Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Oregon’s Archery Summit hits the target

20 Mar

Christopher Mazepink,  winemaker and general manager at Archery Summit, isn’t the least bit fazed by Pinot Noir. Perhaps that’s because he went straight from graduate school at Oregon State University to making it. Instead of being intimidated by the famously persnickety grape, he’s excited by the challenges crafting topnotch Pinot Noir presents.

Mazepink quickly fell in love with the varietal. He especially relishes the winemaking process, the grapes’ diversity at different sites and Pinot Noir’s distinctive character. Pinot Noir has, he says, “more personality than any other grape…. It will never be formulaic…. You’ll never see the same vintage twice.”

Oregon’s Pinot Noirs are considered by many to offer the best of California and the best of Burgundy. Mazepink thinks that “people are chasing the Oregon style” for this reason. The wines combine the ripe fruit flavors of California Pinots with the minerality, freshness of fruit, and savory, spicy character of Burgundy wines. They’re generally good both when young and when aged five to eight years.

Much is done at Archery Summit as it is in Burgundy. Its caves are modeled after the subterranean cellars of the famed Côte d’Or. Mazepink uses Old World techniques–including wooden tanks, native yeasts and large percentages of whole clusters–as well as Pinot-centric technological innovations to craft his Pinot Noirs. He’s been known to occasionally stomp the grapes with his feet. (Some of the best Ports are still made this way.)

At Archery Summit, Mazepink makes six to eight Pinot Noirs each year. The grapes are grown in the AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) that he considers to be the Willamette Valley’s finest. “I firmly believe that the best wines in Oregon,” he says, “are made from the Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge AVAs,” where the winery’s six estate vineyards are located.

Archery Summit’s wines often receive high ratings. The Wine Spectator recently rated four of its 2011 vineyard-designated wines  (Archer’s Edge, Archery Summit, Arcus and Renegade Ridge) 90 or above. Mazepink, who started at Archery Summit in 2013, is used to receiving similar scores from Robert M. Parker’s Wine Advocate and other publications as well.

Mazepink thinks like you might. “I’m a consumer first,” he says. “Our wines are made to go with a wide range of food.” And that, says this food-and-wine lover, is just how it should be.

Premier Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (SRP $54*): This wine is a blend of grapes from six vineyard estates in the Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge AVAs. Whereas its single vineyard wines are about the place, Archery Summit’s blends are about the style and the vintage, and the 2012 vintage was stellar. Aromas and flavors of blackberries and other dark fruits. A touch of cinnamon and star anise spice. Lush and layered. Sustainably farmed.

Vireton Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2012 (SRP $24): One of Mazepink’s mandates at Archery Summit is to raise the profile of its Pinot Gris, and this is the first nationally distributed white wine from the winery. It offers fresh fruit, fresh acidity and fresh minerality. Aromas and flavors of apple, lemon, lime, white peach and tropical fruit. Flinty minerality. Lively. Notable textural richness and residual flavor.

*Wines can usually be found for less–sometimes considerably less–than the SRP (suggested retail price). Check out wine-searcher.com to get an idea of actual prices.

Hardys: Australia’s Wine Powerhouse

8 Jan

By Sharon Kapnick

Although it isn’t particularly well known in the U.S. these days, Hardys is the biggest-selling wine brand in the U.K. According to the 2013 Intangible Business Report, it’s also the most powerful Australian wine brand in the world and the second most powerful wine brand–only Gallo surpasses it–overall. (Intangible Business is a leading independent international brand valuation and strategy consultancy in the U.K.)

In addition to these high standings, Hardys winemakers have been praised by Australia’s leading wine critic and authority, James Halliday. In the Wine Atlas of Australia, he wrote, “Hardys has a dedicated and highly talented winemaking team which often seems to be one step ahead of the field.” He’s also lauded its “diverse portfolio of exceptional quality wines.”

Hardys obviously is a brand to explore. Its first vineyards were planted in 1854 by Thomas Hardy, whose goal was “to create wines that will be prized in the markets of the world.” Today the fifth generation of the Hardy family aims to do the same.

