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Saturday, March 31, 2007

21 Double Gold Medal Winning Wines

This weekend's wine shopping list features 21 Double Gold medal winning wines from the 2007 Florida International Wine Competition. All of these wines rank within the top 3% of more than 1500 entries in the competition. Among the six white wines and 15 red wines, there are several varietals from which to choose.

White wines:

  • Beachaven Winery NV Viognier American
  • Biltmore Estate Wine Company NV Pinot Grigio American
  • Filsinger Winery 2006 Riesling Temecula
  • Lakewood Vineyards 2005 Chardonnay Finger Lakes
  • Villa Mt. Eden 2005 Grand Reserve Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
  • Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2005 Winemakers Selection Muscat California

    Red wines:

  • Cosentino Winery 2005 Sangiovese IL Chiaretto California
  • Domaine Coteau 2005 Pinot Noir Reserve Eola Amity Hill
  • Duck Walk Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon North Fork of Long Island
  • Fresno State Winery 2004 Syrah Saviez Vineyards Fresno County
  • Harmony Cellars 2004 Diamond Reserve Pinot Noir Monterey
  • Heringer Estates 2004 Petite Sirah Heringer Vineyards Vineyard Designate Clarksburg
  • Hogue Cellars 2003 Genesis Merlot Columbia Valley
  • Kokomo Wines 2005 Syrah Green Pastures Dry Creek Valley
  • Little Boomey 2005 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia
  • Orfila Vineyards & Winery 2004 Syrah Val De La Mer Estate Estate San Pasqual Valley
  • Su Vino Winery NV Zinfandel American
  • Trecini Cellars 2004 Merlot Vicini Vineyard Russian River Valley
  • V. Sattui 2004 Napa Valley Merlot
  • Vineyard Brands 2006 Hamilton Russel Pinot Noir Estate South Africa
  • Yangarra Estate Vineyard 2005 Shiraz Estate Grown and Bottled McClaren Vale

    For more information on any of these wines, just copy and paste any listing into the Google search box below (For more top award winners in the 2007 Florida International Wine Competition, click here):

  • Friday, March 30, 2007

    Milano 2003 Carignane, Profile and Review

    The Award-Winning Wine:
    Milano 2003 Carignane, Hidden Hawk Ranch, Mendocino County

    The Reason for Reviewing:
    The Milano 2003 Carignane wine earned one of only six Double Gold medals, out of more than 1,800 individual wines entered, at the first-ever National Women's Wine Competition held here in Santa Rosa, California earlier this month.

    The Milano Family Winery is housed in an original, old Hop Kiln near the Russian River just south of the town of Hopland in Southern Mendocino County. The winery produces some organic wines and is a California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) winery. For more background information, read W. Blake Gray's San Francisco Chronicle tasting room review.

    The Varietal:
    Carignane (Care-ig-nawn) is one of the most widely grown varietals the world, and with its strong fruit flavors and tannins, is a very popular in table wines. But you don't hear much about it because it is primarily used as a blending grape, often as a "secret" ingredient to spice up a more premium Zinfandel, and rarely used in a single varietal.

    Winery Tasting Notes:
    The grapes come from 55-year-old vines from Hidden Hawk Ranch. Full and soft with vanilla and caramel. Lush black fruits with a hint of spice. Subtle French oak in the background. Incredible color with a long, lingering finish.

    The AlaWine Review:
    A table wine or blending grape in the hands of others, this Milano Carignane has achieved a degree of nobility and stature under the hand-crafted, loving care of winemaker, Deanna Starr. The color is a rich, dark plum purple (makes me taste plum), with heady aromas of fresh fruit and spices. Mouth filling berry flavors of raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, all cloaked in deep smoky tannins which smooth your whole tongue and lead to a spicy finish.

    The Bottom Line:
    A surprisingly enjoyable wine, one that, after each taste, makes you want to take one more. Fun and fruit filled, with plenty of umphfff, this wine is a testament to the potential of old-vine Carignane to achieve some nobility as a single varietal. Hardy enough to pair well with spicy foods (Italian) and meats (sausages, Bar-B-Que). At $18 a bottle, the Milano 2003 Carignane, Hidden Hawk Ranch wine is a terrific value. Overall composite score: 94 points.

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    Best of Show and Double Double Golds

    Four wines, out of 1578 entries, won Best of Show accolades at the 2007 Florida International Wine Competition in the following categories:

  • White Wine: Schilling Bridge Winery, Edelweiss
  • Sparkling Wine: Swedish Hill Winery, Spumante Blush
  • Red Wine: 2004 Orfila Vineyards & Winery, Estate Syrah Val De La Mer Estate
  • Dessert Wine: 2005 Casa Larga Vineyards, Estate Bottled Vidal Ice Wine

    In addition, 39 wines earned Double Gold medals. The following four wineries took home two Double Gold medals each:

  • Adobe Road Winery, 2003 Zinfandel Dry Creek and 2003 Cabernet Franc Russian River Valley
  • EOS Estate Winery, 2004 Reserve Petite Syrah Estate and 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
  • Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery, Cynthiana and Tailgate Red Kansas
  • Swedish Hill Winery, Country Concord Estate and Spumante Blush

    For more information on any of these wines, just copy and paste any listing into the Google search box below:

  • Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot 2001, Profile and Review

    The Award-Winning Wine:
    Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot 2001

    The Reason for Reviewing:
    The Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot 2001 wine earned one of only six Double Gold medals at the the first-ever National Women's Wine Competition held recently here in Santa Rosa, California. The first release of Wrotham Pinot, the 2000 reserve, was honored with both a Gold Medal and Best of Class award in the 2006 New World International Wine Competition.

