January 24, 2001 |
Few California winemakers can claim 25 years in one cellar. What makes Beringer Vineyards winemaster Ed Sbragia's career even more remarkable is that it has produced a benchmark wine. Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is among California's viticultural treasures. Deliciously complex and compelling, it is at once a wine to drink now and to age for drinking later, when it has evolved into something familiar yet different.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 5, 2001 |
Joseph Heitz, a pioneering winemaker who helped turn the Napa Valley into a region known for producing excellent cabernet sauvignon, has died at the age of 81. The founder and president of Heitz Cellars, Heitz died at a hospital in St. Helena on Dec. 16. The cause of death was believed to be complications from a stroke he suffered in March. Heitz was born in Illinois, grew up on a farm and studied veterinary medicine in college. But World War II and military service interrupted his eduction.
November 1, 2000 |
This top cuvee from Lebanon's Cha^teau Kefraya would make a plausible ringer in any Bordeaux or Rho^ne tasting--it's a gorgeous wine by any standard. I've seen it on wine lists for $120 and more, yet it's being offered around town at under $30. A blend of French varietals--Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Syrah--from vineyards that owner Michel de Bustros planted in the early '50s, it's a lush, supple wine with the taste of blackberries and cassis.
October 25, 2000 |
Autumn afternoons are fragrant in California's wine country. The cool air along Russian River back roads is permeated with the scents of ripe apples and fermenting wine. The golden light plays magically on a sea of vines where the season's last grapes ripen to perfection, purple-black Cabernet Sauvignon and yellow Chardonnay. Wait a minute. Chardonnay? That ain't right.
October 18, 2000
"I have a friend, David Arata, who has a 7-acre vineyard in Saratoga in the center of the Silicon Valley . . . . I had his '97 Montallegro 'Santa Cruz Mountains,' which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is to die for. It's very dark--you can't see through it--it's almost black. You assume it's a big tannic monster. But it's soft and velvety, almost feminine. But a powerhouse."
April 26, 2000 |
All the way from Australia comes this easy-drinking Shiraz-Cabernet blend, so red it stains the glass; at about $8 retail, many bargain hunters are going to be very glad it made the trip. It has a sweet, beguiling nose slightly favoring the Shiraz side: a little spice, a little berry. But though soft and ripe in character, it lacks the cloying jamminess that sometimes mars even high-end Australian reds. So bring on the barbecue and the ribs.
April 19, 2000 |
This is not a column for the faint of heart. What I am about to tell you is a true story. Nothing will be held back. No one's feelings will be spared. There are wines in this country, right here in California, that carry price tags of $100 and up. And, though their number is but a trickle in comparison to all the wine available, that trickle is growing into a stream, and that stream shows signs of becoming a raging river if the trend continues.
March 22, 2000 |
Here's a high-end Napa Valley Cabernet, made in fairly small quantities (only about 1,500 cases), that hasn't gone completely crazy with its prices. Tightly knit, lovely from the first sip, it isn't shy about showing its quality. With its taste of plums, cassis and blackberries, its soft tannins and seductive, dusty nose, it's delicious drinking now and should get even better with time.
February 16, 2000 |
Bordeaux prices continue to march upward, making even Burgundy seem like a bargain. What's a poor Bordeaux lover to do? Some are buying less. Some are exploring reds from other French regions with a better price-quality ratio. But if you don't have deep pockets and simply must have a classed-growth Bordeaux, look to Cha^teau Haut-Batailley.
February 9, 2000 |
Just this week we blind-tasted a group of Merlots right before we tasted a similar group of Cabernet Sauvignons. The close relationship between the two grapes might seem to make them bosom buddies, but, as in the past, we again found that comparisons between these two grapes are not always kind to Merlot.