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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Donati Family Vineyard 2005 Claret

The Award-Winning Wine:
Donati Family Vineyard 2005 Claret

Reason for Reviewing:
Donati Family Vineyard 2005 Claret is one of just 22 wines that earned Best of Class honors for red wines priced less than $25 at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Noteworthy:
About a year ago, the Donati Family Vineyard made its new home at the former Mastantuono Winery in Templeton, California located in San Luis Obispo County, California.

Winery Notes:
This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, & Petite Verdot shows ripe red fruit on the nose, with dark fruit, chocolate and dusty notes on the palate. Well-integrated tannins give the wine an easy-drinking style that will satisfy now, and continue to improve in bottle for several years to come.

AlaWine Notes:
Donati Family Vineyard 2005 Claret pours as a very dark ruby color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry radiate to the nose in a moderately earthy context. A smooth open presents a mouthful of flavors of ripe berries, cherry, cocoa, and a hint of dark olives. Firm, but complementary tannins guide the ripe fruit flavors through a very long, lightly spiced, oak finish.

Bottom Line:
Donati Family Vineyard 2005 Claret is a full-bodied, Bordeaux-style red wine with a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon foundation (43% and 34% respectively). It is a well integrated wine, revealing interesting layers of complexity and flavor, and good potential for cellaring. Suggested retail price is $22. Overall composite score: 96 points.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay

The Award-Winning Wine:
Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains

Reason for Reviewing:
Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay is one of just 15 Best of Class Award Winners for white wines from the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Noteworthy:
A Stanford Cardiovascular Surgeon, Dr. Thomas Fogarty is the inventor of one of the most innovative advances in modern biomedical engineering, the Fogarty embolectomy catheter. He took up home winemaking in the early 1970's in a small cabin on the current winery site and planted his first grapes in 1978. In 1981, Dr. Fogarty established a commercial winery in the historic grape growing region of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Winery Notes:
Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay is absolutely loaded with tropical fruit, lemon oil and brioche and represents one of the more lush Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays we have ever produced.

AlaWine Notes:
On pouring, Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay presents as a medium straw yellow color. Fresh fruit aromas lift to the nose in an oaky context. Apple and mango flavors fill the palate, in a smooth mouthfeel. A crisp acidity, in a lemony context, brightens the wine through a long, light butter oak finish.

Bottom Line:
Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay is a full, fruit-flavored, fresh and bright Chardonnay. It is very well balanced, and falls in mid-range between stainless steel fermented and oak, malo-lactic fermented varieties. This wine would complement seafood and lighter fowl dishes. Suggested retail price is $28. Overall composite score: 95 points.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bridlewood Estate Winery 2004 Syrah Reserve

The Award-Winning Wine:
Bridlewood Estate 2004 Syrah Reserve

Reason for Reviewing:
Bridlewood Estate 2004 Syrah Reserve was one of just thirteen wines to be awarded a 2007 Jefferson Cup Award from among 650 outstanding wines, from the invitational competition, already pre-selected as exemplifying viticulture and winemaking in America.

Noteworthy:
Bridlewood is a working horse farm as well as a winery, a place once famous for thoroughbred horses, now producing "thoroughbred" wines. Visitors can tour the estate in a horse-drawn carriage.

Winery Notes:
Full bodied with soft but powerful tannins, the wine starts with blackberry jam, violets and plum. The fruit flavors of dark berries combine with mouth filling tannins form a long silky mid-palate and ending with a clean lingering finish.

AlaWine Notes:
Bridlewood Estate 2004 Syrah Reserve pours as a very dark ruby color in the glass. Ripe dark berry and plum aromas lift to the nose. Rich blackberry and whole plum flavors fill the palate in a smooth opening, braced by moderately strong, yet forgiving tannins. The fruit holds through a long, spicy finish.

