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Wine Pick of the Week

2013 Sauvignon Blanc   Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi California Alcohol: 12.9% Suggested Retail: $ 6.25 (750ml), $ 12 (1.5L)   “Woodbridge wines are good quality, value-priced options from the second label of the Napa Valley winery founded by Robert Mondavi 50 years ago. Woodbridge is just north of the city of Lodi and is included in the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA). “The Mondavi family has a long history with the Lodi and Woodbridge growing regions (both the late Robert and his brother, Peter, the 101-year old patriarch of Charles Krug Winery, graduated from Lodi High School in the early…
2013 Rainstorm Pinot Gris   Rainforest Winery Oregon Alcohol: 12.5% Suggested Retail: $14   “Though Oregon produces some very good Chardonnay, Pinot Gris might well be considered the state’s signature white wine. Pinot Gris is the same grape variety as Pinot Grigio, though Oregon generally makes this grape more in the manner of the Alsace region in France (where it’s called Pinot Gris), than in the style of Italy (where it’s called Pinot Grigio).
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon   HALL Wines Napa Valley Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $55 (current 2012 vintage)   “This week’s ‘Pick’ is a wine you’re not likely to find. Pictured is an etched bottle of a 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon presented at the 2007 groundbreaking for the new HALL facility in St. Helena (the company spells its name in all caps). Many wineries have been built in California in the last couple of decades, and many have celebrated grand openings on their completion. Few of them have attracted media and friends of the owners to celebrate just the plan to…
2013 Riesling   Covey Run Columbia Valley (Washington) Alcohol: 11.6% Suggested Retail: $ Unknown   “We purchased this wine for $4.99 at a supermarket in the state of Washington. On the 1st of January of 2016 we attempted to find out more about it, including the suggested retail price. We found the Covey Run website was three years out of date. It gave information about the 2009 vintage of this Riesling and said that its retail price was $9. The listing of an out-of-date vintage for the Riesling wasn’t a lone aberration. Other wine varieties seemed similarly out of date.…
2012 Brut Rosé   Domaine Carneros By Taittinger Carneros Alcohol: 12.3% Suggested Retail: $37   “Good sparkling wine is appropriate for celebrating the new year. It’s also appropriate for just celebrating life in general and is a treat too frequently thought of as only for special occasions. “Sparkling wine is the generally accepted term that encompasses all wines containing bubbles, from pricey top-of-the-line imports through the cheap stuff served at all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches. Most California producers have agreed that the word Champagne refers to products that come from a particular part of France and should no longer be appropriated by…
2013 Old Vine Zinfandel   Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $32   “Some issues here could be confusing. Dry Creek Vineyard and Dry Creek Valley might sound redundant. And ‘Old Vine Zinfandel’ sounds good, but what does that really mean? “Opening this bottle at dinner with a relative, I was asked if it had any connection to the Dry Creek Ranch golf course. It doesn’t, but the question wasn’t unreasonable since the course is located on the northern fringe of Lodi, an area south of Sacramento that is known to produce good Zinfandel.
Deviation   Quady Winery California Alcohol: 15% Suggested Retail: $ 25 (375ml)   “This wine is definitely a candidate for the answer to the, ‘What’s the most unusual wine you’ve ever tasted?’ question sometimes posed of wine writers. We dug this small bottle out of the cellar this week. It had been there for several years. Not being a vintage-dated bottle, we can only guess that this wine would have been made sometime from 2006, the year Andy Quady first produced Deviation, ‘til 2010. Might a more-recent example of this wine be better . . . or worse? We couldn’t…
2014 Chardonnay   CK Mondavi California Alcohol: 13.4% Suggested Retail: $6.99   “Chardonnay is America’s most popular white wine variety. There’s plenty of it out there and most options at this end of the price continuum are sweeter and less desirable than the 2014 CK Mondavi Chardonnay. “In this wine we found aromatic aspects reminiscent of cantaloupe, pear and pineapple. The nose is also somewhat floral, likely from the 4% Moscato grape component. Wine can evoke many different taste memories. As he tasted the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, this reviewer recalled lemon curd in England and pineapple pies made by his…
2013 Scarlet Five   CK Mondavi California Alcohol: 13.6% Suggested Retail: $6.99   “Blended wines are the latest ‘hot category’ in the wine business. Scarlet Five is what would be called a Bordeaux blend because, though its grapes were grown in California, their varieties are all native to this part of southwestern France. Predominately Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Scarlet Five also includes Merlot (28%), Petit Verdot (13%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Malbec (1%).
Tawny Reserve Porto   Quinta Do Noval Portugal Alcohol: 20% Suggested Retail: $20-25?   “Earlier this week a blustery night put your reviewer in the mood for an after-dinner drink—something that would warm the soul. There was the bottle of Irish whiskey (Bushmill’s Black Bush), but he was in more of an English mood. "Foraging in the cellar, he found a bottle of Port. The front label indicated it was Tawny Reserve Porto from the firm Quinta do Noval. Their wines are marketed in the U.S, but since the back label was all in Portuguese, the bottle was likely a…
Zinfandel (N/V)   Barefoot Lodi Suggested Retail: 750ml $7, 1.5L $10.* *average retail prices nationwide   “Recently we saw long-time wine writer Dan Berger’s comments about Barefoot Zinfandel and figured with his recommendation it had to be good. It is. “Fruit for this wine comes from the Lodi appellation, which is about 45 miles south of Sacramento. In recent years vineyard acreage has increased hugely in the area. Though many varieties are grown successfully here, Zinfandel has always been regarded as Lodi’s signature grape.
