Retailer Wine Selections


The Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel
a selection of white wines, retailing for $15 to $30.


This year, we’ve asked our national retailer panel to select wines based on price parameters, not by varietal or region. Last issue, the panel recommended a lineup of red wines priced from $15 to $30. This issue, the panel considers whites with a retail price of $15 to $30. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a numerical rating and the wine’s suggested retail price (which varies from market to market.)

— Richard Brandes


***** (95) ZD Chardonnay 2002 (California). A beautiful full-bodied chardonnay with ripe apricot, honey and toasty notes; well balanced with great forward fruit and acidity; creamy. ($28)

***** (95) Zaca Mesa Roussanne 2003 (California). On the nose are aromas of apricot, figs, honey and spice that fill the glass; a lingering finish with a touch of minerality; enjoy with grilled halibut or rosemary roasted chicken. ($23)

***** (94) Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Chardonnay 2003 (Spain). From Spain’s famous Navarra region; barrel-fermented in American and Allier Barriques; simply lovely with a soft, buttery texture and hints of pear, apple and butterscotch; just enough acidity for a long, clean finish. ($16)

***** (94) Vero Chardonnay Bourgogne 2002 (France). A great Bourgogne blanc; best of all worlds, with minerality from Chablis, richness of Meursault, elegance from Puligny and cream from Chassagne. ($17)

***** (94) Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay 2003 (California). Well balanced and silky with supple texture and a long finish; layers of tropical fruit with oak in the background. ($28)

***** (94) Jordan Russian River Chardonnay 2002 (California). Delightfully clean and crisp with apple, pear and peach notes, lots of vanilla and cream and a satisfying finish; nicely matched with cold lobster salads. ($29)

03KEDOPG copy***** (94) King Estate “Domaine” Pinot Gris 2003 (Oregon). Certified organically grown; stone fruits and citrus peel flavors dominate the palate, layered and textured; fleshy fruit but not fatty, with pear, papaya and mixed tropical highlights. ($16)


***** (94) Long Vineyards Chardonnay 2001 (California). A Burgundian-style chardonnay with aromas of pear and apple; in the mouth the wine displays layer upon layer of flavors and suggests grand cru white burgundy, but at a fraction of the cost. ($25)

***** (93) Clos St. Michel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2003 (France). The crisp apple and tropical fruit on the nose are only a hint of the richness that caresses the palate; notes of beeswax, toast and cream intermingle with pear, apple and pineapple, balanced with a crisp acidity that makes this a perfect foil for rich seafood and poultry dishes; the finish is long and soft, providing final hints of citrus and spring flowers. ($25)

***** (93) Maison Joseph Drouhin Chablis, Montmains Premier Cru 2003 (France). Benchmark Chablis from Burgundy’s most consistent producer; with a bucket of oysters and a bottle of this wine, it doesn’t get much better. ($28)

***** (93) St. Innocent Anden Vineyard Chardonnay 2002 (Oregon). Produced from nine-year old Dijon clone vines, this wine displays aromas of toast, butter and spices; sappy, satin-textured and medium-bodied; a broad-expressioned wine packed with rich layers of spicy minerals, nutmeg, buttered pears and toast. ($22)

CDB_ARS_03chardonnay ***** (93) Clos Du Bois Reserve Chardonnay 2003 (California). Rich, straw color with hints of light green; ripe apple and pear aromas with hints of stone fruits and citrus; in the mouth, lush tropical fruits, such as ripe mango, melons and oranges, as well as sweet oak flavor with hints of toffee and vanilla; creamy mouthfeel to the finish. ($19)


***** (93) Domaine Michel Picard Chassagne 1999 (Montrachet, France). Brilliant straw-yellow color; aromas of vanilla and toast; will pair nicely with buttery, soft cheese or dishes made with rich, creamy sauces; spectacular chardonnay. ($40)

***** (93) Tramin “Nussbaumer” Gewurztraminer 2002 (Trentino, Italy). World-class gewürztraminer; dry, elegant with subtle florals and nuance. ($27)

