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03.12.2004

2001 Newton "Special Cuvee" Chardonnay

Occasionally (more than occasionally) I find a Napa wine that I know nothing about. Never heard of it, never seen the label, never even seen it on a menu anywhere. Yet on occasion these come highly recommended by a friend, a sommelier at a restaurant, or they even just jump out at me from a store shelf or a menu somewhere.

Such was the case with this Newton. Saw it on a menu and thought, "what the heck." It turns out that I'm not the only one who hasn't heard of this vineyard. A quick poll of some of my winemaker friends turned up some shrugged shoulders, but a couple of them pointed me in the right direction. A couple of google searches later, I know that Newton is up on Spring Mountain in Napa, and as far as I can tell seems to both produce wines under the Newton label as well as sell grapes to a select few winemakers. Their most visible wine is their "Le Puzzle" Cabernet, but they seem to have a solid planting of Merlot as well as Chardonnay.

In the case of this wine, the "cuvee" part of it comes from a blend of half Sonoma grapes and half Napa grapes -- it's unclear which vineyards they've gotten them from.

Tasting Notes:
The cuvee is a honey mead color in the glass, and wafts up scents of pinapple, gardenia, and freshly cracked walnuts. The body supports sweet nectarine, jasmine, and toasted oak flavors with a slight acidity. The finish is awkward and it hangs in the front of the palate and in your nose a bit, rather than tapering to a mellow warmth like it should. I think it has probably a touch more acid than it needs and is a little over oaked, but despite its flaws is a nice picnic or BBQ Chardonnay.

Food Pairing:
I think because of its acidity and the sweetness brought on by a little too much oak, I'd pair this with something spicy, like spicy lemon crab cakes.

Overall Score: 7.5

How much?: $15

This wine is for sale at various Internet merchants.

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