2006 Peter Lehmann Shiraz The Barossa – $11.39


My comments

I bought several bottles of this wine after trying a bottle.  This is a Barossa wine that breaks the mold of the big, fruit forward, syrupy Barossa Shiraz.  This wine, though ripe, is not out to grab your palate in a stranglehold.  This wine is, in my opinion, somewhere between your normal Shiraz and a French Rhone wine.  If you are down on Aussie Shiraz, look around, there are other examples like this one that will pull you in.


Winery history

In the face of a serious overproduction of grapes and the real possibility of growers facing financial ruin, Peter Lehmann found some investment partners, established a consortium and built the Peter Lehmann Wines winery.  It was 1979.


The first vintage was processed in 1980 and in 1982 the winery was formally named Peter Lehmann Wines.  From then on, its wines have been marketed under the Peter Lehmann Wines label.


As an experienced winemaker, Peter Lehmann was all too aware of the challenges facing a young winery in a competitive market.  Growth was well planned, slow and steady.

Initially, the winery facility was built to process fruit purchased from the local growers.  Carefully and strategically, the Peter Lehmann Wines operation moved on from the bulk wine market to become a producer of premium bottled wines with a well-deserved international reputation.


As well as purchasing grapes from about 185 local independent growers, Peter Lehmann Wines has its own vineyards, which produce about 2% of its requirements.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, cherries, tobacco, dried herbs, meat juices, dark chocolate, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body, soft, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  This is not a big, in your face Aussie Shiraz, it is actually on the subtle and nuanced side of the aisle.  Nice spicy, earthy fruit on the palate with some dried herbs coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length, again featuring the same elements from the palate.  This is very tasty and enjoyable.  (90 pts)

2006 Peter Lehmann Shiraz The Barossa




2009 McPrice Myers Altas Vinas Alta Mesa Vineyard – $30.40


My comments

The wines made by McPrice Myers, aren’t light weight, timid, and subtle, these are big, bold, and in your face.  Are they made for every day consumption?  Probably not, but once in a while a bottle of these wines will make you say, WOW.


Tonight’s wine is a blend of 42% Grenache, 29% Mourvedre, and 29% Syrah.


Winery history

We work.  We work hard to make good wine.  You work.  You work hard and need good wine.  You might have money, but maybe you’re like us.  We make McPrice Myers wines for people like us.  If you work, and we mean work hard, and you need to drink good wine, and still make your mortgage payments, car payments, kid payments and pet payments, we’re here for you.  Our goal is to make wine that works hard at helping hard working America relax for a minute, take a load off, and remove the nose from the grindstone for a while.  We hope you enjoy them.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark violet color.  The intense nose has blackberries, cherries, earthy underbrush, plums, smoked meat, dried herbs, stony minerals, licorice, and black pepper.  This is very full bodied with sold tannins and decent acidity.  The palate features an overload of minerals, fruit, and spice that put a stranglehold on the taste buds.  Intense.  The finish is fairly long and adds a bit of dark chocolate to the mix.  This is still on the young side and could use another year or two in the cellar.  (92 pts)

2009 McPrice Myers Altas Vinas Alta Mesa Vineyard




2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard – $45.00


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of the Pinot Noir wines being made by Brian Loring for several years.  These will never be confused with a French Burgundy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Loring’s Pinots are ripe, fruity, and delicious.  That’s really all that should matter.


Winery history

My philosophy on making wine is that the fruit is EVERYTHING.  What happens in the vineyard determines the quality of the wine – I can’t make it better – I can only screw it up!  That’s why I’m extremely picky when choosing vineyards to buy grapes from.  Not only am I looking for the right soil, micro-climate, and clones, I’m also looking for a grower with the same passion and dedication to producing great wine that I have.  In other words, a total Pinot Freak!  My part in the vineyard equation is to throw heaping piles of money at the vineyard owners (so that they can limit yields and still make a profit) and then stay out of the way!  Since most, if not all of the growers keep some fruit to make their own wine, I tell them to farm my acre(s) the same way they do theirs – since they’ll obviously be doing whatever is necessary to get the best possible fruit.  One of the most important decisions made in the vineyard is when to pick.  Some people go by the numbers (brix, pH, TA, etc) and some go by taste.  Once again, I trust the decision to the vineyard people.  The day they pick the fruit for their wine is the day I’m there with a truck to pick mine.  Given this approach, the wine that I produce is as much a reflection of the vineyard owner as it is of my winemaking skills.  I figure that I’m extending the concept of terroir a bit to include the vineyard owner/manager… but it seems to make sense to me.  The added benefit is that I’ll be producing a wide variety of Pinots.  It’d be boring if everything I made tasted the same.



