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V. Sattui Winery, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County, California) Zinfandel Gilsson Vineyard Old Vine 2016 ($42)
 V. Sattui is so famous for its vineyard-specific Cabernet Sauvignons that it would be easy to overlook the Sattui Zinfandels.  That would be a mistake.  The Napa Valley winery takes great pride in its Zins, and with good reason.  The Gilsson Vineyard in the Russian River Valley is one of V. Sattui’s Zinfandel treasures.  The 2016 is beautifully structured and well balanced, showing pure red and black fruit aromas and a generous note of wood spice.  A Platinum Award winner at the 2019 Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition.  
96 Robert Whitley


Posted by Marguerite Thomas on January 21, 2019 at 8:34 PM

Cocktail Corner: The “Oh My Darling”

Every time I pick up a box or bag of Clementines at the market, the old gold-rush ballad “Oh My Darling Clementine” runs through my head.  It’s a sad little song (Clementine drowns), but purchasing the Clementines is itself a happy moment, especially at this time of year when the fruit is wonderfully abundant.

A cross between a willowleaf mandarin orange and a sweet orange, Clementines are sweet, juicy and less acidic than oranges, plus they are easy to peel and they can be effortlessly separated into 7 or 14 segments.  Another of this fruit’s attributes is that segments of Clementine can be a delicious addition to a cocktail.

Personally, I find gin an excellent partner for Clementine’s refreshing, juicy flavors, especially dry gin with an herbaceous character.  One such spirit is Forager Gin, from Maryland’s McClintock Distilling.  I love this serious gin for its handsome packaging as well as its beautifully balanced flavors. 

Said to represent the kind of wild plants one might discover in the Appalachian Mountains, Forager Gin offers savory impressions of juniper against a subtle undercurrent of earthy and floral elements. Most distinctive to my palate are the delicate suggestions of wild fennel and mint.  And in “Oh My Darling,” the clementine’s delicate citrus flavors nicely reflect the gin’s own faint traces of citrus. (The cost for a bottle of Forager Gin is around $35, which is about average for a 750ml bottle of small batch, craft gin).

About 7 segments of Clementine
2 ounces Forager Gin
3-4 drops cherry bitters
2-3 ounces good quality ginger beer (such as Fever Tree)

Place the Clementine segments in a lowball or other cocktail glass.  Add the gin and bitters and muddle lightly.  Top with the ginger beer and add ice. Serve with a toothpick or even a small fork (such as an oyster fork) for retrieving the citrus.

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Italy's Best Red Wine--Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino?
Ed McCarthy

When we talk about Italy's best red wine, we are talking about one of the world's best red wines, because, in my opinion, only France can compete with Italy on this topic. France has great red wines--Bordeaux and Burgundy (some might also insist on France's Northern Rhône wines). Italy has Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. And some friends of mine might argue that the Taurasi wines of Campania and Sicily's Nero d'Avola belong in the competition. Although I appreciate the Aglianico grape variety, especially as expressed in Taurasi wines, for me, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino are clearly Italy's best red wines--especially when made by the best producers.
Frozen and Fabulous: Icewine
Rebecca Murphy

Many of the great sweet wines of the world are made by various methods of dehydration which concentrates the natural sweetness of the grape. The grapes can be harvested late, dried on or off the vine, infected by the noble rot--botrytis, or frozen. All these methods can be tricky, requiring the utmost grower attention to avoid unwanted effects. Perhaps the most difficult sweet wine to make is ice wine. Yes, it's just like it sounds: Wine made from icy, that is, frozen grapes.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Chicken - Tortilla Soup

Hard to say whether this flavor-packed velvety chicken-tortilla soup is more soup or stew, but it certainly is a perfect, warming bowl of deliciousness. As with many iconic dishes, any number of variations are possible here. Some cooks thicken the soup with masa harina, but we find fresh corn tortillas simpler to use as well as easy to come by. Instead of cooking their own chicken some people shred leftover meat from a rotisserie chicken to use in this soup. Substitute queso fresco or cheddar for the Monterey Jack cheese if you want, and go ahead and spice the soup up with ancho chili. Many fans of this hearty soup also like to top each serving with freshly fried tortilla strips or crushed chips. We found that many different wines, coming in different colors and textures, worked fine with this dish. The few that didn't were either overtly alcoholic and heavy or so delicate as to seem ephemeral. This is a hearty, winter-weight dish. The wines that worked best in our tasting were just as hearty without becoming overpowering.
On My Table
Pursuing the Holy Grail of Pinot Noir
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

New wineries and new vineyards emerge constantly in California, but few have the heritage that Emeritus Vineyards can claim. Its origin dates to 1999 when Hallberg Ranch, a 115-acre estate in the Green Valley district of Russian River Valley, came up for sale. Pre-Prohibition, this site had been a vineyard but subsequently it became orchard land. Because of its size, its cool climate and its classic Goldridge soils (mineral-rich sandy loam), this 'extraordinary piece of land' captured the imagination of Brice Cutrer Jones. The founder and, until 1999, the owner of Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, he purchased Hallberg Ranch and with his friend and now vineyard manager, Kirk Lokka, set out on his mission to make Pinot Noir that would rival California's finest. In 2007, Emeritus Vineyards acquired the Pinot Hill vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills.