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Staff Favorites - John Majeski
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2010 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 4-17-2014
In 2010, a lingering cool spring in the Southern Rhône severely reduced crop yields and extended the harvest well into October, allowing the happy grapes to reach sublimely intense levels of both richness and structure— the result one of the greatest vintages ever in the Rhône Valley. And who reaps the rewards? Enter E. Guigal, perhaps the Rhone's chief exponent of excellence, delivering an amazing spectrum of quality wines year after year. Their entry-level Côtes du Rhône, with redolent aromas and flavors of cherry, black plum, wood smoke and spice possesses astonishing degrees of balance, complexity and mouthwatering texture for a very modest price. Most definitely a 'win-win(e)'….. enjoy!
2012 Bastide Miraflors "Vieilles Vignes" Côtes Catalanes
Review Date: 4-17-2014
The Roussillon region in southwest France has been cultivating grapes for thousands of years, so it comes as little surprise that a wine of such intense, immense pleasure as the Bastide Miraflors finds its home there. Select organically-farmed Syrah and rustic old vine Grenache undergo a long maceration to generate a wine of beautiful texture, form and depth. Lively, lusty and inviting red and black fruits toned with lavender and wildflowers make for a delicious bottle of wine, one that will complement everything from Mediterranean fare to roasted poultry to grilled lamb chops. This amazingly priced wine will quickly sail from our shops, guaranteed.
2010 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 4-4-2014
Maybe I'm like most of you who, noting the name Freemark Abbey, believed this illustrious winery was founded by a bunch of industrious monks who, seeking to escape persecution, left some war-ravaged homeland in search of paradise and landed, miracle of miracles, in the heart of Napa Valley. But actually the winery took its name by combining those of the three owners- Charles Freeman, Markquand Foster and Abbey Ahern in 1939. Pretty clever huh? And seventy-five years later, this place is still making wondrous wines that shine like, well, the sunlight off a monk's pate. Just tasted the latest incarnation of their Cabernet Sauvignon, and it has all the classic, soulful components of a benchmark red wine created from premium Napa vineyards--Bosche, Potelle, Stage Coach and Round Pond. Aged for over 22 months in barrel, 40% new French oak, the lavish fruit expression of blackberry, black cherry and ripe plum on the palate is enhanced by notes of cedar, kitchen spice and sweet oak. Full-bodied, structured and elegant, this velvety Cab will deliver years of serious vinous pleasure, and just think, you won't have to work like a monk to enjoy it!
2012 True Myth Edna Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 3-30-2014
The label on this Edna Valley Chardonnay depicts a gossamer-clad maiden with arms that twist into tree limbs, releasing a spectrum of colorful butterflies instead of leaves. OK, I thought, just open the wine and give it a swirl, hoping no bewinged painted ladies, blues or swallowtails fly up from the glass. Instead, the wine delivers a cascade of lilting flowers and citrus aromas, hints of lime, white pear, cut pineapple and a kiss of vanilla on the supple, expansive palate. And to be honest, when I first saw the name "True Myth" on this wine I thought, hm, oxymoron... a myth or a fact, but not both. Now I'm a believer, and for the incredible price of $12.99, you will be too!
2012 Neyers "Sage Canyon" Rhone Blend
Review Date: 3-12-2014
It doesn't take a true detective to unravel the mystery of why a particular wine delivers so much unadulterated pleasure. In the case of this natural Rhone blend from Bruce Neyers the clues first found in the vineyard end up ultimately, with good fortune, in your glass. Crafted by winemaker Tadeo Borchardt from Grenache grown in the Sierra foothills, Syrah from the Sangiacomo hillside vineyards in Sonoma, and precious parcels of 135 year old Carignane and 125 year old Mourvedre vines that have sunk their hoary roots deep into the stony Contra Costa soils in Oakley, this red blend pays generous tribute to the heart of the southern Rhone in its sultry, sun-soaked fruit and lingering lavender, warm spice and anise-inflected aromas. One sip and the mystery is solved.
2011 Pierre Henri-Morel Côtes du Rhône-Villages Signargues
Review Date: 1-8-2014
Winemaker Henri Morel spent a most memorable decade working with Michel Chapoutier and it shows in the elegant wines recently created under his own label. Cultivated from select vineyard parcels of limestone and clay soils carpeted in the signature white pebbles the size of dinosaur eggs, this attractively unoaked Grenache blend releases suave fruit and infinite charm with every swirl of the glass. Arresting flavors of bright cherry, blackcurrant and garrigue play upon the the palate, with velvety tannins leading to a structured, concentrated finish. Lovely wine and a truly remarkable value!