I recently had a chance to try several Hardys wines with chief winemaker Paul Lapsley. The popular Nottage Hill line is priced at just $13 SRP (suggested retail price). The 2012 Pinot Noir is outstanding, which is no mean feat.  (As Ray Isle writes in Food & Wine’s blog, “With Pinot, it’s tricky even getting ‘good’ and ‘affordable’ into the same bottle.”) With aromas and flavors of red and dark cherries, raspberries and herbal hints, it’s light, lovely and very food friendly. And it’s a great buy.

Another good value is the 2011 William Hardy Shiraz (SRP $17), one of the newly introduced William Hardy wines. It’s a blend of grapes from at least five regions. “Australians don’t hesitate to blend cross-region,” Lapsley said. “The goal is to make the best wine you can.”  With aromas and flavors of blueberry, dark cherry and plum, this Shiraz is soft, round, full bodied and complex, with balanced acidity.

Tintara’s 2010 McLaren Vale Shiraz (SRP $19) sticks to grapes from one region. It’s distinguished by flavors of dark red fruits, a silky round texture and a complex fruit character.

Eileen Hardy is the top tier, which aims to showcase the breadth and depth of Hardys wines. I tried the 2012 Chardonnay, which was elegant, well balanced and creamy. The 2013 Decanter Asia Wine Awards gave the 2010 Eileen Hardy Pinot Noir from Tasmania the International Trophy for Pinot Noir. (These wines are expected to reach the U.S. in the next year or so. Estimated prices are $90-$100.)

The wines range from eminently affordable to a bit of a splurge. Hardys offers something for everyone.

Beyond Beer: The Best Wines to Accompany Chinese Food

2 Oct

By Sharon Kapnick

Years ago, my friends and I would invariably drink beer with Chinese food. While beer was, and remains, a fine partner with many Chinese dishes, we were learning to love wine. We were captivated by the whole new world of exciting bouquets and flavors. We just had to discover what wines went best with Chinese food.

So we did some research and some experimenting, and learned a thing or two. Because different people have different tastes, you’ll probably have to do some experimenting of your own. But here are some guidelines that will help:

GENERAL PRINCIPLES
When matching food with wine, there are several basic rules to keep in mind:

1) Similar foods and wines pair well. A delicate dish, for example, demands a delicate, light-bodied wine, and a hearty, rib-warming meal calls for a rich, powerful, full-bodied wine.
2) Contrasting foods and wines can also be good partners, although these matches are trickier.
3) Food and wine should complement, rather than overpower, each other. As wine importer Rudi Wiest likes to say, “Whatever’s on the plate is already dead. You don’t have to kill it again.” You don’t want a wine that will overwhelm a dish; you want one that will stand up to it.
4) Fiery dishes are best with wines that are low in tannins and alcohol, which fan the flames, and with off-dry (slightly sweet) and sweet wines, which tone them down.
5) In general, the lower the alcohol, the sweeter the wine.
6) If beer goes well with a dish, sparkling wine usually will too.
7) Here’s a rule of thumb: The milder the dish, the drier the wine; the spicier, the fruitier; the hotter, the sweeter.

There are other factors that should be taken into account, like cooking methods. Fried foods, for example, are great with sparkling wines because the bubbles cut through the richness. And then there’s seasonality: The wine you chose to accompany roast duck served on a cold winter’s day shouldn’t be the wine you pour with roast duck on a patio. Sauces, too, play a crucial role in deciding what wine to select, which is especially important in a cuisine like Chinese. In fact, as wine importer Terry Theise advises, you should “match the wine to the sauce, not to the meat. Orange-flavored beef calls for sweet Riesling, not Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”

TAO OF CHINESE MEALS
It’s also important to keep in mind two other distinctive things about Chinese food: 1) the frequent combinations of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavors, which play a great part in determining which wines are appropriate, and 2) the wide array of vegetable, tofu, seafood, poultry, pork and beef dishes served at the same meal. Given all these factors, it may be tempting to raise your hands in surrender and say, “I’ll have a Tsing Tao.” But, in a way, all these considerations make the choice of wine easy: The best thing to do is to serve the most food-friendly wines.

