Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cliffs Wine Picks – Dec 23, 2013 to Dec 26, 2013

 

 

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

 

 

 

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard – $33.00

This is another of the non Pinot Noir wines Brian Loring has produced.  Thus far, every one has been outstanding.  This one is a Grenache from the Russell Family Vineyard in Paso Robles.

 

This has 14.9% alcohol and is sealed with a twist off closure.

 

Winery history

My name is Brian Loring and my obsession is Pinot Noir.  OK, I’m also pretty crazy about Champagne, but that’s another story.  While in college, I worked at a wine shop in Hollywood (Victor’s), where one of the owners was a Burgundy fanatic.  So, my very first experiences with Pinot Noir were from producers like Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer, and DRC.  Needless to say, I found subsequent tasting safaris into the domestic Pinot Noir jungle less than satisfying.  It wasn’t until I literally stumbled into Calera (I tripped over a case of their wine in the store room) that I found a California Pinot Noir that I could love.  But it would be quite a while before I found someone else that lived up to the standard that Josh Jensen had established.  I eventually came to understand and enjoy Pinots from Williams Selyem, Chalone, and Sanford, but I really got excited about California Pinot Noir when I met Norm Beko from CottonwoodCanyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting.

 

I’d made about 3 trips around the booths at the tasting without finding a single good Pinot Noir.  So, being the open minded person that I am (remember I passed him up 3 times), I stopped at the Cottonwood booth.  I was BLOWN away by Norm’s 1990 Santa Maria Pinot Noir.  After a few years of attending every Cottonwood event and asking Norm 10,000 questions about winemaking, he offered to let come learn the process during the ’97 crush.  I checked sugar levels, picked, crushed, punched down, pressed, filled barrels, and generally moved a bunch of stuff around with fork lifts and pallet jacks!  It was the time of my life… I was totally hooked.  And even though I hadn’t planned it, I ended up making two barrels of Pinot Noir.  That was the start of the Loring Wine Company.  What had started out as a dream 15 years earlier was now a reality – I was a winemaker!

 

My Tasting Note

Bright red color with a slight ruby tint.  The comforting nose has cherries, baking spices, white pepper, raspberries, roasted leafy herbs, licorice, and dried flowers.  This has medium body, soft to moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is rich and lush with juicy cherries, berries and spice up front with raspberries and white pepper kicking in on the back end.  The finish has nice length with roasted herbs adding some complexity.  This is fairly ripe and juicy but with nice acidity holding everything together.  I wouldn’t stash this in the cellar for too long, but it should drink nicely for at least the next 5 years.  (91 pts)

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

 

 

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra – $37.00

I was working on my list of my top 10 wines of the year and this wine may find a spot on the list.  I remembered I still had a few bottles in the cellar, I decided to open one for Christmas Eve.

 

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

 

Winery history

In 1990, Roman Bratasiuk embarked on a truly remarkable wine making journey.  His vision: to create single vineyard wines equal to anything in the world.  Quite simply.  Working with old, dry-grown vines and performing every step of the process by hand, Roman sought to redefine the Australian fine wine landscape by solely conveying the imprint a vineyard forges on the varietal expression.  Every year a pragmatic and calculated Clarendon Hills learns a little more about our vineyards and pushes a little further to propel each one of our 100% varietal wines to the pinacle of their capability.

 

Please join Roman and the Clarendon Hills family in celebrating our 19 single vineyard, 100% varietal wines.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky, purple color.  The spellbinding nose has charred meat, blackberries, smoke, roasted herbs, blueberries, black pepper, vanilla, licorice, minerals, Asian spices, and dark chocolate.  This has medium to full body, ripe and velvety tannins, and good acidity.  The palate on this wine is out of the world with the berries, roasted herbs, and black pepper slowly giving way to spicy, meaty elements and dark chocolate.  The finish is extremely long and highlights the spice, meat, and roasted herbs.  This is the complete package.  Outstanding!  No hurry on this one, it has years of life ahead of it.  (96 pts)

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra

 

 

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3 – $23.74

We are BIG fans of nicely aged German Rieslings.  The sugary sweetness these wines show in their youth melds with the citrusy acidity over the years to form a magical elixir that becomes a rich wine with just enough acidity on the back end to leave you grabbing the glass for another sip.

 

This wine has 8.5% alcohol by volume and was sealed with a natural cork.

 

Winery history

As is usual for a lot of the smaller, European wineries, not a lot of information seems to be available on the internet.  I also can’t find anything on CellarTracker for this winery since the 1995 vintage.  This leads me to think it no longer exists.  I can recite Jon Rimmerman’s (from Garagiste Wine) silky prose, but I don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch.  All I will say is, if you like older German Rieslings that have generally been in perfect condition, at really nice prices, check out http://garagiste.com/ and sign up for the list.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow color with a slight golden tint. The rich and inviting nose has apples, white peaches, stony minerals, petrol, white pepper, honey, lime zest, and a touch of pineapple. This has a light to medium body, nice residual sweetness, and good citrus driven acidity to keep it in perfect balance. The finish is very long with the initial sweetness slowly giving way to a nice blast of mouthwatering lemon-lime acidity. At 19 years of age, this still seems to be on the young side. I look forward to enjoying my remaining bottles on the wine’s evolution over the next decade.  (94 pts)

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

 

 

For Christmas Eve dinner, we made our traditional dinner.  This is a recipe from the New Orleans based “The Gumbo Shop”.  It is called Crawfish and Pasta with Tasso Cream.  It is very rich and slightly spicy from Cayenne Pepper.