My Tasting Note

This is a fairly dark ruby color.  The very enticing nose has black cherries, baking spices, boysenberries, black tea, and some earthiness.  This is fairly full bodied with ripe tannins and good acidity.  The palate is full of mouth coating, rich and spicy fruit with a bit of earthiness coming in behind the fruit.  The finish is long and lingering with the earthy, spic, fruit.  Not the most complex wine made by Loring, but very tasty.  This will probably improve and gain some additional complexity with some additional time in the cellar.  (91 pts)

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Garys' Vineyard




2008 Hobo Wine Company Zinfandel Branham Vineyard Rockpile – $22.53


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of wines form the Rockpile region in the SonomaValley for a number of years.  I am not alone in my appreciation of the area.  A guy named Robert Parker once said this about the Rockpile region – “…One of the finest Zinfandel sites in Northern California…”


If you want to learn more about this up and coming AVA, check out:  http://rockpileappellation.com/viticulture.php


Winery history

The Hobo Wine Company is the brainchild, side job, menace to the wine industry, hedged bet, cash strain, mental anguish, late night musing, bruised hands, dirty t-shirts, and constant companion of Kenny Likitprakong.  Despite knowing better, he started his own label in 2002 with the simple idea to have some good fun.


Much more information including the origin of the name Hobo available at:  http://www.hobowines.com/about.html


My Tasting Note

The wine is a dark ruby color.  The big and bold nose has brambly berries, freshly cracked black pepper, melted licorice, smoke, meat juices, vanilla, dark chocolate, and some dried leafy herbs.  This has medium body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and very nice acidity.  The spicy, peppery, berries hit the palate first followed by dried herbs, chocolate, and a touch of black cherry.  The finish is fairly long with just a touch of earthiness adding a nice dimension with the flavors from the palate carrying over.  (92 pts)

2008 Hobo Wine Company Zinfandel Branham Vineyard Rockpile




2010 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red – $13.37


My comments

This is a perennial house favorite and best buy.  The blend changes every vintage, but the quality is always in the bottle.  This is always a blend of several grapes that always seems to work.


This vintage is a blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Syrah, 12% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 4% Sangiovese, 2% Zinfandel, 1% Petit Verdot, and 1% Carmenere, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.  Oops, got a bit carried away there, have to kill the Christmas music for a bit.   🙂


Winery history

Whether it’s our highly acclaimed Firehouse Red or one of our limited-production single vineyard reserve blends, Tamarack’s wines offer a delicious expression of Washington vineyards’ style and elegance.


When you visit the winery, you won’t find us in a fancy chateau.  Instead you’ll find yourself immersed in the everyday workings of a family-owned winery, racking, blending and bottling wine, in a renovated firehouse located in a World War II Army Air Base.


Founded in 1998 by Ron and Jamie Coleman, Tamarack’s first vintage consisted of 300 cases of Merlot.  The goal was to make elegant, balanced, delicious wines and offer them at a fair price.  Years later, and now up to 20,000 cases each year, the focus remains the same. Tamarack Cellars hand-crafts consistently outstanding wines for a great price.


