2006 Bodegas San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud Las Rocas Viñas Viejas – $9.50


My comments

This 100% Garnacha (Grenache) from Spain is a perennial favorite in my house.  This wine generally leans heavily on the fruity component with the savory elements in the background providing depth and “seasoning”.  This wine is well distributed and generally available for less than the suggested retail price if you shop around or have a good, value oriented, local wine store in the area.


Winery history

BODEGAS SAN ALEJANDRO it is a cooperative founded in 1962, formed nowadays by 350 associates and 1100 hectares with a total average production of 4.600.000 Kilos.  It is located in Miedes, place of the province of Saragossa placed to 88 km from the capital, in the valley of the Perejiles, to 758 m. of altitude and with a population of 530 inhabitants.


Belonging to the community of Calatayud from the re-conquest of Alfonso I until 1834.  At the centre of its urban neighbourhood rises the church of San Pedro Apóstol made in the mudejar style, which it lies next to the exceptional communal Tower in the gothic style and built using cut-stone masonry.


At the beginning of the 17th century, the mudejar-style Convent of the Reverendas Concepcionistas Franciscanas was built, where the remainders of San Alejandro currently remain in honour of whom the main town festivities are held from the 12th to the 16th of May.


Finally in 1962 was founded our winery, which logo is inspired in the reliquary venerated by the confraternity more ancient of the village, which is kept in the altar of San Blas’s Church.


A great appreciation one´s own part of the country and know-how came together to make the dream of its people possible.  Our insignia is a product of the history of our people, thereby reflecting moderness without distancing ourselves from the roots that allowed us to grow.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color.  The intoxicating nose has cherries, black raspberries, minerals, smoke, dried herbs, Asian spices, cedar, white pepper, and some licorice.  This has medium body, fully integrated tannins, and good acidity.  This is rich and velvety on the palate with a good blend of fruity and savory elements.  The finish is fairly long with the fruit and spice slowly giving way to some dried herbs and subtle earthiness.  This is about as good as it gets at this price point.  (91 pts)

2006 Bodegas San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud Las Rocas Vinas Viejas




2009 Caldora Sangiovese Terre di Chieti IGT – $6.02


My comments

Although this wine is nothing too special, this Italian Sangiovese is perfect for some week night pizza or pasta.  Nice red fruit with some earthiness and tart acidity is a perfect companion for an informal dinner at home.  What more could you ask from a $6 wine.


Winery history (from the Winery)

Not all our partners’ vineyards are fit to become Caldora’s vineyards; in fact, after a careful selection based on over 1,000 total hectares of land, we have chosen less than 200 hectares of very aged vineyards, with the best clones, located on the best lands.  The working rules of our vineyards are very strict, with a very low yield and rapid working time to face the changes of the climatic conditions.  Then, when the time is best, harvest is carried out by handpicking within only 3 working days to avoid dangerous climatic changes.  To keep the yield low, our partners are paid according to the size of the vineyard, not to the amount of grapes, this radically changes the concept of “co-operative” aiming directly to the final quality of our wines.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color. On the fairly straight forward nose there are cherries, earthy elements, baking spices, violets, licorice, and just a touch of raisin. This has a medium body with soft, ripe tannins and very nice acidity. The palate shows nice tart cherries with some earthiness and spices in the background. The finish has decent length. This is a very straight forward, no frills, Italian Sangiovese with little complexity. That said, for $6, this is fine with some pizza or pasta at home on a week night.  (85 pts)

(Note copied from December 2012 since they were similar)

2009 Caldora Sangiovese Terre di Chieti IGT




2010 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Gris – SRP $18.00


My comments

This wine was supplied to me by the SIP Certified organization for me to comment on during an online, Twitter based WineChat.  For more information on the outstanding efforts of SIP (Sustainability in Practice) please visit them at:  SIP Certified


This bottle was my introduction to Claiborne & Churchill Vintners.  We are big fans of the dry, Oregon Pinot Gris based wines as well as the ones from the Alsace region in France.  I’m looking forward to trying this one from California’s CentralCoast.


Winery history

Claiborne & Churchill is a small, family-owned winery founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill.  Former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the couple left the “Groves of Academe” for the vineyards of California in 1981 in order to start a new life in the wine industry.  Clay began as a “cellar rat” in a local winery, learning the business from the ground up (actually underground), and soon the two were encouraged to start their own wine production in that host facility.


With its first crush in 1983 Claiborne & Churchill announced its special focus, producing 565 cases of Dry Gewürztraminer and Dry Riesling, modeled on the fruity but dry dinner wines of the French province of Alsace.  Claiborne & Churchill now produces about 10,000 cases of wine a year, purchasing grapes from vineyards in the cool maritime valleys of California’s CentralCoast.  About two-thirds of these wines remain our signature wines, the Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer, which are sold all over the country (and abroad) by a network of brokers and distributors.  A variety of other wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other wines in the Alsatian style (Pinot Gris, Dry Muscat, and an Edelzwicker), are produced in small lots and can be ordered directly from the winery.


In 1995 Clay and Fredericka completed construction on their new and permanent winery building.  This structure, a noteworthy example of environmental architecture, is a “straw bale building,” the first of its kind in California.  With sixteen-inch thick walls made of bales of rice straw, the winery is so well insulated that it maintains a constant cellar temperature, without the need for mechanical cooling or heating.


At Claiborne & Churchill traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation and barrel-aging (even with Riesling and Gewürztraminer), minimal manipulation of juice and wine, “natural” or spontaneous fermentation using indigenous yeast, and limited use of SO2, all in the belief that the winemaker’s task is to bring out the flavor and character that is latent in the grape.  Our aim is to create pleasurable dinner wines in which there is a harmonious balance of fruit and oak, structure and texture.