    The Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot boasts a remarkable heritage. Here's the short story from the back of the bottle: "All the grapes in this vineyard were propagated from a single wild vine. That vine was discovered quite by accident on a stone wall near the village of Wrotham, England. Brought to Napa Valley by Dr. Richard Grant Peterson, it is not found anywhere else in continental Europe. It is an ancient seedling of Pinot Noir thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago."

    This unique variety developed natural protection against powdery mildew which affects grape vines across California and most of the world, and has enabled this wine to be grown completely organically. The original vine has reportedly since died out in Wrotham, leaving us with this treasure saved from extinction.

    There's actually much more to this fascinating story, and I encourage you to read it here at the winery web site. While you are there, also check out the "Winemaker's Report" and the "Bio: Dr. Richard Peterson," both quite interesting. And, for an amazing account of Dr. Peterson, his adventures in wine making and his family, read Olivia Wu's in-depth 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article.

    Winery Tasting Notes:
    A toasty, fresh aroma rounds out the vibrant fruit flavor and adds a fragrance that is irresistible. A rich apple-like fruit structure is enhanced with sensuous undertones of citrus, making it crisp and refreshing but never tart. The aftertaste leaves a delicate impression of Brioche.

    The AlaWine Review:
    The Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot 2001 is a truly remarkable sparkling wine, both in heritage and experience. While I haven't had a great deal of experience with French Champagnes, I have to say that this wine has earned the top spot on my list of top 10 California sparkling wines. Everything about it -- the color, the bubbles, the taste -- is clean and crisp, bright and brisk. While this wine has been shown as, and reported as, a rose-petal pink color, the sample I tasted was more of a golden apricot blush. The bubbles were tiny, lively, and endlessly arising. To my taste, the wine was a near-perfect, across-the-board balance of acid, sugar, tannins, alcohol and flavors. The layered fruit flavors of green apple, citrus (grapefruit), and berries (cranberry, strawberry) are well blended and linger well in the finish.

    Dr. Peterson had a more productive in year 2001 than in 2000, and because his average cost per bottle was actually down, he has passed along those savings to the consumer. The retail price for the 2001 vintage is reduced to $50 per 750ml, compared with $60 for the 2000 vintage. This is solely a result of reduced production costs, not any reduction in the quality of this fine sparkling wine. "The quality of our product is as great as we can make it every year and I take no shortcuts," says Dr. Peterson. I believe him and commend him for his consideration.

    The Bottom Line:
    Easily among the best champagnes I've ever tasted, the Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot 2001 is a truly remarkable sparkling wine, both in heritage and taste. It is elegant, but fun and flavorful, and ultimately a very refreshing experience. Overall composite score: 97 points.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    Top Cabernet Sauvignons
    Best of Class, Double Gold Medals

    Seven Cabernet Sauvignons earned Best of Class Awards in various price categories at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Four were awarded Double Gold and Best of Class (DG/BoC), and three won Gold with Best of Class (G/BoC):

  • Big Yellow Cab 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon G/BoC $11
  • Parkers Estate 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon G/BoC $15
  • Forest Glen Winery 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon DG/BoC $19
  • Vihuela Winery 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon DG/BoC $20
  • Flora Springs Winery 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon G/BoC $30
  • Raymond Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon DG/BoC $35
  • Rocca Family Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon DG/BoC $55

    In addition, 21 other Cabernet Sauvignons won Double Gold medals (DG), including:

  • 3 Blind Moose 2004 California DG $9.99
  • Pavin and Riley 2005 Columbia Valley DG $10
  • Three Thieves 2004 Bandit DG $7.99
  • Clos du Bois 2004 Reserve, Alexander Valley DG $21.99
  • Hogue Cellars 2003 Genesis Columbia Valley DG $15.99
  • Q Napa 2004 Q Napa DG $21.99
  • R Collection 2004 Napa Valley DG $19
  • Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards 2004 Paso Robles DG $20.99
  • Folie á Deux 2003 Napa Valley DG $26
  • ISV 2003 Nevada County Reserve DG $25
  • Niner Wine Estates 2004 Bootjack Ranch Paso Robles DG $25
  • Paradise Ridge Winery 2002 Ladi's Vineyard DG $28
  • Lancaster Estate 2004 Roth Alexander Valley DG $40
  • Louis M. Martini 2004 Alexander Valley DG $35
  • Peña Ridge 2003 Dry Creek Valley Piccetti Vineyard DG $44
  • RHR 2004 RHR Old Bailey DG $40
  • Stryker Sonoma Winery 2004 Rockpile Vineyard DG $38
  • Coho Wines 2004 SummitVine Ranch DG $60
  • Meola Vineyards 2002 Alexander Valley Meola Vineyards DG $50
  • Sawyer Cellars 2002 Rutherford Estate DG $46
  • Stonegate Winery 2003 Diamond Mountain Reserve DG $50

    For more information on any of these wines, just copy and paste any listing into the Google search box below (To discover more top Cabernet Sauvignons, check out the recent Wine Bloggers' Buzz):

  • Monday, March 26, 2007

    Escafeld 2004 Petit Verdot, Profile and Review

    The Award-Winning Wine:
    Escafeld Vineyards 2004 Petit Verdot, San Antonio Valley

    The Reason for Reviewing:
    The Escafeld 2004 San Antonio Valley Petit Verdot wine earned Double Gold and Best of Class among 14 other medal winners at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest wine competition of American wines in the world. And, it is moderately priced with only three of the competitive wines priced lower, and 11 others being priced about two-thirds higher on average.

