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September 2017

Our Monthly Newsletter
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Connoisseurs' Guide takes pause this month to survey many of the out-of-the-mainstream varieties that never quite seem to get the appreciation and applause to which we think they are entitled. Be it with Zinfandel or the too-often-overlooked coterie of aromatic whites, the happy coincidence is that, while quite good as a bunch and reminding that there is more to fine wine than Cabernet and Chardonnay, these are comparatively affordable wines that invite regular drinking.    

Zinfandel appears to have taken a lower market profile of late, but its devotees should not despair. There are still plenty of fine versions to be had from accomplished producers scattered all over the state, and some of the best from Sonoma and Amador counties get top billing this month.

In the minds of many, Riesling vies for top honors among the world's greatest white wines, and, whether dry, slightly sweet or sporting dessert-level sweetness, it has few challengers when it comes to outstanding quality at the price.

We have lamented the near-disappearance of Chenin Blanc in California's fine wine portfolio, and, if perhaps not poised for a grand renaissance, it is a variety that is happily getting at least a bit of renewed interest of late.

Simply put, there is nothing quite like Gewürztraminer with its unique perfume of flowers and spice, and we are happy to report that, while it is not easy to find, there are fascinating examples that will reward whatever search their finding demands.

While hardly a household name, Albariño is quietly carving out a small place in California, and, with each new vintage, we are finding more and more to like. This month's baker's dozen has a few surprises in store.

Pinot Gris was once a minor local player at best, but it is now one of the most wildly popular white wines of them all. Many are forgettable, yet others can be surprisingly good, and they often deliver plenty of bang for the buck.

Grüner had a flirtation with fame when, several years back, it was the hot-topic in the restaurant world, but as fashion moved on, its brief fortunes waned before it was able to gain more than the tiniest foothold in California.

September's roster of especially good buys includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, and, as usual, there are number of fine bottlings that belie the notion that you cannot drink well on a budget.

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