Posts tagged ‘Carlisle’

Wine of the week – 2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch

 

 

Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.

 

carlisle_title

 

 

The Winery

In the winery’s words – We are a small Sonoma County winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and petite sirah).  While we like our wines to be bold, rich, and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and perhaps most importantly, pleasure.

 

Rich.  Lusty.  Hedonistic.  These are some of the descriptors we often hear applied to our wines.  However, we also hear the words elegant, balanced, complex.  Yes, through hard work in the vineyard and winery, we believe you can have it all, the best of both worlds.  Our approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult.  We prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to maximize the quality of each wine we produce.

 

In my words – This is the one mailing list you have to join.  Mike Officer makes some of the best wines coming out of California and sells them at incredibly reasonable prices.  I was lucky to be an early fan of the winery and was able to join the mailing list immediately.  For the unlucky people who were not able to jump on early, the mailing list is full.  The winery actually has a waiting list to get on the mailing list.  No one can accurately say how long it will actually take to move from the waiting list to the mailing list for one very good reason…no one, or probably more accurately, very few people drop off the list.  These are usually outstanding wines and with their pricing, these are some of the best QPR wines out there.

 

 

The Wine

Mother Nature blessed Papera Ranch with both quality and quantity in 2009, providing us with a wine that rivals our much-lauded 2007.  If you are a fan of what we have done with this vineyard the last few years, I encourage you to take advantage of the quantity available.  The grapes were picked October 10th, fermented indigenously and bottled unfined and unfiltered.

 

Papera Ranch® (Formerly Carlo’s Ranch) – RussianRiverValley

Just a stone’s throw from Carlisle Vineyard, this “grand dame” of the Russian River Valley was planted in 1934 by Charley (Carlo) Papera.  Given its cool location, this vineyard is typically picked in late October.

 

If you would like to join the waiting list to get on the Carlisle mailing list, click here.

 

 

Here is what an “old vine” Zinfandel looks like:

papera old vine

 

 

2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch – $37.00

Papera, Montafi and the Carlisle Vineyards are my favorite sources of Carlisle Zinfandels.  This vineyard was planted in 1934 and is unusual for an old vineyard in that it is planted to over 95% Zinfandel.  Most old vineyards have a much higher percentage of other grapes planted.

 

This 100% Zinfandel has 15.4% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  There were 779 cases of the wine produced.

 

There is no need to try and find the 2010 vintage of this wine.  After a few months of cool weather, a day of sweltering heat on August 24th wiped out the entire crop.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, opaque purple color.  The nose is absolutely stunning on this wine, it’s full of brambly berries, warm baking spices, licorice, minerals, roasted herbs, dried wild flowers, plums, well worn leather and freshly cracked black peppercorns.  This has a full body, moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is balanced, dense, rich and full of layers that slowly fade so the next one can take over.  The flavor profile is loaded on this wine with a very nice mixture of fruit and savory elements.  The finish is very long and again full of flavor.  There are absolutely no rough edges or over powering elements on this wine.  It is drinking wonderfully today and will continue to do so for a few more years.  Stunning!  (95 pts)

2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch

2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch

 

 

We paired the Carlisle Zin with a fairly simple meal, grilled barbecue chicken, potato salad and at my insistence, deviled eggs.

BBQ Chicken

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Feb 15, 2013 to Feb 17, 2013

 

 

2004 Cameron Hughes Priorat Lot 49 – $10.00

 

My comments

This is a perfect example of the perceived power of the Wine Advocate.  In February 2007, Jay Miller bestowed the dreaded 89 points on a upper $30s Priorat.  Knowing it would be a hard sell, the 2004 Celler Joan Simó Priorat Les Sentius is labeled as 2004 Cameron Hughes Priorat Lot 49.  I don’t know the exact selling price of the Cameron Hughes version, but I got a case for $10 a bottle.  Even though the label and capsule are all Cameron Hughes, the cork labeling holds the truth.

 

This is a blend of 48% Grenache, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 10% Carignan.

 

My first Cameron Hughes wine was their 2003 Cameron Hughes Pinot Noir Lot 8 Arroyo Seco.

Winery history

Cameron Hughes Wine is an American négociant that makes, imports, and distributes ultra-premium wine under four wine brands; The Lot Series, Hughes Wellman, CH Collection, and Zin Your Face.  We are nationally distributed and carried in chains, grocery, broad market, on premise and online at our vertically integrated Web store, chwine.com.

 

Cameron Hughes Wine was founded by Cameron Hughes and partner Jessica Kogan who are dedicated to delivering truly exceptional wine at real world prices.  This has been their mission since starting their company in San Francisco more than 10 years ago.

 

Much more information and current wines available at their website.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby red color.  The slightly rustic nose has cherries, raspberries, dried herbs, crushed stone minerals, baking spices, and earthy underbrush.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  This is in a nice place today with some air, but additional cellar time will be rewarded.  89 pts

2004 Cameron Hughes Priorat Lot 49

 

 

 

2006 Carlisle Syrah James Berry Vineyard – $48.00

 

My comments

For some absurdly stupid reason, I only bought one bottle of this wine.  I know this will improve with more cellar time, but it’s calling my name.  Since I’m leaving on a business trip tomorrow, I might as well give into temptation.

 

Winery history

We are a small Sonoma County winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and petite sirah).  While we like our wines to be bold, rich, and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and perhaps most importantly, pleasure.

 

Rich.  Lusty.  Hedonistic.  These are some of the descriptors we often hear applied to our wines.  However, we also hear the words elegant, balanced, complex.  Yes, through hard work in the vineyard and winery, we believe you can have it all, the best of both worlds.  Our approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult.  We prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to maximize the quality of each wine we produce.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby color.  The deep and dark nose has smoked meat, black berries, black cherries, licorice, black pepper, Asian spices, minerals, and some earthiness.  This is fairly full bodied with solid, ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  Loads of spicy, peppery, mineral laden berries on the palate with some meaty and earthy notes coming in on the back end.  The long finish seems to linger forever.  This is still on the young side but is drinking very nicely with a good amount of air.  (94 pts)

2006 Carlisle Syrah James Berry Vineyard

 

 

 

2010 Loring Wine Company Convergence Russell Family Vineyard – $66.33

 

My comments

This is another of the non Pinot Noir wines Brian Loring has produced.  Thus far, every one has been outstanding.  This wine is 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvedre from Paso Robles.

