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December 2016

Our Monthly Newsletter
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Cabernet Sauvignon is front and center this month, and, as usual, December marks the time of many important new releases. The state's leading white variety, Chardonnay, shares the stage, and, in addition to the several dozen new offerings reviewed, we conclude our retrospective report begun in November and find that older Chardonnays can offer a good deal to like as we turn our attention to a small collection from 2005, 2006 and 2007. Finally, as the season is one that calls for fine sparkling wine, we follow up last month's annual Survey of local bubbly with a quick look at a handful from Champagne.

The last several years have seen a steady parade of exceptional Cabernets, and there is nothing to suggest that things will change any time soon. The bar of achievement just seems to keep getting higher, and more and more makers are proving their mettle in mastering California’s most revered red grape.

There are more than a few reasons for Chardonnay's profusion of fans, and, if it is still without peer when it comes to rich and expressive, full-flavored white wines, it is a variety that continues to show ever increasing refinement.

It may not be the first variety that comes to mind when thinking about wines to lay away for a lengthy stay in the cellar, but it turns out that, not only can Chardonnay survive for a decade or more, it can achieve stunning complexity and surprising beauty with age.

While we disagree with those who believe that world-class sparkling wine begins and ends with Champagne, we admit to liking many of those made in the hallowed Champenoise vineyards northeast of Paris just as much as we do their accomplished West Coast cousins.

Our updated shopping list of especially fine values includes noteworthy bottlings of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and Sparkling Wine that will bring relief to seasonally strained budgets while at the same time adding to holiday cheer.

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