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Distinctive New Wines

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An Eclectic Selection Of New Wines

John Tilson • 6/16/11        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

Under The Radar Inexpensive White Wines For Summer
Other White Wines For Summer
More Wines From Quinta Cruz and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
2009 Clos De Fief Fleurie Cuvée Prestige
A Stunning Trio of Corsican Wines
Wines From Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

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Under The Radar Inexpensive White Wines For Summer

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gavi di gavi2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi Di Gavi Roverto
Gavi de Gavi is a delicious wine to drink young with lighter foods. It is particularly nice in the warm summer months. The wine is made from the Cortese grape in the Piedmont area of Italy. There are about a dozen towns in the area with the town of Gavi in the center. Gavi di Gavi comes from the area around the town and Roverto is the name of a particular slope. This is a terrific example of Gavi di Gavi with a pale yellow color and a gorgeous perfume of melon and citrus with floral notes. The wine has great finesse with complex flavors hinting of melon, peach, almond, and citrus with a faint mineral nuance. It is rounded, light, elegant, and balanced with a lovely crisp finish. If you have never tried a Gavi di Gavi you owe it to yourself to try this wine –- Outstanding.   $14.44   Imported by The Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA 3-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi
This wine is also made from the Cortese grape, but the grapes are not from the area of the town, but from the Gavi district. This Gavi lacks the complexity of the Gavi di Gavi, but it represents very good value for the money. It is pale yellow in color with a faintly floral perfume. On the palate it is clean, vibrant, and rounded with floral, citrus nuances and a nice crisp finish –-  Highly Recommended.   $9.34    Imported by The Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA 2-yellow-starsBest Buy

2009 Cap Cette PicPoul De Pinel Coteaux du Languedoc
PicPoul is an ancient grape variety grown primarily in the Coteaux du Languedoc, and to a lesser extent, the Rhone Valley of France. It is relatively unknown, but makes a nice wine to accompany a wide variety of summer foods. The wine has a lovely perfume hinting of pear, peach, and citrus. It is rounded and balanced with subtle pear and peach flavors accented by a crisp citrus tinged finish –- Highly Recommended.   $10.98   Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2008 Collefrisio Pecorino Terre di Chieti
OK, so you thought Pecorino was an Italian cheese? Well you would be right, but it is also a rare Italian white grape variety. This is a lovely wine that would go beautifully with a grilled truffle cheese sandwich and a nice crisp lettuce and garden fresh, summer tomato salad with a fresh citrus, virgin olive oil dressing.  And, if you don’t happen to have those ingredients handy, try it with something similar or any lighter summer salads, chicken, fish, or light pasta dishes. The wine is light yellow in color and has a lovely perfume with hints of apple and citrus. It has lovely fruit with hints of apple and peach and a tinge of almond, Rounded and supple with a nice crisp finish this is certainly unusual, but very tasty –- Highly Recommended.   $13.48   Imported by Caffo Beverage Inc., Manhasset, NY 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Ca’Lojera Lugano
This too is an unusual wine. Not that the grape used to make it is unusual. It isn’t. It is Trebbiano which is one of the most widely planted of all grape varieties. But the grape is used mostly to make Cognac. Ca’Lojera, the producer, translates as “the ancient house of the wolves.” Lugano is an area in Northern Italy, near Lake Garda, that is particularly suited to making wine from the Trebbiano grape variety. This is a lovely example. The wine is light yellow in color and has a gorgeous perfume of pear and citrus. It is rounded, supple and balanced with subtle hints of pear and peach with a floral undertone and the finish shows a nice crispness –- Highly Recommended.   $12.74   Imported by The Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

