Monday, October 31, 2005

Far Niente

Far Niente

The Far Niente winery and vineyard was founded late in the 19th century in Oakville, Napa Valley. John Benson a forty-niner of the California gold rush had the winery constructed by famous architect Hamden McIntyre in 1885. The winery was built on a hillside and functioned prosperously as a gravity flow winery until 1919.

The Italian named winery was shut down during the prohibition years and did not reemerge as a winery for some 60 years after. Far Niente translates in English to mean ‘without a care’ and with the spirit of Bensons winery in mind it retained the name.

In 1979 Gil Nikel brought the winery and vineyard and began its restoration. After finding the name Far Niente craved into a stone in the winery he decided to try and recapture the essence of the idea first introduced all those years ago by Benson. And so the Far Niente winery was reborn.

The new Far Niente winery produced its first on site Cabernet Sauvignon vintage in 1982. Since then the Californian winery has concentrated on its two variant wines Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Far Niente’s dedication to every harvest and the passion with which the wine makers combine their skills with the natural elements of the vineyard create the elegant style and full flavor that is the Far Niente Cabernet. The cabernet is produced exclusively from the vineyard grapes of the Oakville winery. Far Niente Cabernets are rich and complex soft in texture and long. The wine omits a spicy oak aroma with the typical Far Niente blackberry undercurrent. Far Niente wines are known for the consistent house taste and age enhancing flavors.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

This year’s growing conditions were generally mild with a few moderate shifts in whether to distill the tastes of this vintage. These growing conditions instilled the vintage with a free flowing fruity expression. Melding the flavors of black cherry, huckle berry and plum with the finishing tastes of tabacco and oak and a deepening flavor of black fruit and black berry. A slight spice and liquorice taste combine in this wine to give it unique texture and taste. The texture of this vintage flows softly onto the palette with a long velvet finish.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

This year’s conditions were moderate with a few spikes from one extreme to the next. A heavy frost was off set by a rise in temperature mid year then a cooler period that forced an early harvest. The result was a ripe, deep wine with a long finish. The aroma of huckle berry is complemented by chocolate and dark cocoa with a hint of vanilla. The flavor is a rich combination of boysenberry and black fruits. This strong thick flavor leaves a lingering but soft consistency.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

A reasonably mild year with a few heat spikes being the major whether influences in a moderate summer. This years flavor is lighter and soft with a raspberry perfume off set by sedentary oak and cassis. This vintage is supple and delicate and will deepen further with age.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

This year’s growing conditions produced a concentrated full flavored wine. The conditions were moderate with a cool spring beginning the growing process and a mild summer contributing to a late harvest. The harvest was smaller than usual but the extra time allowed the grapes to ripen nicely. This multi-layered vintage is particularly deep with the aromas of black berry and cassis that are renowned with Far Niente wines. The texture is dense and the ripeness of the vintage blends exquisitely with the natural French oak flavor and feel.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

The 1998 season saw a quick transition from spring to summer meaning the grapes did not have as much time to ripen. This weather however balanced out and the harvest took place within the normal time frame. The subtle blackberry and cassis flavors are married with traditional oak and cedar aromas. The vintage has a soft ripeness with a firm velvet core that will be further refined with age.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

The 1997 vintage was rewarded with a warm summer heat that complemented the cabernet nicely. The 97 bottle contains a subtle black fruit flavor and a warm oak aroma. This silky, lavish wine is soft and long and will age very well.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

Uneventful year weather wise saw the production of a classic Far Niente vintage. This elegant Californian vintage combines a subtle blackberry flavor with a dusty oak and cedar aroma to create a wine that engages the palate. An unusual silkiness and grace define this year and with age this wine will deepen into a more velvety texture.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

A very late harvest in 1995 produced a full flavored ripe grape that added an intensity and texture to this years vintage. Traditional Far Niente black fruit flavors and French oak aroma define this years vintage. The vintage has a soft but powerful sensation to it and a strong thick texture.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1994

This year produced one of the latest harvests seen at Far Niente. Grapes were able to ripen over the extended period and were full and ready before harsh winter storms ravaged the vineyard. This year’s vintage was filled with the tastes of cassis and blackberry and the powerful dusty aromas of oak and cedar that come from the fine rich Oakville soil. Intensity and flavor are the defining features of this vintage.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1993

The 7th and final year of the Napa valley drought saw the mild sprinkling of rain combining with a moderate spring and increasingly warm summer. This produced a grape that was ripened to full maturity adding extra depth and intensity to the flavor and texture. The perfume of oak and cedar and the taste of cassis and black berry are the distinguishing feature of this vintage. The added depth and powerful texture also combine to make this wine a Far Niente specialty.

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 1992

This year's growing conditions began with dry dusty conditions that were fortunately off set by a spring rainfall that replenished the harvest. The grapes were allowed to grow to full maturity. Blackberry and cassis flavors and strong cedar and oak aromas combined

Monday, October 17, 2005

Washington State Wines

Washington hardly seems like the place to find good quality wines, but that is simply not the case. With ideal soil, extensive sunlight, warm days and cool nights, the vineyards in Washington are thriving - and so are the wineries. Sharing the same latitude as the famous Burgundy and Bordeaux wine regions of France may have something to do with the perfect climate. The majority of Washington's wines grapes are grown east of the Cascade Mountain range.

L'Ecole No. 41

This winery actually started out in the basement of an old 1915 schoolhouse east of Walla Walla Washington, by bankers who were tired of being on the road. Their efforts have certainly payed off and the business is now run by their children.

Apogee Pepperbridge is a fine L'Ecole No. 41 offering, made from the Pepper Bridge Vineyard fruit, which is planted in the remnants of ice-age flood deposits. Bold and dark fruit flavors and a rich structure characterize this varietal. Nicely structured tannins and a long finish make it memorable. Excellent vintages available from 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Leonetti Cellar

Founded in 1977, Leonetti Cellars is Walla Walla Valley's oldest winery. Producing world-class red wines, Leonetti Cellars specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, and a Reserve blend. Gary Figgin's proprietor, is completely self-educated in the art of wine making, and his careful attention to detail has produced intensely flavored wines with an exceptional reputation.

Cabernet Sauvignon is perhaps the specialty of Leonetti Cellar. And the 2002 vintage is remarkable. With a beautiful deep garnet color, this wine has a complex nose of ripe black fruits, cedar, cigar, coffee and chocolate. Lovely ripe tannins and a long finish, complimented by oak notes make this a delicious choice. 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Carmenere grapes offer many layers and depth to this dry red. Other remarkable vintages include 2001 and 2000.

Woodward Canyon

Woodward Canyon has remained a small, intimate Winery with a strong preference for quality over quantity in wine making. Rick Small established Woodward Canyon Winery in 1981 and has consistently produced premium, award-winning cabernet sauvignons and merlots, along with barrel-fermented chardonnays.

The The Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, produced by Woodward Canyon is altogether a remarkable grouping of wines. All of the grapes are harvested by hand, selected and sorting prior to crushing. Woodward Canyon only uses perfect clusters for this variety. The cabernet is fermented in small stainless steel tanks, and aged in new French chateau barrels. From the Artist series, you can expect a beautiful nose of spicy oak integrated with ripe black cherry fruit. Complex with layers of flavor, this series generally includes a mocha finish, long and lush. Good backbone and firm tannins mark this as an excellent variety. Vintages from 1997, 1999 and 2000 are quite excellent.

