2008 McPrice Myers Syrah Les Galets

2009 Soter Pinot Noir North Valley

2008 Ridge Lytton Springs

2010 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino




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.   Contest courtesy of Benchmark Wine Group and ends October 31st.




2008 McPrice Myers Syrah Les Galets – $28.80

I was on the McPrice Myers mailing list for a couple years.  The winery produces full bodied, full throttle wines in a “take no prisoners” style.  Though these are nice once in a while, they aren’t every day wines.  I dropped the list because even though the wines are well made and enjoyable on occasion, I just don’t have the need for too many in my cellar.


Making a wine that is the best expression of the vineyard it comes from or a wine that is the most harmonious blend it can be, is a complex series of challenges that renew themselves with every vintage. It is my goal and my passion to produce the best for you that each unique harvest brings.

McPrice “Mac” Myers


This has 16.2% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

Deep, dark purple color, almost black. This wine has a massive nose full of blackberries, plums, charcoal, minerals, vanilla, charred meat, wildflowers, and spicy oak. This is a full bodied wine with solid, chewy tannins and good acidity. This has solid walls of fruit and spice on the palate with some nice earthiness and dark chocolate in the background. There is a long lingering finish full of dark fruit, spice, and dark chocolate. This is an outstanding wine that should last several years in the cellar, but I’d probably drink on the young side before the alcohol (16.2%) becomes too noticeable.  (93 pts)

2008 McPrice Myers Syrah Les Galets

2008 McPrice Myers Syrah Les Galets




2009 Soter Pinot Noir North Valley – $27.00

This is the entry level Pinot Noir produced by the winery.  Don’t look at the phrase “entry level” and think inferior, this is better than most winery’s top end offering.  I generally drink this over a few years while waiting on the winery’s higher end, Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot to be ready to open.


This is 13.8% alcohol and is sealed with a synthetic cork.


Winery History

Soter Vineyards began in 1997 when Oregon natives Michelle and Tony Soter purchased the Beacon Hill Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Named for a lighthouse like structure at the top of the hill, this vineyard was the source of Soter’s first estate grown Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.


Today, Soter Vineyards makes its home on the Mineral Springs Ranch near Carlton, Oregon.  This 240 acre property is the base for all Soter winemaking and business operations.  The estate vineyard here is ideally situated on an east – west ridge known as Savanna Ridge and planted to 30 acres of Pinot Noir.  An additional 2 acres of Chardonnay are dedicated to sparkling wine production.  Initial vineyard plantings began in 2002 and continued in 2006 and 2007.  Remaining acreage is committed to forest, woodland, and grazing land for flocks of sheep and goats.


Soter Vineyards wines are made in a refurbished barn originally dating from 1943.  All tirage, riddling, and disgorgement of our sparkling wines are performed here, allowing us to maintain meticulous control of these processes.  In the hillside next to the barn, underground caves serve as our barrel room.  A recently constructed fermentation space completes our production facilities.


The aim of Soter Vineyards is to produce Pinot Noir that is thrilling to the senses, complex, balanced and age worthy.  At the same time, we seek to be model stewards of our land with ultimate respect and regard for this place we call Mineral Springs Ranch.


More information is available on the winery’s website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light ruby red color.  On the open and very sexy nose there are cherries, baking spices, minerals, fresh wild flowers, and a bit of earthiness.  The wine is barely medium body with soft, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  The wine is very elegant on the palate with spicy, earthy red fruit, spice, and just a hint of an herbal note adding complexity.  Very nice length on the finish which is again highlighted by the spicy, earthy fruit. This seems to be entering its prime drinking window and can be enjoyed over the next few years.  (91 pts)

2009 Soter Pinot Noir North Valley

2009 Soter Pinot Noir North Valley



2008 Ridge Lytton Springs – $29.99

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I always have a hard time choosing a favorite between this and the winery’s Geyserville wine.  Both are zinfandel based blends but since Zinfandel generally constitutes less than 75% of the blend, they aren’t labeled as a Zinfandel.  In this vintage, this wine is a blend of 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane.