    Escafeld’s new release 2004 Petit Verdot is the first ever San Antonio Valley AVA designation wine from the ninth and newest appellation in California’s Monterey County.

    The Varietal:
    The Petit Verdot grape takes a long time to mature and is thus difficult to grow in cooler climates as it becomes subject to rains and early frost in the late harvest season. However, it is becoming a more prevalent crop in warmer California climes such as Monterey County's San Antonio Valley where Escafeld grows their own.

    Petit Verdot produces a dark purple color and strong tannins. As such, it has been primarily used as a blending grape to spice up lighter reds, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, with more of these characteristics. Increasingly, as with Escafeld, Petit Verdot is being produced as a pure varietal.

    Winery Tasting Notes:
    Escafeld says, “A great example of this late ripening grape variety, our 2004 pure varietal Petit Verdot is dark ruby red in the glass, with a beautiful fragrance of red berries and espresso. The palate is soft and full with a complexity of mixed berries, spice and hints of mocha.”

    The AlaWine Review:
    Don't be misled by the demure label featuring co-owner Elsbeth's grandmother. The Escafeld 2004 Petit Verdot is not your grandmother's wine, it's more like a young adult's idea of a party in your mouth. If you like red wines, you'll likely love this Petit Verdot.

    For those less familiar with this variety, including myself, this wine presents similar in color, aroma and and taste to a Syrah.

    The Escafeld 2004 Petit Verdot is a deep, rich, full bodied wine with concentrated flavors. It starts smoothly with fruit at the front, strong tannins at mid-palate, and with a long finish of spicy berries. Alcohol is at 14.5%.

    If I weren't reviewing this wine to report on its new release, I'd give it more time to age and soften. As fun as it is to drink now, I believe there's a broader taste structure here to enjoy more later. Either way, I'd pair it with strong cheeses, grilled steak or spicy Italian food.

    The Bottom Line:
    The Escafeld 2004 Petit Verdot is a full-bodied, rich looking, rich tasting red wine with the potential to pair up well with the hardiest food fare. At $19.95 a bottle, it is an exceptional value for a fun, and great tasting "wine under $20." Overall composite score: 93 points.

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Elite Wines

    This weekend's wine shopping list features 16 elite wines from two early 2007 wine competitions. Six wines earned the the prestigious Sweepstake Awards from the largest wine competition of American wines in the world, the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (SFCWC). The other ten wines earned Double Gold from the 2007 Grand Harvest Awards (GHA). There are plenty of different wines to choose from on the list -- 14 varieites, with only two selected twice, Petite Sirah and White Riesling. Four wines are priced under $20, nine between $20-40, and three above $40. Navarro Vineyards is unique as the only winery earning a spot on both lists.

  • B.R. Cohn Winery, 2004 Petite Sirah $38.00 (SFCWC)
  • Coeur d'Alene Cellars 2003 Syrah $28.00 (GHA)
  • Cycles Gladiator Wines 2005 Pinot Grigio $12.00 (GHA)
  • Flying Goat Cellars, 2005 Pinot Noir, $44.00 (SFCWC)
  • Geyser Peak Winery, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, $11.99 (SFCWC)
  • Hagafen Cellars 2006 White Riesling $16.00 (GHA)
  • Hamilton Oaks Vineyard 2002 Port $26.00 (GHA)
  • Maryhill Winery 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon $30.00 (GHA)
  • Navarro Vineyards 2005 White Riesling $59.00 (GHA)
  • Navarro Vineyards, 2005 Late Harvest Muscat Blanc $29.00 (SFCWC)
  • Ripken Vineyards & Winery 2004 Vintage Port $40.00 (500 ml) (GHA)
  • Roederer Estate, 1999 Brut L'Ermitage, $47.00 (SFCWC)
  • Rosenblum Cellars 2004 Annette's Reserve Zinfandel $35.00 (GHA)
  • Tulip Hill Winery 2002 Petite Sirah $30.00 (GHA)
  • Windsor Vineyards, 2006 Gewurztraminer Premium Label, $10.00 (SFCWC)
  • Winter's Hill Vineyard 2004 Pinot Blanc $24.00 (GHA)

    For more information on any of these wines, just copy and paste any listing into the Google search box below (Want more? Just click on 10 Top Wines for an instant top-wines shopping list anytime):

  • Thursday, March 22, 2007

    2007 Newport Wine Festival Gold Winners

    Sixteen Oregon and Washington wines, of 133 entered, earned Gold Medals at the recently completed Newport Wine Festival and Competition. The big individual winner had to be winemaker Joe Dobbes, whose Trinity Vineyards Pinot Noir 2004 earned Gold and Best-of-Show honors, while his Cliff Creek Syrah 2004 earned Gold, along with two wines under his own label, Wine By Joe, which scored two Golds for his 2005 Pinot Noir and a 2005 Pinot Blanc.