Chateau Ste. Michelle

Chateau Ste. Michelle is located in Eastern Washington, near Seattle. The state's oldest and most acclaimed winery combines Old World wine making traditions with New World innovations. Bob Bertheau leads the two wine making operations, one focusing exclusively on the reds, located at the Canoe Ridge Estate Winery. The other operation is the Woodinville Winery northeast of Seattle, and its specialty is on the whites. Named "winery of the year" ten times, this winery certainly has quality down to an art.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular variety and Chateau Ste Michelle has scored big with this one. The 1995 Cold Creek Cabernet was listed as one of the top 100 wines of the year. The 1996 vintage of Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep black-ruby wine with a intensity to its moderately full bodied palate. Also from the Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet's is the 1995 Horse Heaven Cabernet Sauvignon which has a bright purplish red hue. Moderately tannic with vanilla and black cherry, this one is intense with a dry finish.

Andrew Will Winery

Started in 1989, this winery is a love affair for owners Chris and Annie Camarda. Initially, everything at Andrew Will was done by hand - including shoveling the grapes into crushers - labeling and even delivering the wine. Today the winery has grown to 36 acres of grapes, quite a bit larger than its original 900 square feet! Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Frac and Sangiovese are produced with Wine maker Chris's belief that blends of varieties make the most complex and attractive wines.

Vintage 2002, Klipsun Merlot, is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vintage 1998 Klipsun has the most structure of the 1998 offerings from Andrew Will. With a powerful, and deep fruit profile of black currant, coffee and cassis flavors, aging will enhance this wine. Vintage 2000 is also a fine offering.

Vintage Port

Thicker, richer and sweeter than other wines, port is typically served after meals as a dessert wine, or with cheese. The exception to this is in France, the country with the highest consumption of port, where it is also served as an aperitif, or appetizer.

While port-style wines are made around the world, the term "port" can only refer to wines made in Portugal from local grapes, and these are labeled "porto" rather than port. The origins of port reach into the late 1600's with a story of a monastery in the Douro Valley of Portugal. The monks were adding brandy to the wine during the fermentation process. Somehow this evolved into stopping the fermentation altogether with the addition of brandy, leaving the wine strong, sweet and very fruity.

Vintage port wines are sought after and considered the best of the ports. They also carry the highest price tag. To qualify as a vintage port, the wine must be made of grapes from the same harvest, and bottled with two years of harvest. The next factor in determining quality of a vintage port is the time allowed for aging. It is not uncommon for an excellent vintage port to age from more than fifty years.


Fonesca Vintage Port is considered an excellent vintage with a dense ruby/purple color and exotic bouquet. With hints of licorice, Fonesca Vintage Port 2000 is fullbodied and definitely worth a try once it reaches maturity in 2006 - 2025.

With a smaller pricetag, but excellent flavor, the 1995 Fonesca Port is another good choice. The 1995 Fonesca is known for it's rich fruity flavor, full body, and tannic quality. The 1995 vintage is deep in color with the impressions of dark chocolate, and currants suggested. Other worthwhile vintages include: 1994 and 1968.

Taylor Fladgate

The Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port is known as "the connoisseur's port," and sets the standard for quality, drawing the highest bids in auction. Taylor Fladgate is bottled after two years in the cask, resulting in an intense depth of fruit. It has been described as a marriage of concentrated black currant and plum fruit with impressions of licorice, spice and dried fruit. Some excellent vintages include 1997, 1994 and 1977.


Grahams Vintage Port, vintage 1997 is an elegant pairing with cheese as the intense flavors of this less sweet, full-bodied port are an excellent aperitif. With a flavor rich in blackberries and licorice, the Grahams Vintage Port is a unique choice. For excellent value and flavor, try vintages 1997, 1985, and 1966.

Quinta do Noval

As most vintages easily rate excellent scores with the top critics, the Quinta do Noval Vintage Port is a truly outstanding representation of the port wines. Quinta do Noval is superdark and powerful. It's flavor stays in the mouth for a long time, leaving impressions of raisin, coffee and a full-bodied fruity tone. An excellent investment, the 2000 Quinta do Noval will be at its peak after 2012. Some nice vintages include 1996, 1998 and 2000.


The Dow Vintage Port is described as "strikingly provocative" with an intensive and impressive flavor. The Dow Vintage Port is a classic in its field with hints of licorice and blackberries. Try vintages from 1963, 1970 and 1980 for truly remarkable flavor and satisfaction.

Excellent with cheese as an aperitif, or with a lovely dessert, the Vintage port wines are sure to complement your meal beautifully. The rich sweetness, and intense flavors are in a class of their own.

Pio Cesare

Four generations of wine makers have been producing and ageing wines from the Pio Cesare family, beginning in 1881, when the Patriarch of the family began gathering grapes in his vineyards. Pio Cesare has always insisted upon the best quality wine made from only the very finest grapes. Today, the estate is managed by a great grandson, Pio Boffa, who has brought the wines to a famous stature throughout the world.


Pio Cesare's Barolo is a classic wine produced from a blending of Nebbiolo grapes from different vineyards. Nebbiolo grapes can vary greatly from subtle changes in environment or growing conditions. The vineyards contributing to this Barolo is Serralunga - for full body, Castiglion Falletto for aroma, Monforte for a refined nature. The combination of these grapes creates a nice full bodied dry red with a deep dark color. Vintages from 1997, 1998 and 1999 are just a few varieties that are well worth trying. Pair this with a full flavored beef dish or aged cheese.


Pio Cesare's Barbaresco is a dry, full bodied red wine with a glossy garnet color. With a very complex nose, this variety carries and intense fragrance of berry, cinnamon and mineral aromas. Overtones of peach, along with ciga, dried spices and dark chocolate on the palate create a quietly powerful wine that is a good complement to many foods. Vintages from 1997, 1999 and 2000 are excellent examples of this rich and complex wine. Traditionally served with meat or game, it is also excellent with cheese.

Barolo Ornato

Pio Cesare's Barolo Ornato was originally produced in 1991 to celebrate the estate's 110th anniversary. At this time, it is not produced every year. Instead, it is only made during years of exceptional harvest. The result is an amazing wine with great integrity and consistency. This variety is characterized by an intense color and a deep palate. Possessing a good structure and long finish, the Barolo Ornato has a lovely spicy tone and deep cherry fruit. Complex layers that hint at vanilla and toast, this earthy and rustic wine is definitely a classic. Some available vintages include 1996, 1998, and 2000.

Cortese di Gavi

Vintages 2003,2003, and 2000 are fine representatives of the Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi wine. A dry white wine, this variety is known for its fruity flavor and soft intensity. Full flavored with a pleasant smooth sensation, this wine is a pale yellow with greenish reflections, and the wine carries a hint of green apples and moss. A lovely complement for pasta and all types of white meats and fish, this wine does not overpower. It is a refreshing choice for lighter fare.


Famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, nowhere in the world but Pauillac produces grapes of such grandeur. The soil in Pauillac is a heavy gravel, occurring naturally, but perfectly designed for grape growing. These wines are tannic and full-bodied. Because of the reputation for excellence, these wines demand a high pricetag; however, there are a few bargains available. Let's explore some excellent, but less famous, Chateaus.

Chateau Clerc Milon

Chateau Clerc Milon became another property of the famous Rothschilds in 1970. Upon acquisition, the family began immediately renovating the property to bring the vineyards and equipment up to date. Location is important in real estate and in winemaking, and this estate borders both the Mouton-Rothschild and the Lafite-Rothschild wine estates.

The Chateau Clerc-Milon has a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon, making a more masculine wine with full body, and impressive ripeness and purity. Excellent vintages include 1985,1989 and the 1999. The 1985 is particularly excellent with hints of raspberry and black currant in the nose and on the palate.

Chateau Carruades Lafite

Chateau Carruades de Lafite is the second label of the reknowned wine maker, Lafite-Rothschild. The blend is made with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. These wines have an amazing reputation for excellence. Chateau Carruades Lafite has a dark ruby color, and tones of violets and vanilla. Excellent vintages include 2001, 2002, and the 2003.

Chateau D'Armailhac

This is a classic Pauillic wine. Thanks to abundant proportions of merlot and cabernet franc in the blend, Chateau D'Armailhac has abundant black, cedary fruit and a voluptuous quality. With firm, supple tannins and good structure, this dry red is worth trying. Vintages of note include 2004, 2002, and 2001.

Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste

The history of Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste dates back as early as the mid 1700's. At that time, it was surrounded by just a few rows of vines. Today, 124 acres of estate are under vines, and the vineyard produces between 8,000 and 14,000 cases of fabulous Bordeaux Blend. Excellent examples of the variety include vintages from the years: 1996, 1982, and 2002. A particularly excellent vintage is the 2000. This wine possesses a deep garnet color, cedary nose, with blackcurrant and a fruit-driven palate. Age will only enhance the quality of this fine Bordeaux.

Chateau Forts de Latour

Chateau Forts de Latour was an actual castle, built to protect the Gironde Estuary from pirates. The original tower existed from the mid 1300's and no one is quite sure what happened to it. Nothing remains of that original construction, but they say that the tower of Saint Lambert, shown on the wine label, is built from the remnants of the medieval fortress. Wine production came to the Chateau Forts de Latour at the end of the 1600s.

In the mid 1960's the old estate began major renovations and restorations, replacing the old wooden vats with stainless steel and temperature controlled fermentation.

During the 1990's this wine has seen superlative vintages which are excellent examples of a fine Bordeaux. Full bodied and bold, the top vintages include 1990, 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Chateau Duhart Milon

Reasonably affordable, the Chateau Duhart Milon is
reminiscent of the Lafite-Rothschild vintages. The Rothschild family purchased the Duhart Milon property in 1962 and began a major construction project that involved draining, uprooting and replanting the vines, as well as enlarging the property and replacing outdated equipment. Chateau Duhart-Milon is characterized by a firm taste, fine color and strong personality. Excellent vintages include 1999, 2000, and 2001.

Chateau Lynch Bages

Chateau Lynch Bages
has performed consistently well over the last two decades. The basic wine is tannic, masculine with blackcurrant, tobacco and pencil-lead notes on the palate. 1990 was a particularly good vintage with firm tannins, a deep color and exceptional balance. The 2004 vintage has a well defined nose, and is a very traditional, rustic style. Finally, the 2000 vintage is distinguished by a ripe chewy finish and nose of blackberry and cassis. On the finish you will enjoy a bit of cedar and dark chocolate. Definitely a grouping of complex, multidimensional wines.

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron

An impressive location, this chateau is absolutely gorgeous to see. It tends to be called "the fairest of them all" and really looks like a fairy tale castle. Today, Pichon Longueville Baron is a powerful tannic wine, full bodied, with great finesse and elegance. Long on the palate this deep crimson wine is noteworthy. Excellent vintages include 2001, 2000, and 1998.

Chateau Pichon Longeuville Comtesse de Lalande

The vineyards of the Chateau Pichon Longeuville Comtesse De Lalande carry grape varieties of 35% merlot, 45% cabernet sauvignon, 12% cabernet franc and a significant 12% petit verdot. With such a high proportion of merlot, the wine tends to be more corpulent and voluptuous in texture.

Awarded the Best of Wine tourism international trophy in the category of art and culture, this wine is notable for a full body, and memorable bouquet. Notable vintages include 2000, 2001, and 1996.

Chateau Pontet Canet

This neighboring vineyard of the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild grows 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Chateau Pontet Canet creates a wine with many layers and dimension. The best available vintages include the 2003 with its austere nose and well balanced palate. Layers of tobacco with fruit this tannic wine performs well. The 2002 vintage is a deep purple color with great purity. Quite toasty and rounded, this full bodied wine will not disappoint. Finally, the 2000 has a terrific cranberry finish and is an easy wine with an elegant, palate. It is sure to please.

Domaine Romanee-Conti

Romanee, in the Burgundy region of France, has an interesting history and produces some of the most celebrated, and pricey, wines on the market today.

The vineyards here trace back, at least, to the 15th century and possibly even earlier. Cultivated by the monks of Saint-Viviant, who are the namesake for the very famous Romanee-Conti La Romanee St. Vivant offering, the history of wine production is as rich as the wine itself. Lovely pinot noir grapes grow better here than anywhere else. And virtually no one produces as fine a wine from these grapes as Domaine Romanee-Conti, or, as it is universally known - DRC.

Domain Romanee-Conti la Romanee Conti

An excellent Pinot Noir, Romanee-Conti La Romanee Conti can be on the pricey side. Of course there are variations among the vintages, but you can expect this wine to have a spicy, cherry fruit flavor with a fine texture. Excellent acidity and firm tannins give this family of wines a great finish. While all are recommended, highly recommended vintages include 2002, truly a superior year, 2000, and 2001.

La Richebourg

A fine offering from the Romanee Conti Vineyards, these wines are firm and penetrating. Not too sweet, with a dry tannic spine, Romanee-Conti La Richebourg portrays the integrity of the Pinot Noir grapes as they were meant to be experienced. Vintages worthy of attention include: 1999, 1998, and 2000.

La Montrachet

Dry taste and white color, La Montrachet is a classic example of the Chardonnay wines. And, Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Montrachet is a wine with an exclusive pricetag. This fabulous white is golden and lovely to behold with a hint of buttered toast, hazelnut and smoky spices. Intense, muscular, and amazing it is highly regarded among connoisseurs. Vintages that must be considered are 1999, 1985, 1969

La Tache

Another fine example of a pinot noir that is highly regarded by those who are in the know. Romanee-Conti's La Tache shows great acidity and are deep red-purple with a full body. Vintages of note include 2000, 1989and 1990. They are superb complements to many meals but have a rare complexity that encourages oe to drink them alone and with appreciation.

