2010 Ledge Syrah Adams Ranch Vineyard

2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection

2005 Château Margüi Côteaux Varois

2008 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

2010 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Russian River Valley




2010 Ledge Syrah Adams Ranch Vineyard – $33.24

Ledge Vineyards is the winery owned by the One Time Spaceman, Mark Adams.  I was lucky enough to secure a sample of the 2009 vintage of this wine from Mark.  After two sips of the wine, I immediately joined the mailing list.  After securing my spot on the list, I started telling everyone who would listen to get on the list.  If you didn’t hear or heed my earlier advice, you still have time; the 2011 vintage will be released in a few weeks.


For more information or to join the mailing list, click here.


This wine has 14.5% abv and is sealed with a natural cork and wax coating.


About the winery

The Adams Ranch is in the Willow Creek region on the west side of Paso Robles and rests on a plateau with the Santa Lucia Mountains as a backdrop, with a steep drop to Vineyard Drive in the foreground.  The vineyard is almost entirely Syrah, with some Grenache and Mourvedre peppered in.  We expand every year at a snail’s pace, with 25 dry farmed acres as the ultimate goal.  The vines are own rooted and reared in the home nursery after pruning each year.  Once established, the vines are dry farmed, field-blended and co-fermented using only native yeasts and are aged in neutral oak barrels.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep purple color.  The very inviting nose has blackberries, minerals, smoke, raspberries, eucalyptus, black pepper, violets, roasted herbs, and a touch of dark bittersweet chocolate.  This has medium to full body, moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is rich and plush with nice layers of fruit, spice and minerals.  The finish is very long with rich fruit, spice, minerals and a floral note seeming to hand on forever.  This is on the young side but already a stunning wine.  This will be a nice one to follow over the next decade, maybe even longer.  (93 pts)

2010 Ledge Syrah Adams Ranch Vineyard

2010 Ledge Syrah Adams Ranch Vineyard



2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection – $12.82

The King Estate Pinot Gris is a warm weather favorite in our house.  This wine usually has enough richness to sip on its own on a warm day but also has enough acidity to easily stand up to some of the lighter fare we eat on a warm Summer evening.  With production in the neighborhood of 100,000 cases, this wine can be found just about everywhere.  If you’ve never tried this wine, give it a shot, you’ll be happy you did.


This has 13.0% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


Winery History

King Estate, celebrating 20 years of Oregon winemaking in 2011, is located southwest of Eugene, Oregon and produces Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and limited amounts of Chardonnay. Founded in 1991 by the King family, King Estate is committed to producing Oregon wines of exceptional quality using organic & sustainable farming methods, meticulous fruit selection, impeccable winemaking practices and judicious blending.


The beautiful estate of 1,033 acres is certified organic and includes 470 acres of organic vineyards, as well as 30 acres of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The Estate is crowned by the charming, European-style winery, where the winemaking process is also certified organic.


More information is available on their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light, golden straw color. The fresh and inviting nose has apples, minerals, citrus zest, pears, white peaches, and orange blossoms. This has light to medium body and crisp acidity. On the palate this is like apples and pears tossed with citrus zest with some minerals sprinkled on top. The mouthwatering finish has good length and closes with a nice spritz of lime and minerals.  (89 pts)

2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection

2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection



2005 Château Margüi Côteaux Varois – $15.83

This was a spur of the moment purchase from Garagiste several years ago.  How could you pass up on a wine with the following Jon Rimmerman description and a cost of under $16?


The Syrah, which makes up 70% of the cepage has teeth like a Northern Rhone (not a Southern Syrah) and the Cabernet is like Left Bank Cabernet in a vintage like 1982 or 1990 – ripe and seductive with a fine tannic bite that only Cabernet skin tannins can provide. Mix the two together and you have a cool-climate/warm-climate dichotomy from a great vintage (2005) that drinks like a much more expensive wine – no wonder the restaurants are lining up to buy this (can you imagine what the mark-up will be from a Michelin starred venue?). With only 12.5-13.0% natural alcohol and fascinating levels of balanced natural extract, the glowing red fruit, mineral-dipped flavor has an uncanny Bordelaise edge that is magnified by the meaty, floral capacity of the Syrah. Basically, it’s a great effort and EXTREMELY LIMITED (only 50 cases of the 2005 for the US).