Bottom Line:
Bridlewood Estate 2004 Syrah Reserve is a big, full-bodied, rich, fruit-filled and spicy Syrah delivering big satisfaction, and likely to age well. This wine would hold up well with hardy fare such as big cuts of red meat or lamb. Good quality-to-price ratio at a suggested retail price of $22. Overall composite score: 97 points.

Indian Springs Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc

The Award-Winning Wine:
Indian Springs Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc

Reason for Reviewing:
Indian Springs Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is a Best of Class Award winner for Sauvignon Blanc, and one of just 15 wines overall, to earn Best of Class Award honors among all white wines from the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Noteworthy:
Indian Springs Vineyards subscribes to an old adage they believe whole-heartedly – “Poor wines can be made from good grapes, but good wines cannot be made from poor grapes. Hence, good wines begin in the vineyards.”

Winery Notes:
An elegant example of Sauvignon Blanc showing its delicate character with aromas of gooseberry and meadow grasses, leading to flavors of pear, lime, and apple.

AlaWine Notes:
Indian Springs Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc shows as a pale straw yellow on pouring. Aromas of freshly cut grass and green apple lift to the nose. Fresh apple flavors carries over on the palate along with pear and a lime highlight. A bright acidity carry the fresh fruit through a long, flavorful finish.

Bottom Line:
Indian Springs Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is a smooth, well balanced Sauvignon Blanc in a crisp and tangy context. Complements chicken and seafood dishes. A good value at a suggested retail price of $12. Overall composite score: 95 points.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Double Gold Medal Red Blends

Four Red Blends won Double Gold Medal awards at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. They are:

* Atlas Peak 2004 Cab/ Mer/Cab Franc/P Ver/Malbec Claret $86
* Vina Robles 2004 Petit Verdot/Syrah Signature Paso Robles $36
* Casa Nuestra Winery & Vineyard 2005 Red Blend Tinto, St Helena $30
* Adelaida Cellars 2005 Mourv/Syrah/Grenache/Coun/Cinsault Glenrose Vineyards $26

For more medal winners, click here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Syrah and Petite Sirah Double Gold Medal Winners

Six Syrahs and five Petite Sirahs earned Double Gold Medal honors at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The Winners are:

Syrah:
* Exuberance 2005 Syrah Sonoma Valley $50
* Sol Rouge 2005 Syrah Santa Barbara $39
* C.R. Sandidge Wines, Inc 2004 Syrah Klingele Vineyard $28
* Calcareous Winery 2005 Syrah Paso Robles $26
* Matanzas Creek Winery 2004 Syrah Sonoma County $25
* Ventana Vineyards 2005 Syrah Ventana Vineyards $18

Petite Sirah:
* Mount Aukum Winery 2005 Petite Sirah Fair Play $26
* Jeff Runquist Wines 2005 Petite Sirah Salmon Vineyard Clarksburg $26
* Starry Night Winery 2006 Petite Sirah Lodi $18
* Volante Vineyards 2004 Petite Sirah Redwood Valley Thompson Vineyard $16.50
* McManis Family Vineyards 2006 Petite Sirah California $10.99

For more medal winners, click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sky Saddle 2005 Chardonnay

The Award-Winning Wine:
Sky Saddle 2005 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

Reason for Reviewing:
Sky Saddle 2005 Chardonnay earned third place out of 226 Chardonnays entered at the recently completed 2007 Chardonnay Shootout.

Noteworthy:
Committed to local sustainable agriculture, Sky Saddle is a small boutique winery, in Santa Rosa, California, making fine wines exclusively from organically and/or biodynamically grown grapes. The wines are single vineyard designates and are made to capture the essence of the land from which they come.

Winery Notes:
Unfined and unfiltered,this Chardonnay has a creamy texture with delicate floral aromas and flavors of baked apple and butterscotch. It is beautifully balanced with a long smooth finish. Winemaker notes: Sourced from certified organic Chalk Hill vineyard. Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented and aged on the primary lees for 16 months in French oak.