    Best of Show

  • Trinity Vineyards Willamette Valley 2004 Pinot Noir

    Gold Medal Winners

  • Airlie Winery Willamette Valley 2005 Pinot Noir
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cliff Creek Southern Oregon 2004 Syrah
  • Domaine Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley NV Sparkling Extra Dry, Methode Champenoise
  • Eola Hills Wine Cellars Oregon 2006 Pinot Gris
  • Griffin Creek Vineyards Rogue Valley 2004 Syrah
  • Honeywood Winery Columbia Valley 2006 Gewurztraminer
  • LaVelle Vineyards Willamette Valley 2005 Pinot Noir Vintage Select
  • Sagelands Vineyard Columbia Valley 2003 Merlot Four Corners
  • Snoqualmie Vineyards Columbia Valley 2003 Red Blend "Whistle Stop Red", Cab/Merlot
  • Spangler Vineyards & Winery Southern Oregon 2005 Cabernet Franc
  • Valley View Winery Applegate Valley 2004 Tempranillo "Anna Maria"
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Gris
  • Wine by Joe Oregon 2005 Pinot Blanc
  • Wine by Joe Oregon 2005 Pinot Noir

  • Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    De La Montanya Hits the Sweet Spot

    Nobody wouldn't like these wines. Yes, I know one's personal appreciation of a given wine is a subjective experience, and believe me, I've had a wide range, both good and not so good, of my own. But, I have to say, in my experience, De La Montanya Winery puts out a wine list that's just plain good from top to bottom.

    Now, I can't say I've tried them all (come on there are about 30 bottles on the list), and there's good news and bad news too, but last weekend when my wife and I drove over there to sample three DLM wines I had on my recent-gold-medal-awards-winners list, we tasted more than we bargained for -- both in quantity and quality.

    Our gracious host, Cindy, patiently walked us through nine samples (yikes!), and introduced us to a Summer White and Rose blend we would not normally have tried, and both were very refreshing (in the middle of a hot day) and pleasant on the palate, and good values at $19 and $16 respectively.

    Other wines we tasted from the main list included; the 2005 Pinot Noir (Tina's Vineyard), the 2004 Flying Red Rooster red blend, the 2004 Syrah, and the 2005 Zinfandel (Felta Creek Vineyard, which grows right out the window behind the tasting room). The zin was not as full-bodied and peppery as we normally prefer, but we both enjoyed it very much and I have acquired a new taste in zin. Prices on these ranged from $19 for the blend to $32 for the pinot noir.

    The three wines I originally set out to try were on the reserve list, and all gold-medal winners at the recently completed 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Now I'm not going to try and review any of these particular wines due to the sampling sizes and varieties of the day, but there was a noticeable step up on the reserve wines we tasted, including two of the three gold-medal winners, the 2005 Tempranillo (Estate Vineyards $32) and especially the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Grav Vineyard $45). Unfortunately, the the other gold winner, the 2005 Pinot Noir (Christine's Vineyard $38), was not open. However, Cindy treated us to a great topper, the 2004 "PinUp" Cabaret (Series III $38), a terrific cab-zin blend and my personal favorite of the nine (nine?) wines we sampled.

    Of course, you know my guiding principle -- people can wax on eloquently about wine all day long, but the real proof is in the purchase. So what did we buy? The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Grav Vineyard). What can I say, my wife has expensive taste, and it was her birthday weekend ;)

    The De La Montanya winery is a fun place and there's a lot more I could say about it and the people, the grounds, the PinUps, the wine club, and more, and I hope to circle back someday to do that. Meanwhile, you can explore for yourself at the De La Montanya Winery & Vineyards web site.

    Oh, the bad news? De La Montanya wines are only available at the winery or through the wine club which is currently taking names now only for the waiting list.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Now We Know What "Wine Women Want"

    The results are in for the first-ever National Women's Wine Competition held here in Santa Rosa, California last week. Perusing the list of winners, it seems women want what we all want, good wine (maybe a finer palate than mine can discern some subtle differences, see Do “Chick Wines” Really Exist?).

    Six wines earned double gold (unanimous gold by all panel judges):

  • Kestrel Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
  • Serenity Merlot 2005
  • Unionville Vineyards Chardonnay 2005
  • Milano Carignane 2003
  • Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot 2001
  • Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs 2003

    Click here to explore other medal winners and other categories of awards.

  • Monday, March 19, 2007

    Weekend Wine Tasting at Hop Kiln

    The 2005 Chardonnay was the San Franciso Wine Competition gold medal winner of the bunch, and a very good wine. I won't attempt to do a thorough review from from the tasting room sample, but I'm happy to report that this chardonnay could be one of my favorites.

    But, as I always say, the real proof is in the purchase, and our purchase of four wines tasted was the 2004 Estate Pinot Noir, a full-bodied, classic style pinot noir, well done. A bit pricey for us at $36, but it was my wife's birthday :) And, we also took home a bottle of Hop Kiln's popular Big Red blend, $15, and always a hit with friends (but I'd recommend drinking it fresh; in our last experience it didn't hold up very well even after only our day).