Grand Echezeaux

Brilliant medium to deep red color, this pinot noir is accessible. While sporting the typical dry, pinot flavor, the Romanee-Conti Grand Echezeaux isn't too heavy. Good body with strong tannic backbone, the cherry tones and fruity flavors do not overpower. This is a good multidimensional wine. Recommended vintages include 2000, 1997 and 2001.

La Vosne Romanee

A unique wine in the pinot noir family, Romanee-Conti La Vosne Romanee is a lovely example is complex and layered. With a rose, violet and red cherry nose, it is lush and amazing. Just the right hint of the oak and firm tannins to give the wine excellent support it lingers, lovingly. The fruitiness of this wine is sweet but with just the right amount of acidity cutting in. Check out the1999 .

New Zealand Wines

New Zealand is best known for high quality Sauvignon Blanc, but the wineries here produce other quality wines as well, most notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A small, beautiful country, New Zealand has earned a big reputation for wine.

Cloudy Bay

Located in the Marlborough Region, Cloudy Bay is probably New Zealand's most famous winery. The first Sauvignon Blanc was produced here in 1985. Produced in commercial volumes, it represents an excellent value for the money.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay is always a good choice. This variety is a full bodied wine with complex enticing aromas. Creamy and full on the palate, it is a great complement to any meal. Try vintages from 1999, 2000 and 2001. These dry white vintages go well with cheese, poultry, fish and seafood. Great for lighter fare.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Vintage 2002 is a notable variety. Full bodied and aged in French oak barrels. An excellent accompaniment for seafood.
Other good years for Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay include the Marlborough vintage 2004 and 2003. Fruity characteristics enhance the palate structure. Tangy with bracing acidity. The brilliant fruit flavors and intensity are the hallmarks of Cloudy Bay.

Kim Crawford Wines

An interesting story, the Kim Crawford winery got its start over a glass of wine in a discussion between Kim and Erica Crawford with David Gleave. The point was that the world needed a clean, top quality fruit driven Chardonnay without the heavy oak used at the time. Two babies later, Kim and Erica established their Winery. A project they could do together while raising their young family, wine making has become their passion.

Vintage 2004 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a Wine Spectator top 100. Considered explosively aromatic with pear, apple and melon flavors, this ideal warm-weather wine was never oaked. Refreshing when combined with seafood. A lovely light white. Try vintages from 2003 and 2002 as well.


Nikola Nobilio immigrated to New Zealand from Croatia in the 1940's although the family business of wine making stretches over 300 years. Nobilio acquired Selaks wines from the Selak family in 1998, acquiring another a renowned winemaker and innovator in the process. Today, Nobilo Vintners is merged with Constellation Brands, Inc. and represents a major component of the New Zealand wine market.

Nobilio Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc is a pale lemon color with green hues and brilliant clarity. Delicious bouquet of grapefruit and lively notes of cut grass and nettles. Beautifully balanced the 2004 vintage is characterized as one of the strongest New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs since 1985, and was awarded the Best New Zealand Wine Producer trophy at International and Spirit Competition. Vintages from 2003 and 2002 are also quite exceptional.

The WineZap Wine Club recently featured the 2004 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc. Here is what one of our tasters thought of it:

"These wines are, undoubtedly, some of my favorites if only for their sheer exuberance. The nose leaps like a static shock out of the glass and the citrus zaps across the palate. I was pleased, however, that this wine wasn’t over-the-top electric. Once you get past the zing there plenty of lush mango and pineapple lying nicely under the crisp grapefruit. And the finish lingers like a pleasant dream that slowly fades away. A touch of cream and a luscious mouthfeel round the wine out and make for a truly delicious experience."


Vintage 2004, Sauvignon Blanc from Dashwood is pale in color with good weight. Some exotic fruit notes, juicy and a little tart. Bright with a generous finish. Vintage 2001 is fresh and fairly intense. Fruity with aromas of white grapefruit, tangerine and peppery spices. The palate is brisk and juicy with a lemony acidity. On the sweet side for a sauvignon blanc, but fresh. 2003 is another excellent offering from Dashwood. These wines are reasonably priced and accessible.

Babich Wines

Founder Josip Babich was born in a what is now Croatia in 1895. At the age of 14, Josip emigrated to New Zealand to join his brothers. Two years later, he planted his first vineyard on the terraces above the Kaikino Swamp gum field. Handed down through the generations, Babich wines has been transformed from a small, predominantly fortified wine producer to a modern winery renowned for world class wines. Today, it is one of New Zealand's largest family-owned wine companies.

The Babich Patriarch Chardonnay, Vintage 1999 is a well structured Chardonnay featuring a ripe fruit character and restrained oak influence. Superb for all occasions, this partners well with poultry. Smooth and polished with spicy apple and pear flavors. Intense and complex.

Also worth note is the Babich Chardonnay, vintage 2001 and 2002. A fine, balanced wine with subtle oak influences. Medium bodied, rich and nutty. Peach on the nose integrated with oak and lemons on the finish. Buttery and smooth. A great complement to any meal.

Babich Sauvignon Blanc, Vintage 2004 has a lingering and crisp finish. Flavors of gooseberry and pear join the tropical fruit that is so characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc. An excellent companion to a lovely light meal. Vintages 2002 and 2000 are excellent as well. A terrific representation of the classic Sauvignon Blanc.

Louis Jadot

Louis Jadot

Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot, and has always been seated in the center of Beaune, France. This family business has involved three generations of the family. In 1996, Jadot became partners with a firm of coopers from South-West France, forming the Cadus Cooperage, and ensuring improved control over one of the main ingredients in wine making: the wood used in the barrels. Consistent preparation of the wood insures a consistent product with just the right balance, aroma and aging potential.

Beaujolais Villages

Vintage 2004 of the Jadot Beaujolais Villages is considered intensely fragrant and crisp. Delicious slightly chilled, this wine is best enjoyed when young as aging doesn't do it justice. A Beaujolais of superior structure and complexity, it is full of bright, fruit and floral flavors that are complemented by an unexpected peppery note and strong tannins. It is an excellent vintage to pair with any meal. Other vintages to consider: 2003 and 2001.

Clos de Beze

Jadot Chambertin Clos de Beze is an excellent red burgundy, this wine is sumptuous with an extraordinary balance of power. Lingering notes of berries and oak give a brilliant texture that has a long finish to savor and enjoy. Vintages worthy of attention include 1998, 1989 and 2000.The Clos de Beze has a delicate balance with a full rich taste.

Chassagne Montrachet

Vintages that call attention are from 2002, 1998 and 1995. With a seductive bouquet, this wine is characterized by firmness and depth. Layers of flavor make this multidimensional red wine a well respected contender in its field. With oaky overtones and light fruitiness, the Jadot Chassagne Montrachet is a mid range wine worthy of its place at the dinner table.

Gevrey Chambertin

Beef, pork, poultry and seafood have all met their match with Jadot's Gevrey Chambertin. Break out of the stereotype of red wines only with red meats, and try this with your favorite dish, whatever that may be. The heartiness of this variety stands up well to stews and game as well. Rich garnet in color, fabulous vintages include 1997, 1998 and 2002.

