2005 Austin Hope Syrah Hope Family Vineyard – $18.99


My comments

This has been a “house favorite” since I snagged several bottles at the local store at an end of vintage blow out.  Not a lot of subtlety here, but like I’ve said in the past, some time I like a big, in your face wine, especially on a Friday.  It’s a nice way to help kick into “weekend mode”.


Winery history

The Hope family has been farming in Paso Robles for more than 30 years. When they arrived in this barely discovered region, they planted apples and grapes. Little did they know that the rolling, oak-studded terrain of Paso Robles would one day become viticultural terroir of significance and one of the top winegrowing regions for quality red wine within the CentralCoast.


Gone are the apple orchards. Today, the Hopes cultivate mature vineyards of the varieties best suited to their area including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Mourvedre and Grenache. Vine density has increased and each vine is asked to produce very little fruit. The terroir of this domain expresses itself in its unique regional character. Regardless of the varieties planted, the expression of Paso Robles is displayed in the glass with spice, licorice and berry in the nose, soft textures and silky tannins on the palate.


Hope Family Wines consists of five individual brands: LibertySchool, Treana, Candor, Austin Hope, Troublemaker.



A fantastic parody of The Office made by the winery is here http://www.youtube.com/v/0_zr4J75_Kk&rel=0&autoplay=1


My Tasting Note

This is a deep, dark, ruby to maroon color.  The intoxicating nose has blackberries, cedar, licorice, minerals, black pepper, blueberries, violets, with hints of smoked meat and dark chocolate.  The wine if full bodied with fairly solid, velvety tannins and nice acidity.  There are rich, peppery berries on the palate with some black cherry and dark chocolate adding depth.  The finish is fairly long with the dark chocolate and berries carrying the load.  Not a lot of subtlety but very tasty.  (92 pts)




2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Santa Rita Hills – $5.00


My comments

This was on a super blow out sale at the local store.  Supposedly, this were lost in a warehouse somewhere and recently found.  I didn’t have high expectations in a six year old, appellation Pinot Blanc, but had to try it out.


Winery history

Richard Sanford came to the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago with the desire to create wines that would rival the best of France. First to recognize the potential of the Santa Rita Hills (now an officially accredited American Viticultural Area as Sta. Rita Hills), and first to plant Pinot Noir vines there, Richard is a pioneer with a well established reputation for excellence in winemaking.


Working in partnership for more than 30 years, Thekla and Richard Sanford founded multiple, successful winegrowing enterprises. Their latest venture, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, represents the culmination of a lifetime’s experience – an enterprise dedicated to creating high quality wines and setting a benchmark for organic farming, sustainable agriculture methods, and environment-friendly commerce.


The winery, owned by Richard Sanford, dubbed the father of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and the first to plant the vine there, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 27.


After nearly a half-century of ups and downs in the wine business, Sanford admitted that he’d rather be riding off into the sunset than trying to save the family farm. “It is true that I have been doing this for 44 years, and Thekla and I were looking forward to having some quiet time,” said Sanford. “But that’s just not possible yet.”


My Tasting Note

We sampled the wine at room temperature.  The wine is a light yellow to straw color.  The crisp and fresh smelling nose had lemon curd, apples, orange blossoms, minerals, and with some air a pineapple note came through.  This is light to medium body, dry, and has tart, citrusy, acidity.  This is crisp and clean on the palate with nice fruit and minerals leading the way before lemony acidity kicks in.  Decent length on the finish which again highlights the tart lemons and minerals.  This tastes young, fresh, and vibrant.  I grabbed 6 bottles for $5 each and plan on drinking over the next year.




2010 Villa Creek “White” – $20.80


My comments

This is one of our Summer white wines.  I generally split a case between this and the Villa Creek “Pink”.  I feel the wine is good not long after release, but a year in the cellar really gives it the time to open up and taste even better.  I wanted to share a bottle of this with a friend who loves white wines based on the Rhone varietals almost as much as I do.