AlaWine Notes:
On pouring, Sky Saddle 2005 Chardonnay presents as a light honey yellow. Fragrant floral and fruit aromas lift to the nose. Lots of apple flavor on the palate, in a light caramel context, with a smooth mouthfeel and a moderately crisp acidity, leading to a long and buttery oak finish.

Bottom Line:
Sky Saddle 2005 Arthur Baron Vineyards Chardonnay is a well balanced, full flavored, buttery Chardonnay with a creamy texture and a satisfying fruit-filled finish. Suggested retail price is $26. Overall composite score: 96 points.

Cabernet Sauvignon Double Gold Medal Winners

Twenty two Cabernet Sauvignons won Double Gold Medal awards at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The Winners are:

* Bell Wine Cellars 2005 Clone 6 Rutherford Napa $80
* Damian Rae Winery 2005 Napa Valley $65
* Grgich Hills Cellar 2004 Napa Valley $60
* Calistoga Cellars 2004 Napa Valley Louer Vineyard $50
* Wattle Creek Winery 2005 Alexander Valley $50
* Broman Cellars 2003 Napa Valley $48
* Sawyer Cellars 2004 Rutherford Estate $46
* McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards 2003 Napa Valley $45
* Bell Wine Cellars 2005 Napa Valley $40
* Benziger Family Winery 2005 Stone Farm Vineyard $40
* Francis Coppola Reserve 2005 Alexander Valley $40
* Roth 2005 Alexander Valley $40
* Crooked Vine Winery 2004 Livermore Del Arroyo Vineyard $38
* V. Sattui Winery 2005 Mt Veeder $38
* Benziger Family Winery 2005 Gordenker $37
* Ahlgren Vineyard 2004 Santa Cruz Mountains Bates Ranch $35
* Flying Horse 2003 Napa Valley $35
* Wood Winery 2004 Jackson's Vineyard San Luis Obispo Co $28
* Shannon Ridge Winery 2006 Lake County $19
* Thomas Kruse Winery 2004 Santa Clara Valley Estate $18
* Wellington Vineyards 2003 Sonoma County $18
* De Novo Wines 2006 Alexander Valley $16

For more medal winners, click here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Michael-David Winery 2005 Earthquake Petite Sirah

The Award-Winning Wine:
Michael-David Winery 2005 Earthquake Petite Sirah

Reason for Reviewing:
Michael-David Winery 2005 Earthquake Petite Sirah earned top-honor Double Gold Medal honors at the 2007 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition.

Noteworthy:
In 1850, amid the Gold Rush, Captain Charles Weber, founder of Stockton, California, brought grape cuttings to the Lodi, California area. Michael and David Phillips represent the fifth generation of growers there. The Phillips family has been farming since their Great Great Grandfather Andrew Harshner and his wife Lucille homesteaded 160 acres near the town of Lodi, following the Civil War in the 1860's.

Winery Notes:
Deep tantalizing burgundy colors convulse with aromas of blackberry pie and black cherries. Full bodied, vanilla infused prune crash through the palate, balancing out with hints of leather and toasted oak.

AlaWine Notes:
Michael-David 2005 Earthquake Petite Sirah pours as a dark ruby color in the glass. Aromas of ripe, dark berries and cherries radiate to the nose. Fruity flavors of brambleberry and plum fill the palate in a moderately earthy context. Smooth tannins balance and frame the fruit through a long lingering finish.

Bottom Line:
Michael-David 2005 Earthquake Petite Sirah is a well balanced and well integrated Petite Sirah, with rich, full-fruit flavors in a luscious mouthfeel and a smooth satisfying finish. Pair with thick cuts of red meat and meat stews. Suggested retail price is $28. Overall composite score: 98 points.

