Today's Sponsor:
 California Wine Club
Only Four More Days To Save!

In This Issue
 Admin note: Riding out a hurricane.
 First taste: 2003 Rhone After a bad year in the Rhône Valley, a good one.
 Domaine Réméjeanne 2003 Chevrefeuilles Côtes du Rhône ($12.99) Herbal and cherrylike, a tart, bone-dry French rosé.
 California Wine Club Only Four More Days To Save!
 Two from Firestone A pair of $5 bargains in California Wine Club's September Wine Sale.
 This week on A look at the searing vintage of 2003, and a question about hard-to-understand varieties.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index Links to recent articles in the Wine Advisor archives.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

Admin note: Riding out a hurricane

Our best wishes go out to all of you in hurricane-battered Florida and other places ravaged by this season's terrible weather. Although we're located safely inland in the Ohio River Valley, my thoughts are with our friends (and family) in Florida.

Please note also that our Web servers are located in Melbourne, Fla., which took a fairly direct hit from both Frances and Jeanne. They're running on generator power and managing to stay online most of the time, but if you visit and find the shutters up on occasion this week - or have belated delivery of The 30 Second Wine Advisor - please understand that things aren't exactly normal down there.

Our thanks and praise to the good folks at, who have done a remarkable job of keeping the system up and running through very difficult circumstances. I strongly recommend this quality firm to anyone considering commercial Web-hosting services.

First taste: 2003 Rhone

There's already been a lot of discussion about the impact of Europe's sizzling summer of 2003 on the wines of the region, and I've indulged in a bit of that myself after doing a little barrel tasting in Burgundy last spring.

As I pointed out then (and as our columnist John Juergens discusses further in his recently published article "The Heat is On"), there's room for plenty of debate between those who hail the high degree of ripeness that resulted from the fierce summer heat, versus those who deplore the lack of "physiological maturity" in grapes hurried too early to ripeness by the aberrant weather.

The proof of the pudding lies in the tasting, of course, and for quality 2003 Burgundy and Bordeaux, it's going to be a good while before commercial bottled wines reach the market for us all to judge.

But the 2003 Rhones are already turning up on retail shelves, and for this region it's a welcome return after the destructive storms and floods of 2002 all but wiped out the previous year's vintage from this usually favored wine scene.

I love Rhones both red and white, and when I spotted the first 2003 I had seen on this side of the Atlantic last week, I grabbed it with considerable delight. I judged it with appropriate reportorial skepticism, of course - mustn't let glad emotions tilt the tasting report - but I'm happy to say that, at least in this early example, the hot vintage yielded a hearty wine that's full of fruit and flavor, maybe a bit "New Worldish," but with all the good balance and earthy complexity that makes Rhone wines a personal favorite.

After the relatively few thin, lean and watery '02s that showed up on export, it's a joy to see these amiable '03s coming; and the luscious raspberry-Grenache flavors and bold structure of this generic Côtes du Rhône from the respected Domaine Réméjeanne bode very well for the Chateauneuf-du-Pape and other more exalted wines of the Southern Rhone.

If you enjoy the Rhône Valley and its wines as much as I do, I hope you'll consider joining me on our annual tour with French Wine Explorers, a seven-day, six-night in-depth exploration of both the Northern and Southern Rhône Valley from June 6-12, 2005. For more information, visit French Wine Exporers' page featuring this memorable voyage,
or, as always, feel free to write me for more information at

If you would like to comment further about today's topic (or other wine-related issues), you'll find a round-table online discussion about it in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

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.

Domaine Remejeanne Domaine Réméjeanne 2003 Chevrefeuilles Côtes du Rhône ($12.99)

Very dark reddish-purple, black at the core. Luscious raspberry aromas with herbal accents of fennel in the aroma. Fragrant black pepper joins ripe, tart berries on the palate, mouth-filling and fresh. There's a load of fruit and plenty of acidic structure here in an excellent table wine, balanced and appealing; smooth but perceptible tannins and a pleasant earthy note become more evident in the long finish. U.S. importer: Europvin USA, Oakland, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Beautiful with a dinner crafted to match: Lamb burgers, not for the faint-hearted with their natural gaminess brought up with blue cheese and a few minced anchovies, accompanied by a slaw that fused Provencal and Asian flavors with raw fennel sliced paper-thin with red onions and cucumbers in a peanut vinaigrette.

