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Great Books Reviewed






Daffy for Duck!







California Cabs





Your attitude-free passport to great wine & delicious food™

Client: Hyatt Tamaya Job Number: HTY12968 Date: 6-29-06 Job Name: Wine Country Ad Size: 8.875x 11.375” Artist: _____ Proof Reader: _____ A.E.: _____Client: _____

2006 ISSUE 1 $4.00

Still Alive and Well:

A New Orleans Culinary Classic! Alsace:

Europe’s Noble Wine Region

Celebrity Profile:

The Central Coast’s Hot Wine Regions!

Daniels of the Vine

Daniel Johnnes and Daniel Boulud

Paso Robles & San Luis Obispo

The Official Magazine of The Wine Country Network Club. Join the club and receive exclusive benefits!

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South Australian Wine Country Experiences. Seven nights, starting at $2109*. In South Australia, the wine won't be the only adventure. Fly non-stop from LAX or SFO to Auckland, then take our new non-stop service to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Explore the bustling city for three days and nights, seeing the many nearby vineyards and taking a full day Barossa Wine tour. Then a three day road trip in your own rental car begins across South Australia. You'll relax for one night in the Coonawarra Wine Country and then one night on the

Great Ocean Road, enjoying vineyards, small towns and beautiful countryside along the way. Your experience concludes with two nights in Melbourne, where new sights and nearby vineyards await. Package includes airfare from LAX or SFO to Adelaide and return from Melbourne, seven nights accomodations and three day car rental. To learn more about this and other South Australian experiences, check out our website below or call us at 800-671-6899.

*All prices are per person, twin share. International Air Travel is Economy Class on Air New Zealand. International travel included is from/to LAX and SFO only. Restricted to certain flights only. Seasonal and weekend surcharges may apply. USA add-ons are available for an additional charge. Subject to availability at time of booking. Blackout dates apply. Additional restrictions may apply. US/foreign taxes/fees of approximately $240USD, including September 11th Security Fee of up to $10 per person, are additional. Please call for prices for hotel upgrades, additional nights and travel outside these periods. Subject to availability and reconfirmation at time of booking. Changes and cancellation penalties apply. All prices are from and subject to seasonal and currency fluctuations. Additional charges and/or deposits my apply to rental car, such as state, local and airport fees and taxes, local surcharges, surchrage for drivers under 25 years of age, late return charges, after-hour surcharge and one way rental charges. Inquire upon booking. Š 2006 Air New Zealand.

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Jane Butel, Albuquerque, New Mexico 16 Cover:

Peachy Canyon Winery’s Snow Vineyard in Paso Robles. Sommelier Daniel Johnnes with Chef Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel NYC. Photography by Christopher J. Davies.

Alsace 38

Passion & Portraits 26

Paso Robles & San Luis Obispo 46

Wine Works The Food and Wine Chain First Pressings Spirited Chat Napa Cabs Travel Tips Navigating The Friendly Skies Good Life Meadowood Napa Valley Raising The Bar The Broadmoor Travel Log Albuquerque, New Mexico Food Features The First Course: “Daffy” for Duck Culinary Arts A New Orleans culinary Classic Grape Expectations Syrah, It’s What’s for Dinner Features Passions & Portraits Chef Daniel Boulud & Sommelier Daniel Johnnes Cover Feature The Wild West of Wine Paso Robles & San Luis Obispo Second Feature Europe Explored Alsace Parting Shots


8 10 12 13 16 20 62 30


46 38 64

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Message from the Founders

Darcy and Chris at Casa Rondeña Winery

In this issue, Wine Country International finally features a California wine region on its cover- something we have deliberately avoided for three years. With more than 1700 wineries in California, we could have done this sooner. But our goal has been to help our readers explore less well-known wine regions around the world. Past issues have showcased Long Island, Hungary, Portugal, Washington and Chile. California’s Central Coast’s Paso Robles and San Louis Obispo (SLO) are producing some of America’s best Rhone-style wines. Traveling to this region, which is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is a snap. You will find whimsical seaside towns, with lush hillsides and valleys, cooled by ocean breezes. The temperature can range 40 degrees between noon and evening, providing “harvest foreplay” for slow ripening of the grapes. Paso Robles will take you back in time to what we can imagine Los Angeles might have been like forty years ago. The people are laid back and friendly. Commercial success is bound to change the region in the years to come. And with more than 100 wineries, plus numerous attractions nearby, Central Coast is our recommended California wine area to visit soon. This issue of WCI is our biggest so far. It marks some important changes in our quest to provide our readers with the most useful, attitude-free information about delicious wine, food and travel. Our lovely, devoted and talented friend Marlene Rossman has officially taken over the helm as Editor-in Chief. Marlene keeps us focused on what we do best and enjoy so much. We hope that you enjoy this new issue and promise to help you increase your enjoyment of wine, food and travel in 2006 and beyond. With warm wishes,

Christopher J. Davies Co-Founder

Darcy R. Davies Co-Founder

From the Editor We hear a great deal about pairing wine with food. There are whole magazines named for the topic. In this country, we have finally begun to take wine and food pairing very seriously What we don’t hear a lot about is that wine IS food. I am not going to suggest that you make a meal of wine alone, from appetizer to dessert, although that does sound good! And I am not talking about substituting wine that is so high in alcohol and so thick that you need a knife and fork to cut through it. But, wine in moderation is a part of healthy diet and lifestyle. Look at the Mediterranean diet, enjoyed by the French, Italians, Greeks, Chileans and Argentines. Wine is an integral part of their meals, rather than something to get you hammered. Wine with food makes a meal sparkle and aids in digestion. We have all heard about the health benefits of a glass or two of wine. In this issue we celebrate wine and food. Salud, L’chaim, a votre santé!

Marlene Rossman Marlene Rossman

Marlene Rossman Editor-in-Chief Send us a message via email:

page 4 Wine Country International Magazine Christopher J. Davies Marlene L. Rossman Darcy R. Davies Features Editor Travel Editor Photo Editor Food Editor Director of Photography Cartoonist Contributing Editors:

Western Advertising Sales Eastern Advertising Sales East Coast Business Manager Director of Tours and Events Licensing Director Website Design List Rentals

Co-Founder & Publisher Editor-in-Chief Co-Founder & Design Director Wes Marshall Roy Bradbrook Tyler Augustine V.G. Walsh

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Christopher J. Davies Douglas Augustine Jan Aaron David Appell Michael Botner Roy Bradbrook Eric Frey Barrie Lynn Mary Foster Morgan Jean O’Brien Cofufey Brendan Coffey Jayne Russell Martha May McClintock Henry Hill Dorothy Brown Bob Teahan John Anello, Esq. Barb Stanley (219) 979-2627

A publication of Wine Country Network, Inc.


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Christopher J. Davies Darcy Davies David A. Fink James Alterbaum, Esq.

CEO & Co-Founder President & Co-Founder Chief Financial Officer Corporate Counsel

Mailing Address Wine Country Network, Inc. P.O. Box 6023 Broomfield, CO 80021 Tel. 303-664-5700 Fax. 303-926-0315 e-mail: Address editorial inquiries to

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For article reprints contact: FosteReprints @ 866-879-9144. Wine Country International Magazine is published quarterly by Wine Country Network, Inc. Subscriptions are offered as part of the Wine Country Network Club™ membership in the United States and possessions, $24 for one year; in Canada, $40; foreign prices on request. To join, visit our website or call 1-866 Wine Country. Wine Country International Magazine does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, drawings, photographs or other works. All rights in letters sent in to Wine Country Network will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes. Contents Š 2006 by Wine Country Network, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or part without written permission of the publisher.




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The Food and Wine Chain

A Sexy Twist on

Screw Caps

Those who read WCI know that we are true believers in the screw cap as a better solution to wine bottle closures. We realize how traditional the cork has been, but with having witnessed/smelled far too many great wines ruined by feisty or smelly corks...screw caps are the best solution to preserving wine quality. Leave it to a Colorado couple, Tom and Shari Scholten, owners of the Fritz Alpine Bistro at Keystone Ski Resort, to come up a new device that sexes up the cracking of the screw cap. The Wine Fritz is a simple yet practical device that is placed over the screw cap and turned counterclockwise to open the bottle. Operating on the wheel principal, the “Vino Fritzy” has sleek curves reminiscent of a Porsche Carrera. This tool could be the right medication for cork-deprived Sommeliers. They no longer have to feel that screw cap wines need to be opened in the kitchen! $39.95, available at select retailers or online at

Web Wo r t h y is a great site for every foodie. They carry a line of delicious epicurean delights. Gifts prices start at around $25 with some lower, like a classy British Three Cheese Gift Box at $18.99. The chocolate, oil and vinegar plus The Classic Italian Gift Basket at $59.99, will make you sing “Amore!”

First Pressings Sauvignon Republic Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Stellenbosch South Africa $18 Just released is the third Sauvignon Blanc in a series produced by Sauvignon Republic Cellars. This is the company that focuses on just one varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, worldwide. The company founders feel that Sauv Blanc is the one varietal that expresses “terroir” more profoundly than any other grape. South Africa is the latest place that Sauvignon Republic Cellars has sourced Sauv Blanc. Previous SRC Sauv Blanc wines included wines from California and New Zealand. The wine is crisp with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. A nice balance between fruit and acid makes this wine easy to pair with foods, such as shellfish, chicken and goat cheese. Andrew Lane Gamay Noir 2004 Napa Valley California $40 Napa Valley is not well known for producing this varietal, but Andrew Lane makes this wine from 50-year-old vines along Garnett Creek below Mount St. Helena. Made with a “New World feel,” this Gamay Noir has crisp acidity and soft, elegant tannins. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, which keeps it refreshing and vibrant. Pair a bottle with salmon or turkey.

Spirited Chat Partida Anejo Tequila $60 The Partida Family estate lies in the shadow of a dormant volcano. Partida Anejo is made from 100% estate grown blue Agave and aged for 18 months in French Canadian oak barrels. Every bottle is individually hand filled. The result is a delicious and smooth, full-bodied tequila with a rich copper color. If Mae West had been Tequila, this would have been it! Partida Anejo is a Tequila lover’s Tequila. Sip slowly and savor! 80 proof

Reyka Vodka 1 Liter $30 Reyka is named after the ancient Icelandic word for steam. This new boutique Vodka is the first to be distilled and bottled in Iceland. It is made from natural spring water and grain that is distilled through a unique two-stage lava rock filtration system. So what does this all mean to the vodka drinker? We were pleasantly surprised! Reyka is an ultra-smooth, creamy and elegant vodka. It’s nice for sipping on its own or to mix in a cocktail. 80 proof. (All prices are approximate and all bottles are 750ml. unless indicated)


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Wine Works New French Wine, Sans L’ Attitude!

Don’t be Square! Take a detour with Totally Tubular Wine! dtour Chardonnay 2004 Macon Villages, France 3-Litre Tube $37 Who would think that three powerhouses in premium wines and fine dining could change their stripes at this stage of their illustrious careers? But Winemaker Dominique Lafon, Sommelier Daniel Johnnes and Chef Daniel Boulud have collaborated to bring us dtour wine, a premium quality Chardonnay packaged in a tube. This modern and creative design eliminates injuries incurred by box wine’s “square” design and bad rap. dtour’s tube fits conveniently in the refrigerator. It comes with a top carry handle and easy to use pouring spigot. A plastic bladder inside keeps the air out and the wine fresh for weeks. Made from 100% Chardonnay, this Macon-Villages wine is an extraordinary value for everyone’s budget. The dtour tube holds 3 liters of wine, which is the equivalent of 4-standard 750 ml bottles. It’s a beautifully made young Chardonnay that is fermented in stainless steel. We noticed delicate peach tones, hints of vanilla and a nice mouth feel. Pair this wine with poultry, shellfish dishes or sip it for any occasion. Think outside the box and take a “detour” to your wine retailer for a tube of dtour today! This delightful wine is destined to be a blockbuster! A companion red from the Rhone is scheduled to be released later in the year.

Boisset debuts colorful French Rabbit Wines

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 France One-liter Tetra Pak $10 Here’s another innovative approach to wine packaging and marketing from France. Move over, Yellow Tail! French Rabbit combines an attractive name and look with the eco-friendly, octagonal-shaped Tetra Pak. Their slogan is; “Savor the wine. Save the planet.” French Rabbit’s packaging is smart and familiar. It resembles a milk carton wrapped in colorful foil and has been overfilled--bulging with delicious wine! Their marketing team has done an excellent job, but the engineers deserve a pay raise. The packaging reduces fuel costs, because the packages are stackable, take up less room and weigh less than bottles. The result is that a single truck can hold 25 times more wine. The packaging used for this much wine saves 10,000 lbs versus bottles! All four wines are made from grapes grown in the south of France. While the wines are a bit young, they are fruit forward and food friendly. If you drink wine daily, French Rabbit could become your favorite daily sipper. The Tetra Pak’s one-liter capacity also gives you about two glasses more of wine than a standard 750ml bottle.

The Food and Wine Chain

From Seller to Your Cellar My Wi n e s D i re c t . co m


These are the days of loosening restraints on interstate shipping. And while there are many wine clubs with which to keep your cellar stocked, MyWinesDirect. com offers a unique approach to the club concept. They focus on value-priced, boutique producers. Wines are sold in 6and 12-pack assortments, consisting of half imported, half domestic wines. The company carries 50 wines at a time and allows club members to attend private tastings as “tasting panel members” to help select new wines for the club offerings. Club assortments start at $85 and include free shipping on every order, no-monthly commitment, plus a moneyback guarantee.

Fresh and Well

Te m p e r e d !

The Pek Wine Steward is an invaluable device for helping you extend the life of your unfinished bottle of wine. The unit uses replaceable 100% argon gas cartridges to fill the empty space in the bottle for extending the life of your open wine. Wine is preserved for several days after opening because Argon is heavier than air, thus dramatically reducing oxidation. The Wine Steward is sleek in design and has a built-in temperature control. The ideal serving temperatures for wines vary by varietal. Serving wines at their proper temperature results in better tasting wine than “room temperature,” which often is too warm. A glass window and interior light help display your wine’s labels. Supremo model with two gas cartridges, $219.

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The Food and Wine Chain

Napa sticks to it’s

Napa’s roots with killer cabs! Spring Mountain

AVA was established in 1993. Those who watched the popular television series “Falcon Crest” are familiar with its landscape. Vineyards are situated from 400 to 2600 feet above sea level. Spring Mountain is best known for its mountain grown cabernets. The mountain temperature is cooler than the valley floor, resulting in a longer ripening season. Winemaker Craig Becker is young, full of fresh ideas and passionate about his work. The LA native studied agriculture and admits that the first wine he made was white zinfandel. His professional career began at the famed Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. In 1997, he began making wine at Spring Mountain Winery, later to leave and start his own winemaking consulting. Today, Becker makes wine for a handful of boutique producers including his own brand, Michael Austin. Consulting projects include Peacock Family Vineyard, Armstrong Ranch on Diamond Mountain, Kelleher Family Vineyards in Oakville, Coniglio in St. Helena and Borra Winery in Lodi. Betsy and Christopher Peacock purchased their steep, rolling hillside vineyard estate in 1993 from the Raymond Brothers. Their 6.2-acre hillside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was in place when they decided to build their home, which has spectacular views of Napa valley. Their vineyard is terraced and has slopes up to 10%. Today, Peacock family is producing premium level, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Napa Valley made its bones thirty years ago at the monumental Paris tasting, where Napa wines impaled French classics. Today, the valley continues to maintain it’s rap as the world’s best growing region for Cabernet Sauvignon. WCI Editors Favorite Napa Cabernet Sauvignon All Wines are from Napa Valley and Prices are Approximate

Cakebread Cellars Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 $85 The Benchland Select is one of Cakebread’s top-of-the-line Cabs, and this one shows its pedigree. Aromas of red fruit paired with cocoa and spice come first. On the palate, the wine delivers blackberry and black plum flavors balanced by firm tannins and good acidity. This Cab is delicious to drink now, but can be cellared for at least five years.

Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate 2001 $110 The Barretts at Chateau Montelena always make utterly elegant, Bordeaux-style Cabs. This baby is barely waking up, but already starting to show its true Chateau Monte colors. With a few more years in the bottle, the Estate will be a blockbuster. It is already drinking beautifully with layers of fruit unfolding as you sip. But do lay it down and let it come to maturity.

J. Davies Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $70 From Napa’s historic Diamond Mountain district, comes this outstanding estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

It’s young, but already drinking beautifully, with sweet blackberry, mocha and vanilla flavors. Aged in French oak barrels to just the right point of toastiness, this beautifully balanced Cab has just a bit of Malbec and Merlot to add interest. Keep your eyes on winemakers Hugh Davies, Craig Roemer and Alan Tenscher.

William Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2001 $40 This Cab shows ripe berry flavors with sweet vanilla and pomegranate on the palate, with blackberry and spice on the finish. Enjoy now or age for a year or two. If you don’t find the 2001, the 2002s are out and awesome!

“Isn’t defining terroir coming to peace with what our climate gives us?” ~ Craig Becker, Peacock Family winemaker

Ladera Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 $35 Ladera used to be Chateau Woltner before the new owners purchased the winery in 2000. Their latest release, the 2002, is blended from grapes from Howell Mountain and Lone Canyon Ranch vineyards. It’s got gorgeous flavors of raspberry, cherry wood and graphite. This beautifully balanced baby can age for a few years, but is delicious right now.

Peacock Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 $55 Here is an elegant crowd pleaser. It’s a Spring

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(Above) Quintessa Estate, Rutherford, CA. (Left) Peacock Family Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon. (Right) Cakebread 2001 Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon. Photos by C. J. Davies

Mountain fruit bomb with class. There are only about 500 cases of the 2001 PFV Cab, but if you can’t find it, go for the 2002. Made by the awesome Craig Becker, who also makes Michael Austin Viogner and other wonderful wines, the Cab has a lovely nose of cherry with a hint of mocha and vanilla. It’s got sweet, soft tannins and low acidity.

Quintessa Estate Red Wine 2001 $100

Quintessa Estate practices biodynamic farming and sustainable agriculture. This delicious Meritage is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with 14% Merlot. Aged in French oak for 20 months, this wine is deep ruby with aromas and flavors of blackberry and chocolate. It’s an elegant wine that has great aging potential.

Seavey Vineyard Caravina Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $36 Caravina is Seavey’s second wine and what a blockbuster it is! Caravina is a little hard to find, but well worth going out of your way for. Filled with chocolate, cherries and berries, it’s a

“super second.” The 2003 was just released and you can find it in restaurants and from the winery. If you see the 2002, grab all you can carry.

Stags’ Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 $40 Sweet whiffs of black cherry and mocha hit you first. On the palate come espresso and spice. With a bit of Cab Franc for structure, the Napa Cab is a reasonably priced jewel in the crown of the Stags’ Leap empire.

Tres Sabores Cabernet Sauvignon “Perspective” 2001 $45 There are only 100 cases of this gorgeous wine and if you are lucky enough to find it, buy as much as you can. This cab has flavors of cherry jam, spice and rich, sweet earth. If you can’t find Tres Sabores Cab, then buy their Zinfandels, which are awesome, too. Then get on the Tres Sabores mailing list. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Vineyard 7 & 8 Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 $85 With a nose of raspberry and chocolate, this young beauty takes well to decanting. This is a new operation with former Chateau Latour winemaker, Christian Le Sommer, providing advice. With flavors of cocoa, vanilla, black cherry and cassis, this complex Cab is crafted in the Bordeaux style, with great aging potential. If you see their Vineyard 8 Chardonnay, grab it, too. Limited production.