Pinot Noir, Zinfandel Double Gold Medal Winners

Two Pinot Noirs and thirteen Zinfandels earned Double Gold Medal honors at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The Winners are:

Pinot Noir:
* La Zarre 2005 Sierra Madre Vineyard $50
* Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 2005 Santa Cruz Mountains Branciforte Creek $32

Zinfandel:
* Mazzocco Winery 2005 Dry Creek Valley Smith Orchard Reserve $40
* Opolo Vineyards 2005 Reserve Paso Robles $38
* Haywood Estate 2005 Morning Sun $34.99
* Sapphire Hill Winery 2006 Russian River Valley Wineberrie Vineyard $34
* Wilson Winery 2005 Sawyer Vineyard Dry Creek Valley $32
* Storrs Winery and Vineyards 2005 Rusty Ridge $30
* Rusina Wines 2006 Dry Creek Valley $28
* GiaDomella 2005 Russian River Valley $26
* Wellington Vineyards 2005 Sonoma Valley Meeks Hills $24
* Joullian Vineyards 2005 Carmel Valley $22
* Haywood Estate 2005 Los Chamizal $19.99
* Bonterra Vineyards 2005 Organically Grown, Mendocino $14.99
* Sobon Estate 2006 Old Vines Amador County $12

For more medal winners, click here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

St. Julian Solera Cream Sherry

The Award-Winning Wine:
St. Julian Winery Solera Cream Sherry

Reason for Reviewing:
St. Julian Solera Cream Sherry earned a top-honor Double Gold Medal award at the 2007 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition.

Noteworthy:
St. Julian Solera Cream Sherry has garnered more awards than any other in St. Julian Winery's history.

Winery Notes:
The Solera Cream Sherry has a brilliant amber and deep copper hue. With butterscotch and pecan aromas, the sweet salted nut and brown spice aromas carry a complex caramel accent. A sweet entry leads to a rounded, lush, moderately full-bodied palate with a lengthy, flavorful finish.

AlaWine Notes:
St. Julian Solera Cream Sherry displays as an amber brown color in the glass. Aromas of maple, nuts and brown sugar lift from the glass. Rich nutty flavors of almond and hazelnut fill the palate in a caramel context with a marmalade highlight, leading to a long finish of balanced sweetness.

Bottom Line:
St. Julian Solera Cream Sherry provides a round, lush mouth with an interesting complexity of well balanced nut and fruit flavors and the pleasure of a refined, non-cloying, sweetness. Suggested retail price is $15.99. Overall composite score: 96 points.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Best of Class - Sparkling, Rose, Dessert

The 12 Best of Class winners at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition from among sparkling wines, roses, dessert wines and after-dinner drinks are:

* White Crane Winery NV Alambic Brandy Share Holders $69
* Prager Winery & Port Works 2004 Petite Sirah Royal Escort Napa Valley $65
* S3X 2006 White Riesling Russian River Valley $38
* Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves 2000 Royal Cuvee Brut Carneros $32
* Navarro Vineyards 2006 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley Late Harvest $29
* Clayhouse Vineyards 2006 Petite Sirah Late Harvest Paso $28
* Trentadue Winery NV Chocolate Amore Chocolate Amore Alexander Valley $25
* Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves NV Brut Sonoma County $20
* Mumm Napa NV Blanc de Noirs Napa Valley $19
* Omega Cellars 2005 Mourvedre Rose Rose of Mourvedre Lodi $12.99
* Barnard Griffin 2007 Sangiovese Rose of Sangiovese Columbia Valley $11.99
* Ballatore NV Spumante Rosso Spumante $7.99

For more medal winners, click here.

Double Gold White Wine Winners, San Francisco

These select 14 White Wines earned Double Gold Medal honors at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. There are 12 Double Gold Medal Chardonnay winners and one each Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling Double Gold Medal winners.

