The Sarah Jane English Newsletter:  65th Edition
July 26, 2004



TOP PICKS OF THE MONTH (prices vary store to store) $ Best Value (select vintage available)

WINERY OF THE MONTH: EBERLE WINERY 25th ANNIVERSARY: EBERLE WINERY is celebrating its 25th year of fine winemaking.  I met Gary Eberle in Dallas about 13 years ago at a wine function being held at the Crescent Court Hotel.  He's one of those unforgettable nice guys.  I remember that he flew his own plane to the event from California and left early because he wanted to get back home to see his wife.  How can you not like a guy like that right off!!  I've visited Gary and Jeanie a number of times since that meeting and enjoyed every occasion.  It has been a pleasure to watch the winery grow and the wines evolve.  They have always been good.     Gary is a native of Pittsburgh and while at Pennsylvania State University in the early 1960s balanced his duties as a defensive tackle with studying biology.     He did his graduate work in cellular genetics at Louisiana State University (LSU).   It was here he learned about fine Bordeaux wines from a professor and became forever interested in Cabernet Sauvignon.  He moved to California to enroll in the enology doctorate program at U.C. Davis.   Gary's first wine venture was co-founding Estrella River Winery (now Meridian) in Paso Robles.  After several successful years, Eberle refocused his attention, fulfilling his desire to produce premium, small production wines.  Near Paso Robles, he began his own Eberle label, which debuted in 1982 and features a wild boar--the German name "Eberle" translates to "small boar."   At Eberle Winery, the bronze Porcelino (wild boar) statue along with Gary's two handsome poodles--Cabernet and Syrah--greet guests.        The history of Eberle Winery dates back to 1979, when Gary produced his first bottle of Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now he is celebrating making ultra-premium wines exclusively from the Paso Robles Appellation.   Gary planted Syrah early in his career, but during his nearly 30 years of winemaking, his preference has expanded to include Cabernet Sauvignon.  There have been many accolades and awards along the way and his influence on Paso Robles has been immense.   As one of the Central Coast's winemaking and grape growing pioneers, Gary Eberle is intimately familiar with the meso-climates of the Paso Robles appellation and knows what it takes to make premium wine, with or without the blessings of Mother Nature.   He believes that a great vineyard is the optimal scientific pairing of a particular grape variety to a particular soil and climate.  In Paso Robles, Eberle continues to develop excellence in both the vineyards and the wine cellar.  The 40-acre Estate vineyard surrounding the winery is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Canelli and Chardonnay. The gently rolling hillside is composed of well-drained, granite-based gravely loam soil that receives relatively little rainfall. The soil-climate combination curbs vigorous vine growth and enhances even ripening.  A few miles from the winery are the rocky loam soils of the Steinbeck Vineyard--nearly identical to those found at the Estate.   An old riverbed that winds through the vineyard clearly showing the type and depth of soils.   In 1992, part of the vineyard was planted to Syrah, Zinfandel and Barbera.  Since that time, the wines produced from this vineyard have consistently proven to be multi-layered and elegant.    The Rhone wine varietal interest began when Gary was a doctoral student and befriended Australian winemaker Brian Crozer.   Syrah has made Gary a pioneer and leader of California Rhone wine and he was the first U.S. winemaker to produce a 100% Syrah.  For the third year in a row, Eberle ranks among the top 15 award-winning wineries in California according to California Wine Winners 2004.  Additionally, Eberle Viognier is the highest award-winning Viognier in the state for the second year in a row, and Eberle Winery as a whole ranks 11th when compared to all other competing wineries.  For dinners, winery visits or a cruise, contact (805) 238-9607, www.eberlewinery.com.     I love good quotes and Gary has several of them.  Some, for your pleasure, are among the following ones.

Gary Eberle Quotes:

On his beginnings: "When I came to California, I had about $800 dollars and a six-year old Pontiac and I started the winery on a shoestring budget. I don’t thing there’s any possible way I could do that today, with the resources I had."

On Syrah:"I would say probably 80 percent of all Syrah grown in the United States came from cuttings off my original vineyards that I planted in the 1970’s."

On Club Eb and his love to entertain: "We’ve got a hot tub out on the lake, a gazebo…the lake itself is crystal clear water…the beach…I enjoy entertaining. I love people."

On Wine and Children: "The difference between wine and children is that you can sit down and reason with a bottle of Cabernet."

On Cabernet: "My goal is to make the best possible Cabernet I can."

On Retiring: "Why would I ever retire? To me, this is not work. I’m having the time of my life."





                                                                                                               

 

NEWS

HOGUE CELLARS ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF SCREW CAP CLOSURE STUDY: Screw Caps Proven to Retain Freshness and Fruit Character and Allow More Consistent Aging when Compared to Natural and Synthetic Corks--The Hogue Cellars announced the results of a four-year study that examined the effect of five different closures on its wines.  Screw cap closures were proven to hold fruit and maintain freshness more effectively than natural and synthetic corks.  Jordan Ferrier, Hogue's research enologist, presented the extensive study at the 55th annual American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) Conference in San Diego.  Hogue is the first winery to scientifically analyze the effects of various bottle closures and share its results with the industry.   Hogue will bottle its entire line of 2004 Fruit Forward wines*representing 70 percent of total production*in Stelvin screw caps with Saranex liners, available in January 2005.  "After scientifically researching the effects of two kinds of screw caps, two brands of synthetic corks, and the traditional natural cork, we've concluded that Stelvin screw caps best preserve the quality of bottled wine," says David Forsyth, Hogue's director of winemaking.  "For us, it's all about delivering high-quality wines, and screw caps more effectively preserve the purity of the fruit and winemaking flavors with which the wines are meant to be enjoyed."
A panel of Hogue winemakers and trade professionals tasted and analyzed a 1999 Hogue Genesis Merlot and a 2000 Hogue Fruit Forward Chardonnay at six-month intervals for 30 months.(i)  Each wine was closed with natural cork, synthetic Neocork, synthetic Supreme Corq, Stelvin screw cap with Etain liner, and Stelvin screw cap with Saranex liner.  At the conclusion of the study in December 2003, the following results were found:
* The wines closed in natural corks showed low to medium levels of cork taint, while the synthetic and screw cap wines showed none.
* Over time, synthetic closures showed oxidation characteristics, leading to lower levels of fruit aromas and taste, and browning in Merlot and Chardonnay.
* Screw cap closures maintained fruit, and the wines were considered less developed and relatively fresh for both red and white wines.
* At both 24 and 30 months, screw caps were preferred over synthetics, which were preferred over the natural cork.
* Screw caps and natural cork held SO2 better than the synthetic closures.