***** (93) Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2001 (Alsace). No oak, no residual sugar to give complete dryness; flavors of peaches and pear; high acidity. ($21)

***** (93) Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Grand Cru 2002 (Alsace) A racy, liquid mineral; lime-scented nose; light-bodied, showing wonderful depth of stone, lemon and quartz-like flavors. ($40)

***** (92) Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2002 (California). Affordable and “findable”; quality chardonnay for Kistler fans; rich and creamy. ($30)

Rating System

***** Five Stars (92-100)
A top-flight wine. Superior in
taste and character and providing
an outstanding price/value

**** Four Stars (86-91) A very
good wine and an excellent value.
A wine for which customers will
keep coming back.

*** Three Stars (80-85) An
above- average wine, at a
reasonable price point, which
many customers will enjoy.

** Two Stars (70-79)
An average wine.

* One Star (50-69)
A below-average wine.

***** (92) Carmel Road Monterey Chardonnay 2001 (California). A classy, complex wine that continues to develop in the glass; a mélange of flavors, from apple to mango to butterscotch, all on a creamy, well-balanced frame. ($30)

***** (92) Domaine Loberger Gewurztraminer 2002 (Alsace). Bring on the Thai food; a wonderfully balanced wine, full of wild rose, lychee and a touch of sweetness. ($17)

***** (92) Chateau St. Michelle/Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2003 (Washington State). From the Columbia Valley, a cascade of flavors of apple, pineapple, apricot and minerals; off-dry with intense acid. ($26)

***** (92) Baumard “Trie Speciale” Savennieres 2001 (France). Chenin blanc in its sublime form, round and rich; like Burgundy somehow transferred to the Loire Valley. ($30)

***** (92) Selbach Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese 2002 (Mosel, Germany). This late-harvest riesling comes from the best part of the vineyards at Bernkastel and shows fresh green apple and peach notes, a rich mineral middle palate and fresh acidity. ($18)

***** (92) Lucien Albrecht Pinot Gris Cuvee Romanus 2003 (Alsace, France). This voluptuous, rich pinot gris from the heart of Alsace is a powerful statement to its terroir; ripe tree fruit dominates, with notes of apple, peach and pear, with hints of lemongrass and mineral intermingling on the palate, providing crispness and a touch of spice; a balanced, elegant finish; match with shellfish and whitefish dishes. ($19)

***** (92) Kupelweiser Pinot Grigio Alto Aldige 2002 (Italy). Rich in body and fruit extract with a mild yet firm acidity; the nose has hints of spice, lime tree blossom, pear and banana, while the palate provides crisp apple, pear and notes of citrus; the lingering finish closes with flavors of citrus and Asian spice; serve as an aperitif, or with light seafood. ($16)

***** (92) Selaks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (New Zealand). Aromas of white fruits, gooseberries and melon; it reveals a medium-bodied, satin-textured personality; fresh and spicy, the wine displays good depth to its pear, apple and gooseberry flavors; clean, snappy finish. ($15)

***** (92) Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino 2002 (Italy). Medium-bodied with great acidity; aromas of banana and flavors of pear and green apple; tons of character, perfect for warm weather. ($20)

***** (92) Sterling North Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (California). Bright, pale straw color; fresh and floral with aromas of nectarines, melons and grapefruit; pleasingly full with ripe fruit and subtle acidity for a dry, clean finish. ($15)


**** (91) Domaine Chandon Carneros Chardonnay 2002 (California). Burgundian winemaking approach; clean, crisp, complex aromas with notes of apple, white peach, crème brulee and subtle oak; creamy texture balanced by citrus notes and a flinty character typical of Carneros; flavors of fig and honey build through a long, harmonious finish. ($24)

**** (91) Pieropan Soave Classico 2003 (Italy). Not your ordinary soave; medium straw-yellow in color with the aromatic scents of apple and blossom; rich like a chardonnay yet delicate; a finish that lingers; well made and a great value. ($15)

**** (91) J Russian River Pinot Gris 2004 (California). Crisp and energetic; very Alsatian in style with more depth and concentration; hints of honeysuckle on the nose, mouth-filling flavors and a great finish. ($19)

