. The 2001 is powerful yet not with an exaggerated body builder’s physique. 2001 is classic architecture, symmetry and proportion. In 2001 coiled energy seethes inside. The color suggests density. Aromatics are exponentially amplified. Power oozes from these wines, yet replete with balance, sophistication and a long-lasting finish. Ripe doesn’t describe this vintage. Ripe is a measure of sugar. Like someone reaching his 21st birthday, it tells little of one’s maturity, personality or intelligence. This vintage has matured on the vine, like the instruments in a symphonic orchestra or gemstones with many facets; no one flavor dominates. These wines are a bit cocky. They have swagger, and they demand attention. They will reward cellaring. They will be great. Those of you in and around San Francisco will have a great opportunity to meet and taste with a gaggle (about 10+, tough to get Italians to confirm more than a month ahead of time) of Brunello producers on the evening of Sunday, January 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. $50.00 at our San Francisco store located at 638 4th St. just a block from the train station. Many will have samples of the 2001 vintage as well as their current releases, and it will be an incredible opportunity to meet and learn what these producers are doing. There will be limited space at this tasting so don’t dally! —Greg St.Clair
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