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Travel Tips

Navigating the Friendly Skies!

Expert Air Travel Tips Terry Trippler, Airline Expert for Cheapseats. com has advice for all those planning to travel by plane this year. Air Fare Discounts: This year more than ever, it is harder to get a good deal on airline tickets. Passenger loads are at an all time high. The early bird catches the worm when it comes to flights well in advance. Lost Luggage: According to a recent report, last year, airlines misplaced over 30 million bags worldwide-200,000 of which were never found! 1)Pack valuables, medicine and a change of clothes in a carry-on bag 2)Take two smaller bags, instead of one large bag. Pack complete sets of clothes in each bag. 3)Use bright tape to mark your bag for easy identification Flight Delays: Mr. Trippler’s prediction for this year is fewer cancelled flights, but more long delays. For instance, if it takes nine hours to fix the plane, when it is fixed, the plane must go. Here are his tips for lessening your troubles: 1)Go a Day Early: When you absolutely have to be there, go a day early. 2)Return a Day Early: Have to be at work on Monday morning? Plan on coming home on Saturday.

Eating The American Way! Travel Channel’s “Taste of America” with Mark DeCarlo offers a humorous view of America’s local and unusual cuisines! Actor and comedian Mark DeCarlo brings a funny and light-hearted look at the eating habits of the nation. DeCarlo is no stranger to comedy television, having hosted the popular TV shows Big Deal and The X Show, as well as providing the voice characterization for Hugh Neutron in the Academy Award-nominated film and TV series Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. Whether it’s birch beer in Connecticut, Eskimo ice cream in Fairbanks, Alaska, or West Virginia’s Road Kill Cook-Off Festival for a tongue-in-cheek wild game cook off, Mark travels the US for unusual comfort foods. His fresh interview approach garners a hilarious exchange between many guests. Mark comes from a large Italian-American family in Chicago. But when asked if he “lived to eat” or “ate to live”, he answered the latter. Reflecting on his recent visit to the Road Kill Cook-Off, Mark said, “Foods included anything that could be called a critter.” So we asked, did barbecued squirrel taste like chicken? “No way! It tasted like squirrel!” EEEEK. You can watch “Taste of America” on Tuesday evenings. For a schedule visit:


in “The Land of Flowers”

Opus 39 Restaurant and Food Gallery is situated in a charming building in historic St. Augustine, Florida’s old town, and has become a destination hotspot for lovers of fine food and wine. Chef Michael McMillan made his culinary bones working at Dallas’ renowned Mansion at Turtle Creek. His Opus 39 concept melds creativity with ultra-fresh ingredients, boutique wines and art. McMillan operates the restaurant with his wife Christine. Pan seared snapper. Photo © by Ed Hall, Waters Edge Magazine Everyday he selects produce from a local organic farm, and buys the freshest seafood, beef and game possible. His menu changes daily, based on available ingredients, and is shaped by 3 pm. “The five-course menu gives us the flexibility of working with the finest ingredients that are available that day, rather than working the same ingredients over and over again,” said McMillan. After the menu is presented and orders placed, guests are invited into the adjacent wine room that is stocked with a collection of small production selections from boutique wineries from around the world. McMillan and his wife make several annual treks into wine regions, hunting down, tasting and making selections personally. Oh, what a delicious combination! Opus 39 Restaurant & Food Gallery 39 Cordova St, St. Augustine, FL 32084 Tel. (904) 824-5009

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San Francisco Goodlife

Pan seared scallops three ways. Photo courtesy of Michael Mina Restaurants San Francisco’s historic Westin St. Francis Hotel is located in the heart of the city, overlooking Union Square. Its location is often hailed as the best in the city. Cable cars stop at its front door. World-class shopping, top restaurants and theaters are just doors away. The landmark was opened in 1904, and two years later was one of the only buildings left standing after San Francisco’s Great Earthquake. The main building is 12 stories tall, and the adjacent tower is 32 stories, providing breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline. The hotel offers 1,195 guest rooms, including 50 suites. Travertine marble, oak columns, gilded ceilings, crystal chandeliers and three magnificent murals in the tower lobby have been restored to their original ambience. Tower guest rooms include Westin’s signature luxury Heavenly Beds, which are so comfortable that Nordstrom Stores are now selling them nationwide. The hotel recently discovered twelve rare, signed original vintage photographs taken by Ansel Adams. The prints were found in an archive closet and depict the art deco interior of the former Patent Leather Bar. This is the room that currently houses Restaurant Michael Mina. The prints are now on display in the tower lobby. With six restaurants under his helm, multi-award winning, highly acclaimed Chef Michael Mina is rising to new culinary heights. His restaurant at the Westin St. Francis Hotel has raised the bar for the San Francisco culinary scene. In 2005, Gayot named the restaurant “One of The Top 40 Restaurants in America.” We agree! As with any “hot” restaurant, Restaurant Michael Mina is quite busy during the evening shift. But timing is everything...and this restaurant operates with the precision of a Rolex. The welltrained wait staff and kitchen operate in symphony while Managing Sommelier Rajat Parr and his team expertly match wines from the cellar stash of more than 1,800 selections. The cuisine is presented in a unique fashion, with a Three Course Seasonal Menu, costing $88 per person. And if you ask your server to pair wines with each course, you are going to be making a hefty investment, but it is well worth the dollars. Each course is presented in trios with artistic presentations of hot and cold dishes on each plate, arranged so beautifully you’d wished you brought your camera so that Mom could see how pretty it looked! Our favorite dishes included Tempura Langoustine with Chilled Ceviche three ways, Potato Crusted Dover Sole three ways, Liberty Duck Breast-Seared Foie Gras and Banana Tarte Tatin.

Travel Tips continuted

3)Travel Early in the Day: A plane that has 5 to 10 minute delays throughout the day can be quite late by evening. 4) Travel Midweek or Saturdays: Travel loads are generally lighter on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. And sometimes fares are lower on those days. 5) Check Alternate Airports: Sometimes you can save by selecting an alternative airport that is a bit further away. 6) New ID Cards: Frequent travelers should be on the lookout for the new TSA approved ID cards, now being beta tested at several US airports. They require pre-screening and a thorough background check, but will save time at the security lines. Cost: $80 US

Denver Dines

& Wines!

The Mile-High City is the “Baby Boomer Capital” of the US, and home to more than 2,000 restaurants. The city is situated 5,280 feet above sea level. Last February, restaurants joined forces for a highly successful “Denver Restaurant Week,” offering threecourse dinners for two at $52.80. Beringer vineyards joined the bandwagon with a delicious $6 by-the-glass offer. Coming in the fall, “Denver Wine Week,” October 30 to November 5, 2006 has been proclaimed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. The Second Annual Denver International Wine Festival will be held November 2 & 4, 2006. Southwest Foodie Jane Butel will host the festival’s new Thursday night food & wine pairing competition, “The Taste of Elegance.” Details at

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W ine C ountry I nternational

W ine W orks

The Food and Wine Chain

Wine by the Numb ers-

The Barrel

Balistreri Vineyards of Denver produces very limited amounts of Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and American Port...about 3,000 cases total. Winemaker John Balistreri handcrafts small lots of his favorite varietals with a

unique fruit- forward style. His wines are aged in oak and served up fresh and frisky. Each wine is crafted by the barrel and labeled with its barrel number on the back label. This allows for restocking your cellar with your favorite barrel lot. At a recent sneak preview barrel tasting, Balistreri delighted customers with his soon to be released 2005 vintage. Balistreri’s customers are drinking up all the wine that the family operation can bottle ever year. Bravo to fresh and crisp wine! Balistreri Vineyards 1946 E. 66th Ave Denver, CO 80229 Tel. 303 287-5156 (see our review of Balistreri Syrah on page 32)

Photos by C.J. Davies


Chef Natress shows off a delectable banana split

Meadowood-Napa Valley’s Good-Life Resort

Napa Valley Wine Country is loaded with premium wineries. If you are looking for a premium quality resort with a country club setting, this is it. Real estate mogul and cult wine producer Bill Harlan is the managing partner of this 250 -acre private resort. Meadowood is located in St. Helena, east of The Silverado Trail. The resort offers 41 rooms and 44 suites that feature California king beds, wood-burning fireplaces and spacious, modern bathrooms. Many of the suites include private terraces. Meadowood has been a highly esteemed Relais & Chateau property since 1987. The resort offers a full service spa, 25-lap pool, tennis, croquet, and a nine-hole executive golf course. As one would expect, the wine & culinary offerings are exceptional. The resort has a wine center and offers weekly wine tastings and frequent vintners’ dinners. The wine cellar showcases almost every winery in Napa Valley. Executive chef Vincent Natress helms the kitchens and provides creative cuisine for pairing with California’s most revered vintages. Natress has mastered the use of slow smoking chicken as well as seafood. Fresh wine country cuisine; smoked chicken ravioli You can stay at Meadowood from $300 to $4000 per night. Check their website for off-season packages. The restaurant offers three courses for $59, with wines paired $85; four courses $72, with wines paired $100; five courses $85, with wines paired $115; Chef ’s Tasting Menu $95, or $135 with wines paired. Meadowood 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574 Tel. 800 458-8080

W ine C ountry I nternational

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W ine W orks

Photos by C.J. Davies

The Broadmoor

Raises the Bar

on Haute Cuisine

and Fine Wine! The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs won’t stand still when it comes to fine dining and service. Their 4th Annual “Salute to Escoffier” weekend event in January satisfied the hedonistic desires of all 200 attendees. The Broadmoor’s annual event pays homage to Master Chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who invented “Peach Melba,” and is also credited with modernizing large kitchen production with the “kitchen brigade.” This year’s salute began with a dazzling reception of over 20 classic French appetizers. Newly arrived guests enjoyed deliciously prepared venison, duck and frogs’ legs. Representatives of the National Distributing Company, a main sponsor of the event, poured champagne and fine French regional wines. Educational seminars included “Chocolate!” presented by guest chef Joseph Decker, and a Champagne tasting by Agnes LaPlanche, Brand Manager of G.H Mumm. The hits of the tasting were Mumm’s Cordon Rouge and Mumm de Cremant, both Grand Cru champagnes. Can you say terrine, soufflé, fromage and mousse? These were just some of the famous French dishes found at the “Salute to Escoffier” seven-course Le Grand Buffet. The six-hour “king of all buffets” took up eight of the Broadmoor’s massive reception rooms. The

(Above) Salute to Escoffier 2006 - Chef Eisenberger announces the hot buffet, photo by Tom Kimmell. (Top left) Sommelier Tim Baldwin in front of the wine turret(top right) Summit dining room, photos by C.J Davies

event raised over $15,000 for the Broadmoor’s scholarship program. Watch for their fifth annual event around the end of January 2007. Summit is the Broadmoor’s newest restaurant. And wine plays a central theme at this Adam Tihany -designed masterpiece. Executive Chef Bertrand Bouquin heads the restaurant. Chef Bouquin (pronounced boo-CAHN) was recently Executive Chef for the exclusive Mobil Five-Star Maisonette in Cincinnati, Ohio. The guiding principle of Summit’s menu is American brasserie, which starts with classical cooking techniques and adds the finest American produce found seasonally around the country. The main focal point of the bar is Summit’s 14-foot, cylindrical wine turret, which slowly revolves with wine bottles jutting out from its steel scaffolding. The bar also sports an antique 6-liter “wine cradle” for featuring large format wines. Guests can have the unusual opportunity of tasting the astounding differences of big bottle wines, without the big investment. Sommelier Tim Baldwin will help you choose from Summit’s 210 bottle wine list, 30 of which are offered by the glass. The Broadmoor 1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, Tel 719 -577-5775,

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B ook R eviews

The Food and Wine Chain

(Left to Right) Academy Award-Winning Actress Marcia Gay Harden, Movie Producer Josh Braun, Harlem Vintage Owner, Jai-Jai Greenfield and Actor Joe Pantoliano.

S t a r- S t u d d e d Wine Tasting at Harlem Vintage

In February 2006, Wine Country International magazine publisher and co-founder, Christopher Davies hosted a wine tasting of Long Island wines for academy-award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden at Harlem Vintage, Harlem, NY. Ms. Harden purchased the “Wine Tasting With An Expert Party” at a fundraiser for The Marble Collegiate Church. Davies presented wines from the North Fork of Long Island’s Macari Vineyards & Laurel Lake Vineyards. “It was my personal honor to host this wine tasting for Marcia and her friends. The folks at the Harlem Vintage wine store were also wonderful to work with” commented Davies. The tasting received mention in the infamous Page Six gossip column featured in the New York Post. “We couldn’t have had a more perfect New York night! Starting with the fabulous Harlem Vintage wine store, and Jai-Jai Greenfield’s great hosting! Christopher Davies brought in great New York wines, and with humor and ease shared some secrets of the grape with us. How to savor the wine, how to swirl the glass, and most importantly, how to enjoy it! We sampled six wines, going from whites to dark reds, each wine a little fuller, fatter, and richer than the one before. It was lovely!” Marcia Gay Harden

Cooking the

Arthur Schwartz’s New York City Food By Arthur Schwartz Hard cover $45.00 US

New York food columnist, radio talk show host, a/k/a The Food Maven, Arthur Schwartz is one of the most respected food critics in New York. At 400 pages, his new book will make any foodie’s stomach tingle with joy. The chapters are loaded with extensive historical information about New York City’s earliest inhabitants, English taverns and legendary restaurants, many of which have long ago faded away. Arthur Schwartz’s New York City Food is a beautifully illustrated coffee table book that is guaranteed to provide you with years of knowledge and pleasure. Schwartz deserves kudos for the extensive and thorough research that was spent in developing the chapters. Photographer Chris Callis’ crisp color photography will make you want to eat the pages. The book is also loaded with more than 100 legendary recipes. As a native New Yorker, it is easy to reminisce about my family’s favorite ethnic dishes that are listed in these pages. Nothing has been left out...including my beloved drink, the egg cream! For Dummies By Sascha Segan Wiley Publishing Soft cover $19.99 US/$28.99 Canada

This is a great investment even for the occasional traveler. This book reveals what savvy travelers have known for years--that Priceline. com’s “name your own price” slogan is a marketing gimmick that means, “Guess our lowest price!” Still, has some of the best travel values on the web. Our Editors have used the website to book $125 nights at classy boutique hotels in New York City and cruises at 40% off brochure prices. This book suggests that web cruisers should shop and compare prices before making a bid on (which usually requires a credit card up front). The book reveals interesting pointers for shopping at Priceline for hotels, airline tickets, cruises, rental cars--even mortgages! The For Dummies series format is ultra friendly and packed with many useful tips. The author’s section, Sacha’s Tips, offers personal advice (from experience) on how to get the best value for your money.

Whole Foods Companion By Dianne Onstad Chelsea Green Publishing Soft cover $35.00 US

We love the fact that this book is not commercially focused. You will not find a history of Whole Food Market or its stock success. Instead, the author jumps immediately into natural foods and their health benefits. Use this 533-page book to plan your next shopping extravaganza at Whole Foods Market or any other natural food retailer. Just remember that “fresh” comes with a price. That’s why Whole Foods Market employee’s slogan for their beloved employer is “Whole Paycheck!”

W ine C ountry I nternational

B ook R eviews

The Food and Wine Chain

Kevin Zraly Wins 2006 Wine Literary Award

Bouchon By Thomas Keller Artisan Books Hard cover $50.00 US

One of America’s superstar chefs, Thomas Keller is best known for his legendary Napa Valley wine country institution, The French Laundry. Bouchon is Keller’s second restaurant that produces French bistro fare of the highest quality. Keller explains, “I used to joke that I opened Bouchon, which is styled after the bistros of Paris, so that I’d have a place to eat after cooking all night at the French Laundry. The truth is that bistro cooking is my favorite food to eat.” Bouchon opened in 1998 in downtown Yountville, California, in a historic Wells Fargo stagecoach stop that has been renovated by world-renowned restaurant designer/architect Adam D. Tihany. A second Bouchon is located in Las Vegas at The Venetian Resort/Hotel/Casino. This book is a master cookbook, done in artistic coffee-table style. Bouchon’s pages are filled with vivid color and mood setting black and white photography. The book would also make a great kitchen display. Chef Keller is well known for his painstakingly, impeccably prepared dishes. His cookbook delves into his “inner pantry,” providing detailed step-by-step instructions for preparing French bistro foods from scratch. Recipes cover the bistro’s entire spectrum, including hors d’oeuvres, salads, soups, pate, fish, poultry, meats and deserts. The back of the book includes valuable recipes for producing basic preparations such as confit, sauces, butter, stocks, jus and brine. Once you brine a chicken the Keller way, you will never go back. This book is a must for every professional or advanced enthusiast chef!

Wine Report 2006 By Tom Stevenson DK Publishing Soft cover $15 US/$20 Canada

The Wine Report 2006 provides a quick summary of the world’s wine production and vintages. Author Tom Stevenson has assembled a team of 40 of the world’s top wine specialists. They have sifted through each wine region to offer their opinions on the top ten wine producers of that region, as well as a report on the 2005 harvest. If you are interested in exploring Bordeaux wines, Napa Cabs or something unusual, like Greek or Swiss wines, this book offers a quick glimpse of top producers, best bargains, new finds and inside information. The Wine Report 2006 gets down to the brass tacks and can help you save time and money.

Wine Label Language By Peter Saunders Firefly Books Ltd Soft cover $19.95 US/$24.95 Canada

Peter Saunders has spent twenty-five years studying wine labels and sorting out the terms and traditions of each country’s labels. Saunders explains “The European Way vs. The New World Way.” He discusses one of the biggest and most controversial changes that have recently been implemented for French wine, that is, listing the name of the grape on the label. Wine Label Language answers questions about the rules and standards that are used to label wines from around the world. This useful resource will help any wine lover determine a wine’s vintage, region of origin and grapes. Stories and Photos by C. J. Davies

At the age of twenty, Kevin Zraly got his start as the founding cellar master at the World Trade Center’s coveted top floor restaurant “Windows on the World”. Soon after, he founded “Windows on the World Wine School.” A companion textbook, “Windows on the World Wine Course,” now in its twentieth edition, has sold over 2 million copies, making it the world’s best selling wine book. Today Kevin continues operating the “Windows on the World Wine School,” which has graduated more than 16,000 students. His no-nonsense approach to wine has had a monumental effect on all that have worked with him, read his books and have attended his school. For info visit: The Wine Appreciation Guild, publishers and distributors of books on wine, conducts the annual Wine Literary Award. Since 1986, the WLA, a lifetime achievement award, has been recognizing wine writers who have made substantial contributions to the literature of wine in the English language. Zraly joins the ranks of WLA laureates Hugh Johnson, Robert M. Parker, Jr., Harry Waugh, Leon D. Adams, Dan Berger, Jancis Robinson, Gerald Asher, Tom Stevenson, Gene Ford, Michael Broadbent, Robert Lawrence Balzer, and, graduate of Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine School, Andrea Immer-Robinson.

