2007 Ridge Geyserville – $26.59


My comments

I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite Zinfandel based blend coming out of California between Ridge’s Geyserville and their Lytton Springs.  These are both wines that taste pretty good upon release, but transform into something magical with some cellar time.  These are generally not the type of zins that grab you by the throat and club you over the head.  These are much more refined and elegant.


Winery history

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.


My Tasting Note

This was decanted for about an hour.  The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The wonderful and fully open nose has brambly berries, freshly cracked black peppercorns, licorice, baking spices, black cherries, with hints of underbrush, vanilla, grilled meat, and just a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  The finish is fairly long with nice fruit giving way fairly quickly to the more savory elements.  There is a touch of excess oak peeking through towards the end, but it should better integrate with a bit more cellar time.  This is an outstanding Geyserville that will drink nicely through the end of the decade.  (92 pts)




2008 JC Cellars The Impostor – $25.73


My comments

This is a blend of  Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Carignane, Grenache and Viognier.


Winery history

Jeff Cohn, the winemaker, president, and “JC” of JC Cellars got his start in the industry almost 20 years ago. As an intern at Boordy Vineyards in Maryland, he drove an hour and half each way to prune vines in frigid weather, pick grapes in stifling heat, and scrub everything from barrels to floors.


Long before he began his winemaking career he received an associate degree in culinary arts from Johnson & WalesUniversity, and a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from FloridaInternationalUniversity.


Cohn had always loved the hospitality industry, and as he worked through several high profile positions after college he found his passion for wine steadily growing. The more he learned, the more he wanted to learn, until he realized that becoming a winemaker was his ultimate goal. The job at Boordy was a deciding factor in the trajectory of his career — in spite of all the scrubbing.


With the encouragement and support of his family, Cohn moved to California in 1993 to follow his dream. He earned his master’s degree in agriculture chemistry, with an emphasis on enology, from CaliforniaStateUniversity, Fresno in 1996. It was here that Cohn discovered French winemaking techniques and the concept of terroir. “The flavor profile was so different than anything else I had ever tried,” he says of the first Chateauneuf-du-Pape he tried in school. “It was a shocker. To go from tasting only single varietals to a blend really opened my eyes.”


For more info, visit http://www.jccellars.com/about-jeff-cohn.html


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep purple color.  The big and bold nose has brambly berries, black pepper, smoked meat, licorice, vanilla, dark chocolate, and violets.  This is fairly full bodied with big, solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the juicy, ripe, peppery berries lead the full throttle charge with nice savory elements providing depth and help to balance out the fruit.  The finish has nice length, again with a nice fruit to savory mix.  This is big and ultra ripe, but does not come across as overly alcoholic, sweet, or raisiny.  A very nice and successful balancing act.  (91 pts)




2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah Sonoma Coast – $20.00


My comments

To me, Morgan Twain-Peterson from Bedrock is trying to follow playbook written by Mike Officer at Carlisle.  The playbook is fairly simple, offer outstanding, personality filled wine at good prices.  Though relatively new to the game, Bedrock is following the playbook to perfection.  Bedrock has one upped Carlisle in one regard, besides their outstanding red wines, they put out some of the best white wines being produced at reasonable prices in the state.


Winery history

Bedrock is an itsy-bitsy winery making wine in a converted chicken coop. Fruit from only the most excellent vineyard sites is hand pitch-forked into the destemmer, fermented in open top redwood and stainless vats using only native yeasts, and are manually basket pressed by winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson into the sexiest oak from the coldest French forests.


The winery’s objectives are:


.  To channel the fruit of ancient vines into powerful, elegant, and distinctly Californian wines.

.  To spread the gospel of Syrah in California by sourcing fruit from great terroirs throughout the NorthCoast.

.  To proclaim the greatness of Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon by sparing no expense on wines of uniqueness and personality.

.  To reclaim rose’ from the excesses of saignee and focus on precision, delicacy, aromatics, and food friendliness.

.  To make fascinating and quixotic white wines from unique sites and interesting varietals.

.  To make California Pinot Noir that ages as well as ’74 Swan.

.  To dream big but keep production low!


My Tasting Note

This was decanted for about an hour.  The wine is a deep, dark ruby to purple color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, smoke, charcoal, cocoa powder, grilled meat, black pepper, roasted herbs, leather, and some blueberry.  This is medium to full bodied with sold tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a big fruit and spice component with grilled meat, dried herbs, dark chocolate, and baking spice adding depth and loads of complexity.  The finish is fairly long and leans heavily on the savory elements with the fruit in the background.  This is still young and evolving but very tasty.  (91 pts)




2004 Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co. – $18.21


My comments

This wine’s normal price is in the $45 to $49 range, which I feel is WAY too high.  The community average price in CellarTracker for this wine is over $28, which is again pushing the limit.  Luckily I was able to grab half a case for well under $20.  That makes it a good Napa Valley Cab at a price that won’t break the bank when consumed on a week night, especially for an aged Cabernet is in its’ prime drinking window.


I’ve had a couple bottles that I liked and rated 89-90 points.


Winery history

Cedar Knoll Vineyard and Winery was founded in 1881 by Henry Hagen. One of their wines won a Silver Medal at the Paris Exposition in 1889. At that time, Cedar Knoll was one of Napa’s premier wineries. The winery was a victim of Prohibition and was closed for close to 80 years. Cedar Knoll is now owned by the Palmaz family. They have resurrected the vineyards and restored the original Hagen house. The vineyards occupy 55 acres and are located just northeast of the city of Napa.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby color, much lighter at the edge.  On the fairly straight forward nose there is cassis, cedar, dried herbs, tobacco, raspberries, smoke and a touch of cherry and leather.  This is medium body with soft, integrated tannins and good acidity.  Nice sweet fruit on the palate with dried herbs and spicy oak coming through on the backend.  Nice length on the finish which shows more of the savory side with the fruit just providing a touch of sweetness.  Drinking nicely now, but I’d probably lean towards drinking over the next year or two before the fruit fades and leaves the oak component as the dominant element.  (89 pts)




Mailing Lists


It’s shipping season so most mailing lists have already been completed.




Wines bought or received this week

I received a 5 bottle sampler pack from The Seeker Wines.


Set included:

2010 California Chardonnay (unoaked!)

2011 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

2011 French Pinot Noir

2010 Argentina Malbec

2011 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon


These will be sampled in the next couple of weeks.  They will be the subject of their own blog posting.  I’m looking forward to giving these a try.




 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.