Does vintage matter?

Making a date with great wine is easier than you think

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The best way to learn nothing about wine is to drink only the wine you already know you like. Why not start off the year (the century!) by discovering something new?


Joseph Phelps Vin du Mistral "Pastiche White" 1997 (California), $10. Some of the world's most intriguing wines are highly aromatic ― like this one. Ripe pear, tangerine, and floral aromas waft out of the glass. It has good body, with a shimmering streak of acidity. Great with spicy Asian dishes.

Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc 1999 (Marlborough, New Zealand), $15. Dozens of sassy, no-holds-barred New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are just now coming to the United States. This one's tightly focused, with fresh-squeezed lime and passion fruit flavors. Very dramatic.


Arzuaga Crianza 1996 (Ribera del Duero, Spain), $26. An up-and-coming wine from the rugged plateau north of Madrid (also famous for roast lamb) ― concentrated and lush, with big menthol, grenadine, and boysenberry flavors.

Zaca Mesa Z Cuvee 1997 (Santa Barbara County), $16. If you haven't tasted many Rhöne-inspired blends, this is the one to try. Rustic, juicy, meaty, and plump with cherry fruit, this wine ― made mostly from Grenache and Mourvèdre ― has grip.


Sunset's Wine Club


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