© 2004 by Randy Buckner
January 2004

Winter 2004 Releases

This looks to be a winter to remember. Record snows fell in the Seattle/Portland area and the east coast is experiencing record cold temperatures. The national championship in college football fell to controversy and the playoffs for the Super Bowl have been setting records for overtime play. The Democratic presidential race has provided us cheap entertainment, with several rounds to come. And last but not least, the President says we’re going to Mars. Maybe he will volunteer?

Meanwhile, record amounts of wine continue to enter the marketplace. Another 100 new and current releases are presented for your inspection. The dual rating system evaluates quality (the first number) and value (the second) on a 100-point scale. No wines scoring below 80 points are listed. As always, enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.

Brandy wine glass

NV Korbel, Brandy, California, $12, 80 proof. This Brandy is aged in small American oak barrels. This actually pairs well with the dreaded holiday fruitcake. Warm and smooth, with slightly coarse flavors of honey, orange rind and a touch of smoke. Very consistent in style; 81/83.

Cabernet Franc wine glass

Carmenet 2000 Carmenet, Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley, California, $18. Blackberries, leather, licorice, dark chocolate and vanilla define the wine. Easy to drink, with a lively mouth feel and modest tannins, the finish is of modest length; 84/84.

2001 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Franc, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $23, 1,100 cases. This dark garnet wine is smooth and crisp, with aromas and flavors of cherries, berries, and tobacco leaf striving to be noticed underneath the rather heavy layer of oak; 84/84.

Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux blends wine glass

2001 Barefoot Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, California, $17, 1,949 cases. The nose is defined by plums, vanilla and cedar. Tart blackberries, substantial tannins and crisp acids round out the package; 81/81.

2001 Carmenet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, California, $18. Lots of berry fruit is here for the taking, but so is a lot of barrel influence. While the acidity is crisp, the tannins are pretty hard and drying; 80/80.

1999 Chateau Magnol, Haut-Medoc, France, $18. The wine is fruity but does not have a lot of classic Bordeaux characteristics. Blackberries, raspberries, and cedar notes are carried on a medium framework, with a modest finish; 84/85.

2000 Chateau Ste Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $29. Almost purple in color, the wine gives off aromas and flavors of cedar, vanilla, black fruit and American oak. Tannins are dense and chewy. Hopefully they will resolve with time but may outlive the wine. The finish is long and dry; 85/85.

2000 Chateau Ste Michelle, Meritage, Artist Series, Columbia Valley, Washington, $48. You’re not going to read print through this inky monster, which is loaded with aromas of black cherries, currants, cocoa, cedar, and vanilla. Tannins are formidable at this point. Will they ever tame? Flavors mirror the nose but do not deliver as much as promised; 85/83.

Chateau Souverain 2000 Chateau Souverain, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California, $20, 49,000 cases. This wine is pleasant, but doesn’t have a lot of complexity. Medium-bodied with firm acids and rounded tannins, the Cab is defined by black cherries, plums, mint and vanilla; 85/85.

2000 Claar, Cabernet-Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $9. Full-bodied, with tannins that can stand a few years of aging in the bottle; this fruity wine is perfect foil for BBQ fare. Blackberries, black cherries, cedar, leather and chocolate make a rather nice statement; 86/89.

2000 Columbia Crest, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington, $11. A full, crisp wine with easy tannins and aromas of black cherries, cocoa and vanilla. Sweet oak and spice overwhelms the underlying fruit; 81/81.

2000 Columbia Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15, 10,275 cases. Here’s a pretty tasty everyday drinker to serve with grilled foods. Juicy berry fruit, vanilla and herbs are presented in a crisp package with middleweight tannins; 85/87.

1999 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sagemoor Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $29. Aromas of blackberries, herbs, chocolate and mint radiate from this deeply hued Cabernet. Silky smooth on the palate, the wine manages to hold your interest; 88/88.