Chardonnay:
* Franciscan 2005 Cuvee Sauvage Napa Valley $40
* Ceja Vineyards 2006 Napa Valley Carneros $32
* Bell Wine Cellars 2006 Napa Valley $26
* Kendall-Jackson 2006 Camelot Highlands $25
* V. Sattui Winery 2006 Napa Valley $24
* Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards 2006 Kelsey Vineyards $18
* Valley of the Moon Winery 2006 Sonoma County $16
* Benziger Family Winery 2006 Carneros $16
* Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery 2006 Sonoma County $13
* Sterling Vintners Collection 2006 Central Coast $10
* Camelot 2005 California $8.99
* Stone Cellars by Beringer 2006 California $8
Sauvignon Blanc:
* Wildhurst Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Lake County $11
Riesling:
* Wente Vineyards 2006 Riesling Riverbank Arroyo Seco $11.99

For more medal winners, click here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel

The Award-Winning Wine:
Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel

Reason for Reviewing:
Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel was one of just thirteen wines to be awarded a 2007 Jefferson Cup Award from among 650 outstanding wines, from the invitational competition, already pre-selected as exemplifying viticulture and winemaking in America.

Noteworthy:
Dry Creek Vineyard was the first to initiate appellation status for Dry Creek Valley in 1983 and the first to subsequently label a wine with the Dry Creek Valley appellation.

Winery Notes:
Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel displays a spicy, lush black fruit character that leaps from the glass. On the palate, classic briary and raspberry flavors appear with layers of white pepper and cardamom adding a spicy complexity. The finish displays additional spice with smoky vanilla from the French oak, leading to a long and satisfying aftertaste.

AlaWine Notes:
Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel pours as a very dark ruby color in the glass. Very fragrant aromas of ripe raspberries exude to the nose. Brambleberry and cherry flavors join raspberry on the palate in a smooth mouthfeel. Moderate tannins frame the fresh fruit and lead to a long, light spicy pepper, dry but smooth, finish.

Bottom Line:
Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel is comprised of 90% Zinfandel and 10% Petite Sirah from five unique vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley. The average age of these properties is more than 80 years old. The wine is full of fruit, well integrated and exhibits a supple texture. The complement of Petite Sirah contributes to the intense fruit flavors and overall richness. Suggested retail price is $28. Overall composite score: 96 points.

$25+ Best of Class Red Wines

Just 21 wines earned Best of Class honors for red wines over $25 from a complete field of 4,235 wines entered by 1,500 wineries from across the country at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Here they are:

* Kendall-Jackson 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Trace Ridge $55
* Ty Caton Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Merlot Syrah Petite Sirah Tytanium $49
* Rancho Zabaco Winery 2005 Zinfandel Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso $45
* Charles Creek Vineyard 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Las Pasiones Sonoma Valley $39
* Imagery Estate Winery 2004 Tempranillo High Valley $38
* Ecluse Wines 2005 Mour/Syrah/Gren Rendition Paso Robles $38
* Ecluse Wines 2005 Cabernet Cab Franc Merlot Petit Verdot Ensemble Paso Robles $38
* Imagery Estate Winery 2004 Malbec Lake County $37
* Ledson Winery & Vineyards 2005 Sangiovese Knights Valley $36
* Keenan Winery 2004 Merlot Napa Valley $36
* Koehler Winery 2005 Sangiovese Cabernet Magia Nera $35
* Cinnabar Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Franc Lodi $35
* Stuart Cellars Winery 2006 Syrah Temecula Valley Ltd Reserve $35
* Mount Aukum Winery 2005 Petite Sirah Fair Play Reserve $32
* Harts Desire Wines 2004 Merlot Alexander Valley Hidden Spring Vineyard $30
* Rusina Wines 2006 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $30
* Wood Winery 2004 Syrah Gina's Vineyard San Luis Obispo Co $28
* Stephens 2005 Pinot Noir Moore Vineyard $28
* Calcareous Winery 2005 Bordeaux Blend Twisted Sister/Paso $28
* Dusted Valley Vintners 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $28
* Tin Barn Vineyards 2005 Zinfandel Russian River Valley Gilsson $27

For more medal winners, click here.

