2006 Villa Creek Garnacha Denner Vineyard – $35.00


My comments

This is perennially one of my favorite Grenache wines from California.  This is usually a nice ripe, but not overly ripe, spicy Grenache full of red fruit, and nice acidic “bite” when young.  I generally have a hard time keeping my hands off this wine, but I was able to keep a bottle in the cellar for close to 5 years to see how well it aged.  This should be a nice way to kick off a weekend in style.


If you’ve never had a bottle of wine from Villa Creek, I highly recommend trying a bottle.


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 deep ruby color.  The very inviting nose has raspberries, black cherries, baking spices, dried herbs, strawberries, and hints of vanilla and earthy elements.  This has medium body with soft, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Tart, juicy fruit highlights the palate with nice spiciness, dried herbs, and earthy notes coming in from the sidelines adding considerable depth.  The finish is fairly long with a solid wall of fruit, spice, and dried herbs very slowly fading away.  This is in its prime drinking window now, but should hold for at least a couple more years.  (92 pts)

2006 Villa Creek Garnacha Denner Vineyard




 2003 Georges Dubœuf Moulin-à-Vent Prestige – $12.74


My comments

I had a bottle of this wine a couple months ago and it was wonderful.  I decided to take a bottle for a couple of wine friends to sample.  Conventional wisdom says this wine should be dead.  I keep my cellar pretty cold, generally 50 to 52 degrees, which usually adds some time to a wine’s life.  I bought and drank a ton of the 2003 Beaujolais wines but purposely saved a few bottles to experiment with how they would age.  This wine was aged in 100% new oak, so I felt it would have the best shot at outlasting the normal life span.


Winery history

For over 40 years Georges Duboeuf has been the Beaujolais region’s most renowned négociant and is today regarded in the wine world as the “King of Beaujolais.” Born in 1933 in Pouilly-Fuissé, the son of a winegrower, Georges began selling his family’s wines from the back of his bicycle to now-legendary local chefs such as Paul Bocuse and Paul Blanc. In 1964, Georges realized his dream and founded his own company: Les Vins Georges Duboeuf.

Over the years, Georges has developed long-standing relationships with the region’s top growers and winemakers. Georges is involved in every aspect of his enterprise and is known for his passion and his legendary palate. In 2003, the Duboeuf family opened a new, modern winery in Romanéche-Thorins. The following year, the Duboeuf and Deutsch families jointly purchased Château des Capitans in Juliénas. With annual sales of 30 million bottles, Georges Duboeuf is one of the world’s best-known French brands.


My Tasting Note

The wine was a dull, light to medium ruby color with a fair amount of brick.  The exotic nose had raspberries, black cherries, sandalwood, warm baking spices, dried flowers, and just a touch of underbrush.  This is barely medium body with fully integrated tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine gives a quick burst of red to black fruit then slowly transforms to the more savory elements.  The finish is the opposite of the palate, the savory elements slowly fade leaving some candied cherry and spice.  This is a wonderful, 9 year old Beaujolais, and based on this bottle, I have no fear letting a bottle lay for a couple extra years.  (91 pts)

2003 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Prestige




2000 Azienda Pier Barbaresco Riserva Vila – $26.99


My comments

I absolutely love a nice, well aged, Barbaresco.  I actually prefer a Barbaresco over the more highly regarded Barolo.  Both wines are made with the Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont region in Italy.


Winery history (from the winery, could use some clean up on their end)

The date ’78 marks the history of the Grasso’s family.  1878 was born the grandfather Pietro and after exactly one hundred years his grandson Pier Paolo.  The conduction of the activity is therefore domestic and based on skills handed down first by the grandfather Pietro, then by the father Giuseppe.  On the footsteps of his forefathers is now the son Pier Paolo who decided to continue and to boost an activity which was until now only aimed to the selling of the grapes to some prestigious wine cellars in the area.


During the last years the family thought therefore more seriously to make a dream come true and thanks to their spirit of self-sacrifice the Grassos built their own wine cellar.


Although in the present circumstances the Company can already produce 30.000 bottles of wine in all different wine categories, everything is now ready to reach in a short time the production of 80.000 units per year and this will be possible by making wine out of the whole today’s possible production, thanks also to the vines planted out in 1997 on the new owned vineyards.


The Company is situated about seven kilometres from Alba, the Langhe’s capital, and more precisely in Treiso, a village with a great wine vocation.  The wines produced here come from renowned vineyards which have always been property of the Grasso’s family.  The grapes grow and ripen in the prestigious suri of this region situated in the immediate vicinity of the Grassos’ wine cellar, from where you can even enjoy the beautiful landscape of the hillsides crowned by the Alpes – where the Monviso stands out majestically – all way down to Alba.