doi raps2009 Russolo Doi Raps Fruili
WOW! Made from Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanco, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the Fruili region of Northeast Italy, this is a stunning wine. Light yellow in color, it has a gorgeous perfume of peach, melon and citrus with a faint floral, spice nuance. With lots of flavor, the wine is also balanced and finesseful with complex flavors showing citrus, peach, and melon and a very faint vanilla, spice nuance, followed by a long, crisp finish –- Outstanding.   $18.98   Imported by Tesori Wines, San Francisco, CA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Chateau du Basty Beaujolais Blanc
Beaujolais Blanc is unusual since it makes up only about 1% of Beaujolais production. It is generally made from Chardonnay grapes, but the ancient French variety, Aligoté, can also be used. This property, located in the village of Lanrignie in the heart of the Beaujolais Villages region, has been owned by the same family since 1482! This is a lovely wine with a light yellow color and a lovely floral, peach perfume. It is elegant and balanced with a floral nuance and a nice, crisp finish –- Highly Recommended.   $13.59   Selected by Jean-Marie de Champs, Beaune, France and Imported by The Wine House San Francisco, CA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2010 Casal Garcia Vinho Verde
Vinho Verde comes from Portugal. It is a light, crisp, faintly petillant white wine that is perfect for lighter summer foods. It is relatively low in alcohol and is very easy to drink. I like it best when it is very cold. This is a great example. In fact, it is one the best Vinho Verdes I have ever had. If you have never tried Vino Verde, this 2010 Casal Garcia is a great entry point.The wine is pale yellow in color and it has a lovely perfume with faintly floral, citrus nuances. Light, but flavorful with great finesse, it is balanced and crisp with a faint pétillance. This is a really delicious, lighter styled wine –- Highly Recommended.   $7.99   Imported by HGC Imports Inc., San Jose, CA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Quinta Do Alqueve Fernao Pires Tejo
This is a Portuguese white wine made from the Fernao Pires grape which is planted throughout Portugal, but mostly in the Tejo and Bairrado regions. It is light yellow in color and has a nice floral perfume. Crisp and mineral tinged, the wine shows subtle notes of almond, melon and citrus and has a nice clean finish –- Recommended Plus.   $9.77   Imported by Robert Kacher Selections Washington, D.C.   1-n-half-yellow-stars

2009 Didier Champalou Vouvray Sec
Vouvrays are under appreciated in this country. Why? Who knows? Maybe it is because they are made in many styles from dry to very sweet? Maybe it is because the grape variety used is Chenin Blanc which is not widely known? But, no matter, this is simply a gorgeous wine. It is Sec or dry, but there is a great ying and yang in the wine with a sweet pineapple flavor and a kiss of tart lime. This Vouvray makes a delicious accompaniment to Asian foods, slightly spicy foods, and fish grilled or in a cream sauce. Light golden yellow in color, the wine has a gorgeous perfume of pineapple with floral citrus nuances. It is lush and rounded with gorgeous pineapple flavors accented by a faint floral undertone and the finish is long and crisp with nice lime component –- Outstanding.   $17.05   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA 3-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Eric Chevalier Muscadet Sur Lie Cotes de Grand Lieu
Some may confuse Muscadet with Muscat. But, in fact, they are most always at the opposite end of the spectrum since wine made from the Muscat grape is almost always sweet, while Muscadet is dry. Much of the confusion must come from the name Muscadet itself. You see, the wine is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape which is grown in the Western end of the Loire Valley in the “Pays de la Loire” region of France. So, unlike, all other French wines produced from a designated area (know as Appellation d’ Controlée), “Muscadet” is neither named for the area in which it is grown or the grape variety (which is allowed only in the Alsace region owing to the shift in ownership of Alsace back and forth from German territory to French). The Melon de Bourgogne grape was first planted in this area around the 17th century. And, at some point, in the early history it was thought to have a Muscat or musky flavor. But that is not true today. Hence the confusion. No matter, crisp, dry Muscadet is a great match with all types of raw or simply prepared fish. If you haven’t tried this combination of flavors you really should. This Muscadet is designated “Sur Lie” which means the wine received extra aging that gives a slight creamy quality to balance the crispness. Pale yellow in color, this wine has a lovely mineral tinged, citrus, floral perfume and is light and very elegant with a nice underlying crispness –- Recommended Plus.   $12.55   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA Best Buy 1-n-half-yellow-stars

