White Wines    Chardonnay    Other New Zealand    New Zealand   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2007
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2007
(search item no. 102005)
screw cap wine
has fluid
has fluid 360
older vintages

Wine Spectator rating: 92 points
The Wine Advocate rating: 92 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $29.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2008 Wine Spectator rating: 92 points
2008 The Wine Advocate rating: 91 points
2008 Wine Enthusiast rating: 91 points
2006 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
2006 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points

Winemaker's Notes:

#41 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2009

Kumeu River Chardonnay is drawn from six different vineyard sites in the Kumeu Region. We are particularly careful in selecting only the very best grapes from these vineyards for our Kumeu River Estate label.

The 2007 vintage was terrific and produced wonderful Chardonnay throughout all our vineyards. The Estate Chardonnay from this vintage is ripe, rich and beautifully concentrated. The beautiful peach and hazelnut aromas along with the rich silky texture are distinct characteristics that we expect to see from this wine.

My Notes:

About Kumeu River:

Founded in 1949 by Mick Brajkovich, wife Katé and son Maté, Kumeu River was one of the early pioneers in Auckland, New Zealand, that helped to establish its reputation as a world-class wine region. Still family owned and run, Kumeu River continues to pioneer new frontiers: winemaker Michael Brajkovich became New Zealand's first member of the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine, London, and has been testing and championing screw cap closures for close to 20 years.


Red Wines    Syrah/Shiraz    Languedoc-Roussillon    France - Other regions   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Chateau Maris Biodynamic Old Vine Syrah 2007
Chateau Maris Biodynamic Old Vine Syrah 2007
(search item no. 107640)
green wine

The Wine Advocate rating: 93 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $23.99

Winemaker's Notes:

A wine of exceptional purity, extreme black fruit ripeness, and a velvety texture emerges, girded by ultra-fine tannins and enlivened by springs of fresh berry juiciness as singular in the context of wine this ripe as is the spring that apparently literally lies beneath this vineyard. This long-finishing beauty that deserves to be entered in a World Syrah contest.

About the Vineyards
The Chateau Maris estate is located on 210 acres in the Minervois La Livinière appellation of the Languedoc. La Livinière is the first village in the Languedoc to be allowed to put its name after the appellation name, indicating that this specific area produces wines of distinct quality.
Chateau Maris vines are certified biodynamic by Biodyvin and organic by Ecocert. Vineyard management practices on the estate focus on increasing soil fertility and health by introducing live matter via compost and companion planting. Two plough horses are kept on the property to avoid damage to vineyards caused by heavy tractors.

The Chateau Maris vineyards sprawl across a series of hillsides and terraces, with the terraces devoted primarily to Syrah and the hillsides devoted primarily to Grenache. The Syrah is concentrated on the terraces due to better drainage conditions, which the Syrah specifically requires. All the vineyards are surrounded by a rich Garrigue, scrubland similar to Chaparral of the American Southwest, which imbues the grapes with their distinct flavors and bouquets.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Chateau Maris:

About Chateau Maris:

Château Maris is the vision of Englishman Robert Eden, who emigrated to France over 20 years ago to pursue his dream of crafting wines that reflect, rather than mask the land on which the grapes are grown. Robert's approach to winemaking is based on the fundamental premise that wine is "grown", not "made".

To craft wines that reveal the true character of the land, Château Maris strictly adheres to biodynamics, which is in effect a supercharged system of organic farming. Similar to organic farming, biodynamics adopts a holistic approach that views the entire vineyard as a living system that is impacted by its surroundings. Biodynamics seeks to encourage vitality in the vineyard by introducing live matter into the soil through intensive composting. In addition, biodynamics places a strong emphasis on harnessing naturally occurring cycles.