TEXAS FESTIVAL: KIEPERSOL ESTATES in Tyler, Texas, has announced its HARVEST FESTIVAL 2004 at the KIEPERSOL WINERY and KIEPERSOL BED and BREAKFAST RESTAURANT and LODGE on July 31, 2004. Bring the whole family for grape stomping, live music, games, carriage rides, and various activities from 8:00am to 6:00pm. For adults, there is a Vintner's dinner on Thursday, July 29 and Friday, July 30 at 7:30pm. Contact: (903) 894-8995 (winery) (903) 894-3300 (restaurant and lodge) www.kiepersol.com  There are probably many other harvest festivals around the state so check winery listings for information: www.GOTEXAN.org, then click on Texas Wine Marketing.

TEXAS FESTIVAL: FALL CREEK VINEYARDS Celebrates 15th Annual GRAPE STOMP & HARVEST FESTIVAL: Kick off your shoes and stomp grapes at Fall Creek Vineyards on Saturday, August 21 and Saturday, August 28, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days. There are winery tours, tastings and live music--all complimentary.      Lively cooking demonstrations/tasting lunches with Chef David Garrido, Jeffrey’s Austin, and Chef Steve Howard, Fredericksburg, along with Chef Marc Dunham from the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin will entertain guests while demonstrating cooking techniques.  Cost is $19.95 per person, wine and gratuity included.  Seating at 11:30 and 1:30 is limited and reservations are required.  Please call 325-379-5361 for reservations and information.  Delectable casual picnic food prepared by the Texas Culinary Academy will be available for purchase both Saturdays on Fall Creek Vineyards’ courtyard.  Additionally, the Texas Culinary Academy will be offering a short course on food and wine pairing at 3:30 on both Saturdays for a nominal charge of $10.00.  Proceeds from the Academy’s demo lunch, courtyard food sales and the food and wine tasting class at the Grape Stomp will go towards a “Fall Creek Winery” scholarship.  The Scholarship will be granted to a student based on an essay written for a “cook-off” competition.  Erin Wofford at the Texas Culinary Academy can be contacted for competition information. The Vanishing Texas River Cruise will be offering boat rides on beautiful Lake Buchanan from our shoreline both Saturdays (lake levels and weather permitting).  Tickets for the boat ride are $5.00.  The Texas Culinary Academy will be demonstrating the unique art of ice carving and conducting informative food and wine pairing classes.  A Castle Bounce, Face Painting and lots of family fun will be available.      Groups of 20 or more are encouraged to contact the Vineyard for information on group tours and special offers.  Free parking is available adjacent to the Vineyards.  For more information and directions, please check our website at www.fcv.com or call 325-379-5361. Fall Creek Vineyards is located on the northwest shore of Lake Buchanan in Llano County.  Visitors are invited to tour the state-of-the-art winery and taste the award-winning wines daily.  Picnickers are welcomed.  Tours and tasting are complementary.  Hours of operation are Monday-Friday 11-4, Saturday 11-5 and Sunday 12-4.  Visit our website at www.fcv.com  or call 325-379-5361 for additional information on Fall Creek Vineyards.

BERINGER VINEYARD is celebrating the 70th season of summer tours.  The oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley was the first to open its cellar for public tours.  From May to October 2004,  guests at Beringer Vineyards can participate in a variety of different seminars and tours offered daily at the winery.  For information and reservations: (707) 963-8989 ext. 2222.    BERINGER VINEYARD has introduced a bilingual label for America's top-selling wine--BERINGER WHITE ZINFANDEL

EIGHTH ANNUAL KENDALL-JACKSON HEIRLOOM TOMATO FESTIVAL, September 11, 2004 at the KENDALL-JACKSON Wine Center in Fulton, CA from 11:00am to 4:00pm.  Call (800) 769-3649, www.kj.com

GEYSER PEAK WINERY has reclaimed its Alexander Valley roots.  Recently named "Best US Wine Producer" at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, GEYSER PEAK (GP)  announced a major initiative to reclaim its central position in the Alexander Valley.  The cornerstones of this effort: an Alexander Valley  appellation on all GP red wines; new packaging for the full GP portfolio, and intense focus of resources on Alexander Valley's preeminent varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon

CALIFORNIA WINE INSTITUTE reported that U.S.  wine exports are up 17 percent in revenues in 2003--volume jumped 29 percent.  Other news is that James H. Niven has been elected Wine Institute President.    Niven is president of Paragon Vineyard Co. Inc., headquartered in San Luis Obispo.  The Wine Institute Board of Directors and their alternates also elected other officers.  CALIFORNIA WINE INSTITUTE reported that California wine has $45.4 billion economic impact on the state and the report indicates nearly 40% growth in four years.  It is the number one finished agricultural product in the state, according to an 81-page report released by the Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers.  The industry creates more than 200,000 jobs, billions in economic activity and preserves agricultural land and the family farm.  Please see www.wineinstitute.org for more information. 


THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY WINE & FOOD FOUNDATION hosted "COWBOYS & GAUCHOS" a wine and food tasting at the Four Seasons featuring wine from Texas, Argentina and the Paul Hobbs Winery and food from several restaurant.   Winemaker Paul Hobbs was the featured guest at a luncheon hosted by Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill.   Paul Hobbs began his career as a winemaker in 1978 at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley.  Over the next 25 years he honed his skills at Mondavi, Sonoma County's Simi Winery, and as a winemaking consultant in Chile and Argentina.  During this time Paul often traveled to the winegrowing regions of Europe accumulating additional techniques.  Paul, along with a handful of partners, started Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991.  In December 2000, Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine named Paul “Winemaker of the Year”. The award recognized the excellent results of his Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines released in 2000.     The Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Foundation is one of the premiere Foundations of its kind in the Southwest.  Created in 1997, the Foundation provides educational grants, scholarships and fellowships to outstanding individuals and organizations in the areas of wine and food.    Proceeds from the tasting benefit the Foundation’s Texas Summer Wine Symposium – A Summer School for Texas Vintners and Growers.    Texas Wineries included: Alamosa Winery, Driftwood Vineyards, Fall Creek Vineyards, Flat Creek Estate, Llano Estacado Winery, Lost Creek Winery,  Pleasant Hill Winery, Spicewood Vineyards, Texas Hills Winery.     Argentina Wineries included: Achaval Ferrer,  Alamos Ridge, Bramare Malbec, Don Rodolfo, Nativo, Navarro Correas, Norton Peregrine Hill,  Pascual Toso, Santa Julia,  Terrazas.      Restaurants & Caterers: Amuse Bouche Catering, 7 Restaurant, Café Caprice, Café Josie, Chez Zee, Four Seasons Catering (Chef Elmar Prambs),  Monica’s 701,  Ranch 616,  Tuscany Vineyard & Market,  VIVO,   Zin Bistro.      Wine  producers and restaurateurs are extraordinarily generous in donating products time and again to one non-profit function after another.  Thank you for your delicious products and your generosity.

MESSINA HOF co-owner Merrill Bonarrigo reports this latest news about Texas wines: "The wine industry in Texas has suddenly changed allowing Texas wineries to do in store tasting in grocery stores.  Sales data for Texas is truly exciting now as well. "52 weeks ending March 2004 showed that Texas wine sales (excluding St. Genevieve) exceeded Italian, German, Spanish, and Chilean wine sales in 750 ml. bottles."    Texas wine era is now!  Each new day is a new open door." 

PASO ROBLES WINE COUNTRY will host a new event in September.  PASO ROBLES VINTNERS AND GROWERS ASSOCIATION and area industry leaders will inaugurate the Paso Robles Wine University (PRWU)  at selected wineries and vineyards in Paso Robles.  Tuition is $250 per person.  PRWU will encompass every aspect of wine production.  Contact: (805) 239-8463, www.pasowine.com

WASHINGTON WINE COMMISSION and WASHINGTON WINE INSTITUTE announced new Executive Director Jane Baxter Lynn: The  organization’s new executive director, Jane Baxter Lynn, is a corporate communications professional.  She begins her tenure with the Washington wine industry in August and will lead industry-wide programs focused on the Washington wine category and industry related legislative initiatives.  Baxter Lynn's brings broad international work experiences in tourism, wine and franchising fields, raising awareness for consumer brands, brand building, strategic counsel, crisis communications and membership relations.   Contact: Stacie Jacob (206) 667-9463 ext. 217;  sjacob@washingtonwine.org

BERINGER VINEYARDS offers "INTRODUCCIÓN de BERINGER" Tour, Napa's first winery to have pubic tours in Spanish.  Contact (707) 963-8989 ext. 2222; WWW.BERINGER.COM

GRAYSON COUNTY COLLEGE Viticulture & Enology Courses, Fall 2004 Class Schedule now available: Dr. Roy Renfro, (903) 463-8717, renfro@grayson.edu

CORKAGE CADDY is a new product for carrying wine.  It is a convenient way to make a bottle portable: adjustable shoulder strap, folds into a small disk for storage, holds one 750 ml bottle.  Contact: Tim Harrington, 866/WINE2GO, tim@corkagecaddy.com




 



 

NEW RELEASES (quotes are winemakers' comments)

GALLO Family of Wines has released several wines from several of its properties: GALLO of SONOMA, FREI BROTHERS, MIRASSOU and MASO CANALI.  GALLO of SONOMA expresses wines crafted by the winegrowers and winemakers who make careful decisions from vine to wine.  They are created in Sonoma County, where climate, land and weather configure to please the grapes.  It culminates with barrel-by-barrel tasting during fermentation and aging to ensure that the potential tasted on the vine is in the bottle.

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EBERLE WINERY, celebrating its 25th year of fine winemaking, has a number of fine wines.  Gary pioneered growing and bottling 100% syrah in Paso Robles among his other wine contributions.  You'll enjoy all Eberle wines.  We do at my table.

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ANNIE's LANE 2003 Riesling $14: "Fruit for this wine was sources from premier vineyards in the Clare Valley in South Australia, including the famous Carlsfield and Sevenhill vineyards.  Carlsfield was planted in 1935 and produces fruit with ripe citrus characters.  Sevenhill was planted in 1978 and produces fruit with finesse and a steely character.  Enjoy as an aperitif or with freshly-shucked oysters."