Crawfish and Pasta with Tasso Cream Sauce

 

 

 

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County – $15.38

It has been a few years since I had a bottle of Byron wine.  When I saw this 2012 Pinot Noir on the local store’s shelf for a touch over $15, I decided it was worth a try.

 

The wine has 13.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a twist off cap.

 

The Winery

To conserve energy and natural resources, we’ve moved our production to our next door neighbor, Cambria Estate. Within their spacious cellars we’ve been able to reconstruct Byron. We have our own crush pad, our own individual barrel storage rooms and even our prized sorting table. Our focus continues to be high quality, hand-made, small-lot wines from Santa Barbara’s finest vineyards including our Estate Nielson Vineyard.

 

Byron will continue to produce balanced, opulent, and pure wines.

 

More information is available on the winery’s website.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a touch lighter than a medium ruby red color.  The interesting nose has black cherries, raspberries, baking spices, earthy underbrush, white pepper, and violets.  This is barely medium body with soft to moderate tannins and it has good acidity.  On the palate the tart, spicy fruit jumps out first with nice earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length with a slight herbal note coming into the picture.  Not a lot of complexity, but it is a very nice, week night Pinot especially if you can grab it for around $15.  (89 pts)

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – Three from Robert Mondavi Winery

 

This is based on samples provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.

 

 

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay

2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

 

 

rmLogo

 

The Robert Mondavi Winery history is full of triumphs and disappointments.  The winery that Robert Mondavi founded and poured his heart into, eventually caused him his biggest heart breaks.  The downfall for the family began when they took the company public.  This money making venture, years down the road, lead to the family being pushed out of the picture.

 

Robert Mondavi Winery (from the winery)

Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world’s finest.  He chose To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley as the home for Robert Mondavi Winery. This first-growth vineyard, located in Oakville, California, is renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world, as well as for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, from which Mr. Mondavi crafted his signature wine, Fumé Blanc.

 

Along with To Kalon Vineyard, Robert Mondavi Winery sources grapes from some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyards, including Stag’s Leap (Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc) and Carneros (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).

 

Mr. Mondavi believed that wines should reflect their origins, that they are the product of the soil, the climate, and the careful stewardship of those precious resources. He also believed in combining the newest techniques and technology with time-honored winemaking traditions.

 

Our winemaking and vineyard teams are proud to carry on our founder’s mandate to always strive higher, to pursue Robert Mondavi’s goal of excellence with the same passion and innovative spirit, moving forward with programs that break barriers and open new frontiers.

 

Leading this initiative is Genevieve Janssens, Director of Winemaking. Genevieve, whose relationship with the winery began in 1978, was selected Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2010.

 

 

Mondavi Logo

 

 

The wines

The wines for this tasting:

Robert Mondavi line up

 

 

 

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay – SRP $19

This 100% Chardonnay is made from grapes sourced from:

56% Carneros (Napa Valley), 24% Napa Valley, 14% Stag’s Leap District and 6% Russian River Valley.  The grapes were whole cluster pressed.  75% of the juice was fermented in French oak with 15% being new.  The remaining 25% was cold fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Some of the wine went through malolactic fermentation.

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light yellow to straw color.  The fresh and fruity nose has apples, melon, pears, vanilla, baking spices, minerals, orange blossoms and lemon zest.  This has medium body, fairly creamy mouth feel with crisp acidity and just a slight trace of lingering sweetness.  On the palate the white orchard fruit and spices grab the palate initially before minerals and mouthwatering citrus kick in and take over.  The finish has decent length with minerals, citrus, and a bit of oak carrying the load.  A touch of residual sugar adds nice richness without making the wine off dry.  This is a food friendly Chardonnay that would also make for a nice glass with friends and conversation.  (88 pts)

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay

 

 

2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir – SRP $26

This wine is made of 100% Napa Carneros Pinot Noir.  Select vineyard blocks were whole cluster fermented, most were destemmed and crushed prior to fermentation.  The wine was fermented in French oak and had 21 days of skin contact.  After fermentation, the wine was gently pressed into French oak (26% new) for malolactic fermentation and five months of aging before being bottled in April 2013.

