Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Still Wines for New Year’s Eve 2011
I'm sure you've heard the complaint that the bubbles in sparkling wines give some people a headache. For those people and others, I have put together a list with a variety of still wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauternes. These wines are sourced from France, Spain, California and Oregon. There is a little of something for everyone in this list, some new vintages and a mix of price points. I am starting with the most expensive bottle but there are many quality bottles mentioned here. Enjoy!
For more than 75 years, the Martini family winemakers have crafted world-class Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the exceptional vineyards of Sonoma and Napa counties.
Lot NO. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2007
This structurally dense, full‐bodied and complex wine was crafted to capture the essence of Napa Valley’s diverse mountain terroirs. It offers ripe and concentrated aromas and flavors of blackberry, cassis and dark chocolate with toasty sweet oak. The intensity of the flavors along with the silky tannins culminates in a long, opulent finish. This wine can be cellared for 10 years. The varietal content is 99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Syrah. Overall, the 2007 crop was much smaller than in previous vintages, but quality is exceptional.
Suggested Retail: $125
Darms Lane focuses on small production of hand crafted fine wines and styles them in the tradition of the Old World, small family-run wineries. We believe our farming and wine-making techniques produces a wine that is refined and balanced and promises elegance in the glass to accompany both old and new world cuisine. Darms Lane, located in the southwestern bench lands of Napa Valley, was established in 1983 as a Chardonnay estate and was known as Crichton Hall Vineyard. The original Chardonnay vines were replaced in 2002 and 2003 by the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is the fourth release of this 100% estate grown Cabernet. The 2008 Bon Passe Cabernet exhibits an expansive nose of blackberries and ripe cherries that follow through on the palate. In the mouth the wine is rich and velvety – the tannins are smooth. Layers of pure fruit, mocha and a subtle minerality keep unfolding to an elegant finish. This wine has the flavors and suppleness to be enjoyed on its own while maintaining an elegance that will complement many foods.
Suggested Retail: $60
The 2009 Oak Knoll District Chardonnay exhibits a core of Bosc pear, crème brûlée, and apple pie spice with hints of white peach, vanilla, toasted oak and a subtle minerality. The pear flavors and minerality also carry through on the palate which is medium bodied and exhibits a pleasant balanced acidity. The fruit was sourced from neighboring Oak Knoll District of the Napa Valley - Trefethen Family Vineyards.
Suggested Retail: $28
In 1787, former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, then ambassador to France, celebrated Château Coutet (pronounced Cootay or COU-tett) as the best Sauternes from Barsac. In 1855, the estate was classified as a First Growth and recognized for its continued excellence. Today, as the oldest and largest Barsac estate, Château Coutet stays true to its tradition of distinction and quality. The finest Barsac-Sauternes is produced annually under the direction and management of the Baly family as well as the technical and commercial collaboration of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. company, the vineyard's exclusive distributor.
These are wines from France, or Bordeaux table wines, and I appreciate the versatility of Chateau Coutet Sauternes. It has the ability to move beyond the traditional foi gras and dessert, it pairis well with options like turkey, ham, lobster and even corned beef! Of course, the Sauternes lobster pairing is a real winner. Rich, sweet, pear juice, apricot nose and peach aromas are just some of the adjectives used to describe this Sauternes.
Suggested Retail: $60
Located on Mount Veeder mountain in Napa Valley, the winery has three ranches on Mount Veeder. Estate ranches range in altitude from 1,000 to 1,600 feet in elevation to provide diverse microclimates for a wide variety of growing conditions and fruit profiles. All of the key Bordeaux grapes prosper, keeping with the tradition of being the first vineyard in California planted to all five Bordeaux varieties.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
This cabernet is deep ruby in appearance with aromas of bold cassis with ripe layers of black plum and dark cherries, complemented with complex notes of clove, molasses, and vanilla. The flavors are full and dense with rich, velvety tannins. 2008 was a low rainfall vintage, with small crop and high quality. This cabernet has full, rich flavors, dark fruit character and good concentration.
Suggested Retail: $40
Kendall-Jackson is a family-owned winery started in 1982 by founder Jess Jackson. Located in Fulton, California, their tasting room in in Healdsberg, California. Now, almost three decades later, Kendall-Jackson Winery produces an array of super-premium wines whose quality, taste and integrity embody the very spirit of their founder's mission. In Jess Jackson's own words, "We grow grapes on our own 15,000 acres of California coastal vineyards. We take the no-compromise, high road approach to quality required to grow our world-class grapes and produce acclaimed award-winning wines."