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CHALONE VINEYARD, a pioneer in the California wine industry, Chalone began in 1919 in an area so distinctive it was granted its own American Viticulture Area (AVA) designation--called appellation in France.   The label depicts the extinct volcanoes of the Pinnacles National Monument that border the vineyard.  Winemaker Dan Karlsen says, "The 2002 growing season proved virtually ideal for grape quality."

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BERNARDUS 2002 Chardonnay, Monterey $20: "This wine characterize the classical expression of the Monterey vineyards, whose grapes have been combined with components from other cool coastal vineyards to create a complex nose of honey, melon, and hazelnut.  After primary fermentation, the lees were stirred every other week throughout the aging process in the barrel for 10 months.  Stirring plus malolactic create a creamy texture--mouthfeel at BERNARDUS is the most important expression of our wine."

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KENWOOD 2000 Reserve Merlot, Massara Vineayrd, Sonoma $25: "This wine has  extraordinarily rich character and silky texture.  It  grows on the 12-acre Massara Vineyard, which bears a striking resemblance to Merlot's ancestral home - the Pomerol region along Bordeaux's famed 'Right Bank.'   It has aromas of black currant, blackberry and tobacco. Sweet Bing cherry and black currant fruit dominate the generous flavors, with a dash of eucalyptus in the background for complexity. Exceptional depth and richness on the palate combines with smooth texture and fine balance for superb drinking, both now and in the future.

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GREG NORMAN 2001 Limestone Coast Shiraz Cabernet, Australia $16: "This blend has become an Australian classic.  The Shiraz 80 percent contributes spice, ripe plum and blackberry aromas and flavors with rich mulberry and fine velvety tannins from the Cabernet 20 percent fruit.  Attractive cedar and vanilla characters are derived from oak maturation and contribute complexity and great length of flavor."

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CHATEAU SOUVERAIN 2000 Winemaker's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley $35: "This wine features rich aromatics of black stone fruit, a trademark of Alexander Valley Cabs.  As ripe flavors of black plum and black cherry meet the palate, they're combined with complex undertones of bittersweet chocolate, spices and cedar from the 100% new oak.  The complex layers of fruit and spice mingle with hints of vanilla bean, as rich, round tannins promote lingering layers of smoky espresso through a long finish."

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Franciscan Oakville Estates either owns and/or is the marketing/sales/distribution company for all brands listed below.  Franciscan, with its roots in Napa Valley's Oakville District, celebrates its 30th year of quality wines.  At Franciscan Oakville Estate each wine expresses its  soil. Being a vineyard-based company is the essence of the philosophy; that is, great wines are a reflection of their terroir--the combination of soil, topography, microclimate and people that makes each site unique.  Wines are the stylistic expression of vineyards. "Wine is a statement of place" is the passionately held belief of Vintner Chairman Agustin Huneeus. "We base our future on the fact that wines should be -- and will be -- known for the properties from which they originate rather than their varietal composition.  It's more the place than the variety that determines a wine's character."   Each brand in the Franciscan portfolio represents its sense of place.

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The CASTELLO di GABBIANO Alleanza (meaning Alliance) is a Super Tuscan wine made in a joint winemaking partnership by Ed Sbragia, Winemaster for California's Beringer Vineyards, and Giancarlo Roman, Winemaker for Tuscany's Castello di Gabbiano. "Super Tuscan" is the term used to describe wines that that push the limits, defying Italian regulations, yet producing superb luxury products.   Perhaps no region of the world personifies the warmth and graciousness of good food and great wine more completely than Tuscany.   Its sunny slopes, medieval towns, and rich cultural history provide an irresistible setting for such inviting cuisine and wines.    Throughout its colorful history, Tuscany has been a land of important artists and scientists, talented and forward-thinking merchants, and powerful politicians.   Its castles, culture, and natural wonders make it a unique and memorable destination for millions of tourists every year.     Tuscany's museums, sights, and edible delights are unsurpassed.   A special mystique and light envelops this region of Italy, distinct from anywhere else in Europe.    Castello di Gabbiano has been a part of the Tuscan countryside for nearly a millenium. The castle has been the home and refuge of distinguished Florentine families and its past role in Tuscan life and intrigue could easily fill many pages of a history book. Indeed, Castello di Gabbiano is a Tuscan tradition.   The Castello di Gabbiano Bellezza Super Tuscan wine is winemaker, Giancarlo Roman's ultimate expression of the Sangiovese grape as it relates to the Castello di Gabbiano estate. "Super Tuscan" is the term used to describe wines that that push the limits, defying Italian regulations, yet producing superb luxury products.   Giancarlo, a traditional Chianti winemaker, had over 30 years of experience making classic Tuscan wines, which proved to be an advantage when it came to using Sangiovese, Tuscany's ubiquitous red grape. Bellezza is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes grown on a single estate vineyard. Located on a steep hillside with rocky soils and excellent sun exposure, the Bellezza vineyard is perfectly suited to the Sangiovese grape, thought to be the most beautifully producing grape in Tuscany, hence the name Bellezza.  The wine is aged for 24 months: 20 % in 500-gallon botti (Slovenian oak barrels) and 80 % in small barriques (French oak barrels). This limited production wine is further refined in the bottle for six months.

