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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Two Great Wines from California

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I still remember the first wine I bought with my own money.

It was 1972 and Idaho had only recently allowed the sale of wine outside of the state-controlled liquor stores. A little specialty food shop had opened up in my home town of Pocatello and they offered a small selection of wines that were new to Idaho. That first bottle was a Wente dry sauterne, which I think was a blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc. It sold for a pricey $1.89—considerably more than my hourly wage—but I remember thinking just how good California wine could be.

Over the next several years, most of the wines I bought were from California, but as time went by I became more interested in European wines. Today, it's bargain blends from the south of France, Italy and Spain that appeal to me most. The wines that I love have changed with the times, becoming richer, riper and oozing toasty oak.

Though I find them a bit over-the-top and somewhat tiring, every now and then I'm reminded just how good California wines can be. The two bottles that follow certainly qualify. Though they are priced a little higher than I typically like to spend, both are worth every penny, and for what they offer, they're something of a bargain.


2007 Napa Cellars cabernet sauvignon, $24.00
This wine starts with delightfully dusty aromas of dark cherry and berry fruit, which mingle with light touches of herb and anise. Rich and supple on the palate, this wine is marked by a silky texture and creamy, ripe cherry fruit flavors backed by light oak, vanilla, mocha and more. Very soft tannins come through on the lingering finish. This full-bodied Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon cries for beef. Try it with slow-roasted Dijon-crusted beef tenderloin. It works just as well with a juicy hamburger hot off the grill.

2008 Joel Gott chardonny, $14.99
If you think you don't like California chardonnay, think again. Fermented completely in stainless steel, this wine sees no oak, resulting in a crisp, clean, bold and juicy delight. The floral aromas are filled with orange blossom, green apple and bright citrus. Tropical fruit and ripe apple flavors dominate the palate, along with crisp pineapple, pink grapefruit and papaya. The wine is so intensely flavored, fruit forward and refreshing, you won't miss the oak.

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