SPARKLING WINES
And there are no more versatile wines than sparkling wines. One of their many virtues is that they can be served throughout the meal. While sparkling wine may not necessarily be the best wine for a particular dish, it’s usually at worst a good accompaniment–and often much more. Sparkling wine doesn’t have strong flavors or tannins that overwhelm food; its thousands of tiny bubbles do a stellar job of cleansing and refreshing the palate; and its acidity and fruit temper spicy heat in food. Sparkling wines are wonderful with Chinese food. (The Chinese themselves gravitate toward bubbles with meals, although bubbles of a different sort: They often mix carbonated drinks like 7-Up with wine, whiskey or brandy.) These days there are many excellent, inexpensive sparkling wines on the market.

If expense is not an issue or you are celebrating a special occasion, you might opt for Champagne. As importer Theise says, “Don’t forget Champagne! In fact, never forget Champagne.” (Actually, I personally would be likelier to forget my own name than to ever forget Champagne!) Champagnes and some sparkling wines come in several sweetness levels: Brut nature (aka Extra brut and Ultra brut): bone dry; Brut: no perceptible sweetness; Extra dry: slightly sweet; Sec: noticeable sweetness; Demi sec: very sweet; Doux: sweetest of all. (Brut is most common.)

ALSACE WINES
After sparkling wines, when eating Chinese, I turn to Alsace and its food friendly, aromatic white wines. Their fruity flavors and (generally) high acidity cool the palate and complement flavorful, spicy and sweet dishes. Their lack of oak is also a plus. “[Aromatic] white wines excel particularly with cuisines that are challenging for other wines,” especially those with some sweetness or hot spiciness, write Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Ed McCarthy in Wine Styles. “Alsace wines in general are great choices when the meal has you wondering what wines could possibly work.”

There are several Alsace wines to consider. Riesling is its outstandingly flexible star. (Actually many think it’s the greatest and most versatile of all white wines.) It’s an excellent choice when you want one wine to serve with many different dishes-–from seafood to fowl to meat. It can be fruity, flowery, sometimes minerally, usually crisp, often elegant. Pinot Blanc, sometimes called the poor man’s Chardonnay, is a light, crisp, fresh, lively, delicate, all-purpose wine. Pinot Gris is like Chardonnay in weight and texture. It’s dry, rich, round, opulent, powerful, complex, sometimes smoky, with lots of fruit flavors. While it has the acidity of a white wine, it’s full bodied and can often take the place of a red. Pinot Gris is an excellent choice with very flavorful dishes. Gewürztraminer is extremely expressive and exotic, highly aromatic, with scents of lychees, rose petals and honeysuckle. It’s full bodied and sometimes slightly sweet. For these reasons, it’s often recommended with spicy cuisines.

GERMAN RIESLINGS
Also at the top of the list as accompaniments to Chinese food are German Rieslings. Generally low in alcohol, they have high acidity, which makes them crisp, fresh, zesty and good with food. The sugar in them is balanced by acidity. They can handle the wide range of dishes served at Chinese meals. (Some pair Rieslings with game, like venison, pheasants and wild duck. Others recommend them with braised meat or steak.)

German Rieslings are made in several ripeness levels, which are indicated on the label. The most important styles for our purposes include: Kabinett-–light, delicate, refreshing wines from ripe grapes with a touch of sweetness; Spätlese–-fuller, more flavorful wines, characterized by high acidity and light sweetness, from grapes picked at least a week after normal ripeness; and Auslese–fuller, riper wines with significant sweetness, made from ripe and overripe grape clusters.

The Kabinetts favor subtly flavored, delicate dishes with light sauces. The Spätlese cut the heat of spicy foods and are also good with dishes with some sweetness. The Ausleses demand aggressively flavored dishes, including sweet-and-sour and orange-flavored sauces that benefit from wines with more residual sugar.

OTHER RIESLINGS
New York, Washington, Oregon, parts of California, Austria, Australia and New Zealand also produce very good Rieslings. This varietal has been regaining popularity as people learn how food friendly it is.