 

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VALLEY of the MOON 2001 Sangiovese, $15, marks the winery's the sixth vintage of this classic Italian grape variety and the experience shows.  Over the years, vineyard sources have expanded--from Sonoma County's warmest appellations (Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma) because here as in Italy, very warm (but not hot) days and cool nights enable this slow-ripening grape to mature fully.  Winemaking techniques have refined to achieve deep fruit and fine balance.  There's generous aromas of ripe blackberry and blueberry are accented by fresh mint, cloves and vanilla.  Blackberry also dominates the mouth filling flavors, along with hints of black pepper, cedar and smoke.  Richly fruited, yet firm and structured, this wine already pairs well with hearty foods, but will reveal additional grace in time.   Character derives from the vintage--unseasonably cool weather just as the grapes completed development.   As a result, Syrah berries were smaller than normal, however, the remaining growing season experienced near-perfect weather and this combination produced very concentrated fruit character.--boysenberry and Queen Anne cherry aromas, subtle vanilla and anise  notes, intense, mouth filling flavors of boysenberry and cedar dominate the palate with spice nuances in the background. Compact tannins add to the wine's big impression. 

VALLEY OF THE MOON 2001 Syrah, $15 is simply delicious.  I love this grape varietal and so enjoy discovering new expressions of it.  This was a superb vintage and the three Valley of the Moon Syrah vineyards were harvested at peak maturity.  The wine is distinguished by rich, ripe fruit and finely wrought structure--a powerhouse Syrah with charm and appeal.  It brims with boysenberry and cherry aromas and flavors accented by vanilla and spices with chewy approachable tannins.  I'd like another bottle, please, will probably be your response!

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SANTA BARBARA WINERY has introduced a new ROSE--the 2003 Rose of Syrah, $14.  It's a vibrant "wild child" of a wine perfectly suited to summer or any season when you want a refreshing beverage.   Winemaker Bruce McGuire suggests we can agree that one of life's simple pleasures is chilled rose with a lunch of several deli meats, cheese, olives and good bread.  SANTA BARBARA WINERY 2003 Rose of Syrah is the answer, showing perfumed fruit and firm acidity in a lovely rose color.

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CAIN FIVE NV1, Napa Valley $24 is called by Winemaker Christopher Howell "the serious art of having fun."  He continues: "Cuvée means blend and is a new style of Cabernet blend for CAIN.  It is not all about Big Oak and Inky, Drying Tannins.  In our CAIN CUVEE NV1 we look for bright aromas to combine with a mouthwateringly fresh palate and a silky finish--just the thing to complement today's lighter and spicier dishes.  CUVEE NV1 is a blend of three varieties (62%Cabernet Sauvignon/19% Merlot019% Cabernet Sauvignon) and two vintages--76% from 2001 and 24% from 2000.   2001 gave us wines of distinct varietal character, great intensity, ripeness, color and body.  The "lots" of 2000 selected gave us wines with distinct perfumy aromas and a delicate spiciness--round and smooth but not heavy.  The combination yields precisely what we strive for in Cuvee--a medium-bodied wine, complex and very interesting with great flexibility and drink ability.                           

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STAG'S LEAP WINE CELLARS MERLOT: "Our Napa Valley Merlot has traditionally included a high proportion of estate fruit, but this year two of our estate properties account for close to 65 percent of the blend. That includes almost 25 percent from our ARCADIA VINEYARD, located just east of the town of Napa. This is our fifth vintage from the property, which we acquired in 1996, and the high quality of Merlot it produces points to the success of our replanting efforts and ongoing viticultural experimentation. A little over 40 percent comes from our newest estate vineyard, located on Big Ranch Road on the floor of the Napa Valley, a few miles south of our winery. The expressive fruit from these two estate vineyards was combined with small amounts of Merlot from Oakville, which provided additional structure, and from two vineyards in the cooler Carneros District, whose grapes add to the wine's rich berry notes. In contrast to the 2000 vintage, the 2001 Napa Valley Merlot is 100 percent Merlot and was aged in a higher proportion of previously used French oak, which enhanced the wine's graceful balance of fruit and spice.    

STAG'S LEAP WINE CELLARS ARCADIA CHARDONNAY: "When we acquired the ARCADIA VINEYARD in 1996, we began an ambitious program of replanting. But Block 1, 13 acres of Chardonnay planted in the mid-to-late 1970s, produced fruit of such radiant quality that it was spared. But this older block, planted on AXR-1 rootstock, currently yields very little-well under two tons per acre. We are using sustainable agricultural practices, such as organic mulching and cover cropping, to prolong the life of Block 1 as long as possible, but we have also used clonal material from Block 1 in newly planted Block 2, to create a new source for the flinty, citrus-spiked, aromatic version of Chardonnay for which ARCADIA VINEYARD has become famous-a Chablis-style Chardonnay with a California twist. The 2002 vintage comes mostly from Block 1, but this year 18 percent of the fruit came from the young vines in Block 2. Quantities remain limited, however, so this continues to be an "insider's" wine, sold mainly to winery visitors and a handful of select accounts."

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DUTTON GOLDFIELD 2002 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $35: "Dutton Ranch farms over 60 separate vineyards in the coolest areas of the Russian River Valley, primarily in the Green Valley sub-appellation.  For this Pinot Noir we blended three Dutton Ranch vineyards that showcase the region.  Green Valley Vineyard (cold floor of valley)  contributes bright high-tone raspberry and good acid backbone.  Galante Vineyard (thin-soiled, east-facing slope) gives creamy blackberry character and depth of tannins.  Freestone Hill finishes the blend with spice and cranberry contributions.  The destemmed fruit is placed in open-top fermenters and the must is cold soaked for five days, then hand punched down four times a day with each block separately fermented.  Individual lots are pressed and then racked into French oak barrels to age.  Our 2002 explodes with creamy blackberry elements intermingled raspberry, blueberry, floral and notes of vanilla and spice.  It shows supple tannins, moderate alcohol and a sweet berry finish.  A versatile, food-friendly wine, enjoy with sautéed veal, mushrooms ragout, grilled fish, Cajun barbecued shrimp and hard aged cheeses."

