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Wine Review: Napa Valley winery stresses popular flavors

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There are almost 5,000 wineries in California, and it would take about that many years to sample even a few of the wines each offer. It’s a worthy quest but quite impossible.

Today, modern science almost universally assures there will be a sound wine inside the bottle we bring home, while in the past, wines were more of a hit and miss situation. Way back when, caveat emptor, or “let the buyer beware,” was in full force.

The punt at the bottom of a bottle is still traditionally used, though it was put there to collect particles that were not removed prior to bottling. Wines could continue to ferment after bottling, clouding the wine. The color could change and the wine might even turn to vinegar. Truthfully, you never really knew what was in the bottle of wine you bought. Today, modern filtration and a better understanding of the science of winemaking have eliminated those once-prevalent problems.

Girard Winery is among the host of wineries that recently has come to my attention. Drawing the fruit for their wines from the prestigious Napa Valley, Girard makes beverages that are not only enjoyable but also stress the popular attributes of the flavors used in production.

Girard 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)
For years, it has been the cabernet sauvignon that reflect a winery’s reputation. There is no question or doubt that cabernet sauvignon wines are the most popular, talked about, argued over and criticized variety in the entire world of wine. To illustrate that, Inglenook, which held an exalted position among wine enthusiasts, was totally destroyed when they used a screw top on their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon, a decision from which they never recovered. The Girard 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon started off with a less than average growing season. A wet and cool spring was mitigated by a hot dry summer and the resultant grapes tested the Girard winemakers to their fullest. By carefully handling these conditions and implementing some minor blending, they came up with what can only be described as a winner. The wine showcases blackberries and black currants with the telltale Girard signature flavor and aroma of fresh spice in the background. This wine is different enough from a typical California or Bordeaux cabernet sauvignon to command your attention.

Girard 2016 Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel ($28)
It is a well-known fact that zinfandel grapes from old vines take on a charm and style of their own. But how old do the vines have to be? The grapes for the Girard 2016 Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel come from vines that range between 30 and 90 years old, and for grape vines, that’s old. The result is striking. Big, bold aromas of raspberry, strawberry, mint and oak delight the senses. These aromas carry over to the flavor, where they merge with black pepper and exotic spice. The finish, which is exceptionally long, reprises the cherry and berry flavors. If you have never tried an old vine zin, this is your chance.

Girard 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
This wine is a major sidestep from the traditional style. It is a dry white wine that is so loaded with fruit flavors it seems almost sweet. Gone are the grass, oak and lemon of the traditional sauvignon blanc. Also gone is the austere acid level and the limited food accompaniment requirements. If you are tired of the standard white wine fare, don't wait for this wine to disappear from dealers’ shelves.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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