Today's Sponsors:
 California Wine Club
Your Most Trusted Source
 Primeurs tastings at Château Palmer
The Chronicle of the 2004 Vintage

In This Issue
 Premium Edition: Thanks for your support! A reminder that our value-added subscription edition helps pay the rent.
 Monday potpourri A trio of short topics: Learning Argentine wines, visiting the Bordeaux primeurs and a chance to win a Sideways DVD.
 Laurel Glen 2003 "Terra Rosa" Mendoza Malbec ($9.99) Fruity, full and balanced, a great value in Argentine Malbec.
 Primeurs tastings at Château Palmer The Chronicle of the 2004 Vintage
 California Wine Club Your Most Trusted Source.
 This week on Girl Scout cookies and wine, flying high over Argentina, and a debate on non-filtered wine.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Thanks for your support!
The Wine Advisor Premium Edition will go out to subscribers tomorrow, and this seems as good a time as any to thank the many who've already subscribed, and to remind the rest of you that this is the moral equivalent of those pesky "pledge drives" on public radio and television: Your support for this, my only fee-based publication, helps pay the rent for all the wine information and interactive features on, including helping me honor my commitment to decline "freebies" and buy all the wines I rate at my own expense. A subscription is just $24 for a full year of biweekly E-mail bulletins that give you the tools to shop with confidence when you're considering more upscale wines.
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Monday potpourri

In place of the usual topical article, let's get the week rolling with three quick takes on wine-related matters that are piling up in my inbox:

Sideways DVD box  Sideways DVD hits the market - Alexander Payne's quirky wine-geek movie "Sideways," the much-awarded romantic comedy set in the Santa Barbara wine country, is being released in DVD this week. Just for fun - this is not an advertising message, only a service to wine lovers - we've arranged with the DVD producer to make a few copies available to Wine Advisor readers as contest prizes.

Let's keep this simple: To enter, send me E-mail at explaining in about 100 words why you think you should get one of the DVDs. I'll pick the winners, based on creativity, literary merit and, mostly, which ones make me laugh. Be sure to include your mailing address, but be assured that we'll keep your personal information private (no "spam"!), using it only to notify winners and send out the DVDs.

To read more about the DVD, visit

 Argentina in Wine Tasting 101 - This won't be the first time I've mentioned that, of all the world's wine-producing regions, Argentina - the large, scenic nation that stretches down South America's southeastern flank from the Atlantic to the Andes - may be the No. 1 place to look for consistent wine value.

We'll open up inquiry into any wine from Argentina for discussion in Wine Tasting 101 this month, with the expectation that a lot of Malbec will surely come up for examination during this process. For more information, including an introduction to this month's Argentine guest hosts and the loyal "Three Musketeers" who help run this fun and educational wine-tasting program, click to Wine Tasting 101,

 Primeurs open this week in Bordeaux - It's that time of year again, and perfect spring weather prevails as the major Bordeaux producers open their doors today for the primeur tastings, offering most wine critics, journalists, distributors and importers their first look at the wines of the 2004 vintage. (A few big-name critics, including Robert M. Parker Jr. and representatives of Wine Spectator, got an advance peek last week.)

The rest of the in-the-business world has its chance over the next two weeks, as each major chateau's owners and technical directors preside over 12-hour-a-day open tastings with just-bottled samples of the still young wines offered to visitors for tasting. Considerable expertise is required to gauge the future of such immature wines, and even the major critics are likely to revisit the wines as they mature, and often may revise their early judgements. The bottled wines won't reach the retail market until the summer of 2006, but producers are already in the process of determining the prices that they'll ask for "futures," wine sold by payment in advance of delivery.

For a word about the primeurs from our friends at Château Palmer, see below or click directly to the report by Palmer Technical Director Philippe Delfaut at

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion 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.

Now, to get things started in Wine Tasting 101, here's a tasty, fruity Malbec from one of my favorite producers, Laurel Glen, a California winery with a significant presence in South America, where it makes and exports excellent wines of value from Mendoza, Argentina. This 2003 "Terra Rosa" Malbec is just off the boat, and well worth seeking out.

Terra Rosa Laurel Glen 2003 "Terra Rosa" Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)

Inky dark reddish-purple in color, this fruit-forward Malbec offers appetizing scents of black cherries, plums and a whiff of dark chocolate. A sniff invites a taste, and the flavor does not disappoint: Full, ripe and juicy black-cherry fruit, nicely displayed on a firm structure of lemon-squirt acidity. There's a hint of tannic astringency in there, but it's almost hidden behind the luscious fruit; a tangy snap of lemons and a mouth-watering hint of cherry-berry fruit persist in a very long finish. U.S. importer: Laurel Glen Winery, Santa Rosa, Calif. (April 1, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Malbec is a natural with red meat and an exceptional match with traditional pizza; this time I demonstrated its flexibility by pairing it with an Asian-style dish, a stir-fry of duck breast and baby bok choy scented with garlic, ginger and "five spice."

VALUE: Given current exchange rates, it tops the competition in the mid-teens.

WHEN TO DRINK: Delicious now and benefits from its freshness, although its balance and character suggest that it should drink well for several years.

Malbec = "Mahl-bek"

The Terra Rosa Website link printed on the label currently leads to an error message, but you can find detailed information about previous vintages on the Laurel Glen Website, here:

Find vendors and compare prices for Terra Rosa wines on

Primeurs tastings at Château Palmer

Chateau Palmer This is an exciting time in Château Palmer as we open the annual primeurs tastings to showcase our 2004 wines to professionals and journalists from all over the world.

The 2004 Palmer wines are very classic in style. They have the balance that we strive for at Château Palmer. Alter Ego de Palmer has a youthful exuberance when Château Palmer is powerful, concentrated, and long.

To learn more about our 2004 vintage, read the chronicle of Philippe Delfaut, our Technical Director:

California Wine Club
California Wine Club:
Your Most Trusted Source

Wine lovers have made The California Wine Club their most trusted source for limited production, award-winning wines. In fact, no one has introduced more wine lovers to California's newest and brightest boutique wineries than The California Wine Club.

Monthly deliveries include two bottles of hand-selected, award-winning wine. Every wine comes from a real working winery and every wine is 100 percent guaranteed. With each shipment you'll get an up-close and personal look at the family behind the wine through the beautiful pages of Uncorked. Just $32.95/month plus shipping. No joining fees, stay for as long as you wish and cancel anytime.

Try The California Wine Club for yourself or treat someone to a gift of great wine. Call 1-800-777-4443 or visit The California Wine Club,

This week on

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

Oxford Town Wines: Scouting wines
Columnist John Juergens goes where few wine writers have dared to tread, providing us chapter and verse on a topic of great seasonal importance: Matching Girl Scout cookies and wine.

Dave McIntyre's WineLine: Flying High in Mendoza
Argentina has an attitude about altitude, and columnist Dave McIntyre is here to tell us about it. Dave is back from Mendoza in the Andes, riding a natural high about Argentina and its wines in his WineLine No. 52.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: The benefits of non-filtration
Many experts argue that unfiltered wines retain subtle flavor elements that may be stripped from wine with excessive filtration and fining. But unfiltered wines tend to throw sediment, which can be unpleasant and, in restaurant service, a hassle to address. What do you think about unfiltered wines? Read the discussion in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, and join in with comments of your own:

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). Last week, however, we went on a vacation schedule because of my travels, skipping the usual Wednesday Wine Advisor and Thursday FoodLetter. Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Two Italian whites (April 1, 2004)

 Memorable Beaujolais (March 30, 2004)

 When vintage matters (March 28, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Pimento cheese (March 31, 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, April 4, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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