Red Wines    Merlot    Napa Valley    California   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Luna Merlot 2006
Luna Merlot 2006
(search item no. 95729)
green wine

International Wine Cellar rating: 92 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $19.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2005 International Wine Cellar rating: 92 points
2004 International Wine Cellar rating: 93 points
2004 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2003 International Wine Cellar rating: 91 points
2002 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2000 The Wine Advocate rating: 87 points
1999 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
1998 International Wine Cellar rating: 89 points

Winemaker's Notes:

Our 2006 Napa Valley Merlot is an intense ruby red. The nose is filled with scents of tangerines, roses, and tobacco. The mid-palate is a tightly integrated mixture of blackberries, plums, and leather. Fine-grained tannins and great acidity hold the wine together as the finish melts into earthy cocoa and cassis. This Merlot will be at its peak from 2013 through 2016.
My Notes:

Additional wines from Luna Vineyards:

About Luna Vineyards:

Luna Vineyards was founded in 1995 by George Vare and Mike Moone. Both Vare and Moone have been Presidents of major California wineries and important influences in the California wine industry since the mid-1960's.

The founders purchased the St. Andrews winery, located at the foot of the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley, and set out to produce Italian varietal wines - Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and Merlot.

In 1996, after 20 years experience with other wineries, the last 13 at Newton Vineyards where he established himself in the forefront of Napa Valley winemakers, Winemaster John Kongsgaard joined Luna as Vice President and partner. John is particularly noted for his outstanding Merlots and spent seven years in collaboration with Michel Rolland from Bordeaux perfecting winemaking techniques in the Napa region.

With a passion for Italian wines combined with a desire to live slightly on the edge, John happily joined Luna. He was excited by the opportunity to travel to the "Old World" and learn how to adapt their traditional and new techniques for growing grapes and making wine from Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio.



Red Wines    Other Red Blends    Napa Valley    California   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Paraduxx  2006
Paraduxx 2006
(search item no. 97346)
collectible wine

Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 94 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $39.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2007 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 90 points
2005 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 91 points
2004 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 92 points
2004 The Wine News rating: 92 points
2004 Wine Enthusiast rating: 91 points
2003 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 93 points
2002 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 95 points
2001 Wine & Spirits rating: 92 points
2001 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 92 points
2000 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 94 points
2000 Wine & Spirits rating: 92 points
1999 Connoisseurs' Guide rating: 96 points

Winemaker's Notes:

Dense color with a red cherry hue Aromas of plum, chocolate and cherry pie accentuated by hints of violet, clove, cinnamon spice and vanilla bean. Bright red fruit flavors of Bing cherry, strawberry and raspberry, contrasted by dark and compelling layers of blueberry, mocha and molasses. Great structure with smooth, fine tannins, a black pepper mid-palate and long nutmeg and red currant finish.

Blend: 64% Zinfandel, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Paraduxx:

About Paraduxx:

Paraduxx is an uncommon blend of Zinfandel, California's resident grape, and the classic Bordeaux varietals of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Following in the tradition of "Super-Tuscan" wines of Italy, Paraduxx showcases the excellence of Napa Valley grapes in a unique way. Zinfandel has a history of success in Napa Valley's temperate climate and well-drained soils. We source our Zinfandel fruit from warmer growing regions with mature vines that produce concentrated, flavorful berries.

Paraduxx is an ideal wine to pair with a variety of foods, particularly, traditional Mediterranean-style fare of light pasta dishes and grilled meats. We use French and American oak cooperage for the Zinfandel to accentuate the fruitiness and to add a dimension of toast and vanilla. The Bordeaux varieties are aged in traditional French cooperage.

Paraduxx and Duckhorn Wine Company support conservation of the wetlands of the Pacific flyway.



Red Wines    Pinot Noir    Willamette Valley    Oregon   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir 2008
Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir 2008
(search item no. 108129)
has video

Wine & Spirits rating: 94 points
The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $29.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2010 International Wine Cellar rating: 90 points
2009 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
2009 International Wine Cellar rating: 90 points
2006 Wine & Spirits rating: 93 points
2002 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points

Winemaker's Notes:

This wine comes from a blend of twelve different vineyard sites in the Willamette Valley, including fruit from our four estate vineyards. The Mt. Jefferson Cuvee is the first of our six Pinot Noirs to be released each year and has been produced at Cristom since 1994. It is named for Mt Jefferson (10,501 ft) in the Cascade Range that is due east of Cristom and dramatically visible from our tasting room.