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STONE CELLARS BY BERINGER: Inspired by the wine cellars where our 125 years of winemaking began, Stone Cellars by Beringer offers full-flavored, handcrafted wines made to complement life. Stone Cellars by Beringer offers six award-winning varietals: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Shiraz-Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc. The approachable, fruit-forward wines have a touch of oak for balance and complexity.   Stone Cellars 2003 Pinot Grigio, California $7--pear and orange blossom, tropical flavors, smooth mouthfeel and body

BERINGER 2003 Pinot Grigio, California $7--crisp mineral hints  with stone fruit and citrus undertones, white and lime flavors

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WHITEHALL LANE  Winery is "a small, family owned winery in Napa Valley's historic Rutherford appellation.  We own approximately 110 acres of prime Valley-floor vineyards including the Leonardini Vineyard in St. Helena and are committed to making the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Reserve wine.  The winery continues to receive accolades and awards for producing some of the greatest wines in the world.  In Wine Spectator Magazine's year-end ranking of wines, Whitehall Lane has been honored an unprecedented three times in five years for producing wines rated among the top five in the world. The winery has also been voted Winery of the Year from the Quarterly Review of Wines and Wine and Spirits Magazine.
Whitehall Lane was founded in 1979,  but the soil history dates to the mid 1800's.   Napa Valley settlers were drawn to the deep, loamy soils and ideal climate to plant grape vines at the winery site on Whitehall Lane.  A 1900s-circa barn still stores equipment today.  In 1979, two brothers directed their winemaking efforts successfully to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 1993, the Leonardini Family of San Francisco took control of the Whitehall Lane estate. They updated the winemaking, instituted a new barrel-aging program and continued sourcing the finest vineyards.  They own five prime vineyards that are the cornerstone of the wines: Whitehall Lane Estate Vineyard, Rutherford West Vineyard and Bommarito Vineyard in the Rutherford Appellation, the Leonardini Vineyard in St. Helena and the Oak Glen Vineyard in Napa. The Estate Vineyard (25 acres) grows  beautiful Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  The Rutherford West Vineyard grows outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon fruit while the Bommarito Vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  The Leonardini Vineyard (14 acres)  gravely soil yields powerful Cabernet Sauvignon fruit and elegant yet intense Merlot grapes that go into the "Leonardini Vineyard" vineyard-designated wine. The 25-acre Oak Glen Vineyard produces flavorful Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  In our short history, Whitehall Lane has developed into a world-class winery.  Leonardini Family efforts are evident in the recent run of accolades but are even more apparent in our beautifully made, elegant wines."

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MAISON MARQUES & DOMAINES USA Inc. is the importer for several wineries and  has released some new wines from South Africa and France.

The FLEUR du CAP country estate is situated along the banks of the Lourens River, outside Somerset West.  The wines are sourced with grapes from the nearby Stellenbosch and Coastal Regions.  South Africa's Cape is an amalgamation of many different cultures and cuisines.  FLEUR du CAP complements the foods.

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MUMM NAPA Brut Prestige $18: "Winemaker Ludovic Dervin says if he could pick one wine to represent Napa Valley, this is it.  The region's unique microclimates and soils were why Napa was selected as the site for a premier American sparkling wine.  "The naturally ripened fruit is incomparable  and selected from more than 50 separate vineyards.  The wine has floral notes with layers of creaminess, richness, touches of vanilla and melon, firm acid, crisp structure, medium body, excellent mousse and lovely with grilled poultry, shellfish and brioche with Portobello mushrooms."

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LINDEMANS states that in its 150-year history, the company has more than lived up to the spirit and quote of founder Dr. Henry John Lindemans: "The one purpose of wine is the bring happiness to man."  Winemaker Greg Clayfield,  born and bred in Coonawara, couldn't agree more.  He grew up on the famous red soil on the northern end of the terra rossa strip where his family has owned a farm since the early 1900s.  "From a winemaking perspective a great wine is predetermined by the quality of the fruit," Greg says, "and we are fortunate enough in the Coonawarra district to be frequently provided with outstanding fruit."

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GREG NORMAN recognized early on the merits of Yarra Valley.  It's Australia's state of Victoria's oldest vineyard area, and distinctive for its chardonnay.   The wines have excellent acid-fruit balance that show typical cool climate aromatics and flavors.  Golfer Greg Norman released his first Chardonnay form Yarra in 1998, and with this fifth vintage he remains happy with the products.  GREG NORMAN 2002 Victoria Chardonnay is a soft wheat yellow with aromas of nectarine, peach, melon and a hint of citrus and a palate that has deep creamy mouthfeel and elegant finish.  Enjoy with grilled fish or poultry."

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KULETO ESTATE Family Vineyards owner and culinary entrepreneur PAT KULETO over the last 25 years has achieved world-wide renown for designing over 150 restaurants including San Francisco’s Fog City Diner, Kuleto’s and Postrio, Atlanta’s Buckhead Diner and Chop’s, and Chicago’s Papagus.   Now he has turned his discerning eye to wines.   The grounds around Pat and Shannon Kuleto's St. Helena home are planted with vineyards.  They're in the process of completing a 30,000 case winery, Kuleto Estate Winery.  The winery hosted its first crush in 2001 and now enables him to produce limited quantities of exceptional wines, especially Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Chardonnay.  Bottling his wines under the labels Kuleto Villa and Kuleto Estate Family Vineyards, Kuleto releases will include Zinfandel and Syrah. 
    It was not Kuleto’s intent to become a culinary entrepreneur.  A licensed general contractor at age 25, his career in the restaurant industry began with his
designing and building over 20 Refectory Steakhouses in the 1970’s.  He gained international attention in 1985 with the creation of San Francisco’s Fog City Diner and has gone on to change the culinary landscape by setting a new standard for utilizing design to enhance the dining experience.    When Pat and Shannon Kuleto decided in 1997 to build a winery for their vineyard estate, the challenge for designer Pat was to balance aesthetics and function.  After months of design work, real progress began in June 2000 and the winery was used for the 2001first crush.   The coveted phrase "ESTATE GROWN AND BOTTLED" was then placed on all Kuleto wines.   The winery's design integrates the best traditional and innovative techniques for the most efficient and gentle handling of fruit and juice at every stage of processing.  Most notably, the design calls for gravity flow, a traditional and highly respected "anti-technology" that allows the gentlest possible transference of wines.   Walking paths link the winery, vineyards, gardens, Villa Cucina, and picnic areas.  The landscaping, like the vineyards, is based on sustainable agriculture with twin goals of  water conservation and food production (olive, citrus and fruit orchards, herbs, kitchen vegetable garden, etc).

