2007 Anthill Farms Cabernet Sauvignon Timber Crest Farms Vineyard – $25.00
Anthill Farms is much more known for their Pinot Noirs, but they usually make a couple of non Pinots each year. Like their Pinot Noirs, their other wines have the ripeness toned down and are more finesse driven wines. With their low production levels, I think everything sells out via the mailing list.
This new producer has burst on the scene with startling good Pinot Noirs made from purchased grapes. This project is one of many that has ties with Williams Selyem. Three young Pinot amigos, who had worked together as cellar hands at the distinguished winery on Westside Road launched their own winery with three Pinot Noir releases in 2004.
Anthony Filiberti grew up in SonomaCounty and was lured to wine at an early age. He learned winemaking at Bergstrom Winery in Newberg, Oregon, Hafner Vineyards in the AlexanderValley, and Williams Selyem. David Low grew up in Kansas but got hooked on wine while attending University of California Berkeley. A short stint as a computer programmer was followed by a change of heart and he later worked at both Williams Selyem and Papapietro Perry. Low is now an assistant winemaker at Papapietro Perry Winery. Webster Marquez grew up on the East Coast and attended college in Virginia. Here he began working as an assistant winemaker at Jefferson Vineyards. He then moved to SonomaCounty where he joined Williams Selyem. Currently he is the winemaker at C. Donatiello Winery in Healdsburg.
The trio’s goal is to craft Pinot Noirs that “express the growing site and the characteristics of the vintage, and above all else, taste good.” They disdain the riper style of Pinot Noir, looking more for freshness of flavor and acidity. Some whole clusters are included in the winemaking. New oak is limited to about 30%. Racking, fining and filtering is avoided.
The emphasis at Anthill Farms is on the vineyards and have named their winery Anthill Farms to emphasize the many tiny individual vineyards that form “the link between place and product.” The trio avoid calling attention to themselves, preferring to bring notoriety to their winegrowers. Their grape sources are NorthCoast vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. They also farm a small vineyard named Abbey-Harris high above Boonville in the AndersonValley.
The annual production of 1,400 cases is quickly snapped up by a mailing list. Anthill Farms Winery is located at 4791 Dry Creek Road, #3-4, Healdsburg (in the Papapietro Perry winery). Tasting by appointment – phone Dave at 707-490-5191 or e-mail Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This winery background is from The Prince of Pinot Check them out!
My Tasting Note
The wine is a medium ruby red color. The outstanding nose has cassis, plums, licorice, dried herbs, spice box, minerals, tobacco, and dried wild flowers. This has a medium body, fairly solid tannins and very good acidity. This is not a big, overly ripe, heavily extracted style of cabernet, this is much more restrained and nuanced. Nice fruit and spice take center stage on the palate with minerals, spicy oak, and dried herbs coming in on the sides. The finish has good length and also showcases the fruit, spicy oak, and dried herbs. Very food friendly, this could easily be mistaken for a Bordeaux. (91 pts)
2006 Mitolo Shiraz Savitar – $32.50
This is one of the premiere wineries in Australia. This will be my first time trying this specific wine, but we go through rivers of their Reiver Shiraz every year. Savitar is created from only the best barrels of their Shiraz.
For such a young winery, Mitolo’s history is rich. It’s one studded with success, wide acclaim, and – most importantly – truly memorable wines. But that’s only to be expected from a winery which, since the very first day, has been motivated by three potent words:
Purity. Elegance. Power.
Those were the guiding principles Frank Mitolo wrote down when he created the winery in 1999. With his Italian heritage and a family history of working the land, Frank was only interested in pursuing excellence. And the results were there immediately in the release of the first Mitolo wine – the 2000 G.A.M. – named after Frank’s children Gemma, Alexander and Marco.
Attracted by this commitment to only create wines of outstanding quality, acclaimed winemaker Ben Glaetzer joined Mitolo as a partner in 2001. With grapes sourced from two of Australia’s premier wine regions, Mclaren Vale and the BarossaValley, Frank and Ben now work tirelessly to surpass their already impressive achievements. Mitolo Wines, praised by some of the world’s toughest critics, are now enjoyed in more than 20 countries around the world.
And that is just the start.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep, dark, inky purple color. The rich and luxurious nose has blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, vanilla, smoked meat, dried herbs, and some earthiness. This has a full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity. This is a massive wine on the palate with loads of spicy, peppery berries with a nice smoked meat element followed by spicy oak and dried herbs. The finish is very long and like the palate, packed with flavor. No subtlety and not the most complex wine out there, but very tasty. Not an everyday wine, but on occasion, this one will rock. This is still on the young side and will improve with another couple years in the cellar. (93 pts)
2008 Ridge Lytton Springs – $29.99
I always have a hard time choosing a favorite between the Ridge Lytton Springs and the Ridge Geyserville wines. Both are zinfandel based blends but since Zinfandel generally constitutes less than 75% of the blend, they can’t be labeled as a Zinfandel. This vintage is a blend of 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignan.
