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90 Benessere 2006 Muscat Canelli, Scintillare, Napa Valley ($18)
Lively peach fruit and lovely flavors and wonderful balance.
90 Etude 2006 Fortitude Semillon, Luvisi Vineyard, Napa Valley ($180)
Soft and round with spice and rich, subtle flavors of fruit. FOSTER’S GROUP
Morgan 2006 Chardonnay, Metallico, Monterey ($22)
No oak means clean, pure flavors; long and lifted with excellent structure.
Edward Sellers 2006 Viognier, Paso Robles ($29)
Lush with creamy texture, vanilla and bold citrus fruit; complex and charming.
90 Nadia 2006 White, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, Santa Barbara ($30)
A forward and racy Rhône-style blend (64% Viognier, 29% Grenache Blanc, 7% Roussanne) with intense fruit and edgy acidity; new label from Laetitia owners.
Sequoia Grove 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($32)
Sweet plum backed with lively acidity; clean, pure varietal fruit and good balance.
Mayacamas Vineyards 2002 Merlot, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley ($35)
Smooth with complex plum and berry flavors; balanced and seamless with depth; 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Austin Hope 2005 Grenache, Hope Family Vineyard, Paso Robles ($42)
Ripe with spicy berry fruit; lively and showing tannins and enticing flavors.
Pali Wine Co. 2005 Pinot Noir, Durell Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($44)
Smooth, fleshy and dense with ripe cherry fruit and spice; good acidity.
Envy Wines 2005 Petite Sirah, Napa Valley ($45)
Showing excellent acid structure as well as stylish, delicious flavors; exemplary Petite Sirah.
Villa Maria 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Private Bin, Marlborough ($16)
Long and quintessential NZ; lifted and fresh with herbs citrus and gooseberries.
Loimer 2006 Riesling, Kamptal ($19)
Limey with juicy peach fruit and pure, lively acidity; vibrant with balance, style and smooth texture; one of Austria’s best producers.
Mt. Difficulty 2006 Pinot Gris, Central Otago ($20)
Lush and sweet Pinot Gris from New Zealand, with vibrant citrus and round, balanced flavors.
Neil Ellis Wines 2006 Chardonnay, Elgin ($27)
Bold South African Chard with a linear palate of pure, citrus fruit and minerals.
Bucci 2004 Villa Bucci, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi ($44)
Racy and clean with appealing fruit and acid structure; beautifully balanced.
Cloudy Bay 2005 Pinot Noir, Marlborough ($35)
Juicy and long with bright cherry fruit and racy bracing acidity.
Glatzer 2005 Zweigelt, Riedencuvée, Carnuntum ($17)
An intriguing Austrian red with ruby color and juicy black-cherry and blueberry fruit; lively and charming.
MICHAEL SKURNIK WINES
Banfi 2006 Brachetto, Rosa Regale, d'Acqui ($24)
A superb everyday sparkling wine with charming rose color; crisp and juicy with fresh, spicy flavors.
Bodegas Peique 2004 Viñedos Viejos, Bierzo ($30)
100% Mencia from Spain with fresh cherry and lively spice; long and charming.
RINASCIMENTO WINE CO
Larry Cherubino 2005 The Yard Shiraz, Powderbark, Frankland River ($40)
Good acid structure, more French than Aussie; powerful yet complex; deep and dense with finesse and restraint.
TOM EDDY WINES
VALUE AND BY-THE-GLASS RECOMMENDATIONS
Washington Hills 2006 Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley ($8)
Fresh and balanced sweet peach; winning demeanor.
Hugues Beaulieu 2006 Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux de Languedoc ($9)
A smooth, creamy white with clean, juicy fruit and vibrant, fruit.
KYSELA PÈRE & FILS
Tangent 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley ($13)
Fresh and bright with edgy peach fruit; vibrant, long and crisp; spin-off label from Baileyana.
Chateau St. Jean 2006 Fumé Blanc, Sonoma ($13)
Ripe, smoky with mellow fruit and soft herbs; clean and tangy.
Irony 2005 Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($14)
New label from DFV Wines; tropical fruit, vanilla and racy acidity; fresh, long and lively with balance and style.
MAN Vintners 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coastal South Africa ($10)
Smooth and silky with bright acidity and juicy plum fruit; 5% Merlot.
Red Knot 2006 Shiraz, McLaren Vale ($12)
Lean blackberry fruit and clean, racy acidity; brisk, tangy and delightful.