Photo courtesy Kevin Zraly


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T ravel L og

A lbu q uer q ue , N ew M e x ico

Balloons, Barrels Big Culture


in the T ricentennial C ity Story and Photography Christopher J. Davies Not many folks know that Albuquerque, New Mexico, is older than our nation. This year “The City of Illumination” celebrates it’s 300th birthday. The city with the hard to spell name is often referred to as “The Jewel of America’s Southwest.” Albuquerque is a funky city, filled with a rich history. The historic Route 66, with 2,448 miles of highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, is a highway with its own song (Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six!) It travels straight through Albuquerque’s Art Deco, neon-sign-filled, Nob Hill Business District. A stroll through Nob Hill will bring you back in time to Happy Days. Even “The Fonz” would love Nob Hill’s burger joints, recycled art and classic cars. Historic Old Town is Albuquerque’s first neighborhood, settled by the Spanish in 1706. The town is situated around a central plaza that remains the focal point of the community. With over 100 merchants sprawled throughout its adobe patios and back streets, Old Town offers a relaxed alternative to any shopping mall. Visit for a list of merchants and restaurants. For a unique lodging experience, the historic Casas de Suenos (Houses of Dreams) is located only three blocks away. Walk through the gates of this secluded adobe style com-

pound and you appreciate authentic New Mexico architecture mixed with artistic flare. Built in the 1930’s and 1940’s, Casas de Suenos features 21 spacious casitas, hot tub suites, glowing fireplaces, soft adobe walls, hidden courtyards, inviting patios and beautiful gardens. A full American breakfast served in a sunny garden/artist studio is available to you in the morning. Today’s Albuquerque is morphing beyond its past to provide consumers with luxury resorts and spas, modern art, fashion, fine dining and world-class wine. The city is host to numerous events and fiestas, including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®. From its humble beginnings, with a thirteen balloon event in 1972, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world. Held each year during the first week in October, the event attracts thousands of people over nine days, pouring millions of dollars into the local economy. If you want to try hot air ballooning yourself, Rainbow Ryders, the official operator of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, will take you on a breathtaking early morning adventure. Your pilot will pick you up at your hotel at around 5:15 am and transport

you to the launch site, where you will assist in setting-up and inflating your balloon. Take off is surprisingly easy and the flight smooth as a feather. The views of Albuquerque and other balloons all around you are breathtaking. Cost for a ninety-minute excursion is $350 per person, but well worth it. Call 505-823-1111 for reservations. One cannot visit New Mexico without trying the chili. Almost every recipe for New Mexican food includes chili peppers, which come in more than 2000 varieties. Chili’s are available in green or red, come in many shapes and sizes, and with a varied degree of “heat.” Albuquerque-based Jane Butel is the foremost authority on Southwestern cuisine. She shares her knowledge of the history and the cuisine as a teacher, television personality and author. Butel operates The Jane Butel Cooking School in Albuquerque. This school is a culinary must for every foodie. Enthusiasts are offered intimate weeklong and weekend full-participation classes on New Mexican and Southwestern cooking. The class size is usually limited to eight people, which ensures every student gets one-on-one instruction. Jane has even been known to conduct seminars on pairing wines with chili. Jane also operates a satellite cooking

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T ravel L og The winery tasting room and retail gift shop is open Monday to Saturday for tastings and tours. Gruet Winery 8400 Pan America Freeway N.E Albuquerque, NM 87113 Tel. 505-821-0055 Note: Gruet has recently branched out into the restaurant business with the Gruet Steakhouse and The Gruet Cafe. Casa Rondeña Winery is owned by multitalented architect, jazz musician and winemaker John R. Calvin. His vineyard estate and winery events center offers visitors an idyllic glimpse at New Mexico’s version of a elegant French Chateau. This is a destination winery, loaded with spectacular architecture and meticulously maintained vineyards and gardens. The property is loaded with collections from Mr. Calvin’s travels around the world. Casa

Rondeña holds numerous events including live jazz concerts with great musicians. Proprietor Calvin is sometimes known to join in and play sax. The winery’s signature wines include Bordeaux-style Cabernet Franc and red and white Meritage blends. Most grapes are from New Mexico, with some sourced from vineyards on Colorado’s western slope. Their Fume Blanc and Sangiovese, multi-award winners, are quaffable food wines. Their “Serenade” is fruity white blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer, with just enough sweetness to pair with New Mexico’s chili-laden dishes. This wine is specially labeled as Albuquerque’s Tricentennial wine. Casa Rondeña Winery 733 Chavez Rd NW Albuquerque, NM 87107 Tel. 505-344-5911

Notable New Mexico Wines

Casa Rondeña’s Serenade-NV

$16.00 A lively, fruity blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer, both grown on the Los Ranchos vineyard in Albuquerque. This fragrant, off-dry wine is delicious with spicy dishes, elegant with dessert, and particularly delightful shared with friends on a spring or summer afternoon. Great balance of sweetness and acidity.

Gruet Pinot Noir “Cuvee Gilbert Gruet” 2002 New Mexico $20 The great New Mexico sparkling wine producer made only 1552 cases of this lovely Pinot Noir. Spending 14 months in new French oak gives it ripe and vibrant flavors with a long lingering berry and cherry finish.

Photo courtesy Hyatt Tamayo

school in the award-winning La Hacienda restaurant in the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. For information and her schedule of classes call 800-473-8226 or visit Jane Butel is the author of eighteen cookbooks. Her latest book is a new edition of Hotter Than Hell which covers hot and spicy dishes from around the world. Northland Publishing publishes the book. It is beautifully illustrated with spectacular food photos and contains more than 100 recipes. Some of our favorites include “Bitchy Beef Bourguignon,” “Cajun Lamb Chops” and “Red Hot Baby Lobster Tails.” The book also contains recipes for cool drinks and sweet deserts to counteract the spiciness of the dishes. 160 pages, $16.95 The Sandia Mountains are the backdrop for Albuquerque. A short trip from town is the world’s largest aerial tramway, Sandia Peak Tramway. Well worth the experience, the tramway lifts you from the floor of the desert on a 2.7-mile journey to the top of Sandia Peak. Visitors enjoy lush forests filled with wildlife such as an occasional black bear, raccoons and golden eagles. The High Finance Restaurant & Tavern is located at the top of the tram. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and offers a spectacular view and delicious steak and seafood dishes. Dinner specialties include slow-roasted Prime Rib or skillet roasted Ahi Tuna, both culinary delights, as well as the crowd-pleasing, flame- seared Beef Flambé. Bar drinks, beer and wines will wet your whistle. Sandia Peak Tramway and The High Finance Restaurant & Tavern are open year round. For hours call 505856-7325 or log onto New Mexico is the oldest wine region in the country, dating back to the 1600’s. Today, there are 19 wineries producing more 350,000 gallons of wine. Most of the wineries are considered boutique, and quality varies across the spectrum. Visitors to Albuquerque should be pleased to know that the city is home to two world-class wineries. Gruet Winery is run by members of France’s Gruet family who have deep winemaking roots. In 1984, Laurent Gruet, Farid Himeur and Nathalie Gruet relocated to New Mexico with years of experience in the winemaking traditions of Champagne.The planted vineyards in the southern part of New Mexico and, three years later, their first harvest was ready. Today, Gruet has a reputation for being one of America’s top producers of sparkling wine made the methode champenoise way. Gruet produces six different delicious sparklers, plus Chardonnay and Pinot Noir still wines.

Photo courtesy Hyatt Tamayo

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New Mexico has a strong Native American culture. The state is home to 19 Indian pueblos. Most are less than an hour drive from Albuquerque and some pueblos welcome visitors. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center showcases a historical look at some of southwest’s first inhabitants. It is located minutes from the center of the city and worth a visit. Call 505- 843-7270 for hours of operation and directions. The Santa Ana Pueblo is located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is one of the largest resorts ever developed on Native-American land, and sits on 500 acres of the 78,000-acre Santa Ana reservation. When it was completed in 2000, The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa was Hyatt’s largest resort worldwide. While new Hyatt projects have since dwarfed this resort, one must appreciate the intense and careful planning that its owners undertook. The “Tamaya” name comes from “mist” off the river. The location and design of the resort provides guests with an ethereal, peaceful luxury while respecting the Santa Ana reservation 700 residents’ privacy. General Manager Steve Dewire remarked, “everything is done with respect for the culture of what was before. This location has historical significance.” The resort was designed to be low and long, with a stylistic influence from the Navajo nation. It fits comfortably into the land, just footsteps from the scent of pinion and cedar trees that provide nature’s soothing ventilation system. Most of the hotel’s 350 pueblo-style guest rooms and suites open to a private patio or balcony, providing breathtaking views of the

scenic mountains or native cottonwoods. The rooms are beautiful and carefully decorated with traditional Santa Ana pueblo pottery and woven textured blankets. Modern amenities include modern bedding/pillows, two-line phones, high speed internet and refrigerators. The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa offers a lot. While 65% of its business is corporate conferences, the resort provides calming relaxation for couples as well as a fun-filled itinerary for families. There are two PGA-recognized golf courses (designed by Gary Panks), riding stables and four outdoor swimming pools (one includes a three-story waterslide that will make your children never want to leave). The Tamaya Mist Spa & Salon offers a great assortment of relaxing therapies including six different massages for singles or couples, facials and waxing, tanning and our favorite treatment, the High Desert Enchantment, which restores body moisture. The resort’s signature restaurant, The Corn Maiden, is located in a separate adobestyle building behind the hotel overlooking the majestic Sandia Mountains. The site offers the ideal setting for a romantic southwest-style sunset dinner. The Corn Maiden boasts “foods

on fire” which are slow -cooked to preserve flavors. The dishes are inspired by local flavors, with a good number prepared on skewers. The restaurant’s nouvelle cuisine includes spitfired meat, fowl and fish. Tapas-style plates are perfect for “noshers” like me. Favorites include a delectable Mushrooms in Phylo, New Mexico Goat Cheese Spring Roll and Tamarind Marinated Quail with Truffle Risotto. The entrees from the Corn Maiden Rotisserie were especially delicious. Entrées included The Wild Game Variety (Maderia Venison, Dark Beer Honey Wild Boar Tenderloin, Soy Orange Duck Breast and Alligator Sausage with Juniper Berry Glaze) $42. The 140-bottle wine list is heavily weighted with the usual suspects from California. We found a few surprise bottles from New Mexico and Alsace. The staff has a good knowledge of wine and will suggest a good wine to pair with your main course. If you have room for desert, the Crème Brulés are offered several ways including berry, pecan and sweet corn. The resort has three other restaurants, plus room and poolside dining. Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa 1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, USA 87004 Tel: 505- 867 -1234 Fax: 505 771 6180 (Top) Hyatt Regency Tamayo Resort & Spa at night. Appetizers at The Corn Maiden restaurant.

Daffy for Duck

page 20

Story by Jean O’Brien Coffey

Photos courtesy of The Garden City Hotel

Suggest duck to just about any cook, and they’re bound to get excited. “Every time you mention duck to a chef, they feel a level of comfort, because it’s so rich and tasty and juicy,” says Steven De Bruyn, executive chef and wine director at the Garden City Hotel in Long Island. “That’s what it does to me – you mention duck and you feel at home. It’s not complicated.”

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Photos courtesy of The Garden City Hotel

t He F irst C ourse

e Bruyn loves cooking with duck so much that he presents it three ways in a single dish at his hotel’s Polo Restaurant—a treatment that has garnered admiration in the local press. While the preparation changes seasonally, it is always a graceful reminder of duck’s versatility. Th is fall, the trio includes whole duck leg confi t with salad; duck breast with wild mushrooms, and truffl ed mac and cheese topped with duck fois gras. Duck clearly inspires experimentation among chefs. Jonathan Pratt, executive chef at Peter Pratt’s Inn, in Westchester County, New York, loves to toy with it so much that he off ers an annual six-course dinner featuring duck in every course, from appetizer through dessert. Th e dinner, which plays to a sell-out crowd every year, off ers unusual tastes like Smoked Duck Hash Parcels topped with Apple Duck Glace and Crème Fraiche, and Foie Gras Ganache. Duck is not limited to that annual event; Pratt regularly features it on the menu at Peter Pratt’s, as well as his other restaurant, Umami Cafe. “I love duck, period,” Pratt says. Chefs agree that, even for the home cook, duck shouldn’t be limited to special occasions – and should certainly encourage experimentation. “Duck is lean, high in protein and very fl avorful,” says Richard Chamberlain of Envy the Steakhouse in Las Vegas. “Duck is unique in that it has rich fl avor without the fat, making it really a light, easy to digest, protein.” Perhaps because of its popularity with people who are trying to cut back on fat, or because Americans are getting more adventurous, more and more duck items are appearing in supermarkets, from whole Muscovy ducks to cryovaced breast. You can even fi nd confi t—whole duck leg cured in its own fat—which is popular in French bistros. “What’s nice about confi t is that it’s widely available in supermarkets – and it’s pretty good,” DeBruyn says, adding that he was surprised to see confi t recently at a supermarket in Atlanta. “It’s everywhere, and it’s so easy to use. You can shred some pieces off it and put it in a salad – it’s just gold.” De Bruyn’s favorite way to use confi t is a little less healthy, though. He likes to take the whole leg, sear it skin-side down for about 10 minutes over medium heat, until the skin becomes crispy, warm it in the oven for another fi ve minutes then put it on top of some sautéed potatoes. “It’s probably the French bistro dish – it’s one of the best preparations,” he says. “Over there, they boil the potatoes whole, cut

them in thick slices, then sauté them in duck fat until they’re nice and crispy. Th ey’re not afraid of duck fat over there – they use it in everything.” Of course, the fat in duck is what scares some American home cooks off , but surprisingly, when you remove the skin from duck, you have removed virtually all the fat, Pratt says. Another plus, he adds, is that duck is “as versatile as beef or pork, and lends itself to many cooking methods.” Skinless duck actually has less fat than

chicken breast. Of course, dealing with such lean meat means you have to be very careful not to overcook it—a problem that home chefs oft en encounter. “Overcooking duck is the most common mistake,” notes Envy’s Chamberlin. When overcooked, even the best quality duck is dry and tough. Th at’s why home chefs sometimes run into trouble when cooking a whole duck. When the breast reaches the preferred medium rare temperature, the legs are not yet cooked. De Bruyn suggests removing the legs when the breast is ready, then allowing the legs to continue to cook separately. Of course, one way to avoid that problem is to remove the breast and cook everything separately. Th at’s how you’ll fi nd it served in most restaurants, partly because of the amount of space a whole duck takes in the oven. De Bruyn should know – he off ered whole Peking duck on the menu in his restaurant about 10 years ago. “It was a nightmare,” he recalls. “You can only fi t six ducks on a sheet pan, and that’s for 12 people, and the oven is full.” Cooking a breast, on the other hand, is simple, De Bruyn says. “It’s easier than cooking a steak. You can actually put it in the pan on medium heat, walk away for a seven or

eight minutes, then fl ip it over for another few minutes and its done.” Just be sure to score the skin without cutting the fl esh, prior to cooking, to help drain out the fat and crisp up the skin. Make sure you stick to medium heat, too – cranking up the range isn’t likely to give you a better sear, and may yield a less-than-tasty dish. “Cooking too fast, whether in the pan or oven, will leave you with a fl abby piece of meat,” Pratt says, adding that overcooking can leave you with dry, chewy meat. Which breed is best? When choosing a duck to cook, Pratt advises choosing your cooking method before choosing your breed. Th ere are two main types of duck available in the US –Muscovy and Peking. Muscovy duck, which doesn’t migrate and therefore has very little fat, is oft en preferred by chefs. It tends to be a touch more fl avorful and perhaps more “gamey” than other breeds. Pratt says the rich beefy fl avor of Muscovy is great for roasting, but the small amount of fat means it’s best served medium rare. Oft en fattier, but with a more mild fl avor, Pratt says, Peking duck is great for all cooking methods. It’s easy to confuse Peking duck, which is a breed, with “Peking duck,” which is the method of preparation common in Chinatown, involving air-drying the bird before roasting. In fact, even today, some famous chefs confuse the two. Th e so-called Long Island duck is a breed of Peking duck – and is the kind you’re most likely to fi nd in the local supermarket. Envy’s Chamberlin advises choosing a fresh duck whenever possible. Th ey are oft en available from Asian butchers, if not in your local supermarket. If you can fi nd Moulard, which is the foie gras producer, Pratt says it’s great for searing the breast or smoking, and has the perfect legs for confi t. With the myriad preparations and duck products available today, there’s no excuse for the home cook to skip duck. Chefs agree that it’s easy to prepare and good for you. And as further proof that duck doesn’t demand gourmet surroundings or preparation, Pratt’s favorite duck dish wasn’t even made in a kitchen. “One of the best duck meals I remember was barbecuing duck confi t over a campfi re during an impending storm at Bear Lake in Utah,” Pratt recalls. “I was swilling a bottle of Turley Black Sears [Zinfandel] while poking at a baked potato in the fi re. Th e tent blew over, but the duck was marvelous.”

page 22 Photo courtesy of The Garden City Hotel

D uck



*Look for a fresh duck. While a lot of duck is available frozen, fresh makes a big diff erence in taste. *Cryovac packaging is oft en a good alternative – just make sure there’s not a lot of blood in the package. A lot of blood could mean the duck is not that fresh. Th e meat could also pick up a livery fl avor. Also make sure the package doesn’t look infl ated. *Open any cryovaced meat the day before cooking and pat it dry to dissipate off or liver-like fl avors. *Aft er cooking, always let duck breast rest for a few minutes before slicing. It’s even more important than with chicken, because duck breast tends to lose its juice very quickly if you slice it too soon. *Choose the cooking technique fi rst and then the breed that best fi ts the preparation, then buy the freshest one you can fi nd. Th e meat should be fi rm and dark in color. If frozen, make sure there are no ice crystals or off colors.

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Pan Seared Muscovy Duck Breast with Wild Mushrooms and Diced Celery Root By Executive Chef Steven DeBruyn Th e Polo Restaurant at Th e Garden City Hotel Serves 4 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

• 4 Muscovy duck breasts (5-6 oz each) • 12 oz. mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed (preferably Chanterelle and Black Trumpet) • 4 oz. celery root, diced into 1/3 inch pieces • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots • 1 tablespoon chopped chives • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1 tablespoon butter • Salt and pepper to taste Score the skin of the duck breast by making criss-cross /diamond shaped incisions with a sharp knife, without cutting the meat. Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Season duck breasts with salt and pepper; add to skillet skin side down and cook over medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Pour off excess fat from skillet. Season the meat side of the duck, turn and cook about 2 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer the duck breasts to a heated platter and tent with foil to keep warm. In the same skillet, sauté the celery root until slightly browned. Add the shallots and Chanterelle mushrooms, salt, pepper and fresh thyme and cook for 3 minutes or until most of the accumulated liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and, the Black Trumpet mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté for one minute and if necessary, add more seasoning. Th inly slice duck. Arrange the cooked mushrooms on warm plates and sprinkle with chopped chives. Place sliced duck breast on top of the mushrooms. Serve with roasted potatoes or homemade macaroni and cheese.

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Muscovy Duck Breast with Port Wine Huckleberry Sauce and Red Rice-Barley Risotto

Duck, which has more in common with lamb than with chicken, usually cries out for a red wine.

Serves 4 • •

Paırıngs “Duck pairs well with all reds, but

4 Muscovy duck breasts Salt and pepper

primarily Pinot Noir,” says Richard Chamberlin of Envy Steakhouse in Las Vegas. However, while Pinot is

Score duck breast using a sharp knife and using a crisscross cut. Do not cut into meat. Season both sides of breast and place fat side down in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Allow breast to cook slowly until fat is crispy and brown. Turn over breast, remove from heat and set aside to rest.

a classic pairing, much depends on

Red Rice Barley risotto • 1/2 cup red rice (cooked in chicken stock until just al dente) • 1/2 cup organic barley (cooked in chicken stock until just done) • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme • 1 teaspoon butter • 1/4 cup heavy cream • 1/4 cup pecan pieces (lightly toasted)

the Garden City Hotel. For example,

In saucepan, sauté onion and thyme in a little duck fat until onions are soft. Add rice and barley and heat. And cream and reduce by half. Finish with pecan and butter and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Jonathan Pratt, of Peter Pratt’s Inn,

Port Wine-Huckleberry Sauce • 2 cups port wine • 1/2 cup huckleberries (or 1/4 cup dried blueberries) • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme • 2 shallots (chopped) • 4 tablespoons butter • Salt and pepper

Rhone or the classic Pinot Noir.