The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco’s Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first vintage under that name in 1892. This unique cellar, built into the mountainside on three levels, is Ridge’s production facility. At 2600′, it is surrounded by the “upper vineyard.”
In the 1940s, William Short, a theologian, bought the abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perrone property; he replanted several parcels to cabernet sauvignon in the late 1940s. From these vines — now the “middle vineyard”— new owners Dave Bennion and his three partners, all Stanford Research Institute engineers, made a quarter-barrel of “estate” cabernet. That Monte Bello Cabernet was among California’s finest wines of the era. Its quality and distinctive character, and the wines produced from these same vines in 1960 and ’61, convinced the partners to re-bond the winery in time for the 1962 vintage.
The first zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard farther down the ridge. This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville zinfandel. The founding families reclaimed the Monte Bello terraces, increasing vineyard size from fifteen to forty-five acres. Working on weekends, they made wines of regional character and unprecedented intensity. By 1968, production had increased to just under three thousand cases per year, and in 1969, Paul Draper joined the partnership. A Stanford graduate in philosophy—recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile’s coast range—he was a practical winemaker, not an enologist. His knowledge of fine wines and traditional methods complemented the straightforward “hands off” approach pioneered at Ridge. Under his guidance the old Perrone winery (acquired the previous year) was restored, the finest vineyard lands leased or purchased, the consistent quality and international reputation of the wines established. Cabernet and Zinfandel account for most of the production; Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, and Petite Sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of chardonnay since 1962.
Lytton Springs, in SonomaCounty, became part of the Ridge estate in 1991. A quarter century’s experience with this vineyard had convinced us that it was an exceptional piece of ground. Forty consecutive vintages of Geyserville attest to yet another stunning combination of location and varietals. Though born in the early sixties to the post-Prohibition world of modern California winemaking, Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology. Our approach is straightforward: find intense, flavorful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit’s distinctive character and richness into the wine.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep, dark ruby color. The very appealing nose has brambly berries, minerals, black pepper, Asian spices, cherries, vanilla, potpourri, and some earthy underbrush. This has a medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity. On the palate the wine shows great balance with no rough edges or overly showy elements. The finish has very nice length but seems to be a touch clipped when the tannins and acidity kick in. I think this will improve with another year or two in the cellar but it is enjoyable today with some air. (91 pts)
2008 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée – $29.75
I’ve been a fan of the wines coming out of Paso Robles’ Villa Creek for several years. Most of the wines are very unique blends and all are of very high quality. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 30% Mourvèdre from the Denner and James Berry Vineyards in Paso Robles.
In the spirit of the great wine producers of the southern Rhone and the bodegas of Rioja and Priorat, blending is what Villa Creek does best. The area’s finest Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo Vineyards are just a stone’s throw from the west Paso Robles winery where these blends are lovingly produced by winemaker Cris Cherry and his wife JoAnn.
The grapes of the area’s most progressive vineyards, James Berry, Denner, Ohana and Booker, currently grace the wines of Villa Creek Cellars. Per acre contracts insure that the fruit comes off the same blocks each vintage. The Cherry’s own 70 acre estate on the west side of Paso Robles boasts elevations of 1400-1800 feet, calcareous soils, south facing slopes and ample water. In the spring of 2012, the Cherry’s finished planting their first grape vines, 3.5 acres of Grenache. They look forward to planting Mourvèdre and Carignan in the months to come.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a fairly dark ruby color. The sexy nose has blackberries, minerals, cherries, dried herbs, vanilla, earthy underbrush, smoke, licorice, and fresh wild flowers. This is medium to full bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity. Ripe, earthy, spicy fruit dominate the palate with dried herbs and just a touch of dark chocolate adding nice depth. The nice acidity and tannins hold the wine together very nicely on the palate. The finish is fairly long with a very nice mixture of the fruit and savory elements. Very tasty today, but this will last in the cellar for several years. (93 pts)
Note copied from 11/2/2012 since they were very similar.
It was a cold, snowy day today. We even encountered some “thunder sleet”, so we went the “comfort food” route for dinner. I channeled the years we lived in Texas to make some Chicken Fried Steak for dinner. It may not be fancy or healthy, but it was delicious. We both had seconds. It was a very nice pairing with the Villa Creek wine.
Is there a better way to kick back and relax on a Sunday afternoon?
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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.
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.