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Today we sample two pricey (and similarly priced) California red blends made from Bordeaux-style grapes. St. Supéry is a member of the Meritage Association (featured in the Sept. 11 edition of our 30 Second Wine Advisor) and uses the trademarked name on its label. Justin chooses to go its own way with a proprietary name for its blend.

St. Supery St. Supéry 1996 Meritage Napa Valley Red Wine ($35)
Blackish-garnet color, opaque. Black-cherry and dark-chocolate aromas and flavors, ripe and full, structured with crisp acidity and firm tannins. Much more obviously California than French in style, but loses no points for that; it's tasty and appealing. Good now, shows considerable potential for improvement over time. With 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, this wine qualifies for labeling as Cabernet Sauvignon, but the winery chooses to use the Meritage label. (Sept. 6, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with char-grilled lamb steaks.

WEBSITE: www.stsupery.com. There's lots of information about the winery and its wines on this stylish site, but its extensive video features, animations and graphics make it a bit frustrating to view if you have a slow dial-up connection.

Justin Justin Vineyards & Winery 1997 Paso Robles Isosceles ($34.99)
Inky dark ruby in color, almost black. Blackberry fruit and spicy oak aromas with hints of blueberries and vanilla. Mouth-filling and tart, dark fruit flavors follow the nose, structured with lemony acidity and astringent tannins. A big wine, full and complex, oak present but not dominating; definitely needs cellar time. "Isosceles," the triangle, alludes to its three-part Bordeaux-style blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc and 18% Merlot. (Sept. 9, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Calls for a rare steak, but serves surprisingly well with a summer veggie meal of caprese (tomatoes and fresh mozzarella) with a tomato-basil risotto.

WEBSITE: www.justinwine.com.

Clock These wines were featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor, my free weekly E-mail bulletin of quick wine tips, advice and tasting notes. Click here to join the E-mail list!

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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