Best of Class Red Wines, Under $25

From 4,235 wines entered by 1,500 wineries from across the country, these 22 wines earned Best of Class honors for red wines priced less than $25 at the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:

* Benziger Family Winery 2006 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast $24.99
* Deerfield Ranch Winery 2004 Merlot Cuvee North Coast $24.99
* Lake Sonoma Winery 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $24
* Jessie's Grove Winery 2005 Zinfandel Westwind Old Vine Zin $24
* Donati Family Vineyard 2005 Claret $22
* Periscope Cellars 2005 Syrah Dry Creek Valley $20
* Clos La Chance Wines 2005 Zinfandel Buff Bellied Zinfandel $18
* Winery 21 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon California $18
* Leveroni Vineyards 2004 Merlot Sonoma Valley $18
* Conti Estate 2005 Barbera Charles B Mitchell $16
* Valley of the Moon Winery 2005 Sangiovese Sonoma County $16
* Windsor Vineyards 2005 Petite Sirah Mendocino Co $15
* Kendall-Jackson 2004 Meritage Vintners Reserve $14
* Hahn Estates 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Central Coast $14
* Angeline 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Co $14
* Hahn Estates 2005 Syrah Central Coast $14
* Concannon Vineyard 2005 Pinot Noir Ltd Release Central Coast $13.99
* Castle Rock Winery 2006 Zinfandel Dry Creek $12
* Kiona Vineyards 2005 Lemberger Red Mountain $11.99
* Beringer Founders Estate 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon California $11
* Cycles Gladiator Wines 2005 Merlot Central Coast $9.99
* Swedish Hill Winery NV Red Blend Viking Red NY $7.99

For more medal winners, click here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Davis Family Vineyards 2005 Rapport Zinfandel

The Award-Winning Wine:
Davis Family Vineyards 2005 Rapport Zinfandel

Reason for Reviewing:
In a year with a record number of more than 1000 wines judged for the 2007 Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Davis Family Vineyards 2005 Rapport Zinfandel was one of just 27 wines, from all varieties, that earned a Best of Class Award.

Noteworthy:
From their wine making philosophy: Davis Family Vineyards uses "tradition, technology and science to advance our art. ...to find that magical balance between winemaking expression and respect for nature’s gifts."

AlaWine Notes:
Davis Family Vineyards 2005 Rapport Zinfandel shows as a dark garnet color in the glass. Very ripe dark berry aromas radiate to the nose. Brambleberry and raspberry flavors fill the palate in a moderately nutty context followed by a semi-sweet and spicy, long finish.

Bottom Line:
Davis Family Vineyards 2005 Rapport Zinfandel is an interesting wine. While marketed as a dessert wine, it is more of a varietal port-style, and falls somewhere between a typically sweeter dessert wine (or Tawny Port), and a fine red wine. Consisting of old-vine Zin and fortified with Petite Syrah, instead of brandy, it is fruit forward and juicy and satisfying on its own or with light pastries or chocolate. Suggested retail price is $30 per half bottle (375ml). Overall composite score: 96 points.

Best of Class White Wines from San Francisco

Out of 4,235 wines entered by 1,500 wineries from across the country, these 15 are the Best of Class Award Winners for white wines from the recently completed 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:

* Martella 2006 Viognier Santa Cruz Mountains $32
* Thomas Fogarty Winery 2005 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains $28
* Rusack Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County $23
* Swanson Vineyards 2006 Pinot Grigio Napa Valley $21
* J. Lynne Wines 2006 Chardonnay Russian River Valley $19
* Scheid Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay $18
* Falkner Winery 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Estate $16.95
* Taft Street Winery 2007 Gewürztraminer Mendocino County $16
* Ventana Vineyards 2006 Riesling $16
* Abiqua Wind Vineyard 2006 Muscat Early Muscat Abiqua Wind $15
* Hawk Crest 2006 Chardonnay Monterey $12
* Indian Springs Vineyards 2006 Sauvignon Blanc $12
* Beringer Founders Estate 2006 Pinot Grigio California $11
* Meridian Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County $10
* Swedish Hill Winery NV White Blend Doobie Blues Finger Lakes $8.99

For more medal winners, click here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstakes Winners