    And, just a note about the winery. Hop Kiln has come under new management and we noticed upgrades around the facility, and new logo, and new direction in developing more premium wines under a new HK Generations brand. Both the 05 Chardonnay and the 04 Pinot Noir are under this label.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Double Gold for Escafeld's Unique Petit Verdot

    Escafeld Vineyards finds gold in them thar foothills of Monterey County. The winery's 2004 San Antonio Valley Petit Verdot wine took Double Gold and Best of Class at the recently completed 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Escafeld’s new release 2004 Petit Verdot is the first ever San Antonio Valley AVA designation wine from the ninth and newest appellation in California’s Monterey County.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    2 Gold Rieslings from Finger Lakes' Heron Hill

    Even though 2007 Monterey Wine Competition results aren't published for a couple of more weeks, "Finger Lakes Weekend Wino" tips us to a couple of gold medal (Sweepstake) Riesling winners from Finger Lakes winery, Heron Hill, which overlooks Keuka Lake in Hammondsport, NY:
    * Gold, Sweepstake, 2004 Heron Hill Johannisberg Riesling, Ingle Vineyard, Finger Lakes, $24.99
    * Gold, Sweepstake, 2004 Heron Hill Riesling Late Harvest, Finger Lakes, $35.99

    Note added 3/18/07: I just received an email from the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino which included this update: "Also, the preliminary results I received from the Monterey wine competition omitted one Finger Lakes winery, Lakewood Vineyards, which won a gold for their 2005 Chardonnay." Here is their web site: Lakewood Vineyards - Watkins Glen, NY.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    2003 CYRUS - Updating My Wine Wish List

    Happy birthday Cyrus Alexander! Every year on March 15, Alexander Valley Vineyards acknowledges the birthday of Cyrus Alexander. He is the namesake for the Alexander Valley appelation and was a 19th Century fur trader who originally lived on the property where the winery's estate vineyards now reside. And so, today also marks the release of 2003 CYRUS, a Bordeaux-style blend the winery says "is a lot like the man for whom the wine is named: it's bold, generous, instantly exhibiting qualities that reveal it's destined to become remarkable."

    Today I cross off my wish list the 2002 CYRUS, winner of:
    * Double Gold Medal – 2006 Indy International Wine Competition
    * Double Gold Medal - 2006 Houston Rodeo Wine Competition
    * Gold Medal – 2006 Florida State Fair
    * Gold Medal – 2006 Hilton Head Wine Fest
    * Gold Medal – 2006 California State Fair
    * Gold Medal – 2006 Los Angeles County Fair Wine Competition
    and replace it with the ninth vintage of this highly acclaimed wine, which at $55, up $5 from last year, has to stay on the wish list.

    Already this year, pre-release, 2003 CYRUS has earned:
    * Best of Show Red - 2007 WineFest, Hilton Head Island, and
    * Gold Medal Winner - 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

    Alexander Valley Vineyards says, "The 2003 CYRUS is unique among recent releases of our top bottle in that all five Bordeaux grapes are used in the blend." And, then they tease me, "This elegant wine--which is 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 31 percent Merlot along with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec--displays explosive aroms of black cherry and cassis. On the palate, the wine exhibits concentrated flavors of plum and mocha along with firm tannins." Oh well, one can dream.

    Some Great Wine

    Had any great wine lately? Well, these fellow wine bloggers have, and they're namin' names:

    Coto de Hayas Garnarcha Centenaria 2004
    A great wine for the price. 92 Pts. Source: Woods/Toro Wines Price: Around $35 Closure ... of the 138 GSM to taste along side this wine. Not fair on the Penfolds really, this wine is made from 100 ... at home, but you can read all about it on Winorama. The Centernaria is a very low production wine from very old Garnarcha vines, there are only 5500 vines available to make this wine. It gets a quick...


    WBW 30: New World Syrah Unison Syrah 2004 This is o...
    It is a great wine and will last for at least a decade.


    Some great wine Over the past few days I have tri...
    Some great wine Over the past few days I have tried three absolutely wonderful recent release ... -flatmate who never touched a drop of wine in his life weird. It would be great with a tomato based ... of death) especially considering there is a lot of great dry Riesling made to drink now. It is very ... the archetype and benchmark for my favourite style of


    Puligny-Montrachet 2002 (Louis Latour) wine review by (PB)
    Another point about Binny's: As I was walking to the register the Binny's wine info guy says, "That's a great wine but we have had some cracked corks in those bottles with some seepage.


    Pinot Noir 2007 Trade Tasting (The North Island) ...
    Another great wine - very subtle and complex with good palate weight, and nicely structured earl grey tannins; it had warm red cherry and plum fruit with lovely floral violet notes and white pepper spice.


    Tasting the wines of Piedmont
    This great wine should be paired with rich food such as beef braised in wine, wild mushroom risotto, and truffles.


    Benvenuto Brunello 2007
    Just as folks are gathering up here in Napa Valley for the Premiere Napa Valley, in Italy other wine-lovers are already starting to taste and evaluate the new vintages of Brunello from one of Tuscany's great wine territories.


    A Special Bottle: Rosenblum Cellars 2002 Monte Rosso Zinfandel (Sonoma County)
    Take a great wine and a great setting, and you're in for quite an experience.


    This Week's Wine March 12, 2007
    Actually, there are as many mysterious, still-unknown reasons for great wine as there are for wine that falls flat in the glass.


    Follow the Yellow Barrique Road
    The region makes some of the great wine of the world, but we all flock to Burgundy and Napa, to Bordeaux and Tuscany.


    Summertown Wine Cafe
    the previous wines a little on the simple and unexciting side - a great wine but not of the class ... brilliant stand out wine - but the overall standard was high. In fact I'd go so far as to say that pretty ... (working for a local wine merchant - SH Jones in Banbury) so I didn't take notes, this is based more ... - give it some decent fizz it would probably be great, but it fell slightly flat without. (79/100...


    Movies About Wine
    If you are looking for winemaking information on the order of 'you must be a poet to make a great wine', then this is the movie for you.