In saucepan over medium high heat, add a little duck fat, shallots and thyme. Cook until shallots are soft. Add wine, increase heat and reduce by 3/4. Remove from heat, whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper.

sweetness, but that tends to be white,

Assembly Remove duck breast to cutting board and slice. Place risotto on center of plate. Place duck breast over rice. Spoon sauce over and serve.

jolais, or a red Loire wine.... I think

the way the duck is cooked. “I think you need to look more at the whole preparation,” says Steven De Bruyn, executive chef and wine director at with De Bruyn’s duck breast with wild mushrooms, the earthy rustic preparation would pair well with an old world wine, like a Pinot Noir, but could also stand up to a pretty tannic Bordeaux, or even a great Shiraz, he suggests. “I can’t see a Shiraz go wrong with duck,” De Bruyn says. agrees that, especially with the beefier breeds, a big Bordeaux would pair nicely. However, he also suggests a When duck is paired with something sweet, as when it is served with a fruit sauce, the pairing gets tricky, though. “It’s tough,” Debruyn admits. “You won’t see preparations like that at a wine dinner. You might go toward something with a bit more and you can’t serve white with duck. I would tend toward something a bit fruitier – something light like Beauyou’re better off with a beer,” he says with a laugh.


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“Daniels of the Vine”

Superstar Chef Daniel Boulud pairs up with America’s Finest Sommelier-Daniel Johnnes Story and photos by Christopher J. Davies

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P assion & P rofiles


The Interview WCI founders Christopher & Darcy Davies recently interviewed Daniel Boulud and Daniel Johnnes on “America’s Dining and Travel Guide,” broadcast on The Business Talk Radio Network with Chef Pierre Wolfe.

ew York superstar chef Daniel Boulud has built a culinary empire in the course of his illustrious twenty-four year career in the US. Today, he is the chef-owner of some of the nation’s finest restaurants: Daniel, Cafe Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne and Daniel Boulud Brasserie, with locations in Manhattan, Palm Beach and Las Vegas. His Feast & Fetes is a catering company operated by Daniel restaurant in Manhattan, and DB Connoisseur is a supplier of caviar and salmon. He is also author of numerous cookbooks and creator of kitchenware and gourmet products. Chef Boulud is a frequent television and radio guest, a generous donor and supporter of charitable organizations, as well as a guest instructor and lecturer. Sommelier Daniel Johnnes joined Chef Boulud’s corporate entity, the Dinex Group, in September 2005. In his new role, he oversees the company’s entire wine program, guiding the restaurant’s team of sommeliers. He is responsible for supervising the cellars, training, creating unique wine events and ensuring that the service is unsurpassed. “Johnnes combines great American spirit with a profound knowledge and love of French wine,” explains Boulud. “Our love for what we do, and the way it is fused into every aspect of our lives, creates a bond of camaraderie and mutual respect between us.” Daniel Johnnes served as wine director at Montrachet for almost two decades. One of Manhattan’s legendary French restaurants, Montrachet has a reputation for having the “best Burgundy list in America.” During his career, Johnnes has been the recipient of numerous awards and citations, including the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Wine Service in 1995. Wine Advocate publisher and wine ‘god’ Robert Parker describes Daniel Johnnes as “our nation’s finest (and nicest) sommelier.”

Johnnes became an author in 1996 when he published his consumer guide, “Daniel Johnnes’s Top 200 Wines, an Expert’s Guide to Maximum Enjoyment for Your Dollar.” He is also the owner of his own wine importing company, Jeroboam Wines, specializing in France’s most serious and innovative producers. Daniel Boulud and Daniel Johnnes have recently surprised the wine world by undertaking a completely “attitude-free” approach to wine, with an exciting new wine packaged in a tube called “dtour.” It contains a delicious, vibrant Chardonnay from Mâcon Villages. A Rhone red will be released later this year. Both men received major industry recognition on May 8, 2006, when they were awarded 2006 James Beard Foundation Awards. Daniel Boulud received the “Outstanding Restaurateur” award. Daniel Johnnes received the “Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional” award.

Pierre Wolfe “Bonjour Daniel! Could you have achieved the status that you earned in this amount of time in America in your native France? ” Daniel Boulud “I am not sure, but I would have spent the time and energy trying to. When I came to America twenty-five years ago there was only city that I wanted to work in, that was New York. I felt that I had the energy and stamina and young talent. But I had to prove to New Yorkers that I was good enough for them. I think that I worked very hard for it. It is clear that nothing is taken for granted. And twenty-five years later, we take our restaurant so seriously, our customers seriously and our wine program seriously. And if I am a superstar in cooking, I am proud that Daniel Johnnes is the superstar in wine.” Daniel Johnnes “You asked if Daniel Boulud would have had the same success in France? I can tell you that he would have had success anywhere in the world. The amount of energy and enthusiasm that he puts into it is contagious to his staff as well as his clientele. That’s what contributes to his being a success. That goes everywhere, not just New York.” Christopher Davies “Daniel Boulud, you have a new restaurant in Las Vegas?” Daniel Boulud “Yes. It’s a new brasserie. It’s more casual than DB Bistro in New York City. It’s on a larger scale on the Lake of Dreams at the Wynn Resort. Steve Wynn opened the hotel a year ago. I am very proud to be associated with him. It’s called Daniel Boulud Brasserie. It’s very much

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in the tradition of a brasserie, with the sophistication of a good chef offering convenient service and a very friendly atmosphere. The cuisine is very approachable. We offer wonderful meat dishes as well as ‘Fruits de Mer Plateau,’ a seafood casserole in the great tradition of brasserie.” Pierre Wolfe “I cruise all over the world. And food is a major part of the cruise experience. I believe that you are an advisor to one of the major cruise lines?” (Note: Daniel Boulud was a chef consultant for Cunard’s mammoth luxury liner Queen Mary 2)

Daniel Boulud “I was, but I gave my hat to somebody else. Sometimes it is important to think, is this the right thing for me? Is this the right thing for my staff? I myself ask if maybe the ship was too big? Maybe I was not able to dedicate enough time to it, so I left my position there. But since then, besides food, my passion mostly lay on wine. And I really want to say that with Daniel Johnnes, we’ve done some amazing things with wine. We have known each for a long time.” Daniel Johnnes “Over twenty years!” Christopher Davies “Daniel Johnnes, you joined with Daniel Boulud in December?” Daniel Johnnes “That’s right. It has only been a few months. I can say that this has been a great opportunity for me. But I am having so much fun and

excitement working with Daniel Boulud. With the amount of time that we spend in this business, that’s important! If you are not having fun, doing first of all you can’t do a good job. And you would be just wasting your time, because there is so much work involved.” Christopher Davies “I’ve been hearing a lot of good things out of New York about the extraordinary wine events that you guys are pulling off. Can you tell me what’s different about your approach?” Daniel Johnnes “I think that there is a great deal of interest in wine today among consumers on all levels. Even on the very, very top end, to wines that are accessible to people. People are very knowledgeable and passionate about wine. What we are trying to do is to bring events to people that are exciting and innovative. Sometimes they are very expensive and rare, these could be the last bottles remaining on the planet. In other cases, it could be something that is educational and more accessible to people. The most important is to showcase our enthusiasm for wine...they appreciate that.” Darcy Davies “This new dtour wine looks like a very interesting project. In America, as you know, people are very familiar with ‘box wine.’ But this actually ‘bag in a tube wine’ which I think is unique. I love the packaging. What is your philosophy for bringing this wine to the US?” Daniel Boulud “We want to be known as approachable people.

And we knew that we could make delicious, affordable wine.” Daniel Johnnes “I think that is it! That is the key! There are three people involved in this project. Daniel Boulud, Dominique Lafon, the winemaker, and myself. We have spent our careers associated with fine dining and somewhat exclusive wines. But we are also people that love wine of good value. And we love more informal experiences as well. We want to show people a new approach to great wine. Maybe take a ‘detour’ from the normal way of appreciating wine and buying wine. All three of us are saying it is ok to try wine in a box. We put our wine in a tube because it is big hurdle to overcome for people that enjoy wine. People have a stereotype about what wine is.” Daniel Boulud “And also that’s why we call it dtour because it is really taking a detour from ordinary box wine.” Darcy Davies “The packaging reflects that very well. It is sexy looking.” Daniel Boulud “And Daniel and Dominique the made sure the wine was good. And I put my stamp of approval to make sure that it is better than a typical Chardonnay. It is a fresh, crisp, young, affordable wine that you can drink every day.”

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Since 1918, superb, award-winning dining has always been a Broadmoor tradition. Today, The Broadmoor offers 15 distinctive choices in restaurants, cafes and lounges for your enjoyment. From the classic Penrose Room with its unparalleled views and continental cuisine and Charles Court with fine Colorado al fresco dining

by the lake, to grilled specials at the historic Tavern, family fare at the newly remodeled Golf Club Dining Room and the casually elegant new Adam D. Tihany designed Summit restaurant at Broadmoor Hall, your choices seem endless. For more information call Dining Reservations at 1-800-634-7711.

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Syrah It’s What’s for Dinner

By Marlene Rossman Photos by C.J. Davies

It’s six p.m. and I am home at last. It’s time to think about dinner, my favorite meal. Come to think of it, all meals are my favorite! But dinner is special because that’s the time to go into my wine cellar and pick another of my awesome bottles. Tonight, I will be making an Asian beef stir-fry. What shall I pour with dinner?


walk into my wine room and glance at my lovely Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon collection--starting to gather dust. I stroke my beautiful bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir and French Burgundy. Passing by the Cabs and Pinots, I reach for a bottle of one of the luscious California Syrahs that I have been hoarding. Wait, maybe I should take that bottle of the jammy Aussie Shiraz, or maybe that nice, earthy bottle of Washington State Syrah…hmmm. Whichever one I pick, it will be accessible, ripe and yummy with stir-fried beef medallions with shitake mushrooms. It appears that there is somewhat of a shift occurring among some wine drinkers and collectors, present company included. It has a lot to do with our lifestyles and the amazing proliferation of international food choices. The new guard is not eating huge steaks or roast beef every night. People are eating lighter, spicier foods such as Asian-fusion and Pacific

Rim styles. Steaks are more likely to be tuna and swordfish, or alternative meats like bison or venison, than the traditional well-marbled beef. This change in food fashions call for a change in wines. Red Bordeaux or California Cabernets are great with prime rib, but don’t pair nearly as well with Indian Chicken Tikka or bison chili. This wonderful fare cries out for an easily approachable, spicy and exciting wine…and Syrah fits that bill perfectly. Apparently I am not alone. According to AC Nielsen, although Syrah/Shiraz market share accounts for only about 4.5 percent of total retail wine sales, the grape has been responsible for an average of 13 percent of total retail wine sales growth, year-on-year, September 2004-September 2005. Syrah can be a powerful, full-bodied wine, with almost opaque black color and aromas ranging from lavender and violets to berries, chocolate, espresso, black pepper, tar

and smoked game. Syrah’s flavors can include blueberries, blackberries, plums and raspberries, lavender, herbes de Provence and jasmine. In some places, notably Paso Robles and Australia, winemakers are blending the white grape Viognier into Syrah for its floral aromas and softening effects. California and Washington State are growing this country’s best Syrah, with California in first place. Nielsen reports sales of California Syrah nationally totaled $55 million over the last year. That’s almost 700,000 cases of wine! Washington State produced about 100,000 cases of Syrah worth over $10 million. Sales of Washington Syrah are up 41 percent from a year ago and California Syrah sales were up 19 percent. Much of the New World’s Syrah is accessible upon release, which means that it can be drunk relatively young. In addition to not having to wait until your grandchildren

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G rape E xpectations finish college to drink it, Syrah is also relatively reasonably priced. While you may not be able to get a great northern Rhone Hermitage on the cheap, you can get awesome Syrah, from a variety of appellations, domestic and international, for about $20-$35. Syrah, often considered a “noble” wine grape, is said to reach the height of it’s expression in the Northern Rhone, in the ultrapricey, limited edition Hermitage, but also in less expensive Cote-Rotie, Cornas, St.-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and more. Syrah, according to legend, was brought back to the Rhone from ancient Persia by a French crusader, Gaspard de Sterimberg, who is said to have put down his sword and shield, planted a vineyard atop a beautiful mountain above a sweeping curve of the Rhone, and declared the place his “Hermitage.” Syrah is also an important blending grape in the Southern Rhone, Languedoc and Provence; and it’s a hot variety in California, where it leads the market category that Syrah lovers call “Rhone Rangers.” But Syrah is also quickly gaining recognition in Spain, Italy, South Africa, Chile, Washington State and just about every other world wine-growing region. And it’s the leading grape of Australia, where it’s called Shiraz. The grape took its name from the Persian city of Shiraz, where the Crusader is said to have found it; and the French modified the name to “Syrah.” But when cuttings were shipped to the new colony of Australia in the early 1800s, the grape took back the Persian name. Syrah in France, Shiraz in Australia, but it’s the same grape, even if local custom and vinification practices might make it seem like two different wines. South Africans, by and large, have adopted the Australian name. A small number of California producers also call it “Shiraz,” perhaps to signal that their wine is made in a fruit-forward Australian style, or to jump on the popularity of Aussie Shiraz. In the Northern Rhone, the classic Syrah flavors may include baked tar, bacon grease, game, damp earth, burnt toffee and other aromas and flavors that Americans often find too strong. However, in California, Australia and other regions, Syrah is often made in the much-disputed “international style,” which is sweet, low in acid and easy to drink. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! A few critics claim that, in order to appeal to and capture a wider market, some producers have dumbed down their Syrahs, or “Merlotized” them. But winemakers are ignoring these critics, and finding a receptive market. Winemakers say the grape’s potential is unlimited because it grows successfully in so many different soils and climates and lends itself to so many styles, courtesy of its ability to blend with a variety of grapes.

If you’re looking for wines that resemble those of Côte-Rôtie, Cornas or Hermitage, with rich, dense flavors of exotic spice, beef, pepper, herb and sage, you can find them in the cooler appellations of California. Areas such as Santa Barbara, Sonoma Coast, Edna Valley, Napa and also Washington State produce a bit more austere-style wines. In warmer areas, including parts of Paso Robles and Lodi, the wines can be richer and more opulent, a style some winemakers describe as being inspired by the ultra-ripe Shiraz from Australia. Syrah can also make an appealing, fruity and easy-to-drink style wine and it can be a prodigious producer, which allows many wineries to produce good Syrah in large volumes.

and the vines thrive in its gravelly soils, which are a little like the Northern Rhône. Washington Syrah strikes a good balance between Rhone Syrah and the “fruit bombs” of California Syrah. Although Syrah is still an upstart in the Golden State, its acreage is quickly multiplying. While Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, California’s premier red wine, doesn’t have to worry about being usurped, Syrah is making serious inroads to rival Cab’s popularity. Most of Napa’s top Syrah is made in fairly small quantities, typically between 1,000 and 2,000 cases (with the higher-rated wines usually around 600 or so cases). But prices are also much lower than those for most Cabernets. Moreover, there are dozens of exciting Syrahs to buy, which offers great opportunity. Syrah doesn’t quite yet have the sexy mystique of Cab--but check back with me in a couple of years!

Editor’s Pick: My Top Ten Syrahs Bergevin Lane Vineyards Syrah 2003 Columbia Valley, Washington, $25

Calix Cellars Syrah Parmalee Hill 2002 Sonoma County, California $33 Chumeia Syrah 2002 Paso Robles, California $20 Garfield Estates Syrah, 2003 Grand Valley, Colorado $20

Idaho is one of the newest places where serious wine is being produced. This Syrah is among the best.

In Australia today, the acreage planted to Syrah is well over 30,000 hectares and growing. Barossa Valley in southern Australia is famous for the world-class Penfolds Grange, a wine made mainly from Shiraz, often blended with a little Cabernet Sauvignon. Eden Valley, Coonawara, and the Hunter Valley are also famous for their succulent Shiraz. California, particularly in Sonoma County, Santa Barbara, Napa and the Central Valley, has been very successful with Syrah. Washington State is also home to many hectares of Syrah, with the best of the grapes coming from the Red Mountain. Chile has also had success with Syrah and will produce better wines in the future as the vines become older. South Africa has come on line with Syrah, which is much better than their Pinotage and markets a style that is somewhere between European and Australian styles. The hot new thing in Syrah is Washington. Washington State Syrah ripens well in eastern Washington’s long, hot growing season,

Hunter Hill Syrah 2002 Arroyo Seco Santa Cruz Mountains, California $40 Léal Vineyards Syrah 2002 San Benito County, California $24 Andrew Rich Syrah Reserve 2002 Columbia Valley, Washington $38 Smith Wooton Syrah Tanner Brothers Vineyard 2003 Calaveras County, California $28 VJB Cellars Syrah 2002 Alexander Valley, California $35

Value Wines RH Philips EXP Syrah 2002 Dunnigan Hills, California $10 Wynns Coonawara Estate Shiraz 2004 South Australia $12

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G rape E xpectations

Even after tasting dozens of bottles of Syrah, my thirst for these seductive wines is undiminished. California, Australia, South Africa, Washington State--I’ll have them all! California Adelaida Cellars Syrah Reserve Glenrose Yineyard 2003 Paso Robles $52 This limited edition Syrah from Adelaida is pricey but worth it. With blackberry, lavender and smoky aromas and flavors, it’s a big young wine that needs a bit of time to resolve. Or decant it for an hour and savor life! Baileyana Winery Syrah Firepeak Vineyard “The GFC” 2003 Edna Valley $30. Having an experienced French winemaker on premises does not hurt! This is a concentrated Syrah with delicious flavors of blueberry, spice and vanilla. This gorgeous baby will only get better with a bit of cellaring. Beaulieu Vineyards Syrah 2003 Napa Valley $15 Beaulieu has always made some of my favorite wines and this one is no exception. This is classic Syrah, with herbs de Provence, licorice and game. Bonterra Syrah 2001 Mendocino County $22 This is a well-balanced Syrah with good varietal character, showing ripe red fruit, a little anise and toast. Try it with grilled lamb chops. It’s organic, so you can feel really good about drinking it! Brassfield Estate Syrah 2002 High Valley $22 Inky, purple Syrah from California’s newest appellation, High Valley.

Calix Cellars Syrah Parmalee-Hill 2002 Sonoma $33 Only a couple of hundred cases were made of this, so grab it if you see it! Rudy Zuidema, who makes many awesome wines, including the great Tres Sabores Zinfandel, makes this single vineyard Syrah. It’s elegant, well balanced and tastes of wild blueberries. Castoro Cellars Syrah 2002 Reserve Paso Robles $18 Delicious fruit up front with spice and toasty oak. This is a nice easygoing Syrah with a long sweet finish. Cerro Caliente Cellars Syrah 2003 Dixon Ranch Edna Valley $20 Dark, almost opaque with sweet red fruit. Intriguing tastes of pepper and spice come together in this absolutely delicious Syrah. Chameleon Cellars Syrah 2002 North Coast/Napa $16 Keep an eye on this winery and on Jeff Popick, the winemaker. He won top honors at the 2005 Reno Tahoe WineFest for his Petite Sirah. Now get a load of these 2002 beauties and grab both if you are lucky enough to find them. His North Coast Syrah is fruity on the nose. With a little cedar and a lot of blackberries, it’s a steal at $16. Jeff ’s Napa Syrah at $25 is fatter on the nose, with a big, sweet mouth feel and long finish.