Tasted after one year in bottle. Brooding dark-raspberry and dark-cherry dominate the nose of this youthful and zesty Mt Jefferson. The wine is still very primary on the bouquet and it reminded us of a freshly filled oak barrel as creamy vanilla scents came wafting out of our glasses. True to form, Mt Jeff is juicy and ripe on the palate with delicate mouth coating tannins. This is a seriously notable edition of Mt Jeff that shows tremendous promise over the medium term.

My Notes:

About Cristom Vineyards:

Utilizing Old World winemaking techniques - whole clusters, native yeast fermentation, and gentle and minimal handling - Cristom handcrafts wines that are smooth, elegant and subtle.

These characteristics have earned Cristom distinction among wine enthusiasts and industry leaders alike, including being named 'Best New World Red' by Decanter magazine.

Our 65-acre estate in the Eola Hills of Oregon's Willamette Valley offers a long growing season, mild climate, warm winds and ancient volcanic soils that make it ideally suited to grow Pinot Noir and other traditional French varietals.



Red Wines    Other Red Blends    Southern Italy    Italy   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Feudo di Mezzo 2006
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Feudo di Mezzo 2006
(search item no. 97490)
green wine
collectible wine

International Wine Cellar rating: 96 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $39.99

Winemaker's Notes:

"Dark red, the deepest colored of the wines in this line-up. Deep but closed nose of outstanding complexity, suggesting intense, ripe red cherry, black pepper, thyme, minerals, lavender and smoke. Seamless and compelling on the palate, with amazing purity to its red cherry, tobacco, cedar and mineral flavors. Finishes with outstanding palate-staining length. This has to be one of the ten best wines of the year in Italy, and will probably live longer than you or I."
-International Wine Cellar

A gorgeous, elegant, intense wine, the 'Feudo di Mezzo' is deep ruby in color and packed with sweet fruit. A blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, it has great texture, flesh and finesse, with a powerfully long finish. What's more, this wine will age beautifully.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Tenuta delle Terre Nere:

About Tenuta delle Terre Nere:

500,000 years of volcanic eruptions have created endless soil variation in neighboring plots of land, many of them radical. The soil at Terre Nere is mostly volcanic ash speckled by black pumice and peppered with abundant volcanic rock; to call it 'rocky' is putting it mildly! The weather variations in the area are profound and generally characterized by exposure, altitude, and 'airiness,' defined here as the character of a well-exposed vineyard not protected by hills, and therefore open to the cooling and drying effects of the wind. This is particularly important at Terre Nere because the harvest usually takes place in the last weeks of October, meaning that the grapes are in their most fragile state when the weather 'breaks' its autumn pattern, making them susceptible to oidium and mildew. The 'airiness' of the climate, however, helps to dry out the grapes after rain and moisture threaten mold.

Above all else, the extraordinary elevation yields dramatic temperature variations between night and day, making the wines of Etna fine and elegant, devoid of the heat and overripe flavors that usually define southern wines. In fact, most people who have tasted these wines, particularly the 2004s, say they find them most akin to Burgundies or Barolos.

Production is simple, classic, and Burgundian in style: the grapes are grown organically, using only bordelaise mixture and organic fertilization - mostly dung. Vinification follows the same lead: maceration-fermentation lasts 10-15 days, followed by malolactic fermentation and aging in oak - 25% new - and bottling around 18 months later.

The 2004 vintage marks the real birth of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, because for the first time the estate is self sufficient, and the grapes produced were vinified at the estate’s new cellars. The wines are astounding. The '02 and '03s have been likened to Pinot and Nebbiolo, as being Burgundian or Langhe-esque. Now there's no doubt about it. The old vines cuvees are difficult to distinguish from very fine Burgundy! With their subtlety and generosity, the wines manage to be rich and precise at the same time.

Tenuta delle Terre Nere will be Certified Organic starting with the 2008 vintage.



Red Wines    Other Red Blends    Other Spain    Spain   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Laurona Montsant 2003
Laurona Montsant 2003
(search item no. 89367)
collectible wine

The Wine Advocate rating: 92 points
Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $32.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2004 The Wine Advocate rating: 91 points

Winemaker's Notes:

Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2006!