 

The wine has 14.5% alcohol by volume and the bottles are sealed with a natural cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright cherry red color.  The earthy nose has plums, earthy underbrush, baking spices, cherries and a touch of cola.  This has medium body, soft tannins and decent acidity.  On the palate plums, cherries and spice hit first then the earthy elements take over.  The finish has decent length with the earthy elements in control and the fruit providing some needed sweetness in the background.  A middle of the road style of Pinot Noir, some upfront fruit but not overly ripe and rich like some of the California Pinots.  (86 pts)

2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir

2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir

 

 

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – SRP $28

The 2011 vintage was a difficult one in the Napa Valley.  There was tenacious morning fog, unseasonably cool weather and rainfall at flowering time and during the October harvest.

 

This wine is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot.  The grapes were sourced from 100% Napa Valley vineyards including To Kalon Vineyard (35%) and Wappo Hill Vineyard (13%).

 

The grapes were gently destemmed into stainless steel tanks and oak tanks.  There was a 26 day maceration to maximize the extraction of color and flavor.  This also helped polish the tannins for a rich, supple mouthfeel.  The finished wine was transferred to 60 gallon French oak barrels (13% new) for malolactic fermentation.  The wine received 16 months of barrel aging before being bottled in May 2013.

 

The wine has 14.0% alcohol by volume and the bottles are sealed with a natural cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium ruby red color.  The expressive nose has cassis, tomato leaf, minerals, mocha, cedar, fresh sage and thyme, and violets.  The wine has medium body, moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows the cool vintage with a fair amount of tomato leaf and fresh herbs to go with the fruit.  The finish has fair length again showing the herbal side of the Cabernet grape.  This is a wine that will go well with food but is not a wine to sip on its own.  This isn’t a Cabernet to lock away in the cellar, serve it with a burger or roast beef over the next couple of years.  This wine does have a distinct green streak that will not agree with a lot of wine enthusiasts.  (84 pts)

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – Dec 20, 2013 to Dec 22, 2013

 

 

2010 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts

2011 Shatter Grenache

2004 Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Pietro’s Ranch

2008 Fetish Wines Playmates

2009 Soter Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Ranch

 

 

 

2010 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts – $33.60

A friend of mine belongs to the Herman Story mailing list and I’m thankful he shares his allocation with me.  I love these wine made by Russell P. From.

 

This wine is 100% Syrah and comes from Les Galets, Shadow Canyon, Luna Matta, Terra Bella, White Hawk and Larner Vineyards.

 

This has 16.1% alcohol by volume and the bottle is closed with a natural cork and a wax seal.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a dark, inky purple color.  The nose is stunning and full of blackberries, black currant, smoke, meat juices, warm baking spices, blueberries, earthy underbrush and cedar.  This full bodied wine has moderate to solid ripe tannins and good acidity.  This is thick and luscious on the palate with a mouthful of berries and spice grudgingly allowing some spicy oak, earthiness and dark chocolate to enter the picture.  The finish has very nice length with the spicy oak and berries carrying the load.  Not a lot of subtlety but the 16.1% alcohol is kept under wraps.  (93 pts)

2010 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts

2010 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts

 

 

2011 Shatter Grenache – $19.99

This wine is from Dave Phinney of Orin Swift Cellars from Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes in the Roussillon of France.  I grabbed a bottle when I saw it on the shelf at the local Costco for a very reasonably price.  Even though it could probably use some time in the cellar, I wanted to give it a try to see if I should grab a few more bottles.

 

This has a very high alcohol level of 15.9%, so I don’t know what to expect.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine was a bright red to ruby color.  The intriguing nose had cherries, dark chocolate, raspberries, baking spices, and some earthiness.  This has a full body, moderate to solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate there is a mouthful of red fruit and spice up front with dark chocolate coming in on the back end.  The finish had very good length with some earthiness entering the picture.  This would be a hard wine to guess in a blind tasting.  I really don’t think anyone would nail this one as a French Grenache.  This is drinking nicely now with some air but should be even better with some cellar time.  (91 pts)

2011 Shatter Grenache

2011 Shatter Grenache

 

 

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Pietro’s Ranch – $37.00

This bottle was from my friend’s cellar.  I had two bottle of this, but they were consumed a couple years ago.  I’m interested to see how this one aged.  This was unfortunately the last vintage for this wine.

 

This wine is a blend of 85% Zinfandel and 15% Mixed Black Varieties (Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache)

 

The Vineyard

Our third Pietro’s Ranch and sadly, the last.  In April 2007, this Grande Dame of the Russian River Valley, this vineyard planted in 1905 by brothers Italo and Pietro Barbieri, immigrants from Agnino, Tuscany, was torn up in preparation for replanting to more “fashionable” varieties.  Producing what is potentially our finest zinfandel to date, the loss of this vineyard will forever break my heart.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The compelling nose has brambly berries, black cherries, licorice, warm baking spices, black peppercorns and vanilla.  This had medium to full body, integrated tannins and good acidity.  This was rich and lush on the palate.  The cellar time has helped the wine to shed some “baby fat” and some of its youthful intensity.  This is now a much more laid back and nuanced wine.  On the palate the black cherries and spice slowly allowed berries, black pepper and licorice to make brief appearances.  The long finish featured nice fruit and spice.  I wouldn’t hold onto this one for too much longer, open it and enjoy.  (91 pts)

