2005 Mitolo Shiraz Reiver

2009 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Blend

2008 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Scherrer Shale Terrace

2007 Novy Family Wines Syrah Judge Family Vineyard




2005 Mitolo Shiraz Reiver – $23.74

Mitolo is one of the premiere wineries in Australia.  The wine maker, Ben Glaetzer, is one of the Australia superstars in the wine business.  This is an Aussie Shiraz that someone lost money on.  The release price was well north of $40 but I bought a case and a half for a touch over $20 a bottle from the local wine store.


The grapes for this wine come from a single vineyard in Greenock in the northern part of the Barossa Valley.


The wine has 14.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a Stelvin twist-off cap.


Winery history

For such a young winery, Mitolo’s history is rich.  It’s one studded with success, wide acclaim, and – most importantly – truly memorable wines.  But that’s only to be expected from a winery which, since the very first day, has been motivated by three potent words:


Purity. Elegance. Power.


Those were the guiding principles Frank Mitolo wrote down when he created the winery in 1999.  With his Italian heritage and a family history of working the land, Frank was only interested in pursuing excellence.  And the results were there immediately in the release of the first Mitolo wine – the 2000 G.A.M. – named after Frank’s children Gemma, Alexander and Marco.


Attracted by this commitment to only create wines of outstanding quality, acclaimed winemaker Ben Glaetzer joined Mitolo as a partner in 2001.  With grapes sourced from two of Australia’s premier wine regions, Mclaren Vale and the BarossaValley, Frank and Ben now work tirelessly to surpass their already impressive achievements.  Mitolo Wines, praised by some of the world’s toughest critics, are now enjoyed in more than 20 countries around the world.


And that is just the start.


More information about the winery is available on their website by clicking here.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color, almost black.  The very deep and inviting nose is locked and loaded with blackberries, smoked meat, baking spices, vanilla, dark chocolate, cherries, charcoal, dried herbs, and black pepper.  This has a fairly full body, solid, velvety tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the palate big fruit and spice quickly take hold allowing some dried herbs, chocolate, and vanilla to slowly slip into the picture.  The finish is long with cherries and a big blast of black pepper adding considerable interest.  (94 pts)

2005 Mitolo Shiraz Reiver

2005 Mitolo Shiraz Reiver



2009 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Blend – $18.04

I grabbed a bottle of this wine and a few others while looking for a wine that could be opened as a nice week night cabernet.  I grabbed this wine since it was predominantly produced with grapes from Sonoma and Napa Counties.  The under $20 price was the reason for this shopping expedition.


This wine has 14.2% alcohol and is sealed with an agglomerated cork.


The Winery

At the heart of every glass of Ghost Pines is the notion that world-class wines are made from quality grapes – grapes that span many appellations.  An unconventional view against today’s backdrop of single-appellation wines, the Ghost Pines philosophy is a modern take on visionary winemaker Louis M. Martini’s approach to winemaking.  In the 1930s, Martini didn’t think about appellation boundaries.  He simply sought the best grapes from the best vineyards to craft his unforgettable wines, long before American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) were established in California.


Seventy-five years later, Napa’s historic Louis M. Martini Winery launched Ghost Pines to give Michael Eddy and a talented group of forward-thinking winemakers the freedom to blend the finest grapes across appellations.  The result is a collection of sophisticated wines that illustrate the best characteristics of each varietal and region, balancing elegance with structure, intensity with nuance.


Echoing the unharnessed, free-form character of its namesake tree, Ghost Pines embodies the progressive spirit of California winemaking: no boundaries, no limits.


More information is available on the winery’s website by clicking here.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium garnet color.  The slightly subdued nose has crushed berries, baking spices, cherries, white pepper, and a slight herbal note.  This has medium body, soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  Tart cherries and spice hit on the front end with a soft, non-offending herbal note coming in on the back end.  The finish is a bit short and shows a bit of oak and the reoccurring herbal note.  Though it shows a slight green herbal note and a touch of excess oak, this is still a worthy Cabernet for a week night dinner.  (86 pts)

2009 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker's Blend

2009 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Blend



2008 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Scherrer Shale Terrace – $18.75

The Scherrer Winery futures program for their Zinfandels is one of the best mailing lists to join.  The wines are ordered and paid for before they are bottled, several months later the wine is bottled and shipped.  Generally the winery holds their zins in the bottle for a year before releasing them to the restaurants, distribution, or the normal mailing list.  What’s the advantage of paying for wine and waiting for shipment?  How about a big discount, 40% to 50% off regular release price?  This top notch Zin cost me well under $20.


The Scherrer Zinfndels are built to age. These are well balanced zins with restrained alcohol levels that age marvelously.  With enough bottle age, these take on the nuances of an aged Claret.


This wine has 14.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


Winery history

In the mid-1970’s, due to a normal teenage interest in alcoholic beverages, my family allowed me to make some wine from the family vineyard and beer at home (under adult supervision, of course).  This led to a UC Davis degree as well as concurrent work at a local winery doing the dirtiest and most menial jobs imaginable.  In the mid-1980’s good friends at Duxoup Wine Works (think Marx Brothers for the pronunciation) inspired me to try my hand at my own label so I negotiated cellar space in lieu of a raise by my then-current employer, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards in Anderson Valley (I got a raise anyway).  Greenwood Ridge was supportive of my project and decided to have some Scherrer Zinfandel produced for their label as well.  Unfortunately, I had a poor business plan and during the first year I realized I was not yet ready for this project.  Greenwood Ridge continues to make a small amount of Scherrer Vineyard Zinfandel to this day.


Much more information on this outstanding winery and a link to join the highly recommended mailing list available on their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The very nice nose has cherries, warm baking spices, brambly berries, black pepper, violets, plums, and minerals.  This has medium body. moderate tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the bright, tart cherries and spice kicks off the show with plums and black pepper bringing up the rear.  The finish has nice length and again is carried by the cherries and spice.  This isn’t your typical, big, ripe zinfandel.  This has nice refinement and shows nice cellar potential.  (92 pts)

2008 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Scherrer Shale Terrace

2008 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Scherrer Shale Terrace



2007 Novy Family Wines Syrah Judge Family Vineyard – $15.00

I grabbed a few bottles of this wine during a Novy sale where you received a bigger discount based on how many bottles you purchased.  I think I ended up with an extra 25% off.  A single vineyard, Novy Syrah for $15?  Stock up time.

This wine has 14.3% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


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.


Much more information on Novy and the wines they produce is available on their website by clicking here.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a dark ruby to maroon color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, fresh cracked black peppercorns, smoke, charred meat, cherries, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium to full body with moderate tannins and nice acidity.  On the palate the berries, black pepper, and meaty elements hit the palate first with dried herbs and a bit of earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish has nice length with the savory elements providing most of the flavor and the fruit providing some background sweetness.  (90 pts)

2007 Novy Family Wines Syrah Judge Family Vineyard

2007 Novy Family Wines Syrah Judge Family Vineyard



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.