234 Nassua Street - Princeton, NJ
Varsity Liquors

July 2004


Josef Leitz Riesling Dragonstone Rheingau 2003   $13.99

Leitz is considered to be one of the rising stars of German wines and when you taste this wine you will see why.  Loaded with tons of citrus flavors (did I say Grapefruit), with hints of apples and almonds that are very well integrated and balanced, and not as sweet as you think.  The wine has plenty of acidity and a long smooth finish.  One of the greatest Riesling values Iíve seen in years.  The wine goes great with Asian cuisine or as an aperitif.


Poppy Hill Cabernet Sauvignon California 2001  $9.99

This is a second label of Mont St. John Winery, one of the great relatively unknown wineries in Napa whose prices arenít through the roof.  Poppy Hill Cab is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, from grapes that primarily estate grown with some grapes purchased from selected growers.  The wine jumps out of the bottle with bright cherry and plum notes with a hint of cassis and oak.  I imagine the wine would be great with any red meat or any piece of chocolate.


MandraRossa Shiraz Sicila 2002  $9.99

The Mandrarossa winery is the brain trust of Diego Planeta, that of Planeta fame known for their great Syrahs and Chardonnays at times the price.  The kids now run Planeta and Diego runs Mandrarossa, a co-op of over 100 growers and using Carlo Corino as the enologist.  Sicily is one of the hottest wine producing regions in the world, (both temperature and the amount of great wines coming out of Sicily), and Syrah or Shiraz thrives there.  The wines are not too jammy like the Australian Shiraz, but a more subtle and laid back.  Sure you get the same great fruit, vibrancy and peppery finish.  Great with anything off of the grill.


June 2004


Peachy Canyon Westside Zinfandel Paso Robles 2001  $15.99

All three of the selections this month are geared for foods that are cooked on the grill or great with picnics and other outdoor events.  Over the years we have featured several Peachy Canyon wines from their dessert wines to their Roseís, all tremendous wines and great buys.  Although the same grape as the Norman Monster Zin we featured a couple of months ago, it is very different in style.  This has a bit more finesse and character and a tad more intensity (I donít know how that happens), and has, big bold tastes of cherry, black pepper and eucalyptus with a smooth and silky finish.


Clos Saint-Michel Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee 1997  $14.99

Every once in awhile we pull off a coup, and this is one of them.  First of all to find a Chateauneuf of this quality at this price is unheard of, and the second item is that the wine is now aged to perfection.  To say, this is a big wine is an understatement; Loaded with cherries and berries and a long spicy finish, best of all very resolved.


Bodegas Nieto y Senetiner Sant Isabel Torrontes 2003 Argentina  $7.99

Produced in the Tupungato Valley of Argentina, an area high up in the Andes with warm days and very cold nights. Great, for growing wines that are a little bit sweeter and fuller in style.  The wine has similarities of both Muscat and Pinot Gris with hints of honey and is very floral with a great balance of fruit and crisp acidity.  A great wine match with shellfish. Do I hear clambake?


May 2004


Castello di Fonterutoli Badiola Toscana 2001 Italy  $14.99

We haven't featured a super Tuscan in some time and we tasted this one and found it to be very enjoyable.  The wine is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 10% each of Cabernet and Merlot.  The wine has a great dark purple color with tons of cherry fruit and a long, lengthy dry finish.  A bit more fruit forward in style than a lot Chiantis and other red wines from Tuscany.  This is a very friendly food wine that goes great with just about everything from grilled pork chops to eggplant rollatini.


Robert Pepi Sangiovese California 1999  $11.99

In April we were very fortunate to meet Chris Johnson, the winemaker at Pepi Wines.  He proceeded to show us all the wines that the Pepi winery produces and we really enjoyed the wines with the Sangiovese showing the best.  It will be fun to compare the Badiola to the Pepi; those who like terrior in their wines will enjoy the Badiola and the people who like fruit will enjoy the Pepi more.  We hope you like them both!  The Sangiovese is taken from California's oldest known plantings; the Pepi winery was one of the first to experiment with Italian varietals in this country.


Cuevas Castilla Cuvee RS Rueda 2002 Spain  $8.99

We recently tried this wine and needless to say, we enjoyed it.  The wine has a very floral nose with a boatload of citrus and tropical fruit tastes and a long pleasant finish.  The Spanish are more known for their red wines, but if they keep this up they might just be known for ther white wines also.  The ideal wine for fish and lighter fare.


April 2004


Cairnbrae Sauvignon Blanc The Stones 2003 Marlborough $12.99

Cairnbrae is located in the Rapuara Valley (the hot spot for sauvignon blanc) in Marlborough, New Zealand.  They are sandwiched between Cloudy Bay on one side and Corbans Stoneleigh on the other side -- not too shabby!  After trying the wine, it was an ideal fit for the wine club. It has the gooseberry and tropical fruit that warm weather Sauvignon Blancs are known for, but it has an uncharacteristic richness and depth that most wines at this price do not have.  A bit fuller bodied and zestier, this will go great with grilled white meats or maybe one of the few wines that may be better without food.


Domaine Faillenc Sainte-Marie Corbieres 2001  $11.99

There may not be a more beautiful area of France than that of the Southern Languedoc, especially the area of Corbieres, located at the foothills of the Pyrenees and almost in Spain.

