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Staff Favorites - John Majeski
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2010 McClean X "Simone" Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 3-25-2015
A test... see if you can spot this one on our domestic shelves. I'll give you a few hints: Red vines, classic nail polish, fire extinguishers. Big Juicy Glorious, Five-Alarm Red. OK, try not to be put off by label shock, for this one definitely has the juju within, and whoever the heck this Simone is, she must be quite the ravishing head-turner. A gorgeous blend of opulent, spicy, peppery Zinfandel and dark, fathomless Petite Sirah, this astonishing wine possesses enough weight, mouthfeel and serious Zin flavor to seduce any dish bold enough to flirt with it. Enchiladas dancing in a rich mole sauce maybe?
2011 Raymond Fabre Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 3-24-2015
It's Wednesday night, right, so maybe you're in the mood for a big juicy bacon, mushroom and swiss burger to go along with that latest big juicy action flick, Spiderman vs. Speedoman or Ironman Finally Rusts 7, but what wine do you pour? Something with rich, mouthwatering flavor and just enough sinew to compete with the endless earth-shattering explosions onscreen. Since I track the Northern Rhone like a drone and just opened this Crozes-Hermitage, well....it's a medium-built, savory Syrah with impressive aromas and notes of bright cherry-red fruit, garrigue and licorice, with a welcome tinge of pepper and minerality on the solid finish. So bring on the monster cheeseburger and silly spandex superheroes, this supertasty red wine can handle 'em, and with no special effects needed.
2012 Antech "Emotion" Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé
Review Date: 3-2-2015
Cremant de Limoux lies farthest west in the vast vinous ‘laboratory’ that is the Languedoc-Rousillon, where some of France’s most distinctive varieties and dynamic wines are to be found. The Emotion is blended from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac, the latter an indigenous grape cultivated for both its lovely apple notes and variable color that can run from light green to pink to black! Displaying remarkable elegance and refinement for a wine of this modest price, with generous bubbles and crisply dry flavors of acacia, strawberry, cherry and toast. The perfect companion for lively catered parties, as it goes with virtually everything that lies prone on a plate. Also great with nothing, ha…..
2013 Spellbound California Chardonnay
Review Date: 2-28-2015
Can’t afford the pricier Rombauer but still want to be treated to a delicious, sun-baked apple-blessed, tropical, toasty and vanilla-imbued wine? Go for the Spellbound my friends, you will find plenty here to enjoy, and it really does the trick, offering plenty of rich wine pleasure for far less than you’d expect to pay. And if you happen to live in California, be sure to stock a few cases away, just in case we run out of, gulp, water....
2012 La Monacesca "Mirum" Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
Review Date: 2-28-2015
For some bizarre reason, I never seem to drink enough Italian white wines, probably because I’m always driven to the Killer B’s (Barolos, Barbarescos, Brunellos). But Verdicchio, which sounds like Verocchio, the name of a Renaissance painter who is most famous for teaching Leonardo how to dip his brush, remains one of those quintessential grapes that demands serious respect from both scholar and consumer. And because it has a tendency to ripen slowly when properly planted, Verdicchio develops beautiful acidity and mineral notes to ballast the incredibly complex and succulent flavors of white pear, floral, almond and quince that are characteristic of this superb wine. And remember, the Riserva will continue to evolve for a decade or more, so practiced patience is as virtuous as the wine.
2004 La Temperance, Haut-Medoc
Review Date: 2-28-2015
As owner Clyde Beffa will tell you, few wine pleasures can surpass an aged Bordeaux, and this wine, although still relatively youthful, delivers substance and power with enough suppleness to reward drinking today. Smooth, rich Merlot fruit dominates this sustainable blend, with black cherry, blackcurrant, cedar, gamy and tobacco-tinged flavors working the palate. A solid, silky wine for serving alongside a meaty casserole or fresh grilled beef, vegetable and mushroom skewers.
2010 Bodegas Puelles Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 2-28-2015
Largely because of our courageous buyers who are often physically held down and forced to taste, sample, spit, analyze, and select wines from the far corners of the globe, our direct import program is second to none. Take Joe Manekin, our tried and true Spanish guru, for instance. He somehow discovered a clever fellow named Jesús Puelles in the small hamlet of Abalos in Rioja Alta who makes some of the most savory, well-delineated, sublime wines this side of Siberia, in Iberia. His 2010 Crianza heralds from a fine vintage and is a classic blend of the four signature red grapes of Rioja, headlined by Tempranillo of course, and traditionally aged in 225L older oak for nuance and aroma. Lush, friendly fruit— cherries, mulberries and red plums defined by balsamic notes of sandalwood and incense adorn this tasty crianza, a wine fit for a table decked with Iberico ham, roast chicken, lamb or soft cheeses.
2013 Kistler "Sonoma Mountain" Chardonnay
Review Date: 2-25-2015
What’s in a name, you might ask? The name ‘Kistler’ comes from the ancient Germanic-Swiss guild of Kistermacher, or ’makers of chests’, derived originally from the Latin ‘custos’, guardian or keeper. Of course in the wine world it has come to be known as ‘maker of iconic wines’, and Steve Kistler has, like, a fine cabinet maker, continued to burnish his craft by creating some of the most elegant Chardonnays and Pinots in the New World. Like every great artisan, he sought the finest wood, or in this case, budwood, for his wines, and found it over forty years ago in a low-yielding Chardonnay strain discovered at Mount Eden and originally believed to have come from Corton in 1896. From this single heritage Burgundian clone Kistler has fashioned ten different expressions of Chardonnay, each wine the definition of a specific terroir, and each remarkable. The Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay, planted on an elevated, well-drained site of mostly volcanic soils, showed a prismatic quality to the fruit, as if every nuance reflected another in a dancing kaleidoscope of citrus, apple, stone fruit, chalk, ginger and almond flavors, all harmoniously held together by superb, crisp acidity and a breathtakingly long finish. A truly prodigious feat of winemaking!