VALUE: Particularly with the rising Euro elevating the prices of wines from Europe in the U.S., this low-teens price is more than reasonable for a wine of this quality.

WHEN TO DRINK: Côtes du Rhône is meant to be drunk, not aged, but that being said, this one will certainly last for several years.

Réméjeanne = "Reh-meh-zhahn"
Chevrefeuilles = Personally, I think I would just point at the label. But if you're daring, give this a try: "Shev-fuh'eel"
Côtes du Rhône = "Coat doo Roan"

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find prices and vendors for Domaine Réméjeanne on

California Wine Club

California Wine Club:
Only Four More Days To Save!

This is your last chance to save up to 58 percent during The California Wine Club's September Wine Sale. Choose from a large selection of award-winning wines! To view the full list of wines on sale click here:
Super Savers just $5.50 per bottle! Order now, mention The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and they'll include an Engraved Wooden Collector's Wine Box! 1-800-777-4443 or Need a memorable gift for the holidays? Shop now with The California Wine Club and receive NO billing and NO shipping until December 2004. Offer valid on holiday gifts only.

California Wine Club's September Wine Sale features a wide variety of California wines. These two from the Central Coast's Firestone Vineyard are mighty attractive in the club's "Super Saver" category at just $5.50 per bottle.

Firestone Firestone 2002 Central Coast Chardonnay ($5.50)

This is a clear, pale-gold wine with delicious fresh-fruit aromas of apples and pears enhanced with an appetizing note of candy-apple caramel. Flavors mirror the nose, full and fresh, ripe fruit properly balanced by gentle acidity. Good, straightforward Chardonnay, exceptionally appealing with a mild goat cheese. (Sept. 26, 2004)

Firestone 2001 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($5.50)

Very dark reddish-purple, almost black, this hearty red is exceptionally forward in the aroma department, surrounding cherry-berry fruit with a whiff of cocoa and a distinct back note of green bell peppers. Full and ripe in flavor, lush, sweet fruit seems soft at first, but appropriately tart acidity becomes evident on the palate. A nicely balanced red in the easy-sipping style. (Sept. 26, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Both these straightforward varietal wines are versatile with a range of foods. We served them with assorted cheeses and found the Chardonnay, as noted, particularly well-matched with an ash-marbled "Sofia" goat cheese from Capriole in Southern Indiana, a mild, complex white cheese similar in style to the more familiar Cypress Grove "Humboldt Fog" from California. The red served particularly well with a mellow cave-aged Swiss Emmentaler.

VALUE: While the California Wine Club sale lasts (it ends Sept. 30), both wines are worth serious consideration by the case as "house" wines at this remarkable price. The suggested winery retail for the Cabernet is $18, and $15 for the Chardonnay.

WHEN TO DRINK: Not intended as cellar keepers, but both wines are fresh and fine; no hurry to drink them up.

WEB LINK: Learn more about Firestone and its wines at the winery Website,

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Available in California Wine Club's September Wine Sale,
Click the "Super Saver" link for the $5.50 Firestone offering, but while you're there, take the time browse the other sale categories for many wines at exceptional bargain prices.

This week on

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

Oxford Town Wine: The heat was on in Vintage 2003
Much of Europe suffered under a record-breaking killer heat wave for most of the summer of 2003. Writer John Juergens recently took a wine-tasting Tour de France, hoping to get some first-hand information about how the blistering heat affected the vintage. What did he find? Early ripening, limited yields and lack of "phenolic maturity" yielded more low quality wine than good. "For my money I'm sticking with New World wines until things get back to normal in the old country," he says. Here is his full report:

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Hard-to-understand varieties
Is there a varietal wine you found puzzling at first, and maybe even avoided for a while, but then eventually, came to understand and even appreciate? Frequent poster Paul B. asked this question and got a, er, variety of responses. Read the discussion and add your own comments in our friendly, interactive online forum:

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:

 Bargain Bin: Two from Argentina (Sept. 24, 2004)

 Basic Burgundy: Does vintage matter? (Sept. 22, 2004)

 WT101: Zin and Primitivo (Sept. 20, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Beets Indian-style (Sept. 23, 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. 27, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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