By Jerald O'Kennard
Here is our latest selection of wines, some widely available and some that you may not have tasted (or even heard of), to add depth to your wine list. We also offer you our pairing suggestions for some of these food-friendly wines and a description of the specific flavors and textures. You can use the information to match the wines with your cuisine.
This month's picks are grab bag of red and white wines for by the glass and by the bottle lists. These are all highly rated value wines from our recent tastings. The pricing given is the national suggested retail price. Some wines are distributed only in their local region but may be directly available from the winery depending on your state's shipping laws.
White Wine Glass Pour Recommendations
88 * Gordon Brothers (WA) 2004 Katie's Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley. $13
This consistent Washington State producer has released a stylish Sauvignon Blanc with pear and fig flavors and a crisp, flavorful finish. Pair this with pasta carbonara, grilled crab or roast chicken.
88 * Mad Fish (Australia) 2004 Chardonnay, Western Australia. $14.99
Brilliant yellow hue. Spearmint, apple and dried flower aromas. Medium-full with good concentration, this is a nicely structured Chardonnay with good varietal character, nicely integrated oak and lively acidity.
88 * Palmer (NY) 2004 Reserve, Chardonnay, North Fork of Long Island. $14.99 & Best Buy
Brilliant yellow hue. Baked apples, crðme caramel and vanilla aromas. Medium-full, this displays ripe apple and pear fruit and a rich, complex finish with good persistence of fruit, lively acidity and nicely integrated oak. Very nice character for the price.
88 * King Estate (OR) 2004 Pinot Gris, Oregon. $15
Brilliant straw-yellow hue. Apple, cinnamon and pear aromas. Medium-bodied with good concentration, this has delicious varietal fruit and a nicely structured finish with tart acidity and good fruit persistence.
92 * Bonterra (CA) 2005 Viognier, Mendocino County. $17.99
Here is a fresh, ripe, dry white with exotic pineapple, grapefruit and honeysuckle flavors. Pair this with sushi, seafood with citrus sauces or Thai chicken.
White Wine Bottle Recommendations
89 * L'Ecole No. 41 (WA) 2004 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley. $20
Brilliant straw hue. Pear, baked apple and hazelnut aromas. Medium-full with good concentration, this is a ripe and luscious Chardonnay with pear and apple fruit and a rich finish with light oak and balanced acidity.
90 * Fritz (Austria) 2004 Gondwana, Gruner Veltliner, Donauland. $24
Brilliant yellow hue. Golden apple, dried pear and dried yellow flowers. Medium-bodied, this has ripe apple fruit, light spice and a nicely balanced finish with crisp acidity.
87 * Gundlach Bundschu (CA) 2004 Rhinefarm Vineyard, Gewurztraminer, Sonoma Valley. $22
This dry Gewurztraminer from this Sonoma specialist has tasty lychee and mango flavors and a lightly spicy finish. Pair this with turkey breast, Oriental chicken or most Thai dishes.
89 * Kathryn Kennedy (CA) 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, California. $25
This famous artisan producer has made a delicious Sauvignon Blanc bursting with pear and melon fruit. Rich with a long finish, this would be ideal with sautèed shrimp, seafood risotto or vegetable lasagna.
90 * Stephen Ross (CA) 2004 Bien Nacido Vineyard, Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley. $25
This esteemed producer has crafted another great Chardonnay from this small Santa Barbara estate. This has layers of pear and tropical fruit and subtle spicy oak. This can accompany a range of foods from lobster to veal piccata.
Red Wine Glass Pour Recommendations
87 * Grizzly Flat Cellars (CA) 2003 Petite Sirah, Lodi. $9.99
Brilliant ruby red-purple hue. Chocolate, blackberry and plum aromas. Medium-bodied with good concentration, this has ripe black fruit, refined tannins and a finish with distinct herbal notes.
87 * Sexto (Spain) 2004 Terra Alta. $12.99
Brilliant light purple hue. Red raspberry, carnation and black spice aromas. This medium-bodied red is grapey (somewhat like bubble gum) with a juicy, soft finish offering tart acidity. Try with lighter chicken dishes.
90 * Biltmore Estate (NC) NV Chateau Reserve, Cabernet Franc, American. $14.99
Brilliant ruby red hue. Green olive, pink peppercorn and blackberry aromas. Medium-bodied with good concentration, this is true to its varietal character with ripe blackberry fruit, hints of pepper and black spice and an elegant finish with polished tannins and subtle oak. Not a powerhouse of a wine, but a refined, elegant food offering.
88 * Masi (Italy) 2002 Campofiorin Ripasso, Rosso del Veronese IGT. $18
A specialty of this famous producer, this is a Valpolicella made with partially dried grapes that has plenty of spice along with an elegant finish. This works well with any number of foods, from simple antipasti to roast pork to veal marsala.
88 * Le Miccine (Italy) 2003 Chianti Classico. $19.95
This small American-owned estate in Tuscany has become a very consistent producer of Chianti Classico over the past few years. The bright cherry fruit, light tobacco notes and round finish make this ideal with pastas with Bolognese sauce, veal medallions or roast pork.
Red Wine Bottle List Recommendations
91 * Renwood (CA) 2002 Old Vine, Zinfandel, Amador County. $20
Brilliant ruby red hue. Currant, raspberry and oregano-aromas. Medium-full with beautifully defined raspberry and cherry fruit, this has a nicely defined midpalate and a lengthy, elegant finish with polished tannins and subtle oak.
90 * Hagafen (CA) 2003 Estate Bottled, Merlot, Napa Valley. $27
Brilliant ruby red hue. Black cherry, red licorice and carnation aromas. Mediumfull, this has good depth of perfectly ripe black cherry and plum fruit and a nicely balanced finish with polished tannins, lively acidity and subtle oak. Lovely food wine.
90 * Paradise Ridge (CA) 2002 Ladi's Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County. $28 Brilliant ruby red-light purple hue. Black cherry, plum, tobacco and clove aromas. Mediumfull with very good depth of ripe black cherry and black plum fruit, this is quite appealing with balanced tannins, lively acidity and light black spice.
91 * Villa Calcinaia (Italy) 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva. $28.99
From a vastly underrated estate in Chianti Classico, here is a beautifully made Riserva with rich cherry fruit, subtle herbal character and a complex finish. This would be ideal with crown roast of pork, chicken marsala or pastas with marinara sauce.
92 * Adelaida (CA) 2002 Viking Estate Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles. $75
Brilliant ruby red-violet hue. Bright, jammy cherry, currant, charred oak, and iris aromas. Medium-full with very ripe and forward black cherry and black raspberry fruit, this offers nice richness on the palate, balanced oak, supple tannins and lively fresh fruit acidity. Polished, tasty, and totally approachable now, but will round out even more in the cellar for a couple of years.