Chatom Syrah 2002 Calaveras County $25 A fragrant Syrah with blueberries, earth, licorice, blackberries and sweet spice all rolling to the finish. Chumeia Syrah 2002 Paso Robles $20 Sweet, spicy Syrah with pure, ripe black fruit. On the palate, it has smoky game, black tea and oak, in a well priced package Clautiere Vineyard Syrah 2002 Paso Robles $20 Claudine Blackwell and Terry Brady are making small batches of wonderful wines. Blackberries, florals, and a bit of anise and toast on the finish wrap it up. Clayhouse Syrah 2003 Paso Robles With 12% Petite Sirah and a bit of Zinfandel, this Syrah has the stuffing to stand up to food. It’s got good acid and ripe fruit. Domaine Alfred Syrah Chamisal Vineyard 2002 Edna Valley $25 Only 785 cases of this marvelous Syrah were made. So if you see Domaine Alfred 2002 Syrah, grab a couple of bottles. I know that the 2003 is as good. This Northern Rhone-style Syrah is unfiltered and unfined. They even make a rosé Syrah, which makes a great summer aperitif. Look for Domaine Alfred Rosé of Syrah 2003. Edna Valley Syrah 2003 Central Coast $14 This excellent value Syrah is ripe with pepper, plum and sage. It has great varietal character and drinks like it should cost twice the price.

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G rape E xpectations Eberle Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard 2002 Paso Robles $21 Sweet berries and black plums show beautifully on this earthy, ripe Syrah. Foley Syrah Rancho Santa Rosa 2003 Sta. Rita Hills $25 This Syrah is barrel aged for fourteen months in French oak. Along with toasty blackberry fruit you get hints of herbs and delicious bittersweet chocolate. Geyser Peak Shiraz Reserve 2000 Sonoma $40 Daryl Groom, formerly the red winemaker for Australia’s Penfolds, is Geyser Peak’s winemaker. His training shows in his elegant Shiraz, which balances fruit, cedar and black pepper. Hagafen Cellars Syrah 2001 Napa $27 With blackberry and vanilla aromas and ripe fruit flavors, this well-balanced Syrah has good structure and balance. It’s a delicious match with food. Raspberry, red licorice, cinnamon and toasty oak aromas reach out from this wine. This medium-bodied Syrah is aged for twenty months in oak. Hagafen did not release a 2002, so look for vintage 2003 and you will be well rewarded. Robert Hall Syrah Reserve 2002 Paso Robles $32 This lovely reserve Syrah has ripe aromas of blackberry, plum and cherry, with hits of tobacco and spice. On the palate, soft tannins and excellent depth of flavor carry through to the finish. Hayman & Hill 2002 Shiraz Viognier Monterey $14 Nice, medium-bodied, well-priced Syrah, blended with a touch of Viognier (like Cote Roties and Aussie Shiraz), to bring out the flavors of berries, black tea and oak. Hug Cellars Bassetti Vineyard Syrah 2003 Paso Robles $38 Dark berry fruit with licorice, hickory smoke and cocoa make this tiny- production Syrah a winner. It finishes with lovely tastes of baking spice and sweet tannins. Hunter Hill Syrah 2002 Arroyo Seco Santa Cruz $40 With great varietal character, this Syrah has all the traditional elements concentrated and in balance--tar, smoke, game and spice with black plums and blueberries. Jepson Syrah 2001 Mendocino $23 Smooth, strawberry flavors with nice nutmeg, cinnamon and clove wrapped up with smooth tannins. Kendall-Jackson Syrah “Highland Estates” Alisos Hills Santa Barbara 2002 $30 Bravo to Kendall-Jackson’s upscale line that includes this delicious Syrah! Only 418 cases were produced and it shines with sweet earth, plum and espresso flavors. This wine is about balance and power. Another Santa Barbara winner! L’Aventure Syrah Estate 2002 Paso Robles $55 France’s loss is our gain. Stephan Asseo, ownerwinemaker of Stephan Vineyards, makes New World -style wines. This is one for the cellar. It’s sweet, thick and rich with stuffing to go the distance!

Léal Vineyards Syrah 2002 San Benito $24 I know, I know…San Benito? This Syrah is so good it will put San Benito on the top of the wine route. Unfiltered, with 5% Viognier added, Léal gives you a gorgeous floral mouthful. It is ripe and concentrated with blackberry and sweet toast on the palate. Lincourt Vineyards Syrah 2003 Santa Barbara $21 This young beauty starts off with baking spice and licorice aromas followed by blueberry and blackberry flavors. A well -balanced wine that is delicious with rich food. McDowell Syrah 2002 Reserve Mendocino y $24 Blackberry jam, minerals and ripe, floral aromas, with flavors of spice and cedar. There’s good intensity here, with pepper and tobacco on the finish. Midlife Crisis Winery Syrah 2004 Paso Robles $22 Blueberries, plums and smoky oak are all wrapped up with cocoa powder and sweet tannins. Give this youngster a little bit of bottle age. Ortman Family Vineyards Syrah 2003 San Luis Obispo $20 With blended fruit from both Paso Robles and Edna Valley vineyards, this gorgeous young Syrah has blueberry aromas up front, with black fruit, spice and vanilla, along with tar (it’s a good thing), cocoa, minerals and smoke. Keep your eye on the Ortmans! Praxis Syrah 2003 Dry Creek Valley $15 This is a lighter style of Syrah and a great pairing with spicy Indian food. It has lovely flavors of cherry and vanilla with sweet firm tannins on the finish. Prospero Cellars Syrah 2002 California $NA This is a ripe Syrah, with chocolate and cherry flavors, along with tar and minerals. A dollop of mocha and licorice smoothes out the finish. Rocca Family Vineyards Syrah 2001 Napa Valley $35 Sweet raspberry up front and herbes de Provence on the nose, then you get toast and spice on the palate. If you can’t find the 2001, get the 2002-- or any Syrah from Rocca. Rosenblum Syrah Fess Parker Vineyard 2002 Santa Barbara $24 Anything from Fess Parker’s vineyards tickles me. And this Syrah has wonderful flavors of blackberries, plums, spice, and smoked wood with smooth tannins at the end. St. Francis Syrah 2002 Sonoma $20 By adding a bit of the traditional Rhone blending grapes, Mourvèdre and Grenache, St. Francis has produced a lovely, well-balanced and satin- textured Syrah. Savannah Chanelle Syrah 2002 Monterey $21 With a smoky nose of berry, cherry and tobacco aromas, this Syrah is finishes with luscious tastes of mocha and spice. Silkwood Syrah Selected Reserve 2001 Stanislaus $28 A lighter, claret style of Syrah, Silkwood’s Reserve is delicious and food friendly.

Silver Stone Syrah Hall Ranch 2002 Paso Robles $32 This is the first Syrah from Silver Stone, and what a nice first it is! Sweet black fruit on the palate with great Syrah expression, and it finishes with coffee and chewy soft tannins. Sketchbook Syrah 2001 Mendocino $22 Big, ripe Syrah with game and spice on the entry, it finishes with chocolate, cherry and a bit of cedar. Smith Wooton Syrah Tanner Bros Vineyard 2003 Calaveras $28 Gary Wooten makes Cabernet Franc to die for, and his Syrah is superb, too! While Calaveras County in the Sierra Foothills is not usually the place one thinks of as Syrah country, this fruity, beefy, spicy Syrah, made in the traditional style of the Northern Rhone, will change your mind. Don’t miss it. Sylvester Vineyards and Winery Syrah Estate 2002 Paso Robles $14 A lighter style of Syrah, this has sweet cherry and berry flavors. It is wonderful with food! Like Domaine Alfred, Sylvester also makes a Syrah Rhone Rosé 2003, which is a steal at $8. Tin Barn Vineyards Syrah Coryelle Fields 2002 Sonoma Coast $30 With aromas of cola, tar and game this is like a smoky Northern Rhone Syrah. Deliciously vinified in French oak barrels, this is gorgeous Syrah with pure, sweet black fruit all the way! Tobin James Syrah “Rock and Roll” 2002 Paso Robles $15 Don’t let the chintzy-looking label put you off. This is big, rich and ripe Syrah at a great price. “Roll” into this jammy, chewy Syrah, with a wave of thick, sweet berry/plum fruit and low acidity. Topel Syrah Monterey 2002 Monterey $20 The Topel brothers are makers of a very good Mendocino Cab Sauv. Their rich Syrah has flavors of blueberries and raspberries with black tea and lavender oozing out of the glass. VJB Cellars Syrah 2002 Alexander Valley $35 This is a tiny production (168 cases) Syrah, from a winery that is new to me. The wine is varietally pure and bears a strong resemblance to a Cote Rotie. Ripe, with seductive flavors of black fruit, grilled beef, toast and garrigue that make it a winner. Wattle Creek Shiraz 2001 Alexander Valley $23 This appropriately called “Shiraz” is owned by a couple of Aussie transplants, Christopher and Kristine Williams. Good dark fruit mingles with licorice and spice. Wild Horse Syrah 2003 Paso Robles $20 Delicious aromas of blueberry, blackberry and sweet herbs with plum and spice flavors in a Syrah from an up- and -coming winery. Wildwood Winery Syrah Reserve 2002 San Luis Obispo Wildwood makes a selection of single vineyard Syrahs. The 2002 Reserve and 2002 Sheri’s Vineyard are very good.

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Idaho/Colorado /Oregon &Washington State Amavi Cellars Syrah 2003 Walla Walla Valley Washington $25 Deep cherry, cocoa powder and spice flavors-buy one of these for drinking now and one to lay down for a couple of years. Balistreri Syrah 2003 Grand Valley Colorado $20 A happy surprise for me! Now, I can report that Colorado makes awesome wine. This one and the Garfield Estates (below) are both unfiltered and both marvelous.

G rape E xpectations Gordon Brothers Syrah 2001 Columbia Valley Washington $18 Who says you have to spend your kid’s college tuition for a great bottle of Syrah? Gordon Bros. also makes great Cab Sauv and Bordeaux -style blends, and this is a “Cab forward” Syrah! Kestrel Syrah 2002 Yakima Valley Washington $19 Rich aromas and flavors of ripe plums, blackberries, and sweet cherries make this a Washington State winner.

Barnard Griffin Syrah 2003 Columbia Valley Washington $15 Good varietal flavors of plums, game and earth with herbes de Provence make this Syrah a great choice at a great price. Big tannins and good acid round it out.

Another great new place to enjoy wine from-Colorado!

Kiona Syrah Red Mountain Reserve 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $20 This is Red Mountain fruit, and how sweet it is! Mineral, currant and fruit aromas on the nose are accompanied by light spice and pepper with a rich smooth finish.

Dunham Syrah 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $40 This young beauty has a long life ahead. It’s a big, powerful wine with seductive tastes of raspberry, mocha, sweet earth and cedar. Made by Eric Dunham, former winemaker at L’Ecole 41, whose wines have wowed me; this Syrah can go the distance.

Penner Ash Wine Cellars Syrah 2002 Willamette Valley Oregon $30 This Syrah, from producers of awesome Pinot Noir, has wonderful flavors of raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and leather. Even with 14.5% alcohol, you never feel heat on the finish. Don’t miss their Pinot Noir-Syrah blend called “Rubeo.”

Dusted Valley Vintners, Stained Tooth Syrah, 2003 Columbia Valley Washington $24. I guess the name says it all! This Syrah is a meal in itself. But it’s well balanced and has enough acidity to take on “regular” food. Pepper, fruit and spice and everything nice, all wrapped up in a Northern Rhone-style package.

Reininger Syrah 2002 Walla Walla Washington $30 Fewer than 500 cases of this delicious Syrah were made, so if you find a bottle or two, consider yourself lucky. With scents of blueberries and pomegranates, Chuck Reininger’s fourth vintage of Syrah has dried plums and game melded in with sweet tannins.

Forgeron Syrah 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $29 Winemaker Marie Eve Gila of Forgeron Cellars is famous for her delicious wines. This soft, delicious Syrah has true varietal flavor along with toast, herbs and blackberries. There’s a hint of smoky meat and delicious spice tones.

Andrew Rich Syrah Reserve 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $38 Sexy, sweet, supple reserve Syrah with game and wood aromas and flavors, dark plum color, spice, and rich texture. Andrew Rich makes wine in Oregon and buys about half of his grapes from growers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and half from Washington’s Columbia Valley. All of his wines are amazing! Andrew Rich Syrah 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $22 This is a lighter, claret-style of Syrah that is terrific with food.

Glen Fiona Syrah 2003 Columbia Valley Washington $15 Lavender and baking spices, roasted meat and berries along with serious tannins give this Syrah the stuffing to age gracefully.

Roza Ridge Syrah 2002 Yakima Valley Washington $15 Nice vanilla nose with fresh, sweet cherries on the palate. This Syrah had the stuffing to stand up to my spicy stir-fried beef with long beans…yum!

Seven Hills Syrah 2002 Walla Walla Valley Washington $25 From the vintners of Cabs and Bordeaux-style blends, comes this elegant Syrah with sweet spice and black cherry flavors. This Syrah could last for the ages. Buy one to drink now and one to lie down for a year (if you can keep your hands off it!).

Columbia Crest Syrah Reserve 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $22 The wine is opaque with aromas and well-developed Syrah flavors of thyme, pepper, dark chocolate and raspberries. Slightly spicy, meaty and earthy, this Northern Rhone-style Syrah has a bit of Viognier (9%) giving it a lovely floral edge.

Garfield Estates Syrah, 2003 Grand Valley Colorado $20 This Syrah has wonderful raspberry, cherry and licorice flavors. It’s well balanced and ends with smooth, sweet tannins.

Owen Roe Syrah Dubrul Vineyard 2003 Yakima Valley Washington $55 The DuBrul Vineyard Syrah is awesome and huge, with game, berry and floral aromas and flavors, overlaid with pepper and wood.

Sawtooth Winery Syrah 2002 Caldwell Idaho $15 This is great juice! Brad Pintler is a meticulous winemaker with his small batch Syrah. He even lists that it has 2% Cinsault, 1% Mourvedre and 1% Grenache. There are only 1000 or so cases of this delicious, dark, sweet-fruited wine, and Idaho wine is not yet a household item in most places, so get on the winery website ( and order a batch.

Bergevin Lane Vineyards Syrah 2003 Columbia Valley Washington $25 A rich wine with the classic Syrah tar, meat, smoke and coffee flavors. Elegant and powerful, it’s got sweet dark fruit and black pepper blended smoothly with rosemary and thyme. Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah Reserve Columbia Valley Washington 2002 $29 With flavors of cinnamon, clove, black plums and blueberries, this well -balanced Syrah is delicious. A bit of chocolate, toast and oak round out this classic Washington Syrah.

vintage. The 2003 is dark, huge, still smoky and sweetly delicious.

Owen Roe Syrah “Ex Umbris” 2003 Columbia Valley Washington $28 Ex Umbris means “out of the shadows,” and this wine was named to showcase the smoke imparted to the Syrah grapes by wildfires during the 2002

Silver Lake Reserve Syrah 2002 Columbia Valley Washington $25 Sweet blackberry, plum, a little pepper and baking spices make this Syrah a winner. Snoqualmie Syrah Joy Anderson Reserve 2002 Yakima Valley Washington $22 Deep and delicious with big, ripe tannins that melt on the tongue. Thick and creamy but not heavy, with cherry and spice flavors. Thurston Wolfe Syrah 2003 Columbia Valley Washington $20 A big Syrah with plenty of sweet oak and berry flavors. While it is drinking beautifully now, a year or two in the cellar will bring out its richness. Whitman Cellars Syrah 2003 Walla Walla Washington $25 Delicious ripe blackberries and plums leap out of the glass, followed by smoky game and spices that stay with you long after you finish it. Australia Penfolds Wines Shiraz Magill Estate 2002 Barossa Valley (South Australia) $48 This is still a baby even though it’s four years old, but it is already showing its pedigree with baking spice, plum and black cherry. This is a single vineyard cuvee with classic game aromas mixed in with fragrant eucalyptus. It finishes with a hit of roasted coffee. Penfolds Wines Shiraz Kalimna Vineyard Bin 28 2002 Barossa Valley (South Australia) $22 Wonderful aromas of roast game and mocha hit you first. Then thyme and rosemary mix with blueberry and blackberry in this well made-offering. It’s got a bit of tar and olive giving it great character. Beautiful to drink now, it can cellar for a year or two.

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G rape E xpectations Red Knot Shiraz 2002 McLaren Vale South Australia $16 Blackberry and lavender hit you on the nose, then plums on the palate, followed by flavors of fresh-ground coffee. Toasty oak and spices round out the package. Shingleback Shiraz 2002 McLaren Vale South Australia $24 Almost Port-like in texture, with sweet, black fruit, this superb Shiraz is rich, viscous and totally delish. A Shingleback is a small lizard that lives in the vines in Australia. Stonehaven Shiraz Limestone Coast 2002 South Australia $17 Characteristic Aussie terroir aromas and flavors of mint and eucalyptus mix with pepper, oak and plums. Stonehaven was the first settlement in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2004 South Australia $15 This medium-bodied Shiraz is chock full of red and black fruits and shows the trademark Coonawarra characters of spicy blackberry, fruit and black pepper. South Africa Avondale Shiraz Les Pleurs 2002 Paarl $30 This wine has an intense color with a complex nose of ripe sweet raspberry and elements mocha, licorice and spice, supported by well-integrated oak. Firm ripe tannins complete a silky full-bodied mouth feel.

Boschendal Shiraz 2002 Coastal Region $15 Game and tar hit the nose then blow off, leaving sweet berry fruit in this delicious Rhone- style Shiraz. BWC Wines Syrah 2003 Stellenbosch $20 Most of the South African wineries use the term “Shiraz” like the Aussies do. This one, in a bow to the Northern Rhone, calls theirs “Syrah. “ This is sweet, ripe, rich New World Syrah and shows the best of both worlds. Bravo to winemaker Cathy Marshall! Groot Constantia Shiraz 2002 Coastal Region $19 This is a solid Shiraz with ripe black cherries and blackberries with great balance and structure. Hartenberg Estate Shiraz 2001 Stellenbosch $30 A lovely Shiraz with a couple of years of age, it has great flavor and aromas of blackberry, game and oak. Muratie Shiraz 2003 Stellenbosch $22 A complex wine with aromas of fruit, smoke and dark berries. The palate features mineral and game flavors with good acid and smooth tannins. Seidelberg Roland’s Reserve Syrah 2002 Coastal Region $30 With smoky meat and touch of tar, this Syrah has great varietal flavor and character. Vergenoegd Shiraz 2001 Stellenbosch $NA Easier to drink than pronounce, Vergenoegd (which in Afrikaans, the language of South Africa, roughly means I got satisfaction --note

to Mick Jagger, drinking this gave me lots of satisfaction) has just a bit of Cabernet Franc; this glorious Shiraz is silky sweet with lots of plum and blackberry. It’s a big, ripe wine, but well balanced and smooth. Chile Viña Montes Alpha Syrah 2003 Colchagua $20 Mint, earth and black pepper mix with sweet black fruit for an Aussie-style wine. This is more in the Shiraz than Syrah style, but an excellent choice for spicy fare. Errazuriz Shiraz la Cumbre 2003 Aconcagua $36 This great wine combines the ripe in-your-face fruit flavors of New World Syrah with the refined tones of the wines of the Old World. It has concentrated blackberry fruit with tobacco, cocoa and black pepper leading to a well-structured finish. Israel Yarden Syrah 2001 This is both old world and new--Israel is in the old world but has only recently become a player in the international wine world. A surprise and a treat, Yarden Syrah offers blackberry, plum and cherry, spice, tobacco, oak, vanilla, sage, chocolate and earth. The wine is full-bodied yet elegant, with a nice, long finish. The Galilee is the most northern, and generally considered the best, appellation in Israel.