2001 Covey Run, Cabernet-Merlot, Washington State, $9, 47,400 cases. Juicy berry fruit and cocoa aromas repeat on the palate, with light herbal notes. Crisp, simple, but very quaffable for the price; 83/84.

2000 Dry Creek, Meritage Red Wine, Dry Creek Valley, California, $28, 8,000 cases. Deeply hued with blue highlights, this medium to full-bodied wine is well-balanced and highlighted by currant and plum fruit, with nuances of oak, vanilla and herbs; 88/88.

1998 Fetzer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $48. The plum, chocolate, vanilla, spice and smoky aromas carry through to the palate, with cassis added in for good measure. Smooth on the entry, the tannins stiffen on the finish; 86/84.

2001 Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $14. Raspberries in a Cab? They’re here, along with cherries, cedar and French oak. This value wine is crisp, smooth and fruity, with cherry jam lingering on the finish; 86/88.

1999 Jekel, Red Table Wine, Sanctuary, Arroyo Seco, California, $27. This Bordeaux blend is deeply hued with a complex nose of black fruit, cigar box, dark chocolate, cedar and a touch of licorice. Very polished on the entry, with crisp acids and well-managed tannins, the flavors mirror the nose. 87/88.

Kenwood 1999 Kenwood, Cabernet Sauvignon, Artist Series, California, $70, 3,700 cases. This 25th anniversary release of the Kenwood Artist Series is a dandy. Black fruit, cigar box, and cedar aromas fill the nose then unfold on the palate in layers of complexity. The presentation is very elegant, with substantial tannins that sneak up on you. They should age out nicely; 91/90.

2001 No. 8, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, $14, 30,127 cases. Straightforward aromas and flavors of black cherries, plums, and dark chocolate are maintained by lively acidity and fine-grained tannins; 83/84.

2000 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, $17, 47,500 cases. The nose has a nice mix of blackberries, licorice, vanilla and oak. Flavors mirror the aromas, with a healthy dose of oak spice on the finish; 84/84.

2000 Sterling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $70, 8,500 cases. Big yet elegant, you’ll find a fragrant mix of currants, black cherries, cocoa, and cedar, with a hint of anise. The wine is showing a lot of oak right now and hopefully this will integrate with cellar time; 87+/85+.

1999 Tarapaca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gran Reserva, Maipo Valley, Chile, $15, 1,000 cases. Here’s another reasonably priced, tasty wine from Chile. Black fruit, toasted oak and smoke develop on the nose then resound on the palate. Medium-full bodied with moderate tannins, this Cab will drink well over the next 3-5 years; 85/87.

2001 Tarapaca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile, $8, 8,000 cases. Plums, ripe raspberries and a dollop of oak highlight the nose of this very approachable, straightforward wine. Aromas are mirrored on the palate; 84/86.

Chardonnay wine glass

2001 Bonterra, Chardonnay, Mendocino County, California, $14. This light to medium-gold Chardonnay has aromas of baked apples, lemon curd, toasted oak and vanilla. Full-bodied, crisp, and very fruit forward, you’ll welcome the crème brulee notes that add to the complexity. A tasty California Chardonnay; 88/90.

2002 Carmenet, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $16. Full in the mouth, creamy, and balanced, the aromas and flavors unveil spiced apples, vanilla, and butterscotch; 83/83.

2001 Chateau Ste Michelle, Chardonnay, Cold Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $26. The wine has a graceful opening, with modest acids and a viscous feel. Full aromas and flavors of ripe apples, pears, hazelnuts and French oak are also apparent on the finish, with added vanilla spice; 85/84.

2002 Claar, Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, Columbia Valley, Washington, $9. Oak has been well-managed here, not obscuring the pear predominant flavors. Nice acidity and viscosity carry the wine well. A hint of butterscotch lingers on the finish; 86/88.

2001 Columbia Crest, Chardonnay, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington, $11. Very soft on the palate, this wine is full of aromas and flavors of apple butter, caramel, and American oak notes; 83/83.