**** (91) Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Chardonnay 2003 (California). Crisp and clean with good weight in the mid-palate; melons come to mind, overlaid by a lemon-citrus flavor, drifting onward to an even more buoyant lemon zest finish of exceptional length and complexity; try with lobster risotto or shellfish. ($18)

**** (91) Vincent Girardin Rully Premier Cru Les Cloux (France). Medium bodied; lush and intense; a wine of exceptional ripeness that leads to a long, balanced finish. ($20)

**** (91) Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (California). Awesome acidity for a Californian sauvignon blanc; grassy and herbaceous notes on the front and finishes with melon and citrus notes. ($20)

**** (91) Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (New Zealand). White grapefruit, lemon-ice and white peach set the stage; steely lemon and grapefruit flavors with a lychee edge; picking up a grassy note towards the clean and refreshing finish. ($25)

**** (91) Artesa Carneros Chardonny 2002 (California). Rich and fulfilling; full of butter and a hint of smokiness; a great compliment to many food pairings. ($15)

**** (90) Caymus Conundrum 2003 (California). A tropical explosion loaded with mango, pineapple and kiwi; an expansive palate with tropical flavors atop citrus tones and a hint of vanilla in a creamy, yet lively structure. ($22)

**** (90) Michel Schlumberger Dry Creek Chardonnay 2003 (California). A spicy core of pears and apple flavors with nuances of toasty oak and nutmeg; a treat with veal, chicken and shellfish dishes. ($25)

**** (90) S.A. Prum Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett 2003 (Germany). From one of Mosel’s oldest family estates; a nose of fresh flowers, lemon-tree and peach lead to flavors of not-quite-ripe melon and citrus with classic Mosel “slatiness”; off-dry and crisp. ($17)

**** (90) Lambert Bridge Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (California). The wine has 97% sauvignon blanc with 3% viognier; elegant with a subtle, flinty aroma; round and full on the palate, not grassy; rather Graves-like in style; great length; superb. ($17)

**** (90) Conti Formentini Pinot Grigio DOC 2003 (Italy). Atypical for this grape from this zone; a creamy texture with subtle flavors of melon, peach and vanilla; the finish is long with perfect acidity and a hint of minerality; sheer elegance. ($16)

**** (90) Kunde Estate Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (California). Flavors and scents of fresh grapefruit, peaches, melon and mint; crisp, bright and refreshing; a touch of semillon and viognier add softness and depth. ($17)

**** (90) Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2004 (Oregon). Hints of honeysuckle and white flowers along with pear, apple and citrus; fresh and clean; pair with grilled and smoked salmon. ($18)

**** (90) Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2001 (California). Aromas of grilled nuts, coconut and citrus; wood spice mouth feel; firm finish. ($25)

**** (90) Toasted Head Russian River Chardonnay 2003 (California). The “untoasted” version, more elegant with bright apple/pear fruit; easy to drink; long finish. ($15)

**** (90) Jigsaw Pinot Gris 2002 (Oregon). This crisp, dry white wine from Oregon delivers aromas of peaches, mango and vanilla; the flavors are crisp and lemony; perfect with oysters, clams and shrimp cocktail. ($15)

**** (90) Hastwell & Lightfoot Viognier 2002 (Australia). Very small production, the essence of apricots; smell the apricots and white peaches, then taste nectarines with a soft finish; try with chicken, scallops, after dinner. ($23)

**** (90) Terradora di Paolo Greco di Tufo, Campania 2001 (Italy). Aromatic and fragrant characters of almond, mineral and citrus with biting acidity. ($21)

**** (90) Karl Erbes Riesling, Spatlese 2003 (Germany). Great floral aromas with great balance; fresh honeyed peach on the palate, which continues into a long finish. ($18)

**** (90) Hewitson Dry Muscadelle (Australia). Low alcohol, light bodied white; fresh, clean fruit flavors; a great cocktail/party wine. ($16.50)

