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Volume 34, Issue 9: July 2010

Rhone Whites

84 ADELAIDA Pavanne Paso Robles 2008
60% Roussanne; 21% Marsanne; 15% Grenache Blanc; 4% Viognier. Its youth notwithstanding, this slightly viscous, fairly full-bodied white is rather flat and lacking in focus. It is ripe yet not especially fruity, and it gradually gives ground to both heat and bitterness at the finish. OlD$22.00
* 87 BONNY DOON Le Cigare Blanc Beeswax Vyd. 2008
Arroyo Seco. 57% Roussanne; 43% Grenache Blanc. Lightly blossomy, hinting at sweet limes and a little constrained as far as ripeness and outgoing fruit are concerned, Randall Grahm’s proprietary white blend seems a bit bound up by its youth. It is at once both rounded and buoyed by cleansing acidity, and its glimpses of complexity make a good case for another year or two of further patience. OID$22.00
84 HAGAFEN Roussanne Ripken Vineyard Lodi 2008
While its warm provenance might predict a softer wine that is keyed on ripeness, this tight and angular offering proves to be anything but. It fails to show much in the way of Rhône white richness, and its vaguely cardboardy nose and chalky bitterness are not the stuff of success. OlD$
*** 96 JC CELLARS Marsanne Stagecoach Vineyard 2007
Napa Valley. Smelling generously of whites peaches and key limes with hints of honey and a touch of wet stone, this viscous, very full-bodied Marsanne is no shrinking violet, but it is a near-perfect cameo of what winemaker Jeff Cohn does best. While very ripe, it is also enormously fruity, and its concentrated, long-lasting flavors of stone fruits and honey and sweet cream are as deep and well-layered as they are outlandishly rich. At the table, it will take on all comers and will work famously with the likes of Moroccan spiced chicken, sweetly sauced pork and a wide range flavorful Thai fare. OlD$
** 91 JC CELLARS First Date California 2008
75% Roussanne; 25% Marsanne. This very rich and full-bodied white blatantly shows the family trait of unfettered ripeness, but it is wonderfully well filled with sweet, slightly honeyed, peach- and nectarine-like fruit. Its persistent suggestions of wet-stone complexity make it far more than just big and ripe, and, while it ends with a bit more finishing heat than might be ideal, it does not let up in richness. It demands service with boldly flavored foods such as garlicky chicken in sauce, and, even if just a touch viscous and fat in feel, it is sufficiently well structured to keep handily for several years. OlD$
* 89 SARAH’S VINEYARD Marsanne Beeson Vineyard 2008
Santa Clara Valley.
Yet one more bottling that confirms our impressions that Marsanne is the Rhône white grape to watch, this well-fruited wine juxtaposes peachy fruit and hints of honey with mild touches of anise and lime and is at once both lively and fairly full on the palate. Already slightly complex and likely to be more so with time, it promises to grow for another year of two. OID$22.00
85 SARAH’S VINEYARD Roussanne Estate 2008
Santa Clara Valley. It mildly honeyed, slightly peachy aromas may make for a nice start, but this bottling comes up soft and slightly wanting for fruit in the mouth with less substance and depth than first meets the nose. Even allowing for the fact that it is still very young, its limits are plain as are its chances to grow into a more complete wine. OlD$

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Tasting Note View

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Rating System

THREE STARS:(95-98 points) An exceptional wine. Worth a special search of the market.

TWO STARS:(91-94 points) A highly distinctive wine. Likely to be memorable.

ONE STAR:(87-90 points) Fine example of a type or style of wine. Without notable flaws.

Note: Wines not marked with stars are often delightful wines. Each has unique virtues and any of these wines may be the best wine to serve your needs based on value, availability or for your dining and taste preferences.

95-98 3 Stars
91-94 2 Stars
87-90 1 Star
80-86 Wines of varying quality and value. See tasting notes for details.
70-79 Flawed wines to be avoided.



Drinkable now. Unlikely to improve with further aging.

Drinkable now. Further bottle aging can improve this wine.

Cellar for future drinking. Wine will improve with bottle aging.

Not suitable for drinking.


Food & Wine Pairings

Soft and fruity wine Quaffable by itself or with light foods.

Crisp white. Medium acid and dry. Fish or delicate flavored foods.

Mellow white. Dry to slightly sweet. Enough acid for white meats.

Full and balanced dry white. Try with rich seafood and fowl dishes.

Light Red and powerhouse White. Fowl, veal and light meats.

Medium Red. Balanced, good depth, medium tannin. Beef and lamb.

Robust Red. Full tannin, intense flavors. For highly spiced meat dishes.

Sweet Dessert wine. Enjoyable by itself or with sweet desserts.



Generally available in most markets.

Limited production and/or limited geographic distribution.

Very limited availability.