2014 GSM   Hahn Family Wines Central Coast Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $14   “GSM is California shorthand of the day for a blend of three grape varieties native to the Rhône Valley of France. However, in this case the Grenache (65%), Syrah (31%) and Mouvèdre (4%) were grown on the Central Coast of California. If Bordeaux-based varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc.) have accounted for most of your wine budget lately, Rhône-style wines are certainly worth a try.
2005 Aleatico   Generations of Sonoma Sonoma Valley Alcohol: 16% Suggested Retail: $30 (375ml)    "Our Wine Pick of the Week is usually the best product we’ve tasted in the past week. Typically it comes from a fairly familiar category—Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, etc.  However, sometimes we opt to tell you about a particular wine because it’s just so unusual. Such is the case for this week’s featured wine. “Attracted by the distinctively narrow shape of the bottle, we discovered the Generations of Sonoma 2005 Aleatico on a rack in our cellar a few days ago when searching for something else.…
2013 Lytton Springs   Ridge Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Alcohol: 14.3% Suggested Retail: $38   “Legally, the 2013 Lytton Springs isn’t a Zinfandel. In 1973 the law was changed to require any bottle defining itself by a varietal name to contain not just 51%, but 75% or more of the named grape. Since this wine contains just 74% Zinfandel (along with 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane and 2% Mataro, also known as Mouvèdre), it doesn’t qualify as a Zinfandel according to the authorities. However, most knowledgeable consumers would rate is as one of the best Zins out there. “Perhaps we…
Merlot   Stimson Estate Cellars Washington State Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $11 (1.5 L)   “Merlot is sometimes described as a wine for people who would like Cabernet Sauvignon--if only it were a bit lighter. That’s an oversimplification, of course, and some Merlot can be quite substantial—big and powerful, though maybe in an elegant way. “The Merlot grape has its roots in Bordeaux, where it is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. However, In Pomerol it is the predominant grape variety and it also plays a major role in the wines from adjacent St. Emilion. Top French examples of this variety…
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon   Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $25   “Taste California Travel and its predecessor publications have been following the wines from Dry Creek Vineyard for a long time. We’ve appreciated their white wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, whether they carried that varietal identity or the Fumé tag. And, of course, we’ve always been high on their Zinfandels (editor’s note: The Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County is a place name carrying an AVA designation. Within that Dry Creek Valley are many wineries, one of the most prominent being Dry Creek…
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon   Wild Meadows Columbia Valley (Washington) Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $11   “Containing 76% of the grape, this wine qualifies to be labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon (75% or more is the legal requirement). It also contains Merlot (12%), Syrah (11%) and Tempranillo (1%). Nothing wrong with any of these grapes and, in fact, it’s not a bad bottle of wine, especially at the price (we found it on sale at a Rite-Aid drug for about $6.50). However, it doesn’t taste like Cabernet Sauvignon.
2010 Sweet Riesling   Pacific Rim Columbia Valley (Washington) Alcohol: 8.5% Suggested Retail: $10 (for current 2013 release)   “Surprises can come in many guises. We’ve all heard the phrase nasty surprises. Is there an analog on the positive side—pleasant surprise or delightful surprise ? If so, it would apply to our Monday night discovery of this week’s 'Pick.' “Our salmon filets were already in the oven when we realized that we’d forgotten to purchase any wine for dinner, so we began to scrounge. Some serious reds were at hand, but nothing appropriate for this fairly delicate preparation of the…
2012 Bancroft Ranch Merlot   Beringer Vineyards Howell Mountain Alcohol: 15.2% Suggested Retail: $105   “Merlot is viewed by some as merely Cabernet Sauvignon Lite. While that reputation might be deserved for some examples in the $10-$20 range, it certainly doesn’t apply in this case. The 2012 vintage of Beringer’s Bancroft Ranch does contain small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) and Cabernet Franc (8%), but the balance is all Merlot. The wine takes its personality from that grape and there’s nothing insufficient about it. “Bancroft Ranch Merlot qualifies as a Napa Valley wine, but there are several sub-appellations within that…
2013 Monga Zinfandel   Carol Shelton Wines Cucamonga Valley Alcohol: 14.8% Suggested Retail: $21   “Carol Shelton is a great winemaker. Of course, she also does well with other varietals, but most think of her as a Zinfandel specialist. Carol is based in Santa Rosa and sources Zinfandel grapes not just from the surrounding Sonoma County, but also from Mendocino County and from the Lodi area, which is in the San Joaquin Valley about 35 miles south of Sacramento. These are all good grape growing locations, well-known for producing quality Zinfandel, but in the case of this week’s ‘Pick’ the…
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