2004 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford – $26.99


My comments

Elyse is one of my favorite wineries when it comes to reasonably priced, larger framed, red wines.  Elyse is usually our first stop when we visit wine Napa, and we have been known to stop again before we head home.  We love all their red wines and their Petite Sirahs have always been top notch.  I highly recommend stopping by if you ever find yourself in Napa and want to avoid the usual high traffic areas.  The winery is not far off of Highway 29 just north of the city of Napa before you get to Yountville.   You’ll thank me later.


Winery history

NapaValley’s Elyse Winery has two causes for celebration this harvest. In addition to a stellar looking 2012 vintage in NapaValley, it is the 25th harvest for the winery.


It was back in 1987 that Ray and Nancy Coursen crushed 4.5 tons of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard in Rutherford to craft 286 cases of their first wine. While the portfolio has grown over the last 25 years, the focus remains on creating vineyard driven wines that pair well with food. Total production is currently 10,000 cases and the wines are nationally and internationally distributed.


My Tasting Note

This was decanted for about an hour.  The wine is a deep, dark, inky purple color.  The big and bold nose has blackberries, fresh ground black pepper, dying embers, licorice, dark chocolate, violets, and a touch of vanilla.  This is full bodied with solid, slightly rustic, mouth coating tannins and good acidity.  The berries, dark chocolate, and pepper grab the palate almost immediately and then the slightly drying tannins kick in, clipping the finish fairly severely.  This still needs some time in the cellar for the tannins to integrate.  If you open a bottle now, give it plenty of air, probably a few hours.  My remaining bottles will sleep for at least another two years, probably longer.  (90 pts, this wine is hard to rate at this point, but I feel it will be 92-94 pts in a couple years)




A quick stop at the local UPS Depot netted me a couple wine samples from Mondavi, a book, salami, recipes and other swag.  These bottles will be featured in a future blog posting, but I don’t think the salami will make it through the weekend, it looks good!




1996 Klein aux Vieux Remparts Riesling Burgreben Alsace – $18.93


My comments

Another bottle from my stash of aged Rieslings.  This one is from the Alsace region in France.  I had a bottle several months ago and with a touch of air and warming up a bit, it was outstanding.  I may give it a quick decant to help it shake off the cobwebs and warm it up a touch since that helped last bottle.  We love older Rieslings, but I have far more experience with ones from Germany.


Winery history

I couldn’t find too much information on the winery to do with their history.


For your reading pleasure, here is a write up from Jon Rimmerman of Garagiste on this wine:


When we get a chance to acquire a wine with this age and this level of provenance we jump in head first.


It’s not often you get the opportunity to acquire cellar stock from a decade ago, nearing its peak drinking window – especially from Alsace. This wine is going to blow people out of their socks (well, not literally but you know what I mean)…


I originally inquired about this wine after tasting it at a dinner last winter in Strasbourg where a local collector was trying to showcase the best unknown producers in Alsace. I couldn’t find any at the winery but I found a few bottles at a local retailer and was told he had access to three more cases that were lying in the winery cellar as a library release. I inquired again at the winery and due to persistence was told there were “a few cases” but no more. I visited, tasted the wine again and walked through the cellar where I found a stash of this, unlabeled and full of the typical dust and mold one finds in decade-old bottles resting in a cave. I asked if indeed there were more than “a few” cases available and indeed there were (remember, this started as “nothing available”, “a few” and now “more than a few” – such is the nature of my job, gentle prodding that can seem determined to many Europeans but the results are in your cellar).


Hand-picked and hand made, this is an esoteric bottle of wine that contains a mystery of flavor and stony but honeyed Riesling fruit that is strong but medium in weight and beautifully balanced. It is just starting to mature and open and its best days are well ahead of it. Klein is known to have some of the longest-lived examples in Alsace (even the Trimbachs are fans) and 1980s examples are still going strong (even an early 1990s Muscat tasted was magical). The Klein Burgreben reminds me of a junior version of Boxler’s Riesling “Brand” from the 1996 vintage (or even Tempe’s 1998 Burgreben which is quite close) and I liken this offer to one of the Schloss Schonborn deals we had over the winter – cellar stock that is in absolutely pristine condition.


While we have the opportunity, I urge you to partake of this shimmering, lightly golden elixir – it’s just a great bottle of terroir-focussed Riesling (this time dry), directly from the winery cellar and never moved since bottling. The wine was just labeled on your behalf a week ago and sent on its way to us. For this price it makes a mockery of many of the world’s current Riesling release offers.