2001 Columbia Winery, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13, 17,201 cases. Vanilla and oak spice and toast dominate the aromas and flavors. Pears, apples and hazelnuts strive for attention. The wine does have nice acidity going for it; 82/83.

2001 Columbia Winery, Chardonnay, Block 6, Otis Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $40, 896 cases. This is a crisp, clean, elegant wine with melons, hazelnuts and vanilla, however the oak simply overwhelms the luscious fruit; 85/83.

2001 Columbia Winery, Chardonnay, Wyckoff Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $19, 1,671 cases. The nose presents lemon curd and hazelnut scents which carry over to the palate. While the oak is quite obvious, the fruit stands up to it at this point. The wine is viscous, with bright acidity, finishing on an elegant note; 85/85.

Dry Creek 2001 Dry Creek, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California, $16, 25,000 cases. The nose is a complex mix of yellow delicious apples, guava, floral notes and toasty oak. The spiced oak flavors virtually obscure the underlying pear fruit, with butterscotch lingering on the aftertaste; 84/84.

2000 Dry Creek, Chardonnay, Reserve, Russian River Valley, California, $22, 5,000 cases. Here’s one for the oak hounds. Aromas of peaches, apples, and papaya stem from this full gold, crisp Chardonnay. Spicy oak is the prevalent flavor, with apple fruit struggling to be noticed; 85/85.

2002 Hess Select, Chardonnay, California, $9. There is a lot of pineapple upfront, with lemon and caramel notes chiming in. Easy on the palate, this is a very tasty wine for the price class; 84/87.

2002 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Vintner’s Reserve, California, $12. Pretty standard formula Chard for K-J, with its toasty oak, threshold sweetness, green apples, citrus, and caramel notes. The bright acidity is a plus; 84/85.

2001 Tarapaca, Chardonnay, Gran Reserva, Chile, $15, 1,000 cases. Full-bodied and creamy, this wine is highlighted by tropical fruit, peaches, and vanilla on the nose, expanding on the palate to reveal oak spice, coconut and butterscotch; 83/83.

2002 Tarapaca, Chardonnay, Reserva, Casablanca, Chile, $11, 7,000 cases. Aromas of pears, floral notes, and toasty oak morph into flavors of caramel, allspice and melons. The structure is full and viscous, with a moderate finish; 83/84.

2002 Wolf Blass, Chardonnay, Presidents Selection, South Australia, $14. Soft and creamy, with peach, melon and barrel fragrances, the fruit is regrettably obscured by vanilla and oak spice; 82/82.

Gewurztraminer wine glass

2002 Columbia Winery, Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley, Washington, $8, 8,100 cases. Sweet at 3.3% residual sugar, the acidity level barely prevents a cloying feel. Grapefruit, peach and honey notes prevail in this easy quaffer; 82/83.

2002 Covey Run, Gewurztraminer, Washington State, $7, 8,579 cases. Grapefruit, spice and floral notes characterize the aromas and flavors. The soft acidity only just supports the 1.5% residual sugar; 80/80.

2001 Trimbach, Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France, $17. Setting personal bias aside (this has always been a house wine), this is constantly a nice entry level Gewurztraminer. With moderate intensity of fruit that is true to the grape, Trimbach manages to maintain bright acidity in this low acid grape; 88/88.

Merlot wine glass

2001 Carmenet, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $20. Very approachable now, the aromas and flavors showcase blackberry and black cherry fruit, barrel notes, and slightly bitter tannins on the finish; 83/83.

2000 Chateau Ste Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $16. Sporting a ruby red color, this straightforward wine offers aromas of blackberries, black cherries, plum and cedar. Berry fruit and sweet vanilla lingers on the finish; 80/80.

2001 Chateau Souverain, Merlot, Alexander Valley, California, $18, 30,000 cases. Black cherries, cedar, and brown sugar make for a nice bouquet. This wine is balanced, crisp, with tannins well-tamed. There is plenty of fruit to go around and just a hint of black pepper in the background; 85/85.