 

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 Cottonwood Canyon 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

The wine is a deep ruby red, much lighter at the edge.  The very pleasing nose has blackberries, cherries, earthy underbrush, minerals, baking spices, and some dried herbs.  The wine has a full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate is loaded with spicy, juicy berries, but it’s not all about the fruit, there is also nice minerality, dried herbs, and earthiness coming in on the back end adding depth and complexity.  The fairly long finish is a nice continuation of the palate with some additional baking spices and dried herbs kicking into high gear.  This is on the young side, but absolutely delicious today.  (93 pts)

2010 Loring Wine Company Convergence Russell Family Vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

***** 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

 

 

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

I picked up 2 bottles of 2009 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve yesterday.  These were from my local store’s weekly e-mail offer.  After getting their special price, my 5% discount, and using a couple of older $10 gift cards, my cost was just a touch over $50 a bottle.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Jan 21, 2013 to Jan 24, 2013

 

 

2007 Cosentino Winery Sangiovese Il Chiaretto – $9.49

 

My comments

This was a winery I really liked several years ago.  We used to love stopping at the winery because they always had a ton of different wines available to taste.  Unfortunately, they probably had too many.  Eventually the winery got into financial trouble and had to be sold off.  Part of the problem may have been related to trying to grow too big, too fast.

 

This used to be a nice wine that far exceeded its price point in some vintages.  This was generally mostly Sangiovese with other grapes blended in.  In some vintages the tart and acidic Sangiovese had a dollop of Petite Sirah that added just enough heft and body to take it to the next level.  This was a very nice, under $10, “Super Tuscan” styled wine.

 

Winery history

Led by the spirit of creativity and innovation, Cosentino Winery was founded in 1980 with a commitment to making only the highest quality wines from California’s greatest vineyards.  Because these same ideals ring as true today as they did in the beginning, Cosentino wines have steadily grown in quality and reputation over the years and are considered by many to be among the finest wines made in the world.

 

Cosentino Winery made its first wines in 1980 with its inaugural vintage released in 1981 under the labels of Cosentino Wine Company and Crystal Valley Cellars.  The first several wines produced and released by Cosentino in the early 1980s were made from small lots of grapes acquired from some of the leading growers of California’s NorthCoast counties including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and SacramentoCounties.

 

Cosentino rapidly gained recognition for innovative winemaking and uniquely crafted wines.  Its commitment to high quality winemaking practices has resulted in numerous awards from well respected wine critics and publications worldwide.  Cosentino is recognized as a pioneer in introducing new varietals into the California wine market and as a leader in creating new wine blends that would eventually become commonplace in the industry.  In fact, Cosentino Winery is widely recognized for its role in the development of California’s Meritage style wine, a Bordeaux inspired blend that is now a staple throughout the NapaValley.  In 1989 Cosentino’s release of “The Poet” (1986 vintage), was one of America’s first designated and licensed Meritage wines.  Today, there are over 200 other wineries producing Meritage style wines.

 

In 1990 Cosentino Winery moved into its newly constructed winery in Yountville, California and began its quest to establish long term relationships with Napa’s top vineyards.  These relationships allowed Cosentino to control the farming and harvesting of the grapes used to craft its wines.  Today, many of these same growers work with Cosentino to produce exceptional high quality wines respected worldwide.

 

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s Cosentino Winery has grown in quality and reputation with a focus on Meritage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.  After over 30 years of winemaking, our commitment to the future is still focused on producing quality ultra-premium wines.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The fairly straight forward nose has cherries, black raspberries, spicy oak, earthy underbrush, vanilla, and a touch of eucalyptus.  This has medium body, fully integrated tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has spicy, earthy cherries and berries with just a hint of eucalyptus.  The finish is fairly short but shows nice, tart cherries and a touch of earthiness.  Probably nearing the end of the line but still enjoyable with a week night Italian dish with a tomato based sauce.  (86 pts)

2007 Cosentino Winery Sangiovese Il Chiaretto

 

 

 

2007 Von Hövel Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese – $13.29

 

My comments

I blindly grabbed six bottles of this at the local store during an “end of vintage” blow out sale.  How could I go wrong with a German Spätlese that is probably just approaching a good drinking window?  It’s time to open one to see if I should have passed or kick myself for not grabbing a whole case.

 

Winery history

Eberhard von Kunow is proprietor of an estate at Oberemmel that has been in the same family for six generations.  He and his wife Hildegard reside in the old manor house which many visitors liken to an old castle.

 

The manor house, completed in the 12th century, was initially an added retreat for the famous wine-monastery of St. Maximin in Trier.  Over the years many things have changed above the foundation, but the cellar is today just as it was 800 years ago.

 

Twice the building burned to the ground and it was last rebuilt in 1732.  Johann E. Grach, an ancestor of the present proprietor, purchased the estate in 1806, after secularization forced the church to give up the property.  He had also acquired the Kanzemer Berg and the Wawerner Herrenberg, which today are in the hands of his other descendants, Mrs. Maximilian von Othegraven and Dr. Fischer, respectively.

 

The von Kunows, even though respectful of tradition, use the latest methods in their vineyards and in marketing their wines.  As a cellarmaster Eberhard, who is also the auctioneer for the wine auctions at Trier and Bernkastel, uses the old tried and true methods.  All wine is fermented and matured in 100% German oak until bottled.

 

Though some dry (trocken) wines are produced, fruity style Riesling wines predominate.  The estate owns about 27.5 acres of vineyards and has a production of about 5,000 cases.  The Oberemmeler Hütte is the largest holding with 12,5 acres and is wholly owned by the von Kunow family.  A portion of the Oberemmeler Balduinsberg (6,25 acres) and of the famous Scharzhofberg (7.5 acres) round out the estate.  All vineyards are planted to 100% Riesling.

 

1971 Oberemmeler Hütte Spätlese tasted in October 1981, exhibited great fruit, counterbalanced by a very lively acidity and steely backbone, all of which suggested many years of additional life.

 

A founding member of Der Grosse Ring, the von Hövel Estate is a member of the VDP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a clear, pale yellow with a very slight green tint.  The very fresh and inviting nose has apples, minerals, lime, orange zest, peaches, and a touch of petrol and white pepper.  This has light to medium body with nice residual sweetness and very good balancing acidity.  This is rich and luscious on the palate with juicy fruit, minerals, citrus, and nice sweetness.  The finish is fairly long and very flavorful.  This has the complete package and is very nicely balanced.  This is enjoyable now but will last in the cellar for at least another decade and improve along the way.  (93 pts)

2007 Von Hovel Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese

 

 

 

2008 C.G. di Arie Petite Sirah Estate Grown – $15.19

 

My comments

My local store had these on close out sale, so I had to grab a bottle to see how it tastes.  I’ve liked a lot of the value priced C. G. di Arie wines I’ve had, and there’s always room in my cellar for a good $15 Petite Sirah.  It’s time to try one and decide if I want to stock up this weekend if the store has any left.

