Since coming back from France I've had a hard time enjoying the big American wines as much as I used to. My tastes are pretty promiscuous but the American style of overextracted high alcohol wines distracts from the meal and leaves my tongue exhausted.

There are exceptions, like the Sonoma winery Hafner Vineyard. It's a small family vineyard, making only Chardonnay and Cabernet and selling only direct and via restaurants. But they aren't too snobby; there's no waiting list and $20-$30 a bottle isn't crazy for good wine.

And it is good wine. I'm more of a fan of their Cabernet than the Chardonnay. The Cab is consistently elegant and full and more in a Bordeaux style than a California style. They just released the 2002 Cabernet and it's lovely. After two years of aging in barrels and tanks and another two years in bottle it's ready to enjoy now, but I'm optimistic it will improve over the next five years.

It's a wine worth checking out. A good way to try it out is the 2 bottle tasting package for $56. Their web site is great, too, very personal.

  2007-02-14 21:00 Z