2005 Lyrique Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Sta. Rita Hills

2000 Azienda Pier Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo

2007 Scherrer Winery Chardonnay Helfer Vineyard

2006 Elyse Zinfandel Korte Ranch

2009 Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend



2005 Lyrique Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard – $17.25

This is an old friend.  I bought three bottles of this from Garagiste Wine back in mid 2008.  I had a bottle not long after it was delivered and was knocked over.  This was a stunner for under $25.  I searched the web and could not find anyone with the wine available for sell.  I slowly killed off my remaining two bottles over the next year and a half.  One day in early 2011, four bottles showed up on Wine Bid.  The initial bid was well below the original price I had paid.  I put in the minimum bid and waited to be out bid.  Needless to say, I won with my minimum offer and after paying the “buyer’s premium” these four bottles were mine at a steal of only $17.25 a bottle.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has juicy blackberries, smoked meat, black pepper, almost dead wood embers, melted licorice, dark bittersweet chocolate, and some scorched earth.  This has a fairly full body, integrated tannins, and nice acidity.  On the palate the ripe, juicy fruit is joined with smoked meat and black pepper up front with some nice earthiness building on the back end.  The finish is fairly long with dark chocolate joining the party in my mouth.  This is drinking very nicely but a touch of alcohol is starting to peak through the wall of flavor.  Probably needs to be consumed over the next year.  (92 pts)

2005 Lyrique Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard




2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Sta. Rita Hills – $4.75

The owner at the local wine store saw this on the close out list from the distributor.  Supposedly the cases were misplaced in storage and forgotten about for a few years.  The distributor brought in a bottle for the store to try and the owner grabbed everything they had.  I also figured a 6 year old Pinot Blanc would be tired if not dead, but still grabbed a bottle for the under $5 close out price.  I got home and we opened the bottle at room temperature and were blown away.  I immediately sent off an e-mail to stash me a half case.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow to straw color. The light and refreshing nose has lemon curd, apples, stony/flinty minerals, orange blossoms, a touch of spice and a bit of pineapple. This has light to medium body, is dry and has crisp, citrusy acidity. This is very bright and lively on the palate with crisp apples, lemon zest, and flinty minerals, on the backend a touch of spice and orange zest add some depth. The finish has nice length with the citrus, apples, and minerals holding on nicely. This was an absolute steal on closeout for under $5.  (90 pts)

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Sta. Rita Hills




2000 Azienda Pier Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo – $29.71

This is another purchase from Garagiste Wine, in this case from late 2007.  I’m a big fan of Italian Barbaresco.  I may be in the minority, but I even prefer a Barbaresco over an Italian Barolo.  Both Barbaresco and Barolo wines are made from the same grape, the Nebbiolo.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium ruby red with some brick, especially at the edge.  The elegant and appealing nose has cherries, damp earthy underbrush, minerals, plums, dried herbs, Asian spices, dark chocolate, roses, and a touch of mint.  This has medium body, moderate tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate there is a nice balance with the fruit and savory elements sharing the stage.  The finish has very nice length with the fruit adding nice sweetness to the savory notes.  This seems to be in a prime drinking window but should hold a couple of years.  (93 pts)

2000 Azienda Pier Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo




2007 Scherrer Winery Chardonnay Helfer Vineyard (375ml) – $17.10

A few years ago, I got an offer from Scherrer that included a lot of half bottles.  Needless to say, I stocked up.  I probably bought a couple of cases mixed between this Chardonnay and their Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.  I try to keep a nice variety of half bottles for my wife to enjoy when I am traveling.  That way she can grab a bottle and not have to drink the same wine the next night.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a golden straw color.  The very inviting nose has apples, pears, flinty minerality, baking spices, citrus zest, and buttered popcorn.  This has medium body and crisp acidity.  On the palate the apples, spice, and lemon zest grab the thunder with nice minerality slowly building on the back end.  The fairly long finish leans more on the spice and minerals with just a touch of oak coming into the picture.  This was a very nice Chardonnay in its prime.  This was from a 375ml bottle.  (93 pts)

2007 Scherrer Winery Chardonnay Helfer Vineyard




2006 Elyse Zinfandel Korte Ranch (375ml) – $15.07

The local wine store used to stock this wine in half bottles but I don’t know if anyone other than me bought it.  A quick check of my purchase history in Cellar Tracker show I bought well over 2 cases of this wine.  I know the last case was the last one the distributor had in stock.  I’m not seeing as much Elyse on wine store shelves here in Wisconsin, which is a loss for the normal consumer.  I keep the Elyse (and Jacob Franklin) part of my cellar stocked with purchases direct from the winery.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color showing just a touch of brick, mainly at the edge.  The very appealing nose reminded me more of a Claret than a zinfandel.  There was some brambly berries and pepper, but they were joined with tobacco, cedar, dried herbs, cassis, and warm baking spices.  This has a medium body, soft integrated tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate this has lost most of its early “baby fat” and is a smooth, nuanced Zinfandel that again could be easily mistaken for a quality Claret.  The finish is fairly long with nice fruit, spice, and a touch of earthiness.  To some people, this may be over the hill, to me it is in a wonderful spot.  This was from a 375ml bottle.  (93 pts)

2006 Elyse Zinfandel Korte Ranch




The Scherrer Chardonnay and Elyse Zinfandel were served to go with a platter we put together for lunch.  Most of the items were provided by Elyse Winery.  The winery supplied cheeses were:

1 – St Andre Triple Cream from Normandy – This cow’s milk cheese was creamy and rich leaving a lingering sweet note.  It needs a white with with crisp acidity.

2 – Sapore del Plave from Trevisio, Italy – This hard, cow’s milk cheese was aged 15 to 16 months.  This nutty, aged cheese had a nice crumbly texture and had the nice “crunchy” bits and subtle saltiness typical in a quality aged cheese.

3 – Tourmalet from The Laruns Valley in France – This is a semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese.  This had a nice nutty, butter taste and paired marvelously with the slightly aged zinfandel.


The winery also supplied some Castelvetrano Olives, which I loved and I’m not a big olive fan.  These had a nice meaty texture, a buttery flavor with subtle salt and slight sweetness.


Also included in the package from Elyse were some absolutely delicious Spanish Marcona almonds.  My wife is the almond connoisseur in the family and she flipped over these comparing them to a cross between a normal almond and a macadamia nut.  A comparison which I absolutely agree.


This Goody Sampler was sent to members of the Elyse wine club.  I highly recommend checking them out.  My platter only included a small percentage of the contents of the package.  Other than the soft cheese, I only included what we’d need for a lunch for two on the deck.


We added some butter crackers and a Boar’s Head Salami to complete the delicious lunch.

Lunch 1


Lunch 2



2009 Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend – $37.99

I like the wines being produced by Lewis, but I’m not part of their cult-like following.  When I can grab a few bottles at a great price, I stock up but generally pass at the release price.  In this case, the community average price for this wine is over $55 on Cellar Tracker, at that price I think there are better options.  When I was able to get this for under $40, I felt it was worthy of opening my wallet.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky purple color.  The big, bold, and rich nose is full of crushed blackberries, blueberries, smoke, charred meat, black pepper, dark bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, fresh ground coffee, and scorched earth.  This has a full body, fairly solid tannins, and decent acidity.  On the palate the spicy berries, pepper, and meaty elements hit first followed by vanilla, dark chocolate, and some earthiness.  The finish is fairly long and is highlighted by dark chocolate, vanilla, and berries.  This is a big and ripe wine made in a take no prisoners style.  (90 pts)

2009 Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend




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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.