1999 Claar, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13. Almost ruby/brick in color, the aromas reveal blackberry, cedar and vanilla notes. Built for food, the brisk acidity and fruitiness makes this a match for grilled steak; 84/85.

2000 Columbia Crest, Merlot, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington, $11. Lush, fruity, with a brisk mouth feel, there is enough blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate and sweet oak to go around for just about anybody; 84/85.

2000 Columbia Winery, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15, 17,250 cases. Cherries, herbs, cocoa and humidor notes define this straightforward but tasty Merlot. Tannins are forgiving, the acids crisp; 84/85.

1999 Columbia Winery, Milestone Merlot, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $24, 1,908 cases. Red Willow fruit struts its stuff here. The aromas and flavors are a complex mélange of black cherries, Baker’s chocolate, cigar leaf, coffee, and anise; 89/90.

Dry Creek 1999 Dry Creek Vineyards, Merlot, Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, California, $30, 2,000 cases. Very elegant in its presentation, with complex layers of cassis, black cherries, and raspberries cascading across the senses. Full-bodied, crisp, and well-balanced; 90/90.

2001 No. 8, Merlot, North Coast, California, $14, 30,759 cases. The straightforward berry fruit in this Merlot is sustained by brisk acids and modest tannins. Brown sugar and nutmeg are noted on the finish; 84/85.

1999 Rodney Strong, Merlot, Alexander Valley, California, $16. The wine sports true varietal character but also carries a lot of American oak. Full-bodied and smooth, you’ll welcome the dark berry fruit, chocolate, herbs and cedar; 84/84.

2000 Sterling, Merlot, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $65, 3,000 cases. Jammy aromas of black cherries, currants, cedar, and vanilla radiate from this bluish red beauty. Easy to drink, the wine has a nice acid backbone and silky tannins. Flavors reveal a mixture of cherries, chocolate, cedar, warm spices and oak vanillin; 88/86.

2000 Vinwood, Merlot, North Coast, California, $7. Opening with aromas of berries, plums, and humidor qualities, the wine is very crisp and structured for food. Flavors mirror the nose; 83/85.

Miscellaneous wine glasswine glass

2002 Barton & Guestier, Saint-Louis Beaujolais, France, $9. Cranberry in color, the nose is defined by red fruit and spicy notes. Light, crisp, and simple, the wine nevertheless offers black cherry, raspberry, and maraschino cherry fruit; 83/83.

Beringer 2003 Beringer, Nouveau, Red Table Wine, California, $8. Seemingly always a winner, this is a fun, drink-me-now Nouveau that is reminiscent of fruit punch and bananas. Easy to drink and value priced; 86/89.

2002 Bergevin Lane, Calico Red, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15, 1,500 cases. Ruby in color with blue highlights, the bouquet is characterized by spicy notes, cranberries, cherries and barrel tones. Balanced and crisp but the tannins have a bitter quality that detracts from the fruit; 82/83.

1999 Chateau De Caraguilhes, Corbières, France, $17. The nose gives off intoxicating aromas of mixed red fruits and mushrooms. Very silky in its presentation, the wine displays cherry fruit, earthy notes and a peppery streak. These wines are usually at their best between two to six years of age; 86/87.

2001 Columbia Winery, Sangiovese, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $20, 1,400 cases. The use of old, neutral oak keeps this wine focused on the bright cherry fruit. Very well-balanced and tasty, the friendly tannins make this approachable right now; 88/89.

2001 Covey Run, Chenin Blanc, Yakima Valley, Washington, $7, 5,894 cases. Simple and sweet (3.2% RS), the wine nevertheless offers up melon, citrus, peach and nutty flavors in a relatively crisp package; 80/80.

2002 Tarapaca, Carmenere, Maipo Valley, Chile, $8, 8,000 cases. Ruby red with blue overtones, this wine is packing a lot of character for the price class. Full-bodied, with ripe tannins, you’ll find a complex mix of blackberries, smoke, bacon, and black pepper; 85/88.