The wine is a blend of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, dark red, with an outrageous nose of black raspberry, cherry and earth.  The wine has a lot of fruit upfront with some meat characteristics and a long spicy finish.  Quite an intense wine!  This wine will definitely stand up to grilled meats.


Laura Hartwig Cabernet Sauvignon Chile $10.99

About three years ago we featured the Carmenere  from Laura Hartwig and it went on to be a huge item for us, now we are featuring the Cabernet Sauvignon from them.  Laura Hartwig is rather a small winery for Chilean standards (under 10,000 cases a year), but it is definitely one of the best, especially for the money.  It is a wine loaded with cherry and chocolate flavors with a lengthy, somewhat velvety finish.   The wine cries for beef or any other type of roast.


I would like to report that the wine tasting was a huge success and would like to thank all of you for your support.  Matt Smith has left us to go work for one of our wholesalers and we wish him the best of luck.


March 2004


Plan Pegau Lot #2002 France    $14.99

Plan Pegau is a blend of 65% Grenache and 30% Syrah, with the remaining 5% being a blend of grapes taken from their world class Chateauneuf du Pape wine.  The wine is from an area around Costieres de Nimes, which did not suffer the damage from the torrential rains in the summer of 2002 that devastated most of the Southern Rhone.  It is aged for one year in very old barrels, then bottled unfiltered and released for consumption.  The wine has a body of a good Cotes du Rhone with intense berries and spice.  The wine goes great with slow cooked roasts or any hearty dishes.


Norman Vineyards 2001 Zinfandel- The Monster Paso Robles $15.99

Last week we had a visitor from Norman Vineyards, Art Norman, the owner and president of the Winery.  Mr. Norman has been in the wine business since 1972 and neither Matt nor I had ever tasted a bottle from his vineyard that we could remember.  We tasted his full line and two wines really stood out, especially the Monster Zin.  We thought the wine was quite delicious and sells for around $25, boy were we wrong (not about the delicious Part)! When we found out it sells for $15.99 it was a no brainer.  There is fruit everywhere in this wine and there are hints of licorice as well.  This is a type of wine that m


Colosi Bianco 2002 Sicily Italy $7.99

About a year and a half ago we featured the Colosi Rosso, and now we are featuring the Bianco.  The grapes in this wine roll off the tip of your tongue 75% Inzolia and 25% Cataratto.  The wine has an intense nose of orange and almonds with a very soft, but not light body, and full and vibrant finish.  Had it with Caeser Salad the other night and thought I died and went to heaven.



February 2004


St. Hallett Cabernet Sauvignon Barossa Valley Australia 1999

This is not your over the top, massively tannic Cabernet Sauvignon that may be drinkable in the year 2075, but a Cabernet that shows the classic characteristics of ripe plum and blackberries with hints of chocolate and mint.  The wine is medium to full-bodied with a fair amount oak and is very drinkable now or over the next several years.  The wine goes great with everything from duck to beef.



McDowell Syrah California 2001 California

McDowell was one of the first wineries to plant Syrah, now they are one of the few to put out a great Syrah at a very reasonable price.  The fruit in this wine, blackberries and blueberries just jump out of the glass at you.  They are backed with hints of chocolate and touch of black pepper on the finish to highlight this full-bodied beauty.  This wine is a great accompaniment for any meal from Pizza to Lamb.  $11.99


Sanford Sauvignon Blanc Central Coast 2001 California

A California Sauvignon Blanc that is very similar to its New Zealand counterpart.  Has that great citrus nose of grapefruit and lime with a zingy acidity.  There is also a little Gewurtztraminer added to give it a more aromatic nose.


Just a reminder, Princetonís greatest event is coming up on Friday, March 19, 2004!  Thatís right, our wine tasting to benefit the Womenís Health & Counseling Center at the Tower Club from 7pm until 10:30 and a party to follow, featuring the music of Scott Hartley (a fellow wine club member).

January 2004

Meerlust Merlot 1998 South Africa

We are starting the New Year off with a bang!  This is one of the finest Merlots for the price that we have come across in a long time.  Comparable to great Bordeaux with a deep, intense plum color and a very alluring blackberry and black cherry bouquet.  Let this baby open up a little bit before serving since it is still very youthful and will get only better with time.  Serve with any type of meat dish or perhaps with a stronger style cheese.


Casa Castillo Monastrell 2002 Jumilla Spain

Every once in a while we try a wine that just amazes us for the price, and this is one of them.  Made from 90% Mourvedre and 10% Cabernet, this wine jumps out of the bottle with a rich blackberry nose and very lively acidity.  A medium bodied wine loaded with blackberries and hints of cassis and cherries with a long, long, longÖ.(you get the point) lengthy, spicy finish.  An ideal wine to go with stews or any type of Mediterranean foods or it is great by itself.


Berger Gruner Veltliner 2002 Austria

Gruner Veltliner is the predominant grape grown in Austria and the wines are finally starting to catch on in this country.  Gruner is very similar to a Pinot Grigio except much more flavor and a more floral nose.   This wine has beautiful bright citrus fruit and a crisper, livelier acidity. Gruner is a  great food wine, especially with lighter fares and seafood.


Please mark your calendars for our annual wine tasting on March 19, 2004.  All proceeds benefit the Womenís Health and Counseling Center.  Tickets are only $30 for wine club members, call the store for further details.

234 Nassau Street, Princeton NJ 08542.......609.924.0836