WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER
VOL.4 #43 October 29th, 2008


SKYLARK
Syrah Sonoma Valley Rodgers Creek Vineyard 2006
91 points | $36 | 125 cases made | Red

Rich and full-bodied, with intense, focused pepper, spice and wild berry fruit that's deep and complex, ending with a long, persistent finish and lingering tannins. Drink now through 2013.

James Laube, Senior Editor Wine Spectator

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October 2008 issue
Wine & Spirits Magazine
'Sommeliers rethink winemaking'



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October 2008 issue
7 X 7 Magazine
'A Wine of One's own'

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issue #178
Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2006 Skylark Red Belly.
"Skylark's beautiful blend, the 2006 Red Belly is an intriguing combination of 63% Carignane, 34% Syrah, and the rest Grenache. This is California Cotes du Rhone if I have ever tasted one, displaying notes of earth, sweet cherry and strawberry fruit, soft tannins, and a medium-bodied, roasted Provencal herb flavor profile. Layered, ripe, and delicious, it should drink well for 1-2 years." 88

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issue #176
Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2006 Skylark - Dry Creek, Syrah
"… Another top effort from this producer is the 2006 Fourteen Barrels Syrah
(2006 Skylark - Dry Creek Syrah) A peppery wine with plenty of blackberry and cassis fruit, some sweet tannin, notes of earth and meat, and subtle wood in the background. Once again, the tannins are very ripe, and the wine, medium-bodied and beautifully pure as well as well-priced." 89

2006 Rodgers Creek Vineyard Syrah
"… offers a blast of black fruits, not the complexity of the Fourteen Barrel Syrah or the 2006 Red Belly, but lots of fruit, medium to full body, sweet tannin, and lush, heady finish." 88

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Los Angeles Times 10/15/08

WINE OF THE WEEK
2007 Alondra Chardonnay 'Middleridge Ranch Vineyard'
October 15, 2008 in print edition F-6
Alondra is Spanish for Skylark, the wine company established by John Lancaster and Robert Perkins, who run the wine program at Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco. Their 2007 Chardonnay from Middleridge Ranch Vineyard in Mendocino is a cool customer with a bracing mineral bent, a beautiful balance and a seductive scent of ripe pear and tropical fruit. No oak gives this Mendocino County Chardonnay a light, lean profile, which makes it wonderfully versatile. Not to mention friendly on the pocket book at about $16. Break it out for chilled seafood, steamed clams and mussels, for spaghetti alle vongole (with clams) or a plain grilled fish. Or simply a bowl of almonds and some olives as an apéritif.

- S. Irene Virbila

Region: Mendocino
Price: $15 to $19
Style: Lean, crisp
Food it goes with: Chilled seafood, steamed shellfish, seafood pasta, grilled fish
Where you find it: Flask Fine Wines in Studio City, (818) 761-5373, www.flaskfinewines.com; Goudas & Vines in Santa Monica, (310) 450-6739; Le Petit Vendome in La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 952-4084; www.lepetitvendome.com; Mission Wines in South Pasadena (626) 403-9463, www.missionwines.com; and Silverlake Wine in Los Angeles, (323) 662-9024; www.silverlakewine.com.

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September 2008 issue
Luxury Life & Style Magazine
'Anything but Chardonnay or Cabernet'
by Bonnie Graves

Grenache :
" I am frequently asked if I want to make my own wine someday. While I am financially savvy enough to say no, if I answered affirmatively. I would want to work with Grenache grapes for sure. Grenache is fascinating - from the dry roses of Tavel in southern France, to the old- vine garnacha tinta of Spain's Priorato, to cool Australian GSM ("Grenache-syrah-mourvedre blends"), Grenache is one of the great grapes of the world. I love it's warm cherry ,earth, lavender and sandlewood aromas; it responds beautifully to winemaking decisions regarding extraction, oak aging, blending and others, while maintaining its integrity as a distinct varietal. Recommended bottle: Grenache, Skylark Wines (Sonoma County)

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July 11th, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
'Sommeliers in the vineyard'



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July 31, 2007

MOVING BEYOND OAK California winemakers turn to a fruitier, fresher style

88
Skylark Chardonnay Mendocino Middleridge Ranch 2005

Fresh, fragrant floral notes are smooth and elegant on the palate, realing subtle pear,cedar,citrus and mineral. Drink now. 1400 cases made.--- J.L.

