2008 Loring Wine Divergence

2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines

2008 Santi Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore Solane

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

2006 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino




2008 Loring Wine Divergence – $99.67


My comments

This wine was Brian Loring’s attempt to produce a wine from California to emulate the style of Spanish wineries like Bodegas El Nido in Jumilla.  This is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Mourvedre from Paso Robles.


Winery history

My name is Brian Loring and my obsession is Pinot Noir.  OK, I’m also pretty crazy about Champagne, but that’s another story.  While in college, I worked at a wine shop in Hollywood (Victor’s), where one of the owners was a Burgundy fanatic.  So, my very first experiences with Pinot Noir were from producers like Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer, and DRC.  Needless to say, I found subsequent tasting safaris into the domestic Pinot Noir jungle less than satisfying.  It wasn’t until I literally stumbled into Calera (I tripped over a case of their wine in the store room) that I found a California Pinot Noir that I could love.  But it would be quite a while before I found someone else that lived up to the standard that Josh Jensen had established.  I eventually came to understand and enjoy Pinots from Williams Selyem, Chalone, and Sanford, but I really got excited about California Pinot Noir when I met Norm Beko from Cottonwood Canyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The very impressive nose has blackberries, raspberries, baking spices, licorice, dark chocolate, dried herbs, earthy underbrush, vanilla, leather, and a touch of cedar.  This has full body, fairly solid ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  This wine delivers a mouth full of juicy crushed berries along with an equal measure of savory elements to keep this from getting boring and adding a ton of depth.  The finish is long and full of spicy fruit with some nice dark chocolate and earthiness coming in at the end.  Not a lot of subtlety but utterly delicious.  (93 pts)

2008 Loring Wine Company Divergence




2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines – $23.71


My comments

To me, one of the better values out there is the Turley Old Vines Zinfandel.  Along with the appellation wines from Carlisle and Bedrock, these prove you can get a great bottle of California Zinfandel for $25 or less.


This is a blend of Zinfandel grapes from some of the older vineyards in California that don’t produce enough wine to allow for a single vineyard bottling.


Winery history

In 1993, Turley Wine Cellars was founded by Larry Turley, brother of the well-known consulting winemaker Helen Turley.  Turley, had entered the wine business in 1981 as co-founder of the multi-varietal Frog’s Leap Winery, but soon realized that his interest lay in wines made from the Zinfandel grape.


Starting out with just one location in St. Helena, Turley Wine Cellars soon expanded to Templeton with the purchase of the historic Pesenti winery, where Zinfandel had been planted since 1923.


As of 2000, Turley Wine Cellars has had a two-year waiting list for new wine club customers.


In 2007, Turley Wine Cellars was producing approximately 14,000 cases a year of both single-vineyard and regional Zinfandel wines.


By 2011, Turley Wine Cellars is annually producing approximately 16,000 cases of award winning Zinfandel and Petite Sirah wines using multiple “small” vineyards located in Napa and Sonoma counties, and other Paso Robles locations.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby red color.  The very nice and inviting nose has brambly berries, black pepper, vanilla, warm baking spices, dark chocolate, incense, and some subtle earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the well behaved palate the spicy berries and black pepper take charge with some dark chocolate, vanilla, and earthy elements coming in later.  The finish has nice length and again highlights the spicy berries and earthiness.  If you think Turley zins are all overblown, you should give this one a try, it will change your opinion.  (92 pts)

2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines




2008 Santi Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore Solane – $11.37


My comments

I love a nice, smooth, rich Italian Ripasso wine, as long as they don’t get too heavy and plodding.  This value priced Ripasso has enough richness to be smooth and velvety but retains enough acidity to be very food friendly.


To make a Ripasso wine, the grapes are allowed to dry out slightly on straw mats to concentrate the sugars and flavors.  After fermentation, the resulting wines is then blended with standard Valpolicella wine and re-fermented.  This yields a wine with the extra richness from the dried grapes but the acidity and lighter body from the “fresh” Valpolicella grapes.


Winery history

Gruppo Italiano Vini is the number one wine grower-producer in Italy and a global leader in the production and sales of excellent wines.  The Group owns 14 historic cellars with celebrated brands that are distributed worldwide.  These properties are surrounded by their own vineyards, beautiful expanses of territory totaling 1,340 hectares and lying within Italy’s most prestigious wine-producing areas.  Founded in 1986, the Group has its headquarters in the eighteenth-century Villa Belvedere on Lake Garda in the province of Verona.  Gruppo Italiano Vini is unique within the international wine-producing world for its ability to combine the advantages of a small structure with those of a big company.