Three of their most popular wines:
2007 Jackson Hills Cabernet Sauvignon ($40), whose grapes are from Knights Valley.
2008 Grand Reserve Merlot ($26), whose grapes are from Sonoma County.
2008 Jackson Hills Chardonnay ($25), whose grapes are from Santa Barbara County.
Founders Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971 in Oregon, when there was no wine industry in Oregon. Today, with over 400 wineries and more than 19,000 acres of vineyards, Oregon wines are available throughout the world. Sokol Blosser has survived, grown and prospered as a family-owned and run operation. They have 87 acres planted in Dundee, Oregon and their currnt releases are:
2009 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
Grown predominately in the remarkable red Jory soil of Yamhill County's Dundee Hills, this wine exhibits distinct flavors and aromas - truffle, mushroom, leather, cherry, berry, violet and spice - all of which say "Sokol Blosser"! With proper cellaring, everything is in place for this wine to develop and age beautifully for the next ten to fifteen years. Pairing suggestions include salmon dishes, stuffed mushrooms, wild game, and lamb.
Suggested Retail: $38
2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
This wine is showing plenty of development and complexity – mineral, stony, earth, and spice aromas, with flavors of apricot, peach, and fig. The mouthfeel is both crisp and very rich, concentrated, and creamy, with a long, lush finish. Our 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is best paired with salads, artisan cheeses and grilled herbed chicken.
Suggested Retail: $18
Every new bottling has its own subtle and fresh personality. This off-dry blend of 9 white varietals creates a smooth, layered white wine with a unique crisp finish. It is extraordinarily food-friendly, from light salads to the hottest fusion-style cuisine - try Evolution White with spicy Thai dishes, jambalaya, or Caribbean cuisine.
Suggested Retail: $15
Thirteen years after ‘advancing the entire wine universe a notch or two’ with Evolution White, Sokol Blosser introduces its worthy companion... Evolution Red. This blend is soft and balanced with notes of dark berries and cloves, and has a lovely velvety finish. Evolution Red pairs best with all kinds of meat (smoked & herbed), ribs, lamb, stews, turkey and gourmet pizzas.
Suggested Retail: $15
What a fun label! Great Lega is bottled by Robinson Family Vineyards off the Silverado Trail in Napa, California. The hillside property is perfectly situated under the face of the Stag's Leap Palisades. On their 78 acres you will find the highly visible outcropping of the Stag's Leap cliffs.
2006 GREAT LEGS CABERNET SAUVIGNON
This Cabernet is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Three women oversee this wine that is barrel aged 25 months in French Oak. This medium to full bodied wine has a nice balance of dark rich fruit flavors combined with those of cedar, vanilla cream and spices. There are rich tannins to provide a lingering finish.
Suggested Retail: $34
2007 GREAT LEGS SYRAH
This 100% Syrah wine is also barrel aged 25 months in French Oak. This medium weight wine has flavors of ripe berries combined with cedar, vanilla cream and dried spices. It has lingering well integrated tannins providing a nice finish and is 13.9% alcohol. Its Silverado Trail location in Napa puts these grapes right in the middle of wine country.
Suggested Retail: $32
2003 Gran Reserva
The 2003 Gran Reserva is from Spain's Rioja Alta region, the major and most traditional winemaking region in Spain. The grapes were selected from the oldest vines in the area and transported to the winery in small crates. These 100% Tempranillo grapes were stored in untoasted French oak barriques where they were aged for 24 months, followed by an additional aging in the bottle. Deep cherry red with ruby overtones, the Gran Reserva pairs well with all types of meats, especially large games such as venison, wild boar and turkey, as well as salmon, tuna and cod.
Suggested Retail: $25
A collaboration between veteran winemaker Philip Zorn and longtime wine executive Brent Shortridge, Waterstone Winery was formed in 2000 when the two men were introduced and discovered a shared interest in creating luxury wines at affordable prices. Bringing together their previously established relationships with Napa Valley growers and vintners, the pair set out to develop balanced wines of varietal character through intelligent sourcing. Preferring to focus on the wine itself rather than the accumulation of land and facilities, Zorn and Shortridge own no vineyards themselves, nor do they own the facility where their wines are made. Their wines include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Syrah, Carneros Chardonnay, Napa Valley Merlot, Study in Blue, Carneros Pinot Noir and Napa Valley Pinot Gris.
Waterstone 2008 Pinot Noir, Carneros
The Pinot Noir grapes for this wine were grown on hillside vineyards in the cool Carneros region. The blend represents a composite of several Pinot Noir clones from mature vines. The region is noted for its cool climate and low yields, being situated on the north side of the San Francisco Bay, and is well-known for its Burgundian-style terroir. Dark plums, cherry, cola and leather are present in this wine's aroma. The soft vanilla tones from the oak blend perfectly with the intense fruit core and soft tannins, providing complexity and balance and leading to a lingering finish.
Suggested Retail: $22