New Wine Book Offers Answers and Tips

| February 1, 2011

What’s A Winelover To Do? An Illustrated Guide With 334 Essential Oenophile Pointers And Tips, by Wes Marshall, Artisan Books, paperback, 2010. $17.95

It is interesting that Marshall and I are somehow on the same page with regard to almost every topic he covers. One in particular is how he handles the debate over high-alcohol, overly rich, ripe, new-world reds vs. lower alcohol, lower fruit, higher acid and more elegant old-world reds.

For practical answers to the hundreds of questions people have about wine, i.e. is there a wine that goes with everything?, how to make sense of the different wine labels of the world, how to organize different priced and styled wine tastings, why older vines are better for wine — even why there are roosters on Chianti labels, Marshall has the answer.

And for an extra heavyweight kicker, Marshall throws in a relevant comment or an interesting interview with numerous top wine experts starting with Doug Frost, one of only three people in the world who is both a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine. Page 275 contains some information that may be of special interest to my readers.

I highly recommend this book for those who would like to arrive, after several hours of easy and fun reading, to a new, elevated level of wine knowledge.


Recently Tasted Values in White Wines:

Albino Armani Pinot Grigio Corvare Valdadige (Italy) 2009 – From vineyards 15 to 40 years of age. “Crisp acidity with ripe fruit flavors of peach and green apple.” Clean and refreshing. From a family that has been in the wine business for 400 years. Top notch at $20.

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2009 – Winemaker Bill Nancarrow has included 25 percent Semillon in the blend, barrel-fermented in a mix of 85 percent stainless steel and 15 percent  new French oak, followed by five months of aging on the lees. A unique expression of Sauvignon Blanc, and at a level seldom attained by anyone else. $27

Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2009 – From three separate blocks on Phelps’ Spring Valley Ranch outside of St. Helena. “Aromas of lemon curd, white flowers, honey dew, allspice and notes of wet stone…” Good acidity with verve, balance and a lovely finish. Anything with goat cheese! $32

Migration Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2009 – Duckhorn finally has a Chardonnay to complement their fabulous Sauvignon Blanc and their beautiful stable of red wines. “Focused flavors of Anjou pear, green apple and lemon custard…” Terrific offering from an almost perfect ripening year in Russian River Valley. Aged 10 months in new and second vintage French oak. Lush wine with broad appeal, and an excellent choice for fish or chicken entrees. $35

J Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2008­­ – Since winemaker George Bursick arrived on the scene at J several years ago, the already lovely wines have improved. Sweet entrance from perfectly ripe grapes. On the nose, engaging and intriguing. In the mouth, opulent and hedonistic. $40

Freestone Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2008­­ – From 100 percent estate-grown fruit. This is about as pure an expression of ripe, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay fruit that I have experienced. “…aromas of orange blossom, lemongrass, savory herbs and white flowers.” Perfect marriage of oak and fruit. Excellent balancing acidity. Try with red snapper topped with crabmeat in a creamy sauce. Freestone also produces Fog Dog Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2008 and Fog Dog Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2008, which are both recommended. “Fog Dog” means “a bright or clear spot that appears in a breaking fog.” $35 each for the Fog Dogs; $55 for the Freestone.


Recently Tasted Values in Red Wines:

Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico (Italy) 2006 – Some Chianti lovers do not want Cabernet in the mix. Here is a 100 percent Sangiovese Chianti that sings. Aged in French barriques, Slavonian oak and stainless steel for one year, and further bottle-aged at the winery for another 15 months prior to release. Aromas of red fruits. Full-flavored and perfectly ready to drink. Try with pasta with meat, olive oil and tomato sauce. Bottled unfiltered. $24

MacRostie Syrah Wildcat Mountain Sonoma Coast 2006 – Steven MacRostie says that this wine “…represents less of the pepper and spice of past vintages and more of the rich raspberry and blueberry flavors of cool-climate Syrah.” Aged in 40 percent new oak. Gorgeous ripe fruit and perfect with a Jerry Turboff-created pizza at Palazzo’s on Briar Ridge: ground hamburger, ground Italian sausage, pepperoni and sliced tomatoes on a thin crust. $34

Paraduxx Napa Valley 2007 – Adorned on the classy label is a pair of Hooded Merganzers (really cool looking Pacific Flyway ducks.) This expressive and successful blend of 72 percent Zinfandel, 18 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 percent Merlot and 1 percent Cabernet Franc exhibits rich, ripe flavors. A fabulous match with an Overkill Pizza and a spicy venison pasta dish at La Vista on Fountainview recently. From Duckhorn’s stable of beauties, and the first Paraduxx in which winemaker David Marchesi was able to guide the blending process from start to finish. Excellent depth and character. $48

By Denman Moody

Category: More Features, Wine Reviews by Denman Moody

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