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Whites

2009 Mendocino Vineyards, Mendocino
Organic Chardonnay

The Mendocino region of California borders the rugged cliffs of Northern California’s Pacific coastline, about 150 miles north of the famed Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  Known for its cool, foggy climate and long growing season, this crisp chardonnay is made from 100% organic grapes, using no artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.  It has a crisp, floral palette of lemon and lime with good acidity and a finish that’s not overpowering.  It’s perfect with my salads, or as a cocktail white.

2009 Bluefeld, Mosel
Riesling

Bluefeld Riesling comes from the legendary vineyards of the German Mosel River appellation, famed for centuries of Riesling production.  Often misunderstood – we tend to assume that it Riesling is always sweet –   the Mosel region is famous for its versatility.  For hundreds of years the region has produced a wide range of styles, from bone dry to lusciously sweet, or at levels in between.  Riesling has the unique ability to balance moderate sweetness with crisp acidity, making it a perfect complement to the bold flavors on a barbeque platter.  It can stand up to the heat and cool the palette as you go.  I love it with all of my food.

Reds

2007 Red Guitar, Navarre
Tempranillo – Garnacha

This Spanish red is the perfect cocktail wine and perfect for those new to the Spanish wine regions of Rioja and Navarre.  The dominant grape is tempranillo, Spain’s workhorse noble red, famed for its light acidity and fruity flavors.  Adding backbone is the garnacha (grenache) grape, a hot climate grape with higher tannins and alcohol content.  This is a medium bodied red with lots of fruit and a little spice.  I love it with my whole barbequed wings and pulled pork.

2004 Penfold’s Koonunga Hill
Shiraz-Cabernet

You say tomato, I say tomato.  Shiraz is the Australian pronunciation of Rhone Valley’s noble grape Syrah, and no one does modern, New World Syrah like the Aussies.  Blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, this is a bold red wine with strong tobacco aromas, dark plum fruit and peppery spice.  Let it sit as it becomes even fuller in the glass.  If you love spice, try this rich wine with any of my bigger barbeque, like the ribs and the brisket.

2008 Ridge Three Valleys, Sonoma
Zinfandel – Carignane – Petite Sirah – Grenache

Paul Draper has led the legendary Ridge winery since the 1960’s.  First founded and planted in the late 19th century on the side of a steep cliff (the “Ridge”) by a prominent Italian immigrant, the vineyards along the Ridge have been producing some of California’s most consistent wines for decades.  Their approach is simple – find intense, flavorful grapes and let them speak for themselves through the winemaking process.  Three Valleys represents a blend of grapes from different Ridge vineyards.  Zinfandel is the primary grape, with carignane adding bright fruit and acid, petite sirah adding pepper, spice and color and grenache adding tannin and backbone.  It is the finest wine on my list.  I love it.