Today's Sponsors:
 California Wine Club
Last Wine Sale Of The Year Going On Now!

Bordeaux Blowout!

In This Issue
In this week's Premium Edition Looking for value in Burgundy.
 WT101: Zin and Primitivo Brotherly love, or sibling rivalry?
 Schaefer's Bordeaux Blowout!
 Ninet de Pena 2003 Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes Rosé ($8.99) Herbal and cherrylike, a tart, bone-dry French rosé.
 California Wine Club Last Wine Sale Of The Year Going On Now!
 Eagle & Rose 1999 Napa Valley Merlot ($10.50) A fine value Merlot from California Wine Club's September Wine Sale.
 This week on A celebration of Zinfandel, and a chance to test your palate against the judges.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index Links to recent articles in the Wine Advisor archives.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

In this week's Premium Edition:
Looking for value in Burgundy

Must fine Burgundy be a rich man's hobby? Maybe not. If you're willing to invest an arm or a leg but would rather not sacrifice both, I'll offer some shopping strategies - and a tasting report - in tomorrow's Wine Advisor Premium Edition. Our subscription-only premium E-letter makes it easy to shop with confidence when you're considering a more pricey bottle for a special occasion. A $24 annual subscription brings you 26 biweekly E-mail editions, and your contribution helps support

Read a sample copy here:
Then subscribe today and get this week's edition in your E-mail box tomorrow ...

WT101: Zin and Primitivo

Is Zinfandel Primitivo or Primitivo Zin? Even with DNA evidence having confirmed that California's Zin and the Primitivo of Puglia in Southern Italy are genetically identical, there still seems to be much confusion among wine lovers about this luscious variety that was long called a "mystery grape" because its origins seemed shrouded behind history's veil.

The colorful promoter and wine-industry pioneer, the Hungarian Count Agoston Haraszthy, popularized Zinfandel in California during Gold Rush days, claiming that he had personally brought the grape from his native Hungary. In fact, the historical record makes it clear that Zinfandel - under a bewildering variety of names - had been grown as a table grape in New England, of all places, for a generation before that.

Primitivo, meanwhile, has been popular in Italy's "boot heel" for well over a century, making a similarly big, fruit-forward wine that experts have assumed was a cousin or even a brother to Zinfandel.

It was only since the turn of the millennium that University of California grape scientist Dr. Carole Meredith, working with Croatian colleagues, proved beyond question that Zinfandel traces its origin to a native wild vine called Crljenik Kasteljanski (pronounced "kurlyenik kastelyansky") that grows on the Adriatic coast in Croatia in the former Yugoslavia. (Another Croatian red grape that had been tentatively identified as the parent of Zinfandel - Plavac Mali - proved to be a cousin instead.)

Similar analysis confirmed that Zinfandel and Primitivo are identical twins, not just siblings, although Primitivo's exact route to Southern Italy remains under debate. There's historical evidence suggesting that it actually came back to Puglia from California in the 1890s, but the simple reality that Croatia is just a short hop across the Adriatic from Italy makes it difficult to sustain the hypothesis that it didn't arrive by this more direct route.

You're invited to join our online communities in taking a closer look at Zinfandel and Primitivo as the subject varieties for our monthly Wine Tasting 101, a free program that helps you learn to taste wine and report your conclusions by joining peers in a casual online discussion of the topic of the month.

I've chosen two specific wines as "benchmarks," selected on the basis of similar vintage, alcohol level and price - Renwood 2002 "Sierra Series" Sierra Foothills Zinfandel ($10.99), and A-Mano 2002 Puglia Primitivo ($10.59) - and recommend, if you're willing, that you try these wines in a side-by-side comparison. But you're welcome to participate by posting tasting notes and asking questions about any Zinfandel or Primitivo of your choice. If you can find one, it might be interesting to try an Australian or even a rare French Zinfandel.

For more information about Wine Tasting 101 and to begin participating in the online conversations, click to

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.


 Remarkable wines at unbeatable prices!
 6,000 cases of top-ranked Bordeaux from the best vintages valued at over $2,000,000!
 Majority of the wines are at or near the best prices in the USA!
 Many large sizes and half-bottles.
 One-owner wines stored at 60 F.
 Limited supply. First come, first served.
 Offer closes October 3, 2004
 These wines are NOT on our premises. Normally one-week delivery.
 Satisfaction 100% guaranteed.

Complete 16-page list at our web site:
Call or stop by our store

(800) 833-WINE (9463)
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For today's tasting report, let's follow up on last Monday's topic with another crisp, bone-dry rosé wine - this one from France - that offers a different perspective on pink wines than "blushing" White Zinfandel.