**** (89) Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium Blanc 2002 (California). Light gold color; aromas of butterscotch, fig and toasty spice; medium bodied, plush and generous with richness and depth to apple, peach, citrus and subtle oak flavors; good acidity; long, rich finish. ($16)

**** (89) Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay 2003 (California). This graceful chardonnay possesses an elegant nose followed by honeydew melon and lingering ripe fruit flavors. ($24)

03 SBC Chardonnay**** (89) Fess Parker Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2003 (California). Multiple vineyard sources for complexity; pear, citrus, light toast, butter and coconut. ($18.50)


**** (89) Edna Valley Chardonnay 2003 (California). A zesty white wine with alluring peach aromas that bear some resemblance to a great French grand cru; it has a beautiful texture and interesting aromatic complexity. ($17)

**** (89) Morgan Metallico Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2003 (California). Unoaked; no malolactic fermentation; a really nice chardonnay; if you want to know what the grape really tastes like, try this; crisp, dry pretty finish. ($18)

**** (89) Brolia Gavi La Meirana 2003 (Italy). This Gavi di Gavi is a great example of what good, white wine from Piedmont is all about; flavors of almonds, citrus and cloves with a nice finish that allows it to stand up to pork, turkey and seafood dishes. ($16)

**** (89) Step Rd Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Adelaide Hills (Australia). Pale, almost clear yellow, with a mild, citrusy bouquet of melon and tangerine; medium bodied, rich and supple, it possesses tasty citrus flavors and some lemon-lime acidity that keeps it nicely dry; long and flavorful finish. ($15)

**** (89) Seebrich Riesling Spatlese 2002, Niersteiner Olberg (Germany). Medium yellow/gold, with a full, warm bouquet that displays the distinctive slate/mineral nose of the Rheinhessen; ripe and rich on the palate, with sweet fruit flavors of pear, citrus, orange peel and white grapes; good balancing acidity turns it drier leading to the finish; wonderful food wine. ($20)

**** (89) Bastianich “Vespa” 2002 (Friuli, Italy). Nicely made from three grapes: sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and picolit; crisp, clean with a nice fruitiness on the finish. ($26)

**** (89) Merryvale Starmont Chardonnay 2003 (California). Pale yellow, with aromas of baked pear and red apple dusted with vanilla bean; rich, baked apple tones speckled with sweet oak and butterscotch. ($19)

**** (88) Bertani Soave Classico Superiore 2001 (Veneto, Italy). Bertani adds a splash of chardonnay to the garganega that adds structure to the wine. The wine shows melon and apple aromas and flavors, a plump middle and firm acidity on the end, a rarity in soave. It’s just right for vongole and calamari. ($15)

**** (88) Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuisse 2003 (France). All chardonnay, smoky and toasty, this elegant, light to medium bodied wine with spiced, mineral flavors has a pleasing personality; wonderful with seafood and chicken dishes. ($22)

**** (88) R. Stuart “Big Fore” Pinot Gris 2003 (Oregon). Very fresh and clean with tangerine, lemon and melon; peach and pear on the finish; pair with light seafood dishes. ($17)

**** (88) X Winery Los Carneros Chardonnay 2002 (California). Crisp, green apple and lemon laced with butterscotch and vanilla; medium oak, great acidity/balance; similar to a white burgundy. ($17)

**** (88) Donna Fugata Anthilia 2003 (Sicily, Italy). From grapes rarely seen outside of Sicily; apple, mineral notes with a little white pepper in the finish; medium-bodied. ($18)

**** (87) Simi Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (California). Citrusy in the nose and on the palate with good acidity and a zing in the finish. ($17)

**** (87) Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio 2003 (Alto Adige, Italy). They have been making great pinot grigios before most people knew what the grape was; honey and almond flavors with a delicate balance of peaches and melons and a good finish; works well with cream sauces and white meats. ($16)

**** (87) Mad Fish Chardonnay 2003 (Australia). Pale yellow, with a medium-full bouquet that shows off some tart apple and pear aromas; mild apple, pear and citrus flavors are bright and juicy, and the medium-length finish echoes these flavors nicely. ($15)


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