2010 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Russian River Valley – $18.99


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of the Novy/Siduri wines from Adam Lee for several years.  For some reason, their Zinfandels seem to fly under the radar.  Their single vineyard offerings are some of the best values out there, grab one if you happen to see one sitting on a store shelf.


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 red color.  The soothing and inviting nose has brambly berries, black pepper, warm baking spices, licorice, dried herbs, tobacco, dark chocolate and some red raspberries.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and tart acidity.  Spicy, peppery berries grab the palate initially with dried herbs and dark chocolate coming in on the mid palate.  The finish has decent length highlighted by tart red raspberries.  This has much brighter acidity than your usual California zin, which obscures any richness that may be present.  With the good tannins and abundant acidity, this should last in the cellar and improve for several years.  (90 pts)

2010 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Russian River Valley




2004 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.79


My comments

Something I knew way back but forgot was that Freemark Abbey was the only winery to have two bottles of wine in the 1976 “Judgment in Paris” tasting that put California on the world’s wine map.  After a few lean years, I think the winery has righted the boat and are again producing very nice, bargain priced wines.


Winery history

In 1967, seven partners purchased Freemark Abbey, setting the stage for a new era of creativity.   The winery earned the nickname the “University of Freemark” due to the sheer number of innovations and significant winemakers that emerged from our cellars.


In 1976, wine expert Steven Spurrier conducted a legendary blind tasting in Paris – pitting the upstart wines of California against the establishment of France.  Of the 12 American wineries chosen to compete, only Freemark Abbey had two wines represented – a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  In an upset that shocked the wine world, California wines won every category of the tasting, putting NapaValley firmly on the world stage.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has cassis, cedar, Asian spices, dried herbs, tobacco, black cherries, minerals, and fresh wild flowers.  This has medium body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and very nice acidity.  The palate is greeted by loads of sweet, juicy berries, spicy oak, and dried herbs, with some cherry coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long and full of spicy, sweet, cherries and berries, with a touch of excess oak peeking through.  The bit of excess oak on the finish is minor since there is plenty of sweet fruit.  This is pure Napa Valley and would never be mistaken as a French Bordeaux.  (91 pts)

2004 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon




I selected the Freemark Abbey Cabernet to pair with a pot roast.  I seared the meat and braised it low and slow for a few hours on Sunday.  I tightly wrapped the meat and reserved the broth.  On Tuesday, I skimmed the fat off the broth and brought it back to a boil.  I cooked the carrots, potatoes, and onions in the broth until they were tender.  After removing them, I cooked some egg noodles.  While everything else was cooking, I cut the roast into chunks and removed the larger clumps of fat.  Lastly, I put the meat into the hot broth to reheat it.  Here is the finished product:

Pot Roast




2010 Helioterra Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – $18.56


My comments

This was a new winery for me last year.  Since that time, I met the owner/wine maker Anne Ebenretier Hubatch when she returned to her home state of Wisconsin.  After tasting through close to a dozen of her wines, I became convinced this is an up and coming winery to keep an eye on.


Winery history

Helioterra Wines is a small, artisan producer of Northwest wines made at an urban winery in SE Portland, Oregon.


Our wines are pretty, elegant and graceful in style.  Winemaker Anne Ebenretier Hubatch partners with exceptional regional vineyard growers to craft wines that demonstrate the best that the Northwest offers.


The name draws on geological inspirations, symbolizing Heliolite, the Oregon state gemstone (more commonly known as Sun Stone.)  Helio and Terra combine the Greek words for sun and earth, natural partners for grape growing.


For more information, I highly recommend checking out their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a very light ruby red color.  The soft and feminine nose has cherries, minerals, damp earth, underbrush, strawberry, baking spices, smoke, and a faint, pleasing herbal note.  This has light to medium body, soft, ripe tannins, and very nice acidity.  The palate features spicy, earthy, cherries with nice minerality.  The finish has very nice length with the cherries carrying the major load and the faint herbal note once again coming into play.  This is a lighter body, nuanced style of Pinot, leaning more towards Burgundy than California.  (92 pts)

2010 Helioterra Pinot Noir Willamette Valley




2002 Château Potensac – $18.99


My comments

This is a winery I generally turn to for a reasonably priced week night, Bordeaux.  The wines are generally very reflective of the vintage, and are usually well made and very enjoyable without breaking the bank.


Winery history

Chateau Potensac is owned by the Delon family.  They are better known for their famous property in St. Julien, Leoville Las Cases.  Located in the Haut Medoc appellation, and Chateau Nenin in Pomerol.  Chateau Potensac has been in the Delon family hands for several generations.  The grandfather of Jean Hubert Delon obtained the estate through marriage, when he married into the Liquard family.  From that time on, Chateau Potensac has been passed down from father to son.


The 53 hectare, Bordeaux wine vineyard of Chateau Potensac consists of gravel based soils with patches of clay.  The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc with vines that are on average, 30 years of age.  The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 8,000 vines per hectare.  Over the past several years, in an effort to add softness to the wine, slowly but surely, more Merlot has been added to the vineyards of Chateau Potensac.  Chateau Potensac is vinified in a combination of temperature controlled, stainless steel vats and concrete tanks.  The wines are aged in barrels passed down from Clos du Marquis for between 14 and 16 months, depending on the character and style of the vintage.


There is a second wine, La Chapelle Potensac.


The wines of Potensac are structured, firm and often display an austere quality, especially in their youth.  Chateau Potensac is the perfect wine for fans of old school, classic Bordeaux wine making.


Winery info from the Wine Cellar Insider since the winery’s website is “under construction”.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby, much lighter at the edge.  The seductive nose has cassis, cedar, melted licorice, dried herbs, warm baking spices, cherries, minerals, leather, and tobacco.  This has a medium body with moderate tannins and very good acidity.  The palate features nice fruit and dried herbs, with a healthy dollop of spicy oak.  The finish has decent length with the spicy oak laced fruit carrying most of the load.  Not a show stopper, but a nice wine for the vintage.  This can probably last another year or two in the cellar, but I’d be afraid this would become too oaky if much more fruit subsides.  As is, a nice week night Bordeaux.  (87 pts)

2002 Château Potensac



***** 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.






Wines bought or received this week

I received a couple bottles from Riverbench and a sampler set from Trione.  Reviews of these wines will be posted when I sample them, probably in the next couple of weeks.





Remember to support your local wine store!




* * * * * * * * * * * * *


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.