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Home of The World’s Greatest White Wines? Story by Wes Marshall Photos courtesy of Sopexa


eople who are passionate about wine can be counted on to have strong opinions, and I’m no different. So let me start off by saying that I believe the greatest single area on earth for white wine is Alsace. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me give you the details of what drives my zeal. First of all, you can drink an Alsace wine tonight, and it will go better with a wider range of food than any other white wine. And when you find one you really love, it will last longer in your cellar than any other white wine on earth. As if all of that isn’t enough, the wine, for some unknown reason, is ridiculously low priced. Why?

there is a vineyard name on the label, the wine must be a grand cru wine, meaning you will get a wine that has been carefully tended from

Some Cultural History


Let’s dispel a couple of myths. Alsace wines are almost all dry wines. There are two small and rare groups I’ll discuss later called Vendanges Tardives, which will occasionally have a small amount of residual sugar, and Sélection de Grains Nobles, which are among the world’s great dessert wines. Other than those two rare and expensive wines, Alsace’s exported wines are dry. For some reason, whether it’s the bottle shape or the incredible intensity of fruit aromas, people new to Alsace wines think they are sweet. So, let’s get this straight, for once and for all--by any definition of the word, these wines are dry. The second myth is that Alsace wine labels are hard to understand. In fact, they are the simplest in Europe. Like wine makers in the United States and Australia, the Alsaciennes start by helpfully placing the name of the grape on the bottle. Therefore, a Riesling is a Riesling and a Pinot Gris is a Pinot Gris. Unlike the rest of Europe, you don’t have to remember what grapes come from which regions when you want a specific flavor. Any other words on the label other than the grape are marketing terms meant to help you distinguish their wine in a pack of other wines. If

from handpicked grapes that are wildly overripened and affected by botrytis. These wines present some of Earth’s greatest experiences, and if you haven’t yet had the opportunity, start saving your money. Half bottles usually range from $60 to the stratosphere. Once you find one you like, buy more. I’ve had bottles over 75 years old that tasted as fresh as a young mother’s love.

one of the 50 grand cru vineyards in Alsace, using specific regulations by the Institut Natiuonal des Appellations d’Origine (INAO). Less than 5% of Alsace wines are entitled to use the name of a vineyard on the label. The other terms you might see on a label represent the apex of Alsace wine. Vendanges Tardives – literally late harvest – is made from very ripe and highly extracted grapes that yield a dry wine, frequently with a stunning alcohol level but almost always with some of the most powerful flavors you will ever experience in a white wine. These wines can easily last thirty years in a good cellar. Sélection de Grains Nobles (aka SGN) is a dessert wine made

Long before the reign of Julius Caesar, grapes were grown in the area of Alsace. One of the Grand Cru vineyards – Steinklotz - has been producing grapes for almost 14 centuries! Many of the Grand Cru vineyards were in production 600 years ago. But the process has been terrifyingly difficult. Alsace has had the misfortune to be at the crux of nearly every major military conflict in Europe. Divided from France by the Vosges Mountains, while only the Rhine River separates it from Germany, Alsace has been tossed back and forth a dizzying number of times. In 800 AD, Charlemagne had Alsace as part of the Holy Roman Empire, but by 843 AD, the Treaty of Verdun had relinquished the area to Germany. Over the next seven centuries, Alsace became known as the most important winemaking area of Germany, but during that time, the aristocracy in charge took all the wealth for themselves, leading to a terrible revolt in which tens of thousands of peasants were slaughtered. When the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) came along, its principal battlefield was Alsace. The war devastated the area, its people and all of its vineyards. After the end of the war, Alsace became a French holding and the wineries came back into being. Many of the oldest names in Alsace winemaking restarted their businesses during this time. Things were good until 1870, when the Franco-Prussian War left Alsace, again, in the hands of the Germans. This time, the Germans ruthlessly forced the populace to

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adopt German language and customs. Then, to add injury to insult, most of the vineyards were killed by phylloxera. Germany’s loss in WWI brought Alsace back to France, and the winemakers decided to focus their efforts on making high quality wines, establishing rules and regulations aimed at giving the consumer some confidence about their wines, most of which seemed odd to the modern French palate. When the Nazis came to France, the first area they took over was Alsace, and they made the WWI Germans seem like boy scouts. French dialects, food, customs, all were banned. When the Allies attacked the Nazis, Alsace again suffered terrifying destruction. Since the end of the war, the Alsaciennes, now French again, have finally had a peaceful time to pull together and recreate their culture. Given the fact that the area was tossed back and forth between the Germans and the French with such regularity, the locals had to learn to fit into both cultures. They are a resilient community, and with so many individuals still around with stories to tell about the Nazi occupation, you’ll find people intently interested in world events. They have a German appreciation of tidiness and a French love of sophistication. Based on their bicameral background, and blessed with the finest natural climate in France, the proud Alsaciennes have created a style of wine that is equally capable of creating a perfect pairing with sauerkraut and sausage or with foie gras and brioche.

The Grapes of Alsace

The Europeans in general, and especially the Germans, Swiss, Dutch and Belgians, like to come to Alsace and buy a wine called Edelzwicker. This is a cheap but fruity and serviceable wine usually made from Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc. We hardly ever see Edelzwicker in the U.S., but if you are ever traveling in Alsace, search out Hugel’s Flambeau d’Alsace, which, for about €5, is a delicious picnic wine. A newer style is being exported to the U.S. market in an attempt to win over people who drink California Chardonnay. Called Gentil (pronounced Zhahn-tee), which is French for “nice,” the wine is a gentle introduction to the potential pleasures of Alsace. Gentil is

required to contain at least 50% of the “Noble” grape varieties of Alsace: Gewürztraminer, Muscat d’Alsace, Riesling and Tokay Pinot Gris. Hugel makes the most commonly available Gentil in the U.S. It runs about $9 and is a very easy drinking, floral wine whose only downside is it tries a little too hard to reach the American taste bud. I prefer the Willm Gentil, which runs about $8 and has a little more of the Alsace wine character I know and love. These wines aside, all of Alsace’s wines

are labeled by their grape. As befits an area frequently dominated by Germany, Riesling is the most frequently planted grape. For those of you who may have never had an Alsatian Riesling, you are in for a surprise. While the seductive nose bears some resemblance to the German version, the viscous texture, heady alcohol level and intensity of flavor are completely unique to Alsace. Good quality Rieslings, such as Lucien Albrecht’s 2003 Reserve ($14), Domaine Trimbach’s 2002 Reserve ($16), Pierre Sparr’s 2003 Reserve ($14) and Bott-Geyl’s 2001 Riesling Riquewihr ($16) show incredible richness for the price.

The second most commonly planted grape – Pinot Blanc – is not one of the noble varieties, but it nonetheless provides an excellent quaffing wine and a brilliant accompaniment to Asian foods. Pinot Blanc, along with Sylvaner, the fourth most common grape, provides the backbone of most locally consumed Alsace wines. While the Sylvaner is, in most hands, a rather dumb and uninteresting grape, adding Pinot Blanc lends some depth and interest to the flavor. A well-made Pinot Blanc will convince you that the grape deserves a place just below the noble varieties. Albert Boxler’s 2002 Pinot Blanc ($18) comes from a vineyard that has been in the family for 300 years. It’s a wine that deserves some time to age, to allow all its component parts to come together, and it has lots of potential to age well for 5-10 years. Albert Mann’s 2003 Pinot Blanc ($15) is altogether more approachable and ready to drink with its pear, apple and honey aromas. Gewürztraminer is the third most planted grape in Alsace, and, like Riesling, if you’ve only experienced versions from other places, you’ve never really experienced the grape. Nowhere else on earth does Gewürztraminer even approach the magic that Alsace’s terroir and winemakers make with this grape. While I’ve heard that there are some people that don’t care for Gewürztraminer, I can only imagine them to be the kind of curmudgeons that scowl at puppy dogs and snub love songs. Alsace Gewürztraminer can fill a room with the type of perfume that would get Shakespeare sharpening his quill, searching for new metaphors for love. While it’s commonly described as rose petal and lychees, the aroma hits the back of your nostrils and fires neurotransmitters usually reserved for stimulation pheromones. There are plenty of reasonably priced bottles available. One of the best I’ve tasted during the last year is Lucien Albrecht’s 2003 Reserve Gewürztraminer ($16), a medium weight wine from the 18th generation of the family to make wine. Pierre Sparr’s 2003 Reserve Gewürztraminer ($15) is more intense and packed with narcissus aromas. Dopff et Irion’s 2003 Gewürztraminer ($21) is rich, dense and has enough flavor to go perfectly with a smoked pork shoulder!

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Tokay Pinot Gris is the fifth most commonly planted grape, and is what the locals refer to as the “masculine” wine of Alsace. Don’t confuse it with Tokay; it bears no resemblance in taste, aroma or structure. In fact, in 2006, the official name of the grape will change to Pinot Gris, in an attempt to get rid of the Tokay connotation. And while some say it is the same grape as is grown in Italy and produced as Pinot Grigio, there it is generally thin and insipid. In Alsace, one taste will convince you of the nobility of the wine. It has a rich mouth feel, bracing acidity and complex aroma that allow it to mate perfectly with all the foods of Alsace, especially the pork dishes. This is another example of Trimbach’s superb showings in their budget wines, where their Pinot Gris Réserve 2001 ($16) packs a wallop of tropical fruits, peaches and smoky undercurrents. Pierre Sparr’s 2003 Pinot Gris Réserve, which should be arriving in the states shortly, is for fans of huge extraction and richness. It should cost about $16. Finally, I’m just nuts over Lucien Albrecht’s 2001 Pinot Gris Cuvee Cecile ($24), a rich and smoky mouthful of wine with an endless finish. The last of Alsace’s noble grapes, and the one with the smallest planting, is Muscat. This hearty grape shines in almost any environment, but in Alsace, it develops additional spiciness and intensity and a stout hit of refreshing sharpness that makes it work well with food. Domaine Weinbach’s 2003 Reserve Muscat will be hitting our shores soon at a cost in the mid $40 range. It is one of the few wines made anywhere on earth that matches up perfectly with asparagus and artichokes, so if you are a lover of either, you’ve finally found your wine.

Afew Tips for the Alscase Enthusiast

Inevitably, lovers of the wines of Alsace end up saving their shekels so they can try the great Grand Cru, Vendanges Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles wines. These wines are the Shangri-La of French white wines, carrying structure, intensity, boldness and long life. Sadly, they also cost a small fortune. However, I contend they are actually a good deal

in comparison to their California and French brethren. In a world where some Napa and Sonoma Chardonnays are fetching over $200, and $100 Burgundies are counted as bargains, paying $50-$75 for a Grand Cru from Alsace sounds pretty good. Especially when you consider that the noble grapes of Alsace – Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Muscat – are generally more interesting and food friendly. There has been some recent upward price pressure on Alsace’s wines, but most of it has

been the effect of Domaine Zind Humbrecht dragging the market behind it. And while their wines are uniformly spectacular, the rise has really been brought on by The Wine Advocate’s single-minded advocacy of Zind Humbrecht. The constant barrage of 90+ scores have seen to it that wine shops set aside an inordinate amount of shelf space for the wine, and that the prices have moved into the relative stratosphere. Much of the hoopla is richly deserved. One thing Olivier Humbrecht has done which is a great boon to consumers is develop a dry-

ness scale for his wines other than Vendanges Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles to try to assist the confused. This is how he describes his wines: “1 is totally dry; 2 is not technically dry but the sweetness is not apparent on the palate; 3 is medium sweetness that may gradually disappear with aging; 4 is sweet wine; 5 is for high sweetness, a Vendange Tardive in richness but without botrytis.” For instance, his unbelievably yummy Gewürztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim ($47) has an index of 4, while the Pinot Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim ($40) has an index of 1. Humbrecht’s fame is built on his ability to create hugely extracted wines that still come across as balanced and easy to drink. But, imagine this: The Gewürztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim retains enough sugar to be sweet, but also carries 15.5% alcohol, and it does it with finesse and style. This is an unbelievably powerful wine. Even at lower prices, Humbrecht has found the secret to producing wine for people who like a little oomph in their life. Sadly, low for DZH means just shy of $30 a bottle. Suffice to say, if you want to spend the money, the DZH label is as good a guarantee of quality as you are likely to find. Hoping to ferret out some lower priced wines, I went digging around Alsace, looking for the next great bottles that are on their way to the U.S. My goal was to find a few strikingly individual wines – what the Alsaciennes say haven’t been “Parker-ized” – that still have an intriguing price-to-quality ratio. One of the sturdiest opponents to the new international style is Jean Trimbach. With a family history dating back several centuries, he feels they must stand firm. “We have no need to pursue those ‘Gucci’ wines,” he told me. “We are individual and our region has a soul. We want to preserve this. This is our future.” The Trimbach style is simple – let the fruit speak. No malolactic, no residual sugar, and no wood. Let the wines age in the cellars until they are drinking correctly, then release them. We tasted Rieslings and Pinot Gris over 30 years old, all in excellent condition and ready for another ten or more years of good life. There were a few standouts. The 2000 Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile, which will probably be around

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$45 when released, is from one of the best vintages in Alsace of the last 35 years (1971, 76, 83, 89, 90, 97, 2000, 2001 are the consensus top eight, though we’re still seeing the results of the last two). It’s made from two Grand Cru vineyards, Geisberg and Osterberg, and is ripe and round with enough acidity to stand up to a rich fish dish like sea bass, or, even better, the traditional Alsace dish, choucroute garni. Trimbach’s 1999 Gewürztraminer “Cuvee des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre” ($40) has all the aromatic concentration you would expect from a prestige wine, but they also find a fascinating aroma of white pepper that seems to be unique to their vineyard. Trimbach only makes a very few bottles of Sélection de Grains Nobles wines and only in the very best years. He made no Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile SGN from 1990 until 2000! When the 2000 vintage arrives, it should be under $200 a bottle, perhaps closer to $150. Buying a bottle now will make you look very smart 25 years from now. Another stubbornly French winery I fell in love with was Bott-Geyl. Young Jean-Christophe Bott has taken his family’s tradition of great wines and catapulted those wines into the 21st Century using biodynamic principles and a hard-nosed demand for perfection. Tasting across his line of wines was a journey from strength to strength, but two wines really stood out from the crowd for me. Thankfully for us consumers, this is an example of a time where the systematic grading of vineyards has played to our advantage. While Bott-Geyl has their fair share of grand cru grapes available, my favorite of their wines was from Schloesselreben vineyard, a cru intermédiaire. The term has no legal meaning, but they want people to know that, even though Schloesselreben isn’t one of the 50 grand cru vineyards, it deserves to be judged in their company. Bott makes two wines from Schloesselreben. The 2001 Pinot Gris Schloesselreben ($30) is intense and profound wine with just the barest hint of sweetness that will rock your palate. From the same vineyard, the 2001 Gewürztraminer Schloesselreben ($32) has the usual aromas of roses and lychees, but spend a few moments with it and you’ll also get spices and minerals and steel. This wine is dry, intense and very viscous. Bott-Geyl’s grand cru wines command much higher prices and they make some beautiful wines, but stick with these two and

your wallet will thank you as much as your tastebuds. The final large winery that refuses to go with Darth is Dopff & Irion. You get an idea of the fierce independence of the winery when you see the opening riff in their publicity notes – that René Dopff was a resistance fighter in WWII and a close friend of André Malraux, the ultimate French philosopher and cultural autonomist. With a heritage like this, they are not about to allow an international style to seep into their winemaking. Dopff ’s wines are all about food. The wines are tight and only

By the way, when you are in Alsace, remember one thing, because this is a cause of much consternation to the natives of Alsace – they are the Alsacienne people and their wines are Alsacienne wines. Alsatians are dogs. But I do hope you take a trip to Alsace. You’ll find some details in the box below about places to eat in all price ranges and a few very nice spots to stay. The complete wine road is only 75 miles long, and it winds through some of Europe’s most picturesque towns, where you can not only find some of the world’s finest white wines, but a never ending supply of great food, nice people and rich history.

Recommended Restaurants La Vieille Forge 1 rue des Ecoles, Kaysersberg +33 (0)3 89 47 17 51 Winstub de Hotel Chambard 9-13, rue du Général de Gaulle, Kaysersberg +33 (0)3 89 47 10 17 Restaurant Le Fer Rouge 52, Grand-Rue, Colmar +33 (0)3 89 41 37 24 Restaurant “Le Sarment d’Or” 4, rue du Cerf, Riquewihr +33 (0)3 89 86 02 86 L’Auberge de l’Ill 2, rue de Collonges au Mont d’Or, Illhaeusern +33 (0)3 89 71 89 00


reveal their charms when you have them at a meal. These are definitely not wines for casual lounging. Pick of their selection is 2002 Tokay Pinot Gris Grand Cru Vorbourg. This wine appears almost astringent by itself, but pair it up with quick sautéed pork or venison, or fruit like quince, and the wine opens up to a generosity on par with a Sonoma Zinfandel. For SGN fans, their 1998 Gewürztraminer SGN has complexity along with a creamy mouthfeel that is utterly unique. Sadly, the American importer has decided that neither of these wines fit their portfolio, claiming they are too expensive (not true). So, next time you are in Alsace . . .

Hotel des Remparts 4, rue de la Flieh 68 240 Kaysersberg Tel : +33 (0) Fax : +33(0) Hotel Chambard 9-13, rue du Général de Gaulle, Kaysersberg +33 (0)3 89 47 10 17 +33 (0)3 89 47 35 03 (fax) L’Auberge de l’Ill 2, rue de Collonges au Mont d’Or, Illhaeusern +33 (0)3 89 71 89 00 +33 (0)3 89 71 82 83

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* The Wild West of Wine * Stories by Wes Marshall and Christopher J. Davies


Photos by Christopher J. Davies

Answer these questions:


hat is the fastest growing wine region in California?


hat is the most diverse appellation?


hat area has the highest quotient of winemakers who are wild characters?



hat’s the most exciting appellation for California wine in 2006?

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The answer to all these questions is a single place: Paso Robles. Over 100 wineries work more than 26,000 acres of vines, to producing everything from classic Rhone-style elegance to over-the-top Zinfandel madness, sometimes within the same winery. If Paso Robles sounds a little like the Wild West of Wine, there’s some truth there. In fact, Jesse James used to hang out at the Paso Robles Inn.

A Little History

El Paso de Robles, “The Pass of the Oaks,” was the original name of the town. Spanish missionaries started vineyards there in 1797. Eighty-five years later, commercial winemaking started with Zinfandel plantings at what is known today as York Mountain Winery.

Paso, as the natives call it, putt-putted

along, quietly producing some of the state’s most voluptuous zinfandels, until the 1970s, when pioneers like Stanley Hoffman, Bob Young, Gary Eberle and Cliff Giacobine started planting huge commercial vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

During the 1980s, the quality of Paso

wines created a land rush with huge investments rolling in. Gary Eberle’s winery, Estrella River, changed its name to Meridian and production soared to over a million cases. J. Lohr developed 1,900 acres of red grapes. Wineries in the 100,000 to 300,000 case per year average started popping up all over. By 1983, even the federal government recognized something was going on and granted the area recognition as an American Viticultural Area or AVA.