Bonnes Mares

Perhaps the queen of the Burgundy wines from the Jadot offerings, Jadot's Bonnes Mares is an excellent pinot noir with a dry taste and rich red color. A superb burgundy, this medium to full-bodied red explodes with aroma and complexity. Powerful and ripe, this is an excellent full flavored wine with chocolatey notes. Firm and tannic it boasts more plums and a bit less raspberry. Try the vintages from 1989, 2003 and especially 1990 while still available.

Chambolles Musigny

Moderately priced but excellent value, the Louis Jadot Chambolle Musigny is a fine pinot noir, with excellent vintages offered from 1999, 2002 and 2000. Versatile enough to complement any meal, the Chambolle Musigny is a classic with all main course items, regardless of whether fish, fowl or beef. The Chambolle Musigny has subtle flavors of berry and a violet fragrance. With a delicate tanic structure, this blend is complex and lovely.

Haut Medoc

Haut Medoc wine is one of the most prized of the Bordeaux regions, lying northwest of the city of Bordeaux. The countryside was actually a fairly useless marshy area until the 1600s when it was drained. Now, it is well known for its amazing vineyards and terrific selection of Bordeaux Blends.

Haut Medoc is known for having a rather gravelly soil, but wine enthusiasts tend to believe it is the quality of the soil that gives such outstanding flavor to the wines. Perhaps the most famous of Haut Medoc vineyards is the Chateau Lafite, although many lovely vineyards dot the countryside, as wine production is the main industry that supports this region. An interesting tidbit for those who choose to visit the region, is that the wines become lighter as you travel south in the Haut Medoc area. Keep this in mind as you plan your visit.

When choosing wines of the Haut-Medoc region, pay attention to the label. In general, the wines labeled Haut-Medoc are superior to those simply labeled Medoc. The main grapes used in this region are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. You will find less usage of Petite Verdot and Malbex, although they do occur in the region.

Chateau Bernadotte

These Bordeauxs possess a solid tannic structure and rich color. Full bodied, but delicate in flavor, these wines are charming and robust. Comprised of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, Chateau Bernadotte is pleasant for early drinking. It has a long and delicate finish. Recommended vintages include 2000, 1999 and 1997.

Chateau Cantemerle

This estate dates back to the 14th century, but the wine making facilities are completely new due to extensive renovation and new plantings. Beginning with the 1981 vintage, the style on Chateau Cantemerle changed considerably. The wine color itself was darkened, resulting in an extra richness and measure of fruit. Vintages of interest include 1981, 1996, 1997 and 2001. The quality of this wine is excellent.

Chateau Sociando Mallet

Vintages from 1996, 1998 and 2000 are really excellent representations from the Chateau Sociando Mallet. This winery has been overlooked in the wine world until recently, and has really earned an excellent reputation. Sociando Mallet is a bold, tannic Bordeaux. Spicy with a toasty finish, this wine receives excellent marks.

Chateau La Lagune

With consistent quality and dense nose packed with black earthy fruits, the wines from Chateau Lagune often require aging for at least 5 years. This time allows the oaken tones to be fully integrated into the flavor of the wine. With a deep garnet color, this is a straightforward wine expressing fruitiness and a medium body. Excellent vintages include 2002, 2001 and 1998.

Chateau Larose Trintaudon

Since 1965 and the acquisition of the Chateau Larose Trintaudon by the Forner Brothers, the quality of the wine produced in this Haut Medoc vineyard has improved dramatically. Chateau Larose Trintaudon is a medium bodied, dry, an excellent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, this deep red, has an excellent currant and berry character. More recent vintages are the best representations of this wine. Try the 2000, 1999 and 1990 vintages.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are one of the most famous red wine grapes, and most widely planted. Indigenous to the Haut Medoc region, these grapes thrive in the gravel rich soil. Together with Merlot, these grapes form the backbone of good Haut Medoc Bordeaux Blends. They are distinguished by a touch of vanilla oak, rich mixture of cassis, mint and eucalyptus, They are medium bodied, complex wines that reach a wide range of audiences and tastes. Excellent with all kinds of meats, these wines are worthy of your table.


Angelo Gaja is the owner and president of Gaja Winery, and is a fourth generation Piedmontese wine maker. The Gaja Winery was founded by Giovanni Gaja in 1859, The Currently, Gaja owns 250 acres in the Northwestern part of Italy, in Piedmont, but additional estates are located in Montalcino and Bolgheri.

Gaja has been acknowledged internationally as one of the world's greatest wine makers. Taking an innovated approach to wine making is just one of the things that Gaja Winery is famous for. Gaja produces elegant and opulent wines.


A deep garnet color, the Gaja Barbaresco is a wonderful wine that takes its name from the village of its origin. Produced from Nebbiolo grapes, this wine is dark, and tannic. With the aroma of cherries and a deep chewy long-lasting flavor, this is a complex wine with good structure and a long finish. Try vintages 1996, 1997, and 2000 with good aged cheese, or strongly flavored meals that may be too distinctive for other wines.

Sori San Lorenzo

Highly concentrated currant and black cherry fruit. Gaja Sori San Lorenzo is made primarily from the Nebbiolo grape with a small amount of Barbera grape added in. This grape is ancient and widely planted throughout Italy. High in anthocyanins but low in tannin content, it creates wonderful blends when added to other grapes as it mellows some stronger varieties and adds complexity to the blend. Sori San Lorenzo is such a wine with the 2001 Vintage possessing a long, lingering finish and refined tannins. Many good vintages are available, but 2000, 2001 and 1998 are particularly worthy vintages.

Sori Tildin

This lovely, aromatic wine is names for Angelo Gaja's grandmother: Clothilde Rey in tribute to her inspiring Angelo in his quest to innovate the wine making industry. This wine is n excellent tribute with great aging potential. Possessing a deep purple color and rich body, the Gaja Sori Tildin has a subtle texture and ripe, fine tannins. Complex aromas of toast, minerals and sour cherries or layered with cedar and spices. Excellent Vintages include 2000, 2001, and 1998.


Vintages from 2001, 2000 and 1999 are all worthy wines. Gaja Sperss carries a wide range of price tags, from reasonable to extravagant. Low acidity is a nice characteristic of this deeply structured, complex wine. With a deep burgundy color, the nose is dark and pure with hints of licorice. Fruity but focussed, this wine has lots of ripe tannins and a long finish. Very complex, pair it with aged cheese or a rich beefy dinner. Choose a meal that can stand up to the hearty flavors of this multilayered wine.

Costa Russi

Costa Russi comes from a Gaja vineyard of the same name, that lies on the side of a hill facing the sun. Russie is the name of the previous vineyard owners, and costa literally refers to the side of the hill. This deep dark purplish wine is a blend of 95% Nebbiolo and 5% barbera grapes, producing a lovely and complex mixture of aromas and flavors. With the scent of blackberry and coffee beans, Gaja Costa Russi is known to be elegant and full bodied. Recommended varieties include 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Russian River Wineries

Kistler Vineyard

Kistler was founded in 1978, and promptly produced the first vintage in 1979 with 3,500 cases of wine. Today production has steadily grown to 25,000 cases per year. Specialities of the vineyard are a Burgundy-styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A limited amount of Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced.

