2008 Viña Robles RED4 Huerhuero

2011 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

2006 Two Hands Brave Faces

2007 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard



2008 Viña Robles RED4 Huerhuero – $9.49


My comments

I bought a bottle of this soon after it arrived in the local wine store.  I took it home and we promptly removed the screw cap.  After a couple quick swirls in the glass, I took a smell.  Good so far but now comes the important moment, a taste.  Wow!  I bought this for under $10?  Time to shoot off a quick e-mail to the store owner and friend, stash me a case.


This is my last bottle from the case and it’s still an outstanding bottle of wine.  Though it may not have the complexity of agability of its more expensive counterparts from Paso Robles, it is delicious.  This is a blend of 62% syrah, 34% petite sirah and 2% each of grenache and mourvedre.


Winery history

We craft wines that represent a stylistic bridge between the Old and New worlds, capturing the finesse associated with European wines while celebrating the bold natural flavors of our estate vineyards in Paso Robles.


Here, proprietor Hans Nef and managing partner Hans – R. Michel bring their Swiss heritage to California’s Central Coast, where they aim to unite the best of both experiences.


“I want Vina Robles to express a unique balance of European heritage and American opportunity.  As individuals, we are rooted in the Old World.  As winemakers, we are empowered by the New World.  But both worlds bring value to what we do, and we endeavor to capture this distinction in our wines.”

-Proprietor Hans Nef


We first discovered Paso Robles in the early 1980s and became enamored with this emerging wine country.  Along golden slopes, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranchlands and cowboy ambiance, a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.


In the mid 1990s we planted our first estate vineyard and established Vina Robles as a family winery specializing in varieties that excel in the region’s diverse terroir.  The vision for Vina Robles is summed up by our motto: European Inspiration – California Character.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, vanilla, baking spices, white pepper, smoke, dark chocolate, licorice, cherry, and a bit of earthy underbrush.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  On the palate you get a mouthful of spicy berries and dark chocolate up front with pepper and some earthiness coming in on the backend.  The finish has nice length but gets a bit muddled and soft.  A nice week night wine if you can find it for around $10.  This is one to drink in the next year, two at most.  (87 pts)

2008 Viña Robles RED4 Huerhuero




2011 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard – $39.67


My comments

This was a no-brainer buy for me.  I love Brian Loring’s wines and Grenache is one of my favorite grapes.  The price of admission was a touch steep for a total unknown, but I had to grab some.


Winery history

My philosophy on making wine is that the fruit is EVERYTHING.  What happens in the vineyard determines the quality of the wine – I can’t make it better – I can only screw it up!  That’s why I’m extremely picky when choosing vineyards to buy grapes from.  Not only am I looking for the right soil, micro-climate, and clones, I’m also looking for a grower with the same passion and dedication to producing great wine that I have.  In other words, a total Pinot Freak!  My part in the vineyard equation is to throw heaping piles of money at the vineyard owners (so that they can limit yields and still make a profit) and then stay out of the way!  Since most, if not all of the growers keep some fruit to make their own wine, I tell them to farm my acre(s) the same way they do theirs – since they’ll obviously be doing whatever is necessary to get the best possible fruit.  One of the most important decisions made in the vineyard is when to pick.  Some people go by the numbers (brix, pH, TA, etc) and some go by taste.  Once again, I trust the decision to the vineyard people.  The day they pick the fruit for their wine is the day I’m there with a truck to pick mine.  Given this approach, the wine that I produce is as much a reflection of the vineyard owner as it is of my winemaking skills.  I figure that I’m extending the concept of terroir a bit to include the vineyard owner/manager… but it seems to make sense to me.  The added benefit is that I’ll be producing a wide variety of Pinots.  It’d be boring if everything I made tasted the same.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet color.  The exotic and inviting nose has black cherries, black raspberries, white pepper, chocolate, crushed rocks, dried herbs, Asian spices, forest floor, and a touch of eucalyptus.  This has medium to full body, moderate ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate features ripe, juicy cherries and berries, minerals, spice, chocolate and some earthiness.  The finish has nice length with dried herbs and white pepper adding some kick to the chocolate and fruit.  This is a ripe and rich style of wine but it doesn’t carry excess weight and is not syrupy.  This will never be mistaken as a Rhone wine, but it is outstanding in its own right.  (92 pts)

2011 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard




2006 Two Hands Brave Faces – $17.09


My comments

Two Hands is one of my wife’s favorite wineries and ranks pretty high on my list.  This is a winery not afraid to allow their grapes to get fully ripe before picking.  Some of their wines get awfully close to the over ripe and syrupy side of the line, but most of the time they don’t cross that line.  Remember, ripe fruit is not a flaw in a bottle wine.


