Wine Secrets
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French Wine - Wines of Alsace
A producer of particularly fine Riesling is Domaines Schlumberger. Its Les Princes Abbes Riesling is extraordinary. Aromas of lime and butterscotch lead to a palate of lime, butter, minerals, and a lovely orange zest character. Beautiful stuff. Dry, crisp, but with excellent concentration, body, and length. Worth every penny and a bargain at about $15.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Northwest Spain
The wines from Descendientes de Jose Palacios are made by Alvaro Palacios, the celebrated winemaker who put Priorat on the map in the Northeast of the country by making such sought after wines as L'Ermita and its sister wines Finca Dofi and Les Terrasses.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Northeast Spain
Top Priorat wines include Clos Mogador, Clos Martinet, Clos de l'Obac, Clos Erasmus, Clos Dofi (renamed Finca Dofi in 1994), L'Ermita, and Les Terrasses. They're excellent quality, ageworthy, and fairly expensive.

Wines of Northeast Italy
Valpantena's Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso 2003 is an excellent example of the richness the ripasso process can impart to wine. This wine starts with cigar shop aromas and leads to a ripe, full palate of chocolate-covered black and red cherries. Delicious.

Central and Eastern European Wine
The best wine coming out of central and eastern Europe is Tokaji Aszú, a sweet wine named after the town Tokaj in Hungary.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Central and Southern Spain
Jumilla's best recent vintages were 1999, 2000, and 2003.

Spanish Wine - Sherry
Tío Pepe by González Byass is a classic example of a Fino—bone dry and very neutral with a slightly salty tang and hints of fresh bread. Not a fruity drink.

German Wine
Wines labeled with the word trockenbeerenauslese are the German equivalent of the sweet wines of Sauternes in France. The grapes will have been affected by noble rot, imparting that delicious marmalade character on the palate. These wines age beautifully, and are often sold in half bottles. German trockenbeerenauslese wines are more affordable than their French counterparts, and are usually of very good quality. I can't think of a more charming gift.

Mediterranean Wine
Château Musar is the most famous wine of Lebanon. Located just fifteen miles from Beirut, political unrest creates winemaking challenges not all winemakers are forced to face (such as bombings), and yet Musar continues to produce reasonably good wine under the Château's own name.

French Wine - Wines of Bordeaux
Leading Bordeaux producers get paid top-dollar for their wines. Here's a confession: I think they're often worth every cent. Here are some reasons why: • Château Beau-Sejour Becot 2001: Ripe on the nose with aromas of red berries, vanilla, and a powderiness somewhere. Spice. Delightful nose. Gripping tannins and ripe nuanced palate of wood, spice, vanilla, and nuts. Long. Delicious. • Château Canon-la-Gaffeliere 2001 Slightly closed nose with earth and mineral aromas beneath cherry fruit. Palate is ripe and very compact with flavors of walnuts, tea, and cassis. Ripe tannins and good structure. Sure to develop well. Very long with a stony, detailed finish. A serious wine with a captivating style that's slightly wild. • Château Giscours 2001 Tobacco and caramel on the nose, as well as leather and cassis. Palate is perfectly balanced with dense concentration and ripe tannins. Complex with black currant, smoke, toast, tobacco, and leather. Long length. Divine. • Château Grand-Puy Ducasse 2001 Rich nose of ripe black currants and red forest French Wine 63 fruits. Balanced. Good concentration with flavors of nuts, raisins, and black currant. Complex and long. • Château Grand Mayne 2001 Mineral nose with cherry and vanilla. Good structure and balanced with flavors of cherry, chocolate, and vanilla. Good concentration and length. • Château Gruaud Larose 2001 Excellent aging potential. Ripe berry fruits on the nose with a bit of spice and a youthfulness. Ripe and full with balanced structure. Rich concentration of cassis, cherry, forest fruits, herbs, and spice. Medium to long length. • Château Kirwan 2001 The nose shows cassis, herbs, violet, white flowers, and roses. Structure is well-balanced. Flavors mirror the nose with a bit of spice and vanilla added. Black coffee on the finish and very long. Exquisite mix of feminine finesse and masculine muscle.

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