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Pietro's Ranch

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Pietro’s Ranch

 

 

2004 Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero – $29.99

This one is also from my friend’s cellar.  We both bought this wine from the local wine store.  I have enjoyed a few bottles over the last couple of years and it has been consistently impressive.  I bought 7 bottles and unfortunately, I am down to only one bottle remaining.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is ruby red color.  The spellbinding nose has cherries, minerals, raspberries, eucalyptus, smoke, earthy underbrush and dark chocolate.  This had medium body, moderate to solid tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate cherries, spice and minerals steal the show up front with some earthiness and the eucalyptus note coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length with the red fruit, minerals and the eucalyptus note slowly fading away.  (93 pts)

2004 Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero

2004 Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero

 

 

2008 Fetish Wines Playmates – $17.09

This wine is a blend of 80% Shiraz, 10% Mataro (Mourvedre) and 10% Grenache from Australia’s Barossa Valley.

 

I highly recommend checking out the winery’s website and their descriptions of the wines by clicking here.

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark garnet color.  The big and in your face nose has blackberries, smoke, dark chocolate, cherries, vanilla, earthy underbrush, plums, dried herbs, and a faint eucalyptus note.  This is fairly full bodied with moderate to solid ripe tannins and decent acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a load of juicy, spice, peppery berries with some plums, dark chocolate, and dried herbs in the background.  The finish has nice length and again highlights the spicy fruit, dried herbs, and dark chocolate.  This is fairly straight forward but nice, especially as a “cocktail wine”.  (88 pts)

2008 Fetish Wines Playmates

2008 Fetish Wines Playmates

 

 

2009 Soter Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Ranch – $45.00

This is another wine I was able to purchase through a friend’s generosity in sharing his mailing list allocation.  In this case, I was able to get three bottles of this wine as well as the winery’s lower end North Valley Pinot Noir.  My North Valley Pinots are unfortunately all gone now and it’s time to dig into the Estate Pinot.

 

This has 14.1% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

Tony Soter

Tony Soter founded Etude Wines in 1982 and its name, “study,” describes his reverence for the ongoing learning process that is winegrowing.  Early in his career, Soter realized that there were innumerable variables that guided a wine towards excellence.  He learned to distinguish between winemaking techniques fundamental to quality, and those that imparted a winemaker’s signature.  He sought to understand the voice of each individual vineyard, to maximize its expression in the glass.

 

In the mid-1980s, Soter began working as a consulting winemaker in the Napa Valley, assisting luminaries such as Araujo, Niebaum-Coppola, Shafer, Spottswoode, Viader and Dalle Valle.  After years of mentoring and encouraging some of NapaValley’s most respected growers and winemakers, he ended his consulting roles to focus exclusively on Soter Vineyards and his family.

 

Apart from being a culmination, Soter Vineyards is also a beginning.  Soter Vineyards is a family enterprise; with the eventual help of their children, Oregon natives Tony and Michelle Soter hope to establish a legacy of august, estate-bottled wines, in the fashion of the great family domaines of Burgundy.  The wines will consistently express this exotic flare, be sappy and fruit-driven, with lovely acid balance.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The elegant nose has cherries, Asian spices, minerals, cola, dried flowers, smoke and a touch of white pepper.  This has medium body, soft to moderate tannins and very good acidity.  This is intense on the palate with bright, focused cherries and spice up front, slowly giving way to minerals, cola and white pepper.  The finish has nice length but seems to lose just a touch of its zip and focus.  This is very nice now but will be better in another year of two.  (93 pts)

2009 Soter Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Ranch

2009 Soter Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Ranch

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – Dec 16, 2013 to Dec 19, 2013

 

 

2009 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 282

2005 Azienda Agricola Forestale Rigoloccio Il Sorvegliante

2004 Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co.

2009 Borgo Scopeto (Tenuta Caparzo) Borgonero Toscana IGT

 

 

 

2009 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 282 – $24.00

As is usually the case with Cameron Hughes wines, they don’t disclose the source of the wines they sell.

 

That said, when this wine was offered for sell, their information included the following:

Lot 282 2009 Rutherford Cabernet is perfectly suited for the task with impeccable provenance from one of Napa Valley’s flagship Cabernet producers.  Sourced from the well-drained alluvial soils of the west side of Rutherford appellation, this wine explodes with rich and ripe, yet elegant, fruit.  Classically proportioned one would say.  The source winery approached us last fall and we contracted quite a few different 2009 Cabernet’s that they then barreled down for us until we removed them last summer for bottling.  The best of them is this 2009 Rutherford Cabernet (their $80 Rutherford appellation Cabernet being their consistently best rated wine with the 2008 scoring 93+ from Parker).  Lot 282 is the exact same wine they bottled for the 2009 vintage under their own label.  How do I know this?  Not only because they told us as much but because they sold us the entire production at first and then asked very nicely last spring with the economy looking better if they couldn’t have some back.

