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April 2016

Our Monthly Newsletter
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This month's spotlight shines on the latest California efforts with the five principal red grapes of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. There is no question but that Cabernet Sauvignon has been and remains California's greatest vinous success story, yet the same sunny landscape that has fostered its remarkable achievements hereabouts has proven to be a most hospitable home for its close cousins as well. Its place at the head of the class is not threatened, but wine lovers looking for something new and a bit different will find plenty to like in its extended family. 

Napa Valley may still be the epicenter for great California Cabernet Sauvignons as this latest edition so clearly confirms, but there are fine examples to be found from Santa Barbara to Mendocino. The recent string of vintages in the state has been exceptional, and to say that contemporary Cabernet Sauvignon is at the top of its game is an understatement.

Yes, Merlot's image has been a bit tarnished of late, but it is still the third most-planted red wine variety in the state, and, when crafted with care and grown in the right place, it can produce wonderfully satisfying wines of great depth and range.

Although hardly a newcomer to California, Cabernet Franc is getting a bit more attention from high-achieving winemakers and a little more respect both as a blending component and a solo performer. Those in this issue from Blackbird, Daou, I Mille and Lang & Reed drive home the point.

Argentina put Malbec on the international map, and it has gained unexpected legions of fans throughout the world. Whether or not it catches on as a significant variety here remains to be determined, but a few high-end producers have made very good versions that convince that it at least has a place.

The lion's share of Petit Verdot that is grown in California is an anonymous cast member that adds tannin and heft to multi-varietal blends. It can be heady stuff on its own, and the results have been mixed when so bottled.

Recent favorites in Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay are this month's featured, fine-value wines, and they are as easy on the pocketbook as they are pleasing on the palate.

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