Kistler Vineyard Pinot Noir exhibits floral, berry and earth tones along with a subtle hint of black raspberry. Rich with a lovely, velvety texture this pinot noir carries good body and acidity with dense purity. Good tannins and a harmonious finish. Best served when aged a few years, choose varieties from the late 1990's such as 1997, 1998 and 1999 for excellent flavor. Pairs nicely with almost anything, but especially a good cut of steak or slice of beef that will allow the flavor of the wine to sing.

Kistler's Durrell Chardonnay carries vibrant pear, citrus, cedary oak and anise flavors to make this young and intense Chardonnay quite delicious. With touches of lemon and vanilla on the long complex finish, this is quite an excellent representation of Kistler Vineyard's offerings. Concentrated and full flavored, vintages are available from 1998, 1999 and 2000. This Chardonnay has a beautiful yellow gold color and good backbone. Nicely paired with fruit and cheese for an appetizer, or held alongside a lighter main course featuring white meats or pasta. This wine complements without overpowering.

Martinelli Winery

Steve Martinelli is bottling all the Martinelli wines without filtration and without fining, resulting in some of the most concentrated, complex and exciting wines being made in California. Producing Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminers and Chardonnay the Martinelli Wines are remarkable.

Martinelli Vineyard Reserve Pinot is an amazing example of incredible attention to detail. The grapes are hand selected at harvest time by Lee Martinelli, who tastes the grapes and chooses when to pick according to the developed concentration of flavors. The 2000 Pinot Noir Martinelli Vineyard Reserve is a dark ruby color. With good acidity, and a powerful personality, this wine blends the sweet hint of apple with a deep black cherry fruit. Dry and medium to full bodied, it possesses a good backbone and nice finish. Other exceptional varieties include 1998 and 1999.

Marinelli's "Martinelli Road" Chardonnay is a crisp wine with intense, full body. With a lovely scent of tropical fruits, the aroma is distinct and delicate. Buttery with a good balance and easy smoothness, this dry white carries a lovely golden color. Exceptional vintages are available from 1998, 1999, and 2000


Closely connected to the Martinelli Winery, Marcassin and Martinelli share vineyards, and the Marcassin wines are made at Martinelli's winery near Santa Rosa. Thus Marcassin enjoys a great reputation and similar standard to the Martinelli Vineyards.

Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir carries the aroma of earth, plums, figs, raspberries and compost. With a good amount of acidity and a dense concentrated finish, this wine can stand up on its own. Lovely berries on the nose and a hint of mocha and brown sugar give a nice bouquet. Deep and chewy with strong tannins and excellent persistence, this is a full bodied, complex variety. Vintages from 2000, 1999 and 1998 are notable.

Marcassin's "Marcassin Vineyard" Chardonnay carries nice acidity and crispness. Strong flavors of baking spices, dominated by its structure, but with a nice sweetness of fruit. This chardonnay lays back at first, but then provides a complex aroma of apricot, smoke and menthol. Powerful on the palate, but not overpowering, this chardonnay carries a full body with a rich lemon note. Excellent vintages available from 1996, 1997 and 1998.


Formerly a farm with hops as the major crop, the Rochioli Vineyards are a family partnership between Joe and his son, Tom. Joe insists he is "just a farmer" but this farm is putting out some fine wine, and has become well known for its Pinot Noir. Of course, Rochioli produces wonderful Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blanc, too.

Rochioli's Riverblock Vineyard Pinot is a blend of pinot noir grapes from several vineyards in the Russian River Valley. By blending the grapes of various vineyards, Rochioli assures a level of quality be maintained, and each grape lends its special characteristics to the wine. This lovely pinot is deep red, with black cherry jam on the nose, intermixed with vanilla, violets, smoke and earth. Dry, full bodied and long vintage 2001 is versatile and complex. The 1996 and 1997 vintages are also in the top tier.

Rochioli's Estate Reserve Chardonnay's, vintage 2001, 2000, and 1999 present lovely examples of the classic Chardonnay wine with characteristically high acidity and the lingering flavors of tropical fruit, vanilla, butter, nuts and smoke. A touch of spicy aroma and rich apple, as well as the flavor of apple give this wine a hint of sweetness, although it is dry and full. Layers of flavor and complexity make this a nice addition to any occasion.

Williams Selyem

John Dyson, former New York Stage Commissioner of Agriculture, purchased Williams Selyem Winery in 1998. He considers the acquisition part of his lifelong interest in wine. Formerly owned and operated by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem, Williams Selyem wines have an almost cult following. The quality of these wines is well known, and revered.

William Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot led the way in a review of American Pinot Noirs, with a Burgundian style. A compelling American Pinot, the Allen Vineyard Pinot is a medium to full bodied red, with a long, softly tannic finish. On the nose, it has bits of strawberry, mustard seed, cedar wood and smoke. Complex and bright, a few years to age only enhance this wine. Try vintages from 1994, 1995, and 1996.

William Selyem's Chardonnay's
often include two oddball grapes- the Gouais Blanc and a member of the Pinot family of grapes. Vintage 2002 of the Chardonnay, offers a more evolved color and a rich aromatic display of fruit, caramel, toffee, and honeysuckle in a full bodied, dry white. With a long finish, this is an exceptional wine. Other excellent vintages include 2001 and 2000, each with hints of pears and apples on the nose.

Dehlinger Winery

Dehlinger is located in Sonoma wine country and encompasses approximately 50 acres of vineyards. Wine varieties include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon with 75% of production going to the reds and 25% in white.

Dehlinger's Estate Pinot is a fine example of this variety with a plum and cherry bouquet, crisp medium palate and good level of sweetness. Well textured and a bit lower in acids, this pinot has a nice long finish. Excellent vintages include 1997, 1999, and 2000.

Dehlinger's Estate Unfiltered Chardonnay is a truly remarkable dry white. Finely balanced, expressive, rich, wild, zesty, and satisfying are the common descriptions for this lovely golden wine. Peach scented with mineral tones, this is an excellent choice to gently complement almost any meal. Try vintages from 2001, 2002 or 2003.


Pomerols are smooth, rich wines with an intense plummy fruitiness. These wines are a blend of grapes that include a large percentage of Merlot, producing a lush rub color and intensity. The vineyards in this region are smaller but the wine production is exuberant. Pomerol is in the Bordeaux region, just north of Libourne. The wine standard here is exceptional. Some big guns in the wine world, namely Petrus and Le Pin, hail from here but some of their lesser known neighbors come very close in quality without the huge price tags. Read on...

Chateau L'Eglise

The wines from Chateau L'Eglise are often a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapes imbuing this intensely fruity wine is vibrant with significant depth. Traditional aging in oak barrels is for 14 months to produce an excellent wine. Try vintages from 1999, 2000 and 2001 for rich fruity varieties.

Chateau Vieux Certan

Hand harvesting of grapes assures that this wine is of the best possible quality. Chateau Vieux Certan boasts a traditional style wine with an elegant taste and bouquet. With 60% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, the superb blend of grapes produces an excellent fruity flavor with complex layers. Particularly good vintage years include 1990, 1989 and 1988.

