Today's Sponsors:
 California Wine Club
Gift Giving That's Rewarding To You!

In This Issue
 Columbus Day We celebrate the explorer's holiday with Spanish and Italian wine.
 Donnafugata 2002 "Sedàra" Nero d'Avola Sicilia ($11.99) Blueberries and spicy oak in an "international" style.
 California Wine Club Gift Giving That's Rewarding To You!
 Mederaño 2000 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Tinto ($9.99) Fruit-forward but nicely structured Spanish red blane.
 This week on Wine and sushi; a Pinot Celebration, and putting your price on Sauvignon Blanc.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index Links to recent articles in the Wine Advisor archives.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

Christopher Columbus
Sebastiano del Piombo's 16th century portrait of Christopher Columbus.

Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus might have paid the fare for his historic voyage out of the treasury of Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, but his annual holiday has a strong Italian accent, which is only fitting for this proud son of Genoa.

It was on Oct. 12, 1492, that the explorer first set foot on dry land in the New World, on a tiny island in the Bahamas that he called San Salvador. It's no longer "politically correct" to declare that Columbus "discovered" the Americas, considering that there were already quite a few million inhabitants here at the time. This is somewhat like saying, as I have often done, that I "discovered" Italian wine as a young adult. No, I wasn't the first to find it. But that in no way diminishes my affection for the stuff. It was the first wine that I learned to enjoy, and I have loved it ever since.

I chose to celebrate Columbus Day in advance by opening both an Italian wine and a Spanish wine in his memory ... and by sheer happenstance managed to pick a pair that both display their European heritage in a rather "New World" style.

Before we go to the wine reports, if you enjoy historical trivia and feel in a mood to read a little about Columbus on his holiday, here's an intriguing personal Website I ran across in my research: "The Columbus Navigation Homepage - Examining the History, Navigation, and Landfall of Christopher Columbus."

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.

Sedara Donnafugata 2002 "Sedàra" Nero d'Avola Sicilia ($11.99)

Typical of Nero d'Avola, this is a richly colored wine, inky dark-ruby and almost blackish in the glass. Also typical is a "New World" aroma of exuberant, forward, almost over-the-top fruit, blueberries and cream with accent notes of vanilla and spice. Same on the palate, blueberry fruit so ripe that it seems almost off-dry, held barely in restraint with tart acidity; there's a warm kick in the finish that suggests high alcohol, although the label claims only a relatively modest 13.5 percent. A hearty wine that will appeal to those who like their reds in the brawny, ripe "modern" style. U.S. importer: William Grant & Sons Inc., NYC. (Oct. 9, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: This dark, tooth-staining wine requires a hearty food companion; I brought pork chops up to meet it by braising them with an extra ration of sweet caramelized onions; char-grilled steaks should also serve it well.

VALUE: Fairly priced, particularly in competition with the big Barossa Shirazes that are perhaps its closest stylistic kin.

WHEN TO DRINK: Made to enjoy now, but its size and fruit and alcohol will likely hold it for a few years in the cellar.

Nero d'Avola = "NEH-roe DAH-voe-lah"

Donnafugata's Website is available in Italian, English, French and German. To skip the Flash intro and go direct to the English home page, click
The U.S. importer's Web page on Donnafugata (mostly Adobe Acrobat or Powerpoint files for downloading) is here:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find Donnafugata on

California Wine Club

California Wine Club:
Gift Giving That's Rewarding To You!

For nearly 15 years, members have told us that a gift of wine from The California Wine Club makes a memorable holiday gift for business associates and a tasteful referral gift for the medical community.

We are now excited to introduce a program that benefits the Gift Giver. Our Corporate Rewards Program combines high quality wines and exceptional customer service with substantial savings and benefits just for you.

If you plan on sending holiday gifts this year, you may find it valuable to review The California Wine Club's Corporate Rewards Program at
or call them at 1-800-777-4443.

For a fun and unique gift, or to experience a monthly wine adventure for yourself visit

Mederano Mederaño 2000 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Tinto ($9.99)

A Spanish variation on the popular Grenache-Syrah/Shiraz-Mourvedre (GSM) red blends, this new offering from the folks who make Freixenet (the Spanish sparkling wine in the black bottle) is a combination of equal parts Garnacha and Monastrell (Spanish for Grenache and Mourvedre) plus 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark garnet in color, it offers pleasant raspberry and leafy herbaceous scents, an aroma profile somewhat reminiscent of a Zinfandel but with attractive earthy overtones that say "Old World." It's juicy and ripe on the palate, bright berry fruit and mouth-watering acidity; balanced and surprisingly complex, it's a good food wine. U.S. importer: Victoire Imports Co., San Leandro, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with grilled meat, it made a very good match with a meatless option, a Spanish potato tortilla.

VALUE: Excellent value, destined for my annual "QPR" list.

WHEN TO DRINK: Not designed as a cellar keeper, but I see no reason it wouldn't hold up on the wine rack for a year or two, a little longer in a temperature-controlled cellar.

Mederaño = "Meh-deh-RAHN-yo"

The U.S. importer has a Mederaño fact sheet here:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Mederaño is apparently too recent a release to have reached the databases on, but if you are in the U.S., you can look up state distributors for Victoire imports here:

This week on

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

Randy's World of Wine: What wine with sushi?
Necessity, not Frank Zappa, is the original mother of invention. So it goes with sushi and wine, says columnist Randy Caparoso, who knows about as much as anyone on this tasty topic. Over the years he has done due diligence by researching a full range of table wines with sushi ... and have been amazed by the number of matches that surprise him. Randy's classic report, "What Wine With Sushi," has long been one of our most popular articles. Now he has completely revised and updated it for your enjoyment.

Bucko's Wine Reports: 100 new wines for the season
Pinots from around the globe were on hand at the Eighteenth Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon this past summer, and columnist Randy "Bucko" Buckner was there to taste them. Bucko's Late Summer 2004 report covers notes on 40 top Pinots from the event, plus his reports on 60 more recently released wines for your inspection.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: How much will you pay for Sauvignon Blanc?
Forum participant Bob H. says he's uncomfortable paying more than $20 for Sauvignon Blanc ... any Sauvignon Blanc. This statement set off an interesting discussion, with plenty of specific recommendations. You're welcome to read the posts and, if you like, join in.

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:

 Zin vs. Primitivo (Oct. 8, 2004)

 Odd blend (Oct. 6, 2004)

 How much is too much? (Oct. 4, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Iron Chef chili shrimp (Oct. 7, 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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Monday, Oct. 11, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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