 

This was enough information to do some digging.  The fact that the 2008 vintage of this $80, Rutherford Cab was given a score of 93+ by the Wine Advocate was enough to determine this wine is actually the 2009 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford.  It was the only wine that met those very specific criteria.  Since this was a wine I had and very much enjoyed in the past, this was an absolute no-brainer.  Don’t bother looking for this deal now, I bought a case back in 2011 and this wine is long gone from the Cameron Hughes store.

 

I will note, this is my first bottle from that purchase but I did sell a few bottles to friends at cost.

 

The wine has 14.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to purple color.  The inviting nose has cassis, dusty minerals, baking spices, toasty oak, tobacco, licorice and violets.  This has medium body, moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the fruit and spice lead the charge with minerals and toasty oak coming in on the back end.   The finish has very nice length with a nice mix of fruit and the savory elements.  This is drinking very nicely today but will hold and maybe improve for a few years in the cellar.  This was an absolute steal at $24.  (92 pts)

2009 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 282

2009 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 282

 

 

2005 Azienda Agricola Forestale Rigoloccio Il Sorvegliante – $23.81

This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc and 33% Alicante.

 

This was a Garagiste offering back in November 2008.  The wine sounded good, as is usually the case when Jon Rimmerman preaches about a wine’s virtues.  The wine arrived and was placed in the cellar for a bit of bottle aging.  Here it is, 5 years later and I haven’t opened a bottle.  Tonight’s the night to see how I did with this blind leap of faith.

 

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

 

The Winery

The Azienda Agricolo Forestale RIGOLOCCIO is located in the Gavorrano district in the heart of the Maremma of Grosseto, an area rich in history and tradition.  Due to the mild climate and the rich soil, the Etruscans chose to settle here giving rise to famous settlements such as Vetulonia, Populonia as well as those at LakeAccesa and Poggio Castiglione, visible from Rigoloccio.

 

This area is in the Metallifere Hills, so called because of the wealth of minerals in the subsoil.  Mining became the main employment of the local inhabitants, able to cope with the dangerous and arduous labor thereby developing a civilization which drew its wealth from metalworking and was vital to the development of a district rich in art.  In addition to the mines, the area is characterized by beautiful countryside with its carefully tended gardens, framed by rows of vines and olive groves that bring to mind the unforgettable landscapes of the Impressionists.

 

Olive trees and vines have always been a vital resource for the survival of the inhabitants of the Maremma.  Vines were grown here before anywhere else in Italy!  It was the Etruscans who first imported the vitis vinifera from the ancient Greek islands, thereby beginning the production of wine which has been uninterrupted to this day.

 

In recent years interest in “good wine” has been increasing, consequently the techniques of cultivation and wine making have moved on.  Well known wine specialists and bold new entrepreneurs in this field are developing important new vineyards.  All this is helping to make the Maremma the new Eldorado of good, new wines.  So it is with the Azienda Agricolo Forestale RIGOLOCCIO, a vineyard of 23 hectares in the foothills of the Maremma.  It overlooks the Gulf of Follonica and the island of Elba from where the soft sea breezes emanate.  Rigoloccio (named after one of the mines) is sheltered from the northern winds and gently touched by the sun from dawn to dusk.  This is a paradise, like many others in Maremma, with a soil rich in minerals and microelements that make the land unique and ideal for the cultivation of vines and the production of good wine.  The whole is crowned by olive groves and an oak wood.

 

In 2002 the dream of a new vineyard at Rigoloccio started to take shape under the guidance of the renowned wine maker Fabrizio Moltard.  The choice of vines was bold: Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Alicante produce the red wines and Chardonnay and Fiano combine giving birth to a new and intriguing white wine.  The aim was the production of good wines of the order of the Supertuscans and this has been achieved through inspiration and international experience.

 

Much more information is available on the winery’s website.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet to purple color.  The stunning nose has cassis, minerals, dried herbs, licorice, charcoal, leather, plums, dried wild flowers and a touch of cedar.  This has medium body, moderate tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate tart fruit and minerals dominate the front end with dried herbs, charcoal and cedar coming in on the back end.  The finish has nice length with a subtle herbal note creeping into the picture as the tannins turn just a touch chalky.  A very nice wine with food but, as with most Italian wines, not one to sip on its own.  This will drink very nicely over the next couple of years.  (90 pts)

2005 Azienda Agricola Forestale Rigoloccio Il Sorvegliante

2005 Azienda Agricola Forestale Rigoloccio Il Sorvegliante

 

 

2004 Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co. – $18.21

This wine’s normal price is in the $45 to $49 range, which I feel is WAY too high.  The community average price in CellarTracker for this wine is over $28, which is again pushing the limit.  Luckily I was able to grab half a case for well under $20.  That makes it a good Napa Valley Cab at a price that won’t break the bank when consumed on a week night, especially for an aged Cabernet is in its’ prime drinking window.

 

I’ve had a couple bottles that I liked and rated 89-90 points.

 

The wine has 13.8% alcohol by volume and the bottle has a natural cork.

