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In This Issue
 Edmunds St. John
 Edmunds St. John 2000 Paso Robles Rozet Vineyard "Los Robles Viejos" ($22)
 California Wine Club
 An unforgettable Burgundy experience
 Wine Advisor's Premium Edition
 This week on
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

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For all past editions,
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Edmunds St. John

From time to time - indeed, just about every time I taste one of its wines - I proclaim Edmunds St. John the California producer whose wines I consistently like best.

Edmunds St. John - named after the winery's owner-wine maker Steve Edmunds and his wife Cornelia St. John - is not located in traditional wine country but in an industrial building in Berkeley.

But it's not the winery building but the grapes that count; and there Edmunds shows his artistry, sourcing fruit from selected California vineyards with a keen eye to selecting grapes and pursuing vinification methods that emphasize terroir, as the French call the "taste of the earth" that reflects not just fruit but the soil, climate and environment where the grapes grew.

Edmunds expresses this concept beautifully on the winery's Website, where he writes, "In 1987 a wine grower from a venerable domaine in Southern France visited our cellar, and tasted a number of wines from the harvest just past. When he came to the one from my favorite vineyard his response was dramatic: he raised his nose from the glass, slowly rolling his eyes upward in reverie, he sighed, and whispered, 'la terre parle' (the earth speaks). If I have done my job well, when you taste this wine you may be similarly affected; this is a voice one longs to hear. As a winemaker, for me there is no other voice."

Edmunds came to this part of the country for a visit last week, dropping in on wine shops and hosting dinners in restaurants around Cincinnati, Lexington, Ky., and here in Louisville, where I caught up with him at one of my favorite wine stores, The Wine Market.

Here's a quick tasting report on all the wines he was pouring there. I also took home a favorite for closer analysis, which is reported in more detail as today's tasting report (below).

Edmunds St. John 2000 Paso Robles "Los Robles Viejos" White Wine ($18)
A Rhone-style mix of Roussanne and Viognier in equal parts, it shows white fruit and flowers in a heady aroma; subtle oak seems present, although Steve says the wine sees only very old "puncheons," no new barrels. Full and long, with an intriguing minerality.

Edmunds St. John "Bone Jolly" 2002 El Dorado County Gamay Noir au Jus Blanc ($15)
Perhaps the most persuasive Beaujolais-type wine I've ever tasted from the New World, it emulates a Cru-level Beaujolais with an American accent, juicy, tart and fresh essence of ripe strawberries. Steve said this Gamay vineyard is only two years old, suggesting a potential for even more remarkable wine as the vines mature.

Edmunds St. John 2001 "Rocks & Gravel" California Red Wine ($18)
A blend of the same grapes as the Los Robles Viejos red featured below but in different proportions, with 49% Grenache, 33% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah and 3% Counoise. A perennial favorite, it's perfumed, fresh and discreetly earthy, a nice blend of characters of the Old World and New.

Edmunds St. John 2001 California Syrah ($18)
Deep black fruit, full and ripe, subtly accented with fresh basil and fragrant black pepper.

Edmunds St. John 2000 Paso Robles Rozet Vineyard "Los Robles Viejos" ($22)
Bright red fruit and sweet leather, tart and fresh. For a more detailed report, see the Tasting Note below.

The following higher-end bottlings are more pricey and produced in tiny quantities. They will be hard to find, but worth the quest.

Edmunds St. John 2000 Wylie-Fenaughty Vineyard El Dorado Syrah ($30)
Another personal favorite, big yet delicate, floral and red-fruit, beautiful structure.

Edmunds St. John 1999 Matagrano Vineyard El Dorado Sangiovese ($18)
Slightly hazy ruby color. Intense fruit, intriguing ripe watermelon touched with herbs and brown spices. Tart-sweet, edgy acidity. This will be the last vintage for this offbeat but delicious California Sangiovese, as the vines no longer exist.

Edmunds St. John 2001 Peay Vineyard Sonoma Coast Syrah ($25)
Full, warm, a little closed. Slight "animal" notes over textbook Syrah and subtle earth.

Edmunds St. John 2001 Bassetti Vineyard San Luis Obispo Syrah ($40)
Huge Syrah fruit, big and brooding yet surprisingly subtle and elegant, a NFL lineman in a tuxedo. Good now, good for aging, a value even at a much higher price. Only 180 cases were made, so if you can find it, savor it.

Talk about Edmunds St. John and its wines, ask a question or post a tasting note on our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to participate in the online wine conversations. To join in an interactive round-table online discussion on today's article, click to

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.

Edmunds St. John Edmunds St. John 2000 Paso Robles Rozet Vineyard "Los Robles Viejos" ($22)

Making stylish use of four of the primary grape varieties from the 13 permitted in Chateaneuf-du-Pape (45% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 21% Grenache and 4% Counoise), Steve Edmunds has created a pretty, ageworthy wine that pays homage to its Southern Rhone inspiration without slavishly mirroring it. Dark reddish-purple in color with bright violet glints against the light, it breathes lovely, complex aromas, black plums with subtle accents of grilled meat, fennel, oregano and a distinct "tree-bark" and "forest floor" earthiness that's surely traceable to the Mourvedre. Full and ripe on the palate, tart cherry-berry and subtle earthy flavors follow the nose. There's plenty of fresh-fruit acidity, and smooth tannins to suggest good aging potential. French-style earth and California-style fruit come together to make a "Mid-Atlantic" wine in the best sense. (Feb. 15, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Like its Southern Rhone inspiration, this robust, complex red blend is made to go with rare beef. It went just as well with a beef alternative, still-pink slices of Muscovy duck breast (served over Gruyere-and-onion grits cakes).

