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September 2016

Our Monthly Newsletter
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It has been justifiably called California's own, and it takes center stage this month. It is a grape overlooked by the rest of the winemaking world, yet it has a passionate, decidedly devout following, and we count ourselves among its dyed-in-the wool fans. It is responsible for an amazing variety of wines running from candied and cute, pink versions to some that could convincingly pass for ruby port, but when given the attention and winemaking respect typically accorded to Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, it produces unique, entirely compelling, cellar-worthy red wines that have been among our favorites since we learned how to pull corks, and it has consistently proven to deliver terrific bang for the buck. It is, of course, Zinfandel. If its name is never written as big or as brightly on the marquee as its noble French kin, it earns top billing this month, and suffice it to say that our recent tastings have been particularly rewarding.

Simply put, this month's line-up of new Zinfandels is a remarkable bunch. Zin has seemed to be stuck in the marketplace doldrums of late, but this California original is on an unprecedented roll with respect to high quality and is responsible for an absolute wealth of outstanding wines that are anything but boring.

We agree with its advocates who keep touting the virtues of fine west coast Riesling, and we keep waiting for the message to be more broadly heard. Whether vinified in a bone-dry version, one that favors a touch of sweetness or in an opulent, late-harvest, dessert guise, Riesling has a great deal to offer and ranks with the better white wine buys around.

Long a CGCW favorite when it comes to versatility and value, Sauvignon Blanc is reviewed for the second month in a row. Newly arrived 2015s get the spotlight in this issue, and, if the more ambitious bottlings are yet to be released, there is plenty to like in the first wave of wines from the vintage.

The small amount of Semillon that is now grown in California more often than not finds its way into various white blends, but it can make interesting wines on its own, and a tiny handful of west coast producers have stubbornly refused to let if fade into oblivion.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir get the September spotlight in our ongoing feature of well-made wines that are particularly easy on the budget.

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