2011 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-6-2013
2010 Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-19-2013
For the 2010 Napa Valley vintage, the confluence of a long, cool growing season for most of the summer and a late, rather merciless heatwave contributed to many sensuous wines of harmonious brilliance, textural sophistication and great depth. The Dunn Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is an uncompromising, serious contender, capable of developing for perhaps two decades, but with the luxurious richness of the deep blackcurrant, brambly and mineral-laden fruit, beautifully finessed by suave, lavish tannins, you don't have to wait very long to enjoy it. Consider it a Dunn deal!
Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-2-2013
Vines have been cultivated on this tiny property in the hamlet of Brouillet for five generations, and it has remained a customer and staff favorite here for several years. Yeasty, full and complex, the Carte Blanche exhibits a fine intensely-focused bead with lively notes of tart apples, dried hazelnuts, vanilla and toast, all in all a remarkably well-built Brut that will compare well to cuvées at double the price. It is perfect for entertaining.
2009 Domaine Girard "Tradition" Côtes de Malepère
Review Date: 3-22-2013
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the magnificent double-walled 'medieval' citadel of Carcassonne in Languedoc-Roussillon, with many battlements dating back to the fifth century (but largely restored in the nineteenth), you will appreciate the long, historic struggle of man to erect a civilizing fortress of monumentally enduring proportions. Fortunately the gracious grape has survived and thrived in the region even longer, most likely first brought to the area by Roman soldiers. Domaine Girard, in the little-known AOC Malepère, currently produces wines that bridge the stylistic attributes of elegant Bordeaux and robust Languedoc, delivering fleshy, full-bodied, hand-harvested fruit made from 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Fermented and matured entirely in stainless steel to preserve the pure varietal character, this supple, generous red will complement most traditional dishes from herb-scented lamb to a hearty beef casserole.
2001 Marques de Legarda Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-31-2012
Superb aged Gran Reserva, especially from the much-heralded 2001 vintage, is hard to find, and the Legarda exhibits the textbook definition of a midlife without crisis. Beautiful wild strawberries, dried cherries, orange peel, tobacco, dust and leather emanate from this excellent Rioja. Ideal pairings would include roasted lamb shanks or a Morrocan chicken tagine.
1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 11-30-2012
Attractive, classic, well-aged Bordeaux is always a welcome addition to the holiday table, and this second label Pomerol from Chateaux Nenin still delivers considerable charm and elegance. Imbued with smooth, round Merlot flavors of sweet plum, ripe cherry and cedar highlights, it invites a rosemary-roasted Cornish hen or two to join it for dinner.
Berry Bros & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin 750ml
Review Date: 10-30-2012
As Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant (1698), Berry Bros. and Rudd should know a thing or three about the traditional making of gin. Their No. 3 English Dry Gin is an unabashedly pure blending of fruits and spices selected and distilled in traditional copper pots in Schiedam, Holland. Made from Italian Juniper, Spanish oranges and grapefruit peel, with added spices including angelica root, Moroccan coriander and cardamon pods, this exquisitely crafted yet assertive gin remains, with its distinctively aromatic nose and prolonged finish, a highly-recommended personal favorite. The ideal suitor for a dry Martini or classic Gin and Tonic.
Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-1-2012
If you're searching for a non-vintage Champagne with generous texture, abundant freshness, depth of character and a distinctive aromatic profile, search no further! This stunning barrel-fermented assemblage of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc....yes, I said Pinot Blanc, an odd wine out in most of Champagne, is a triumphant display of everything one can discover in a fine bottle of bubbly- sparkle, effervescence, layers of brioche, chalk, herbs, toast and lemon, ever-evolving complexity, with a lengthy, lingering finish.
Einstök Icelandic White Ale (12oz)
Review Date: 4-30-2012
With summer fast approaching we're all in need of a super thirst-quenching beer to alleviate the effects of absorbing too much solar energy on our bodies while we flare up the grill for a swirling smoke-athon (ok, admittedly I'm not Mr. Weber, more like one of the guys who stands around getting hot smoke in his face while acting like it doesn't matter).... anyway, just discovered a fantastic antidote to insurmountable thirst in the Icelandic Einstok White Ale, like melting an iceberg slathered in freshly-ground coriander and orange peel. Well, to be truthful, it's a witbier brewed with the same ingredients and tastes absolutely awesome. Beer here now. And in honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic, pouring an iceberg down your throat might be a good tribute.
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