    An Aussie Winemaker in France
    While France has probably one of the longest wine making traditions in just about the world, Australia has been catching up, and that includes finding different ways to do the same thing - make great wine.


    2004 Kuentz Bas Alsace blanc
    This would be a great wine when you want your food to be the star of the show.


    Party Wines
    Definitely a hit, and its Stelvin screw-top closure made it a great wine for a party.


    1999 Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc
    We all know that sometimes a “great deal” isn’t so great. Wine is no exception. When I find ... , it is. But sometimes, the great deal is just that. Distributors close stuff out perfectly good wine when ... ’s release to clear space for new wine. Or when they simply have too much of a particular bottling ... people thought the wine was getting old. And half bottles aren’t alwa


    It Is Alive
    No one knew for sure about ml until the early 20th century, and winemakers were certainly surprised to find that a bacteria, otherwise considered the enemy of quality wine, would play such an important and useful role in creating great wine. And plenty of great wine (perhaps most) was and is made with a hands off approach, so Im trying my best to experiment with that route and see what I learn.


    Want more? Just enter "great wine" in the wine blog search engine below:

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Just the Best Award-Winning, Critically Acclaimed Wines

    "It's How You Find the Very Best Wine." That's our new tagline and that's how high we're raising the bar here at AlaWine.com. Regular visitors may recall our old tagline, "It's How You Find the Better Wine" (still showing on some of the older pages), and I believe we have delivered on that. But starting this month, we are doing more of the research for you and presenting the very best award-winning, critically acclaimed wines more directly. Now, every time you visit alawine.com/topwines, you will find a different list of 10 top wines that have earned prestegious awards such as double-gold, sweepstakes, best in show, best in category, gold, etc from various wine competitions, or received 90+ (or equivalent) ratings from recognized wine authorities.

    To kick things off, I'm providing my own wine shopping list here today. As you can see, this is a budget list with all 20 wines listing for less than $10 (estimated retail). While it seems unlikely these will turn out to be the greatest wines in the world, all have received serious awards and/or high praise. That's enough to make me curious. But, you don't have to take my word for it -- just copy and paste any listing into the Google search box below for more information.

  • Fetzer Vineyards NV Cabernet Sauvignon 'Valley Oaks' $5
  • EJG Twin Valley NV Cabernet Sauvignon $5
  • Smoking Loon 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon California $9
  • Happy Camper 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon California $9
  • Delicato Family Vineyards 2004 Merlot $6
  • Trinity Oaks Winery 2003 Merlot $7
  • Round Hill Vineyards 2003 Merlot $8
  • Bogle Vineyards 2004 Merlot $9
  • Happy Camper 2004 Merlot California $9
  • Guenoc 2004 Petite Sirah California $9
  • Bloom 2005 Pinot Gris Nahe Germany $8
  • Trinity Oaks Winery 2004 Riesling $7
  • Fetzer Vineyards 2005 Riesling $9
  • Montevina Winery 2004 Sauvignon Blanc $7
  • Redwood Creek 2004 Sauvignon Blanc $8
  • Avery Lane 2004 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $8
  • Smoking Loon 2005 Syrah California $9
  • Sonoma Hill Winery 2005 Viognier $5
  • Pepperwood Grove 2005 Zinfandel California $8
  • Smoking Loon 2005 Zinfandel California $9

  • Monday, March 12, 2007

    Finding Good and Great Value Wines

    Higher quality, lower price -- somehow wine is just more satisfying when you find a great value. Here are some good and great values turned up by wine bloggers:

    La Cuvee Mythique 2003
    The flavours are still good and interesting, good tannin levels and a nice acidity with flavours of plum, brambles and bitter chocolate - it really is exceptional value for money and my recommendation to take to someone elses house, open it as a treasured bottle and see what they say! This is aging fast, but the extra bottle age makes it even better value for money if you can find some and plan to drink it soon.


    Burghound.com Selection of the Week
    Wine Lovers' Page / BURGHOUND: Top Value Choice of the Week Each week we feature a different Burgundy rated as a top value by Burghound.


    Bubbleicious March 29 @ 6:30
    In addition to Champagne, discover the great taste and value of sparkling wine from Spain and Italy.


    Clos LaChance Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Series Central Coast Zinfandel 2004
    and conservation of Hummingbirds. Excellent value ($14). Closure: Real cork. Alcohol content: 14.5% Style


    Red Wine Review: Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo 2004
    Another good value from the always reliable Jorge Ordonez Selections.


    Dominio Eguren Sierra Cantabria Rioja 2004
    There is probably no better geographical origin than Rioja to get acquainted with Spanish wines, and no better Rioja than Sierra Cantabria, produced by the Eguren family. Sierra Cantabria Rioja 2004 is Tempranillo, aged approximately 6 months in French and American oak. Excellent value: ($13). Closure: Real cork. Alcohol content: 13.5%. Style: Complex but not heavy, a blend of the old


    I’d Rather Have That on the Plate, Please
    It was the 2004 Vinum Cellars Petite Sirah, usually a great value at $11 or $12.


    I give this one 3 corkscrews due to its taste and value but don't pay any more than the $10.99 I paid.


    QPRwines: 2000-2002 West Coast Merlot
    WineBlueBook is a wine buying guide that groups wines by the major critics' average wine scores, then lists them by price and ranks them by value. WineBlueBook is published 18 times a year (delivered via email) and answers the question "Is a 90 rated 2000 Bordeaux a good value for $20?" Each issue profiles a different wine varietal with two recent vintages.