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BRONCO WINE COMPANY has more irresistibly priced wines for your pleasure.  This list includes two wines from Russian Rive and Dry Creek Valley.

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MAISON MARQUES & DOMAINES USA Inc. is the importer for several wineries and  has released some new wines from South Africa and France.

The FLEUR du CAP country estate is situated along the banks of the Lourens River, outside Somerset West.  The wines are sourced with grapes from the nearby Stellenbosch and Coastal Regions.  South Africa's Cape is an amalgamation of many different cultures and cuisines.  FLEUR du CAP complements the foods.

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MUMM NAPA Brut Prestige $18: "Winemaker Ludovic Dervin says if he could pick one wine to represent Napa Valley, this is it.  The region's unique microclimates and soils were why Napa was selected as the site for a premier American sparkling wine.  "The naturally ripened fruit is incomparable  and selected from more than 50 separate vineyards.  The wine has floral notes with layers of creaminess, richness, touches of vanilla and melon, firm acid, crisp structure, medium body, excellent mousse and lovely with grilled poultry, shellfish and brioche with Portobello mushrooms."

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BONNY DOON's Randall Grahm--Special Profile: Zeus was kind to grant mankind stimulating entertainment in the form of Randall Grahm.  I had the pleasure of being his dinner partner one evening, and watching his mind crank adroitly through pixyish expressions smiling behind his knowing gaze.  He is truly unique, as are his wines.  "Like Columbus, who sought a trade route to Asia, Randall Grahm set sail in 1979 for the Great American Pinot Noir, foundered on the shoals of astringency and finesselessness and ended up running aground in the utterly unexpected New World of Rhône and Italian varieties," his biographical material tells us.  There's more.  "Randall (born 1953, Los Angeles) and attended Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp, excuse me, the University of California at Santa Cruz where he was a permanent Liberal Arts major.  Later he found himself working at the Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills sweeping floors.  Through exceptional fortune he was able to taste a goodly number of great French wines, thus turning into a complete and insufferable wine fanatic.  He returned to the U. C. Davis for a degree in viticulture (1979), where owing to his single-minded obsession with pinot noir he was regarded as a bit of a holy terror.  With family assistance, Randall purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in a hypnologically quaint area known as Bonny Doon to produce the Great American Pinot Noir.  The GAPN proved to be systematically elusive but experimental batches of Rhône varieties were greatly encouraging.  The late great Bonny Doon Estate Vineyard (1981 - 1994) was planted to syrah, roussanne, marsanne and viognier and produced achingly beautiful wines confirming that the temperate climate suits the sun-loving Mediterranean grapes.  In 1986 Bonny Doon Vineyard released the inaugural vintage of Le Cigare Volant, a Cryptoneuf-du-Pape inspired by southern Rhône.  As symptoms of his chronic weinderlust began manifesting more forcefully in the late 1980's, Mr. Grahm felt compelled to cast his net further afield.  Bonny Doon's Ca' del Solo vineyard in Monterey County, planted just out of searchlight's reach of the state pen in Soledad, has been planted to an ever expanding roster of Italianate varieties such as nebbiolo, barbera, pinot grigio, dolcetto and freisa.  An incorrigible omniferm, Mr. Grahm has since decided that the world is his vineyard and throughout the year you might espy him at one of his many projects in France, southern Italy, or Germany where he has been known to indulge in the occasional riesling jag.  Recent unconfirmed reports placed him at the visa office of the Uruguayan Consulate in San Francisco muttering something about tannat.  In 1989, Randall was inducted into the Who's Who of Cooking in America by Cook's Magazine for "lifetime achievement and leadership in the improvement and development of American cuisine." He was nominated for Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation in 1990 and 1993, and finally walked off with the award in 1994.  In 1992, Ted Bowell of the Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona named the "Rhoneranger" asteroid in his honor.  Randall unaccountably landed the Bon Appétit Magazine 1999 Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year award though that distinction is still subject to a recount in New York State.  Randall lectures frequently to wine societies and to technical groups and occasionally contributes quixotically sincere articles to wine journals.  His idiosyncratic newsletters are frequently copied though never copied.  Randall Grahm is a vitizen of the world, a champion of the strange and the heterodox, of the ugly duckling grape varietals whose very existence is threatened by the dominant Cabo- and Chardocentric paradigms.  He lives in Santa Cruz with his thesaurus."  If you can't know the man--know his wines.

KORBEL: With over two million weddings taking place each year, Korbel Champagne Cellars and Peter Post help suitors prepare a perfect proposal by weighing in on today's most discussed etiquette issues.  According to etiquette expert Peter Post, author of "Essential Manners for Men," (HarperResource) "Marriage proposals are a declaration of love, and it's important that men consider manners when it comes to this important moment." He explains, "Although traditions are changing, there still remain important etiquette guidelines to keep in mind when popping the question."