 

Winery history

As an inventor and new food product developer, Chaim Gur-Arieh spent 35 years preparing himself for the role of winemaker at C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery.

 

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Chaim immigrated to Israel as a teenager.  After completing his military service as an officer in a tank division, Chaim studied at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering.  Soon after, Chaim moved to the United States to continue his education at the University of Illinois where he earned a Masters and a Ph.D. in Food Science with minors in Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering.

 

Chaim then joined the Quaker Oats company where he helped develop the breakfast Cereal Cap’n Crunch.  He moved to California to become Director of New Products at Del Monte Corporation where he created an array of new products including “Pudding Cups”, “Gel Cups”, “Yogurt Cups”, etc.  In 1974 Chaim married Elisheva and founded Food Development Corporation, where he developed numerous new products including Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing, Power Bars and Wine Coolers.   In 1980, Chaim merged Food Development Corporation with California Brands Flavors, his newly created flavor company.  Over the next 18 years Chaim transformed California Brands Flavors into a major West Coast flavor company.

 

In 1998, Chaim and Elisheva sold their flavor company to Mane & Fils, an international flavor company and went on to pursue their life-long dream of creating world class wines.   In his new role as Winemaker, Chaim developed his innovative “Dual Compartment Submerged Cap Fermentation Tank” (patent pending) which he uses to craft his delicious red wines.  Chaim’s wines are highly extracted, soft and elegant – a perfect match to fine cuisine.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, inky purple color.  The enticing nose has blackberries, dark chocolate, road tar, warm baking spices, melted licorice, dried herbs, and some fresh cracked black peppercorns.  This has medium to full body with fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  The palate features tart, spicy, peppery berries with some dried herbs coming in on the backend.  The finish has decent length and is quite flavorful ending with some dark chocolate.  Not an overly ripe, full bodied style of Petite Sirah, this is actually nicely balanced and very food friendly.  This should last for several years with the tannins and tart acidity, but it is tasty today with some red meat.  (89 pts)

2008 C G di Arie Petite Sirah Estate Grown

 

 

 

2007 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – $17.50

 

My comments

This will sadly be my last bottle of this outstanding, under $20 Zinfandel.  Mike Officer makes great wines and sells them at fantastic prices.  No wonder his mailing list is closed and the waiting list just keeps getting longer and longer.  I placed my order recently and noticed I’ve been on the mailing list since early 2005.  This is one of the few mailing lists I will never drop.

 

Winery history

We are a small SonomaCounty winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and petite sirah).  While we like our wines to be bold, rich, and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and perhaps most importantly, pleasure.

 

Rich.  Lusty.  Hedonistic.  These are some of the descriptors we often hear applied to our wines.  However, we also hear the words elegant, balanced, complex.  Yes, through hard work in the vineyard and winery, we believe you can have it all, the best of both worlds.  Our approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult.  We prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to maximize the quality of each wine we produce.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very promising nose has brambly berries, black pepper, vanilla, underbrush, dried herbs, licorice, violets, wood smoke, and dark chocolate.  This has a medium to full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has nice peppery berries, spicy oak, and vanilla up front with dried herbs and some earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long with the peppery berries, spicy oak, and earthiness lingering nicely.  This was a steal at only $17.50.  (92 pts)

2007 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County

 

 

 

 

 

***** 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

 

 

 

 

 

Music Corner – A new addition

Some favorite songs/videos (known to pair with good wine)

 

Bob Seger – Mainstreet

 

The Outlaws – Green Grass and High Tides

 

Meatloaf – I Would Do Anything for Love

 

The Band – The Weight

 

Iron City Houserockers – Hideaway

 

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

Too many to list, they all seem to be hitting.

 

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

 

Some winery samples for review:

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Folkendt Vineyard

2009 La Rochelle Pinot NoirSantaLuciaHighlands

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Block A

2009 Steven Kent Malbec Ghielmetti

2009 La Rochelle Chardonnay Ferrington Vineyard

 

Wine for a Twitter wine tasting in February:

2011 Steven Kent Lola Ghielmetti Vineyard

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Morelli Lane Dutton Ranch

2009 La Rochelle Pinot NoirSantaLuciaHighlands

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Donum Estate Vineyard

2009 Steven Kent Petit Verdot Ghielmetti

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch Vineyard

 

 

 

 

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!

 

My Top 10 Wines of 2012

 

 

Here are the top wines I sampled or drank in 2012.  It was a hard task since I had tasting notes on over 500 wines this year.  As an added bonus, I included my next 10 wines, but since they aren’t ranked, I’ll  still call this my Top 10.

 

I set a couple of rules going in, the same winery couldn’t have more than one wine in the top 10 and could not have more than 2 in the top 20.  This only came into play for one wine, causing a bottle to fall from the top 10 to the “number 11 to 20” list.  Sorry Carlisle.

 

Unfortunately, since most of the wines I open have been in my cellar for a number of years, most of these wines are not available to purchase today.  Some are probably available on the auction sites, like WineBid.  If you are interested in any specific wine, let me know and I can help you track down a bottle.

 

top10

 

 

10 – 2001 Elyse Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard

 

My comments

This is perennially one of my favorite Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.  The Elyse Morisoli Cab generally needs a few years in the cellar to fully open up and reveal all of its layers.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a very nice, deep ruby color, showing absolutely no sign of age.  The outstanding nose has cassis, smoke, well worn leather, fresh ground coffee, dark chocolate, dried herbs, tobacco, and a faint hint of cedar.  This is medium bodied with nice, ripe, integrated tannins and very nice acidity.  The wine is very civilized and refined on the palate with a nice fruit to savory balance.  The finish is long and full of cassis, dried herbs, and dark chocolate.  Very food friendly, but I’m very much enjoying a post dinner glass.  This can easily rest in the cellar for a few more years, but it is stunning today.  (94 pts)

Elyse

 

 

9 – 2007 Westerhold Family Vineyards Syrah Westerhold Vineyard

 

My comments

This was a new find for me early in the year.  I bought a few bottle based purely on the fact Russell Bevan was the winemaker.  As soon as I had a couple sips, I was online stocking up.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The irresistible nose has blackberries, smoked meat, black pepper, charcoal, dried herbs, melted licorice, baking spices, and a hint of violets.  This is fairly full body with solid, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  This is lush and ripe on the palate but not really pushing the ripeness to the edge.  The palate shows nice peppery berries, licorice, and some smoked meat with baking spices and dried herbs in the background.  The finish is very long and highlights the fruit initially but as the fruit slowly fades, the savory elements keep going.  Still extremely young but already outstanding.  (95 pts)

Westerhold

 

 

 

8 – 2004 Bodegas AAlto Ribera del Duero AAlto

 

My comments

I’ve been a big fan of this Ribera del Duero wine for several years.  It took some cellar time but this outstanding vintage is just now coming out of its shell.