MORE GOOD OPTIONS
There are some other fine choices. Albariño is the floral, citrusy, sometimes minerally, usually dry white wine that the Spanish drink with all fish and seafood; you might try it with the same. Sauvignon Blanc has herbal elements that pair well with ginger and distinctive herbs like cilantro, aka Chinese parsley. It also complements fried appetizers and seafood well. Tangy, racy New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs come to mind first. Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s dry, high-acid white wine, can also be herbal, slightly vegetal, spicy or fruity, with mineral undertones. It’s appropriate with vegetable or shellfish dishes. Off-dry (slightly sweet) Chenin Blancs match well with moderately spicy Chinese food. Pinot Bianco is the Italian version of Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio is the lighter Italian version of Pinot Gris. White Burgundies are elegant and complement elegant dishes. And then there’s Viognier, which the Wall Street Journal describes well: “At its best, Viognier can have the cleanliness of Riesling, the juiciness of Sauvignon Blanc and the orange-blossom charm of Muscat. It tends to taste of peaches, apricots and mango, and sometimes has a bit of weight.”

Rosé is another food friendly wine that takes to Chinese food. Jeff Morgan, author of Rosé and co-owner of SoloRosa, a rosé-only winery, writes, “Rosé is blessed with a fruit-driven, bright-edged core that blends well with the fiery, ripe fruit found in chiles. Refreshingly chilled, dry, pintk wine also cools down the palate.” He recommends it with many dishes, but especially with Szechuan cuisine. If you are a red-wine lover, I recommend Pinot Noir with Chinese duck and meat dishes. Some enjoy Beaujolais, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Côtes-du-Rhône, Shiraz or Syrah, inexpensive red Bordeaux and Barbera.

I suggest you experiment and seek the guidance available at a good wine shop. Chances are, you’ll find many pairings that appeal to you. And if not, remember, there’s always Tsing Tao.

WINES PAIRED WITH REGIONS
Cantonese (some sweetness, not very spicy, sweet-and-sour, fermented black beans, soy sauce, salty): sparkling, Pinot Blanc (seafood), Riesling (seafood), Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer (roasted meats and poultry), rosé

Szechuan (spicy, hot-and-sour sauces, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic): sparkling wine, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Moscato d’Asti, rosé, Beaujolais

Hunan (similar to Szechuan): sparkling, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Beaujolais

Shanghai (slightly sweet): Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer
SOME FOOD AND WINE COMBINATIONS TO TRY
spring rolls and egg rolls: sparkling wine, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, rosé
salt-and-pepper shrimp, salt-and-pepper squid: sparkling wine
barbecued spare ribs: sparkling wine, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Albariño, rosé
noodles with sesame sauce: Gewürztraminer
soup dumplings: sparkling wine
dim sum: sparkling wine, Riesling
deep-fried dishes: sparkling wine
Singapore-style noodles: Sauvignon blanc, rosé
shellfish dishes: sparkling wine, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Albariño
hot pepper prawns: sparkling wine, Viognier
lobster Cantonese: white Burgundy
lobster with ginger and scallion sauce: white Burgundy
chicken with cashew nuts: Gewürztraminer
stir-fry chicken and vegetables: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer
kung pao chicken: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Albariño
General Tso’s chicken: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, rosé
vegetable lo mein: Sauvignon Blanc
minced squab with hoisin: Zinfandel
sesame chicken (Pinot Grigio, Riesling),
moo shu chicken: sparkling wine, Pinot Noir
chicken chow mein: sparkling wine
Peking duck: Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir
tea-smoked duck: Pinot Noir
roast duck: Pinot Noir
sweet and sour pork: Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, rosé
moo shu pork: Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, rosé
twice-cooked pork: sparkling wine, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Albariño, Pinot Noir
Chinese beef dish at tasting: Pinot Gris
orange-flavor beef: Riesling

PRODUCERS TO RELY ON
Sparkling wines: Lucien Albrecht, Bouvet-Ladubay, Domaine Chandon, Codorníu, Cristalino, Chateau Frank, Freixenet, Gramona, Gruet, Korbel, Albert Mann, Marquis de la Tour, Larry Mawby, Mionetto, Château Moncontour, Monmousseau, François Montand, Raventós I Blanc, René Muré, Saint-Hilaire, Segura Viudas, Valdo, Veuve Ambal, Veuve du Vernay, Willm, Yarden, Zardetto