Chateau Certan de May

A small, family owned and operated vineyard, Chateau Certan de May produces only 2,000 cases per year. Mme, Bareau-Bader and her son have been the owners since 1974, and they are completely entrenched in the operations of the estate and wine production. This gives the wine a very personal feel. With 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the wine is of excellent quality. It tends to be concentrated with a very forward grape flavor in the younger years, but with age, this wine develops and amazing complexity. Vintages from 1998, 1986 and 1989 are highly recommended, although many varieties are worthwhile and satisfying.

Chateau Bon Pasteur

Excellent vintages of this Bordeaux blend include 1998, 1995 and 1996. Chateau Bon Pasteur is a fine example of a medium bodied, dry red from the Bordeaux region. This wine has an excellent fruity flavor that lingers pleasantly. An excellent blend of grapes the Chateau Bon Pasteur is a rich, lush red with good texture The bouquet has components of ripe berry that is very pleasant.

Chateau Clinet

Try the vintages from 1996, 1997, and 2001 for a truly excellent Bordeaux blend. The Chateau Clinet vineyard is a very small property in Pomerol that has really come into its own in the world of wine in the last fifteen years. It now produces one of the most sought after wines from the region. The Chateau Clinet is a well balanced, dry red with a finish that lasts. The blend of 80% Merlot, and 10% Carbernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc produces a richly red color and layers of complexity.

Chateau Lafleur

With a wide range of prices, there is much to consider from the Chateau Lafleur vineyard. Favorite vintages include 1996, 2000 and 2003. This tiny vineyard produces amazingly complex medium to full bodied Bordeaux blends. With impressive aromas of kirsch, raspberries, toasty oak, cinnamon and cedar notes, the velvety texture is pleasant and rich.

Chateau L'Evangile

This amazing little vineyard was owned and operated by the Chaperon family for a long time, however the Domaines baron de Rothschild were brought in as partners and the Rothschild group finally purchased a controlling interest in the Chateau L'Evangile in 1990. With such famous ownership, it is no wonder that the Bordeaux blends produced at the Chateau L'Evangile are highly considered. Typically a deeply colored wine with a bouquet of violets and raspberries, the tone of this wine is rich and lush. Is low acidity and sweet tannin are deep and concentrated. Consider the vintages 1998, 2003, and 1993 for excellent representations of this wine.

Pessac Leognan

Many estates in the Pessac-Leognan region produce both red and white wine. Dry white Bordeaux is out of fashion these days, however they offer an excellent alternative to the red that is really excellent. Key signatures of the region include damp earth, black olives and chestnuts, which impart an amazing complexity and multidimensions to the wines of the region.

Pessac-Leognan wines lack the prestige of some other Bordeaux regions, but the vineyards are beautiful with committed masters who have guided these vintages to true excellence. Since 1987, in particular, wines of this region have achieved superior quality.

Chateau Carbonnieux

This estate has an interesting history. The original chateau was built around 1380 during the Hundreds Years War. In 1741, it became home to Benedictine monks from the Sainte-Croix abbey. These monks planted grape vines and had a successful business, exporting their Chateau Caronnieux wines all around the world. At one point, the Chateau was sold to the Sultan of Turkey.

The 1930's was devastating to the estate but in the 50's the vineyards were revitalized with fresh plantings. Many years of hard work have paid off, and wines from this estate are fabulous, although the white Bordeauxs are a little more highly regarded than the reds.

In the red vintages, 1999, 1998 and 1995 are recommended. For the whites, 2001 is very highly regarded, as are 1996 and 1997.

Chateau de Fieuzal

Chateau Fieuzal is a superb wine that should merit more attention than it has received. Vintages from 1996 on and have been particularly noteworthy, with magnificent wines produced in 2002 and 2000. Rich with peppery spicy, these wines offer an excellent value for the money. The reds are described as medium bodied, good acidity, with ripeness, hints of cinnamon, blackberry, cranberry and tobacco. The whites carry notes of honey and citrus fruits, and even a bit of pear. For the whites, try vintages from 1999, 2000, and 2001.

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion

Do not miss out on the fabulous wines produced by this renowned chateau, La Mission Haut Brion has managed to create the most wonderful wines, although it can be argued that they are undervalued -at least compared to their sibling, Haut-Brion.

Vintage 2003 Bordeaux was a harvest with high sugar levels. These wines have a vast tannic richness that are silky, smoothly delightful. Cassis, pencil lead, cedar and rich dark fruits are often found waiting in your glass when drinking this wine.

Other worthwhile vintages of the Chateau La Mission Haut Brion include: 2002 and 2000.

Chateau Pape Clement

This vineyard specializes in the red Bordeauxs, however they do produce a wonderful white variety as well. Chateau Pape Clement is produced by focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes, rich, complex wines are produced.

The 2000, 2001 and 2003 vintages are considered extraordinary. Additionally, 1986 and 1990 are superlative wines.

Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte

Vintage 2000 in the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Red Bordeaux, is particularly delicious with good weight, an effortless nose of cedar and ripe cherry. A truly magnificent wine, it is spicy on the finish and definitely a delicious addition to any meal. Vintages from 2003 and 2004 are also excellent with complex layers and excellent texture. While very different in bouquet, these two vintages are worth trying.

Of the white Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte wines, 2000 carries a full bodied, deep and complex palate. With oak, coconut, apple and gooseberry tones, it has a rich fruity flavor in a lovely, dry white wine.

Patrick Lesec Selections

Patrick Lesec does not own or operate any vineyards. Instead, he believes in having the freedom and flexibility to shift production to other estates, in order to produce superior wines in any given year. In this way, he can capitalize on the area with the best weather conditions and best growing season.

Wines in the Patrick Lesec Selections include three categories of products. First, there are estate wines that Patrick consults as a master wine maker on the production, and these wines are bottled under their own labels. Second, Patrick produces wines at individual estates and bottles them under his label. Third, there are other domaines whose style and philosophy are compatible with Patrick Lesec's that he markets.

Chateauneuf du Pape les Galets Blonds

With an explosive finish, Vintage 2001 of this variety is 93% Grenache and just 7% Syrah, imparting a heady wine with many layers of texture. The spicy characteristics of this wine are more peppery, but with a hint of thyme ad licorice. Toasty and powerful, Lesec's Chateauneuf du Paper Les Galets Blonds is a dry, full bodied wine with hints of kirsch liqueur. With a strong backbone and lovely deep color, this wine is rustic and excellent with any hardy meal.

Cotes du Rhone Cairanne Vielles Vignes

Dense, smooth and supple, the Cotes du Rhone Cairanne Vielles Vignes is a lovely dry red wine from the Southern Rhone Region of France. Made from a blend of 3-4 grape varieties that are primarily Grenache, plus a mixture of Syrah, Mourvedre and sometimes a little Counoise, this is a complex wine with multi levels of flavor and aroma. The finish is sweet and long, with bright red and black currant fruit and soft round tannins. With a rustic charm, the Lesec's Cotes du Rhone Cairanne Vielles Vignes is quite good. Vintages from 2003 is not quite up to the standard of the 1999 vintage, but it is still an excellent choice. 1998 and 2001 are quite good, and a nice value for the money.


