2009 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos

2010 Cline Cellars Pinot Noir Cool Climate

2007 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Domaine Lafage Maury Sec Kerbuccio Chateau Saint-Roch



See information below about the chance to win two passes to the upcoming Napa Valley Film Festival (value $500) as well as two invitations to a VIP kick-off party and a sneak preview screening of August: Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts from Benchmark Wine Group.



2009 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos – $11.39

This Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) is a perennial best buy that always over delivers.  If you are looking for a classically structured, old world style Grenache, this isn’t it.  If you want a wine loaded with fruit and spice, grab a bottle, you will love this one.  This could be slipped into a tasting of California wines that cost a lot more and not stick out as a weak link.


This has 14.5% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


The Winery

Our origins go back to 1958, the year the Cooperative of Borja was founded. This is where Borsao originated as a brand. Some years later, the co-operatives of Pozuelo and Tabuenca joined Borja, adding their resources and –most importantly- their vineyards.


This happened in the year 2001, and the new company was called Bodegas Borsao S.A., established as a limited company. Its 620 members became shareholders and a management team was appointed to shake the foundations of the winery: starting with the grape sourcing scheme and following with a refurbishment of the winemaking facilities.


Experience, resources and means combined with the potential of the vineyards of the 3 wine cellars, enabling the development of a new work philosophy that has given Borsao international recognition and prestige.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color. The very inviting nose has raspberries, smoke, vanilla, baking spices, cherries, fresh ground espresso beans, white pepper, and some dried herbs. This has medium to full body, moderate tannins, and good acidity. On the palate the fruit and spice lead off with white pepper, dried herbs, and the coffee coming in later. The finish has nice length with a dark chocolate note joining the party. A very nice wine and an incredible value.  (91 pts)

2009 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos

2009 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos



2010 Cline Cellars Pinot Noir Cool Climate – $13.52

I’ve been a fan of the value price wines from Cline for a number of years.  I generally grab a few bottles of their Zinfandels or wines made from Rhone grapes.  This will be my first Pinot Noir from Cline.


This wine is 13.5% alcohol and is sealed with an agglomerated cork.


The Winery

In the latter part of the 1800s, Oakley, Contra Costa County was a booming farming community with thousands of acres of orchards and healthy vineyards.  Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi of pump and spa fame, called this place home.  On summer visits to his grandparents, Fred learned both the love of agricultural life and the mysteries of vinifying grapes into wine.  These lessons led Fred to obtain a degree in Agriculture Management from U.C. Davis.  In 1982, with an inheritance from his grandfather, Fred founded Cline Cellars near Oakley, California.  Here, he preserved and restored many ancient vine sites to their rightful reign as premier California wine lands.


In 1991, Fred and his wife Nancy relocated the winery from Oakley to the Carneros region of Sonoma County on a historic 350-acre estate with new vineyards and facilities.  While much of the cool Carneros region is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot, Fred pioneered the planting of Rhône varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.


Over the years, Fred’s innovation has consistently resulted in some of northern California’s most distinctive Rhône-style wines and intense, flavorful Zinfandels, many with 90+ point ratings from Wine Spectator. Wine & Spirits called our Ancient Vines Mourvèdre “one of the top 100 values,” and in 2011 Robert Parker Jr. wrote in the Wine Advocate, “this is the finest portfolio of value-priced wines from Cline Cellars that I have tasted to date.”


My Tasting Note

The wine is a notch or two lighter than ruby red.  The inviting nose has cherries, smoke, dry earth, baking spices, plums, wild flowers, roasted herbs and underbrush.  This is barely medium body with soft tannins and good acidity.  On the palate tart, spicy cherries and earthy elements jump to the forefront, eventually allowing roasted herbs and a floral note to poke through.  The finish has decent length with the savory elements dominating and the fruit in the background providing nice sweetness.  A very nice, refined, lighter bodied Pinot Noir.  (89 pts)

2010 Cline Cellars Pinot Noir Cool Climate

2010 Cline Cellars Pinot Noir Cool Climate



2007 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.00

Freemark Abbey was the only winery to have two bottles of wine in the 1976 “Judgment in Paris” tasting that put California on the world’s wine map.  After a few lean years, I think the winery has righted the boat and are again producing very nice, bargain priced wines.


