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    Eisele is one of the greatest single vineyards in Northern California. Ridge made a Cabernet from this source in 1971 and Joseph Phelps made a succession of fine wines throughout the 70s and 80s. However, since Bart and Daphne Araujo acquired the property in 1991, they have been responsible for producing some of the world`s greatest and most sought after Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines.

  • I love the Bond wines. Not cheap but pretty good value and as a portfolio a distinctive set of Napa terroirs. They are owned by, but run as a separate operation to Harlan Estate. Each one has a different set of aromas, flavours and strcture and each one is a pleasure to drink. They are proper wines with freshness and balance and none of them is overbearing or tiring. If you love the terroirs of Burgundy then these Cabernets express equivalent differences. Bond describe themselves as Grand Cru and I wouldn`t argue with that.
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    Between LA and San Francisco, Santa Barbara County may not yet be as well known in wine terms as Napa or Sonoma, but it is an area very fast on the rise. It is already home to some extremely distinguished vineyards and wineries. It’s a diverse place, too; the eastern inland reaches are hotter and are most known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, while the west excels at cool climate, ocean-influenced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

  • As Neal Martin said `I guess the theme of my visit was. whole cluster and how to use it. It is certainly one of the hot topics in Oregon as winemakers are at that stage where they are trying new things, seeing what works and what doesn`t. That`s great. Winemaking can really only be learned by trial and error. If you want an example of just how to use whole cluster effectively, then come directly to Cristom and speak to winemaker Steve Doerner.`
    Steve has worked for Domaine Dujac amongst others and has been at Cristom since the beginning in 1992.
  • Complex, multi-dimensional, effortless wines. DuMOL are making wines all about the purity of place. the extreme south-west of the Russian River Valley, the cooler corners of Napa. It`s explicitly not about the winemaking, which they try to keep simple - fancy winemaking techniques, in the DuMOL philosophy, tend to obscure vineyard character. It`s all about the fieldwork. And it`s not easy when the vines are dripping every morning from the Pacific fog.

  • When Ehren Jordan set up Failla with his wife Anne-Marie (it`s her maiden name), he was set on becoming one of California`s self-styled Rhone Rangers. He worked in the Rhone, though it is in his role at Turley Wine Cellars that we know him best. His track record there is indisputable. He is an autodidact who has learned more by doing rather than academic study. However the emphasis very quickly shifted to the potential of cold climate Burgundy varieties.
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    When I visited the Freemans last year, it wasn`t just the beauty of their redwood-ringed estate that impressed me, or how remote it seems if (as I did) you take the back road from Napa over the Mayacamas Mountains. I was particularly struck by how Burgundian the Pinots seemed this time round, even as they retained all their hedonistic Californian fruit.

  • Grace Bridge is made by Scotto Family Cellars, who are by no means the biggest Californian producer, but aren`t the tiniest either. They have good vineyards and know how to manage them effectively too. Their wine benefits from economies of scale and they have chosen to produce Grace Bridge in a drinkable style, not dark coloured, jammy and overextracted.
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    Occasionally in this job I`m tasting a range of wines from a producer I`ve never heard of and very quickly, in wine after wine I`m asking myself - so how the heck did they do this? Previous experience of Washington State wines was entirely of the mega estate kind, so I wasn`t prepared for the intensity and the freshness of Gramercy`s wines - nor for their vivid flavours and the sheer energy present in the glass. After all, we`re talking about wine made by somebody very young - America`s youngest master sommelier in fact.

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