VALUE: Although this fine wine come in a bit above "everyday" price status, its retail price in the low $20s beats up on the competition in this niche.

WHEN TO DRINK: Drinking very nicely now. It's hard to predict an aging profile for a new wine, but its Rhone-like character and tannins suggest that it will cellar well for up to a decade, and also raises some concern that it might pass through a "shy" period for a couple of years before bottle age starts to show.

WEB LINK: here's a link to the winery Website:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Check the winery Website under "Where to Buy" or look for Edmunds St. John wines on

California Wine Club

California Wine Club

California Wine Club E-mail Subscribers Know First!

Become a part of the growing number of wine enthusiasts who receive weekly E-mail offers from The California Wine Club. You'll be notified of wine sales, special offers, promotions and even hear about upcoming selections. Click here:
The California Wine Club
and start saving!

The California Wine Club is a monthly wine adventure that includes two bottles of award-winning wine, hand selected by club owners Bruce and Pam Boring. Just $32.95 per month plus shipping and includes an entertaining 8-page newsletter, Uncorked. Wines are 100 percent guaranteed, there are no joining fees and you can cancel anytime. Call 1-800-777-4443, mention that you saw it in The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and they'll give you the first month free!

An unforgettable Burgundy experience

Excitement is building around our place as springtime nears, and with it departure time for my third annual group tour in association with French Wine Explorers. You've seen me talking about this wine adventure - and encouraging you to consider joining me - for some months. We still have a few open seats in the tour as the final registration deadline approaches, so if you've been thinking about joining us but haven't quite made up your mind, I'd like to encourage you to give it a close look.

The combination of luxury accommodations, VIP-style visits to some of the region's most interesting producers and unforgettable gastronomic meals at Burgundy's world-class restaurants make the trip a real value on the basis of dollars alone. And based on my experiences working with French Wine Explorers on our previous trips to Bordeaux and the Rhone and Provence, there's more: These tours are never the stereotypical cold, formal guided groups of strangers piling on and off buses. French Wine Explorer tours invariably turn into memorable occasions in which participants quickly become an intimate group of wine-loving friends enjoying a truly unforgettable experience.

Burgundy is one of the most intriguing wine and gastronomic regions in the world, but with its rich and complex history and heritage, it may also be one of the most complicated. It is difficult to learn this great region and its wines without experienced guides and a thoughtful itinerary. Jean-Pierre and Lauriann have created a tour that will leave you with a level of understanding and expertise that you might not have thought possible ... and memories of times spent with good new wine friends to make it even better.

I do hope you'll join us, and I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you in May on the Cote d'Or and in Champagne. The six-day tour of Burgundy and Champagne runs from May 24-30. Feel free to write me at if you have questions; or get more information, and register, at French Wine Explorers,

Wine Advisor's Premium Edition

If you occasionally like to splurge for a special-occasion wine but don't like wasting your money on something that doesn't justify an upscale price, our new 30 Second Wine Advisor Premium Edition is just what you're looking for.

Our Premium Edition offers the same trustworthy advice that you've come to expect from us for wines of value, but it covers selected wines in the "next tier" - the $30 to $50 price range - where a poor buying decision can hurt more than just your pride.

For just $24 - less than a single bottle of special-occasion wine - you'll get 26 biweekly issues loaded with the consumer-oriented, plain-talk buying advice that you need to shop with confidence when you're spending a little more. Your subscription will pay for itself the first time you celebrate a special occasion with a wine that cost $30 - and tastes like you spent $60. For more details, and to subscribe, see

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:

Schaefer on Wine: TAZ - Devil in the Details
As senior vice president of vineyard operations for Beringer Blass Wine Estates, Bob Steinhauer is one of the grand old men of California grape growing. His frenetic pace has earned him the sobriquet of the Tasmanian Devil, or TAZ for short, after the Looney Tunes cartoon character. His latest project, Fiddlestix Vineyard, is coming to fruition, Santa Barbara correspondent Dennis Schaefer reports ... and Beringer surprised Steinhauer by naming the new label, TAZ, after him. The (Tasmanian) devil is in the details ... and now the details are in the bottle: the result is delicious.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Poll - Most interesting wine of the week?
In an attempt to get those of you who drink wine weekly or even daily but rarely post tasting notes talking about the wines you drink, we've put an easy question on our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forum: What's the most intersting wine you've had in the last week? You're welcome to respond in detail, or post just a name and vintage if you feel the wine needs no further explanation.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Introducing Burgundy: Chambolle-Musigny (Feb. 13, 2004)

 La Sauvageonne is back (Feb. 11, 2004)

 CAN you imagine this? (Feb. 9, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Simple soup (Feb. 12, 2004)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here 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 and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Feb. 16, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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