Ninet de Pena Ninet de Pena 2003 Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes Rosé ($8.99)

This wine is a ruby-shaded pink with a hint of orange, rather light in color even for a rosé. Typical of pink wines from the South of France (Cotes Catalanes is in the eastern Pyrenees, where France meets Spain at the Mediterranean), it breathes distinct herbal aromas that surround subtle berry scents. More forward on the palate than the nose, bone-dry and tart red-cherry fruit adds a distinct bitter quality in the finish. A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. U.S. importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va. (Sept. 19, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Dry and crisp, it makes an easy match with a variety of fare, going well at dinner with earthy Italian Taleggio cheese, a hearty, slightly sweet eggplant caponata, and grilled skewers of fresh salmon, swordfish and tuna.

VALUE: No complaints at this under-$10 price.

WHEN TO DRINK: The fresher, the better, is the rule for rosé, and even this year-old bottle, although in fine shape, may have shed a bit of its fruit since its release last spring.

Ninet de Pena = "Nee-nay duh Pay-nah"
Vin de Pays = "VaN duh Pay-ee"
Cotes Catalanes = "Coat Cah-tah-lahn"

WEB LINK: The U.S. importer has information about Chateau de Pena's wines, including a link to an online Word document about the rosé, here:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Research Ninet de Pena on, click

California Wine Club

California Wine Club:
Last Wine Sale Of The Year
Going On Now!

During The California Wine Club's September Wine Sale you can save up to 58 percent off normal retail! Stock up for the holidays with award-winning wines from California's best boutique wineries. Click here to view the full list of wines on sale:

Super Savers just $5.50 per bottle! Past Member Favorites just $99 per case. Call 1-800-777-4443 to order or visit the Wine Store at

As always, The California Wine Club makes a fun and unique gift! Just $32.95 per month plus shipping and includes a beautiful 12-page, full color magazine.

This full, ripe and amiable California Merlot is one of the many offerings on California Wine Club's September Wine Sale. At just over $10 for a bottle, it's a hard buy to resist.

Eagle & Rose Eagle & Rose 1999 Napa Valley Merlot ($10.50)

This is a very dark reddish-purple wine is full, ripe and "meaty," with characteristic Merlot aromas, black cherry with back notes of dark chocolate and oaky spice. Mouth-filling and round, big tart-cherry fruit is built on a muscular frame of fresh-fruit acidity and soft tannins. This is a serious Merlot, showing significant aging potential at five years after the vintage. (Sept. 14, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: A wine made for red meat, it worked nicely with an Italian-accented dinner, rigatoni pasta with a quick Bolognese-style sauce fashioned from pork and veal.

VALUE: Outstanding value at California Wine Club's $10.50 sale price; the winery suggested retail was $18.

WHEN TO DRINK: Drinking well now, but its body, structure and tannins suggest that it will easily keep for up to five years under good storage conditions.

WEB LINK: The Eagle & Rose Website offers information about the winery, its wines and wine club offerings.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Available in California Wine Club's September Wine Sale,
Click the "Premier Club" link on this page for a list of wines on sale that includes the Eagle & Rose Merlot and the Eagle & Rose Cabernet Sauvignon.

This week on

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

Randy's World of Wine: Zinfandel is Autumn Under Glass
If there is any wine that captures that feeling of autumn perpetually in the glass, it's California Zinfandel. The varietal characteristics of Zin are often described as raspberry or blackberry jam mixed with aromas of freshly ground pepper, and often cinnamon and clove. But Zinfandel is more than a flavor, it's also a way in which it comes across: at its fullest, red Zinfandels almost gush, like liquid cornucopia, out onto the palate. Randy Caparoso takes a long, deep and loving look at Zinfandel in this extensive report, with tasting notes on a horizontal/vertical tasting of three decades of Zins from Ridge.

Bucko's Wine Reports: Match your palate to the judges
Want to compare your palate against those of a distinguished panel of wine judges? The Los Angeles County Fair, which opened Sept. 10, 2004 and runs through Sept. 26, has all of its gold medal-winning wines available to sample for a nominal fee. Wine judge and writer Randy "Bucko" Buckner shares his tasting report on all 16 "Best of Division/Varietal" award winners.

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:

 Exceptional Pinot Gris (Sept. 17, 2004)

 "A Good Year" (Sept. 15, 2004)

 The last rosé of summer (Sept. 13, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Shrimp and grits (Sept. 16, 2004)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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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, Sept. 20, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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