1994 Schloss Schönborn Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese – $16.99


My comments

I returned home from a business trip today.  It was 80 and sunny in North Carolina, it is currently a cold and damp 52 here in Wisconsin.  It sounds like a perfect day for some Seafood Gumbo.  We make ours a touch spicy so a nice, off dry Riesling usually is a perfect match.  We drank through just about all of the cases of older Riesling I bought from Garagiste Wine a few years ago, but this is from that stash.  Luckily I have 3 more cases of older German Rieslings that will be shipping in the next few weeks so I’ll be able to restock the cellar.


Winery history

Located in the heart of the Rheingau valley, the Domänenweingut Schloss Schönborn has long stood for premium wine culture.  Many of the vineyards along the slopes bordering the Rhine river have been part of the Schönborn family estate since 1349, which has been added to continuously since then. Several top sites were acquired in the 17th and 18th centuries, giving the estate a real boost. The estate now covers 50 ha, of which 90% are planted with Riesling. The remaining vineyards feature Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The Schloss Schönborn wine estate is one of the founder members of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP) and has for many years been managing its valuable vineyards in tune with nature.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a very nice looking golden yellow color.  There is petrol, apples, stony minerality, white peaches, white pepper, and orange zest on the enticing nose.   This is light to medium body with zippy acidity.  Luscious, juicy fruit and minerals on the palate with nice citrus notes adding depth.  The finish is full of fruit and citrus but only decent length.  The sweetness is fully integrated so this is not longer a sugary sweet wine, it seemed more off dry.  Not as rich and powerful as some of the older German Rieslings I’ve had, but still very enjoyable.  (90 pts)




We had some Seafood Gumbo to pair with the Riesling.  The Gumbo was fairly spicy with bay scallops, salad shrimp, lump crabmeat, and a ton of fresh okra from my father in law’s garden in South Carolina.  I absolutely love an aged Riesling and a spicy gumbo, to me it’s a perfect pairing.  Definitely opposites attract with hot versus cold and spicy versus sweet.  It was a delicious meal and now I can have some leftover gumbo for lunch next week and enjoy a glass of the Riesling while relaxing.  Life is good!




My wife had some nice bottles this week while I was traveling.  These are all 375ml half bottles that were on the counter to greet me when I got home.  The wines were a 2007 Novy Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah, 2009 Loring Clos Pepe Pinot Noir, and a 2006 Scherrer Alexander Valley Old and Mature Vines Zinfandel.




2009 Brassfield Estate Winery Eruption Volcano Ridge – $14.24


My Comments

This is a blend of 37% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 10% Petite Sirah and 9% Malbec, from the High Valley AVA in the eastern part of LakeCounty in California.  I took a flier on a couple of bottles a few months ago at the local wine store.  We opened one that night and thought enough to grab six more bottles ASAP.  This was made from obviously very ripe grapes, but showed no raisin or syrupy notes.  I’m looking forward to trying it again.


Winery History

Brassfield Estate Winery & Vineyard is located in the western section of HighValley at High Serenity Ranch on a truly distinctive and remarkable winegrowing property. Our valley floor vineyards sit at 1800 ft elevation. The higher vineyard blocks rise to nearly 3000 ft. The temperatures of some parts of this unique vineyard are some of the coldest in CA, giving Brassfield a heat summation equivalent to a Region 3 or less in some vintages.


In 1973, Jerry Brassfield purchased the original 1,600 acres here as a cattle ranch and wildlife reserve. Over the next three decades Jerry acquired additional property. Today, the LakeCounty estate includes 2,500 acres across both the eastern and the western sections of HighValley, as well as the Round Mountain Volcano.


The Vineyards were investigated for their potential to produce world-class estate-grown wines in 1998. Vineyard planting began in 2001. As the vineyards matured, the winery has grown with a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  On the exotic nose there are blackberries, Asian spices, cracked black peppercorns, licorice, eucalyptus, dark chocolate, cherries, earthy tree bark, smoked meat, and plums.  This is fairly full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and decent acidity.  The fruit and dark chocolate hit the palate first with some nice earthiness and spice coming in a couple seconds later followed by a touch of excess oak.  Nice length on the finish with is slightly marred by a bit too much oak.  This will benefit from some time in a decanter or even better a few more months in the cellar.  Earlier bottle that had been decanted a couple hours didn’t show as much oak.  Tasty but give it some air.  (89 pts)




2001 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco Faset – $28.74


My Comments

This is a wine I bought from Garagiste Wine a few years ago,.  I opened one bottle but felt it still needed some cellar time.  I love a nice Barbaresco maybe even more than a Barolo, to me they are a bit more versatile to pair with food.  It’s hard to find a good quality Barbaresco for under $30, but this one could fill that void for me.


Winery History

In 1838, King Carlo Alberto of Savoy purchased the Castle of Verduno from the two charitable institutions and entrusted the management of his estate and wine cellar to the famous enologist General Carlo Staglieno.  Here, following the method suggested by Giulia Falletti Colbert, the ‘Oenotechnician General’ Paolo Francesco Staglieno made the first vinifications of the nebbiolo grape, laying the bases for modern Barolo.


My Tasting Note

The wine was decanted about 30 minutes.  The wine is a light to medium ruby with a fair amount of brick.  Earthy, cherries, fresh ground espresso, baking spices, dark chocolate, cedar, minerals, white pepper, and a slight floral note on the very pleasing nose.  Medium body with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice earthy cherries, spice, and minerals on the palate with just a touch of oak in the background.  Fairly long finish which has an added slight herbal note that is in no way distracting.  Tasting very nice now, but this will hold and maybe even improve over the next few years.  (92 pts)




My wife made her meat sauce that simmers for hours for dinner.  Add in a couple pieces of garlic-cheese bread and a touch of grated cheese and we had a fantastic dinner on this cool early Fall day.




