2004 Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo Vigneti S. Francesco – $36.87


My comments

Today is my wife’s birthday, so I wanted to kick up the wine choice a couple of notches.  My last bottle of this wine was a little over a year and a half ago.  At that time, I felt it needed another year or two in the cellar.  It seems like a good time to try it again.  If it still needs some time, there’s still more in the cellar.


Winery history

Our winery was established in 1986 in La Morra, a town in the heart of the Langhe that has always been renowned for the greatness of its vineyards, some of which were mentioned in town records going back as far as 1250.


We began with 2 hectares, and over the years have managed to acquire the most prestigious, historic crus for the production of Barolo, such as La Serra, Brunate, Cerequio, Sarmassa, Rocche dell’Annunziata and Fossati, and excellent vineyards for Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Merlot.


We then decided to increase the number of vines in the new vineyards, and in some of the old ones, to 6000/8000 per hectare and reduce yield for the most prestigious wines to 500/700 grams per plant.  The clusters we leave on our vines are exclusively responsible for the quality of our wine.


We have always worked in the traditional way in the cellar, with total simplicity at every stage from vinification to bottling, with no interference, letting the diversity of each terroir emerge and giving each vineyard the chance to make its own wine.


Our production is limited: with just over 20 hectares we produce between 40,000 to 60,000 bottles, depending on the harvest.


More information is available at:  http://www.voerzioroberto.it/eng/cantina.asp


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color, with a touch of light brick at the edge.  The very enticing and exotic nose has cherries, dusty roses, melted licorice, earthy underbrush, smoke, baking spices, and tobacco.  The wine has medium body with fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  The palate has some nice red fruit but the savory notes and spices are in control.  The finish has nice length and like the palate is more tilted towards the savory elements with the red fruit adding a touch of sweetness and depth.  This is still on the young side but opened up nicely after a couple hours in the decanter.  (91 pts)

2004 Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo Vigneti S Francesco




2009 Big Basin Vineyards Homestead – $29.00


My comments

As I’ve said in the past, I think Big Basin is one big score from one of the big wine reviewing periodicals away from appearing everyone’s radar.  I’ve been a big fan of Big Basin’s Syrah wines and blends for a few years.  I would highly recommend checking them out.  This is a blend of 46% Grenache, 43% Syrah, and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.


Winery history

Big Basin Vineyards was founded in 1998 in the Santa Cruz Mountains next to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, with a new winery building completed in 2003.  Proprietor and wine maker Bradley Brown sources his wines from three Estate Vineyards – Rattlesnake Rock, Old Corral Block and Homestead Block.  All of the Estate vineyards are planted to Alban Selections on steep hillsides with mudstone and shale soils – 7 acres of Syrah, 2 acres of Grenache and 1 acre of Roussanne – and are farmed organically.  Additionally, Bradley works closely with Coastview Vineyard located at 2400 ft on a mountain top in the Gabilan Mountains overlooking the Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay (several miles due south of Mt. Harlan).  He has contracted with the vineyard to purchase Syrah planted in 1998 and to bud over certain sections of the vineyard to Pinot Noir and Grenache (in 2008) and plant a new block to an Alban selection of Syrah.  This vineyard is also farmed organically and managed according to Bradley’s direction.  Beginning in 2006, Big Basin started making Pinot Noir sourced from the Santa Cruz Mountains.  As of 2009, Big Basin is making three different single vineyard Pinots from the Santa Cruz Mountains (Alfaro Family, Lester Family and Woodruff Family Vineyards), plus the Pinot from Coastview Vineyard in the Gabilan Mountains.


Best known for Syrah, but also makes Pinot Noirs and blends.


Much more information is available at:  http://bigbasinvineyards.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to violet color.  The open and inviting nose has cherries, black raspberries, roasted herbs, licorice, earthy underbrush, violets, white pepper, and a touch of wood smoke.  This has medium body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The wine has much lighter weight on the palate than I was expecting.  The palate shows nice spicy fruit with roasted herbs, pepper, and spicy oak adding depth and filling out the palate.  The finish is fairly long with smoky, roasted herbs and fruit slowly fading.  One of the more “civilized” wines I’ve had from Bradley Brown’s BigBasin.  I’m glad I have a few more to enjoy over the next few years.  (92 pts)

2009 Big Basin Vineyards Homestead




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 a 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 bright yellow to straw color.  The light and refreshing nose has lemon curd, apples, stony/flinty minerals, orange blossoms, a touch of spice and a bit of pineapple.  This has light to medium body, is dry and has crisp, citrusy acidity.  This is very bright and lively on the palate with crisp apples, lemon zest, and flinty minerals, on the backend a touch of spice and orange zest add some depth.  The finish has nice length with the citrus, apples, and minerals holding on nicely.  This was an absolute steal on closeout for under $5.  (90 pts)

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Santa Rita Hills




2006 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée – $35.00


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 wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre from the Denner and James Berry Vineyards in Paso Robles.


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 saturated ruby red color.  The very appealing nose has blackberries, smoke, earthy underbrush, meat juices, black pepper, licorice, cherries, dark chocolate, and dried wild flowers.  This has medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  Big, juicy, berries, black pepper, meat, and earthy elements grab the palate initially with some chocolate and cherries coming through on the backend.  The finish is fairly long and full of smoky, peppery berries.  Outstanding now, but will last in the cellar for another 4 to 6 years.  (93 pts)


Label modifications in the picture courtesy of my VinoTemp which doesn’t like the slightly larger bottles used by some wineries.

2006 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvee



We paired the Villa Creek wine with a quick and easy recipe we’ve enjoyed several times over the years.  The Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce over Egg Noodles is very wine friendly with minimal fuss and ingredients.

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce



The recipe can be found at:




***** Shameless Self Promotion *****


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


The season is starting to heat up, keep an eye on the old inbox.


I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to get the dreaded Cayuse, “I’m sorry” e-mail last week.  I’ll live, there’s plenty of other great options out there.


Wines bought or received this week


It’s getting boring, I was good again this week.





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.