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Wine Review: Veteran winemaker produces 51st vintage

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Jed Steele has just finished making and husbanding his 51st vintage in the wine industry. He must be doing something right to last that long in the super competitive and sometimes cutthroat wine industry.

Steele has maintained his illustrious position by taking advantage of the specific characteristics of the year’s grape crop. He’s also purposefully refrained from using textbook winemaking techniques while still keeping his wines in an affordable price range.

The wines of this 51st vintage are definitely a credit to him and his work.
Shooting Star Lake County 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16)
There is no 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. They never recovered.

The Shooting Star Lake County 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon reflects the modern, popular style of winemaking that focuses on fruit and less tannins. The wine showcases blackberries and black currants with the telltale Shooting Star 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 and its lighter, less tannic style. The beverage greatly expands the food selections it will accompany.
Shooting Star Lake County 2016 Zinfandel ($14)
At a recent showing at Mitchum Jewelers in Ozark that featured both jewelry and wine, I was amazed to see how popular the red zinfandel they served was with attendees. Modern winemaking has lifted the once maligned zinfandel to great heights.

This wine proves it. The Shooting Star zinfandel is a bold wine that proudly displays its attributes, of which there are many. The color is a deep garnet and heralds the aromas of raspberry, blueberry, black raspberry, plums, blackberry, boysenberry and licorice with hints of vanilla. The flavor, which mirrors the aroma, fills the mouth and ends in a finish that lingers for an extraordinarily long time.
Writer's Block Lake County 2016 Grenache ($17)
Trust Steele to take a variety that is almost always used to make a rose and explore its possibilities as a red wine. When you pull the cork, stand back, the berry aroma of this wine is almost overpowering. Following closely behind the aroma are the exceptionally complex flavors of strawberry and raspberry, with hints of citrus rind, and a suggestion of cranberry, cinnamon and a white pepper. The finish of this wine is as big and enjoyable as the flavor and lasts a long time.
Steele Santa Barbara County 2017 Pinot Blanc ($20)
The Alsace region of France is noted for its pinot blanc wines, but it now has a serious challenger with this offering from Steele. The Steele Santa Barbara County 2017 Pinot Blanc is a white wine with a rich apple and melon aroma and a soft layer of oak. These aromas carry on to the flavor where they mingle with vanilla and a touch of citrus. The wine also displays a crisp acid bite, which enhances and amplifies its flavors and the flavors of foods it’s served with. This wine, because of its structure, allows it to accompany a broad spectrum of foods.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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