Man with the Magic Touch Getting Even More Magical

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In the time-to-be adventurous department, here are four new discoveries of tiny production wines, each of which is made by Philippe Melka, the geologist turned winemaker with the golden (and expensive) touch.
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Last year at the Atelier Melka tasting, too many of Philippe’s wines tasted the same (and were, to me, predictable). Only Lail and Vineyard 29 stood out as fully distinctive. This year, it was a whole new story. Maybe, in part, it was the cooler 2011 vintage. But, whatever the reason, the Melka stamp of saturated fruit no longer seems to dominate as much, and in backing off, he has allowed the gems he works with to shine.
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The top four wines to watch:
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GANDONA ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (Napa Valley)
From a 116-acre winemaking estate near Colgin, Bryant, and Ovid on Pritchard Hill comes this vivid cabernet that dances on the palate with waves of delicious sophisticated flavor.
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GEMSTONE ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Yountville, Napa Valley)
Great young cabernet should have a sense of freshness (the Bordelaise are adamant on this point), and Gemstone exudes it, creating a terrific tension of opposition between the fruit and the structure.
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PERFECT SEASON Cabernet Sauvignon 20110 (Knights Valley)
Like another great Knights Valley estate (Peter Michael), Perfect Season makes cabernet that’s categorically different than Napa cab. It’s more broad, more dense, more fudge than bitter chocolate.
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QTR 2011 (St. Helena, Napa Valley)
QTR stands for Quality Time remaining…what card carrying boomer wouldn’t love the name? And the wine is classy—structured, rich and elegant.
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