2001 Trimbach, Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France, $15. Grapes were sourced from 150 Alsace growers. This lightly styled wine should pair well with a mild cheese or a delicate white fish entrée. Light gold in color, the wine shows off pleasant citrus aromas and flavors in a nicely balanced package; 86/86.

Pinot Noir wine glass

Rodney Strong 2001 Rodney Strong, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Jane’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California, $30, 1,900 cases. Here is a very nice California Pinot Noir if you like the spicy, French oak style. Black fruit, smoky notes and earth tones set the stage for this full-bodied wine, which finishes on a fairly crisp note; 88/88.

2001 Stone Wolf, Pinot Noir, Barrel Select Cuvee, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $18, 2,800 cases. Similar to their Reserve offering, there is less character and intensity, but it is also one-half of the Reserve price. This is a nice red wine for white meat; 86/86.

2000 Stone Wolf, Pinot Noir, Legend Reserve, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $38, 300 cases. Cranberry in color, this is a wine for those who appreciate the lean-styled Pinots rather than the bold, Syrah style. Aromas and flavors of red cherries, black cherries, and mushrooms carry through to the crisp finish; 89/88.

Riesling wine glass

2002 Covey Run, Riesling, Washington State, $7, 30,000 cases. A mixture of nectarines, honeysuckle and citrus makes for a decent quaff. Adequate acidity supports the 3.2% residual sugar; 82/83.

2002 Eroica, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $20. Delicately sweet at 1.7% residual sugar, the wine offers up a complex perfume of limes, Satsuma oranges and white peaches. Unfortunately the aromas promise more than they deliver on the palate; 84/83.

2001 Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace, France, $17. The wine is pale gold in color with a characteristic slate/petrol nose. Lean, steely, with lime predominant flavors, the wine needs bottle time to develop; 86/86.

2002 Wolf Blass, Riesling, Gold Label, South Australia, $14. Very Germanic on the nose and palate, with nuances of slate, petrol, green apples and floral qualities. Nicely balanced, this is a dandy new world offering; 86/87.

Sauvignon Blanc wine glass

2002 Barton & Guestier, Sauvignon Blanc, 1725 Founder’s Collection, Bordeaux, France, $10. Fresh and crisp, this lively wine has aromas and flavors of grapefruit zest, limes and lemons; 84/85.

Carmenet 2002 Carmenet, Sauvignon Blanc, Hanson Vineyard, Lake County, California, $16. The nose displays citrus and pineapple notes. Supported by fairly crisp acidity, the flavors speak of lemons and creamy vanilla; 83/83.

2001 Covey Run, Fume Blanc, Washington State, $9, 25,000 cases. The nose reveals scents of limes, green apples, and lemongrass. Moderately crisp, the wine has simple lime, caramel and herbal notes; 80/80.

2002 Kendall-Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Vintner’s Reserve, California, $10. You’ll find nice melon, cut hay and lemongrass aromas. Medium-bodied with a sweet, tropical fruit taste upfront and nuances of fig and lemon rind; 85/86.

2002 Tarapaca, Sauvignon Blanc, Maipo Valley, Chile, $8, 8,000 cases. The wine has lovely wheat straw coloration. Grapefruit, orange zest and a touch of tarragon co-mingle on the nose. Clean, tart, and lightly styled, this straightforward offering has citrus fruit predominating; 84/86.

Spain wine glasswine glass

2002 Mar De Frades, Albariño, Rías Baixas D.O., Spain, $16. Straw colored with greenish overtones, this Albariño has typical aromas of apples, white peaches and grassy notes. Tart, with almost a salty taste, this should pair well with shellfish; 85/85.

1998 Montecillo, Crianza, Rioja, Spain, $10. Complex aromas of wild cherries, plums, leather, and smoke emanate from this garnet beauty. Tart, with flavors echoing the nose, this Rioja needs a spicy tomato-based dish to shine; 86/88.

NV Osborne, Amontillado Sherry, Spain, $10. Richly colored, with a somewhat pungent, black walnut nose. Nice body with very nutty flavors; 86/88.