May 31, 2007

91
Skylark Syrah Sonoma Valley Rodgers Creek Vineyard 2004

This fruit-driven red is ripe and structured, with rich black cherry, blackberry and wild berry fruit that's intense yet fleshy, ending with a dash of spice and cedar. Drink now through 2011. 125 cases made.--- J.L.

90
Skylark Grenache Mendocino 2004

Effusively fruity, soft and fleshy, this is delicious to drink, with ripe, grapey blueberry and boysenberry flavors that fan out nicely on the palate. Drink now. 225 cases made.--- J.L.

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Loaded
SKYLARK
Syrah 2005
Crafted by Boulevard sommeliers John Lancaster and Rob Perkins, this fantastic Syrah, made with grapes from Unti Vineyard in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, is loaded with dark fruit, black pepper and classic violets. Not too big or too high in alcohol, it works beautifully at the table—as it should.

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By Stephen Tanzer
2004 Skylark Grenache Mendocino County

89
Dark red. Liqueur-like cherry and strawberry complicated by subtle spices and herbs. Supple, ripe flavors of red cherry, chocolate, mocha, spices and earth. Firm, complex and not at all overly sweet, finishing with substantial dusty tannins and good verve. Certainly one of the most interesting varietal grenache bottlings I've tasted to date from the North Coast. Also tasted: 2005 Red Belly Syrah North Coast, 2004 Syrah Rodgers Creek Vineyard Sonoma Valley.

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June 2007

Skylark - Winery of the Month for June

Skylark, a relatively new entity in the convoluted world of wine, definitely stands out from the rest of the pack. A collaboration between Wine Directors John Lancaster and Robert Perkins of the acclaimed Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco, they built a close friendship based upon their passion for wine and a shared palate of tasting wines of the world from vintage to vintage. Over a period of time, they created long-term relationships with wine industry personnel, winemakers and vineyard managers. Their next logical progression, and a fantasy for most of us, was the realization of making fine wine from select vineyards - in essence, a winery in name but without the overhead and confinement of a building. While the original plan was simply to produce a single barrel, they quickly jumped in with 14 barrels of Syrah from the 2002 harvest and, thus, Skylark Wine Company was formed.

Skylark includes crisp, flavorful, aromatic white wines and rich, full-bodied spicy red wines. This flavor profile adheres to their zeal for the classic white wines produced in Alsace and Austria, and Old World varietals such as syrah and grenache. Their single vineyard syrah is inspired by the Northern Rhone wines of Cote Rotie and Hermitage while the grenache is reflective of the great wines produced in the south of France in tiny villages such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

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May 2, 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK
2005 Skylark Chardonnay Cuvée Inox Middle Ranch Vineyard
Quick swirl
S. Irene Virbila

A good Chardonnay at a good price is hard to find. But Skylark Wine Co. rides to the rescue with its understated and delicious 2005 Skylark Chardonnay. "Cuvée Inox" on the label means it has never seen oak, so what you taste is the pure unadulterated fruit from Middle Ranch Vineyard in Mendocino.

Skylark's principals are John Lancaster and Robert Perkins, wine directors for Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco. With its clean, crisp aromas, bright acidity and finespun finish, Skylark Chardonnay is made for food. After all, these two have spent years matching up dishes from Boulevard's kitchen with wines on the list, so they know what works. Pair it with oysters, clams on the half shell and other shellfish. Bring on the Dungeness crab, the whole grilled fish and gently sautéed calamari. It will work with a roast chicken or a seafood soup equally well.

Or, forget the food, and enjoy it as a summer aperitif.

-S. Irene Virbila

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Spring 2007
Woodland Hills Wine Co.
Introducing...Skylark Wine Company (pdf will launch in new window)

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UNCORKED - SPRING 2007

Skylark Sings
2005 Skylark, Skylark Chardonnay
"Middlerige Ranch Vineyard"

From Gary Danko in San Francisco to Cyrus in Healdsburg, sommeliers and chefs across the state are clamoring for the Skylark wines. Produced by sommeliers, John Lancaster and Rob Perkins of Boulevard Restaurant, their debut release of the Skylark Chardonnay has been met with great success. Their Goal was to create a Chard. That would pair well with food,one with pure and unadulterated Chardonnay fruit, Not masked by the sirens of new oak and with delicate, nuanced and perfumed aromatics. And suceed they did!

