2011 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard – $39.67


My comments

This was a no-brainer buy for me.  I love Brian Loring’s wines and Grenache is one of my favorite grapes.  The price of admission was a touch steep for a total unknown, but I had to grab some.


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

The wine is a deep violet color, quite a bit lighter at the edge.  The very interesting nose has black cherries, black raspberries, minerals, dried herbs, white pepper, eucalyptus, underbrush, and Asian spices.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate is full of juicy cherries and berries with solid minerals, on the midpalate dried herbs, spices, and pepper kick in filling out the palate and adding tons of depth.  The finish has decent length but gets a bit youthfully muddled.  This is absolutely delicious today, but will improve immensely with some cellar time.  The palate carries no excess weight or extraction and the wine is in perfect balance.  This should last several years in the cellar, but give it another 6 months or some time in a decanter if you want to sample one soon.  If this was a “test” wine from Loring, I consider it a success.  (93 pts)

2011 Loring Grenache Russell Family Vineyard




2006 Copain Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch – $35.00


My comments

I’ve been a fan of Copain’s Syrah wine for several years.  The Eaglepoint Ranch wines have always been a personal favorite.  The area gets warm enough the grapes get ripe but cool enough the wines show very good acidity and nice minerality.  I was disappointed when the winery stopped making this wine after the 2007 vintage.  I’m thankful I still have a nice stash of this wine in the cellar going back to the 2005 vintage.


Winery history

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s RhôneValley in particular.  So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best.  For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s RhoneValley.  During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life. At Copain, he creates wines that are firmly rooted in California, yet with the sensibilities of the European wines that so moved him.  He is as committed to crafting these elegant, nuanced wines as he is to building a legacy that will be passed down to his daughters in the great tradition of European winemakers whose estates have been in the same family for generations.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby to maroon color.  The appealing nose has blackberries, smoked meat, black pepper, dried herbs, minerals, violets, brined olives, and some earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a big hit of peppery, meaty, berries with some dried herbs and earthiness filling in the backend.  The finish is fairly long and a continuation of the palate.  This is in a very nice place right now, but there is absolutely no hurry on this wine.  I’ll probably drink my remaining bottles over the next 3 to 4 years.  (93 pts)

2006 Copain Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch




2009 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Papera Ranch – $21.75


My comments

Novy is another long time favorite winery.  I realize I have several “favorite wineries” and they represent a high percentage of the wines I review, but there is a reason for that…I review wines from my cellar that I have bought and I generally buy a lot of wine from certain wineries, because I like them.  Generally, I will buy multiples bottles of wine from these wineries because I know they will make the best wine possible with the grapes.  This wine falls into that category.  I like Novy well enough that I loaded up on this wine with no reviews or tasting notes available because it was from Novy, it was a Zinfandel, and it was from Papera Ranch.  By the time there are reviews available of wines like this, they are sold out.


Winery history

Our winemaking goal is to produce wines that best capture the distinct flavor and character of a given vineyard site.  To that end, we focus on sites that provide us with exceptional fruit.  We are fanatical in our protection of the vineyard flavor and are determined not to let any overt winemaking components mute the personality of an individual site.


In the cellar, we vinifiy each wine separately by block, clone and barrel type in order to maximize the individual components and provide greater complexity to the final blend.  This approach also provides us with much more flexibility in crafting a wine using only the best and most harmonious lots.


Given that the majority of our wines are single vineyard offerings, it is critical for us to maintain the site’s individual character in order to provide you with a truly diverse offering of wines.  To that end:


  • We believe in minimal intervention, “gentle” winemaking.  In other words, we let the wine make itself.  We do not want to do anything to the wine that isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • We believe in bottling our wines unfiltered and unfined whenever possible, convinced as we are that fining and filtering strip wines of flavor and character.
  • We believe that the best wines express their origins.  Our goal is not to produce the world’s best Syrah or Zinfandel but rather to produce the very best wine from a given site.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby color.  The very interesting nose has brambly berries, black pepper, minerals, smoke, vanilla bean, warm baking spices, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate shows tart, spicy, peppery berries with minerals and some earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish is kicked up a couple notches with the crisp acidity accentuating the fruit and spices leaving your mouth watering for another sip.  Not a big, bruising style of zin.  Very food friendly and one that should last for years in the cellar.  (91 pts)

2009 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Papera Ranch




2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Pinot Noir Carneros – $18.89


My comments

Another wine from my current value oriented favorite, Treasure Hunter.  The label was the result of a glut of wine and grapes due to the economic downturn.  Unfortunately, it seems like the winery’s access to good quality grapes is running out now that the economy is finally turning around.  Their latest group of wines just didn’t do it for me, and I surprisingly passed on everything at a tasting.  Oh well, I’ll enjoy the sizable stash I built up over the last couple of years.


Winery history

Treasure Hunter is a label under the 3 Finger Wine Company family of wines.


Each Treasure Hunter wine goes through a pain-staking process of examination from our panel of nine called The De-Vine Nine.  Made up of top sommeliers, winemakers and restaurateurs, they are the best of the best and they pour through hundreds of wines before they are deemed worthy.


Each wine is a small one-time offering and represents an extraordinary opportunity to drink seminal wines of great importance.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a couple shades lighter than ruby red.  The delicate and sensual nose has cherries, smoke, baking spices, vanilla, a touch of earthiness, and a faint herbal note.  This has light to medium body, soft, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate is bright and zippy with tart cherries and spices.  On the back end some earthiness and an herbal note add depth.  The finish has decent length with the tart cherries slowly giving way to the herbal note.  Not very Californian in style.  The herbal note pokes through even more as the wine gets air.  If this green element is not to your liking, my score is accurate, if an herbal note doesn’t bother you, add a couple points.  (86 pts)

2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Pinot Noir Carneros2






***** 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


Nothing landed yet, but getting a lot of “save the date” notices from Saxum, Villa Creek, Loring and others.



Wines bought or received this week


Still being good so nothing new to report.  The being good will end this weekend, I have a couple mixed cases waiting for me to pick up at the local wine store.






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.