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Like the Bordeaux region of France, the Rhone Valley has provided us, and the rest of the world, the finest wine varietals ever to produce wine. Granted, some varietals were transplanted to the Rhone from other parts of Europe in past millennia, but it is the early French settlers that first brought these cuttings with them to California. The Garnacha grape is central to many a Spanish red and rosé, yet in the Rhone it is paramount in the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Syrah and Mourvèdre complete the trinity for the great red blends in the Rhone Valley to include Cotes-du-Rhone. In Australia, this blend is referred as a GSM, but the Aussies contrarily use the designation “Shiraz”. Other red grapes are the Cinsault and Counoise. The important white grapes are Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.
2007 MICHAEL-DAVID INCOGNITO VIOGNIER, LODI
List price 13.50; our price 9.99
This varietal won the Rhone Wine of the World award in the 2000 L.A. County Fair. Originally thought to be Roussanne, D.N.A. testing found it to be a rare clone of Viognier. Somehow in the past decade the clone mysteriously made its way into the vineyards of California where it has since flourished in conditions that are reminiscent of its home – the Rhone Valley in France. The vineyard can now be found on a Lodi Delta island located 25 feet below sea level! Bright honeysuckle and jasmine jump out of the glass into a rich, fleshy mouth-feel. Flavors of pineapple and ripe apricot create a fruit medley, tropical in essence. It won a gold medal at the 2009 Orange County Wine Competition.
2007 KIAMIE WINE CELLARS WHITE KUVÉE, PASO ROBLES
List price 23.00; our price 19.50
The winery name is pronounced (key AH’ mee). This blend of 65% Viognier and 35% Roussanne comes from the Derby Estates Vineyard in Paso. It has a luscious mouth feel not unlike a Napa oaked Chard. It is bright and floral in character showing pear tones, crisp tart-sweet apple, minerals, light spice and mouthwatering acidity.
2007 TREANA WINERY WHITE WINE, PASO ROBLES
List price 22.50; our price 18.99
This blend displays elegant varietal characteristics of Viognier (53%) and Marsanne (47%). Vibrant floral aromas of citrus blossom and jasmine are followed by ripe stone fruit flavors, hints of pear, pineapple and honey overtones. Solid minerality lends complexity and structure. The mouth feel is full, while bright acidity cleans the palate and offers ease and versatility to food-pairing. The wine should age beautifully over a decade.
2005 MICHAEL~DAVID INCOGNITO RED WINE, LODI
List price 14.99; our price 13.50
Admittedly, this blend moves beyond the Rhone influence in an exotic dance of Mourvedre, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cinsault, Carignane, Tannat, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Grenache. A mystery of elegant, smoky clove unveils layers of marmalade and toast that gently coat the mouth. The blend bursts with fresh blueberry and dried cranberry notes, finishing with a smooth swirl of tannins and spice.
2006 KIAMIE WINE CELLARS R’OWN STYLE BLEND, PASO ROBLES
List price 24.00; our price 19.99
This is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 8% Zinfandel and 2% Viognier. Scents of dark cherry, cranberry, pomegranate as well as hints of cardamom flirt with the nose. Tightly-knit, it can use some aeration in its youth to allow the flavors to unfold. Bright strawberry and rhubarb flavors are highlighted by candied red licorice and hot cinnamon spice. Medium in weight with fine-grained tannins, this wine will benefit from some cellaring.
2005 TREANA WINERY RED WINE, PASO ROBLES
List price 45.00; our price 39.95
Winemaker Austin Hope produced this wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 70% and Syrah (30%). It displays up-front aromas of ripe, dark fruit and exotic spice. Rich, explosive flavors of mulberry and plum are complemented by enticing mocha, tobacco and toasted oak notes. Depth and power come from the Cabernet, while a Syrah component lends inviting fleshiness. The wine’s full mouthfeel leads to a silky, lasting finish. Luxurious and well balanced now, the 2005 Treana Red will continue to increase in nuance and elegance over the next 10-12 years.