NV Osborne, Oloroso Sherry, 10 RF, Spain, $14. A delightful nose of pecans, hazelnuts and brown sugar introduce this “Reserva Familiar” Sherry. Delicately sweet with a crisp feel to it. Nutty, caramel characters evolve into a long, toasted pecan finish; 90/91.

1996 Ramón Bilbao, Gran Reserva, Rioja D.O.C., Spain, $20. Here’s a tasty Rioja at a decent price. Defined by warm spices, plums, cigar leaf and cedar, the wine is silky smooth with good balance; 87/88.

2000 Ramón Bilbao, Mirto, Rioja D.O.C., Spain, $36. Bilbao does no fining or filtering with this wine. Big, bold, and polished, you’ll find intense plum fruit, smoke, and exotic woods. The tannins are substantial but ripe; they should drop out with proper aging; 90/90.

2000 Ramón Bilbao, Tempranillo, Rioja D.O.C., Spain, $10. The nose is an odd mix of ripe black cherry fruit, almond extract and old wood. Soft in its presentation, the wine has straightforward fruit, vanilla, and white chocolate flavors; 83/84.

1999 Ramón Bilbao, Tempranillo, Edición Limitada, Rioja D.O.C., Spain, $11. Sandalwood and cherries are very evident on the nose. Nicely balanced with forgiving tannins, this Tempranillo has ripe black fruit, spice, and a persistent finish; 85/87.

1998 Ramón Bilbao, Tempranillo, Reserva, Rioja D.O.C., Spain, $15. Balanced, smooth, and very drinkable right now, this wine is full of plums, ripe peaches, coconut, and tobacco nuances; 86/86.

2002 René Barbier, Tempranillo, Penedès, Spain, $7. Nicely balanced, lean, crisp, with forgiving tannins. The black cherry, new leather and black olive flavors should pair well with jambalaya/gumbo fare; 84/87.

2002 Valdubón, Cosecha, Ribera del Duero, Spain, $14. This deeply hued wine emits aromas of black fruit, oak spice, and cinnamon. Obvious tannins should age out just fine. Flavors mirror the nose making for a pretty tasty package; 86/88.

2002 Vionta, Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain, $15, 22,916 cases. This lean, tart wine is perfect accompaniment for Shrimp Alfredo, with its peach, lemon zest and almond nuances. A good value; 86/87.

Sparkling Wine wine glass

NV Ballatore, Rosso Red Spumante, California, $8, 100,000 cases. Cranberry in color with a medium bead, this sparkler has citrus and blackberry aromas. Sweet (7.6% RS) and relatively crisp, this is a fun entry level bubbly that will please the large crowds. Raspberry and black cherry flavors persist on the finish; 80/80.

NV Wolf Blass, Brut, South Australia, $10. This sparkler shows that there can be pleasure in simplicity. You’ll find citrus, green apples and toasty aromas and flavors, in a crisp package with a medium bead; 83/85.

Syrah wine glass

2001 Chateau Ste Michelle, Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13. Sweet vanilla is evident in the wine but is not the predominant player. This overachiever delivers a mélange of flavors, to include plums, raspberries, cherries, and cola notes; 86/88.

2000 Chateau Ste Michelle, Syrah, Reserve, Columbia Valley, Washington, $29. Dark ruby with blue hues, the wine delivers a host of strawberry jam, cherry, pepper and vanilla aromas and flavors. Crisp and polished, the French and American oak is overpowering at present; 85/84.

2001 Columbia Crest, Syrah, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington, $11. Another potential overachiever is undermined by vanilla and spice flavors that obscure the lovely strawberry, raspberry and white pepper nuances; 83/83.

2000 Columbia Winery, Syrah, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $35, 2,600 cases. Year in and year out this is the best wine in Columbia’s portfolio in my opinion. Presented in a very polished style, the wine is packed with aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries, white pepper and smoke. The finish seems endless; 92/92.