Marriage Proposal Traditions: Etiquette Answers

Issue 5 - Value of the Ring?

Issue 4 - Meet the Parents?  Let them know you're ready for the lifetime commitment

Issue 3 - Need the Knee? Strike the pose if you can stay on your toes

Issue 2 - Romance Rules? Sincere romance is the way to her heart

Issue 1 - The "Will You" Words? Say the words she wants to hear

AMERICANS' ATTITUDES WHEN IT COMES TO "RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, From Korbel Study conducted by Harris Interactive

Romance Reigns: Eight out of ten adult Americans (82 percent) agree it's more important to have a romantic proposal than an elaborate one, and almost nine out of ten men (86 percent) agree

Talking Tradition: More men than women agree it's important to follow tradition when proposing marriage (51 percent vs. 39 percent)

Surprise, Surprise: Sixty-five percent of Americans agree the element of surprise is important when proposing marriage

"Marry Me?" Moments: Sixty-eight percent of Americans agree there is no right way to propose marriage

Thirty-six percent of Americans have talked to their parents about their proposal story

Two-in-ten Americans (20 percent) have helped a friend or family member plan a marriage proposal

Etiquette Errors: Fifteen percent of Americans have asked someone about the cost of their engagement ring

Twenty-two percent of Americans have asked someone about the carat size of their engagement ring

U.S. NATIONAL PARKS ARE WORLD-CLASS DESTINATIONS: Distinctive Geology, History, Wildlife Make Each National Park Unique--There are nearly 400 national parks, monuments, memorials, battlefields, historic sites, recreation areas, scenic trails and seashores throughout the U.S., and each one earned its designation for a compelling - but different - reason. Those reasons include distinctive geology, significant cultural history, rare or wonderful wildlife or sheer beauty. But without exception, each location is unlike any place in the world, which is why national parks are truly world-class destinations.   Below are some descriptions of selected distinctive features of several national parks in which concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates lodges, restaurants or other concessions:
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK: Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places in the world. The vast park's remarkable geography includes Telescope Peak, rising 11,049 feet above sea level. Only 15 miles away is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere - Badwater Basin salt pan at 282 feet below sea
level. The weather varies as much as the landscape in this 3.3 million acre park. The highest recorded temperature was 134 degrees Fahrenheit in July 1913. That same year, the park's lowest recorded temperature - 15 degrees Fahrenheit - occurred in January. Despite the park's sometimes harsh climate, it is home to more than 970 species of plants.
YELLOWSTONE NATINAL PARK: There's truly no other place on Earth quite like Yellowstone National  Park. With 10,000 thermal features such as geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mudpots, this vast park is home to half of all the earth's geothermal features and 75 percent of the planet's geysers.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK: A World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It represents three of the four periods of geological time, is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world, contains several major ecosystems including three of the four desert types in North America and is home to threatened and endangered plants and animals. Additionally, the park contains more than 2,600 prehistoric ruins. Many of the buildings and structures along the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The park was first protected in 1893 as a forest reserve in which mining, logging and hunting were still permitted.
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK: No other place in the world combines a subtropical climate, a shallow river and an incredibly diverse and rare plant and animal system.   Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. and is home to many rare and endangered species including the
Florida Panther, West Indies Manatee and North American Crocodile. The park has been designated a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance.
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK: This Oregon lake was created more than 7,000 years ago with the eruption and collapse of Mt. Mazama. The incredibly blue lake features some of the clearest water found anywhere in the world and is six miles wide and 1,943 feet deep. It is the deepest lake in the United States and the
seventh deepest in the world.  Created in 1902, Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the country.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK:  People come from around the world to view this park's world-famous "hoodoos," bizarrely shaped spires that protrude from the floor of the 2,000-foot canyon. Hoodoos are formed when ice and rainwater wear away the weakened limestone in the canyon. This park is comprised of three climatic zones - spruce/fir forest, ponderosa pine forest and piñon pine/juniper forest - and is home to more than 100 species of birds.
ZION NATIONAL PARK:  Mormon pioneers in the 1860s gave this park the name "Zion," an ancient Hebrew word that refers to a place of refuge. This breathtaking park offers scenery unlike anything else in the world. Its sandstone cliffs are among the highest in the world, and the park is home to one of the
last free-flowing river systems on the Colorado Plateau. With more than 800 native species, Zion National Park has one of the richest plant systems in Utah. More than 75 species of mammals, 271 bird species, 32 species of reptiles and amphibians and eight fish species live in Zion National Park.
PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK:  This 93,533-acre park is best known for one of the world's largest concentrations of petrified wood. Visitors also come to view the park's petroglyphs and pictographs, some of the Southwest's best-preserved examples of the drawings of the area's ancient inhabitants. Although the meaning of many of these rock carvings and paintings has been lost, scientists now believe that some of the park's sites were used by their
ancient artists as solar calendars to track the yearly movement of the sun across the sky. The petrified trees found in the park are from the Triassic Period 200 to 250 million years ago. Dead trees were carried by rivers and eventually deposited on the flood plain adjacent to the water. While most trees decomposed, a few were buried by volcanic sediment before they could decompose. Ground water dissolved silica from the ash and carried it through the log. This solution replaced the cell walls and crystallized the logs.
MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL: Called America's "Shrine of Democracy," no other structure in the world symbolizes the country's struggle for independence like Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Completed in 1941, the 60-foot sculptures of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were created to memorialize the birth, growth and development of the first 150 years of the United States.
 

 2004 Sarah Jane English

Sarah Jane: sarajane@onr.com

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