Winery history

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 pale golden yellow color. This has hot slate like minerals, white peach, pineapple, apple, lemon zest, and a nice floral note on the fresh, like Summer nose. The wine has medium body with nice crisp acidity. Initially rich and smooth on the palate with luscious, juicy fruit and minerals then the citrusy acidity kicks in leading a fairly long, mouthwatering finish. An excellent, California version of a Rhone white from France. This can be enjoyed over the next few years.  (92 pts)

(This note copied from a bottle I had last month)




2008 Field Stone Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley – $18.99


My comments

This was sampled from a nearly full bottle that had been opened about 20 hours earlier for a tasting, but was not needed.  Only a couple of small tastes had been poured before it was recorked and saved at room temperature.


Winery history

Field Stone Winery was founded in 1977 with its own celebrated estate vineyards dating back to 1894.  It is owned and operated by John & Katrina Staten and their family.


Praised by visitors for its hospitality and unique rustic beauty, the winery is a fascinating, small, underground facility carved into a picturesque oak knoll in the midst of its rolling vineyards in SonomaCounty’s beautiful AlexanderValley.


My Tasting Note

From a bottle that had been opened, sampled, and recorked about 20 hours earlier.  The wine is a medium to dark ruby color.  The slightly subdued nose has cassis, tobacco, cherries, dried herbs, and a touch of spicy oak.  This is medium bodied with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  Nice spicy fruit and dried herbs on the palate carry through on the medium length finish.  Not the most complex cabernet out there, but a good value for well under $20.  (89 pts)



Here’s a picture of Field Stone Winery and a one of the wine country view from the winery taken during a visit there a couple years ago.





2006 Carlisle Two Acres


My comments

This is another bottle I opened to share with a friend.  I also wanted to try a newer vintage after thoroughly enjoying a 2003 earlier in the week.


Normally this is where I’d tell you to go to their website and sign up for the mailing list, but not this time.  Unfortunately the Carlisle mailing list is full, the best you could do is get on the waiting list.  The problem with that one is big, the wines are so good and fairly priced, very few people drop off the list.  My best advice is to find someone on the list and beg them to share a bottle or two of their allocation with you.


Winery history

Carlisle is a winery that started as a classic “garage winery” for Owner/Winemaker Mike Officer.  His first foray into wine making was making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Over the next several years, with the help of his wife Kendall (Carlisle), and some friends, he produced a barrel of wine each vintage.  During this period, he also has a “real job” as a software developer.  To make a long story short, eventually the software developer title was left in the rear view mirror and Owner/Winemaker became his new title.  I highly recommend checking out the complete story at http://www.carlislewinery.com/about.html


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The ever changing and evolving nose had crushed berries, dark chocolate, fresh ground espresso, roasted meat, tree bark, leather, cherries, and some dried herbs.  This is a medium to full body wine with ripe tannins and good acidity.  There are loads of spicy berries on the palate with nice earthy elements and dried herbs adding complexity.  This has a nice, lingering, long finish which highlights the more savory elements.  Still young but a very nice wine to follow over an evening.  Outstanding.  (94 pts)



2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT


My comments

This is our current go to wine when we are having a pizza loaded with chunky meat.  The richness and body stands up nicely to the meat and this has just enough acidity to help cut through the cheese.


Winery history

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 elegant nose has blackberries, plums, smoke, dried herbs, vanilla, black cherries, wild flowers and minerals.  This is medium body with silky, ripe tannins and decent acidity.  There is nice layered fruit, spice, and dried herbs on the palate with just a touch of earthiness in the background.  This has nice length on the finish which shows spicy berries.  Very nice.  (92 pts)




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/



McPrice Myers

The newest offer from McPrice Myers hit the inbox today.  I am part of their 6 bottle Wine Club.  This means I will automatically receive two bottles of each 2010 Altas Vinas, 2010 Larner Syrah and 2010 Les Galets Syrah.  Now I have a week and almost 2 weeks to decide if I want to add any more of these or a few library wines the still have in stock.



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.



Wines bought or received this week

(4) 2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 NapaValley for $30 a bottle from Elyse Winery

(1) 2009 Trentadue Winery La Storia “Cuvee 32” for $16.90 from local wine store

(1) 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico for $18.59 from local wine store

(2) 2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard for $37.99 from local wine store

(2) 2009 Calera Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard for $46.54 from local wine store




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.