2009 Foncalieu Côtes du Rhône Villages St. Gervais La Réserve du Crouzau – $8.95


My comments

I bought several bottles of this wine at the local store at a fantastic price.  I’ve held off opening a bottle for six months, but I really want to open one.  These could probably use another 6 months to a year in the cellar, but it’s time to check in and get a read on how long before these hit their stride.


Winery history

Les Vignobles Foncalieu are like no other cooperative.  Their technical teams include international talents who revel in this mosaic of huge terroirs.  So it comes as no surprise to learn that Michel Bataille and the 1,200 winegrowing estate owners made the choice to produce upmarket wines.  In order to achieve excellence in terms of quality, they have invested in cutting-edge facilities.



Very strict vine management specifications: pruning, green harvesting, picking dates, convocation to the vine plot…

GIS (geographic information system) cartography.

Computerized plot monitoring.

High-tech ripeness tracking.

Grape analysis, segmentation and control over the harvest adapted to the product profile with Dyostem©.



Creation of a vinification plan for all the vineyards, taking account of client needs and brand profiles.

Precise definition of aromatic profiles.

Full traceability process guaranteeing regularity in the quality of wines.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a dark ruby color.  The outstanding nose has black cherries, blackberries, minerals, dried herbs, charred meat, earthy underbrush, and violets.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate has very nice fruit and dried herbs with some spice and earthy elements in the background.  The finish shows considerable promise until the tannins and acidity kick in clipping it a bit.  Give this one another year in the cellar or give it some air.  (90 pts)

2009 Foncalieu Cotes du Rhone Villages St. Gervais La Reserve du Crouzau




2005 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah – $28.80


My comments

I’m been on the Vincent Arroyo mailing list since the 2000 vintage.  I was hooked after our first visit to the winery.  I was fortunate enough to get in on a sale of their library wines so I have had the wines from as far back as the 1995 vintage.  If you ever make it to the Calistoga area, I highly recommend a stop at Vincent Arroyo.  They generally have a couple bottles open but the highlight is the barrel tasting.  You have the opportunity to buy the exact wines you sample from the barrel.


Winery history

Walking into the Vincent Arroyo Winery, one gets the sense that it has been here forever.  Is it just the comfortable atmosphere of a big barn full of oak wine barrels that lends to the sense of permanence?  Vincent Arroyo, himself, may feel like he has been here forever, as well.  He left behind a career as a mechanical engineer in the Silicon Valley during the early 70’s and headed to Calistoga, at the northern tip of the NapaValley.  He felt much more at home close to the land, being able to see and taste the fruits of his labors.


The purchase of the 23 acres of the Greenwood Ranch property in 1974 began the evolution of what is seen today, 85 acres cultivating 9 different wine grape varietals.  Vince has always been a farmer at heart, taking care of the land to produce the best that it can.  He began to transform the Greenwood Ranch by ripping out existing prune trees and unhealthy vines and planting new vineyards.  For many years, he did it all alone, the tractor work, cellar work and a one-man sales force.  Originally he made just a few hundred cases of his favorites, Petite Sirah and Cabernet, selling the majority of the grape tonnage to other Napa wineries.  Today, he produces over 8,000 cases of seven different varietals.


More information is available at: http://www.vincentarroyo.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby color.  The appealing nose has blackberries, baking spices, black pepper, minerals, underbrush, and a hint of band aid or adhesive tape (brett).  The wine is barely medium body with fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  Nice spicy, peppery fruit on the palate with some earthiness and minerals in the background.  Once again, there is just a slight hint of band aid on the palate, but it actually adds to the palate instead of coming across as a flaw.  The finish is a touch short but nice earthy berries are good while they last.  If you are overly sensitive to the band aid influences of brett, you will hate this wine, if you think a touch of brett isn’t necessarily bad, you’ll like it.  I’m in the like it camp.  With the nice balance, solid tannins and acidity, this should last in the cellar for several more years.  (90 pts)

2005 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah



Barrel Tasting at Vincent Arroyo several years ago.

VA Barrel Tasting




2009 Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend – $37.99


My comments

I guess you can say I am a fan of Lewis, but only when I can grab the wines on sale.  The wines are usually pretty good, but there are better ones out there at their release prices.  In this case, the wine had a release price of $60 and the Cellar Tracker average price paid was around $55, both tough price points for me to justify.  When my local store had these for $38, I had to grab several.


Winery history

In 1992 Debbie and Randy Lewis established a small family winery in NapaValley and were later joined by their son Dennis in 1999.  Total production is approximately 9,000 cases annually of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.


We are literally hands-on in every aspect of vineyard management, winemaking, sales and distribution, and we thrive on this challenge and the relationships we cultivate in the process.  It is our continuing goal to create world-class wines.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, purple color.  The rich nose has blackberries, blueberries, wood smoke, violets, black pepper, dark chocolate, fresh ground coffee, vanilla and some earthiness.  The wine has full body, big, ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  There are massive amounts of fruit and spice on the palate with smoky, earthy elements coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long and again massive endowed with fruit and spice.  The wine does show a bit of alcohol on the nose and palate, perhaps it will integrate with some cellar time, there is plenty of stuffing to help it hide out.  Not for the meek.  This could use another year or two in the cellar.  (92 pts)

2009 Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend




2003 Carlisle Syrah Dry Creek Valley – $23.00


My comments

Currently the oldest vintage of Carlisle in my cellar.  Sadly, this is my last bottle of this wine.  The last couple bottles have shown this wine to be in its’ sweet spot, so I have high expectations.  Carlisle Winery is not known for letting you down.


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).  While we like our wines to be bold, rich, and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and perhaps most importantly, pleasure.


Rich.  Lusty.  Hedonistic.  These are some of the descriptors we often hear applied to our wines.  However, we also hear the words elegant, balanced, complex.  Yes, through hard work in the vineyard and winery, we believe you can have it all, the best of both worlds.  Our approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult.  We prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to maximize the quality of each wine we produce.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The dark and inviting nose has blackberries, smoked meat, baking spices, black pepper, dark chocolate, dried herbs, wild flowers, and a bit of earthiness.  The wine has a medium to full body with mostly integrated, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate, some of the usual Carlisle up front fruit has receded allowing more of the savory elements to show themselves.  This does not mean the fruit is gone, it is still front and center, it is just allowing more room for the earth, meat, pepper, and spices to add tremendous depth.  The finish is fairly long with berries, smoked meat, and earthy elements leading the way.  This is in a real nice place.  (93 pts)

2003 Carlisle Syrah Dry Creek Valley





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Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.









Mailing Lists



Nothing new to report now, but keep an eye on the inbox starting next week.




Wines bought or received this week


I was good over the last few days, so nothing to report.





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.