Champagne: Aubry, Henri Billiot, Bollinger, Chartogne-Taillet, Gaston Chiquet, Egly-Ouriet, Nicolas Feuillatte, René Geoffroy, Pierre Gimonnet, Gosset, Alfred Gratien, Charles Heidsieck, Henriot, Jacquesson, Krug, Jean Lallement, Larmandier-Bernier, J. Lassalle, Lanson, Laurent-Perrier, Moët & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Pierre Peters, Philipponnat, Louis Roederer,  Pol Roger, Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Vilmart & Cie

Alsace wines: Lucien Albrecht, Paul Blanck, Léon Boesch, Albert Boxler, Marcel Deiss, Helfrich, Hugel, Josmeyer, Marc Kreydenweiss, Kuentz-Bas, Albert Mann, René Muré, Ostertag, Stoeffler, Schofitt, Trimbach, Weinbach, Zind-Humbrecht

German Rieslings: Georg Breuer, J.J. Christoffel, Darting, Dönnhoff, J.u.H.A. Strub, Kerpen, Dr. Loosen, Meulenhof, Monchhof (Robert Eymael), Egon Müller, J.J. Prüm, Schaefer, Selbach-Oster, Two Princes, St.-Urbans-Hof, Von Schubert, Robert Weil, Zilliken

Other Rieslings: Chateau Ste. Michelle, Eroica, Chehalem, Covey Run, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Grosset, Heron Hill, Hogue, Lamoreaux Landing, Pacific Rim, Pikes, Poet’s Leap, Sheldrake Point, Swedish Hill, Villa Maria, Hermann J. Weimer

Passionate about Pinot: Winemakers on Pinot Noir, the Heartbreak Grape

8 May

By Sharon Kapnick

It’s no secret that Pinot Noir grapes are difficult to grow. The delicate, thin-skinned berries are often called temperamental, finicky, troublesome, demanding, high maintenance, fickle, fussy, capricious, headstrong, challenging and/or headache-inducing (sound like anyone you know?). That’s partly because they’re quite particular about growing conditions and prone to mildew and viruses. And the slightest weather change can have a dramatic impact on their well-being.

“Just whisper ‘rain’ to Pinot Noir, and it rots,” George Bursick told me when he was winemaker at Sonoma’s J Vineyards. Julia Vazquez, former winemaker at DeLoach Vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, put it a little differently: “You can do almost anything to Zin, and it’s still Zin. You look at Pinot Noir wrong, and it can turn on you.” According to Vazquez, the varietal demands “patience, wisdom and more patience.”

More dramatic still is Michael Hill Smith, co-owner of Australia’s Shaw & Smith winery: “You don’t have to be clinically insane to make Pinot,” he said at a seminar I attended, “but it’s a distinct advantage.”

While winemakers have to contend with many hurdles when crafting Pinot Noir, they’re drawn to it because of its many wonderful qualities (more about them later) and its captivating, alluring mystique. And because, as Matt Kramer writes in his book New California Wine, “a great Pinot Noir brings you as close to God as any wine can.”

Pinot Noir, you see, elicits extremely strong feelings, and Pinotphiles are always eager to talk about it. As Bouchaine winemaker Michael Richmond points out on its website, “Pinot Noir … evokes passionate discussion among those under its spell.”

Among them is Burgundy-born wine impresario Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset Family Estates, for whom Pinot Noir is simply a necessity, practically like air. “If a day goes by without it,” he once told me, “I don’t feel right. I feel a portion of my blood is Pinot.” Among the words he used to describe it are refined, sophisticated, romantic, seductive, ethereal, almost mystical at times, charismatic, mysterious, elusive, sensual, whimsical, silky, lacy, sexy, racy, poetic and inspirational. He’s obviously head-over-heels for the varietal.