The wine has 14.5% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


Winery history

In 1967, seven partners purchased Freemark Abbey, setting the stage for a new era of creativity.  The winery earned the nickname the “University of Freemark” due to the sheer number of innovations and significant winemakers that emerged from our cellars.


In 1976, wine expert Steven Spurrier conducted a legendary blind tasting in Paris – pitting the upstart wines of California against the establishment of France.  Of the 12 American wineries chosen to compete, only Freemark Abbey had two wines represented – a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  In an upset that shocked the wine world, California wines won every category of the tasting, putting Napa Valley firmly on the world stage.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, ruby red color. The very comforting nose has cassis, warm baking spices, tobacco, dried herbs, plum, licorice, and a touch of smoke. This has medium body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and very nice acidity. The palate features bright and juicy berries, baking spices, dried herbs and a touch of oak. The finish has nice length with the berries and dried herbs joined by a touch of excess spicy oak. I would be nice if the touch of extra oak would integrate, but I really don’t see that happening. No hurry on this one, enjoy it over the next several years. This was a steal for $19.  (90 pts)

2007 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon



2011 Domaine Lafage Maury Sec Kerbuccio Chateau Saint-Roch – $16.06

Every once in a while you have to grab a bottle based on a score.  Robert Parker gave this wine 95 points and the local store had a couple bottles for just a touch over $16.  Like I said, the local store “had” a few bottles.  They were rescued and placed in a new adoptive home, my wine cellar.  This is probably pretty young, but I have to check in to get an early read on where it may go in the future.


This has 15% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


The Winery (from Import’s page)

One of the oldest viticultural areas of France, vines in the Roussillon were cultivated by the Romans, and perhaps even before that.  With some of the most dramatic topography in France, many of the zones are composed of extremely steep hillsides – resembling the Priorat in Spain in many ways.


One of the most sought-after winemakers of Europe at the moment, Jean-Marc Lafage lends his expertise with Southern European varietals to several top estates in both France and Spain (he makes Evodia with Eric Solomon among other custom cuvee projects) and also in South America. However, his best work is perhaps at home at his estate in the hills of the Roussillon with his wife, Eliane, also a highly accomplished winemaker.


More information is available here, on Eric Solomon’s site.


My Tasting Note

The is a deep ruby to purple color.  The very enticing nose has blackberry liqueur, blueberries, minerals, dying wood embers, scorched earth, baking spices, violets, and a touch of vanilla.  This has a fairly full body, moderate tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the dark berries and spice coat the palate slowly allowing some earthiness, minerals, and a floral note to break through.  The finish is long and nicely layered.  This is on the young side but it opened nicely after about 45 minutes.  (93 pts)

2011 Domaine Lafage Maury Sec Kerbuccio Chateau Saint-Roch

2011 Domaine Lafage Maury Sec Kerbuccio Chateau Saint-Roch



Napa Valley Film Festival

Are you interested in attending the Napa Valley Film Festival?  The festival runs from November 13 through 17.


Oh, almost forgot, how does attending the event for free sound?  To celebrate being a sponsor of the event, Benchmark Wine Group is giving away a very nice package to one lucky person.  Enter by October 31st for your chance to win.


The Napa-based company is offering one lucky winner two Festival Passes to the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), worth a $500 value; two private invitations to the Benchmark Opening Night VIP kick-off party; and exclusive access to the sneak preview screening of ‘August: Osage County’, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.


Benchmark Wine Group will be hosting an exclusive Opening Night VIP kick-off party on Wednesday, November 13 and a winemaker tasting with Todd Alexander of Bryant and Bettina on Friday, November 15.  NVFF Patrons and special guests will be invited to join Benchmark Wine Group at the Michael Holmes Gallery at Riverfront, 606 Main Street, from 8 pm to 10 pm Wednesday to launch the week’s festivities.  Every guest Wednesday will be entered into a raffle for a chance to buy a bottle of 2001 Château Haut-Brion for $1; taste magnums of 1983 Pétrus, 1966 Château Margaux, and 2003 Diamond Creek; and enjoy food catered by Morimoto Napa.


For more information, click here.


To view the official rules and to enter, click here.


A video about the event from my bud, Amy Payne, is available by clicking here.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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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.