    2004 Vilosell, great value red
    Forum: Wine Talk Posted By: John Winkelmann


    This is yet another example of the quality, value and excellence coming out of this country. Tremendous value for what is packed in this bottle.


    Grapes Gone 'Ganic at Bonterra Vineyards
    It's unique for California because it's not over-oaked, and at $16 is a nice value.


    Lake Breeze Bernoota 2004
    I can see how this wine would stand out from the pack at a wine show and it is excellent value for the price.


    US Press Clipping: SA Chenin Blanc's praises sung in New York Times
    In an article entitled 'South Africa's Trove of an Elusive Grape' published in the New York Times this week, Eric Asimov and a high-profile group of trade professionals and sommeliers conclude, ' South Africa today is teeming with good chenin blancs, wines of freshness and character with prices that make them exceptional value


    2004 Lengs
    This wine is usually a decent value and not that expensive.


    It wasn't cheap, $12.99/bottle, but I thought it was a good value and good taste for the money.


    2005 Sebastiani Sonoma Coast PINOT NOIR (California)
    Very good value (for a Pinot Noir) at $14.50 at Spec's on Richmond.


    Tales from the Restaurant Trenches: Great Service Matters!
    I am a big believer in choosing special wines for special occasions, while hunting for value wines for everyday drinking.


    I paid $3.99/bottle which at that price this wine has a very nice taste and is a GREAT value.


    I gave this one 3 corkscrews as the taste was what I expect out of a red table wine and I can't imagine that it could possibly cost more than $9.00, making it a good value.


    For more, just visit the Wine Blog Search Engine and enter "value."

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    2007 Sweepstake Award Winners, SF Chronicle Wine Competition

    These six, of 3,800 wines entered, were considered "the best" by the judging panel of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:

    Roederer Estate, 1999 Brut Anderson Valley L'Ermitage, $47.00

    * Geyser Peak Winery, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc California, $11.99
    * Windsor Vineyards, 2006 Gewurztraminer Alexander Valley Premium Label, $10.00

    * Flying Goat Cellars, 2005 Pinot Noir, Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyards, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, $44.00
    * B.R. Cohn Winery, 2004 Petite Sirah North Coast Petite Sirah, $38.00

    Navarro Vineyards, 2005 Late Harvest Muscat Blanc Anderson Valley Late Harvest, $29.00

    Sixty six were selected as 2007 Best of Class Award Winners.

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    100 Top Affordable Bordeaux Wines

    The Bordeaux Wine Bureau this week unveiled the 2007 list of Today’s Bordeaux: 100 Classic, Contemporary, Affordable Wines. The wines were selected in a blind tasting from among hundreds of wines priced $8 to $25 by an independent jury of experts. The list features 16 white, 83 red and even one sweet wine from 19 of Bordeaux’s 57 appellations. The 2007 jury was comprised of Paul Chaconas, Bordeaux Category Director for Total Wines & More, the nation’s largest chain of fine wine stores; Cat Silirie, Wine Director for Boston’s No.9 Park restaurant group; and Mark Oldman, wine educator and author of the best selling Mark Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine. You can see the full list of "100 Classic, Contemporary, Affordable Wines" here.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Fantastic Wines

    Had any "fantastic" wine lately? Well, here are some wine bloggers who have:

    Writer's Block Pinot Noir 2002
    This is a fantastic, complex wine and our favorite pinot noir to date.


    Paringa Sparkling Shiraz 2004
    This may not be an everyday wine, but when we're in the mood for this distinctive wine, it is fantastic.


    Drylands Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    both agree that it's fantastic! Rating: 8/10 Note: The 2005 vintage of this wine is #3 in Wine... Posted under: $5-$10 8 rating New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc


    Goodbye to a great wine (and hello to another): René-Noël Legrand Les Terrages 2001 (and Renzo Masi Erta e China 2003)
    That's what we did last night during a fantastic evening of food and wine surprises. I think he drank the wine too soon, it still needs quiet some air to soften, but then it is fantastic.


    God bless North America
    Rich, complex and beautiful, with fantastic balance.


    Barefoot Cellars Non-Vintage California Chardonnay
    Jennifer Wall is Winemaker for the Barefoot line, and she calls the style vibrant and fun, fantastic and affordably priced.


    More on Chateau Rozier 2003
    This was a gorgeous wine, not quite as rich and long-lasting in your mouth as the other 2003 Bordeaux we had last year, but it had a fantastic aroma, and distinct citrus notes on the tongue which mellowed a bit as it sat (and was likely further destroyed, let's face it, by the anchovy pizza we consumed with it).


    White, red and rosé: If you close your eyes, can you tell which is which?
    In action they are even more fantastic, as you may be able to see here.


    04 clos des varoilles
    The nose hovers close to fantastic - beautiful red berry fruit edged with cream - but from time to time theres a rather powder and indistinct edge, the wine could never quite make up its mind.


    Guy Crittenden on wine, and the environment
    I found a rare 10-year old Muscadet from Le Master de Donatien, tasted the new fantastic new vintage of Perrin Réserve (2004), and ate like a king in the accommodating kitchens of my fantastic hosts Johanna, Cathy and Tyler.


    Bordeaux Step 6: Hitting the Books
    I think his palate is fantastic, and his notes are really detailed and informative so check him out if you haven't already.


    Calling Danny Ocean ...
    In fact, I hate that some fantastic wine was stolen.