Boisset was born into Pinot Noir, but Sonoma winemaker Greg La Follette of his eponymous winery never expected to work with it. “I always thought I would work with something much more sane,” he said. “But people kept sucking me in to Pinot,” starting in the late ʼ80s and then the early ʼ90s at Beaulieu Vineyards with the great influential winemaker André Tchelistcheff. “I kept getting dragged, usually kicking and screaming, into the world of Pinot winegrowing.” Eventually La Follette surrendered, saying to himself, Pinot, take me, I’m yours. “Having done so, I was a much happier person,” he added, “spending a lot less money on therapy and actually starting to enjoy the thrilling roller-coaster ride on which Pinot began to take me.”

While meeting with California winemakers Gary Sitton of Clos du Bois and Scott Kelley of Estancia recently, I asked them about the vagaries of making Pinot Noir. “It’s not hard to make, it’s hard to grow,” Sitton said, “hard to get right on the field. And it changes [more than other varietals] from site to site.” He added via email: “Among red wines, Pinot Noir has the least latitude for error. It shows flaws more readily … and has to be handled more gently.” Kelley agreed. “It shows everything you do to it,” he said.

While it may be hard to produce good Pinot Noirs, the wines are exceedingly easy to drink. Pinot Noirs are loved for their velvety, voluptuous nature; satiny texture, aromatic complexity, depth and food friendliness. They can be charming, entrancing, elegant, ephemeral, smooth and/or subtle. Most Pinot Noirs are lower in tannins and lighter in body than many other reds, and therefore more versatile. And their medium-to-high acidity enhances their compatibility with food.

Recommended Wines

Although winemakers may not use it when explaining the difficulties of producing good Pinot Noir, the language of love is the language used to describe the wines. Here, then, are some California Pinot Noirs to beguile you. (You can supply some of your own loving adjectives.)

More than half are from the 2009 vintage, which was an excellent growing year. According to the Wine Spectator, it produced “wines of uncommon finesse, marked by purity and density of flavor, showing delicacy coupled with great structure.” They are simply wonderful.

Clos du Bois North Coast 2009 (SRP* $14.99): Aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, vanilla and spice. Smooth tannins, silky texture, well balanced, delicious. Excellent value.

Estancia Monterey County Pinnacles Ranches 2009 (SRP $15.99): Aromas and flavors of blackberry and black cherry. Earthy. Excellent value.

Wild Horse Central Coast 2010 (SRP $20): Aromas and flavors of cherry, pomegranate, cranberry and spicy red fruits.

DeLoach Russian River Valley 2010 (SRP $24): Aromas and flavors of Bing and black cherry, strawberry and cranberry. Hand harvested, well balanced, elegant.

Estancia Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands 2008 (SRP $25): Aromas and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, plum, blueberry and spice. Silky tannins, medium to full bodied, intense.

Robert Mondavi Carneros 2010 (SRP $27): Aromas and flavors of blackberry and other black fruit, raspberry, red currant and other red fruit. Elegant.

La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2009 (SRP $39.99): The Sangiacomo family works closely with Greg La Follette to get consistently concentrated fruit. Aromas and flavors of raspberry and red cherry. Supple tannins. Has the refined balance and seductive texture La Follette strives for.

La Follette Van der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain 2009 (SRP $39.99): Aromas and flavors of red fruit and spice. Intensely aromatic, structured, Old-World style; complex. Features eight different Pinot clones, which are individually handpicked as each vine matures. A beautiful wine.

DeLoach Russian River Valley O.F.S. 2009 (SRP $40): Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and rose petals. Silky, well balanced, medium bodied. A spectacular wine. Created completely by hand using ancient Burgundian techniques.

Robert Mondavi Carneros, Napa Valley Reserve 2009 (SRP $65): Aromas and flavors of blueberry, black cherry and raspberry. Velvety tannins, balanced acidity, powerful yet subtle. Hand harvested and sorted.

Wild Horse Cheval Sauvage Santa Maria Valley 2008 (SRP $65): Aromas and flavors of red and black fruit, including black cherry, pomegranate and cranberry. Concentrated and intense.

*Wines can usually be found for less–sometimes considerably less–than the SRP (suggested retail price). Check out wine-searcher.com to get an idea of actual prices.

Note: I received samples of these wines.

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