Everybody who is longing for the savours and scents of the good old days cannot therefore but come to visit us: the Grasso’s family is any time glad and disposed to bring such emotions to life again through guided visits and also by hosting you in a typical “tasting room” where rich wines’ sampling will express by themselves their capacity of producing a traditional Barbaresco accompanied by other valuable wines like Dolcetto and Barbera.


My Tasting Note

The wine is medium to deep ruby color with considerable bricking.  On the very appealing nose there are cherries, roses, tree bark, leather, tobacco, smoke, and some earthy dustiness.  This has medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  Nice earthy, spicy, red fruit on the palate with the tannins and acidity providing ample support.  Decent length on the finish but the tannins and acidity clip it a bit when they kick in. Tastes very nice now, but no hurry on remaining bottles. This could still improve as the tannins more fully integrate.  (90 pts)

2000 Azienda Pier Barbaresco Riserva Vila




2007 Rhys Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard – $45.00


My comments

Rhys wines have a cult like following.  I am a big fan, but not really a member of the “cult”.  Rhys Pinots are usually a bit rough and tumble in their youth, and require a fair amount of cellar time to come together and show well.  These are not your typical, jammy, fruit driven, California Pinot Noir wines.


Winery history

Our winemaking is focused on accomplishing the following goals:


Pure, silky concentration that can only be achieved through low yields

Beautiful balance with no component revealing itself separate from the whole

Fruit that tastes fresh-picked and perfectly ripe, not jammy

Capturing complex aromatics

Ability to age and improve in the bottle. Nothing compares to the aromatic beauty of aged wine!

Thrilling complexity and beguiling interest that never leaves you bored

Wines with a strong sense of somewhereness (rather than someoneness)


Consistent with our organic/biodynamic approach to viticulture, we believe that hands-off winemaking provides for enhanced vineyard expression and complexity.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby red color.  The exotic and sexy nose features cherries, black raspberries, crushed stones, white pepper, Asian spices, fresh cut flowers and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body with fairly stiff tannins and outstanding acidity.  On the palate spicy red and black fruit dominate with white pepper and some earthiness in the background.  The wine has a long, lingering finish with tart, spicy cherries and some earthiness lingering seemingly forever.  This is still very young and could use a couple more years in the cellar to fully reveal itself.  As is, this is very good with considerable upside.  (93 pts)

2007 Rhys Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard




2000 Smith Woodhouse Porto Late Bottled Vintage


My comments

I’m generally not a big fan of sweet, dessert wines.  But I have to admit, at times a nice Port or a PX Sherry can help make a night special.  The local wine store I frequent had a tasting of Port wines one evening, and I was able to grab about a half bottle of the “left overs”.


Winery history

Christopher Smith, Member of The British Parliament and Lord Mayor of London, founded a small company to ship Port from the Douro in 1784.  Some years later the Woodhouse brothers joined him.  Since 1970, Smith Woodhouse has been owned by the Symington family, Port producers since the 19th century.


For more information about the Symington family please visit the

Symington Family Estates website.  http://www.symington.com/


Through the last two hundred years, this small Port company has built a reputation for outstanding Vintage Ports.  In frequent blind tastings, Smith Woodhouse earns top marks.


The Company’s 1977 Vintage was awarded 99 points by the Wine Spectator and judged as the finest VintagePort of this year.  Decanter magazine also judged the Smith Woodhouse 1977: A classic of all times and the best of the Vintage (Nov. 1992).


Smith Woodhouse Ports have outstanding length and structure and are drier than most.  Its Vintage Ports show a characteristic opulent rich style, balanced by firm hard tannins.  Ageing gives these wines an unmatched elegance.


My Tasting Note

This is a deep, dark maroon color.  The warm and friendly nose has blackberries, plums, dark chocolate, baking spices, licorice, and a touch of cherry.  This had a full body with ripe tannins, good acidity, and more on the rich side than overtly sweet.  On the palate this is like a warm berry pie with nice jammy berries and spices.  The finish is fairly long and echoes the warm pie from the palate.  Not as sweet as some Port wines, but very tasty.  A nice wine to sip while watching the snow fall from the sky…like I am right now.   (90 pts)

2000 Smith Woodhouse Porto Late Bottled Vintage




2002 Chalone Vineyard Syrah Chalone – $19.99


My comments

Ever find a bottle of wine that some how always got bypassed when you were selecting a bottle for dinner?  That was the case with this wine.  I bought a couple from the local store a few (several?) years ago and drank all but one.  I liked the wine, but for some reason the last, solitary bottle was never pulled.  I decided to rectify that situation today.  Hopefully I didn’t wait too long and it’s dead, but I don’t think that should be the case.  Checking my old notes, this should still be good, perhaps even better than it was years ago when I opened my previous bottle.


