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2001 Peter Michael Estate Red Meritage, Les Pavots, Knights Valley

Oh, the bounty of the 2001 Harvest. In case you were asleep or just hadn't noticed, 2001 was a fantastic harvest for most red grape varietals in Napa and Sonoma, in particular for Cabernet Sauvignon. Many 2001 wines are starting to hit the streets this week and are being snapped up due to a raft of excellent reviews by the usual suspects.

It's no surprise that Peter Michael Winery would be delivering one of the better 2001 reds on the market (incidentally the lowest score that any of the Peter Michael wines received this year was a 91 from Parker), given the history of top winemakers that have been historically tapped as consultants to Sir Peter Michael (Starting in the 80's with Helen Turley and including such luminaries as Mark Aubert and Vanessa Wong, as well as the current winemaker Luc Morlet). Of course Sir Peter started with good raw materials -- his estate is perhaps one of the best examples of what you can do in the name of winemaking when money is no object: a gorgeous estate and winemaking facility in Knights Valley on Mount St. Helena, an obsessive focuse on single vineyard designate wines made from grapes picked and sorted by hand, and a commitment to small productions.

I've only recently had the opportunity to taste his wines, and I'm sorry that I haven't gone out of my way to get access to them earlier. They are truly fantastic.

This wine, a blend of Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, as well as the vinyard from which it comes, is named "Les Pavots," The Poppies, after the flowers that grow throughout the hillside vines.

Tasting Notes:
This wine swirls dark, rich purple-red in the glass (still young) and lifts out with aromas of black cherry, anise, and dark loamy earth. On the tongue it is slightly tart on the tip of the tongue with bright berry flavors, and then lush and round with more black cherry, blueberry, tobacco and smoke in the mid-palate with thick velvety tannins that are very Bordeaux, finishing long and smooth with a hint of vanilla and sweet oak. This bottle will deliver for years if not decades.

Food Pairing:
I'd love to drink this wine with a classic beef brisket with caramelized onions and red wine sauce.

Overall Score: 9/9.5

How Much?: It looks like it hit the street around $150 a bottle. Find it where you can !!

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.