This has 13.0% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet color.  The appealing nose has cherries, blackberries, minerals, dried herbs, cedar, tobacco, eucalyptus and damp earth.  This has medium body, moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the fruit and savory elements share top billing, each taking turns showing their goods.  The finish has nice length and shows outstanding balance.  This has a few more years of life ahead of it before it starts declining.  This is a very nice bottle of wine to share over a meal.  (91 pts)

2005 Chateau Margui Coteaux Varois

2005 Chateau Margui Coteaux Varois



2008 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – $28.00

I’ve been on the Rhys mailing list for a few years.  A lot of people knock the wines because they don’t taste great upon release.  Rhys wines require a few years in the cellar to smoothen out and open up.  That said, their Alesia wines, which are made from purchased grapes, though also needing some time in the cellar, seem to be ready to drink a couple years earlier.  I grabbed several bottles of this wine when it was offered on their e-mail release.  I’ve had a couple bottles and every bottle has been better than the previous bottle…always a good sign.  I’m glad I still have five bottles to follow over the next few years.


This has 13.9% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice ruby red color. The sexy nose has strawberries, raspberries, cola, baking spices, underbrush, minerals, cherries, dried flowers, and a slight herbal note. The wine has medium body with soft tannins and very good acidity. The very complex palate has layers of fruit, spice, and earthy elements that slowly reveal themselves with each sip, with the nice cleansing acidity evident at all times. The finish is fairly long and the mouthwatering acidity is ever present. This is very food friendly and civilized. There is no excess weight or overly extracted notes evident on the wine. This is still on the young side and can be enjoyed over the next several years.  (92 pts)

2008 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

2008 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast



2010 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Russian River Valley – $18.99

I’ve been a big fan of the Novy/Siduri wines from Adam Lee for several years.  For some reason, their Zinfandels seem to fly under the radar.  Their single vineyard offerings are some of the best values out there, grab one if you happen to see one sitting on a store shelf.


This has 15.1% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a twist off closure.


Winery history

Our winemaking goal is to produce wines that best capture the distinct flavor and character of a given vineyard site.  To that end, we focus on sites that provide us with exceptional fruit.  We are fanatical in our protection of the vineyard flavor and are determined not to let any overt winemaking components mute the personality of an individual site.


In the cellar, we vinifiy each wine separately by block, clone and barrel type in order to maximize the individual components and provide greater complexity to the final blend.  This approach also provides us with much more flexibility in crafting a wine using only the best and most harmonious lots.


Given that the majority of our wines are single vineyard offerings, it is critical for us to maintain the site’s individual character in order to provide you with a truly diverse offering of wines.  To that end:


  • We believe in minimal intervention, “gentle” winemaking.  In other words, we let the wine make itself.  We do not want to do anything to the wine that isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • We believe in bottling our wines unfiltered and unfined whenever possible, convinced as we are that fining and filtering strip wines of flavor and character.
  • We believe that the best wines express their origins.  Our goal is not to produce the world’s best Syrah or Zinfandel but rather to produce the very best wine from a given site.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The soothing and inviting nose has brambly berries, black pepper, warm baking spices, licorice, dried herbs, tobacco, dark chocolate and some red raspberries.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and tart acidity.  Spicy, peppery berries grab the palate initially with dried herbs and dark chocolate coming in on the mid palate.  The finish has decent length highlighted by tart red raspberries.  This has much brighter acidity than your usual California zin, which obscures any richness that may be present.  With the good tannins and abundant acidity, this should last in the cellar and improve for several years.  (90 pts)

2010 Novy Zinfandel Russian River Valley

2010 Novy Zinfandel Russian River Valley



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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This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

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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.