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
Actually, I should clarify that I am not actually in Basqueland. My travel plans for the month of February include a comfortable armchair, a copy of Mark Kurlansky’s A Basque History of the World and a few tasty bottles of wine from this breathtakingly beautiful and rugged country. Below are two selections from the Basque appellations of Iroulegey and the Jurancon, located at the base of the Pyrenees in southwest France. I am sure you will appreciate them, both for their sense of terroir and for being dang tasty. Please read on! Clos Lapeyre in Jurançon is a 12-hectare domaine owned by the Larrieu family. The goal of owner/winemaker Jean-Bernard Larrieu is to produce wines that express the specificity of the grape varieties (namely gros and petit manseng) and the soils (clay/limestone and silex) found on his steeply planted vines (250 meters!). The 2004 Domaine Lapeyre Jurancon Sec ORGANIC ($13.99) comes in a nifty screw cap, and oh what fun it is to drink! Comprised of 100% gros manseng, this is a firm, mineral-driven white with notes of fresh herbs, green apple and quince. This Basque white is delicate and refreshing, however its complexity and concentration will undoubtedly impress you. Enjoy a glass while cooking dinner, or pair with Basque style sizzling garlic shrimp! One of the most picturesque and breathtaking villages in all of France MUST be Irouleguy! Rustically inspired Basque-style architecture as well as amazing wine and food lend a uniqueness to this village. The 2003 Iroulegey Rouge Domaine Illaria ORGANIC ($13.99), from winemaker Peio Espil is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, tannat and cabernet franc. This is not a massive, oak-laden fruit bomb but rather a medium-bodied red with notes of crunchy cherry, plum and black currant. A perfect match for hearty dishes like roast lamb in rosemary sauce or a traditional Basque-inspired grilled filet mignon with roasted red peppers. Enjoy a glass of this delicious and authentic red and take a trip to Basque country! —Mulan Chan
Psst...wanna know about one of the best kept secrets in French wine? Rhone whites! You will absolutely fall in love, LOVE, with the following terrific, overachieving whites. Try one, or try them all! 2004 Domaine Combier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc ORGANIC ($17.99) Fleshy marsanne is in evidence in this honeyed, thick and luscious northern Rhone white that is held together with a long, tight seam of minerals and grippy acidity. The nose is effusive with white flowers and hints of ripe nectarine. Enjoy this elegant white before a traditional Provencal meal or a St. Marcellin cheese. 2004 Costieres de Nimes Chateau Grande Cassagne Blanc ($9.99) Grenache blanc and roussanne are behind this crisp and rich white from the South of France. The very floral nose will set you squarely in the southern Rhone, at a village market, say, where lavender and white flowers mingle with green olives and citrus. A tingle of oak on the finish adds complexity and remains a backnote. Perfect with brandade or a slice of fougasse (flatbread with onion, black olive and anchovy). 2004 Côtes du Rhone Blanc Domaine de la Becassonne ($13.99) Châteauneuf-du-Pape legend Andre Brunel fashions this rich, full-bodied Rhone white from 50% roussanne, 30% clarette and 20% grenache blanc. This offers aromas of sweet honeysuckle and flavors of apricots, peaches and minerals. Pair with virtually any Provencal fare, including roast chicken, fennel roasted pork loin, picholine olives! A truly exceptional wine value from the South of France! —Mulan Chan
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