 

My Tasting Note

Decanted about 2.5 hrs.  Deep maroon color.  Blackberry liqueur, licorice, earthy underbrush, cedar, dried herbs, dark chocolate, and dark roasted coffee on the very open and inviting nose.  Medium to full body with solid tannins and very nice acidity.  Loads of spicy, sweet fruit on the palate with no over ripe notes.  Long finish again full of spicy fruit.  This will improve , perhaps quite a bit, with some additional cellar time but it is outstanding now with a couple hours of air.  Delicious!  (95 pts)

Aalto

 

 

 

7 – 2002 Shafer Relentless

 

My comments

Another perennial favorite.  With the current vintage’s number one ranking in the Wine Spectator Top 100 wines, I’m sure more people will come to appreciate this gem.

 

My Tasting Note

Deep, dark maroon color.  Blackberries, smoked meat, black pepper, licorice, Asian spices, vanilla, dark chocolate, and fresh ground coffee on the very inviting and exotic nose.  Medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and nice acidity.  A big hit of berries on the palate then waves of savory elements grab the palate.  Long, lingering finish with the spicy berries giving way to the dark chocolate and espresso.  Outstanding!  (95 pts)

Relentless

 

 

 

6 – 2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard

 

My comments

I’ve been a big fan since back when some of the major wine magazines hated this wine.  This vintage was not only named the number 1, Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator but was bestowed very high scores by just about everyone who rates wines.  In my opinion, it is outstanding but will benefit from some additional cellar time.

 

My Tasting Note

I decanted the wine for a couple hours before tasting.  The wine is a deep, dark ruby color.  The wine has an exotic nose full of blackberries, blueberries, Asian spices, smoky incense, potpourri, black cherries, minerals, cola, earthy underbrush and a touch of alcohol.  This is fairly full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and bright acidity.  On the palate the wine reveals itself in layers.  First there is a solid hit of fruit with slowly building Asian spices.  As the fruit begins to fade, some nice earthy elements slowly start to build, later a bit of dark chocolate starts to take over.  The alcohol note on the nose is not noticeable on the palate or the long finish.  100 pts?  Wine of the Year?  I don’t know if I’d go that far at this point in its evolution, but there is still considerable upside.  (95 pts)

Saxum

 

 

 

5 – 2003 Carlisle Two Acres

 

My comments

This is another wine that tastes great upon release, but some cellar time is greatly rewarded.  For all their early richness, Carlisle wines are balanced enough to improve in the cellar.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, saturated maroon color with a touch of bricking at the edge.  The very pleasing and inviting nose features blackberries, licorice, tree bark, leather, meat juices, dried herbs, violets, and a touch of Asian spices.  The wine is fairly full bodied with nice, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate there are nice, spicy berries with just a touch of earthiness and a hit of dark chocolate.  Even though the nose and palate are top notch, the finish is probably the best part of the wine.  The finish is very long and loaded with berries, chocolate, dried herbs, and earthiness with just a bit of a meaty element.  The length is incredible!  There are absolutely no rough edges or any overly dominant taste or aromas in this wine.  This wine is in a perfect drinking window, if I had more I’d recommend drinking over the next year or two.  (95 pts)

Carlisle

 

 

 

4 – 2008 Melville Pinot Noir Carrie’s

 

My comments

This is a wine I grabbed off the shelf at my local wine store to try down the road.  Now I wish I had opened it as soon as I got home so I could have stocked up.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color.  An intoxicating nose with earthy underbrush, black cherry, raspberry, baking spices, vanilla, melted licorice, and violets.  This has medium body with ripe tannins and very good acidity.  Rich and plush on the palate with fantastic, earthy, spicy, fruit that slowly transforms to reveal a new nuance every couple of seconds.  The finish never really seems to dissipate, seemingly lingering forever.   One of the absolute best young California Pinot Noirs I have had the good fortune to enjoy.  Absolutely stunning!  (95 pts)

Melville

 

 

 

3 – 2003 Turley Petite Sirah Hayne Vineyard

 

My comments

For a long time, one of the upper echelon Petite Sirahs from California.  Over the years other wineries have been able to duplicate Turley’s “formula” when it comes to Zinfandels, but no one has been able to replicate the power and finesse Turley generates from this Hayne Vineyard masterpiece.

 

My Tasting Note

Decanted an hour.  Deep, dark, inky maroon color.  An outstanding nose of blackberries, pepper, melted licorice, baking spices, dark chocolate, fresh ground espresso, with some vanilla, blueberry, and violets.  Full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Rich and spicy on the palate with loads of dark fruit, pepper, and spice.  Ripe tannins grab the palate coating it with velvety plushness.  Long finish that just seems to go on and on, very slowly fading.  One of the best Petite Sirahs I have ever had.  This is still quite young but very drinkable now with some air.  I’ll hold onto my other bottle for a special occasion.  (95 pts)

Turley

 

 

 

2 – 2004 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard

 

My comments

Jean Edwards Cellars was another new find for me in 2012.  In this case, my thanks goes to Twitter for leading me to this winery and the wonderful owners.  Check them out on the internet, you can probably still get in on this action before the winery catches on in a big way making the wine extremely hard to get.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby to garnet color.  The sensuous nose features cassis, cedar, tobacco, dried herbs, smoke, well worn leather, black cherry, and just a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body with nice, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  The wine is rich and velvety on the palate with dried herb laced berries and cherries up front and nice savory notes and spicy oak adding considerable depth and complexity.  The long finish adds a touch of dark chocolate and earthiness to the fruit and dried herbs.  The wine is in a perfect drinking window with absolutely no rough edges or over powering elements, but it should hold for at least a few more years if not longer.  I’ll hold my remaining bottle for another couple years.  (95 pts)

Jean Edwards

 

 

 

1 – 2007 Villa Creek High Road The Long Path James Berry Vineyard

 