From the Southern Rhone region of France, Lesec's Vacqueyras is 65% Grenache and 25% Syrah. Peppery, earthy and full bodied, the 2001 Vintage is quite excellent. A deep ruby color this wine is firm and dry, with a firm finish and a subtle sweetness. Lovely notes of blackberry complement the rustic flavor. The 2003 Vintage is also quite good, and this wine carries a reasonable price. Excellent when paired with casual and hearty beefy sandwiches or a more formal meal featuring red meat.

Chateauneuf du Pape Chasse Temps

Try vintages 2001 and 2003 of the Lesec's Chateauneuf du Pape Chasse Temps for an excellent dry red with a very different taste. Described as "kinky" this full bodied, tank-aged wine is 66% Grenache and 34% Mourvedre. With spicy aromas and gamey flavors from the Mourvedre grapes, while the Grenache impart a smoky bouquet. Considered rather a controversial wine, it is certainly worth checking out. Excellent with beefy meals that can stand up to this distinct wine.

Chateauneuf du Pape Marquis Tonneaux

70% Grenache and 30% Mourvedre, the Lesec's Chateauneuf du Pape Marquis Tonneaux is dense and rich with layers of ripe tannins. The finish is long and sweet. Vintage 2001 is characterized by the aroma of toasty oak. With a deep ruby color and elements of blackberry, cherry, roasted herbs and an intense character, this wine is complex and full bodied. From the Southern Rhone area of France, this dry red wine is an excellent companion for roasted meats and hardy stews.

Oregon Wines

Beaux Freres

Following the classical Burgudian winegrowing practices, Beaux Freres strives to produce high quality wines from Pinot Noir grapes. Located on an 86 acre farm at the top of Ribbon Ridge in the Chehalem Mountains of Yamhill County's Willamette Valley, Oregon, the vineyards cover approximately 30 acres. Owner/winemaker/vineyard manager, Michael Etzel, is committed to his intense vineyard management practices as he sees this as the most important aspect of producing a quality wine.

Beaux Freres Vineyard Pinot Noir, vintage 1995 is consistently surprising. Excellently balanced with beautifully integrated acidity and tannin. Garnet in color with a sweet nose giving aromas of plums, cherries, currants and spice. A lighter styled Pinot Noir. Vintage 1998 produced a super concentrated, deep purple wine with full body. Hints of toasty oak in the background with aromas of spice, vanilla and earth make this wine flavorful, textured and intense. Vintage 2000 offers another excellent choice with medium to full body, good acidity and ripe tannins

Argyle Winery

Located in Dundee, Oregon, Knudsen Vineyards is the primary vineyard of Argyle Winery, although it is not the only vineyard producing grapes for these wines. Primary production is on the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling.

Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir carries a concentrated fruit flavor supported by firm fruit tannins. All Argyle Pinot Noirs are bottled and unfiltered. Integrated oak nuances and a long, structured finish make this a graceful wine. The 2002 Vintage is bright and remarkable for its pure blueberry, plum and white pepper flavors. Other good vintages include 1999 and 2000.

Owen Roe Winery

Owen Roe is owned and operated by Irishman, David O'Reilly who believes everything must be meticulous to achieve the best possible results. As a result, his wines have become sought after. Everything O'Reilly does is also thoroughly Irish. This heritage is an important part of his work and legacy.

Owen Roe Abbot's Table, Vintage 2004, is considered a wine for all occasions. Lush with a big core of fruit and dark opulent flavors. Complex with multiple layers, Abbot's Table is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and very nontraditionally - Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Syrah. An unusual blend creates a fascinating wine. Try Vintages from 2000 and 2002 as well.

St. Innocent Winery

Mark Vlossak began training as a winemaker when he was young. Mark's father was a wine importer, and so he came upon this profession as a natural outgrowth of childhood. St. Innocent produces small lots of handmade wines. The philosophy behind the wine making is that the function of a wine is to complement and extend the pleasure of a meal.

St. Innocent's Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir, Vintage 1999 is a medium to dark ruby wine. Bursting with cherry and blackberry, this is a medium to full bodied wine with a long finish and solid backbone. The 2000 Pinot Noir is sultry and packed with fruit and intensity. Medium bodied with a long elegant finish. Vintage 2001 is also remarkable.

The Wines of Margaux

Margaux is an isolated village in the Haut Medoc wine making region of Bordeaux, France. The primary industry in this area is wine making, and the most famous vineyard is the Chateau Margaux. Famous for it's production of red wines, the vintages available in this region are phenomenal. You can even tour the Chateau Margaux, by appointment, when visiting the village. Margaux wines are part of the Bordeaux region in France. We typically think of Bordeaux wines as being red, but it includes dry and sweet whites, among a wide range of other excellent varieties. Bordeaux blends are common from the Margaux region of Bordeaux. We will consider red Bordeaux blends here.

Chateau Cantenac Brown

Produced by Cantenac Brown, this excellent Bordeaux blend consisting of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. This wine is excellent with red meat, poultry and game. The Cantenac Brown is easy-going. A medium bodied Bordeaux with a hint of black currant fruit, this variety is a delicious dry red. Excellent vintages include 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Chateau D'Issan

One of the oldest properties in the Medoc, this vineyard dates back to the late 1400's, and has gone through periods of neglect and prosperity. In the late 1970s and the 1980s the owners undertook a major renovation of the cellars. The Chateau d'Issan is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, producing a dry red that is versatile and available in excellent vintages from 1998, 2001 and 2003.

Chateau Kirwan

This excellent Bordeaux Blend is a mixing of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. Aged in French Oak barrels, only the top 65% produced is sold under the Chateau Kirwan label. The 1998 vintage has an appealing, seductive flavor of black fruits and cashews. The 2000 vintage has excellent potential with a full palate, sweet fruit and strong tannic background. With an exotic and captivating nose, try the 2001 vintage.

Chateau Prieur-Lichine

Chateau Prieur-Lichine plants 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. The style of this wine is firm and meaty compared to other Margaux wines, but with a good tannic balance. Medium bodied, with an attractive fruit flavor and bouquet this red is an excellent compliment to red meats in general, but particularly roast, lamb and duck. Excellent vintages area available from 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Chateau Rausan Segla

Located on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary in Bordeaux, Chateau Rausan-Segla has 126 acres of lovely vineyard. The history of this vineyard dates back to the 1600s. Since 1983 it has been regarded as a premier wine producer. The Bordeaux blend produced is considered multilayered and multidimensional, with hints of violets, blackberry, cherry and cedar in the younger wines. With age, spicy overtones appear. Excellent vintages include 1996, 1997, and 1998.

Chateau Lascombes

The Chateau Lascombes was founded by the Lascombes family in the early 1600's but changed hands several times beginning in the early 1900's. The current owners acquired the property in 1971, and have steadily improved the quality of the wine since that time. Harvested by hand so as to discard unacceptable grapes, the quality is superb. Chateau Lascombes has a spicy vanilla quality and rich, full flavor. The bouquet is of ripe black currants. Excellent vintages include 1978, 1999, and 2001.

Margaux wines yield excellent Bordeaux blends that tend, as a group, to be medium bodied, dry reds. They are versatile, and complement a variety of meats, especially red meats. With a long history firmly planted in wine production, these are certainly worth a try.