L.A. WINELINE THE DRIVING FORCE OF GRAVITY GRAPES.
Call it appellation justification.
Searching California wine country ``for the ideal place to grow zinfandel and Rhone varieties,'' in 1994, the owners of Gravity Hills in Paso Robles said they drove around for weeks and weeks.
Finally they ended up in the ``perfect'' spot on the west side of Paso Robles, ``because that's where the timing chain on our Jeep broke.''
Fortuitous? Coincidence? Or both?
Obviously, the Gravity Gang aren't the only ones who believe that this is the best region in the state for zins and Rhone-style grapes.
Ask Bill Grant of Four Vines.
A CAB FOR PAR: The fall issue of the classy new Golf Connoisseur magazine, which has a strong wine theme, names Washington's Quilceda Creek as the best cabernet sauvignon in America.
The article by Bruce Schoenfeld points out that both the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rate it, on the average, as equal to or higher than the first growths of Bordeaux and better than any Napa cabernet.
Information: (360) 568-2389 or www.quilcedacreek.com.
NEW RELEASES: From the almost always reliable McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon, 30 miles southeast of Lodi, come two 2004s, merlot and syrah, both true bargains at $10 each. Information: (209) 599-1186 or www.mcmanisfamilyvineyards.com. ... Chile's premium Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas bottlings of 2003 cabernet sauvignon and 2004 chardonnay are now available at $13.99 each. ... More 2004s due, these from ZD Wines in Napa, the chardonnay (Nov. 1) and Carneros pinot noir (Dec. 1). Information: (800) 487-7757 or www.zdwines.com. ... Also chenin blanc and pinot blanc 2004s ($22 each) from Chalone Vineyard, probably Monterey County's most prestigious winery, are on the shelves. The chenin is made from white grapes off vines that were planted in 1919. Chalone's pinot, also a white (blanc tells you such), is a wine that ages well - and peculiarly tastes more like a chardonnay (or white burgundy) as it gets older. Information: (831) 678-1717. ... 2004 Charlotte's Home sauvignon blanc from Rodney Strong Vineyards, containing Russian River and Alexander Valley fruit, can now be found for around $14 a bottle. Information: (707) 433-6521 or www.rodneystrong.com. ... Another 2004 sauvignon blanc, this one a Lake County wine from Dynamite Vineyards in Napa, is going for $11. Information: www.diageowines.com. ... And Southern California's Torrance-based Peralta Winery has released a 2001 syrah/shiraz for $7.99, and a 2004 chardonnay for $9.99. Information: (310) 539-5552 or www.peraltawinery.com.
SIPS & NIBBLES: The recent tragic wine loss resulting from the warehouse fire on Mare Island in Northern California included ``a significant amount of the inventory'' of the 2002 and 2003 Velvet Collection of Marilyn Wines. ... Note to wine country visitors. Tired of tasting cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot in winery tasting rooms? Jeffrey Mayo of the Mayo Family Winery in Glen Ellen offers an alternative called ``The Adventure Tasting.'' For $10, tasting room visitors sample seven single-vineyard Mayo varietals: viognier, sangiovese, petite sirah, gewurztraminer, carignane, barbera and alicante-bouschet. Information (707) 938-9401. ... Congrats to Jim Concannon, who just celebrated his 50th year of working at the winery at Concannon Vineyard. Concannon is, as I've mentioned before, one of my favorite petite sirah makers. Winery office: (925) 456-2500. Information: www.concannonvineyard.com.
Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668