My comments

I’ve been buying and very much enjoying the wines from Villa Creek for several years.  This bottle, from a great vintage, and the magical James Berry Vineyard has propelled this wine to the top of my list for the year.  I wish I had bought more of this but my couple bottles will have to make due.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The nose on this wine is absolutely incredible with blackberries, intense stony minerals, violets, smoke, briny olives, blueberries, and dark, bittersweet chocolate with just a hint of earthiness.  This is medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Like the nose, the palate on this wine is incredible, loaded with spicy, smoky, mineral laden berries with olives and dark chocolate in the background adding depth and complexity.  The finish is very long, never seeming to end with spicy berries and just a bit of earthiness seeming to last forever.  In a perfect world, this would be cellar worthy for a decade, but realistically it will be next to impossible to resist for more than a year or two in my cellar.  (96 pts)

Villa Creek

 

 

 

Number 11 to 20 by winery

 

 

2007 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon Black Ridge Vineyard

This was decanted for about 3 hours.   The wine is a deep, dark, purple color.  The very deep and interesting nose had cassis, blackberries, black cherries, baking spices, licorice, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, dried herbs, minerals, and some toasty oak.  This is full bodied with a nice tannic backbone and good acidity.  The wine explodes on your palate coating it with spicy fruit, dark chocolate, and dried herbs.  There is a some nice, spicy oak providing some background “seasoning”.  The wine has a long, lingering finish with just enough toast oak to add interest without over powering the fruit and dried herbs.  This is a big, ripe, rich wine that perfectly conceals the alcohol.  This wine has years of life ahead of it, but it is delicious today with some air.  (94 pts)

 

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard

Decanted about an hour.  Deep, dark maroon color.  Brambly berries, melted licorice, black pepper, smoke, dark chocolate, with a bit of vanilla on the fantastic nose.  Full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Big, ripe, and bold on the palate with loads of juicy, peppery berries.  Long, spicy finish.  Wine still tastes young and has youthful tannins and very nice acidity, this could cellar for several more years.  This is an absolutely stunning zinfandel, one of the best I have ever had. and I think it will still improve with some additional cellar time.  (95 pts)

 

2005 Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Decanted about 2 hours.  Deep, dark ruby color with just a touch of lightening at the edge.  Black cherries, raspberries, loads of minerality, dried herbs, spices, scorched earth, a bit of underbrush, black pepper, and meat juices on the rich and luxurious nose.  Medium body with solid but silky tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine is rich, smooth, and velvety with no jagged edges or off notes, it just envelopes the palate with spicy, earthy fruit.  Long, lingering finish.  This may be very young, but with some air it is a knock out.  Top rate and at under $30 a QPR masterpiece!  (94 pts)

 

2003 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon

Decanted about an hour.  Deep, saturated ruby color.  Cassis, cherry, licorice, worn leather, cocoa, dried herbs, smoke, tobacco, and just a bit of cedar on the slightly reserved nose.  Medium body with fairly solid but ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Much more expressive on the palate than on the nose, everything seems to be turned up a notch, with the rich and spicy fruit leading the way.  Nice dried herbs are in the background with a bit of dark chocolate coming in on the backend.  Long finish with the dried herbs and dark chocolate seeming to last forever.  I think the nose will open up with another year or two in the cellar.  Very nice now, probably even better in a year or two.  (94 pts)

 

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley

Pretty much pop and pour due to a different wine being corked.  The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The fantastic nose has cassis, dried herbs, licorice, baking spices, cherries, cigar box, smoke, and minerals.  This had medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine shows very nice spicy fruit full of dried herbs and a touch of licorice.  The wine has a long, lingering finish full of sweet berries, spices, and the dried herbs.  This is the real deal, with no rough edges.  This wine is very highly recommended.  (94 pts)

 

2005 Jaffurs Petite Sirah Thompson Vineyard

The wine is a very dark purple color, almost black.  The very inviting nose has blackberries, blueberries, white pepper, baking spices, melted licorice, violets, and some dark chocolate.  This is medium to full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  Ripe, juicy, spicy berries dominate the palate with some very nice licorice and dark chocolate coming through on the backend.  The bright acidity and tannins keep the wine in check and actually makes it seem a bit lighter in body than the 15.8% alcohol lead me to expect.  The wine has a long finish with the juicy berries and spices slowly fading.  The alcohol is surprisingly well hidden with just a touch peeking through on the finish.  An outstanding Petite Sirah that is drinking perfectly today but with enough acidity and tannins to easily cellar for several more years.  (94 pts)

 

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir “The Three”

Decanted about 2 hours.  Deep ruby red color.  Black cherries, blackberries, baking spices, white pepper, underbrush, and vanilla on the very intriguing nose.  Medium to full body with fairly solid but ripe and silky tannins and very nice acidity.  Big, rich, and spicy on the palate with loads of dark fruit and baking spices.  Very nice length on the finish with the spicy fruit lingering for a long time.  This is not a Pinot for Francophiles, VERY unique.  I would call this hedonistic, even though I absolutely despise that term in a tasting note because it usually denotes an over ripe, sweet, syrupy wine, which this is not.  Not for everyone, and not an everyday wine, but tonight I absolutely loved it.  (94 pts)

 

1988 Schloss Schonborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Spatlese

The wine is a bright, golden yellow color.  The very pleasing nose has petrol, apples, white peaches, honey, minerals, citrus zest, lime, and some white pepper.  This has light to medium body with crisp acidity and nice sweetness.  Very rich and smooth on the palate with most of the overt sugar having been incorporated into the magical elixir.  The wine has a long, lingering finish full of peach, apples, honey, minerals, and lime.  This actually still tastes young.  (94 pts)

 

2000 Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile

A bright golden yellow color.  Apple, peach, lemon zest, minerals, lime zest, petrol, and a touch of white pepper on the very luxurious nose.  Light to medium body, dry with outstanding acidity.  Tart and tangy white fruit and citrus on the palate with minerals and a bit of white pepper coming in on the back end.  Long finish with mouthwatering citrus and spicy minerals seeming to last forever.  An truly outstanding example of a dry Riesling.  (94 pts)

 

2007 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvee

Decanted about an hour.  Deep ruby color.  Cherries, blackberries, white pepper, baking spices, some earthiness, licorice, and nice minerality on the very open and inviting nose.  Medium to full body with solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Rich fruit and solid peppery spice on the palate with some minerality and earthiness coming in on the back end.  Long finish with the fruit, spice, minerality, and earthiness all lingering seemingly forever.  I love this wine every vintage, but one seems to have that little something extra.  This is special.  (94 pts)

 

 

***** 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

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Nov 2, 2012 to Nov 4, 2012

 

 

2008 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée – $29.75

 

My comments

Villa Creek holds the number 1 position in my cellar with 85 bottles, 84 as soon as this one opens.  I love the very nice and varied blends coming out of their Paso Robles winery.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah.