The most significant move in the 1990s

was the invasion of the “Rhone Rangers,” vintners who passionately believe in planting Rhone varietals. Even the famed French house of Perrin, owners of the Rhone Valley’s Chateau de Beaucastel, decided to get into the L to R, Hans-R. Michel, President and Mathias Gubler, Winemaker at Vina Robles, Joseph S. Franzia, President of Classic Wines of California with Robert Hall and RH winemaker Don Brady, good eats at Buona Tavola Ristorante, Vina Robles vineyard and bottles racked at Eberle winery

Paso * *

Paso Robles Wine Country

This wine region may not be as famous as Napa or Sonoma, but it’s well worth a visit. It is centrally located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. For out of state visitors, San Luis Obispo (SLO) airport offers direct service from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix, with more than 30 flights daily. Paso is only a 30-minute drive from SLO Airport. The town of Paso Robles has a main square, like those in many small California towns. Strolling through the streets, you see quaint shops and restaurants with a homey, small- town feel. The town is well known for its therapeutic hot springs. If you visit the historic Paso Robles Inn, try the hot springs in your own private hot springs spa on your room’s terrace. The inn’s grounds are beautifully landscaped with gardens, flowing streams, waterfalls and majestic oak trees. Paso Robles Inn, 1103 Spring Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 228-2660, Paso Robles’ wide temperature swings, from warm days to cool nights, provide ideal conditions for a long growing season. Its diverse soils and sandy loam are best compared to France. There are many vineyards, farms, rolling hills and mountains. Today, the region has more than 25,000 acres under vine. There are more than 100 wineries currently in operation, with many more planned for development. Paso Robles wines are gaining popularity and winning top accolades at wine competitions worldwide. The region has one of the best-organized winery associations in the US. The Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association is a proactive, not-for -profit agency dedicated to promoting the distinct Paso Robles “terroir.” Stacie Jacob, who heads the organization, previously worked for the Washington Wine Commission and is no stranger to promoting a great wine region, Members of the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association travel across the US several times during the year conducting trade tastings in major US cities. This investment has paid off for Paso producers who have gotten their wines listed at top haute restaurants throughout the US. The majority of Paso Robles wineries have their own wine clubs or “wine societies” which offer exclusive shipments of limited, reserve wines, as well as discounts which average 20% and invitations to private events.

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Paso dirt, opening a winery in partnership with their importer, Robert Haas. They planted Tablas Creek in 1987 and, by the 90s, were producing Rhone grape wines with true Paso flavors. For a brilliant opportunity to taste the impact of that catchall term, terroir, try tasting a Tablas Creek wine next to a Chateau de Beaucastel.

During the last decade, Paso has seen an

eruption of tiny wineries, the type where the owners have lots of money and like the wine lifestyle. The majority of these wineries make decent wine, most of which is sold at their lushly appointed tasting rooms. Finding great wine at these places requires patience, but the occasional stunner will keep you going. Think of it like a wine slot machine: Taste enough and you’ll finally hit the jackpot.

It’s Really Two Distinct Growing Areas

The easiest way to understand Paso Robles is to imagine two distinct growing areas bisected by Highway 101. To the east is a huge area, but most of the vineyards are in a triangle bounded by the towns of Atascadero, Shandon and San Miguel. Much of this area is valley floor, and summer temperatures over 100 degrees are common. Luckily, the hard-worked grapes get a good night’s sleep when the temperatures drop 40-50 degrees, thanks to ocean breezes. These temperature extremes make for powerful, rich and concentrated wines.

Some of the more famous wineries on the

east side of the highway include Robert Hall, Meridian, Eberle, EOS Estate and J Lohr.

On the west side of Highway 101, the

vineyards are planted in the Santa Lucia mountains. This is a trickier area for viticulture, but the good wineries make some of America’s best wines. The summer temperatures are quite a bit cooler here than on the valley floor and the wines tend to be just a slight bit more

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restrained. In musical terms, the east is the Rolling Stones to the west’s Beatles.

A Few Days in the Wine Country

A trip to Paso Robles requires a minimum of two days, but you should try to set aside a week. Plan on evenly splitting your time between the east and west sides of Highway 101.

The east side’s roads constitute trouble-

free cruising and you can easily hit as many wineries as you want per day. We stayed at the Paso Robles Inn, which is centrally located downtown and will give you a very good breakfast so you can start your day’s imbibing on a full stomach.

If you just have one day for the east side,

be sure to set time aside for Eberle. If you are lucky, the man himself will be in residence. A big, gregarious and laid-back type of guy, Gary Eberle is one of the reigning godfathers of the Paso wine business. Try to coax a story or two out of him, especially the one about smuggling the Syrah clones out of the government-owned vineyard.

Close by, EOS offers a gorgeous picnic

area and a beautiful tour. They make a slew of different wines at all price levels, but their strongest wines are their Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. On your way back into town, stop at Robert Hall, one of the fanciest wineries on the east side. Take a tour of their extensive caves and taste through their dozen or so wines. Owner Robert Hall figures the Merlot to be the best they make; I’m with winemaker Don Brady – the best is the Meritage, a Bordeaux-style blend.

If you have the full week, drop by the

Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, at 744 Oak Street in Paso, and ask for their maps and some recommendations. The women there (it seems men aren’t smart enough to work there) are all helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and L to R, Domaine de Beaucastel sign at Tablas Creek Vineyard, Gary Eberle in his private cellar with a bottle of 1978 Estrella River Winery Syrah, the VIP room at Eberle Winery underground cellar, WCI Editor Wes Marshal toasts with EOS Estate winemaker Leslie Melendez and the café at The Paso Robles Inn.

Paso * *

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everything else you might hope for in a tourist assistance group.

Armed with the maps, just wander around

the east side on the second day stopping wherever your heart recommends, but do make time for Wild Horse and Tobin James. On the third day, drop down into San Luis Obispo County and try a few of the wineries there. The tour at Edna Valley Vineyard is great for beginners and novices, offering scads of details for interested consumers. That will put you within easy striking distance of one of my favorite California wineries, Domaine Alfred. They are one of the few wineries to offer both stellar Pinot Noir and Syrah. In most cases, the style of growing and vinification are just too different for a winery to be able to get its arms around both varietals (the Lees at Siduri do it, but they buy their grapes). At Domaine Alfred, winemaker Mike Sinor has figured out the secret.

Give yourself a break from wine on the

fourth day and visit San Simeon, where you’ll find out why Randolph Hearst got so mad at Orson Welles for using the word “Rosebud” in

Papa was a Rolling Rhone!

Citizen Kane. Then drive along Highway 1 and marvel at the beauty of the United States.

If you only have one day for the west side,

go to Justin Vineyards and Winery and Tablas

How sly could Gary Eberle have been twenty-five years ago when he decided to graft clippings of the only Syrah grape plants in the US? This experiment has blossomed into an historic success. The “papa” of American-grown Syrah should be proud that hundreds of US wineries have gone on to grow and sell premium level Syrah. Eberle Winery has won worldwide acclaim for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Viognier and other wines. The winery has a beautiful, expansive deck with unparalleled views of the Estate vineyard and the Santa Lucia mountains. The winery also offers numerous wine and food events, including guest chef series and winemakers dinners with dining in its expansive wine caves and exclusive “Wild Boar Room.” Visit their website for a calendar of events.

Creek. Justin is a gorgeous place that looks like

Eberle Winery

anywhere, plan on eating at the winery, which

Hwy 46 East, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 227-1428,

a photo shoot from Traditional Home Magazine. Justin is justly famous (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for their $60 Isosceles, but I think the $14 Orphan is the great bargain of their line. Those of you looking for a quiet place to stay should consider the delightful rooms at the Just Inn (my joke wasn’t so bad, after all, was it?). Since you’ll be a very long way from just happens to have one of the best restaurants for 100 miles. The next day, go to Tablas

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Creek, which for me is like a pilgrimage. With spectacular wines in every price range, workers dedicated to organic principles and the best clonal selections, it all still feels like you’re on a farm. I love it.

With a couple more days for the west

side, you’ll want to go to Peachy Canyon. They went through an “elegant” spell when a French winemaker held the reins, but the family has taken control again and the wines have regained their great rustic virtues of old.

I used to love to visit old man Pesenti at

his winery. We’d laugh, drink $8 Zinfandel strong enough to stand a spoon up, and he’d tell wild old stories. Then his family sold the place to the Turleys and those same vines suddenly produced $50 wine, if you could get it. Turley has become something of a cult wine and collectors go nuts for it. The Turley website offers you a fax number where you can ask to get on a wait list to get on a mail list. Is this crazy? Well, you can taste for yourself and make up your own mind.

With the extra days, be sure to stop by

Rabbit Ridge, the outpost for Bonny Doon, L’Aventure and Dark Star. And if you have some pull, as in major ability to get into areas most normal humans can’t, you might want to try getting in to see Saxum Vineyards. Just to give you an idea, they think the Turleys are a little too easy to acquire. But I can attest that their 2003 James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock Syrah is truly a special bottle of wine. Even if you can’t get into Saxum, you’ll find a lot of small wineries catering to the casual traveler. And whether you stay for two days or a week, you are sure to find one of the most explosively exciting wine areas in California. L to R, The underground caves at Eberle Winery, Brandon Lapides, Assistant Winemaker and Joshua Beckett, Winemaker at Peachy Canyon Winery, Map of Paso Robles region, courtesy of the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association, The coast at nearby Cambria, Clippers at Tablas Creek, Vineyards at Eberle Winery, Justin and Deborah Baldwin, proprietor/owners of Justin Vineyards & Winery

page 53 EOS Estate Winery

Paso * *

Peachy Canyon Winery

Peachy Canyon Winery has been family owned since 1982. The Beckett Family are Paso pioneers, having released their first wines in 1988. Winemaker Josh Beckett has gained a great reputation for producing ripe and exuberant, food friendly wines. Peachy Canyon produces a wide range of wines, but are best known for their range of Zinfandels, which at today’s count make up a lucky seven! Peachy Canyon Winery 1480 N. Bethel Road, Templeton, CA 93465 Tel(805) 237-1577

Justin Vineyards and Winery

Justin Vineyards and Winery, one of the region’s benchmark producers, offers the royal treatment to all Justin Wine Society members. Benefits include: free wine tastings at the winery, 20% discount on all wine and logo items, discounts for overnight stays at their luxurious French-style auberge and guest suites, priority invitations and discounts to their guest chef series, plus free invitations to their annual fall gala. A 12-bottle club member wine shipment is sent twice annually for around $350 per shipment. Members also get priority wait-listed to purchase Isosceles Reserve, the winery’s limited production, 93 point rated, Bordeaux-style blend. Justin Vineyards and Winery, 11680 Chimney Rock Rd., Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 238-6932

Eos, the goddess of dawn in Greek mythology, is the symbol for classic winemaking practices at EOS Estate Winery. The estate is a “must visit” winery in Paso Robles, with spectacular, well-manicured grounds surrounded by 700 acres of vineyards. Its building is modeled after Montecassino, an Italian monastery. Their vineyards blocks (Astraeus, Notus, Zephyrus, etc.) are named for mythical relatives of Eos. The tasting room has some great gift items, but also displays several Formula One race cars, which harken back to the owner’s past involvement in auto racing. Director of winemaking Leslie Melendez, a Cal Poly graduate, is one of the region’s only female winemakers. She is the guiding force behind EOS Estate’s fruit-driven, food-friendly wine style. The winery produces 80,000 cases per year, with distribution throughout the US and Asia. Our favorites are EOS Reserve Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cupa Grandis Chardonnay (fermented and aged in 100% new Louis Latour French oak) and their “French Connection” Bordeaux blend.

EOS Estate Winery

5625 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles, CA 93447 Tel. 805 239-2562,

The French Connection Tablas Creek Vineyard Tablas Creek was founded almost twenty years ago by the Perrin family (of Château de Beaucastel) and importer Robert Haas. The Perrins have been cultivating vineyards in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of the southern Rhône since the 19th century. The concept for this winery/ grapevine nursery is brilliant. The founders believe that in order to get great grapes, you need great vines. So they imported cuttings from varietals at Château de Beaucastel. But due to strict US agricultural rules for foreign plants, the first cuttings were placed in U.S.D.A quarantine for three years. After being released, the nursery grafted the cuttings onto millions of new vines, which have been used to plant Tablas Creek Vineyard, as well as supply hundreds of other growers. Tablas Creek has been certified organic since 2003 and they do use any herbicides. The wine estate and nursery are located on Adelaida Road in northwest Paso. Don’t expect a fancy tasting room. Instead, you will find an exquisite range of elegant wines. Our favorites include the Viognier- based Côtes de Tablas Blanc, Espirit De Beaucastel Blanc 2004 and Mouvedre 2003.

Tablas Creek Vineyard

9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. (805) 237-1231,

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Vina Robles Estate Vineyards-Paso Robles wine with Swiss Roots!

Vina Robles was founded in 1996 by Hans Nef, a Swiss entrepreneur with a background in engineering, agriculture and the restaurant field. Nef planted three vineyards on the estate. Today, the Huerhuero, Jardine and Pleasant Valley vineyards total an awesome total of 900 acres. Winemaker Mathius Gubler, also a Swiss native, grew up on his family’s Pinot Noir vineyard in northwest Switzerland. Mathius is a young but seasoned winemaker, with experience in Italy, Switzerland, France and California. When asked to describe his wines, Gubler explains, “the climate in Paso Robles is really get wines that are more like Australia. I try to keep the alcohol levels at 13.5 to 14%. I am not shooting for crazy high brix.” Vina Robles produces about 15,000 cases of wine annually. Top wines are Endpost, made from 100% Petite Sirah, $49, and Signature, which is a “powerhouse” blend of Petit Verdot, Syrah and Petite Sirah, $29. Vina Robles is a massive estate with big plans for development. A new hospitality center is now under construction and scheduled to open in the spring of 2007. It will house a tasting room and banquet center. A spa, hotel and bungalow suites will follow. Independent real estate development with views of the rolling vineyards is also underway. Vina Robles wines are distributed nationally. The wines are well represented at Paso Robles restaurants.

Robert Hall Winery

Robert Hall Winery is a destination winery not to miss. It features fine mission style architecture, opulent fountains and the largest underground wine caverns on the Central Coast. The facility is available for weddings and special occasions. Proprietor Robert Hall is a former liquor retailer and restaurateur turned winegrower. He is dedicated to producing world-class wines. This highly acclaimed, award-winning producer makes 50,000 cases of wine annually. Our favorites include the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 Merlot and the 2003 Grenache. Robert Hall Winery 33443 Mill Road Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 239-1616

L to R, The café at The Paso Robles Inn, vineyards at Eberle Winery, topography cutaway at Tablas Creek, Integrity Bordeaux blend by Scott Aaron, Syrah vineyard, map of Paso Robles region, courtesy of the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association

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Paso Robles Wine Country-Quick Tips Editor’s favorite wineries to visit: Justin Vineyards & Winery Robert Hall Winery Eberle Winery EOS Estate Winery

Paso * *

J. Lohr Vineyards

One of California’s largest volume, still family-owned, premium wine producers, J. Lohr is a pioneer in the Paso Robles region. With over 2,000 acres under vine, J. Lohr has mastered the art of Paso wine making. Major expansion plans have been announced for their Paso Robles facility. The winery is investing heavily in winemaking facilities and personnel. Red winemaker Daniel Shaw was raised in the world of viticulture and wine, the son of respected Australian winemaker, Philip Shaw. Starting at the age of twelve, Daniel worked holidays at Rosemount Estate. Daniel is responsible for making the new J. Lohr Cuvée series, which are artisanal small-lot blends, made in the style of Grand Cru French chateaux. His responsibilities will be huge in the coming years, as J.Lohr plans to expand its production of red wines to one million cases by 2012. The Paso tasting room is open daily, but J.Lohr wine club members enjoy special benefits and can take a private tour, which includes a barrel tasting and free logo glass. 6169 Airport Road Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 239-8900

Editor’s favorite Paso Robles wine producers: Adelaida Cellars Castro Cellars Chumeia Eberle Eos Estate Winery J. Lohr Justin Vineyards L’Aventure Martin & Weyrich Midlife Crisis Midnight Cellars Winery Peachy Canyon Winery Robert Hall Winery Tablas Creek Vina Robles Outstanding Vintage Year: 1997 Winery with the brightest future: Vina Robles Favorite Places To Stay: JUST Inn & Suites at Justin Vineyards & Winery Paso Robles Inn, downtown Places to Eat: Buona Tavola Ristorante 943 Spring Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 237-0600 Villa Creek Restaurant 1144 Pine Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 238-3000 Bistro Laurent 1202 Pine Street, Paso Robles Tel. 805 226-8191 Paris Restaurant 1221 Park St., Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805-227-4082 Panolivo 1344 Park Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 239-3366 Resources: Paso Robles Vintners & Growers Association 744 Oak Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 239-8463 Fax. 805237-6439 Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce 1225 Park Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Tel. 805 238-0506 Fax. 805 238-0527

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San Luis Obispo (SLO) wine country is located south of Paso Robles. Year round maritime breezes and frequent summertime fog influence the region’s microclimate, which create ideal conditions for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The area includes the Edna Valley, the Arroyo Grande Valley, each designated American Viticultural Areas, as well as Avila Valley and Nipomo. There are currently 3,000 acres of grapes in the region. In comparison to other larger wine regions, SLO should be considered a “boutique region.” Thanks in part to its quaint, college-town atmosphere, Downtown San Luis Obispo is a popular destination in the evening. There are numerous fine restaurants and pubs to satisfy your appetite. On Thursday evenings the town’s main streets are closed to automobiles and converted to a farmers’ market. You can find ultra-fresh local produce as well as a great selection of food vendors cooking ribs and barbeque. Local rock and blues bands will entertain you with live music

L au er

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“Old Edna”

A small town with a big heart

SLO * * L to R, Things are hoping on the barbecue pit at San Luis Obispo’s lively Farmers’ Market, restored classic auto at Old Edna, Fiala’s Gourmet Café, The “Mayor” of Old Edna, Scenes from San Luis Obispo’s Farmers’ Market.