    Sage and Onion
    the Roar Rosella's Santa Lucia Highland 2004 Pinot Noir to start with. This was a fantastic Pinot... 2004 2005 Pinot Noir Restaurant Santa Barbara County Santa Lucia Highlands


    The Saint Cosme CDR of Italy
    A fantastic steak wine... altesino


    A splurge for Easter: Ceuso Custera 1998
    Drinkers may miss how, given time, Ceuso's gripping dryness melds with lingering fruit and vanilla notes for a fantastic finish.


    Bertrand Celce's blog
    I enjoy browsing through his entries - in fact, they make me a little jealous of Parisians who are so well supplied with fantastic artisanal French wines at remarkably affordable prices.


    2004 Bordeaux: Wedged Between the Hype and the Heat!
    2004 Canon La Gaffeliere: Another fantastic wine but opposite in style from Angelus.


    Remembering and savouring Santa Rita Reserva 2003
    But at the time, Chilean wines were indeed great values, especially the reds, which made fantastic everyday bottles.


    Tasting Bar Schedule for March, 2007
    Fantastic wines that are great for drinking now or cellaring for future enjoyment.


    For more, just visit the Wine Blog Search Engine and enter "fantastic."

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Wine Blog Atlas Goes Live!

    Ever wish you had wine experts reporting from all the world's best wine growing regions? Well, here we go! Ryan Opaz from Catavino has just launched the Wine Blog Atlas - A map of wine blogs with a regional focus! He can explain it better than I -- here's an excerpt from an email Ryan recently sent me: "I had an idea for a site that promotes wine blogs focused locally - meaning they write about the wines made within the area they live. The end goal being that we would have a site where we can always find an "expert" or local to help us learn about wines from regions around the world." If you are the author or fan of a regionally focsed blog, let him know; he said, "I'm here to answer any and all questions. I'm open to ideas and would love to hear your suggestions." This is an exciting new project and one I'll be following with great interest and Ryan already has lots of great ideas. For example he says, "I set up a flickr group for Blogs that are listed on the map. It's invite only, so if you want, send me your Flickr ID. I've also made the discussion part "closed". I can open this later if we want, but I thought it might be a fun thing to have bloggers who are working locally to have a place to exchange ideas and discuss ideas. Please let me know what you think. As far as pics, post pics of what your region looks like and photos of bottles you drink with tn's in the notes section. I'm sure you get the idea." Best of luck with this new venture Ryan; the world is your atlas.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Double Gold Winners

    Ten double-gold winners emerged from the Grand Harvest Awards which concluded here in Santa Rosa recently. The Grand Harvest Awards are judged according to terroir or the context of their own viticultural area, and the winners are selected as the finest examples from each viticultural region. Here are the top award winning wines (and approximate prices):
    Cycles Gladiator Wines - 05 Pinot Grigio - $12.00
    Hagafen Cellars - 06 White Riesling - $16.00
    Winter's Hill Vineyard - 04 Pinot Blanc - $24.00
    Hamilton Oaks Vineyard - 02 Port - $26.00
    Coeur d' Alene Cellars - 03 Syrah - $28.00
    Maryhill Winery - 04 Cabernet Sauvignon - $30.00
    Tulip Hill Winery - 02 Petite Sirah - $30.00
    Rosenblum Cellars - 04 Annette''s Reserve Zinfandel - $35.00
    Navarro Vineyards - 05 White Riesling - $59.00
    Ripken Vineyards & Winery - 04 Vintage Port - $40 (500 ml)
    Go for the gold.

    Friday, March 02, 2007

    100 Top Wine Blog Rankings Updated

    The 100 Top Wine Blogs Ranking list has been updated -- and expanded. There is now a new Top International Wine Blogs list comprised of non-english wine blogs (so as not to confuse some of my primarily english speaking readers and) to better grow the international wine blog network. There are currently 24 non-English blogs listed. Of course anyone with more interest in international wine blogs would be better served by checking out the more comprehensive lists in the left column at Alder Yarrow's Vinography: A Wine Blog.

    Meanwhile, 24 new English-language wine blogs appear on the 100 Top Wine Blogs list for the first time. Some have obviously moved up in spaces vacated by the international blogs, but most, in fact, are new entries of some popular wine blogs previously unknown to the AlaWine.com database. Nine new entries broke into the top 50, where overall rankings remained relatively stable within three positions. The other 15 new listings debuted in the lower 50.

    Please visit and welcome these newly listed wine blogs:

  • The Home Winery
  • Winehiker Witiculture
  • Cheers
  • Women With Wine
  • Wine For Newbies
  • The Wine Collector
  • Cal Wineries
  • Oklahoma Wine
  • Tastebud Chicago
  • Dover Canyon
  • Wine Direct Shipping Compliance
  • Benito's Wine Reviews
  • Vin Cacha
  • Sidewayswineclub Blog
  • The Budget Wino
  • Tales of a Sommelier
  • Sub-Zero Wine Expert
  • La Gramiere
  • Vineyard Diary: a Blog
  • Spirit of Wine
  • Free Run Juice
  • Thursday, March 01, 2007

    New, Wine Videos at AlaWine.com

    Getting tired of reading about wine? Now, you can watch videos. I know things can get a little boring around here with all the text and blah blah blah about wine, so a few weeks ago I put up a new page for Wine Videos and I'm finally getting around to announcing it. It has two rotating galleries, one on "wine" and the other on "wine counrty" -- I think you'll see which is which. Enjoy.
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