 

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.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby color.  The sexy nose has blackberries, minerals, cherries, dried herbs, vanilla, earthy underbrush, smoke, licorice, and fresh wild flowers.  This is medium to full bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Ripe, earthy, spicy fruit dominate the palate with dried herbs and just a touch of dark chocolate adding nice depth.  The nice acidity and tannins hold the wine together very nicely on the palate.  The finish is fairly long with a very nice mixture of the fruit and savory elements.  Very tasty today, but this will last in the cellar for several years.  (93 pts)

Label tears courtesy of my VinoTemp which doesn’t like the slightly larger bottles.

 

 

 

1988 Schloss Schönborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Spätlese – $34.81

 

My comments

A German Reisling with some (24 yrs is some, right?) cellar age is one of my greatest wine pleasures.  The sugary sweetness transforms into more of a richness in the wine as it melds with the acidity.  I can’t have enough of these wines in my cellar.

 

Winery history

Since the 12th century, the Counts von Schönborn have been part of the Rhenish knightage. Around 1349 their vineyards in Winkel in the Rheingau were registered documentary for the first time. Until the middle of the 17th century, the Counts von Schönborn were living in their area of origin in the Rheingau and in the Taunus. During this time, many vineyards were purchased in Rheingau boundaries. As of the middle of the 17th century, the brothers Johann Philipp and Philipp Erwein von Schönborn laid the foundation stone for the material prosperity and cultural wealth of the family.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright, golden yellow color.  The very pleasing nose has petrol, apples, white peaches, honey, minerals, citrus zest, lime, and some white pepper.  This has light to medium body with crisp acidity and nice sweetness.  Very rich and smooth on the palate with most of the overt sugar having been incorporated into the magical elixir.  The wine has a long, lingering finish full of peach, apples, honey, minerals, and lime.  This actually still tastes young.  (94 pts)

 

 

 

2005 Miller Wine Works Syrah Sage Canyon Vineyard – $17.99

 

My comments

I love a deep, dark syrah that highlights the non fruity aspects of the grape.  I consider this to be the polar opposite of the fruit bomb style of syrahs made in some parts of the wine world.

 

Winery history

Growing up in rural New YorkState, simple, fresh, homegrown food was an everyday experience. Our meats, milk, bread, fruit, and vegetables were from local farms. Many of my earliest memories are the tastes and smells of my mother’s kitchen – bread, Christmas cookies, apple pies, smoked ham, and Thanksgiving turkey. Just picked, juicy, finger-staining huckleberries were hard work, but memorable.

 

My first cooking job was a humble, short-order lunch cook but I was hooked. After attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, I took advantage of numerous culinary opportunities at world class restaurants in White Sulphur Springs, Chicago and Aspen.

 

I always considered winemaking to be “cooking”. Through my entire time as a chef, I wanted to work with the flavors, textures, and aromas of grapes from the California coast. Finally I took the plunge and moved to NapaValley.

 

NapaValley is an amazing place, but not just for its history, natural beauty, and perfect conditions for winegrowing. The people are truly amazing, placing a premium on food, family, friends, and farming.

 

As a winemaker, it is my intent to make balanced, nuanced wines that speak clearly of their locations, and have affinity for carefully raised and prepared food.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a very dark maroon, almost black color.  The deep, dark, brooding nose features dark chocolate, smoked meat, blackberries, black pepper, dried herbs, A1 steak sauce, smoky embers, and some earthiness.  The wine fairly full bodied and has solid, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows some nice fruit but the savory elements are the stars.  Loads of charred, smoked meat, pepper, and dark chocolate take center stage.  The finish is fairly long with the dark chocolate and meaty elements slowly fading.  A really nice bottle of wine, in my opinion.  (90 pts)

 

 

 

2007 Carlisle Petite Sirah Yorkville Highlands – $30.50

 

My comments

I’ve been a big fan of Carlisle for several years.  I still have a few bottles in the cellar from as far back as the 2003 vintage.  Mike Officer puts out a very high quality product at very consumer friendly prices.  This is why it is now next to impossible to get onto the mailing list.  A friend recently, after a few years on the waiting list, was offered a few bottles of wine.  If you have patience, check out the website and get on the waiting list, down the road you will be happy you did.

 

Winery history

We are a small SonomaCounty winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah). We have also recently added our first whites, both blends from historic, old-vine vineyards. While we like our wines to be bold and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and nuance. Our goal is always the same – grow and source outstanding fruit, do as little as possible to it, and bottle outstanding, pleasurable wine.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, inky maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, cracked black peppercorns, road tar, blueberries, camphor, minerals, licorice, dried flowers, dark chocolate, and some earthiness.  The wine is full bodied with solid tannins and very nice acidity.  In my opinion the wine is still too young, and needs a few more years in the cellar.  This is still a bit ragged on the palate with scratchy oak and chalky tannins.  The finish is clipped when the tannins kick in.  The wine has all the necessary components for a long life but patience will be required.  (88 pts, potential to 92 down the road)

 

 

 

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Santa Rita Hills – $4.75

 

My comments

This was on a super blow out sale at the local store.  I don’t know why there were still available after having been released at least a few years ago.  I didn’t have high expectations in a six year old, appellation Pinot Blanc, but had to try it out.  We sampled a bottle right off the shelf at room temperature.  I was blown away!  It still tasted young and fresh.  I grabbed six bottles, now it’s time to try one at the proper serving temperature from a good stem, at home.  It’s a perfect time to open one since the dish we’re making for dinner requires 2/3 cup of a dry white wine.

 

Winery history

Richard Sanford came to the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago with the desire to create wines that would rival the best of France.  First to recognize the potential of the Santa Rita Hills (now an officially accredited American Viticultural Area as Sta. Rita Hills), and first to plant Pinot Noir vines there, Richard is a pioneer with a well established reputation for excellence in winemaking.

 

Working in partnership for more than 30 years, Thekla and Richard Sanford founded multiple, successful winegrowing enterprises.  Their latest venture, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, represents the culmination of a lifetime’s experience – an enterprise dedicated to creating high quality wines and setting a benchmark for organic farming, sustainable agriculture methods, and environment-friendly commerce.

 

The winery, owned by Richard Sanford, dubbed the father of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and the first to plant the vine there, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 27.

 

After nearly a half-century of ups and downs in the wine business, Sanford admitted that he’d rather be riding off into the sunset than trying to save the family farm.  “It is true that I have been doing this for 44 years, and Thekla and I were looking forward to having some quiet time,” said Sanford.  “But that’s just not possible yet.”

