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May 2016

Our Monthly Newsletter
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New Chardonnays get top billing in May, and we are reminded that forty years ago this month the local version garnered top honors in the now-legendary "Judgment of Paris" and alerted the world that something special was going on in California vineyards. Back then, Zinfandel was not on the global radar and received little attention outside of its west coast home, but it has steadily gained impassioned adherents over the years and, as this issue's featured wines confirm, the top Zinfandel bottlings are world-class wines in every respect. We also take a quick look at recent Barbera releases and are increasingly impressed by the quality exhibited by the growing number of well-made offerings.

2014 looks to be the third consecutive outstanding vintage in California, and, while we will have to wait to see just how good the Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs will be, the first wave of serious 2014 Chardonnays suggests that winemaker enthusiasm has not been misplaced.

Zinfandel has a following of particularly passionate fans, and we think there should be more. The too-many, excessively alcoholic, over-the-top renditions have happily been on the decline as of late, and deeply satisfying versions abound. The top bottlings reviewed in this issue deserve the attention of red wine lovers of every stripe.

Its naturally high acidity earns good Barbera a place at our table with all sorts of tomatoey pastas and barbecued fare, and, with the recent discovery of more than a few tasty examples, we rather expect that it will be making a regular appearance when the menu is right.

It may be true that Cabernet Sauvignon commands top-dollar in the market, but it does not necessarily need to break the budget. Our Best Buy roster for May includes enjoyable efforts priced for regular drinking as well as noteworthy values in Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

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