Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Wine Reviews Jan. 14th, 2009

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These are some of the highly regarded wine critics we listen to each week - Check out the latest wine reviews below and use WineZap to buy these great wines yourself.

SF Chronicle - 2008's Most Memorable

The top picks, the rare finds and the biggest surprises. We picked a few of the best for this newsletter
December 28th, 2008
By Jon Bonne

2005 Scarecrow Rutherford Cabernet starting at $499.00

"There's something almost frustrating about a blockbuster Cabernet with such amazing provenance. From a bountiful vintage and the gnarly 60-plus-year-old vines of Rutherford's J.J. Cohn vineyard, now overseen by Bret Lopez and Mimi DeBlasio, Celia Welch Masyczek crafted a pitch-perfect expression of Napa Cabernet that's as seductive and perfumed as it is dense and wound in its tannic power. Even as Masyczek walked me through her outstanding lineup of wines in October - Hollywood & Vine, DR Stephens, Lindstrom and more - the Scarecrow stood clear, making its undeniable point about the virtues of vines from the pre-clonal, pre-rootstock era that have been given time to adapt to a very special patch of ground."
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2005 Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Reserve Merlot Malbec starting at $16.08

"Half Merlot and half Malbec? Could New Zealand's Preston family have picked any less fashionable blend? This radiantly beautiful bottling, tank fermented and aged in older barrels, was the final proof I needed that the Gimblett Gravels area of the North Island is meant to be a perfect home for Bordeaux varietals. It's all about pristine berry fruit and subtle aromatic notes - sandalwood, tea and dried white flowers. A high-wire dance between a high-acid profile and fleshy texture made the Mills Reef one of the most appealing dinner-table bottles I found all year. Its many threads of improbability made it all the more special."
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2006 Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes Marsanne starting at $13.99

"The Tahbilk came in a fit of curiosity at Wine & Spirits' Top 100 event this fall, in my momentary breath-catching moment between tasting grand cru Chablis and unctuous Beerenausleses. One taste and it was so darn evident: Tahbilk has more than earned its place among the top examples of Marsanne, that fine and often misunderstood Rhone grape. From Australia's Victoria region, the winery claims to grow more of it than anyone else in the world, with vines dating back to 1927. This version is exotic and floral, bursting with jasmine scents and the almost slippery texture that Marsanne can have, yet ready to expand with some age. As well kept a secret as you'll find."
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2006 Kongsgaard The Judge Napa Valley Chardonnay starting at $195.00

"Along with a couple other talented hands, John Kongsgaard revived my faith in California Chardonnay this year. (It's not bad; it's just made that way, as a pastiche of real wine.) For the Top 100, I ended up siding with Kongsgaard's more available - and affordable - Napa Valley bottling. But it's the Judge that perfectly expresses his death-and-resurrection philosophy with Chardonnay, and his understanding of how timeless wines come from naturally low yields in the perfect site. The fruit here is powerful enough to put 100 percent new French oak in its place, and there is nothing short of inspiration from tasting the clear tension and power within. One drop of this in a sea of butter would do a ton to revive Chardonnay's good name."
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LA Times - Wine of the Week

January 14th, 2009
By Bob Chamberlin

2006 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina starting at $15.98

"Chianti Rufina, just outside the Chianti Classico region, offers some great value in Chianti, and Selvapiana, one of my longtime favorites, is one of the top estates there. The 2006 is bright and juicy, redolent of black cherries, sweet spices and earth. Sangiovese with just 5% Canaiolo, it's drinking beautifully now, but will also gain something from aging a bit. It's getting difficult to find wines with real character and sense of place at the $20 level, especially from Tuscany. But step outside the confines of Chianti Classico and this lovely bottle fills the bill.Drink it with pasta fagioli, pasta dishes, grilled meats and roast birds."
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Wall Street Journal

Red, White and Brut: Inaugural Bubblies
For a toast to a new president, American sparkling wines are worthy of celebration
January 10th, 2009
By Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher

2004 Iron Horse Vineyards 'Wedding Cuvée' starting at $25.99

"Very Good. Best of tasting. Lovely nose of fruit, yeast, minerals, lemon and some mushroom. Nice bubbles. Classy and fully integrated. We didn't like the 2005 as much."
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Mirabelle Brut Schramsberg Vineyards starting at $15.99

"Good/Very Good. Despite the Brut in the name, we'd recommend this to people who prefer their bubblies a little sweeter and softer than most. Relaxed and relaxing and quite approachable. Good as an aperitif or with cookies, so maybe it's just the thing for a noon inauguration."
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J Vineyards and Winery 'Cuvée 20' Brut starting at $15.95

"Very Good. Best value. Hits all of the right notes, with good fruit, toast and some almonds, especially in the long finish. Classy wine. Would age well."
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