2008 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée – $29.75


My comments

Villa Creek holds the number 1 position in my cellar with 85 bottles, 84 as soon as this one opens.  I love the very nice and varied blends coming out of their Paso Robles winery.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah.


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 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)

Label tears courtesy of my VinoTemp which doesn’t like the slightly larger bottles.




1988 Schloss Schönborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Spätlese – $34.81


My comments

A German Reisling with some (24 yrs is some, right?) cellar age is one of my greatest wine pleasures.  The sugary sweetness transforms into more of a richness in the wine as it melds with the acidity.  I can’t have enough of these wines in my cellar.


Winery history

Since the 12th century, the Counts von Schönborn have been part of the Rhenish knightage. Around 1349 their vineyards in Winkel in the Rheingau were registered documentary for the first time. Until the middle of the 17th century, the Counts von Schönborn were living in their area of origin in the Rheingau and in the Taunus. During this time, many vineyards were purchased in Rheingau boundaries. As of the middle of the 17th century, the brothers Johann Philipp and Philipp Erwein von Schönborn laid the foundation stone for the material prosperity and cultural wealth of the family.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright, golden yellow color.  The very pleasing nose has petrol, apples, white peaches, honey, minerals, citrus zest, lime, and some white pepper.  This has light to medium body with crisp acidity and nice sweetness.  Very rich and smooth on the palate with most of the overt sugar having been incorporated into the magical elixir.  The wine has a long, lingering finish full of peach, apples, honey, minerals, and lime.  This actually still tastes young.  (94 pts)




2005 Miller Wine Works Syrah Sage Canyon Vineyard – $17.99


My comments

I love a deep, dark syrah that highlights the non fruity aspects of the grape.  I consider this to be the polar opposite of the fruit bomb style of syrahs made in some parts of the wine world.


Winery history

Growing up in rural New YorkState, simple, fresh, homegrown food was an everyday experience. Our meats, milk, bread, fruit, and vegetables were from local farms. Many of my earliest memories are the tastes and smells of my mother’s kitchen – bread, Christmas cookies, apple pies, smoked ham, and Thanksgiving turkey. Just picked, juicy, finger-staining huckleberries were hard work, but memorable.


My first cooking job was a humble, short-order lunch cook but I was hooked. After attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, I took advantage of numerous culinary opportunities at world class restaurants in White Sulphur Springs, Chicago and Aspen.


I always considered winemaking to be “cooking”. Through my entire time as a chef, I wanted to work with the flavors, textures, and aromas of grapes from the California coast. Finally I took the plunge and moved to NapaValley.


NapaValley is an amazing place, but not just for its history, natural beauty, and perfect conditions for winegrowing. The people are truly amazing, placing a premium on food, family, friends, and farming.


As a winemaker, it is my intent to make balanced, nuanced wines that speak clearly of their locations, and have affinity for carefully raised and prepared food.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a very dark maroon, almost black color.  The deep, dark, brooding nose features dark chocolate, smoked meat, blackberries, black pepper, dried herbs, A1 steak sauce, smoky embers, and some earthiness.  The wine fairly full bodied and has solid, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows some nice fruit but the savory elements are the stars.  Loads of charred, smoked meat, pepper, and dark chocolate take center stage.  The finish is fairly long with the dark chocolate and meaty elements slowly fading.  A really nice bottle of wine, in my opinion.  (90 pts)




2007 Carlisle Petite Sirah Yorkville Highlands – $30.50


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of Carlisle for several years.  I still have a few bottles in the cellar from as far back as the 2003 vintage.  Mike Officer puts out a very high quality product at very consumer friendly prices.  This is why it is now next to impossible to get onto the mailing list.  A friend recently, after a few years on the waiting list, was offered a few bottles of wine.  If you have patience, check out the website and get on the waiting list, down the road you will be happy you did.


