Wine Buzz: Two Sacramento-area wineries on prestigious list

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3D

Two area wineries are greeting 2012 with especially coveted news: They've made the cut for the third annual WSJwine Annual Dozen. Also known as the Wall Street Journal's wine club, which touts more than 100,000 active customers, the Annual Dozen selects best-of-the-year wines in two categories and offers them for sale.

But to make the cut, the wines must make their way through a series of blind tasting panels, with the judging led by best- selling wine author Hugh Johnson. So, let's give it up for Scott Harvey Wines of Sutter Creek and Lodi's Borra Vineyards, which were each selected in "America's 12 Smartest Wine Buys" for the Annual Dozen.

Scott Harvey Wines scored for its 2008 Mountain Selection Barbera, which sells for $29.99 and was described as "lively, very fresh and quite delicious" by judge and Master of Wine Justin Howard-Sneyd.

Over at Borra Vineyards, there's a double celebration going on this week. Along with its selection in WSJwine's "America's 12 Smartest Wine Buys" for its 2008 Red Fusion, the 2009 vintage of this wine scored a double-gold medal over the weekend at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Now, they're ready to party. A tasting celebration is planned at Borra Vineyards (1301 E. Armstrong Road, Lodi; 209-368-2446) on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. The free event includes tastings of both the 2008 and 2009 Red Fusion and includes a keepsake wine glass. Customers can also get dibs on the remaining 20 cases of 2008 Red Fusion for $18.99 per bottle. The 2009 Red Fusion will also sell for $18.99.

The wines are a blend of the Rhone and beyond, which in the 2008 vintage was based on petite sirah, with bits of syrah, zinfandel, mourvedre and alicante bouschet. The 2009 version flips the blend to feature syrah as the dominant grape.

Both wines were created using free-run juice, allowing for fruit-forward flavors and especially smooth tannins. Winemaker Markus Niggli also noted the use of 40 percent new French oak for adding additional complexity.

"Lodi's always been on the back burner," said Niggli. "It's been thought of as red, sweet and slightly cheap. I think we've proved that Lodi has come along and changed quite a bit."

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