[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Lava Cap Lava Cap 1996 El Dorado Merlot ($18.99)
The beautiful Sierra Foothills region of Northern California has been making wine just about as long as Napa, but until recently it hasn't gained a whole lot of attention. If it produces many more wines as tasty as this one, though, that will change fast. Inky dark garnet in color, it breathes absolutely delicious scents of black cherries, dark mocha chocolate and a lovely aromatic nuance of the Chinese flavoring called "five spice." Full and bright on the palate, with big fruit and tart acid flavors, it shows good balance and structure and a long finish. (April 27, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: A fine match with a hearty Portuguese-style kale and sausage soup.

Hogue The Hogue Cellars 1995 Columbia Valley (Washington State) "Barrel Select" Merlot ($14.99)
Clear reddish purple. Ripe cherry and oaky vanillins add a pleasant whiff of licorice for complexity. Fresh and juicy bowl-o-fruit flavor, just enough acidity for balance although it comes across as soft with all the fruit. Good quaffing wine, although it would be a better fit in the under-$10 niche. (March 30, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: A partial success in a risky match with Kung Pao chicken with peanuts: The wine's ripe fruit is a treat with the chicken and the earthy flavors of brown bean and hoisin sauces and roasted peanuts, but the hot and spicy flavors of this fiery dish would be a problem with any wine.

Casa Lapostolle Casa Lapostolle 1997 "Cuvée Alexandre" Rapel Valley (Chile) Merlot ($19.99)
Very dark blackish-purple, almost opaque, with huge black-cherry and spicy oak aromas that almost seem to leap from the glass to fill the nose and palate. Sufficient acidity for balance, but it's definitely a "fruit bomb." Quite a wine, although at a stunning $8 jump from last year's price, it's pushing the limits on value. U.S. importer: Marnier-Lapostolle Co., NYC, distributed by Schiffelen & Somerset Co. (March 31, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: A natural partner with steaks.

Clock These wines were featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor, my free weekly E-mail bulletin of quick wine tips, advice and tasting notes. Click here to join the E-mail list!

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All my wine-tasting reports 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.

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