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a clear light straw color.  The very light and refreshing nose has apples, lemon curd, minerals, orange zest, spring flowers, and a touch of pineapple.  This is a touch fuller than light body, has crisp, citrusy acidity, and is dry.  Nice apples and flinty minerality greets the palate first followed by bright lemon and orange citrus.  The finish has decent length ending with mouthwatering citrus and minerals.  This tastes young and fresh for a six year old white.  I don’t know what the release price was on this wine, but it was an absolute steal for under $5.  (89 pts)

 

 

 

 

2008 Melville Pinot Noir Carrie’s – $37.14

 

My comments

I have to admit, I bought this wine purely on the basis of a review given by one of the big time professional reviewers.  I’ve eyed the bottle several times over the two years it has been in the cellar.  I think a nice Pinot Noir should pair well with tonight’s dinner, so I finally get to sample it tonight.

 

Winery history

In 1989, Melville Vineyards, a family owned and operated enterprise was founded in SonomaCounty’s KnightsValley, where Ron Melville grew high quality, much sought after Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  In 1996, Ron’s desire to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought Melville Vineyards to Lompoc’s Sta.RitaHills, located in the western Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California.  The Sta.RitaHills appellation is where Ron Melville and his sons Brent and Chad Melville decided to develop their estate vineyards and winery.  Since then, they have also developed an interest in Rhone varietals, particularly Northern Rhone Syrah and Viognier.  The Melville estate achieves quality through the integrity of its farming practice and its respect to the microclimate.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color.  An intoxicating nose with earthy underbrush, black cherry, raspberry, baking spices, vanilla, melted licorice, and violets.  This has medium body with ripe tannins and very good acidity.  Rich and plush on the palate with fantastic, earthy, spicy, fruit that slowly transforms to reveal a new nuance every couple of seconds.  The finish never really seems to dissipate, seemingly lingering forever.   One of the absolute best young California Pinot Noirs I have had the good fortune to enjoy.  Absolutely stunning!  (95 pts)

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

Turley Wine Cellars

The offer for the first Turley Cabernet offer couldn’t be ignored, so I ordered a few bottles.

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

It was a busy week receiving previously ordered wine.

 

Direct from Bedrock (2 bottles each)

2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah Griffin’s Lair

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Dolinsek Ranch

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Papera Ranch

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Saitone Ranch

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Evangelho Vineyard

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock Heritage Wine

 

Direct from Herman Story via friend’s allocation (1 bottle each)

2010 Herman Story Casual Encounters

2010 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts

2010 R.P.F. Wines The Signmaker

 

Winery Samples

2011 Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato

2011 One Time Spaceman MCA Rose

2009 One Time Spaceman Moon Duck

 

From local wine store

2009 One Time Spaceman Reserve Airspace James Berry Vineyard (2 bottles)

2009 Cellers Can Blau Montsant Can Blau (6 bottles)

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc SantaRitaHills – Sta.RitaHills (3 bottles)

 

From WineBid

2005 Turley Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard (2 bottles)

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Oct 22, 2012 to Oct 25, 2012

 

 

 

2007 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard – $14.99

 

My comments

I grabbed a few bottles of this wine at a blow out price of $15, based on the wine’s reputation.  We opened a bottle in January 2011, but it was WAY too oaky for our tastes.  I decided to leave it in the cellar for another year or two to see if the oak would integrate, at least a little.

 

Winery history

Richard Sanford came to the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago with the desire to create wines that would rival the best of France.  First to recognize the potential of the Santa Rita Hills (now an officially accredited American Viticultural Area as Sta. Rita Hills), and first to plant Pinot Noir vines there, Richard is a pioneer with a well established reputation for excellence in winemaking.

 

Working in partnership for more than 30 years, Thekla and Richard Sanford founded multiple, successful winegrowing enterprises.  Their latest venture, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, represents the culmination of a lifetime’s experience – an enterprise dedicated to creating high quality wines and setting a benchmark for organic farming, sustainable agriculture methods, and environment-friendly commerce.

 

The winery, owned by Richard Sanford, dubbed the father of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and the first to plant the vine there, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 27.

 

After nearly a half-century of ups and downs in the wine business, Sanford admitted that he’d rather be riding off into the sunset than trying to save the family farm.  “It is true that I have been doing this for 44 years, and Thekla and I were looking forward to having some quiet time,” said Sanford.  “But that’s just not possible yet.”

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby color.  The big and bold nose has cherries, black raspberries, baking spices, cedar, wild flowers, smoke, and some earthy underbrush.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and tart acidity.  Tart cherries hit the palate first, followed by some spices and earthiness before the oak takes over, which it does in a big way.  The finish is fairly long but just about totally oak driven.  If you like oak dominated wine, you’ll like this a lot more than I do.  (86 pts)

 

 

 

2009 Trentadue Winery La Storia “Cuvée 32” – $17.04

 

My comments

We have visited the AlexanderValley based Trentadue Winery a few times in the past and always had a good time and an even better tasting.  This is a long time favorite wine in my house.  The blend varies each vintage, this one is 49% Sangiovese, 27% Merlot, 8% Montepulciano, 8% Malbec, 7% Petite Sirah, and 1% Syrah.  This wine has enough acidity from the Sangiovese to stand up to dishes with tomatoes but the other grapes lend enough body and oomph to stand up to meat.  We like this wine with everything from pasta with meat sauce to Veal Parmesan and baked ziti.

 

Winery history

The Trentadue family arrived in SonomaCounty long before their region gained a reputation as the Wine Country. Life-long, hands-on agriculturists, Evelyn and Leo Trentadue contributed significantly to the advancement of their region over the years. In 1959, the Trentadues decided to flee the developers encroaching on their apricot and cherry orchards in Sunnyvale, the area known today around the world as Silicon Valley. To preserve their way of life, these hard-working Italian ranchers purchased 208 acres of land in SonomaCounty’s then remote AlexanderValley.

 

See more at:  http://www.trentadue.com/winery/heritage.asp

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to deep garnet color, much lighter at the edge.  On very enticing nose there are cherries, raspberries, earthy underbrush, dried herbs, baking spices, licorice, blackberries, black pepper, and violets.  The wine has medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine is full of tart, spicy, fruit with nice earthy elements and some pepper adding depth and complexity.  The finish is fairly long and features tart, juicy cherries, licorice, and some earthiness.  This is a very nice “Super Tuscan” from California.  Tastes fantastic today, but this will last in the cellar for up to five years.  (91 pts)

 

 

 

2007 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – $17.50

 

My comments

This is one of my all time favorite QPR values.  This is a Zinfandel that is every bit as good as ones that are on shelves at $30 or more, and it cost me well under $20.