I was able to grab a case of this wine from my local wine store during a blow out sale a year or two ago.  To me, this was an absolute no brainer buy for a touch over $17 a bottle.  This is 65% Shiraz, 35% Grenache and 100% BarossaValley.  This is the type of wine that made Australia famous before the mass produced “critter wines” did their best to kill that reputation.


Winery history (Core Values)

Quality without compromise is central to the Two Hands philosophy, driving all the decisions from fruit and oak selection to packaging and promotion.


We strive to differentiate ourselves; to be unique, fun and innovative in our business approach while maintaining a high degree of professionalism and integrity.


Our wines are made by a process of barrel classification – selecting the very best barrels for the Flagship range followed by Garden Series then our Picture Series.  This is achieved by sourcing the best parcels of fruit available to us from six premium regions within Australia.


We handle every parcel of fruit, however small, separately from crushing through to fermentation and oak maturation to ensure complexity and personality in the finished wines.


Fruit will be the primary feature of all our wines, with oak playing a supporting role.


Much more information available at:  http://www.twohandswines.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color. The very outgoing and friendly nose features blackberries, Asian spices, black pepper, dying charcoal embers, cherry, vanilla, blueberries, and bittersweet chocolate. This is fairly full bodied with ripe tannins and good acidity. The palate is loaded with juicy berries, spice, and pepper. The finish is fairly long with some dark chocolate adding a nice element to the spicy, peppery, berries. This is drinking very nicely and should hold in the cellar for at least another year or two.  (92 pts)

2006 Two Hands Brave Faces




2007 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard – $38.75


My comments

I guess you can call this a Social Media relationship.  I learned of Jean Edwards Cellars via Twitter.  I read their Tweets and started following them, luckily they followed me back.  Over the last couple of years we have exchanged jokes and Tweets about just about everything.  I was finally able to order a few bottles of their wine, and after giving a bottle a good 15 minutes to recover from the trip half way across the country, I popped the cork.  I am now a big fan and I spread their name to anyone who will listen to me.  I highly encourage you to check out their website and join their mailing list.  These are two very nice people making some of the best wine in the NapaValley.


Winery history

We are the owner/vintners of Jean Edwards Cellars – we share a passion for wine, a similar palate and a singular vision on the style of wines we produce.  We live by our motto that “you should only make wines you love to drink” and focus our production on artisan red wines that are full-bodied and classically styled.


Quality and heritage are important to us – our wines are reflective of their origins and are sourced some of the most prestigious vineyards (and vineyard blocks) throughout Napa Valley including Stagecoach Vineyard (on Pritchard Hill); vineyards on the valley floor in Rutherford, Oakville and Coombsville; and mountain vineyards on Howell and Spring Mountain.


Time really flies – we started producing commercial wines in 2004 but our dream of producing high quality NapaValley cabernet sauvignon wines started much earlier when we traveled to the valley in 1985.  During that trip, we developed a true appreciation for cabernet sauvignon wines and decided we would some day be a part of the business and produce a wine called Jean Edwards Cellars (our two middle names).  It was a goal worth waiting for and twenty plus years later we released our first wine in the Spring of 2006.


For more information, to order wine, or to join the Jean Edwards mailing list, visit their website.


I highly recommend at least joining their mailing list.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color.  The absolutely stunning nose has cassis, melted licorice, dried herbs, cedar, wild flowers, tobacco, and warm baking spices.  This has medium body, fairly solid silky tannins, and very nice acidity.  This is rich and plush on the palate with cassis and baking spices up front with dried herbs and spicy oak coming in on the back end.  The finish is very long, seeming to never totally disappear and full of rich fruit and spice.  This has the balance to age gracefully for several years but it is absolutely irresistible today.  (96 pts)


If you’re interested in this wine, the 2007 vintage is sold out, but the 2009 vintage which I reviewed here is still available.

2007 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard





***** 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.






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Wines bought or received this week


Picked these up at the local wine store:

(2) 2010 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five

(3) 2009 AtalonCabernetSauvignonNapaValley

(2) 2010 John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity


I also have wine from Villa Creek and Helioterra sitting in Milwaukee waiting for me to pick them up tomorrow.





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.