Winery history

We are a small SonomaCounty winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah). We have also recently added our first whites, both blends from historic, old-vine vineyards. While we like our wines to be bold and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and nuance. Our goal is always the same – grow and source outstanding fruit, do as little as possible to it, and bottle outstanding, pleasurable wine.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, inky maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, cracked black peppercorns, road tar, blueberries, camphor, minerals, licorice, dried flowers, dark chocolate, and some earthiness.  The wine is full bodied with solid tannins and very nice acidity.  In my opinion the wine is still too young, and needs a few more years in the cellar.  This is still a bit ragged on the palate with scratchy oak and chalky tannins.  The finish is clipped when the tannins kick in.  The wine has all the necessary components for a long life but patience will be required.  (88 pts, potential to 92 down the road)




2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Santa Rita Hills – $4.75


My comments

This was on a super blow out sale at the local store.  I don’t know why there were still available after having been released at least a few years ago.  I didn’t have high expectations in a six year old, appellation Pinot Blanc, but had to try it out.  We sampled a bottle right off the shelf at room temperature.  I was blown away!  It still tasted young and fresh.  I grabbed six bottles, now it’s time to try one at the proper serving temperature from a good stem, at home.  It’s a perfect time to open one since the dish we’re making for dinner requires 2/3 cup of a dry white wine.


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

The wine is a clear light straw color.  The very light and refreshing nose has apples, lemon curd, minerals, orange zest, spring flowers, and a touch of pineapple.  This is a touch fuller than light body, has crisp, citrusy acidity, and is dry.  Nice apples and flinty minerality greets the palate first followed by bright lemon and orange citrus.  The finish has decent length ending with mouthwatering citrus and minerals.  This tastes young and fresh for a six year old white.  I don’t know what the release price was on this wine, but it was an absolute steal for under $5.  (89 pts)





2008 Melville Pinot Noir Carrie’s – $37.14


My comments

I have to admit, I bought this wine purely on the basis of a review given by one of the big time professional reviewers.  I’ve eyed the bottle several times over the two years it has been in the cellar.  I think a nice Pinot Noir should pair well with tonight’s dinner, so I finally get to sample it tonight.


Winery history

In 1989, Melville Vineyards, a family owned and operated enterprise was founded in SonomaCounty’s KnightsValley, where Ron Melville grew high quality, much sought after Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  In 1996, Ron’s desire to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought Melville Vineyards to Lompoc’s Sta.RitaHills, located in the western Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California.  The Sta.RitaHills appellation is where Ron Melville and his sons Brent and Chad Melville decided to develop their estate vineyards and winery.  Since then, they have also developed an interest in Rhone varietals, particularly Northern Rhone Syrah and Viognier.  The Melville estate achieves quality through the integrity of its farming practice and its respect to the microclimate.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color.  An intoxicating nose with earthy underbrush, black cherry, raspberry, baking spices, vanilla, melted licorice, and violets.  This has medium body with ripe tannins and very good acidity.  Rich and plush on the palate with fantastic, earthy, spicy, fruit that slowly transforms to reveal a new nuance every couple of seconds.  The finish never really seems to dissipate, seemingly lingering forever.   One of the absolute best young California Pinot Noirs I have had the good fortune to enjoy.  Absolutely stunning!  (95 pts)




Mailing Lists


Turley Wine Cellars

The offer for the first Turley Cabernet offer couldn’t be ignored, so I ordered a few bottles.




Wines bought or received this week

It was a busy week receiving previously ordered wine.


Direct from Bedrock (2 bottles each)

2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah Griffin’s Lair

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Dolinsek Ranch

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Papera Ranch

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Saitone Ranch

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Evangelho Vineyard

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock Heritage Wine


Direct from Herman Story via friend’s allocation (1 bottle each)

2010 Herman Story Casual Encounters

2010 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts

2010 R.P.F. Wines The Signmaker


Winery Samples

2011 Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato

2011 One Time Spaceman MCA Rose

2009 One Time Spaceman Moon Duck


From local wine store

2009 One Time Spaceman Reserve Airspace James Berry Vineyard (2 bottles)

2009 Cellers Can Blau Montsant Can Blau (6 bottles)

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc SantaRitaHills – Sta.RitaHills (3 bottles)


From WineBid

2005 Turley Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard (2 bottles)





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.