Sixty professional wine judges representing trade, education, media, retail, and restaurants throughout the United States evaluated 4,235 wines entered by 1,500 wineries from across the country at last week's 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. 2008 Sweepstake Winners are:

Sparkling
* Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves 2000 Royal Cuvee Brut Carneros $32.00
* Mumm Napa NV Blanc de Noirs Napa Valley $19.00

White
* Merryvale Vineyards 2005 Chardonnay Carneros $35.00

Pink
* Barnard Griffin 2007 Sangiovese Rose of Sangiovese Columbia Valley $11.99

Red
* Rodney Strong Vineyards 2005 Pinot Noir Reserve Jane's Vineyard $45.00
* Savannah Chanelle Vineyards 2005 Pinot Noir Armagh $40.00

Dessert/Specialty
* S3X 2006 White Riesling Russian River Valley $38.00

For more medal winners, click here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vancouver International Wine Competition

More than 100 wines earned top honors at Vancouver Magazine's recent International Wine Competition, including the following 11 U.S. wines.

* Beringer Founders’ Estate Merlot 2004
  (Best of Category,Light Red Wine)
* Rebel Wine Company The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
* Laurel Glen Reds 2004
* Wente Chardonnay Livermore 2005
* Saintsbury Carneros Chardonnay 2005
* Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 2004
* Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois White 2006
* Conundrum California White 2005
* Clay Station Viognier 2006
* Barefoot Pinot Grigio
* Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ventana Vineyards 2005 Gold Stripe Chardonnay

The Award-Winning Wine:
Ventana Vineyards 2005 Gold Stripe Chardonnay

Reason for Reviewing:
226 Chardonnays were blind tasted at the 2007 Chardonnay Shootout and Ventana Vineyards 2005 Gold Stripe Chardonnay came out on top as the #1 Chardonnay.

Noteworthy:
Ventana Vineyards is the “Most Award Winning Single Vineyard in America”. For more than thirty years, Ventana has essentially been a research vineyard.

Winery Notes:
“Gold Stripe” Chardonnay has tropical fruit aromas of pineapple and mango, with intense flavors of tangy apple, pear and lemon. Aged in French oak adds an accent of vanilla and light honey tones.

AlaWine Notes:
Ventana Vineyards 2005 Gold Stripe Chardonnay pours as a light honey yellow in the glass. It radiates floral, tropical fruit aromas to the nose. Fresh fruit flavors of apple and pear fill the palate in a very smooth mouthfeel. A moderately crisp acidity hold the fruit flavors through a lingering citrusy finish.

Bottom Line:
Ventana Vineyards 2005 Gold Stripe Chardonnay is a delightfully well balanced and well integrated Chardonnay, with fully complementary fruit, acidity and oak characteristics. Pair with brunch or lunch, or with seafood (crab), and light chicken dinner dishes. Suggested retail price is $18. Overall composite score: 97 points.

Lost River Winery 2005 Syrah

The Award-Winning Wine:
Lost River Winery 2005 Syrah

Reason for Reviewing:
Lost River Winery 2005 Syrah was one of just four wines (one of just two red wines) to earn Double Gold Medal honors at the oldest continuously run wine festival in the Northwest, the 2007 Tri-Cities Wine Festival.

Winery Notes:
This wine exhibits a blend of terroir expression with distinctive black pepper and cherry notes with strong character of bitter chocolate, coffee and meat. The length in barrel and restrained amount of new French oak lengthens the wines finish and enhances fruit aromas, while the small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon contributes to a firm tannin structure.

AlaWine Notes:
Lost River Winery 2005 Syrah presents as a dark purple color. Aromas of dark ripe fruits waft from the glass. Black cherry and ripe blackberry flavors fill the palate in a smooth mouth. Firm tannins frame the ripe fruit flavors in a mocha context, through a moderately long, spicy finish.

Bottom Line:
Lost River Winery 2005 Syrah is a hearty, full-flavored red wine with interesting complexity. It would pair well with lamb or thick cuts of red meat. Suggested retail price is $22. Overall composite score: 93 points.

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