2002 Jacob Franklin Petite Sirah Howell Mountain

2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT

2009 Betts & Scholl Shiraz Black Betty

2010 Vincent Arroyo Mélange Reserve


2002 Jacob Franklin Petite Sirah Howell Mountain – $36.00


My comments

This is my last bottle of four I bought at the winery in June 2005.  After killing off a couple fairly quickly, I’m glad I was able to stash one so I could check it out with some bottle age.  In its youth, this was big and brash, full of big fruit, pepper, and spice and equally big tannins.


This is actually a blend of 85% Petite Sirah from the Dunn Vineyard and 15% Black-Sears Vineyard Zinfandel.  This was the last vintage for this wine, Randy Dunn pulled the grapes from Elyse so he could supply his son Mike’s new project.


Winery history

As many of you know, when we started making our own wines in 1987, we named the tiny, 200 case operation after our daughter, Elyse.  Not wanting to leave our son, Jake, out of loop, we eventually named our Rhone blend after him – anyone remember “Jake’s Cuvee”?  It wasn’t enough, because at the ripe age of eight Jake asked, “When do I get my own label without her name on it?”  Good point!  And as parents not wanting to show favoritism, why not create a namesake label for him as well?


Jacob Franklin Cellars debut bottling was in 1998 and we fondly and literally refer to it as the brother label of Elyse Winery.  By this time, we had gained access to small quantities of extremely allocated fruit from some highly desirable vineyards in the valley and this label was the perfect place to showcase them along with our only estate wine, Hoffman Lane Cabernet Sauvignon.


Jacob Franklin Cellars is focused on small production, low yield, vineyard designate wines from NapaValley.  Due to the extremely limited production, these wines are available exclusively through the winery, website, and wine club.


Oh Brother!


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color, much lighter at the edge.  The smooth and sophisticated nose has blackberries, plums, white pepper, forest floor, dried herbs, dark chocolate, baking spices, tobacco, smoke, and a touch of eucalyptus.  This has medium body, fairly integrated tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate spicy, earthy berries steal the show with dried herbs and dark chocolate adding depth and complexity.  The finish is fairly long with chocolate dusted berries and dried herbs hanging on for quite a while.  This is drinking very nicely now, but could last in the cellar for a few more years.  Don’t expect a big and brutish Petite Sirah, this has mellowed into something smooth and sophisticated. (94 pts)

2002 Jacob Franklin Petite Sirah Howell Mountain




2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT – $16.62


My comments

I bought 6 bottles of this wine from a local wine store e-mail offer based on a solid recommendation from a fellow wine lover.  This “Super Tuscan” is a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah.  It’s a cool, rainy, Midwestern day in mid April, a perfect time for some pasta and my wife’s meat sauce.  This seems to be a good occasion to sample a bottle.


Winery history

The wine cellar of Borgo Scopeto renewed and enlarged over the last few years, is equipped with the most modern technology for vinification.


The cellar is composed of 50 stainless steal tanks with capacities that ranges from 11 to 260 hectolitres, for a total of 7000 hectolitres.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to deep ruby red color, lighter at the edge.  The appealing nose has cherries, warm baking spices, blackberries, white pepper, earthy underbrush, dried herbs, and a touch of dark chocolate.  This has medium body, moderate tannins, and very good acidity.  Tart, spicy, earthy fruit dominate the palate with dried herbs and some chocolate coming in on the back end.  The finish has nice length and is an extension of the palate with just a touch of spicy oak creeping into the picture.  For a very young wine, this is drinking very nicely today.  This should improve with another year in the cellar and drink well for a few additional years.  (91 pts)

2009 Borgo Scopeto Borgonero Toscana IGT




2009 Betts & Scholl Shiraz Black Betty – $16.62


My comments

This is another wine I bought based on a local wine store’s e-mail offer.  We generally like Aussie Shiraz as long as it doesn’t cross the line and end up on the sweet and syrupy side.  Based on reviews of previous vintages, this was worth grabbing a six pack.  It’s time to open one and see what I have.