2012 Cicada by Chante Cigale IGP Méditerranée
Review Date: 2-23-2015
This little Cicada sings! A joyful expression of the great value to be found in the magnificent Southern Rhone, this red wine is fashioned in a versatile style for easy drinking. A lyrical blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Carignan, it is guaranteed to serenade your guests at casual events, parties and picnics. Delicious enough to pair with both Mediterranean, Italian and Asian dishes, just pop the cork, pour and enjoy!
2010 Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Valley Syrah
Review Date: 2-18-2015
A veritable raft of blueberries and blackberries, a suave pinch of baking spice, violet pastilles and vanilla all deliver the goods in this indulgent, pleasure-packed Syrah. With its voraciously voluminous fruit and engaging gorgeousness I marvel that whole herds, er, flocks of hungry, ravenous blackbirds never made a desperate, feathered assault on the Zaca Mesa estate vineyards, but don't ask why or wait, just sink your clever talons into a case or two before your next gathering of the human flock. It will be gone before you can say 'Birdman wins the Oscar'....I said it here first.....
2013 L'Ecole No. 41 " Luminesce" Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla White Wine
Review Date: 2-16-2015
'Luminesce'....sometimes even a wine's name can conjure glowing memories. As a kid growing up on the outskirts of Nashville, I will never forget my first sighting of hundreds of fireflies twinkling in the dusk of a warm midsummer's eve. Like tiny circuits on again, off again, now you see them, now you don't, they filled the air with magic, wonder and enchantment. This truly incandescent blend of Washington state cool-harvested Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from the famed Seven Hills Vineyard was liquid, luminous sunlight in a bottle. Whole-cluster pressed fruit was given a slow primary fermentation on neutral oak followed by partial malolactic, and then spent four months napping on the lees. Fragrant and lively with luxurious aromas of citrus blossom and honeysuckle, interplayed with a core of crisp kiwi, passionfruit and green papaya frolicking on the palate, this beauty is a delightful, delicious treasure of a wine by any measure, and the perfect complement to fine poultry or seafood dishes.
2013 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 2-4-2015
Oh, the Agony of the Pete...yesterday was both Groundhog Day and the day after the "Big Blame," I mean Big Game, and I couldn't help but wonder if Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saw his shadow or was, like the film, destined to relive that last play again and again forever. Sympathy might not go far in this case, but a bottle of good wine always helps to heal deflated dreams. The folks at Calera scored big by hand-harvesting fruit for this coastal Chardonnay from select vineyards stretching from Santa Clara to Santa Barbara. Grapes were whole cluster pressed and gravity fed into the barrel room, where they underwent native yeast fermentation and achieved full malolactic in 10% new French oak for ten months. The result? A well-balanced and value-priced Chardonnay brimming with orchard aromas and an enticing array of trophy fruits... juicy apples, ripe melons, lush peaches and nectarines, with plenty of weight and acidity to carry through the "super" finish...... now go and intercept a bottle or two of this winning wine! You can't lose.
2013 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 1-21-2015
As one felled by images, I’ve often mused about the strange creature on this wine’s label. It is actually a cockatrice, that eerie hybrid bit of mischief, a demonic cross between a serpent and a rooster, armed with a "death-darting eye that could slay men with the poison of their sight." And a Banshee being the spirit of a wailing woman said to lie outside the walls of peasants’ houses, waiting for mortal men to die…..ahem. Well, on to the magical stuff in the bottle! Yet another lovely incarnation, this cool-climate beauty captured all the purity and essence of Sonoma coastal vineyards, with a core of enticing red fruit enlivened by tea, plum and boysenberry notes, all ballasted by clean acidity and gentle tannins. Enough supernatural fruit in here to silence a Banshee and keep her pet cockatrice at bay…..enjoy!
2012 Textbook Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-9-2014
Mention the word "textbook" and aside from the "textbook" definition, I flashback a decade or so to my poor niece Emily having to lug the equivalent of twenty pounds of school books in her beast of a backpack during the seventh grade. Fortunately times have changed, and today, with handheld tablets no one needs to be a human pack mule to get a decent education. Of course the best education for a student of wine is an uncorked bottle and a sparkling glass, allowing the winemaking talents of folks like Jonathan and Susan Pey to shine forth. With extensive experience in Bordeaux, Burgundy and the restaurant culture, they bring true sense and sensibility to their passion for wine, and their "newly published" Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon is defined by lovely aromas of ripe, juicy plums, succulent blackberries, licorice and camphor framed by subtly spicy oak, elegant tannins and scrumptious, mouthwatering acidity. An incredible Cabernet value, serve this throughout the holidays and into 2015. No homework required!
2013 Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl" Columbia Valley Riesling
Review Date: 10-28-2014
True Kungfession: I get a real kick out of this super-smooth, fun and funkadelic wine from our talented neighbor to the north, Charles Smith, who somehow conjures up a domestic Riesling releasing zingy flavors of Fuji apple, Asian pear, ripe apricot and citrus blossom that manages to hit me smack dab right in the center field of my price to quality comfort zone, and easily scores big on the home palate. Blame it on playoff fever mixed with the need to take in plenty of essential stress-quenching liquids during this nailbiter Fall Classic, but this pure and luscious, slightly off dry beauty with the krazy name remains a world-serious wine and a surefire winner. Don't miss it!
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