For much more information, visit:  Claiborne & Churchill Website


My Tasting Note

The wine is a pale yellow with a golden tint.  The fresh smelling nose has apples, spices, melon, citrus zest, fresh Spring flowers, and a healthy dollop of minerals.  The wine is dry with a light to medium body and very good acidity.  On the palate the wine is dry but shows nice ripe and rich fruit with good citrusy acidity.  The long finish is full of nice fruit and spice.  This is a very nicely balanced wine.  Don’t serve this one too cold, cool room temperature is best.  One of the better Pinot Gris wines I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy.  This is a SIP Certified wine, which stands for “Sustainability in Practice”.  (92 pts)

2010 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Gris




2007 Stolpman Syrah Estate Grown – $19.99


My comments

I’m always in the mood for a good Syrah, and the ones from Stolpman definitely fall in that category.  The Stolpman Estate Syrah is consistently very good to outstanding, generally offering high quality at a very reasonable price.  This is generally a wine that greatly rewards a couple ears in the cellar.  I’m looking forward to checking in to see how this wine is progressing.


Winery history

Tom and Marilyn Stolpman founded Stolpman Vineyards in 1990 after making the decision that Marilyn’s dream of an “investment we can enjoy” could include finding the perfect piece of property that could grow world-class wine grapes.  Tom was seeking out Limestone hills in a cool, maritime climate.  Until 1997, when Stolpman produced its first wines, all of the grapes were sold to other wineries including the cult hits of Sine Qua Non & Ojai Vineyards.  In 2001 winemaker Sashi Moorman came aboard and began working closely with Vineyard Manager Ruben Solorzano to increase the quality of the fruit going to the winery, including experimentation with dry-farming & high density plantings.


After decades of careful development, Stolpman Vineyards now bottles wine from approximately 90% of the 152 acres under vine.  Through extensive experimentation with many varietals, the team has perfected its offerings of Syrah, Roussanne, Sangiovese and Sauvignon Blanc.  Limited plantings of Grenache, Viognier, Petite Sirah, and Chardonnay serve as blending grapes.  The very best limited production wines including Angeli, La Croce, and Ruben’s Block are generally only available to the Stolpman Vineyards Wine Club.


Today, Tom’s son Peter Stolpman manages the tightly knit family operation dedicated to making world-class wines.  The team never rests in pushing the envelope of quality through organic dry farming and the meticulous work of Stolpman’s vineyard crew, “La Cuadrilla”.


Much more information is available at Stolpman Vineyards website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, minerals, Freshly ground espresso, smoked meat, black pepper, baking spices, licorice, dark chocolate, and violets, with just a touch of earthiness.  This is fairly full bodied with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  The palate features spicy berries with dark chocolate and spicy oak coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long with fresh ground espresso and dark chocolate lingering on after the spicy fruit fades away.  This is entering a nice drinking window and should hold for a few years.  (92 pts)

2007 Stolpman Syrah Estate Grown




2003 Domaine du Gros’ Noré Bandol – $19.99


My comments

I bought a bottle of this wine as soon as it hit the shelf at the local wine store.  I liked it so much I grabbed a case.  Unfortunately, we liked it so much, this is my last bottle.  Every bottle has been very good, so I have high expectations for this one.


Winery history

Owner Alain Pascal has 16 ha of vines in the prime sector of Cadiere d’Azur.  They have an average age of 30 years.  The first official vintage released was 1997.  Prior to this, Alain’s father, Honore (his name is shortened to ‘Nore to give the name of the Domaine as Gros Noré = Fat Honore) worked the vineyards but never made his own wine.  Instead he sold the grapes to another leading Bandol producer at that time, Chateau de Pibarnon.


Bandol is regarded as the First Growth of Provence producing the most serious, and well known, wines of Provence.  The Mourvèdre grape variety is the basis of great Bandol with appellation laws requiring a minimum of 50% for the red wines (though many use up to 100% for some cuvees).  As well as Mourvèdre (80%), the Gros’ Noré red also has a dash of Grenache (15%), and old vine Cinsault (5%).  The wine is aged for 18 months in old 60 hl wooden barrels (foudres).  There are no new barriques used.  Only one cuvee of red wine is produced, and it is bottled without fining or filtration.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby with a touch of brick especially at the edge.  The stunning nose has plums, minerals, cherries, worn leather, Asian spices, dried herbs, earthy underbrush, eucalyptus, dark chocolate, and a touch of smoke.  This has medium body with ripe, integrated tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows spicy, mineral laden, fruit with dried herbs up front, on the back end a touch of mint and dark chocolate enter the picture.  The mint, dark chocolate, and a touch of earthiness linger nicely on the fairly long finish.  This is in a nice drinking window and I don’t envision much improvement with additional cellar time.  Enjoy over the next year, maybe two.  (93 pts)

2003 Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol




***** 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.






Music Corner – A new addition

Some favorite songs/videos (known to pair with good wine)


The Hollies – Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress


Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade Of Pale


The Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin


Emerson Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man (live)


Greg Lake – Still You Turn Me On





Mailing Lists


It seems like every winery sent out their offers at the same time this year.  It’s time for me to cut back, so a few offers have already found their way into the “deleted” folder.  If you are on any waiting lists, I’m dong my part to get you an allocation.



Wines bought or received this week

It’s been a quiet week, but I am expecting a delivery tomorrow unless our impending snow storm causes a delay.





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.