My Tasting Note

This is a fairly deep ruby to maroon color.  The pleasant nose has blackberries, dark chocolate, minerals, cherries, baking spices, dried herbs, and earthy underbrush.  This has medium body with soft tannins and good acidity.  Nice, juicy, spicy fruit hits the palate first with some dark chocolate and earthiness coming in on the back end.  This has decent length on the finish which is showing a touch of excess oak.  This is tasty today, but could use a bit more cellar time to fully open up and help the oak integrate on the finish.  (88 pts)

2010 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red




2007 Villa Creek High Road The Long Path James Berry Vineyard – $44.00


My comments

I’ve been a fan of the wines coming out of Paso Robles’ Villa Creek for several years.  Most of the wines are very unique blends and all are of very high quality.


This is a “extended barrel aged” version of one of my favorite wines made by Villa Creek.  I’m very interested in seeing (tasting) what the extended time adds to the wine.


This is a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre from the world renowned James Berry Vineyard in Paso Robles.


Winemaker notes:

High Road has historically been aged in barrel for 14-18 months.  With this vintage, I wanted to see how the wine would evolve with additional time in the barrel.  After the initial blend was assembled I held back four puncheons as an experiment.  The Long Path is two of those puncheons aged 34 months.  I tasted the wine with Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar publications and thought his notes were spot on.


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 deep, dark maroon color.  The nose on this wine is absolutely incredible with blackberries, intense stony minerals, violets, smoke, briny olives, blueberries, and dark, bittersweet chocolate with just a hint of earthiness.  This is medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Like the nose, the palate on this wine is incredible, loaded with spicy, smoky, mineral laden berries with olives and dark chocolate in the background adding depth and complexity.  The finish is very long, never seeming to end with spicy berries and just a bit of earthiness seeming to last forever.  In a perfect world, this would be cellar worthy for a decade, but realistically it will be next to impossible to resist for more than a year or two in my cellar.  (96 pts)


Note:  I just checked the website to place a quick order for a lot more, but it is sold out.  I’ll have to make do with my couple of bottles.


I’d highly recommend joining the mailing list to get your hands on gems like this.  Visit http://www.villacreekstore.com/the-clubs to join a club like me, or browse around.  This is one of my top 5 wineries.

2007 Villa Creek High Road The Long Path James Berry Vineyard




We paired the Villa Creek wine with a homey dinner.  I coated boneless pork loin chops with a mixture of mayo and grainy Dijon mustard and coated with Panko bread crumbs.  A quick sauté and finished in the oven.  Wife made some cheesy scalloped potatoes and quick sautéed asparagus.  Add some Asiago Cheese/Garlic bread and a Parmigianino-Garlic dipping sauce.

Dinner - chops




 Featured Recipe


Chicken Tortilla Soup (see my notes at end)


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (4 ounces) chopped, mild green chiles, drained

1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and black pepper, to taste

4 corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4-inch strips

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1 avocado, peeled, diced and tossed with lime juice to prevent browning

lime wedges


1 –        Place chicken in slow cooker.

Combine tomatoes with juice, chiles, 1/2 cup broth, onion, garlic, and cumin in a bowl.  Pour mixture over chicken.  Cover, cook on LOW 6 hours or on high 3 hours, or until chicken is tender


2 –        Remove chicken from slow cooker, shred with 2 forks.  Return to cooking liquid.  Adjust seasonings, adding salt, pepper and more broth, as desired.


3 –        Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro to slow cooker.  Stir to blend.  Serve in soup bowls, topping each serving with cheese, avocado and a squeeze of lime    juice.


Makes 4 servings


NOTES – I cut the chicken breasts in half for more even cooking and to make the shredding a bit easier.  This will need a fair amount of salt and pepper if you use low sodium broth.  We generally add additional cumin and the extra broth in step 2.  We also like to add a bit of onion powder and garlic powder in step 2.  Depending on your tastes, we prefer medium or hot chiles.


Regular corn tortillas pretty much disintegrate in the soup, so we prefer to use crunchy tortilla strips from the store.  These are generally either with the Mexican foods or in the salad area.  We just add them to the bowls with the cheese.  If you use these, they are a bit salty, so cut back on salt a bit.  You can use regular tortillas, but I’d recommend spraying them with some cooking spray and putting in a hot oven for a few minutes to make them crispy after cutting into strips.



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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.