2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – $25.00
I am a big fan of the Loring appellation wines. These wines are blends of grapes from different vineyards in the region. These wines may lack some of the uniqueness of the single vineyard wines, but to me they seem to highlight the best features from each vineyard. The best part is these wines are about half the price of the single vineyard wines so they can be enjoyed without too much guilt any day of the week.
My name is Brian Loring and my obsession is Pinot Noir. OK, I’m also pretty crazy about Champagne, but that’s another story. While in college, I worked at a wine shop in Hollywood (Victor’s), where one of the owners was a Burgundy fanatic. So, my very first experiences with Pinot Noir were from producers like Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer, and DRC. Needless to say, I found subsequent tasting safaris into the domestic Pinot Noir jungle less than satisfying. It wasn’t until I literally stumbled into Calera (I tripped over a case of their wine in the store room) that I found a California Pinot Noir that I could love. But it would be quite a while before I found someone else that lived up to the standard that Josh Jensen had established. I eventually came to understand and enjoy Pinots from Williams Selyem, Chalone, and Sanford, but I really got excited about California Pinot Noir when I met Norm Beko from CottonwoodCanyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting.
I’d made about 3 trips around the booths at the tasting without finding a single good Pinot Noir. So, being the open minded person that I am (remember I passed him up 3 times), I stopped at the Cottonwood booth. I was BLOWN away by Norm’s 1990 Santa Maria Pinot Noir. After a few years of attending every Cottonwood event and asking Norm 10,000 questions about winemaking, he offered to let come learn the process during the ’97 crush. I checked sugar levels, picked, crushed, punched down, pressed, filled barrels, and generally moved a bunch of stuff around with fork lifts and pallet jacks! It was the time of my life… I was totally hooked. And even though I hadn’t planned it, I ended up making two barrels of Pinot Noir. That was the start of the Loring Wine Company. What had started out as a dream 15 years earlier was now a reality – I was a winemaker!
My Tasting Note
The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color. The rich and inviting nose has black raspberries, Asian spices, cola, black cherry, wild flowers, white pepper, and a touch of earthy underbrush. This has a medium body, moderate, ripe tannins, and good acidity. On the palate the wine has rich, velvety fruit and spice up front with some subtle earthiness and white pepper coming in late. The finish is fairly long and full of spicy, earthy fruit. May not be the most complex Pinot out there, but it is delicious and a steal at the mailing list price of $25. (91 pts)
2009 Buehler Vineyards Zinfandel – $15.19
I’ve been a fan of the Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for many years. It had been a few years since I tried one of their zinfandels. The local store brought this one in and had it at a great price, so I grabbed a couple bottles. I sat on my bottles for a few months figuring I could try one and stock up if it was good. That theory blew up when the wine ended up at #68 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list. As usually happens, the wine disappeared for store’s shelves.
Buehler Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery located in the mountains east of St. Helena in NapaValley. Situated north of Pritchard Hill and Conn Valley, near the base of Howell Mountain, our hillside vineyards are planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller blocks of old-vine Zinfandel.
Our family has been farming this beautiful estate for thirty-six years. We combine that experience and the unique terroir of our hillside vineyards with low yields, meticulous vineyard management, and minimalist winemaking techniques to create wines of uncommon complexity and depth, and to present these wines to wine lovers at reasonable prices.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color. The refined and elegant nose has brambly berries, dried sage, vanilla, black cherries, dried wild flowers, underbrush, and a touch of black pepper. This has a medium body with fairly solid tannins and very good acidity. The palate has peppery, berries with spicy oak, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness. The finish is a touch short and the tannins turn a bit chalky. This has very nice balance but it may be going through a slight bump in its development. If the slight chalkiness on the finish resolves with a touch of cellar time, which I think they will, this will be very good for a few more years. (89 pts)
2007 John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity – $20.27
It may not be “cool” to admit, but I am still a fan of Australian Shiraz. Once you get beyond the sea of over ripe, syrupy, raisiny Shiraz, there are some true, bargain priced gems out there.
Welcome to John Duval Wines. After 29 years as a winemaker with Penfolds, one of Australia’s most famous wineries, I started my own wine label in 2003. I have had a fortunate career, graduating in agriculture and winemaking in 1973 at AdelaideUniversity and then following in the footsteps of some of the greats of Australian winemaking such as Max Schubert, the creator of Penfolds Grange and Don Ditter, another famous Penfolds winemaker of the 1970s and early ’80s.
