2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek

2010 Ruffino Modus Toscana IGT

2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT

2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines

2009 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée

2012 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir




2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek – $9.50

Perennially a value priced favorite.  In this vintage, it seems to have a bit more oomph than most vintages.  Perhaps there was a surplus of very good grapes from some of the better vineyards or some grapes headed for single vineyard wines were declassified.  Either way, we’re the winners.  This is a jammy, fruity blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Syrah and Nebbiolo.


This wine has 14.5% 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 fairly deep ruby with a slight brick tint.  The enjoyable nose has blackberries, cherries, vanilla, baking spices, dark chocolate, dried flowers and a touch of scorched earth.  This has medium body,  soft tannins and good acidity.  This has nice up front jammy fruit with spices and a touch of eathiness.  On the back end the fruit thins out a touch allowing the savory notes to take over.  The finish has decent length with the spicy oak and earthiness in control with the fruit in the background providing a bit of sweetness.  I’d advise drinking this one up over the next year or two before the fruit fades more on the back end and finish.  Even showing some age, this is still a nice bottle of wine for $10.  (88 pts)

2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek

2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek




2010 Ruffino Modus Toscana IGT – $19.99

This is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot.


Modus was first produced in 1997 from grapes selected in the vineyards of the Tuscan Estates of Ruffino.  It was not, though, a new wine in the real sense of the term.  Ruffino had, in fact, been experimenting with the coltivation of non-traditional grape varieties on Tuscan soil since the eighties.  Some of the most encouraging results had been obtained with Cabernet and Merlot.


This has 13.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby color.  The mesmerizing nose has black cherries, blackberries, dark bittersweet chocolate, dark roast coffee, warm baking spices, tobacco, smoke, subtle earthiness and dried flowers.  This has medium body with moderate tannins and very good acidity.  The palate features up front fruit and spice with dark chocolate and toasty oak coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length with the dark chocolate, dark roast coffee and some earthiness.  This is on the young side but already very tasty.  (92 pts)

2010 Ruffino Modus Toscana IGT

2010 Ruffino Modus Toscana IGT




2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT – $16.62

I bought 6 bottles of this wine from a local wine store e-mail offer based on a solid recommendation from a fellow wine lover.  This “Super Tuscan” is a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah.


This is listed at 13% alcohol and has a natural cork closure.


Winery history

The wine cellar of Borgo Scopeto renewed and enlarged over the last few years, is equipped with the most modern technology for vinification.


The cellar is composed of 50 stainless steel tanks with capacities that range from 11 to 260 hectolitres, for a total of 7000 hectolitres.


More information is available on the winery’s website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to deep ruby red color, lighter at the edge.  The appealing nose has cherries, warm baking spices, blackberries, white pepper, earthy underbrush, dried herbs, and a touch of dark chocolate.  This has medium body, moderate tannins, and very good acidity.  Tart, spicy, earthy fruit dominate the palate with dried herbs and some chocolate coming in on the back end.  The finish has nice length and is an extension of the palate with just a touch of spicy oak creeping into the picture.  For a very young wine, this is drinking very nicely today.  This should improve with another year in the cellar and drink well for a few additional years.  (91 pts)

2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT

2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT




2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines – $23.71

To me, one of the better values out there is the Turley Old Vines Zinfandel.  Along with the appellation wines from Carlisle and Bedrock, these prove you can get a great bottle of California Zinfandel for $25 or less.


This is a blend of Zinfandel grapes from some of the older vineyards in California that don’t produce enough wine to allow for a single vineyard bottling.


This wine has 15.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


Winery history

In 1993, Turley Wine Cellars was founded by Larry Turley, brother of the well-known consulting winemaker Helen Turley.  Turley, had entered the wine business in 1981 as co-founder of the multi-varietal Frog’s Leap Winery, but soon realized that his interest lay in wines made from the Zinfandel grape.


Starting out with just one location in St. Helena, Turley Wine Cellars soon expanded to Templeton with the purchase of the historic Pesenti winery, where Zinfandel had been planted since 1923.


As of 2000, Turley Wine Cellars has had a two-year waiting list for new wine club customers.


In 2007, Turley Wine Cellars was producing approximately 14,000 cases a year of both single-vineyard and regional Zinfandel wines.


By 2011, Turley Wine Cellars is annually producing approximately 16,000 cases of award winning Zinfandel and Petite Sirah wines using multiple “small” vineyards located in Napa and Sonoma counties, and other Paso Robles locations.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby red color.  The very nice and inviting nose has brambly berries, black pepper, vanilla, warm baking spices, dark chocolate, incense, and some subtle earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the well behaved palate the spicy berries and black pepper take charge with some dark chocolate, vanilla, and earthy elements coming in later.  The finish has nice length and again highlights the spicy berries and earthiness.  If you think Turley zins are all overblown, you should give this one a try, it will change your opinion.  (92 pts)

2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines

2009 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines




2009 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée – $33.60

If you check out this blog very often or follow me on Twitter, you already know I’m a big fan of Paso Robles based Villa Creek.  Vintage after vintage produce outstanding blends revolving around the grapes from France’s Rhone Valley.  The Willow Creek Cuvée as well as their Avenger are two of my favorite VC wines.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah sourced from the Denner and James Berry vineyards.


This has 15.2% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork and was dipped in wax.


Winery history

In the spirit of the great wine producers of the southern Rhone and the bodegas of Rioja and Priorat, blending is what Villa Creek does best.  The area’s finest Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo Vineyards are just a stone’s throw from the west Paso Robles winery where these blends are lovingly produced by winemaker Cris Cherry and his wife JoAnn.


The grapes of the area’s most progressive vineyards, James Berry, Denner, Ohana and Booker, currently grace the wines of Villa Creek Cellars.  Per acre contracts insure that the fruit comes off the same blocks each vintage.  The Cherry’s own 70 acre estate on the west side of Paso Robles boasts elevations of 1400-1800 feet, calcareous soils, south facing slopes and ample water.  In the spring of 2012, the Cherry’s finished planting their first grape vines, 3.5 acres of Grenache.  They look forward to planting Mourvèdre and Carignan in the months to come.


Much more information is available on their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color.  The big and bold nose has raspberries, blackberries, minerals, licorice, dried herbs, warm baking spices, cherries, wood smoke, and a bit of earthiness.  This full bodied gem has moderate to solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the spicy fruit kicks off the show with minerals and some earthiness waiting in the wings.  The finish is long and

layered with nice fruit and savory elements taking turns stealing the show.  This is a touch young but still drinking very nicely with some air.  (92 pts)

2009 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée

2009 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée




2012 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir – $16.14

I had to grab a bottle of this when I saw it on the local wine store’s shelf.  I’m a fan of Tony Soter’s much more expensive Pinot Noir wines, so I wanted to see how this much more affordable offering would compare.


This is from a VERY environmentally friendly project from Tony Soter.  “We work with growers that are Organic, Biodynamic, LIVE and Food Alliance certified — all of whom meet the Salmon Safe criteria in the process.”


This has 13.4% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.


Behind this label is Tony Soter, an Oregon-born winegrower who is best known for making precious quantities of exquisite and often expensive wines of world-class status.


Tony is a passionate winegrower who has long been committed to sustainable farming.  He first began organic grape growing back in 1985.  Soter continues leadership today with his role in guiding the Oregon wine industry’s pursuit of verifiable carbon accounting and the labeling of certified sustainable Oregon wines.


Planet Oregon is his chance to make wines for a broader audience and make a bigger positive impact on the planet.  He wants Planet Oregon Wines to embody the conscious choice we all have to endorse and support sustainably produced wines.


Much more information on this project is available on their site by clicking here.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The sexy nose has black cherries, crushed berries, white pepper, baking spices, violets and subtle earthy underbrush.  This has medium body, soft silky tannins and good acidity.  Cherries and spice initially grab hold on the palate, slowly allowing a floral note and white pepper to join the show.  The finish has good length with a touch of earthiness coming into focus.  The warmer vintage is obvious with the rich, ripe fruit.  This may not pack a lot of complexity in your glass, but it is mighty tasty.  (89 pts)

2012 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir

2012 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir




Win an All-inclusive VIP Sonoma Winecation





Underground Cellar is offering you a chance to win an all-inclusive VIP weekend in Sonoma wine country.


The winner will get the following with a value of $6,500:

  • Weekend getaway for 4 to California’s exclusive Sonoma wine country
  • Stay at the luxurious 5,500 sq. ft. Villa Terra Nova Retreat
  • Behind-the-scenes private tour of Iron Horse Vineyards, by winemaker David Munskgard
  • VIP chef’s dinner at award-winning “the girl and the fig” restaurant
  • Rountrip airfare, luxury transportation, and many other surprises!

Click here to enter.   If you win, you can even include me as one of your friends.

Even if you don’t win the grand prize, there is over $3,000 of gift cards with a value of up to $200 to be given away.


While you’re there, check out Underground Cellar unique wine selling model.  You can “buy” a lower cost wine and get upgraded to a much more expensive bottle for free.  For example, one of their current offers is $42 for a 2008 Balboa Brioso.  If you buy this wine, you could get “upgraded” to 2007 Stonestreet Monument Ridge Cabernet ($60 value), 2009 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet ($85 value), 2007 Anderson’s Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet ($130 value), 1994 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon ($150 value), or even a 1985 BR Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Olive Hill (Helen Turley) with a value of $220.


The shipping is also incredible, at 6 bottles, shipping cost $5! Buy 6 more bottles and ship for FREE.




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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.