This is 14.4% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


Winery History

The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco’s Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge.  He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first vintage under that name in 1892.  This unique cellar, built into the mountainside on three levels, is Ridge’s production facility.  At 2600′, it is surrounded by the “upper vineyard.”


In the 1940s, William Short, a theologian, bought the abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perrone property; he replanted several parcels to cabernet sauvignon in the late 1940s.  From these vines — now the “middle vineyard”— new owners Dave Bennion and his three partners, all Stanford Research Institute engineers, made a quarter-barrel of “estate” cabernet.  That Monte Bello Cabernet was among California’s finest wines of the era.  Its quality and distinctive character, and the wines produced from these same vines in 1960 and ’61, convinced the partners to re-bond the winery in time for the 1962 vintage.


The first zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard farther down the ridge.  This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville zinfandel.  The founding families reclaimed the Monte Bello terraces, increasing vineyard size from fifteen to forty-five acres.  Working on weekends, they made wines of regional character and unprecedented intensity.  By 1968, production had increased to just under three thousand cases per year, and in 1969, Paul Draper joined the partnership.  A Stanford graduate in philosophy—recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile’s coast range—he was a practical winemaker, not an enologist.  His knowledge of fine wines and traditional methods complemented the straightforward “hands off” approach pioneered at Ridge.  Under his guidance the old Perrone winery (acquired the previous year) was restored, the finest vineyard lands leased or purchased, the consistent quality and international reputation of the wines established.  Cabernet and Zinfandel account for most of the production; Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, and Petite Sirah constitute a small percentage.  Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of chardonnay since 1962.


Lytton Springs, in SonomaCounty, became part of the Ridge estate in 1991.  A quarter century’s experience with this vineyard had convinced us that it was an exceptional piece of ground.  Forty consecutive vintages of Geyserville attest to yet another stunning combination of location and varietals.  Though born in the early sixties to the post-Prohibition world of modern California winemaking, Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology.  Our approach is straightforward: find intense, flavorful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit’s distinctive character and richness into the wine.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby color.  The very appealing nose has brambly berries, minerals, black pepper, Asian spices, cherries, vanilla, potpourri, and some earthy underbrush.  This has a medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows great balance with no rough edges or overly showy elements.  The finish has very nice length and comes at you in waves.  I think this will improve with another year or two in the cellar but it is enjoyable today with some air.   (92 pts)

2008 Ridge Lytton Springs

2008 Ridge Lytton Springs



2010 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino – $24.33

I like Altesino’s Brunello wines, when the local store stocked this Rosso on their shelf, I had to grab a few bottles.  When done right, a Rosso is just a notch below a Brunello in quality but sells for a fraction of the cost.


This is 14.0% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


The Winery

The company is a leader in various, important innovations in the production of Sangiovese di Montalcino, causing it to stand out and become a reference point for the entire territory.


The introduction of the “Cru” (Montosoli) concept in 1975, the first experiments with barriques in ’79, the production in ’77 of the first Grappa di Fattoria under the consultancy of the master distiller Gioacchino Nannoni and the first Futures (purchasing wine before its release) for Brunello 1985 are some of the positive contributions putting Montalcino on the world map.


An intense relationship has built up over forty years with the land full of history, with its almost sensual beauty that is physically perceived and its subtle charm that reaches the body and soul. This is the philosophy that inspires Altesino to produce wine and maintain its culture.


More information is available on the winery’s website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color with a touch of brick.  The bright nose has cherries, strawberries, raspberries, dried herbs, tobacco, minerals, and a touch of underbrush.  This has medium body, light to moderate tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the palate the red fruit and spice hit first with dried herbs, minerals, and tobacco coming in on the back end.  The finish has nice length with the tobacco and minerals closing the show.  Not a wine to contemplate over, but a very tasty Rosso to enjoy over the next few years with a hearty meal.  (89 pts)

2010 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino

2010 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino



About the only thing I like about colder weather is the food possibilities are wide open.  Today was a perfect example, my wife simmered a large pot of meat sauce most of the day.  The house smelled great and the resulting dinner was fantastic.  This plate of pasta with meat sauce and garlic cheese bread was a perfect pairing with the Altesino Rosso.

Pasta with meat sauce




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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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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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.