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February 28, 2007

James Laube Unfined
Skylark Wines: Right on the Money
Posted: 02:45 PM ET, February 28, 2007
This has unexpectedly become sommelier-turns-winemaker week.

First, we learned master sommelier Kevin Voit is donning a new hat and now we have two more sommeliers unveiling a new winery and some delicious new releases.

Monday's blind tasting turned up a trio of reds and a white from Skylark. The wines are the work of John Lancaster, 47, and Robert Perkins, 41, both of whom work at San Francisco's great Boulevard Restaurant. Both say they needed to fulfill a passion by making their own wines.

Turns out, this is great news. The wines are fun to drink, affordable and, while supplies are limited, they are obtainable. Team Lancaster-Perkins' wines will reflect their interest in Rhône Valley-style wines. The Syrahs, for instance, are more Northern Rhône in their intensity and structure. Red Belly will be their homage to Southern Rhône reds (though the debut 2004 is mostly Syrah).

Due later this year is a 2005 Syrah from Dry Creek Valley's Unti Vineyard, which should sell in the $25 per bottle range.

"We wanted to get [the wines] out there so we can buy some more grapes," Lancaster said. "It would be nice to hold onto [the 2005 Syrah] until fall, when it's strutting its stuff," but the money will come in handy.

Skylark's pricing reflects a sensibility and sensitivity to high prices. "As a [wine] buyer, I see too much expensive wine," said Lancaster, who has been buying wine for Boulevard for 10 years and has put together a terrific wine list there. "We want to earn our stripes. We want to make wines that are fun to drink-the kind of wines we like to drink-but we don't want to start at $60 [a bottle]. We want to make wines that are approachable financially."

That's as refreshing to hear as the wines are to drink. Here are some notes from my tasting.

The 2004 Grenache (225 cases) comes from Eaglepoint Ranch in Mendocino. It's effusively fruity, smooth and fleshy, with grapey blueberry and boysenberry flavors that fan out nicely on the finish.

The 2004 Syrah (125 cases) comes from Rodgers Creek Vineyard in Sonoma Valley and is similarly fruit-driven, with intense dark berry fruit and a little more structure.

The 2005 Red Belly Syrah (375 cases) carries a North Coast appellation. This wine is rich without being heavy, intense with a mix of cedar, fresh earth and blackberry fruit.

Pinot Blanc Mendocino County Orsi Vineyard (400 cases) is fresh and lively, with herb, lime skin and floral scents.

Under the Skylark Chardonnay label, Skylark Wine Company produced a 2005 Chardonnay Mendocino, Middleranch Vineyard which was fermented in stainless steel. The wine has fresh floral notes that are smooth and elegant, offering subtle pear, cedar, citrus and minnerally notes.

You can reach Lancaster and Perkins at info@skylarkwine.com, or visit their website (www.skylarkwine.com) to find out more about the wines and how to order them.

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November 2006

88
SKYLARK Rodgers Creek Vineyard 2004 Sonoma Valley

Concentrated blackberry smells with a jammy component are filled out by sweet oak and a touch of minerally soil and start the wine off on a positive note, if a tad overdone direction, and it's strong personality follows right in step within its fleshy palatal impressions. A hot note emerges at the finish without disqulifying the wine for service with savory meats now and over the next several years.

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November 30, 2006

Our Walk in Wine Pick:
Yummy Syrah for a Great Value

Recently Robert Perkins, from Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco came in to taste us on his new label of wines, Skylark, that he makes with partner and fellow wine wizard John Lancaster. These guys are just starting out in the wine making business, and already they've got all their ducks in a row. We couldn't decide which of their Rhone-style reds we liked better, so we bought all three.

Our pick for wine of the week is the Skylark Syrah "Red Belly" North Coast 2005 which is their ode to the wines of Southern Rhone. It's 100% Syrah from "Rockin' R Ranch" in Mendocino and "Unti Vineyard" in Dry Creek Valley. Medium bodied, ripe and juicy, the wine has flavors of red fruits, spice, licorice and plums.

Rhones and Rhone-style wines:
Is it from California, or is it from France?

