Winter 2003
Erik Johnson, Sommelier

WINE EVENTS
I am extremely excited to invite you to one of our many wine events taking place over the next few months. Wine Mondays is one of my favorite programs we've started here at L'Espalier- it really enables our guests to experience L'Espalier in a more casual setting, while tasting and learning about many different wines that they may not ordinarily get the chance to experience. I am personally looking forward to welcoming Alex Gambal, a fantastic winemaker, and also a good friend of mine, as a special guest for Wine Monday on February 24. Check out the What's New section of our website for schedules and details.

TIPS FOR THE HOME BUYER
Lately, while working as sommelier here at L'Espalier, many people have been inquiring about which wines they can purchase for their home enjoyment. I'll be updating this section regularly to so as to provide some inside "tips" on what's hot this season.

Currently, the 1997 Bordeaux vintage is drinking beautifully. Although not a powerful year, such as the 1995's and 1996's, the wines possess soft and sweet tannins and are reaching their peaks now. This is a good vintage to purchase because the prices are very reasonable and the more notable producers have made some delicious bottles. Look for Chateau Lynch- Bages, Chateau Gloria, Chateau Gruaud-Larose, and Chateau Pichon-Baron. This is a great vintage to enjoy now while waiting for the sleeping giants of 2000 to come around.

Other things to look for are: 2000 and 2001 Alsace, 2000 Rhone reds, and my spies in Burgundy tell me that the 2002 vintage is going to be unbelievable.

ON L'ESPALIER'S LIST
After many years being dubbed a Francophile, I've decided to come out of my immersion from French wines and lately have been tasting some really incredible Italians. I've had a great deal of luck with the wines of the Friuli region in Italy. It seemed to me to be a natural port of entry for my exploration of Italy because they mainly grow French grape varitals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. This region also offers tremendous values when compared to their French counterparts.

One of the outstanding producers I've found is Ronchi de Manzano. Their entire line up is very tasty- I most enjoy their "Le Zuccle" bottling which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Another spectacular find is the 1998 Trabucchi Amarone from the Veneto region. It has beautiful ripe fruit of plum, blueberry, and cassis with a smooth peppery finish. It is currently on our vintners tasting paired with venison, and getting rave reviews from our guests.

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