2009 Biohof Pratsch Gruner Veltliner Rotenpullen, Niederosterreich, Austria
Austrian Gruner Veltliners are lovely with lighter summer foods and go especially well with simple prepares fish and vegetable dishes. This one is in the lighter style and has nice finesse. It is light yellow in color and has a lovely spice tinged floral perfume. Elegant and supple with lovely fruit showing a faint floral nuance this is a really easy wine to drink –- Highly Recommended.   $14.89   Imported by Wine Sellers Ltd., Niles, IL 2-yellow-stars Best Buy


OTHER LOVELY WHITE WINES FOR SUMMER

 

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2009 J.M. Chaland Macon Blanc Les Tilles
The white wines of Macon in Southern Burgundy are on the upswing and are increasingly becoming better known for quality and value. The primary reason is that more and more growers are making their own wines and concentrating on quality. In earlier years, the emphasis was on quantity with the grapes sold to co-ops that produced a very light and often watery wine. This is a lovely example of the “new” style Macon. It is light yellow in color and has a nice perfume hinting of pineapple and citrus with a very faint mineral nuance. The wine has lovely fruit and balance with floral, citrus flavors accented by a very faint mineral, spice tinge –- Highly Recommended.   $16.99   Selected by Jean-Marie de Champs, Beaune, France and Imported by The Wine House San Francisco, CA 2-yellow-stars

2009 Ritratti Pinot Grigio Trentino
This is a lovely Pinot Grigio. It is light yellow in color with a very faint golden hue and has a lovely floral perfume with just a whiff of spice. Elegant, yet quite lush and supple, the wine has really nice fruit with very faint almond and spice tinges and a nice clean crisp finish –- Highly Recommended.   $10.89    Imported by FWI, Rutherford, NJ 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Laurent Reverdy Sancerre
This is a very nice value priced Sanserre. It is light yellow in color with a lovely perfume of melon and citrus with a faint herbal undertone. Balanced with lovely fruit and flavor, this is Sancerre in a lighter, very elegant style to be sure, but it is delicious and very easy to drink. And, and at under $10?  It’s been a long time since I have seen any Sancerre at this price –- Highly Recommended.   $9.99   Imported by Latitude Wines, Alamo, CA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 Jacques Bourguignon Chablis
OK. And, how about a “real” Chablis for under $8? This is a very nice wine at a very attractive price. It has a light yellow color and a faint citrus, mineral tinged perfume. On the palate, it is light and finesseful with a citrus and mineral tinged complexity and a vice, clean crisp finish –- Recommended Plus.   $7.99   Imported by Latitude Wines, Alamo, CA 1-n-half-yellow-stars Best Buy

alberino1 pazo senorans2009 Pazo Senorans Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain
From an ancient site dating back to the 16th century, this is a wine that everyone who enjoys flavorful and easy to drink white wines needs to experience. You see, Albarino is another very food friendly, easy to drink wine that is lovely with grilled fish, vegetables, and light summer foods. In this context, it is one of my favorite white wines. This is a really gorgeous example. It is light yellow in color with a lovely floral perfume with citrus notes. On the palate it is finesseful, elegant, and crisp with a nice underlying complexity of citrus, with floral, almond, peach, and mineral nuances. Very simply, this is an easy to drink, delicious wine –- Outstanding.   $19.99    Imported by Eric Solomon Selection – European Cellars, Charlotte, NC 3-yellow-stars

2010 Condes De Albarei Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain
Here is another Albarino that is value priced. Light yellow in color, it has a love perfume with apple, floral, and citrus nuances. With lovely fruit, the wine is rounded and tasty with a nice crisp finish. This is easy to love –- Highly Recommended.   $11.39    Imported by C.I.V., Sacramento, CA 2-yellow-stars Best Buy