 

Winery history

Cedar Knoll Vineyard and Winery was founded in 1881 by Henry Hagen.  One of their wines won a Silver Medal at the Paris Exposition in 1889.  At that time, Cedar Knoll was one of Napa’s premier wineries.  The winery was a victim of Prohibition and was closed for close to 80 years.  Cedar Knoll is now owned by the Palmaz family.  They have resurrected the vineyards and restored the original Hagen house.  The vineyards occupy 55 acres and are located just northeast of the city of Napa.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby red color, much lighter at the edge.  The very nice and appealing nose has cassis, cedar, dried herbs, cherry, smoke, tobacco, raspberry, baking spices, and a touch of well worn leather.  This has medium body, good acidity, and fairly integrated tannins.  On the palate the wine has silky smooth fruit up front with spices and dried herbs coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length with some spicy oak adding an extra dimension.  Not a lot of complexity but this is in a nice place right now.  This probably should be consumed over the next year or two before the fruit starts to fade.  (89 pts)

2004 Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co.

2004 Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co.

 

 

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

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – California Wine Club with Claiborne and Churchill

 

 

This is based on wine provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.

 

 

2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors’ Blend

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir

 

 

cwc-logo

 

 

 About California Wine Club

 

Some of California’s Best Wine Can’t Be Found in Local Stores.

 

The California Wine Club is owned by Bruce and Pam Boring and has been around since 1990.

 

Here is how they describe their company:

Thank you for taking the time to visit our website and learn about our wine of the month programs!

 

For years Pam and I were frustrated trying to find truly great wine. Selecting a decent bottle of wine from thousands of pretty labels with prices ranging from $5-$35 was difficult at the best of times. We were always happiest with wine recommendations from friends.

 

So, that’s what we wanted to do with The California Wine Club, start a wine of the month club that was just like “one friend recommending a great bottle of wine to another friend”.

 

We are now celebrating 23 years of business and the wine adventures keep getting better! Pam and I knew that there were hundreds of small, family-owned wineries dedicated to producing exceptional wine … and it was this wine that we wanted to share with our monthly wine club members. Each month we travel California’s wine country searching out the wineries, meeting the families and tasting the wines that never make it to local stores or wine shops.

 

All the details are available on their site by clicking here.

 

 

CA Wine Club Options

With five wine of the month clubs to choose from, they have wine selections and wine gifts to suit all tastes and all budgets. To learn more click any of the following links:

 

Premier Series – Our original and most popular club!

Signature Series – For collectors and connoisseurs!

International Selections – From small “mom & pop” wineries around the world.

Aged Cabernet Series – Napa’s most prestigious Cabernets aged 8 – 12 years.

Pacific Northwest Series – Discover limited-production, award-winning wines from Oregon and Washington.

 

The California Wine Club is a different kind of wine of the month club…a difference you’ll taste with your first shipment!

 

 

Special offer for Cliff’s Wine Picks readers, get 50% off your first 3 months.  Click here for this special offer.

 

 

Wine Reorders and pricing

If you get a wine from one of their clubs and have to get more, it’s quick and easy.  Go to their Wine Reorder page and select the wines you want to purchase for up to 50% off normal retail prices.  A bonus is that you can purchase the wines even if you aren’t a member of one of the plans.  If you want to check out their selections and great prices, visit the Wine Reorder page by clicking here.  Note that purchases must be in 6 or 12 bottle increments and mixed cases are allowed.  You don’t have to order a solid case of a wine to get their great pricing.  Be warned, after checking out their selections and pricing, there’s a good chance you’ll be joining one of their wine clubs.

 

Price is always a big consideration when making wine purchases.  The California Wine Club prices, in a word, ROCK!  As an example, the Pinot Noir included in my shipment has a “tasting room” price of $30 but reorders are only $12.99 a bottle.  The Edelzwicker has an $18 release price but reorders were only $10.99 a bottle.

 

Their packaging

Besides the wine, my package included a “newsletter” called Uncorked.  This 12 page, full color publication was full of great information.  The info included a nice story on the winery, write ups about the wines including technical info and “insider” information from the owner/winemaker.  The newsletter also included a nice recipe for an Alsatian Onion Tart as well as a list of some previous wine selections still available via the company.

 

 

About Claiborne and Churchill

Claiborne & Churchill is a small, family-owned winery founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill.  Former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the couple left the “Groves of Academe” for the vineyards of California in 1981 in order to start a new life in the wine industry.  Clay began as a “cellar rat” in a local winery, learning the business from the ground up (actually underground), and soon the two were encouraged to start their own wine production in that host facility.

 

With its first crush in 1983 Claiborne & Churchill announced its special focus, producing 565 cases of Dry Gewürztraminer and Dry Riesling, modeled on the fruity but dry dinner wines of the French province of Alsace.  Claiborne & Churchill now produces about 10,000 cases of wine a year, purchasing grapes from vineyards in the cool maritime valleys of California’s CentralCoast.  About two-thirds of these wines remain our signature wines, the Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer, which are sold all over the country (and abroad) by a network of brokers and distributors.  A variety of other wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other wines in the Alsatian style (Pinot Gris, Dry Muscat, and an Edelzwicker), are produced in small lots and can be ordered directly from the winery.

