Tour de tasting room - Page 2

BARCRAWLER: Three personal pours in wine country

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Changing tasting for the better: Raymond Vineyards' new "interactive" art lawn

Boisset's JCB wines do have their pleasures. They're playful and more balanced than many Napa wines, the No. 81 Chardonnay and No. 7 pinot noir allowing for nice acidity. He and Raymond winemaker Stephanie Putnam teamed up to make the No. 1 cabernet, which reflects both Napa and French sensibilities.

Boisset clearly leads in innovation, and he has a passion to bring California wines to the world. The man's on a mission to make wine hip, approachable, and, yes, sexy.

849 Zinfandel, St. Helena. (707) 963-3141, www.raymondvineyards.com

AMAPOLA CREEK

Richard Arrowood — a Sonoma winemaker for 45 years — and wife Alis are charmers. Over lunch at Wayfare Tavern, we spent hours talking and tasting wines from his young Glen Ellen boutique winery Amapola Creek.

This is Arrowood's passion project. He produces wines typifying the robust grapes of the Mayacamas Mountains located near the town of Sonoma. After decades of creating wines for major players like Chateau St. Jean and his own Arrowood Winery, he's having fun with small batches — his current operation produces a maximum of 3,000 cases annually.

Though lush, Arrowood's 2008 zinfandel — and original 2005 zin — shows restraint, with enough tannins and acidity to keep it food-friendly (ideal paired with Wayfare's medium-rare steak). The zin benefits from a rare asset: 115-year-old vines located in a tiny lot at neighboring Monte Rosso Vineyards. His 2007 syrah and cabernet sauvignon are bold and black, fruit-heavy yet balanced with tannins and delicate spice accents (the cab is CCOF certified organic). He's also working on a grenache-syrah blend, so watch for more Amapola Creek wines on the way.

(707) 938-3783, www.amapolacreek.com 

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article was incorrectly edited to say Miller thought Raymond Vineyard's current batch of wines were inferior to those produced when the vineyard was family-run; she actually thinks the reverse is true. The Guardian regrets the error, and promises to drink less wine while editing our contributing writers.

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