2009 A. et M. Quanard Vin De Savoie Chignin-Bergeron En Foudre
This wine was aged is oak. It is made from the Bergeron grape grown in the Savoie area of the Alps in southeastern France. In other parts of France, most notably the Rhone Valley, as well as other parts of the world, the grape is known as Roussanne.  Andre and Michel Quanard have vineyards on the steep terraced slopes of the Coteaux de Tomery near the town of Chignin. Several grape varieties are grown and they produce seven different wines with a total annual production of around 15,000 cases. In a October 1, 2010 Distinctive New Wines article, I reviewed their 2009 Vin de Savoie made 100% from the Jacquere grape variety. And, while that wine has great fruit and structure, this wine is lush and rich. Both are outstanding. Light golden yellow in color, this wine has a great intense perfume of ripe apples and pears with a kiss of vanilla. It is rich, lush, rounded, and supple with intense flavors of apple and pear backed by a faint honeyed, vanilla nuance. It is delicious and a great match with grilled pork chops or chicken –- Outstanding.    $31.50    Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA 3-yellow-stars

2009 Chateau de Sancerre Sancerre
Sancerre is one of my favorite wines and is a great match for a wide variety of fish dishes. The Marnier-Lapostolle family, makers of Grand Marnier liqueur, has owned this property, with its 110 acres of vineyards on the South Eastern slope of Sancerre, since 1919. This is a lovely Sancerre and reasonably priced for a wine of this quality. The wine is pale yellow in color with a lovely perfume of melon and pear with a faint hint of citrus. And, it is balanced and flavorful with lovely fruit and crisp finish. –- Outstanding.   $19.99    Imported by Marnier-Lapostolle Co., NY, NY 3-yellow-stars Best Buy

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QUINTA CRUZ AND SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD

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I first wrote about these sister wineries in a featured wine commentary article dated March 18, 2011. Please take a look at that article for more background and notes on other wines. Jeff Emery is the winemaker and the force behind both. He founded Quinta Cruz in 2005. Quinta Cruz is dedicated to making wines from varietals originating in Spain and Portugal that are now being grown in California. The wines are unique and delicious. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard is the continuation of the winery started by Ken Burnap in the early 1970s. Ken sold the winery and vineyard in 2003. Jeff had been working with Ken for many years as assistant winemaker and in the later years took over winemaking duties. Jeff took over the name and began producing Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vineyards located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and some Durif/Petite Sirah which is now sourced from the San Antonio Valley. You really should get on the mailing list for both www.santacruzmountainvineyard.com as the wines are really good as well as being really good values. And, they have a great incentive for you to join. Their Wine Club offers special limited release wines and offers a 15% discount on all wine purchases up to 11 bottles, and 20% for purchases of a case or more,  and just for signing you  get a 25% discount! This is a DEAL!  Below are tasting notes on new releases and some wines slated for release later this year and in 2012.

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QUINTA CRUZ

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quinta cruz12008 Quinta Cruz Touriga Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley, California
Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are the grapes used to make vintage port. They are also the grapes that are used to make this wine. However, because the BATF will not allow the use of these names, the wine is simply called Touriga. This 2008 is terrific and even better at this point than the 2007. It is a blend of 76% Touriga Nacional and 24% Touriga Franca. Only 98 case were produced. Dark in color, the wine has a stunning perfume of rose petals, black cherries and plums. It has delicious fruit and is rounded, lush, supple and flavorful with floral, boysenberry and spice notes. Balanced and with a lovely finish, this is a terrific wine –- Outstanding.   $24.00 3-yellow-stars Best Buy