My Tasting Note

This is much better at a slightly warmer temperature.  This is a light golden yellow color.  The fresh smelling nose has apples, lime zest, pears, petrol, minerals, and orange blossoms.  This is dry with light body and tart, citrusy acidity.  The wine’s finish has very good length with loads of minerals and citrus zest.  Drinking very nicely today, but no real hurry on this one, it should hold a few more years in the cellar.  (89 pts)




2007 Keplinger Grenache Red Slope Knights Valley – $50.00


My comments

This is another mailing list only wine that I was fortunate to join before they started getting high scores from the wine publications.  The “rock star” winemaker, Helen Keplinger is now the winemaker for the “cult” winery, Bryant Family, which appeared to be a bit outside of her normal “comfort zone” since she made her name and honed her talents working mainly with the Rhone varietals.  I bought several bottles of this wine, but have been patient long enough, one gets popped tonight.


Winery history (actually Winemaker background)

I always had an intense curiosity for science, a huge appreciation of art, and a gravitation toward and revitalization in nature – all which dynamically come together in winemaking. In 1998, I moved to California to attend the MS program in Enology at UCDavis.


After Davis, I worked with Heidi Barrett, Kathy Joseph, consultant Claude Gros, and David Abreu. Since 2004, I have been the winemaker for some exciting projects, including Cellers Melis (Priorat), Kenzo Estate, FortRoss, Sarocka, Scully, and Arrow & Branch. I am currently focused solely on Keplinger Wines and Bryant Family Vineyards.


My Tasting Note

This is a medium to dark violet color.  The wine has an enticing nose with raspberry, strawberry, olives, minerals, wild flowers, roasted meat, fresh brewed tea, dried herbs and spices.  This is fairly full bodied with solid, slightly drying tannins and very nice acidity.  The palate features nice, savory tinged fruit in the front with dried herbs and a touch of spicy oak in the background.  Very nice length on the finish which leans very heavily on the dried herbs and spices.  Don’t open this looking for an easy drinking, fruit forward wine.  This is very serious and in need of a couple more years in the cellar.  (93 pts)


About a half bottle was recorked and left on the counter.  The next day the tannins had integrated and lost the dryness.  The fruit has also come to the forefront and has pushed the still present savory notes into the background.  The wine is now much smoother and polished.  Leave these in the cellar of give them a ton of air.




2003 Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet – $29.99


My comments

I’m in the mood for a nice Bordeaux.  I saw my stack of 2003 Pontet-Canet but decided it was WAY too early to open one of them.  Then I remembered I grabbed a few of this, their second wine.  This should be at least getting close to a nice drinking window, so one get opened later today.  I’ll probably open the bottle later and decide if it needs decanted or if it’s ready to rock.


Winery history

Jean-François de Pontet, royal governor of the Médoc, combined several vineyard plots in Pauillac in the early 18th century. Years later, his descendants added neighbouring vines in a place named Canet. This was the beginning of one of the largest estates in the Médoc, which quite naturally added the name of its founder to that of the land registry reference.


A century later, Pontet-Canet was included in the famous 1855 classification, thereby confirming its membership among the elite of the Médoc. This privileged position did not go unnoticed by one of the most important Bordeaux shippers of the time, Herman Cruse, who bought the estate in 1865. He built new cellars, modernised the winemaking facilities, and established the wine’s reputation around the world. The Cruse family owned Pontet-Canet for 110 years, until another shipper (from Cognac this time), Guy Tesseron, acquired it in 1975.


Over two centuries Pontet-Canet has been owned by three different families. Today it is run by Alfred Tesseron with his niece Melanie (daughter of Gerard Tesseron) who is the descendant of Guy Tesseron. Thirty years after their arrival in Pauillac the Tesseron have the satisfaction of knowing that they have gradually replanted some of the vineyard and renovated the buildings and the wine making facilities.


My Tasting Note

This was decanted for about an hour and a half.  The wine is a medium ruby color, much lighter at the edge.  The very nice nose has cassis, spice box, minerals, dried herbs, graphite, leather, some earthy underbrush, and a touch of cherry.  This is medium bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice length on the finish which features the dried herbs, and spices, with the fruit leaning more towards cherry than cassis.  Still a bit young, but outstanding for a second label.  (91 pts)



 Mailing Lists


The mailing list season is just about over.  There may be a few stragglers or lists that are looking to move a few less popular bottles, but for most of us, it’s “Shipping Season”.  Shipping Season is that glorious time of the year where generic cardboard boxes arrive, and like kids at Christmas, we rip into the boxes.




Wines bought or received this week





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.