I guess there was a family precedent to all of this – the Duval family had for many years run a world famous sheep stud and quality vineyards south of Adelaide, coincidentally supplying Shiraz grapes and vine cuttings to Penfolds. So I wasn’t exactly a newcomer to wine.
I was appointed Chief Winemaker at Penfolds in 1986 and was lucky enough to oversee one of the most dynamic periods of change in the Australian wine industry. With the support of my team in the Barossa I secured a number of awards for the company – Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London in 1989; Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London in 1991 and again in 2000; and seeing the 1990 Penfolds Grange named the Wine of the Year by the prestigious US magazine Wine Spectator in 1995.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep, dark, inky, purple color. The deep, dark, and inviting nose has blackberries, dark chocolate, smoked meat, baking spices, black pepper, licorice, dried herbs, and wild flowers. This has a fairly full body with big, ripe tannins and good acidity. On the palate there are cocoa powder dusted berries, black pepper, and meaty elements up front with dried herbs, spice, and some earthiness coming in on the back end. The long, lingering finish has the fruit giving way to the dark chocolate and dried herbs. This is a fairly big wine but it does not push the ripeness to anything extreme. This tastes wonderful today, but it can easily be cellared through the end of the decade. (93 pts)
2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT – $14.24
This was recently on my list of the Top Value Wines of 2012. This is still a favorite with week night Italian fare, like tonight’s Veal Parmesan. I like the extra body imparted by the drying of the grapes but the wine generally retains enough acidity to stand up to the tomato based sauces. This is also a personal favorite with a nice, meaty pizza.
Palazzo della Torre comes from the plot of land that encircles Villa della Torre, a veritable jewel of the Italian Renaissance. The wine is made using an innovative take on the ‘ripasso’ technique. Most of the grapes are vinified at harvest time, while the rest are set aside to partially dry. In January, the wine blended with the juice from the raisined grapes undergoes a second fermentation.
Allegrini is the leading producer in the Valpolicella Classico area and one of the most highly acclaimed wineries in Italy and throughout the world. The family’s roots in Valpolicella date back to the 16th century. Today the winery consists of more than 100 hectares (247 acres) set amongst the rolling hills of the “Classico” appellation. All wines made under the Allegrini label are produced exclusively from these estate vineyards. Through research and experimentation over the years, Allegrini has introduced radical innovations in the vineyards, in the grape drying process and in the cellar, with the objective of enhancing the intrinsic quality of Valpolicella.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep maroon color. The very appealing nose has blackberries, smoke, dried herbs, plums, warm baking spices, minerals, vanilla, and dried flowers. The wine has a medium body with soft, ripe tannins and good acidity. The wine is rich and plush on the palate with the spicy berries and dried herbs up front and some earthiness and dark chocolate coming in later. The finish has very nice length with the spicy berries and dried herbs carrying the load. If you can find this for $15 or less, load up, I did. (92 pts)
***** Shameless Self Promotion *****
Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.
Music Corner – A new addition
Some favorite songs/videos (known to pair with good wine)
Loring Wine Company
This offer included the following wines:
Russell Family Vineyard Pinot Noir
Aubaine Vineyard Pinot Noir
Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir
Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir
Parmelee-Hill Vineyard Chardonnay
Sierra Mar Vineyard Chardonnay
The current offer includes:
2011 SonomaMountain “Steiner Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner
2011 RussianRiverValley “Papa’s Block” Syrah
2011 SantaLuciaHighlands “Sierra Mar Vineyard” Syrah
2011 Sonoma County “Three Birds” Red Wine
2011 SonomaValley “Compagni Portis” White Wine
2011 DryCreekValley Zinfandel
2011 Mendocino Ridge “DuPratt Vineyard” Zinfandel
2011 NapaValley “Hayne Vineyard” Zinfandel
2011 RussianRiverValley “Montafi Ranch” Zinfandel
2011 SonomaCounty Zinfandel
2011 SonomaValley “Bedrock Vineyard” Zinfandel
2011 SonomaValley “Monte Rosso Vineyard” Zinfandel
2011 SonomaValley “Rossi Ranch” Zinfandel
Wines bought or received this week
Nothing to report now, but I will be picking up some wine this weekend.
Remember to support your local wine store!
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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines. I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar. I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com. Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear. There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.
Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase. I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive. I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount. Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges. None of the prices include the sales tax.
All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.