2010 Quinta Cruz Verdelho Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa, Lodi
Verdelho is the grape that was introduced to the Madeira Islands in the 15th century and is used to make Madeira wines. Today it is also grown in the Douro River area of Portugal and the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in France. This wine is sourced from a vineyard that has similar growing conditions as the European plantings. This 2010 is very similar to the 2009 which I reviewed earlier this year. The wines are made without barrel aging and are relatively low in alcohol. The 2010 is light yellow in color and has a bit of an herbal undertone. Floral, citrus, almond and melon flavors are predominant and the wine is crisp and very tasty –- Highly Recommended.   $20 2-yellow-stars

2009 Quinta Cruz Souzao Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa, Lodi
Souzao is also known as Vinhao in Portugal where it is used to make port wine. It is often described as having a raisiny taste. This is the first vintage for this wine at Quinta Cruz. I tasted the wine from barrel and did not detect any raisin qualities. It is very dark in color and has a deep plummy perfume with hints of cocoa. It is very full, rich, and concentrated with lots of vanilla tinged fruit –- Very Good Potential. 1-barrel
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SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD

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2007 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains Luchessi Vineyard
This is an impressive Cabernet from low yielding mountain vineyards. Only 156 cases were produced and the wine will be released for sale in July. It is dark in color with a deep cedary, plummy, spice tinged perfume. The wine has great fruit and flavor and is structured with good backbone and balanced tannins. Plum and berry fruit are predominant with a cedar nuance. This is a wine that should repay extended aging –- Outstanding.    $28 3-yellow-stars Best Buy

SCMV cabernet2009 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains Luchessi Vineyard
This wine was tasted from barrel and will be the 2012 release of the Cabernet since the wine was not made in 2008. It is very dark in color with a deep perfume of cassis like fruit, cedar and a hint of black pepper. It is rich and concentrated with layers of fruit and a cedary complexity. Again, this looks to be a most impressive Cabernet –- Outstanding Potential. 2-barrels

2008 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Durif aka Petite Sirah Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley
Durif is the name of the grape that resulted from Syrah and Peloursin. It is also known as Petite Sirah and in the U.S. the terms are interchangeable. In fact, this wine will be labeled as Petite Sirah for out of state sales and Durif for sales within California. The wine in the bottle is exactly the same. About 350 cases were produced in total. This is a very large scaled wine. It is very dark in color and has a deep perfume of ripe plums and cassis with a faintly smoky nuance. It is very rich, rounded and lush, but with a lot of tannin underneath. How it will age is unknown to me at this point, but it will definitely require some time to begin to resolve the tannin –- Recommended/Highly Recommended.   $18 1-parentheses-star

2009 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Branciforte Creek Vineyard
Tasted from barrel, this promises to be yet another lovely Pinot Noir. Only 122 cases of the wine were produced. It has a deep color and a lovely perfume with floral, berry, cherry nuances. The wine has lovely supple fruit and a floral undertone with a firm underlying structure –- Outstanding Potential. 2-barrels

2009 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Vineyard
Tasted from barrel, this is a forward, lush Pinot Noir that has great promise. Production totals only around 180 cases. The color is deep and there is a great floral, berry perfume and lots of rich fruit backed by a very good backbone. The wine is flavorful and has lots of depth –- Outstanding Potential. 2-barrels

2001 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Bottled Reserve
This was one of the last wines from the old Jarvis estate vineyard. Two specially selected barrels were held back for extended bottle aging. It has just been released and is available only from the winery. Like all the estate Pinot Noirs, this wine is still very young and will require another 10-15 years to show its full potential. The wine has a deep color and has a lovely perfume of berries and cherries accented by a touch of spiciness and a faint floral nuance. There is lots of fruit and flavor, but it is still masked somewhat by the firm underlying structure. Patience is required, but this should make a wonderful bottle along the lines of other Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Estate Pinot Noirs such as 1975, 1977 and 1979 that have evolved over several decades — Outstanding/Outstanding Plus.  $75 3-yellow-starsjust-one-half-parentheses-star
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THE GREAT CLOS DE FIEF FLEURIE CUVÉE PRESTIGE