Southern Rhone Style Blends
Skylark Grenache Mendocino 2004
Domaine "La Garrigue" Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine 2004
This pair was pretty easy to identify. The "La Garrigue" was reduced and funky straight away, so we decanted the bottles. The funk flew away and the wine drank very nicely. Still, the sappy raspberry/strawberry notes of the Skylark set it apart. A dead man could tell these apart. Interestingly, these were the two biggest sellers tonight.(By Ryan Graham)

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Recently Robert Perkins came in to taste us on his new label of wines, Skylark, that he makes with partner and fellow wine wizard John Lancaster. These guys are just starting out in the winemaking business, and already they've got all their ducks in a row. We couldn't decide which of their Rhone-style reds we liked better, so we bought all three. Skylark Grenache Mendocino 2004 is from "Eaglepoint Ranch," one of the best sites for California Grenache. Nicely complex, it's packed with black pepper, raspberry, and cocoa powder, with 11% Syrah from "Stagecoach Vineyard" blended in for structure. The Skylark Syrah "Red Belly" North Coast 2005 is 100% Syrah from "Rockin' R Ranch" in Mendocino and "Unti Vineyard" in Dry Creek Valley. Medium bodied, ripe and juicy, the wine has flavors of red fruits, spice, licorice and plums. Finally the Skylark Syrah "Rodgers Creek Vineyard" Sonoma Valley 2004 (SOLD OUT) is the big boy of the bunch. Rich and concentrated, there were all the great classic flavors of olive, smoke and bacon, with a bit of gaminess to it. It finishes big with chocolatey tannins. All three wines spent time in French Oak, 1/3 of it new, and there were 225 cases of Grenache produced, 325 cases of the "Red Belly" and only 125 cases.

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2005 Skylark Red Belly

Fancypants
Juicy and ripe with aromatics of plum, licorice and pomegranate.

Michael Says
This is our second feature from the Skylark Wine Company. We introduced them to you through their Grenache in the September caseit got rave reviews. This wine is 100% Syrah with a ripe, supple palate and I think the finish tastes like chocolate covered raspberries. Sound tempting?

Story Of Discovery
The team at Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco who produce Skylark tell us that the idea behind Red Belly is a juicy, fruit forward wine made from Rhone Valley varietals that are easy to drink young. They say the 2005 is all about texture and ripe, flashy fruit. There are only 375 cases of this to go around… is that enough?!

Potentially Valuable Consumption Advice
The Boulevard team thinks this wine is splendid with flank steak. So, I took their advice and cooked my Grilled Flank Steak and Mustard Greens. No arguments here, it was great. I added a side of oven-roasted potatoes. Yum.

Caution
You might find yourself rubbing your belly after this combo.

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2004 Skylark Grenache

Fancypants
Almonds, marshmallows, hibiscus and candied red grapefruit. Wow.

Michael Says
Mendocino County Grenache? Yes, and only 225 cases bottled! This is a classic Rhone style wine with old world leanings but with a touch of California. Artisan wine at its best. It is such a treat to share such a tiny production wine with my NapaStyle friends. This is an amazing food wine as well.

Story Of Discovery
Having been buyers of great wine for all their careers, the outstanding wine team at Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco decided to turn their hand to wine making. They found the perfect grapes growing in Mendocino. This is only their second release and we can't wait for the third.

Potentially Valuable Consumption Advice
Our friends at Boulevard recommend this wine with duck and quail or with a rich salmon dish on the menu so I tried it with my Quail with Bacon and Honey - wonderful. Another tip: try it with roasted red peppers, cream cheese, honey and fresh bread. Either way you will be smiling.

Caution
Can you hear that wine singing?

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TWO
22 Hawthorne St.
Cross: Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-777-9779

Some restaurants have pulled some serious Cher-facelift magic the past couple years, from the classic case study of Bizou into COCO500, Cozmo's into CIRCA, and now Hawthorne Lane into ~TWO~. (Sidebar: what's with the all caps on all three names? I see a trend.) The twist is that facelifts are supposed to make you tighter, but TWO's was all about gettin' looser. Hawthorne Lane was most definitely a special occasion restaurant, a no-brainer for when your parents were in town or it was someone's 50th birthday. It was an important part of the city's culinary landscape, but as owner David Gingrass put it, "I felt like I was running my dad's restaurant."

The wine list is super-approachable. The Fifty Under Fifty has some faves on there, and the wines by the glass also have some fab choices for every palate. (I ordered the juicy '05 Skylark Red Belly Syrah both times-purr. Kitties like birds! John Lancaster and Robert Perkins, the wine directors of Boulevard, are behind this winner of a wine.)