2005 MillerWineWorksSyrahSageCanyon Vineyard

2009 Brassfield Estate Winery Eruption Volcano Ridge

2008 Turley Zinfandel Cedarman

2007 BeresanWineryCabernetSauvignonWalla WallaValley



2005 Miller Wine Works Syrah Sage Canyon Vineyard – $17.99


My comments

I like a nice, rich, fruity Syrah as much as the next person, but at times I want one that highlights the more savory elements of the grape.  This wine has a nice fruit element up front, but layer after layer of savory notes kick into gear and steals the show.  This is one of the reason I love Syrah based wines.  They can be made into an enormous range of styles from fruit bombs to wines where the fruit takes the backseat.


Winery history

Growing up in rural New York State, simple, fresh, homegrown food was an everyday experience.  Our meats, milk, bread, fruit, and vegetables were from local farms.  Many of my earliest memories are the tastes and smells of my mother’s kitchen – bread, Christmas cookies, apple pies, smoked ham, and Thanksgiving turkey.  Just picked, juicy, finger-staining huckleberries were hard work, but memorable.


My first cooking job was a humble, short-order lunch cook but I was hooked.  After attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, I took advantage of numerous culinary opportunities at world class restaurants in White Sulphur Springs, Chicago and Aspen.


I always considered winemaking to be “cooking”.  Through my entire time as a chef, I wanted to work with the flavors, textures, and aromas of grapes from the California coast.  Finally I took the plunge and moved to NapaValley.


NapaValley is an amazing place, but not just for its history, natural beauty, and perfect conditions for winegrowing.  The people are truly amazing, placing a premium on food, family, friends, and farming.


As a winemaker, it is my intent to make balanced, nuanced wines that speak clearly of their locations, and have affinity for carefully raised and prepared food.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky purple to black color.  The dark and inviting nose has black berries, black pepper, smoked meat, dark bittersweet chocolate, melted licorice, Asian spices, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness.  This has a fairly full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has some nice up front berries, but loads of smoked meat, black pepper, dark chocolate, and earthiness take over fairly quickly.  The finish has nice length and again features the savory elements with the fruit adding a nice jolt of sweetness.  This is in a real nice place but should last another couple of years in the cellar.  (90 pts)

2005 Miller Wine Works Syrah Sage Canyon Vineyard




2009 Brassfield Estate Winery Eruption Volcano Ridge – $14.24


My comments

This is a blend of 37% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 10% Petite Sirah and 9% Malbec, from the High Valley AVA in the eastern part of LakeCounty in California.  I took a flier on a couple of bottles a few months ago at the local wine store.  We opened one that night and thought enough to grab six more bottles ASAP.  This was made from obviously very ripe grapes, but showed no raisin or syrupy notes.  I’m looking forward to trying it again.


Winery History

Brassfield Estate Winery & Vineyard is located in the western section of High Valley at High Serenity Ranch on a truly distinctive and remarkable winegrowing property.  Our valley floor vineyards sit at 1800 ft elevation.  The higher vineyard blocks rise to nearly 3000 ft.  The temperatures of some parts of this unique vineyard are some of the coldest in CA, giving Brassfield a heat summation equivalent to a Region 3 or less in some vintages.


In 1973, Jerry Brassfield purchased the original 1,600 acres here as a cattle ranch and wildlife reserve.  Over the next three decades Jerry acquired additional property.  Today, the LakeCounty estate includes 2,500 acres across both the eastern and the western sections of HighValley, as well as the Round Mountain Volcano.


The Vineyards were investigated for their potential to produce world-class estate-grown wines in 1998.  Vineyard planting began in 2001.  As the vineyards matured, the winery has grown with a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The sexy nose has blackberries, Asian spices, black pepper, smoked meat, dark bittersweet chocolate, plums, some eucalyptus, and a hit of earthiness.  This has a fairly full body, solid ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  The palate has a nice initial hit of fruit and dark chocolate that is joined by some building spice and earthiness.  The finish has nice length and is joined by a touch of spicy oak.  The oak has started to integrate and will probably be even better integrated with some air or a little more cellar time.  This is very tasty today if a touch of oak doesn’t bother you too much.  (90 pts)

2009 Brassfield Estate Winery Eruption Volcano Ridge




2008 Turley Zinfandel Cedarman – $26.29


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of the Turley Cedarman Zinfandels for a number of years.  The mountain grown fruit always gives this wine a bit more backbone and a gritty edge.  The mountain grown fruit also generally highlights the savory, peppery elements of the zinfandel grape.


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 deep ruby color.  The very inviting nose has raspberries, black pepper, melted licorice, crushed stones, wild flowers, dark bittersweet chocolate, smoke, and some earthiness.  This has full body, fairly solid tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the palate the sweet berries provide a nice counter balance to the savory notes of black pepper, minerals, and dark chocolate.  The finish is long and very flavorful with some nice earthiness coming into the picture.  The tannins and acidity provide a solid backbone that ensures this will last in the cellar through the end of the decade.  Enjoy this now or let it sleep for a few more years, either way you’ll enjoy this one.  (93 pts)

2008 Turley Zinfandel Cedarman




2007 Beresan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley – $16.99


My comments

This was one of the Garagiste Mystery wines.  In this case, this was the anonymous Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon that was offered for $16.99 lat March.  I wasn’t familiar with the winery which left me even more intrigued.  I opened a bottle of this not long after it was delivered and enjoyed it a lot.  It’s time to try another bottle to see how it is coming along.


Winery history

Located in the world-renowned Walla Walla Valley appellation, Beresan has 27 acres of estate vineyards that we carefully manage to produce premium fruit, and in turn, great wine.  The geologic distinctiveness of our vineyards, combined with fine winemaking, is reflected in the unique character of our exclusive, limited production wines.


Owned and operated by the Waliser family, our mission at Beresan Winery is not only to make outstanding wine and satisfied wine consumers, but to live a dream of having a fun, successful and enduring experience with friends and family at our winery.


We invite you to enjoy our wines and come see us at our winery in the beautiful Walla WallaValley.


For more information, visit http://beresanwines.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby to garnet color.  The classic nose has cassis, cedar, dried herbs, minerals, tobacco, Asian spices, wild flowers, dark chocolate, and a solid hit of earthy underbrush.  This has a medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and very nice acidity.  The palate has nice fruit on the front end then the dried herbs, minerals, earthiness, and spice kick into high gear dominating the mid palate and backend.  The finish has decent length and again leans on the savory elements with the fruit providing a touch of needed sweetness.  This is in a nice place today, but should last in the cellar for a few more years.  (89 pts)

2007 Beresan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley



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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.