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The 2009 vintage of this wine recently arrived and was one of the last of the 2009 Beaujolais to be released. I mentioned this wine several times in my earlier articles on 2009 Beaujolais. The Cuvée Prestige is made from a selection of grapes from the oldest vines. This is consistently, year in and year out, one of the best Cru Beaujolais’s. This 2009 is a bit more restrained than many other 2009s. Patience will be required, but with a few years bottle age I expect the wine to open and show the complexity and silkiness that is so characteristic. I have been buying this wine every year for many years and have never been disappointed. If you love Cru Beaujolais, I would advise you to do the same.

clo de fief2009 Clos de Fief Fleurie Cuvée Prestige
With a dark color, this Beaujolais has a stunning perfume of blackberries and cherries with a floral undertone. The wine has great fruit that is very pure and lush. It is structured and balanced with lots of flavor showing blackberry and cherry fruit and a faint floral, spice nuance. This is a great Cuvée Prestige and, as usual, is one of the best Beaujolais’ of the vintage. As I said earlier, it has more structure than many other 2009s and undoubtedly will repay great dividends with many years of age in the cellar. If you want to drink it now, it is much better with plenty of air. I would recommend decanting at least an hour before serving and make sure that the wine has a slight chill before serving –- Exceptional.   $25.00   Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, LDM Wines, Inc., New York, NY 4-yellow-stars Best Buy
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A STUNNING TRIO OF WINES FROM THE DOMAINE COMTE ABBATUCCI

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Jean_Charles_et_Faustine_Abbatucci

Jean-Charles et Faustine Abbatucci

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I first wrote about wines from this producer in Distinctive New Wines articles dated September 13, 2010 and October 1, 2010. Domaine Comte Abbatucci is located in Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica. The vineyards consist of ancient indigenous Corsican varietals. Biodynamic farming practices are used. The wines are made in a very traditional manner and none of the wines are aged in wood. The wines are very pure, balanced, and very flavorful. Annual production is 5,000 cases. These three recent releases (red, white, and rose) are all stunning wines. They are all named for Jean-Charles daughter Faustine (lucky girl). If you are not familiar with this producer I would strongly advise you to give the wines a try. Today they are under the radar, but I think that they will become much more well known as the years go by. The wines are imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA

abbatucci.ajaccio.faustine.2009.resized.novintage2009 Domaine Comte Abbatucci Ajaccio Rouge Cuvée Faustine
Made with 70% Sciaccarellu and 30% Niellucciu, you can be sure that no one would ever guess the basis of this wine. But, that makes no difference. The fact is that this is a stunningly beautiful red wine. It has a deep color, and an intense perfume of rose petals and cherries which just a faint hint of spice. The flavors are gorgeous with lots of fruit and the rose petal and cherry components. With depth and a lushness balanced by a zesty crispness, this is unique and delicious –- Outstanding Plus.   $31.50 3-n-half-yellow-stars

abbatucci.ajaccio.faustine.2009.resized.novintage2010 Domaine Comte Abbatucci Ajaccio Blanc Cuvée Faustine
This is a gorgeous white wine made exclusively from the Vermentino grape. It is pale yellow in color with a very faint gold blush. With a lovely floral, peach perfume showing just a hint of citrus and almond, the wine is delicate yet lush and has great finesse and flavor. Complex with floral, peach flavors and just a faint touch of spice and citrus on the finish, the wine is really delicious –- Outstanding. $33.30 3-yellow-stars

abbatucci.ajaccio.faustine.2009.resized.novintage2010 Domaine Comte Abbatucci Ajaccio Rosé Cuvée Faustine
Made from 100% Sciacarellu grapes, this is a terrific Rose. Pale salmon pink in color with a lovely floral perfume accented by faint hints of herbs, smoke and spice, the wine is rounded and lush. But, there is a nice underlying crispness. Subtle flavors of peach and citrus with a very faint spice tinge meld together beautifully –- Outstanding.   $28.80 3-yellow-stars