2000 Fetzer, Syrah, Barrel Select, Mendocino County, California, $20, 1,700 cases. Aromas of ripe plums, chocolate and vanilla emanate from this deeply hued Syrah. Black and red fruit flavors are augmented by white pepper spice, finishing full and long; 87/87.

2001 Fetzer, Syrah, Valley Oaks, California, $9. Here’s a value wine that is pretty tasty to boot for the price class. Plums, blackberries and cola notes fill the nose then repeat on the palate. Supple tannins allow early consumption; 86/89.

2000 Jekel, Syrah, Winemaker’s Collection, Monterey, California, $20. The wine has a lovely ruby color with blue hues, giving off aromas of black fruit with ever so slight white pepper nuances. Flavors speak of blueberries, strawberry jam and brown sugar, all in a nicely balanced package; 85/85.

Zinfandel wine glass

Carmenet 2001 Carmenet, Old Vine Zinfandel, Evangehlo Vineyard, Contra Costa County, California, $20. The vineyard is 110 years old and has a mix of Zinfandel and Carignane. Plums, cherries, blueberries and oak spice lead the way, followed by characteristic brambly fruit and easy tannins. The finish is crisp and spicy; 86/86.

2000 Fetzer, Zinfandel, Barrel Select, Mendocino County, California, $15, 9,800 cases. American oak tends to dominate the aromas and flavors of this otherwise tasty wine. Full-bodied and crisp, there is nice blackberry fruit lurking under the wood; 84/84.

2001 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Jack London, Sonoma Valley, California, $20, 7,000 cases. Here’s a breath of fresh air; a Zinfandel that is not overloaded with oak. The bouquet is filled with notes of blueberries, black cherries and fresh cut cedar, which carries over to the palate. Modest tannins and crisp acids round out the package; 87/87.

2001 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Mazzoni Vineyard, Russian River, California, $20, 1,400 cases. Made in a jammy style with 14.2% alcohol, this is a fun wine for the style. Full-flavored, with raspberries, plums and toasty oak, finishing long and crisp; 89/90.

2001 No. 8, Zinfandel, North Coast, California, $14, 12,949 cases. Ruby red in color, this Zin gives off berry, black pepper and cedar notes. A little clumsy in its approach, the wine has decent enough fruit but the tannins detract, with a very drying nature; 83/83.

Wine Events

(Indian Wells, CA; October 2003)—The Indian Wells Tennis Garden owners Charlie Pasarell Jr. and Raymond J. Moore, in association with Anthony Dias Blue, Wine & Spirits Editor of Bon Appetit, are pleased to announce a new wine and food festival in the breathtaking Palm Springs resort area, April 2-4, 2004. The Desert Festival of Wine, Food & the Arts will be a dazzling showcase featuring internationally acclaimed chefs, top wineries and fine art at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home of the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament. The weekend will include Celebrity Chef Luncheons, Wine Seminars, Cooking Demonstrations, Reserve Tastings and a Gala Evening. Grand Tastings will be held in the evenings and will feature 50 wineries and many of the best restaurants in the Palm Springs area. Festival Package ($850/per person): Includes Luncheons, Grand Tastings, Choice of 5 Wine Seminars and/or Cooking Demonstrations, Champagne Brunch, Admission to the Arts Festival. Platinum Package ($1,000/per person): Includes Luncheons, Grand Tastings, choice of 2 Reserve Tastings, Choice of 5 Wine Seminars and/or Cooking Demonstrations, Champagne Brunch, Admission to the Arts Festival. For more information about the first annual Desert Festival of Wine, Food & the Arts, go to http://www.iwtg.net. For event tickets call (800) 999-1585. For more information, contact Wagstaff Worldwide at (323) 656-2224.

Finally, your thought for the day:

"There is one great thing you men will all be able to say when you go home. You may thank God for it. Thank God, that at least, thirty years from now, when you are sitting around the fireside with your grandson on your knees, and he asks you what you did in the Great War, you won't have to cough and say, "I shoveled shit in Louisiana."

- Gen. George S Patton

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