 

In 1995 Clay and Fredericka completed construction on their new and permanent winery building.  This structure, a noteworthy example of environmental architecture, is a “straw bale building,” the first of its kind in California.  With sixteen-inch thick walls made of bales of rice straw, the winery is so well insulated that it maintains a constant cellar temperature, without the need for mechanical cooling or heating.

 

At Claiborne & Churchill traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation and barrel-aging (even with Riesling and Gewürztraminer), minimal manipulation of juice and wine, “natural” or spontaneous fermentation using indigenous yeast, and limited use of SO2, all in the belief that the winemaker’s task is to bring out the flavor and character that is latent in the grape.  Our aim is to create pleasurable dinner wines in which there is a harmonious balance of fruit and oak, structure and texture.

 

For much more information, visit:  Claiborne & Churchill Website

 

The lineup for this tasting:

CA Wine Club Line up

 

 

 

2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors’ Blend – SRP $18

This wine is a blend of 47.5% Gewurztraminer, 47.5% Riesling, 2.5% Pinot Gris and 2.5% Pinot Blanc from various vineyards on California’s CentralCoast.

 

This is sealed with a twist off cap and has 12.9% alcohol.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow to straw color.  The very refreshing nose has apples, honey, spice, orange blossoms, lemon zest, and a faint petrol note.  This wine has light to medium body, is off dry and has decent acidity.  This has a creamy mouth feel and a jolt of closing citrusy acidity.  On the palate this tastes like crisp, tart apples that were dipped in honey and sprinkled with spices and citrus zest.  The finish has decent length with the apples and spice lingering nicely.  This would be wonderful on its own or with a light meal on a warm, sunny day on the deck or patio.  Not a wine for deep thoughts or contemplation, just twist off the top and enjoy.  (87 pts)

2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors' Blend

2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors’ Blend

 

 

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir – SRP $30

This 100% Pinot Noir was produced using grapes from several vineyards in the EdnaValley.  The finished wine was aged in French oak barrels for 10 months.

 

This has 13.8% alcohol by volume and is sealed with a natural cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a shade or two darker than medium ruby.  The interesting nose has raspberries, earthy underbrush, cola, cherries, warm baking spices, and a nice floral note.  This has medium body, soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  The palate is highlighted by tart cherries and spices with earthiness and raspberries coming in on the back end.  The finish has good length with the earthiness and spicy cherries slowly fading away.  (89 pts)

 

This would pair nicely with your holiday dinner or with chicken any time of the year.

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir

 

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – Dec 13, 2013 to Dec 15, 2013

 

 

2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon

2011 Klinker Brick Syrah Farráh

2008 Keplinger Lithic

 

 

 

2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard – $59.00

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.

 

This wine has 13.3% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

Winery history

At Rhys Vineyards we aspire to make great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from some of California’s most unique and expressive vineyards.  This pursuit has lead us to search the state for exciting rocky soils that exist within the mountainous, cool, Coastal climate zone.   Over the last 15 years we have developed seven estate vineyards, six in the Santa Cruz Mountains and one in Anderson Valley, each of which is capable of producing uniquely compelling, distinctive, soil driven wine.

 

More information on Rhys is available on their website.

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The sensuous nose has cherries, strawberries, baking spices, minerals, wild flowers, raspberries, and a touch of cedar.  This is barely medium body with moderate tannins and good acidity.  Tart cherries and spice leads off on the palate with minerals, strawberries and a touch of spicy oak coming in later.  The finish has good length with bright fruit and oak driven spice carrying the load.  This is still on the young side but very tasty and food friendly.  (95 pts)

2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard

2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard

 

 

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon – $40.00

For the last few years I’ve felt Big Basin was one of the wineries to keep an eye on.  I think they are one big score away from popping onto most wine drinker’s radar.  Could they become the next Saxum?  In my opinion, the sky is the limit for this winery.

 

This is a blend of 57% Santa Cruz County Syrah and 43% Monterrey County Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

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

 

Winery history

Big Basin Vineyards was founded in 1998 in the Santa Cruz Mountains next to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, with a new winery building completed in 2003.  Proprietor and wine maker Bradley Brown sources his wines from three Estate Vineyards – Rattlesnake Rock, Old Corral Block and Homestead Block.  All of the Estate vineyards are planted to Alban Selections on steep hillsides with mudstone and shale soils – 7 acres of Syrah, 2 acres of Grenache and 1 acre of Roussanne – and are farmed organically.  Additionally, Bradley works closely with Coastview Vineyard located at 2400 ft on a mountain top in the Gabilan Mountains overlooking the Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay (several miles due south of Mt. Harlan).  He has contracted with the vineyard to purchase Syrah planted in 1998 and to bud over certain sections of the vineyard to Pinot Noir and Grenache (in 2008) and plant a new block to an Alban selection of Syrah.  This vineyard is also farmed organically and managed according to Bradley’s direction.  Beginning in 2006, Big Basin started making Pinot Noir sourced from the Santa Cruz Mountains.  As of 2009, Big Basin is making three different single vineyard Pinots from the Santa Cruz Mountains (Alfaro Family, Lester Family and Woodruff Family Vineyards), plus the Pinot from Coastview Vineyard in the Gabilan Mountains.