2008 JC Cellars “The First Date” – $14.24


My Comments

I grabbed a few bottles of this from my local wine store at an end of vintage closeout sale.  I am a big fan of both red and white wines made from the grapes native to the Rhone region in France.  I’ve been looking forward to seeing what Jeff Cohn was able to do with this white wine.  I’ve been a big fan of Jeff’s red wines since his days at Rosenblum.  This wine is a blend of 75% Roussanne, 25% Marsanne.


Winery History

When Jeff Cohn was the winemaker at Rosenblum Cellars, annually he crafted more than 70 different wines.  Today, at his Oakland-based warehouse winery, the irrepressible vintner now limits himself to a mere 21 bottlings, focusing on Rhône varietals.  Cohn’s longtime relationships with some of California’s top growers and vineyards enable him to source some of the state’s finest fruit, including Rockpile in SonomaCounty, Fess Parker in Santa BarbaraCounty and Stagecoach in Napa.


My Tasting Note

A real nice, golden yellow color.  The wine has a rich and exotic nose with white peaches, pears, minerals, lemon curd, beeswax, spring flowers, spicy oak, and hints of vanilla bean, and apples.  This is medium body with decent acidity, and a creamy, oily texture on the palate.  Nice mineral laden, white fruit on the palate with some spicy oak in the background and citrus zest proving nice zip.  Seems a touch disjointed on the palate with the oak popping in and out especially on the finish when the wine is a touch chilled, at room temperature, the wine settles down and is much more enjoyable.  Pretty nice, but watch the serving temperature, this is much better served at “red wine temperature”.  (88 pts)



2007 Two Hands Shiraz Bella’s Garden – $34.99


My comments

Two Hands is probably my wife’s favorite non California winery.  Any time I pull one from the cellar, I get a big smile when she sees the bottle.  I grab as much of the wines as possible when I see them at a good price, because frankly, they are also a favorite of mine.  All the attention the winery gets from Wine Spectator is making it harder to find the wine at a decent price so I can grab case lots, so I make due with two or three bottles at a time.  Australian Shiraz may be a dead market according to most of the major wine writers, and that may be true, but now for Two Hands wines from Garden series down.


Winery History

Two Hands Wines was founded in early 1999 by Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz.

The original aim shared by Michael and Richard was to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized Shiraz growing regions throughout Australia. Their intention was, and still is, to showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional characteristics and allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines. Two Hands refers to the very personable approach taken with each parcel of grapes, no matter how big or small. The wines are carefully guided through the viticulture and winemaking process by Michael Twelftree and winemaker, Matt Wenk.


In November 2011, Two Hands was named in the Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 for the 9th consecutive year, an achievement that has never been equaled by any other winery in the world.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  There are crushed berries, minerals, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, smoked meat, black pepper, vanilla, black cherries, Asian spices, and violets on the very inviting nose.  This is fairly full bodied with nice, ripe tannins and good acidity.  The wine is big, bold, and ripe on the palate with no raisin or syrupy notes.  The palate features nice juicy, spicy berries with some oak in the background with minerals, meat, and dark chocolate.  There is a long, lingering finish with the spicy berries lingering seemingly forever.  This may not be for everyone, but if you want an in your face Shiraz, look no further.  (94 pts)




For dinner we mad a house favorite for the first cool weekend, a big pot of Paul Prudhomme’s Red Beans and Rice.  We usually freeze a nice ham bone with a fair amount of meat still attached just for the dish.  Add some andouille and we’re set for a nice, hearty meal.  The recipe is available online at http://bit.ly/SN9fMS




Mailing Lists




I’ve been on the Rudius mailing list since the beginning.  Rudius is Jeff and Brittany Ames.  Jeff’s name may not ring a bell, but here’s a bit of his bio:

In 2001 Jeff became Thomas Brown’s assistant winemaker at brands including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor.  Two years later, Jeff was named the head winemaker at Tor, a position he still commands.   Rudius is the culmination of Jeff’s goal of owning his own wine brand.


I have purchased a fair amount of Jeff’s wines and every one that I have opened has been outstanding.  I have had several of his cabernets and wines made by the Rhone varietals.  I highly recommend the Rudius mailing list.  More information about Jeff and Brittany, Rudius, and most importantly a link to join the mailing list is available on their site.  Visit http://www.rudiuswines.com/



Elyse Winery

This is Elyse’s 25th year.  You can help them celebrate the momentous occasion.  They are offering 25% off all purchases made through September 25th.  I have been a big fan of the winery since my first visit there in 2000.  They make some of my favorite, mid-priced, red wines.  I think their Cabernets, Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs, and Rhone blends are all very good to outstanding.  Visit http://www.elysewinery.com/25.html for more information.



Ledge Vineyards

This is one of my latest “finds”.  Mark Adams is the owner/winemaker for this family owned winery.  He releases one wine, and the grapes all come from the family owned vineyard.  The vineyard is about 7 acres currently and is located in Paso Robles not far from Denner and the James Berry Vineyards.  Mark is also been the assistant winemaker at Saxum where he has worked since 2004.  I highly recommend getting in on the ground floor of this exciting list.  Visit http://www.ledgevineyards.com/index.php for more information or to join the list.



Herman Story

I’m not on the Herman Story mailing list, but a friend who is on the list shares some of his allocation with me.  These are big, ripe, bold wines and every once in a while that’s what I get in the mood for.  These wines aren’t for Francophiles.  If my friend wasn’t on the list, I’d join.  If you like that style of wine as much as I do, I highly recommend checking them out, perhaps you can get something from the just released offerings.  Visit http://hermanstorywines.com/ for more information.




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.