Winery history

The oldest producing vineyard in MontereyCounty, Chalone Vineyard Estate rests on the Gavilan Mountain Range on the north slope of ChalonePeak.  At 1,800 feet, the quiet splendor of the vineyards overlooks spectacular views of the wide-open SalinasValley, made famous by local author John Steinbeck.  The vineyard’s name comes from the peak, which derives its name from the indigenous Costanoan Native American tribe, the Chalone, or Chollen.


1919: The first planting

The first viticultural activity began shortly after the turn of the 20th century when Charles Tamm, wandering California in search of soil similar to that of his native Burgundy, stumbled upon the property that is now Chalone Vineyard.  In 1919 Tamm planted what is today the oldest producing Chenin Blanc in MontereyCounty.  During Prohibition, the grapes were sold to wineries making sacramental wines.


1946: Expansion

In 1946 the vineyard now called “The Lower Vineyard,” was planted by Will Silvear with more Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, and he added Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.  Silvear made some wine in Watsonville (we have an empty bottle of “Silvear’s Light Wine,” that was found in a rubble pile).  He also sold grapes to the Wente family and Georges de Latour at Beaulieu in Napa.  Mr. Silvear died in 1955 and his wife continued to operate the vineyard for a while, finally selling it to Dr. Liska and Mr. Sigman.  They operated the vineyard for several years.


1960: Chalone label introduced

The first wine produced under the Chalone label was made in 1960 by Philip Togni, in what had been a brooding shed for chickens.  Daily trips to Salinas for ice, which at that time was an hour and a half away, provided the cooling needed for the wine cellar.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby color.  The slightly reserved nose has blackberries, cherries, leather, dried herbs, tobacco, white pepper, earthy elements, and some dark chocolate.  This has medium body at best with fully integrated tannins and very nice acidity.  The wine is much more outgoing on the palate than the nose lead me to expect.  The palate features solid cherry and dried herbs components with blackberry, white pepper, and a touch of earthiness adding considerable depth.  This finish has decent length with peppery, spicy, cherries slowly giving way to a touch of dark chocolate.  A very nice California Syrah that is approaching drink up time.  (89 pts)

2002 Chalone Vineyard Syrah Chalone




2001 Domaine Giraud Châteauneuf-du-Pape – $14.99


My comments

This is another bottle that slipped through the cracks over the years.  I always seemed to find a bottle I wanted to open just a little bit more.  I grabbed several bottles during a Sam’s Wine Warehouse sale several years ago.  Magically all but this one disappeared fairly quickly.  I decided I wanted to hold one for a couple years but then didn’t get around to opening it.  Today is the day.


Winery history

Owned by François and Marie Giraud the 19 hectare Domaine Giraud is now rated among the best producers in Chateauneuf du Pape.  François is responsible for the vineyards and Marie for the vinification and together with Philippe Cambié, one of the Rhone’s most exceptional consultant wine makers, they have come up with a string of excellent vintages.  The 19 hectares are split between an 8 hectare plot in the ‘Gallimardes’ area in the south, which includes parcels of hundred-year old Grenache, and further sites in the Crau, the sandy soils near Chateau Rayas on the Pignan plateau, and the white rocky soils of the highest points of the appellation, and these too include vines over a hundred years old.


Much more information available at:  http://www.domainegiraud.fr/domaineen.html


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby color with just a touch of lightening at the edge.  The enticing nose has blackberries, dried herbs, black pepper, cherries, leather, and minerals.  This has medium body, a nice tannic backbone and very good acidity.  On the palate there are spicy, peppery berries with dried herbs and minerals adding nice depth and complexity.  The finish had decent length with the berries and dried herbs carrying most of the load.  A very mild mannered, food friendly CdP that is in a prime drinking window.  (92 pts)

2001 Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf-du-Pape



For dinner with the Domaine Giraud, I made a Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, seasoned with fresh picked Rosemary and Thyme.  My wife made some Macaroni and Cheese and fresh green beans.

Pork Tenderloin

I more or less followed a recipe from Robert Mondavi Winery for the tenderloin.  The recipe is available at:  http://bit.ly/12g3s9R




Mailing Lists


Nothing new to report.  I mentioned receiving an offer from Sandler in my last post.  I grabbed six bottles, and as noted below, they should arrive next week.




Wines bought or received this week

I received some wines from Turley and Loring earlier in the week that I listed in my previous post.  The end of the week was pretty quiet.


This week will be pretty busy, I’ll be receiving wines from Sandler, Saxum, and more from Loring.




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.