Winery history

Betts & Scholl is a cooperative effort between Richard Betts, Master Sommelier & winemaker and Dennis Scholl, contemporary art collector and joyous wine drinker, who typically finds himself either in Aspen or Miami Beach.  Together, they created special relationships with star growers and winemakers from around the world to share in the Betts & Scholl vision.


This partnership is totally dedicated to making great wine as Richard & Dennis see it, which is, ultimately, wine that they like to drink.  No trophies, no wine for competition, just wine for the table – wine made to be enjoyed in the spirit of those wines that got Richard hooked on the whole deal in the first place.  This is to say wine you can drink everyday – a grocery, if you will – something that is on the table at lunch, at dinner, in harmony with food, an essential part of the meal.  This notion is fundamental to great living all over Europe, and it’s one that Betts & Scholl aims to bring back and live every day.


So Betts & Scholl chose to make the good stuff! Richard & Dennis’ shared aesthetic spoke for elegant, complex, balanced wines of great perfume and finesse with the power to seduce.  The object of the B&S fancy is neither the obvious nor the forceful.  Instead it is those wines that transport: They taste only of the place from where they’ve come.  Come take the trip.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The very outgoing nose has blackberries, baking spices, underbrush, black pepper, cherries, licorice, and wild flowers.  This has a full body, moderate tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate there are ripe, juicy crushed berries and baking spice up front then the acidity kicks in and tart cherries and a bit of earthiness takes over.  The finish is fairly long and leans on spicy, earthy cherries.  This is a bit disjointed at this time showing distinct, different “personalities” on the palate.  This needs some cellar time for the acidity to better integrate or a couple hours of air.  (88 pts)

2009 Betts & Scholl Shiraz Black Betty




2010 Vincent Arroyo Mélange Reserve – $15.30


My comments


This is a nice everyday wine from one of my favorite small Napa Valley wineries.  If you make it to wine country, pay a visit to the Calistoga based Vincent Arroyo Winery.  Their tastings usually lead to a trip into the barrel storage area and some barrel tastes.


This popular blend combines Estate grown Gamay with our Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah.  Always blended to taste, our goal is to create a wine that can be opened “any time” — from the get-me-to-dinner glass to the perfect complement for pasta or steak salad.  The wine usually doesn’t last long in anyone’s cellar (or closet!) but ages very well as the Burgundy characteristics begin to emerge after several years introducing a new dynamic to what many might think of as an easy-drinking wine.


Winery history

Walking into the Vincent Arroyo Winery, one gets the sense that it has been here forever.  Is it just the comfortable atmosphere of a big barn full of oak wine barrels that lends to the sense of permanence?  Vincent Arroyo, himself, may feel like he has been here forever, as well.  He left behind a career as a mechanical engineer in the Silicon Valley during the early 70’s and headed to Calistoga, at the northern tip of the NapaValley.  He felt much more at home close to the land, being able to see and taste the fruits of his labors.


The purchase of the 23 acres of the Greenwood Ranch property in 1974 began the evolution of what is seen today, 85 acres cultivating 9 different wine grape varietals.  Vince has always been a farmer at heart, taking care of the land to produce the best that it can.  He began to transform the Greenwood Ranch by ripping out existing prune trees and unhealthy vines and planting new vineyards.  For many years, he did it all alone, the tractor work, cellar work and a one-man sales force.  Originally he made just a few hundred cases of his favorites, Petite Sirah and Cabernet, selling the majority of the grape tonnage to other Napa wineries.  Today, he produces over 8,000 cases of seven different varietals.


More information is available at: http://www.vincentarroyo.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The nice but slightly shy nose has black raspberries, plums, baking spices, fresh wild flowers, and a touch of licorice.  This has medium body, soft tannins, and nice acidity.  The palate has nice, spicy fruit, with a bit of toasty oak.  The finish has decent length with just a touch of earthiness entering the picture.  This is a very nice “change of pace” wine and something very unique.  This is mainly estate grown Gamay with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah.  (88 pts)

2010 Vincent Arroyo Mélange Reserve





***** 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


Received my last couple of deliveries for the Spring shipping season:


(3) 2011 HelioterraPinotNoirWillametteValley

(3) 2011 Helioterra Pinot Noir Vintner’s Select

(6) 2012 Villa Creek Pink

(6) 2012 Villa Creek “White”




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.