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Wineline: News From The World Of Wine

Michael-David Becomes A Goliath

Is a person who believes that terroir (referring to the earth or soil where grapes are grown, and sometimes the climate there as well) is the most important factor in wine prominence … a terroirist?

That and other aspects of wine production and its resultant tastes played heavily in both serious and humorous table conversation at a recent tasting of Michael-David wines at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse with David J. Phillips, president and co-owner of the Lodi winery.

Poured with a variety of appetizers and steak entrees were several outstanding examples of this burgeoning winery’s offerings, beginning with its full-flavored 2005 viognier ($15.99), dubbed Incognito, and a rewarding pairing with a foie gras dish and a 2004 chardonnay ($16.99), titled Seven Heavenly Chards. The latter was restrained enough to match effectively with a platter of mussels in white wine.

Steaks, which were accompanied by a variety of sauce options, went well with several reds, the best being Michael-

David’s 2004 zinfandel ($16.99), called Seven Deadly Zins.

Phillips also uncorked his old-vines Windmill Estates zinfandel ($11), a bargain for zin lovers, and 2004 Incognito Rouge ($15.99), the latter a fruity Rhone blend of eight grapes.

Michael-David, a rapid success story of this millennium, was producing a mere 1,000 cases only six years ago and has jumped to more than 200,000 cases currently. These wines can be found in all 50 states.

Information: (888) 707-9463 or

Going Stag’s: When Warren Winiarski’s Stag’s Leap Cellars introduces a new wine, it’s wakeup time in winedom.

That’s because Winiarski’s 1973 Napa cabernet sauvignon made history in 1976 at the famed Paris blind tasting where French wine experts picked it as No. 1 one over some of the best Bordeaux reds, including Chateaux Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion.

And Winiarski’s efforts ever since have placed him as one of California’s top and most consistent wine producers.

His latest triumph is a 2005 chardonnay called Karia ($32), paired most effectively at a recent lunch tasting with chef Makoto "Mako" Tanaka’s superb roasted jumbo diver scallops capped with a creamy, briny sea urchin sauce at Mako restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Karia joins the previously released Artemus cabernet sauvignon (ticketed around the mid-$30s). Both are very attractive wines, even though they are priced lower than most of the other Stag’s Leap Cellars wines.

Karia has little in common with the 2004 Arcadia estate chardonnay ($45), a lovely, refreshing white with lower alcohol, higher acidity and a welcome minerality. Chef Mako wisely chose his marinated black cod to serve with it.

Also poured were the crisp 2005 sauvignon blanc ($22) with three appetizers and the just-released, rich, herbal 2003 Fay cabernet sauvignon ($80) with Peking-style duck.

More giant leaps for winekind by Winiarski and company.

Information: (707) 944-2020 or

New Releases:

The robust 2004 Amador County reds of Shenandoah Vineyards (barbera and tempranillo, $24 each) and Sobon Estate (2004 zinfandel, $15.95) are now on the shelves, along with a full-bodied white Sobon 2005 viognier ($15.50). Information: (209) 245-4455.

Kendall-Jackson’s 2005 rendition of its Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay ($12), the nation’s No. 1-selling chard for 16 years running, can now be found just about everywhere. Information: (800)

The 2004 Rock Solid Red ($12) by Bishop’s Peak, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, petite sirah and tempranillo, comes with the note from Brian Talley whose Talley Vineyards makes it, "Not all wine was born to be a profound, hedonistic tasting experience, pushing the envelope of winemaking extremism." Dead on, Brian. And at $12, we don’t expect such, do we? Information: (805) 489-0446 or

Best Burgundy Buys: A panel of wine experts in New York recently came up with 30 best buys from Burgundy, France, at a tasting event organized by Sopexa USA, an organization dedicated to the promotion of French and European food, wine and spirits.

Of the 16 whites and 14 reds chosen, a 2005 St. Veran from Cave de Prisse-Sologny was the best $15 white, and a Bourgogne pinot noir, the 2004 Prosper Magoux, was named the best $16 red.

For complete results, visit



(c) 2006 Los Angeles Daily News