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STEPHEN ROSS WINE CELLARS

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StevenRossWineryStephen Ross Dooley founded Stephen Ross Wine Cellars in 1994 after 17 years experience working for other wineries. In 2008 the winery moved to its present location in San Luis Obispo. Prior to founding his own winery, he was with Chalone Wine Group and the winemaker at Edna Valley Vineyards.  Stephen’s emphasis is on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using Burgundian methods. He also makes Pinot Gris, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. The grapes are sourced from his estate vineyard – Stone Corral Vineyards – where he owns about 1/3 of the vineyard with the balance owned by Talley Winery. He also contracts from some 10 other vineyards in Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Napa Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Paso Robles. From these vineyards about a dozen different wines are produced each year. It is an eclectic mix to be sure, but Steve is serious about his work and is making some very nice wines. This is a winery to watch. The wines are widely distributed in California and other states across the U.S.  Sales are also made direct from the winery. Two wine sales programs are offered: 1) Wine Subscription – three annual shipments of four bottles each at a 20% discount and 2) Barrel Adoption/Futures Program – two cases of wine and dinner for two at a 33 1/3% discount. These are worth checking out. You can contact the winery at www.stephenrosswine.com.

My notes on some of the current releases are as follows:

2008 Stephen Ross Wine Cellars Chardonnay Oliver’s Vineyard Edna Valley.
This is a nice Chardonnay with early appeal. It is light yellow gold in color and has a lovely perfume with hints of apricot, citrus, and vanilla. Flavorful with lots of lovely fruit and nicely balanced this is a very good example of Edna Valley Chardonnay — Highly Recommended.   $30 2-yellow-stars

2008 Stephen Ross Wine Cellars Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyards Santa Maria Valley.
Light golden yellow in color, this Chardonnay has a lovely spice tinged perfume with hints of citrus and peach and a faintly floral, tropical nuance. Quite rich and flavorful, the wine is nicely balanced with lots of fruit showing a spice, citrus, and peach complexity. It has charm and early appeal –- Highly  Recommended Plus.   $30 2-n-half-yellow-stars

2008 Stephen Ross Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Chorro Creek Vineyard San Luis Obispo County.
The fruit for this wine comes from a vineyard located only a few miles from the Ocean near Morro Bay. This 2008 has a deep color and a distinct perfume of plum, cassis, and spice. It has lots of supple, plummy fruit and is rich and lush with a nice softness on the finish. In a riper style, this is very nice to drink now –- Highly Recommended.   $38 2-yellow-stars

2008 Stephen Ross Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyards Santa Maria Valley.
With a deep color showing a hint of amber at the edge, this wine has a nice perfume of berry fruit and faintly floral spicy, smoky nuances. It has very nice balance and flavors of berry, pepper, and green olive with a faint smokiness. With a nice underlying crispness on the finish, this wine has early appeal –- Highly Recommended.   $38 2-yellow-stars

2008 Stephen Ross Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Stone Corral Vineyard Edna Valley Estate Vineyard.
This wine is made from grapes grown in the Stone Corral Vineyard in Edna Valley. The vineyard is 27.45 acres. Some 9.15 acres are owned by Stephen Ross Winery and the remainder is owned by Talley Vineyards. This 2008 is a large scaled Pinot Noir with the alcohol listed at 14.8%. However, the wine has balance, lots of fruit and complexity, and is very appealing to drink now. It is dark in color with a deep perfume of cherries, berries, and spice with a very faint smokiness. On the palate, the wine has lots of supple fruit accented by floral, spice nuances and a hint of smokiness. How this wine will age remains to be seen, but it is delicious to drink now –- Outstanding. $50 3-yellow-stars

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