Can you imagine owning your own town? Not one with indifferent municipal services, low-performing schools and greedy politicians. How about a really small town, something you could call your own? That’s what Pattea Torrence and her husband Jeff Kocan own. And it’s called “Old Edna,” a frozen piece of the past, located in the world-class Edna Valley wine country. Old Edna is a two-acre town site that the couple purchased ten years ago. At the time, it was a bunch of dilapidated buildings. It sure helped that Jeff and his father-in-law, Walter, have construction experience. Because Pattea has been the driving force and visionary for restoring the one hundred year-old town, locals affectionately refer to her as the “Mayor.” If you are traveling to SLO wine country, you must visit this historic, postage stampsized town. Old Edna’s owner-mayor has been painstakingly restoring the site for over ten years. Her pride and joy is her elegant, exclusive B&B cottage, named “Suite Edna.” Rates begin at $225 per night per couple. Unlike traditional B&B’s, you and your guests can all arrange to have the entire cottage to yourselves. The town is also home to numerous restored antique structures, as well as the town hall building, which also houses Fiala’s Gourmet Deli, Espresso Bar & Chocolatier on the first floor. You will find fresh salads, delicious daily specials and desserts. This is a favorite lunch spot for locals and visitors. New for this year is an educational series called “The Edna Valley Vineyard Experience,” that includes a short lecture, hands-on vineyard experience, a hayride through MacGregor Vineyard on Andy’s Big Red, ending with a food and wine tasting at Old Edna. Dates available through September. Cost: $75 per person, reservations required. Tel. 805 544-8062

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Baileyana- Burgundian wines influenced by ancient volcanoes and the sea Catharine Niven is one of SLO’s pioneer vineyard owners, having founded Paragon Vineyards with her husband Jack in the 1970s. She went on to develop her own vineyards with a focus on Burgundian growing methods--tighter spacing and a more vertical approach to canopy management. Baileyana is named after the neighborhood where she and Jack first met. Back then, she was one of the only women who owned her own wine brand. Baileyana is now a third generation wine company, having been

passed on to Catharine’s sons and now being run by her grandsons. The family is focused on growing premium quality fruit and taking their wines to the highest level. To do this, they hired veteran French winemaker Christian Roguenant in 1998. This Burgundy-born and educated winemaker has proven to be a perfect match for Baileyana. Roguenant is a well-seasoned winemaker with prior experience in Europe, Australia and North and South America. Christian’s experience has helped him

Photo credit for vineyard photo: Courtesy of Baileyana Winery

understand the unique terroir and microclimate of Edna Valley. The north-south valley’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean makes Edna Valley’s vineyards some of the closest to the sea anywhere in the world. Soils are layers of fossilized seashells and eroded volcanic rock. Christian is producing three levels of estate wines at Baileyana. The estate’s Firepeak Vineyards is producing their best quality fruit. Their top of the line wines are designated “GFC,” which stands for Grand Firepeak Cuvée.

page 59 Top SLO wine producers include Baileyana, Claiborne & Churchill and Wolff Vineyards. Baileyana 5828 Orcutt Rd. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Tel. 805 269-8200 Claiborne & Churchill 2649 Carpenter Canyon Rd. (Hwy 227) San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Tel. 805 544-4066 Wolff Vineyards 6238 Orcutt Rd. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Tel. 805 781-0448

Places to stay: San Luis Creek Lodge 1941 Monterey Street San Luis Obispo , CA 93401 Tel. 805 541-1122

SLO * *

Baileyana also excels in the Rhone varietal, Syrah. Commenting on his 2003 Firepeak Vineyard “GFC” Syrah, Christian Roguenant says, “Wow, what a wine! Cool climate Syrah is a whole different monster. There is not a lot of it in the ground and when grown right, it makes a wine that I believe will define Syrah in California. Lavender and blueberry jump out of the glass and are complimented by hints of white pepper on the palate.” This winery sets the bar for premium quality Edna Valley wines. Their wines are available nationwide.

L to R, Baileyana’s Firepeak Vineyard, Winemaker Christian Roguenant, Wine Display at Baileyana’s tasting room

Suite Edna/ Old Edna 1655 Old Price Canyon Road San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Tel. 805 544-8062

Resources: San Luis Obispo Vintners & Growers Association 5828 Orcutt Road San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805 541-5868 805 434-9380 Fax San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau 1037 Mill Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Tel. 805 541-8000 www.

Places to eat: Old Edna-Lunch Fiala’s Gourmet Deli Espresso Bar & Chocolatier 1653 Old Price Canyon Rd. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Downtown SLO Vieni Vai Trattoria 690 Higuera San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Tel. 805 544-5282

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P aso R obles All wines are from Paso Robles

dishes, pork and even sushi.

Tasting Notes by: Marlene Rossman

Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Noir Edna Valley 2004 $18 This gorgeous bargain tastes like it costs twice the price. With cherries and baking spice, this Pinot is a food-friendly winner.

AVA unless indicated

Adelaida Cellars Grenache Blanc/ Roussanne $22 A wonderful Rhone blend of just about half Grenache Blanc and half Roussane, with apple and melon flavors in a smooth package.

Dover Canyon Winery Viognier Hansen Vineyard 2004 $22 The luscious aromas and flavors that scream honeysuckle, apricots and peach with classic lime peel bitterness at the end. I collect Condrieu (Viognier) from the Rhone, and Dover Canyon’s Viognier would be at home in France.

Adelaida Cellars Pinot Noir HMR Estate 2003 $38 Cherries, berries and baking spice. This is what Pinot Noir is all about…and Adelaida’s HMR Vineyard Pinot does it beautifully.

Dover Canyon Winery Menage 2001 $35 A classic Bordeaux -style blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot. This youngster is drinking well now, but could be cellared to let the flavors develop further.

Baileyana Winery Chardonnay Grand Firepeak Vineyard “The GFC” 2004 Edna Valley $30 Tropical fruit, citrus and crisp fresh flavors make this lightly-oaked Chard a standout. Burgundy winemaker Christian Roguenant has another winner. Baileyana Winery Pinot Noir Grand Firepeak Vineyard “The GFC” 2003 Edna Valley $38 Aah, Pinot Noir! This small batch Pinot (800 cases) shows its pedigree with lovely cherry, berry and spice flavors. Barreto Cellars Tempranillo 2003 $18 It is such a joy to have the grape known as Spain’s Cabernet Sauvignon grown right here in the US of A. And what a delicious expression of Tempranillo this is! Casa de Caballos Winery Merlot “Ultra Violet” 2003 $26 I am not a Merlot lover, but this one could persuade me. It’s opulent and elegant, with great red fruit. Casa de Caballos Winery Cabernet Sauvignon “Chocolate Lily” 2003 $30 This Cab is “da bomb”! A gorgeous nose of black cherries leads into a mouthful of chocolate and coffee. When you visit the winery or their website, buy a case and do it quickly because there are only 140 cases. This Cab absolutely “knocked my socks off.” Funny that the winemaker used the same expression! It leaves you longing for more. Cass Winery Hacienda 2004 $34 A Rhone blend of Mourvedre and Grenache from a small production winery. Cass produces wines from certified Rhone clones and does it beautifully. Cass Winery Rockin’ One 2004 $34 This is a varietally true Grenache/Syrah blend that is not only food-friendly, but also delicious on its own. Castoro Cellars Zinfandel Cobble Creek 2003 $24 A beautiful, raspberry -scented Zin with wonderful ripe plum and spice on the palate.

Castoro Cellars Due Mila Quatro 2002 $30 Luscious lavender, blackberry and spice, with tobacco and a bit of mint. Buy one for now and lay one down. This Bordeaux blend of Cab, Merlot and a bit of Petit Verdot has a long, delicious life ahead of it. Decant and give it a little time and you will be delighted. Ceparone Winery Aglianico 2002 $14 I was amazed and delighted to find one of my favorite obscure Italian varietals from California! The U.S. is doing something right wine-wise to produce varietally true Italian wines right here. Ceparone Winery Nebbiolo 2002 $14 Nebbiolo is a notoriously difficult grape to grow and vinify, but Ceparone has done it all. The famous grape from Piedmont is right here in Paso!

Dunning Vineyard Zinfandel 2003 $30 This gorgeous Zinfandel, blended with 20% Syrah, is one bottle from only 200 cases made. The fruit is rich, delicious and has enough good acid to pair beautifully with food. Eberle Muscat Canelli 2005 $14 A lovely off-dry wine that comes from a much under- appreciated grape. Try a bottle and see for yourself. Eberle Zinfandel Paso Robles 2003 $18 With sweet raspberry on the palate and good acid, tannin and texture, this Zin is delicious with ribs, fajitas and burgers.

Edna Valley Chardonnay Paragon Vyd. 2004 Edna Valley $14 Made in the classic California style, you’ll find lemon curd, butterscotch and toasty oak notes, all supported by bright acidity.

Ceparone Winery Sangiovese 2002 $14 Yum! This is probably the best Sangiovese produced in California. It stood right up against the Italian Chianti and is drinkable on its own. The California sun and soil seem to give it that little extra fruit and spice with good tannin balance.

EOS Petite Sirah Reserve Peck Ranch Vineyard 2001 $25 This “Pets” was so black, it stained the glass…and that’s what you want in a Petite Sirah. With sweet blueberry, chocolate and cherries, a car bumper would taste good soaked in it, but the hubby made ribs and oh, man!

Cerro Caliente Cellars Chardonnay 2004 Edna Valley $ 20 This Chardonnay is great for everyday Chardonnay drinkers. Eminently drinkable with flavors of oak and a blend of ripe fruit.

Eos “Tears of Dew” Late Harvest Moscato 2004 I am not much of a dessert wine drinker, but the honey, apricot rose and pears aromas and flavors, all tied up with good acid, worked for me.

Cerro Caliente Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $ 24 Good Cab nose and sweet flavors. A nice rich Cab that is sure to please the crowd.

Five Rivers “Zhone” 2003 $10 Zin and Rhone=Zhone, get it? A clever blend of two great varietals makes this a delicious, rich blend.

Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Gris Edna Valley 2005 $18 Sleek and smooth and rich and viscous, with hints of apricot, anise and smoke, this is a wine that can easily be paired with richly sauced

Robert Hall Rosé de Robles 2005 $14 This is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre that makes a delicious, deeply flavored rosé that sings with food.

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P aso R obles Scott Aaron Viognier 2004 Paso Robles $30 Scott is the son of the abovementioned Casa de Caballos owners. This family is producing some spectacular wines. Run, do not walk, to their website and order all the wines you can afford. Wait ‘til you taste this Viognier! Only 45 cases of this elegant, rich white were made. This is THE white wine for those of us who do not drink much Chardonnay.

Locatelli Winery Cielo Rosso (Red Heaven) 2002 $22 A classic Bordeaux blend of estate Cab Sauv and Merlot. Drinking it makes me feel like I am in Red Heaven! J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon “Hilltop” 2001 $25 Quintessential Cali Cab with superb black fruit and sweet tannins. Even though it’s an ‘01, it could cellar beautifully for years. Give this one a little air and dig in with a big steak!

Scott Aaron Integrity 2003 $55 How did Scott Aaron know that Cabernet Franc is also my favorite red grape as well as his? This Bordeaux blend is mostly Cabernet Franc, with just a touch of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each bottle is its own work of art with a gorgeous silver medallion on it. Find this and bring it as a gift for someone really special. There were only 93 cases produced, so what are you waiting for?

Midlife Crisis Winery Chardonnay 2004 $19 This is a well-balanced Chard with zippy green apple and melon flavors. It has just enough oak to make it interesting. Midlife Crisis Winery Pinot Grigio 2004 $16 A delicious Pinot Grigio, in the rich New World style. Try this with Pad Thai or shrimp salad. Novella Muscat Canelli “Rayons de Soleil” 2004 Pear, apricot, pineapple, honey, dried fruit, pear, peach and dried apricot flavors lead to a finish of honey and sweet nectar, with flowery notes of honeysuckle, rose and tulip petals. Ortman Chardonnay 2003 Edna Valley $24 Delicious and done in a restrained Burgundian style with lemon and cream. What a delightful Chard…little oak, with aromas of pear, honey, vanilla and toast, creamy texture and tropical fruit with an overlay of lemon. Peachy Canyon Winery Zinfandel Westside 2003 $19 Sweet, ripe blackberry jam must have been added to this delicious Zin! Just kidding…but seriously, it is a big wine with good balance and great fruit. Peachy Canyon Winery Zinfandel Old School House 2003 $26 An elegant style of Zinfandel with less heat than the Westside Zin. Lovely, restrained red fruit filled with sugar and spice. Peachy Canyon Winery 2003 Jester Red Wine $19 An interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and a bit of Cab Franc makes this a fun wine. My husband often asks for “Cali field blends” and this is one of his faves! Peachy Canyon Winery 2003 Vesuvio $22 Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a Cal/Ital “Supertuscan” package. I felt like I was in Italy with California sunshine. Beautiful fruit, most notably berries, spicy acidity with the little acid bite at the end. Peachy Canyon Winery 2003 Para Siempre $38 “Para Siempre” means forever, and this Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot and a bit of Cab Franc has a long life ahead of it. It’s a young wine and, like I did, will get better with age!

Perbacco Petite Sirah 2003 $23 Trust me, there is nothing petite about this Sirah. Although it’s not closely related to Syrah, this is a big, brawny wine with great aromatics and flavors. Perbacco Chardonnay 2003 Edna Valley $22 Nice lemon, grapefruit and toast flavors, this Chard is big, but balanced. Perbacco Pinot Grigio Arroyo Grande 2004 $16 Good minerally Pinot Grigio done in the European style (but better!) but with rich flavors of honeydew, lemon and a touch of peach. Perbacco Pinot Noir Dionysus Arroyo Grande 2003 $45 Lovely fruit forward Pinot Noir in a medium -bodied wine, with good varietal characteristics. It’s got black cherries with baking spice on a finish that goes on and on. Piedra Creek Winery San Floriano 2003 $22 A blend of fifty percent Lagrein, 40% Merlot and 10% Petite Sirah, this rocks! It is the first time I have tasted an American Lagrein, which is one of my favorite obscure Italian varietals. Salute to the folks at Piedra Creek. Piedra Creek Winery Zinfandel 2003 This Zin is particularly well balanced--not overly spicy, not too sweet--it is a great wine that is ready to drink but can be put away for 3 to 5 years to mellow further. Rio Seco Vineyard Roussanne 2003 Astonishing, fragrant and well -balanced Roussane. This is a real find, so pick up a batch of this creamy, delicious Rhone varietal.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Grenache Blanc 2004 $26 From a joint venture of the Perrin family of the Rhone’s Chateau de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, comes some astonishingly good wine. This light, bright Grenache Blanc, rarely seen in California, has delicious apple, lemon and floral flavors and aromas. Tablas Creek Vineyard Mourvedre 2003 $34 Classic aromas of plums, earth, leather and figs in a rich, dark Mourvedre, which is made from vines imported from the Beaucastel estate in France. Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2003 $19 With a rich nose of licorice and chocolate leading into a palate of ripe red berries, this Cab is a winner with a great QPR (Quality/Price ratio.) Vina Robles Signature 2003 $29 Talk about unusual blends! This Bordeaux/ Rhone blend has 59% Petit Verdot, 22% Syrah and 19% Petite Sirah. I don’t know how winemaker Matthias Gubler came up with this, but it works beautifully. Delicious and dark, with dates, figs and black fruits on the palate. There are only 500 cases of it so grab a few and tell the neighbors. Wild Horse Zinfandel 2003 $18 Here is a Zin that does not knock you out with heat. A lighter style with great raspberry, herb and sweet oak flavors, drink this with a plate of cold roast beef. Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $20 This is a marvelous full-bodied Cab with firm tannins, aromas of cedar, lavender, sage and black cherry, and flavors of blackberries, clove and cinnamon.

Photos courtesy Galatoire’s Restaurant

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C ulinary A rts

Still Alive & Well! A New Orleans Culinary Classic

Photos courtesy Galatoire’s Restaurant

By Jan Aaron

More than 100 years old, Galatoire’s, famous for fine French-Creole food on Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter, was virtually unharmed by Hurricane Katrina. “They reopened to record crowds last January, and Friday lunches there are still the stuff of legends,” Larry Lovell, spokesperson for the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, told me a short time ago in New York, where a delegation briefed the press on the New Orleans’ progress. “Tell everyone to visit us,” he urged. “Tourism will aid our recovery.” So be sure to visit New Orleans and have Friday lunch at Galatoire’s. In January 2001, with other writers, I enjoyed this jamboree for people who want to jumpstart their weekends. We dined on classic French Creole dishes while mingling with an amazing jambalaya of welldressed people carrying on with New Year’s Eve gusto, sans confetti or streamers, but with plenty of head-turning hats --on stylish women. Some might have been celebrating special occasions. Others come for lunch, and stay through dinner. For people who have lived through Katrina, a Friday lunch now at Galatoire’s is vivid testimony that, no matter what, their French Creole food and fun will endure. This Bayou bacchanal has its own traditions among Friday’s faithful. They must be seated downstairs in the restaurant’s old fashioned mirrored main room. Since they don’t take reservations downstairs, regulars sometimes pay placeholders to stand in line for them, which

is part of the Galatoire’s legend and the lore of Bourbon Street. Longtime patrons also must have their favorite waiters. (Reservations are taken for the upstairs dining room, where there are also women waitstaff, but both women and reservations are disdained by the faithful.) Another thing which does not change is the French-Creole food, wafting enticing aromas throughout the room. Our waiter, John, one of the prized, recommended dishes that established Galatoire’s reputation, while he uncorked bottles of BV Carneros 2003 Chardonnay and BV Rutherford 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, which could stand up to bold foods. Disappearing into the hullabaloo, he returned swiveling his tuxedo-clad body sideways between tables, while balancing a tray layered with plates which he arrayed before us. They were delicious signature dishes such as airy pommes soufflé, tender stuffed eggplant, tasty shrimp rémoulade and properly moist oysters Rockefeller. My entrée, a mild drumfish Meunière, was very good. Others enjoyed tender lamb chops béarnaise. Friday’s feast finished with luscious crepes doused with sweet sauce and dense banana bread pudding. Our visit coincided with restaurant’s centennial and a celebratory dinner upstairs the following evening. Justin Frey, David Gooch, and Michelle Galatoire, descendants of the French immigrant founder Jean Galatoire and in charge today, welcomed the guests. Mr. Gooch is responsible for the restaurant’s 117bottle wine list, featuring French and

California labels, ranging from $20 for a Sycamore Lane Chardonnay to $250 for a bottle for Louis Roederer Cristal 1997. “We sold 97 bottles of the Cristal in 2004,” he told our table. He also helped choose the evening’s wines. We began with “Dinkelspiel Salad” (named for a long-ago patron), featuring shrimp, crabmeat, lettuce, hard cooked eggs and anchovies, with Creole mustard vinaigrette, delightful with Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuissé 2003. Next, spicy duck and sausage gumbo was in perfect sync with Faiveley Mercury Clos des Myglands 1er Cru 1998. There were entrees of veal marchand du vin and potato encrusted fish, with Chateau de Clairefont Margaux 1998, and banana bread pudding for dessert. Befitting a grand celebration, we finished with flaming café brûlot -- a sweet-tart-spicy treat– somewhat like New Orleans itself. Entrees $18-$28. Galatoire’s Restaurant Inc. 209 Bourbon St New Orleans, LA 70130 Tel 504 525-2021 Note: If you wish to help food service employees affected by Hurricane Katrina, send your check to “LRAEF –Restaurant Employee Relief Fund” and mail to LRAEF, 2700 N. Arnoult Rd, Metarie, LA 70002; Donations are 100 percent tax deductible. A main goal of the fund is to help displaced employees return back home.

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Parting Shots

Sculpture of hand in sand in Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Coming next issue: Cover Feature: South Australia Wines and Dines! The Land of Oz has come a long way since it’s settlers first set up their homesteads. South Australia is the epicenter for Australian wine and cuisine. More than 60% of Australia’s wine is made in South Australia--Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. The wines have gained worldwide acclaim. Shiraz has become their signature grape, but Riesling and Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blends (GSM) are poised to become the next Aussie wine sensations. South Australian cuisine has a lot more to offer beyond vegemite and braised kangaroo. Air New Zealand has recently open a direct route to Adelaide that will make travel to this region more accessible to wine lovers.

Second Feature: Uruguay, South America’s New Wine Frontier! Punta Del Este’s La Bourgogne is renowned for being South America’s top French restaurant. Chef Jean-Paul Bondoux is a perfectionist, pushing his staff to new plateaus while cultivating fresh vegetables, herbs and spices from his own farm. Although he was born in France, his cellar highlights Uruguayan wines. This tiny country has embraced tannic, red Tannat as its signature grape. When vinifed properly, Tannat has the potential for being elegant and smooth.

2006 Issue 2

Wine Country International  
Wine Country International  

Your attitude-free passport to great wine & Delicious food.