Her long blond hair fell down to her shoulders in waves, framing her face with a golden hue reflected from the soft light of the restaurant candle. As she raised the glass to her lips, her perfectly fashioned nose caught the first scent of perfume from the wine and a Mona Lisa smile spread slowly across her angelic face like a sunrise gently inching up over the horizon. Her first sip confirmed what she already knew ... her husband had created yet another masterpiece.
The former paragraph confirms two things; first, I should definitely stick to wine writing, and second, some wines are worth looking for. This occurred to me during a recent trip to San Francisco, where I met Kristen Green and her winemaking husband, Jamie Kutch, for dinner one night. I was tasting Kutch's latest release of pinot noir from California and I knew I wanted to share it with my readers. But there was just one small problem: His wine is hard to find in the D.C. area. Not impossible, but difficult.
This is not isolated to just Jamie's wine. There are many wines I want to review but am reluctant to write about because they may not be readily available in our metropolitan area. While this is certainly a dilemma, it should not be a deterrent. After all, there are some very good wines that just may be worth the hunt.
Because many states now allow consumers to have wine shipped directly to them, within reason, acquiring a prized wine is easier than it has been in the past. However, shipping costs definitely add to the total price of the wine and weather may limit when you can receive the wine. Many wine shops in our area are also fairly accommodating when it comes to hunting down a particular wine, so definitely ask your favorite merchant if they can help you locate something special. Retail prices are approximate.
Kutch (kutchwines.com) fell in love with wine in a chat room on the Internet. It's not as strange as it seems, as many budding oenophiles often meet and get together for "offline" tastings through Internet postings. But Jamie was bit harder than most by the wine bug and left a good job in New York, with Kristen in tow, to pursue a dream of making high-end pinot noir in California. The 2009 Kutch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($40) is sourced from several vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast and sports a lovely nose of red berry and bramble scents. Pretty flavors of cherry, raspberry and red plum wash over the tongue and finish with notes of toasty oak and minerality, balanced by moderate tannins. QPR 9
The good news is that the 2009 Alex Gambal Bourgogne Chardonnay ($30) from Burgundy, France, is available in a few local wine shops. The bad news is that due to its exceptional value, it can sell out rather quickly. In 1993, at the tender young age of 40, D.C. native Alex Gambal moved to France with his family for what was supposed to be a "one-year sabbatical." Fortunately for wine lovers, he stayed and is now making world-class wines. His entry-level chardonnay is charming, with delicious flavors of green apples and nectarine on the front of the palate and lemon/lime citrus notes that pop in on the back of the palate and on to the bright, medium finish. QPR 10
When my children were younger, they really wanted a dog. They convinced my wife to go along with the idea by telling her they would name him in honor of her favorite zinfandel. And that's how we ended up with Turley. Today, we still enjoy Turley Wine Cellars' creations, including the 2010 Turley Old Vines Zinfandel ($26), produced from old, dry farmed vineyards from Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles and several other spots in California. This bar-raising red wine is full of character, including flavors of blackberry jam, black licorice and mocha that seduce the palate. Firm tannins support highlights of cracked black pepper and dried sage on the lengthy finish. QPR 9.5
Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.