 

Much more information is available on their website.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep purple color.  The stunning nose has cassis, charred meat, vanilla, dark chocolate, minerals, blueberries, and a touch of cedar.  This has a full body, moderate ripe tannins and decent acidity.  On the palate this is very big, rich and plush.  Though it pushes the ripeness to the top, it does not go over.  This is loaded with fruit and savory elements on the palate with a nice tannic backbone and just enough acidity to hold it all together.  The finish is impressively long and decadent.  I don’t think I’d want to stash this in the cellar for too long, but this will offer a lot of pleasure over the next few years.  (94 pts)

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon

 

 

2011 Klinker Brick Syrah Farráh – $17.99

I grabbed a bottle of this after trying the winery’s Bricks & Mortar blend at an online tasting of Lodi wines.  If your opinion of wines from Lodi is based on some of the big, industrial, high volume wineries, take my advice and seek out something from one of the smaller, family owned producers.

 

This wine has 14.9% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

The Winery

The Felten Family own and manage fifteen individual vineyard blocks of “Old Vine” Zinfandel that range in age from 40 to 120 years old.  Each vineyard is planted in sandy loam soils in the Mokelumne River Appellation of Lodi and the Clements Foothills.

 

In the nineties, the family began to market their zinfandel in the bulk wine market, selling to a number of prestigious, benchmark producers of Zinfandel in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

 

In 2000, Steve and Lori produced their first vintage of Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel.  They continue to produce wine from all of the vineyard blocks, culling only the very best lots for bottling Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel and designated vineyard wines.  They produced their first vintage of Farrah Syrah in 2001.  They have one goal…to produce world-class wine.

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to purple color.  The very appealing nose has blackberries, raspberries, minerals, cocoa powder, white pepper, smoke, dried herbs, and a nice floral note.  This has medium body, moderate ripe tannins and decent acidity.  Lush berries and dried herbs coat the palate with cocoa and white pepper coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length with nice layers of fruit and savory elements.  Drinking nicely now, but not one to stash in the cellar.  The acidity is adequate for now but I’d be afraid of the wine losing its balance as the acidity drops in the aging process.  Drink over the next few years and be happy.  (90 pts)

2011 Klinker Brick Syrah Farráh

2011 Klinker Brick Syrah Farráh

 

 

2008 Keplinger Lithic – $40.00

This is another mailing list only wine that I was fortunate to join before they started getting high scores from the wine publications.  The “rock star” winemaker, Helen Keplinger.  I bought several bottles of this wine, but have been patient long enough, one gets popped tonight.

 

This wine is a blend of 46% Mourvedre, 40% Grenache and 14% Syrah from Amador County.

 

The wine has 14.8% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

Winery history (actually Winemaker background)

The culture of wine has been a part of my life since I can remember.  My dad had a wine cellar, which was the source of my childhood wine bottle collection – I also collected rocks, an early indication of my future as a winegrower.  Wine accompanied every gourmet dinner my mom prepared nightly; this combination of food and wine was an important part of our family evenings together.

 

I always had an intense curiosity for science, a huge appreciation of art, and a gravitation toward and revitalization in nature – all which dynamically come together in winemaking.  In 1998, I moved to California to attend the MS program in Enology at UCDavis.

 

Since UC Davis, I have worked with Heidi Barrett, Kathy Joseph, Michel Rolland, and David Abreu.  Since 2004, I have been the winemaker for some exciting projects, including Cellers Melis (Priorat), Kenzo Estate, Fort Ross, Sarocka, Scullly, Arrow & Branch, and Bryant Family Vineyards.  I am currently focused solely on Keplinger Wines.

 

I absolutely love what I do – I constantly strive to make great wines, respond to the curveballs of Mother Nature, and respect that each wine is a reflection not only of its origin, but the variables and characteristics of a particular vintage.

 

More information on the winery, their wines and access to the mailing list is available on their website by clicking here.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, saturated ruby to purple color.  The nose is stunning and full of blackberries, black cherries, minerals, earthy underbrush, licorice, warm baking spices and roasted herbs.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate this displays layer after layer of fruit, spice, minerals, and earthy elements.  The finish is extremely long, seeming to linger forever with perfect balance between the fruit and savory notes.  This is built to last but tastes great today.  A monumental wine showing the quality AmadorCounty is capable of producing.  (95 pts)

2008 Keplinger Lithic

2008 Keplinger Lithic

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – Dec 9, 2013 to Dec 12, 2013

 

 

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.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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