2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard, 2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford

2009 Château des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape, 2003 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles




2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard – $37.99


My comments

When the local wine store offered this wine and the winery’s Mill Vineyard Pinot at a special price via an e-mail offer, I had to grab a few bottles of each.  I’ve enjoyed the lower end Calera Pinots in the past, but these will be my exposure to their higher end, single vineyard offerings.


Winery history

Calera is a vision, and Calera’s wines truly express the sense of place.  Rather than follow the recommended path, Josh Jensen became a pioneer in search of the perfect spot on the globe to grow grapes.  Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France.  Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the GavilanMountains of California.  Today Calera wines still express that pioneer spirit and are revered the world over.  We are proud to report that even Robert Parker is convinced: “Calera is one of the most compelling Pinot Noir specialists of not only the New World, but of Planet Earth.”



My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium, bright ruby red color.  The sexy and inviting nose has black raspberries, cherries, mint, Asian spices, wild flowers, cola, and a touch of earthiness.  This is barely medium body with soft, fairly integrated tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate the sweet berries and spicy cherries lead the charge but some nice earthiness and a touch of mint come in on the back end adding depth.  The finish is fairly long leaning on the raspberries, floral note, and earthy elements.  This is the real deal and it should gain additional complexity with a bit more cellar time, but it is delicious right now.  (94 pts)

2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard




2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford – $17.25


My comments

This wine has been a long time favorite of mine.  This is one of those wines that tastes great upon release, but transforms into something magical with a decade in the cellar.  I was lucky enough to restock this wine at a steal of a price via WineBid a couple years ago.  I don’t know who sold these, but they should rest assured they found a good home and provided a lot of pleasure to those lucky enough to have been around when I opened one.


Wine Techie Stuff and information

This is made up of 93% Petite Sirah and 7% Zinfandel.  The Petite Sirah comes from the Wood Ranch.  Wood Ranch was owned by Frank “Laurie” Wood, who passed away in August 2011.  The Wood Ranch was purchased a couple months ago by Frank Family winery, at this time it is not known if they will keep the Petite Sirah vines.  Personally, I hope they keep these vines and continue selling the grapes to Elyse for this wine.  An interesting tidbit is the bud wood used in the Wood Ranch Petite Sirah block was sourced from the old vines of the famed Hayne Vineyard by Elyse’s very own Ray Coursen.   See a picture below of Frank “Laurie” Wood at the Ranch.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The outstanding nose has blackberries, melted licorice, smoky embers, black peppercorns, dark chocolate, dried herbs, earthy underbrush, and meat juices.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  One the palate there are loads of berries, licorice, and black pepper up front with dried herbs, meaty notes, and dark chocolate coming in on the back end.  The finish is long and full of berries, black pepper, and dark chocolate.  This is in a fantastic drinking window, full open and absolutely no rough edges.  I wish I had a few more bottles for drinking over the next few years.  Outstanding!  (95 pts)

2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford




Frank “Laurie” Wood at his Ranch which was the source of the Petite Sirah grapes used in the 2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford described above.





2009 Château des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape – $12.34


My comments

This wine was brought in by the local wine store as part of a blow out sale.  Even though this winery was not familiar to me, I grabbed a few bottles for week nights.  The average price paid on Cellar Tracker for this wine was over $20, so my $12 cost could have been a bargain, but I’ll have to try one to make sure.


Winery history

Château des Karantes is a magnificent vineyard located in the south of France, in the Languedoc Roussillon Region.  The domaine is in the heart of a small valley overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and is just two minutes from the seaside resort towns of Narbonne Plage and St. Pierre sur Mer.  The estate offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea with the PyreneesMountains visible in the distance.  The beautiful winding access to the vineyard through the garrigue fosters a sense of remoteness and contributes to the peaceful surroundings of the estate.


The vineyard is named after a former Bishop of Carcassonne, owner of the estate hundreds of years ago.  The estate is 193 hectares and produces 44 hectares of vines.  Nestled in the Mediterranean Garrigue, it extends along the limestone, clay and rocky slopes, which form the “Massif” or Ridge of La Clape.  The exceptional South-East/East exposure and proximity to the sea contribute to the production of our quality wines.  The entire vineyard is in the Coteaux du Languedoc – La Clape Appelation.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, smoke, plums, dried herbs, a touch of road tar, Asian spice, dark chocolate, and fresh ground dark roast coffee.  This has medium body with fairly substantial tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate nice fruit and dried herbs take center stage with some spice, dark chocolate, and coffee coming in later.  The finish is initially a touch short and has a slight stemmy/green note that creeps into the picture.  After about 3 hours of decanter time, the stemmy/green note integrates and is barely noticeable and the finish adds some length.  Not bad now, but some cellar time will be greatly rewarded.  (90 pts)

2009 Château des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape




2003 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles – $15.83


My comments

I could say I saved this bottle to see how a Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles priced in the mid teens would be at 10 years old, but the truth is it simply fell through the cracks.  Personally, I’m interested to see what this bottle has to offer.


Winery history

During a family trip to France in the late 70’s, Robert visited the Rhone valley and was captivated by the winery lifestyle of farming, crafting wine and the pairing of wine with food.  Robert began developing his idea for a premium-producing vineyard and winery in the early-80’s, and ventured west with the goal of visiting each of California’s wine appellations to explore the optimum growing conditions for the production of premium wine grapes, specifically the Rhone varieties he had enjoyed so much.  In early-90’s, Robert and Margaret discovered the perfect terroir in the Paso Robles appellation.  Featuring soil rich in nutrients, coupled with warm days and cool nights, Robert felt the viticultural conditions were ideal to the development of the enological characteristics he was seeking to produce.  “Home Ranch” was acquired in 1995.  Soon after, the “Terrace” and “Bench” vineyards joined the Hall Ranch enclave.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a ruby red color with just a touch of brick at the edge.  The classic nose has cassis, leather, dried herbs, tobacco, baking spices, smoke, and just a touch of cedar.  This has medium body, fully integrated tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has a quick hit of cassis but the savory elements take over with spices, dried herbs, and a touch of oak coming in.  The finish has nice length with a touch of cassis adding nice sweetness to the savory elements.  This may be on the back side of its aging progression, but it was a very tasty week night Cabernet.  (89 pts)

2003 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon




***** 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 end has to be approaching since it seems like I have been getting offers every day for the last month.


One of the big boys did hit this week, Bedrock Wine Co.  This is a no brainer, stock up, winery.  I’ll be placing my order this weekend, but I already know my order will be between two and three cases.




Wines bought or received this week


I received a nice box of samples from Northwest Totem Cellars that I’ll be tasting in the next few weeks.  Keep an eye out for a special post on these gems.

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Qo-Ne

2009 Northwest Totem Cellars Low Man

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Cabernet Franc



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.