Pertinace 2005 Barbera d'Alba ($15)
Juicy and bright with clean, racy berry fruit and zesty, youthful flavors.
Zantho 2006 St. Laurent, Burgenland ($15)
A fresh, youthful Austrian red with velvety smooth texture and spicy berry fruit.
J. Lohr 2005 Merlot, Los Osos Vineyard, Paso Robles ($15)
Plummy with herbs, tannins and a supple texture; rich and dense.
Diamond 100 Vodka ($50)
From Oregon; creamy and smooth with amazing silky texture and notes of vanilla and absolutely no rough edges; long, rich and velvety.
Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin ($28)
Juniper nose; smooth and dry with citrus and pepper; long, mellow and fresh with charming, elegant flavors.
4 Copas Tequila Blanco ($50)
Certified organic; spicy and rustic nose; rustic agave flavors and thick texture with notes of earth and exotic spices.
4 COPAS USA
Cockspur 12 Year Old Fine Rum ($30)
Mellow and silky Barbados rum with toasty oak, brown sugar and dry, spiced flavors; a clean medium-bodied rum with a long, smooth finish.
HOOD RIVER DISTILLERS
93 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon ($40)
Deep amber color; spice, tea, toasty oak and dried fruit; hot, silky and rich with depth and complexity.
Oban 1992 Distillers Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($80)
Smooth, rich and toasty with honey, caramel, treacle and edgy dried fruits; light peat, vanilla and spice, really complex and supple.
DIAGEO NORTH AMERICA
Maison Surenne Petite Champagne Cognac ($35)
Fresh with mellow hints of dried flowers, fruit and vanilla; elegant, ripe and feminine; charming and smooth; 13 years old.
Bitter herbal nose; bright red, smooth and rich with not overly sweet flavors of ripe fruit and a dense basket of herbs; long and mellow - a classic.
Carnivo XO Liqueur ($30)
Bright, electric green; lively and bursting with bright, juicy tropical fruit including tart apple, passion fruit, cherry, citrus, mangosteen, peach and citrus; delicious.
Crispin Rose Liqueur ($85)
Dark amber color; lovely rose-petal nose with sweet and intense flavors of authentic rose; long, rich and slightly tannic.
When the boring and badly made documentary about the wine business, Mondovino, came out a couple of years ago, it had a villain. His name was Michel Rolland. This brain-dead film portrayed Rolland, the world’s leading enological consultant, as the Ruination of Wine personified. What a bunch of rubbish!
I’ve known Michel Rolland personally for two decades, during which time the world of wine has, indeed, been changed enormously through his influence—but for the better, resulting in cleaner, riper, better-delineated wines. His relentless willingness to share his vast enological knowledge with vintners around the globe is legendary, and he also happens to be one of the nicest guys in the business. Rolland’s lovely wife, Dany, is also a partner in his endeavors.
In addition to globe-trotting duties as consulting enologist at more than a hundred wineries worldwide, Michel is the custodian of a portfolio of his own wineries and labels, now conveniently grouped under The Rolland Collection banner. These range widely in geography, from the flagship, Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol (Rolland grew up on the estate) and four other Bordeaux châteaux, to the far-flung Remhoogte Estate in South Africa’s Stellenbosch region. In between, there’s Campo Eliseo in Spain’s Toro D.O. and two promising properties in Argentina, Val de Flores in Mendoza and Yacochuya in Cafayete.
I tasted through some recent releases from The Rolland Collection recently. Here are my notes:
Château Le Bon Pasteur 2004, Pomerol ($102)
Lovely smooth texture and rich plum and cassis fruit; long, elegant and nicely structured with firm acidity and excellent balance. 80% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc.
Château Rolland-Maillet 2005, St.-Emilion ($53)
Dark and smooth with lovely, ripe plum and fine structure; long, mellow and seductive.75% Merlot, 25% Cab Franc.
Château Fontenil 2005, Fronsac ($74)
Smooth and nicely textured with bright plum and firm acidity; long, edgy and softly tannic. 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Campo Eliseo 2003, Toro ($95)
Smooth and aromatic with luscious blackberry and spice; ripe and supple with density, depth and lovely flavors; 100% Tempranillo.
Bonne Nouvelle 2003, Remhoogte Estate, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch ($81)
Dense, concentrated and earthy with ripe plum, herbs and spice; long and rich, balanced and intense. 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 19% Pinotage.
Val de Flores 2004 Malbec, Mendoza ($84)
Silky and aromatic with lovely texture and fresh cherry and plum; long and feminine with exceptional balance, complexity and finesse.