About UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us
Ramazzotti, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County, California) Cabernet Sauvignon Pigoni Ranch 2013 ($75)
  The Ramazzotti Cabernet from Pigoni Ranch in the Alexander Valley is yet another gem from the sensational 2013 vintage.  On the nose it shows violets, cedar and graphite, followed on the palate by gorgeous layers of red currant and black cherry aroma.  This Cabernet is well balanced with beautifully integrated tannins.  A platinum award-winner at the 2018 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition. 
94 Robert Whitley


Posted by Robert Whitley on May 28, 2018 at 3:14 PM

Grilling Up a Thirst

Memorial Day officially kicks off the grilling season. I'm thirsty already.   Allow me to explain.

As the grillmeister at my humble abode, I am well-acquainted with the rigors of cooking over hot coals.  The proper way to grill, I have learned over the years, is to place a grilling tool in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.  For perfect steaks, chops, vegetables and fish, this is the correct technique, tried and true.  The best results are attained if the grillmeister remains cool under fire.  This requires a nicely chilled white or rose wine. I prefer something crisp.

My go-to grilling wine for years has been New Zealand sauvignon blanc.  The acidity is so refreshing and the alcohol levels so low that it is eminently quaffable.  Brancott Estate and Kim Crawford are personal favorites.  And there really is a Kim Crawford, though he sold his namesake winery years ago.  It's still a good brand that's reasonably priced, which allows me to stock it in the cellar by the case. I'm also a fan of the Dry Creek Vineyard fume blanc for many of the same reasons.  It's always refreshing, and if you can't find it for less than $15 a bottle, you're not trying very hard.

Lately I've experimented with dry rose, and I've found that my steaks haven't suffered much from the switch, although I'm a little more distracted because I'm fussy about dry rose.  I want them bone-dry with good aromatics and mouthwatering acidity.  One of my favorites at the moment is the Gerard Bertrand Cote de Roses from France's Languedoc region.  It's a little pricey, around $20 a bottle, but worth it.  From closer to home, I'm enjoying the Rodney Strong rose of pinot noir, which also runs close to $20.

So, take it from a grilling veteran:  Before you do anything else to get ready for the summer grilling season, pay a visit to your favorite wine shop.  This is the first rule of grilling.

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Charles Krug: Napa Valley's Oldest Winery
Ed McCarthy

We often hear about the strong Italian immigrant presence in California's wine regions, but many Germans were pioneers as well. In fact, it was Charles Krug, born in Germany, who in 1861 founded Napa Valley's first winery, in St. Helena. The Charles Krug Winery also opened California's first tasting room in 1882; it is still thriving today, but now under different ownership. Cesare Mondavi, a successful grape buyer, was convinced by his elder son, Robert, to buy the then dormant Charles Krug Winery In 1943. It was Robert's dream to get out of the bulk wine business, then prevalent, and sell bottled wines. At that time, there were only about five serious commercial wineries in Napa Valley bottling wine: Beaulieu, Beringer, Christian Brothers, Inglenook, and Louis Martini. Robert and his younger brother Peter went on to turn Charles Krug into a highly successful winery
Tracing the Roots of the South in Puglia
Rebecca Murphy

This is the thirteenth year for Radici del Sud, or Roots of the South, a private judging and public exhibition of wines from southern Italy including Puglia, Calabria, Campania, Sicily and Basilicata. With a few exceptions, wines from these provinces don't have the name recognition of wines from areas like Tuscany and Piemonte, and that is what this event is aiming to change. In other words, the purpose of Radici del Sud is to increase awareness of wines of the South. At the awards ceremony, several of the speakers noted that the program is reaching its goal, showing an increase in wine quality, media recognition and tourism, particularly over the past five years.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Patty Melts

The origins of patty melts are somewhat murky, but most sources seem to agree that the genesis of this gastro-treat can be traced back to Southern California in the 1940s or 50s, possibly to Tiny Naylors, a drive-in on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and La Brea. Whatever its true history, if you love a good, juicy hamburger, and if grilled cheese sandwiches are another of your go-to comfort foods, you'll definitely find patty melts delicious. For classic patty melts, certain rules apply. The finished product should never, ever, include condiments such as ketchup, relish, sliced raw onion or mustard. All of these spices and flavors would dilute the lovely, rich essence of the caramelized onions--which are a must. For diners who must have lettuce and tomato with any kind of burger these additions are best served on the side, if at all. A pickle is a permissible, even standard, accompaniment (one of us likes the pickle, the other finds that the brine interferes too much with wine). Many recipes suggest using cheddar or American cheese, but Swiss is the tradition.
On My Table
Great Chardonnay from the Ground Up
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

When I first reviewed a wine from Ten Acre Winery five years ago, I wrote that I plan to keep my eyes on this winery. It's a fairly new operation, founded only in 2008, that specializes in making small-lot Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the grapes of respected growers in cool-climate sites in California. Currently, their wines include Pinot Noirs from three growers in Russian River Valley and one in the Sonoma Coast AVA, with production of generally less than 300 cases per wine, as well as a Russian River and a Sonoma Coast Pinot that are not vineyard-specific. Ten Acre Winery's Chardonnay production is similarly limited; it features two grower-specific Russian River Valley Chardonnays, one Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and a Santa Lucia Highlands (the wine that so impressed me five years ago), as well as a blended-source Russian River Valley Chardonnay.