"Pretty raspberry and strawberry flavors gain depth from floral, mineral and herbal accents in this plush, well-structured red. Balanced and deceptively powerful. Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2014."
-Wine Spectator

"The 2003 Laurona, composed of 60% Grenache and 40% Carignan, has a multifaceted nose of minerals, earth, soy, black currants, blueberry, and licorice. This full-bodied effort is mouth-filling, sweet from glycerin, and supple, with layers of flavor. This loaded wine should evolve for another 2-4 years and drink well for a decade."
-Wine Advocate

My Notes:

About Laurona:

Founded in 1999, Laurona is a joint venture between Christopher Cannan, owner of Europvin S.A., and René Barbier of the famous Clos Mogador estate in Priorat.

It was the first - and remains the leading - private winery in the region dedicated to the production of high quality wines from the superbly situated vineyards that surround the now famous Priorat appellation. The potential here was recognised shortly afterwards with the creation of a new D.O. Montsant, covering the villages around Falset and at the foot of the imposing Montsant mountain.

The wines are made from the various varieties planted in the area, mainly old vine Grenache and Carignan, plus newer plantings of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Ageing of the 'regular' Laurona is in 500 litre oak casks, a large proportion of which are new. The Seleccio de 6 Vinyes is actually micro-fermented in the oak casks, adding to the complexity of the wine.

These are wines of remarkable depth and smoothness. At the same time Laurona has wonderful lively fruit and rich spicy flavours that linger on a long soft finish.

The origin of the name Laurona dates back to Roman times when Pliny the Elder mentioned only one single vineyard of distinction from Tarragona called Laurona. It was quoted by him as being of high quality. Now in the 21st century, Christopher and René are making every attempt to revive the excellent reputation enjoyed by Laurona some 2000 years ago. Two of the first 5 vintages of Laurona have made the Wine Spectator Top 100 list, which would indicate that they are succeeding!



White Wines    Chardonnay    Sonoma County    California   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Hanzell Chardonnay 2005
Hanzell Chardonnay 2005
(search item no. 93132)
collectible wine

Wine Enthusiast rating: 96 points
The Wine Advocate rating: 92 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $64.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2010 Wine & Spirits rating: 94 points
2010 International Wine Cellar rating: 93 points
2009 Wine Enthusiast rating: 95 points
2009 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
2008 Wine Enthusiast rating: 92 points
2008 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2007 Wine & Spirits rating: 94 points
2007 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2006 The Wine Advocate rating: 93 points
2006 Wine Spectator rating: 92 points
2006 International Wine Cellar rating: 90 points
2004 Wine Enthusiast rating: 96 points
2004 Wine Spectator rating: 92 points
2004 Wine & Spirits rating: 92 points
1999 Wine Enthusiast rating: 93 points
1999 Wine & Spirits rating: 91 points
1999 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
1998 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points

Winemaker's Notes:

As this was Michael Terrien's first vintage making the wine, he was focused on determining how Hanzell Chardonnay distinguishes itself in the company of other California Chardonnays.

Hanzell's recipe is unique: grapes are crushed before pressing, fermentation occurs in tank rather than barrel, new oak barrels are used only moderately, and malo-lactic fermentation is largely suppressed.

The winemaking is so traditional as to be, in an odd way, iconoclast and new. Hanzell recipe honors a lighter winemaking touch and permits clarity of expression. The wine is about place rather than ingredients; traditional, but intentional.

Glistening and bright with citrus peel (mostly grapefruit) and bread dough aromas of yeast and wet flour. Subtle flower aromas lift the pear and apple scent and the honeyed, oily richness that develops with bottle age is just beginning to emerge upon the wine's release.

"Few wineries in California can craft a Chard as rich, balanced and ageworthy as this. In its youth this '05 is flashy in lemondrop, pear and spicy anise, with a honeyed finish and crisp acidity. It's quite addictively brilliant, a wine whose lush harmony mesmerizes the palate. But Hanzell Chards invariably age well, and this is a wine you can dependably put into your cellar for 5, 10, 15 years, even longer, as it continues to evolve and become more limpid and minerally."
-Wine Enthusiast

My Notes:

About Hanzell Vineyards:

Industrialist James D. Zellerbach acquired the 200 acre Hanzell estate on the Mayacamas slopes above the town of Sonoma in 1948, and in 1952 he planted 2 acres of Pinot Noir and 4 acres of Chardonnay on the site. The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Zellerbachs created the first vintage in 1957 and named their winery Hanzell, a contraction of Mrs. Hana Zellerbach's name.

Zellerbach hired Ralph Bradford Webb in 1956 to be his winemaker and Webb would be integral to the winemaking for the first two decades of Hanzell. Webb introduced four significant advances in enology that would subsequently be adopted by many other wineries, predicating consistency and quality for the entire industry -temperature-controlled fermentation, the use of French Oak barrels, the practice of "blanketing" young wines in tank with inert gas and the practice of induced malolactic fermentation.

The original 6 acre vineyard has grown to 42 acres today, allowing Hanzell to produce 6,000 cases annually: three-quarters Chardonnay and one-quarter Pinot Noir, retaining its identity as a very small winery dedicated to making the Burgundian varietals at the Grand Cru level. Through five decades, Hanzell has pursued empirical winemaking and established traditions on which great cellar-worthy winemaking is predicated.



White Wines    Pinot Blanc    Alsace    France - Other regions   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Dom. Kreydenweiss Pinot Blanc Kritt 2005
Dom. Kreydenweiss Pinot Blanc Kritt 2005
(search item no. 99056)
green wine

The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $8.79

Winemaker's Notes:

"In its fascinating nose of pear, lemon, apple blossom, tangerine rind, nut oils, and white truffle, the 2005 Pinot Blanc Kritt reflects its generous component of ripe Auxerrois, and also somewhat suggests the character of a truffly 1996 Sancerre. Imposingly creamy in texture and palpably dense, this clings with juicy pear fruit, rich nuttiness, pungent citrus zest and subtly salty, stony mineral suggestions. Lovely though it is now, there is no need to rush to drink up a Kreydenweiss Kritt in anything less than five years from the vintage. Why aren't there more outstanding values like this out there, not even from less-prestigious growers? (Incidentally, Kreydenweiss has planted Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois in his Kastelberg, and these will in future inform a separate bottling.)"
-Wine Advocate

My Notes:

About Domaine Kreydenweiss:



White Wines    Other White Blends    Other California    California   
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Date Printed: 8/30/2014
Conundrum White Blend 2006
Conundrum White Blend 2006
(search item no. 93234)
screw cap wine

Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
PRICE ON 8/30/2014: $22.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2010 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points
2010 Wine Enthusiast rating: 87 points
2007 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points

Winemaker's Notes:

The "puzzle" of Conundrum lies partly in guessing the range of grape varieties used, because its exact composition is never revealed!

To create the layered flavors that go into the Conundrum blend, Sauvignon Blanc grapes were brought in from the Napa Valley, Muscat Canelli from Tulare County on the Central Coast, and Chardonnay and Viognier from Conundrum's vineyards in Monterey County.

About one quarter of the wine lots were fermented in stainless steel in order to preserve their individual fruit characteristics. The remaining lots were fermented in a combination of new and seasoned oak barrels for up to ten months.

Conundrum 2006 exhibits soft tropical notes of guava and cherimoya, also peach and honeysuckle. The rich perfume is supported by concentrated and focused layers of peach and apricot nectar, pear and green melon with spicy vanilla notes. The creamy texture and balanced acidity carries through the palate for a long finish.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Conundrum:

About Conundrum:

This unique, non-traditional white wine blend was created to offer full-flavored fruit and enough complexity to match the creative dishes being offered by today’s generation of chefs. Conundrum can be served with every course from appetizer to dessert, and pairs beautifully with spicy foods and full-flavored Asian cuisine.

The "conundrum", or puzzle, of this wine is in guessing which grapes make up the blend; a combination that includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, Semillon and Viognier. Conundrum is a true California wine, with grapes sourced from Napa, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties. Winemaker Jon Bolta began to craft the style for Conundrum in 1988.

The twist cap closure protects the fine aromas and flavors of this distinctive blend, allowing the bottle to be easily re-closed and refrigerated. The airtight cap also eliminates the possibility of cork taint.

Conundrum is owned by the Wagner family of Caymus Vineyards, but stands on its own as a separate brand. The Conundrum winery in Monterey County is close to the sources for most of the grape varietals that make up the wine.