Every estate in the Group’s portfolio adheres scrupulously to each steps of the production process: cultivation of the vines, harvesting, vinification, maturing and bottling under the expert and professional guidance of agronomists, oenologists and cellar managers.


The Group excels in sales and service; its extensive sales organization is specialized by channel and supported by structured marketing strategies and modern, efficient integrated logistics services.


This is a major advantage for the Group’s clients, who can choose from a vast selection of superb Italian wines via a simple system: one order, one delivery, one invoice.  The Group’s extensive international experience makes it extremely versatile and able to respond to the demands of a constantly changing market.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby red color.  The very nice nose has cherries, baking spices, earthy underbrush, black raspberries, wild flowers, and some dried herbs.  This has medium body, soft ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has spicy fruit, earthy elements, and a dash of toasty oak as well as some dried herbs.  The finish has nice length with the spicy, earthy, fruit.  Not the biggest or richest Ripasso out there, but this is very food friendly and costs south of $15.  (88 pts)

2008 Santi Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore Solane




1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3 – $23.74


My comments

We are BIG fans of nicely aged German Rieslings.  The sugary sweetness these wines show in their youth melds with the citrusy acidity over the years to form a magical elixir that becomes a rich wine with just enough acidity on the back end to leave you grabbing the glass for another sip.


Winery history

As is usual for a lot of the smaller, European wineries, not a lot of information seems to be available on the internet.  I also can’t find anything on CellarTracker for this winery since the 1995 vintage.  This leads me to think it no longer exists.  I can recite Jon Rimmerman’s (from Garagiste Wine) silky prose, but I don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch.  All I will say is, if you like older German Rieslings that have generally been in perfect condition, at really nice prices, check out http://garagiste.com/ and sign up for the list.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow color with a slight golden tint.  The rich and inviting nose has apples, white peaches, stony minerals, petrol, white pepper, honey, lime zest, and a touch of pineapple.  This has a light to medium body, nice residual sweetness, and good citrus driven acidity to keep it in perfect balance.  The finish is very long with the initial sweetness slowly giving way to a nice blast of mouthwatering lemon-lime acidity.  At 19 years of age, this still seems to be on the young side.  I look forward to enjoying my remaining bottles on the wine’s evolution over the next decade.  (94 pts)

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese #3




2006 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino – $32.00


My comments

This is a new winery for me, but it came with a high recommendation from a friend that knows his Italian wines.  I love a big Brunello, especially with beef that has been seasoned with Italian herbs and spices.


Winery history

Altesino is a leader in various, important innovations in the production of Sangiovese from Montalcino, causing it to stand out and become a reference point for the entire territory.


Some of the positive contributions putting Montalcino on the world map are: the introduction of the “Cru” (Montosoli) concept in 1975, the first experiments with barriques in ’79, the production in ’77 of the first Grappa from a winery and the first Futures (purchasing wine before its release) for Brunello 1985.


Over the last forty years an intense relationship has been developed with the land full of history, with its almost sensual beauty that is physically perceived and its subtle charm that reaches the body and soul.


This is the philosophy that inspires Altesino to produce wine and maintain its culture.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red, with a much lighter meniscus.  The very inviting nose has raspberries, cherries, warm baking spices, eucalyptus, wild flowers, dark chocolate, earthy underbrush, and some spicy oak.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate leads off with tart, juicy, red fruit but nice spice, oak, and a touch of eucalyptus come into the picture adding depth.  The long finish is full of spicy fruit, oak, and some nice earthiness.  Tasty today but this should add some complexity with additional cellar time.  (92 pts)

2006 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino



***** 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.






Breaking news from Klout:




Wines bought or received this week


Bedrock shipment arrived:

(6) 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvedre Ode to Lulu Rosé

(6) 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch

(6) 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Albariño Abrente

(2) 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah T ‘n’ S Hudson Vineyard South

(2) 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah Griffin’s Lair

(2) 2011 BedrockWineCo.SyrahNorthCoast

(1) 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Puccini Vineyard


I also picked up an e-mail offer from the local wine store:

(6) 2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT





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.