 

Winery history

Carlisle is a winery that started as a classic “garage winery” for Owner/Winemaker Mike Officer.  His first foray into wine making was making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Over the next several years, with the help of his wife Kendall (Carlisle), and some friends, he produced a barrel of wine each vintage.  During this period, he also has a “real job” as a software developer.  To make a long story short, eventually the software developer title was left in the rear view mirror and Owner/Winemaker became his new title.  I highly recommend checking out the complete story at http://www.carlislewinery.com/about.html

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  On the big but civilized nose there are brambly berries, black pepper, dark chocolate, vanilla, licorice, dried herbs, smoke, wild flowers, and a touch of earthiness.  This is medium to full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a load of peppery berries with licorice, dried herbs and a bit of earthiness adding depth and complexity.  The finish is long and features the peppery berries.  An incredible wine and an absolute steal for under $20.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

2007 Novy Family Wines Grenache Judge Family Vineyard – $19.00

 

My comments

I really like wines from California made with grapes native to France’s RhoneValley.  The thing I most like is what frustrates a lot of people, the variety.  There are soft and fruity wines, full bodied and bold wines, and medium bodied versions full of black pepper and spice.  I like the wines made by Novy because they are usually in the third category, medium bodied and full of spice.  This style is the closest to the styles made in France and also the most food friendly.

 

Winery history

We met Dianna Lee at an in store wine tasting here in the Milwaukee area a couple years ago.  While we talked she mentioned going to college in East Texas.  After talking a bit more, it turned out she was in college about a mile from our house while we were living in Nacogdoches, TX.  We were able to talk about having Margaritas in a local Mexican Restaurant.  There’s a good chance we were all enjoying happy hour together, a few tables apart.  Who knows, maybe La Hacienda closed down because they lost all our business when we moved to Milwaukee and Dianna met Adam and moved to wine country.  Truly a small world.

 

For us, the beauty of making our own wine is the total freedom to do it our way, without compromise. Although it is necessary to be able to adapt to new circumstances with each and every vintage, we have found that these principles hold true year after year.

 

We believe that great wine is made in the vineyard. Only with great grapes can we produce great wines. To this end, we purchase the majority of our fruit by the acre rather than by the ton.

We believe in minimal intervention winemaking that promotes, rather than overshadows the work we do in the vineyard.

Most importantly, we believe that wine should be a pleasure to drink. If you don’t like the way a wine tastes, what’s the point? Novy Family wines are made to be enjoyed with good friends and good food.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium ruby color, much lighter at the edge.  The very interesting and unique nose has raspberries, earthy underbrush, black pepper, dried herbs, baking spices, smoke, licorice, cherries, and a touch of eucalyptus.  This has medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate a nice hit of cherry and raspberry precedes a blast of savory elements including black pepper, dried herbs, and nice earthy notes.   The finish is fairly long and leans towards the savory spectrum with nice cherry and raspberry in the background adding subtle sweetness.  Not a fruit forward, fruit bomb, very food friendly.  I like this a lot and feel it should last in the cellar for another year, maybe two.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

Nice delivery of samples from Elyse for me to review arrived today.  I look forward to sampling them in the next couple of weeks.  The reviews will be in a special edition of Cliff’s Wine Picks.  Selections include 2008 Morisoli Zinfandel, 2010 Barrel SelectNapa Valley Petite Sirah, and the 2007 Morisoli Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

The Loring e-mail with their non Pinot Noir wine hit and I immediately grabbed several bottles.  My main buys were the Grenache and the Convergence wines.

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

I received the samples noted above from Elyse, but that is all, so far.  If everything gets delivered tomorrow that is due, I’ll receive wine from Core (WineWoot), Garagiste Wine, and from a new favorite, Ledge.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

If you want me to review your wines, see my Sample Policy or e-mail me at Cliff@CliffsWinePicks.com

 

 

 

Cheers!

Sept 28, 2012 to Sept 30, 2012

 

 

 

2005 Austin Hope Syrah Hope Family Vineyard – $18.99

 

My comments

This has been a “house favorite” since I snagged several bottles at the local store at an end of vintage blow out.  Not a lot of subtlety here, but like I’ve said in the past, some time I like a big, in your face wine, especially on a Friday.  It’s a nice way to help kick into “weekend mode”.

 

Winery history

The Hope family has been farming in Paso Robles for more than 30 years. When they arrived in this barely discovered region, they planted apples and grapes. Little did they know that the rolling, oak-studded terrain of Paso Robles would one day become viticultural terroir of significance and one of the top winegrowing regions for quality red wine within the CentralCoast.

 

Gone are the apple orchards. Today, the Hopes cultivate mature vineyards of the varieties best suited to their area including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Mourvedre and Grenache. Vine density has increased and each vine is asked to produce very little fruit. The terroir of this domain expresses itself in its unique regional character. Regardless of the varieties planted, the expression of Paso Robles is displayed in the glass with spice, licorice and berry in the nose, soft textures and silky tannins on the palate.

 

Hope Family Wines consists of five individual brands: LibertySchool, Treana, Candor, Austin Hope, Troublemaker.

 

 

A fantastic parody of The Office made by the winery is here http://www.youtube.com/v/0_zr4J75_Kk&rel=0&autoplay=1

 

My Tasting Note

This is a deep, dark, ruby to maroon color.  The intoxicating nose has blackberries, cedar, licorice, minerals, black pepper, blueberries, violets, with hints of smoked meat and dark chocolate.  The wine if full bodied with fairly solid, velvety tannins and nice acidity.  There are rich, peppery berries on the palate with some black cherry and dark chocolate adding depth.  The finish is fairly long with the dark chocolate and berries carrying the load.  Not a lot of subtlety but very tasty.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc Santa Rita Hills – $5.00

 

My comments

This was on a super blow out sale at the local store.  Supposedly, this were lost in a warehouse somewhere and recently found.  I didn’t have high expectations in a six year old, appellation Pinot Blanc, but had to try it out.

 

Winery history

Richard Sanford came to the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago with the desire to create wines that would rival the best of France. First to recognize the potential of the Santa Rita Hills (now an officially accredited American Viticultural Area as Sta. Rita Hills), and first to plant Pinot Noir vines there, Richard is a pioneer with a well established reputation for excellence in winemaking.

 

Working in partnership for more than 30 years, Thekla and Richard Sanford founded multiple, successful winegrowing enterprises. Their latest venture, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, represents the culmination of a lifetime’s experience – an enterprise dedicated to creating high quality wines and setting a benchmark for organic farming, sustainable agriculture methods, and environment-friendly commerce.

 

The winery, owned by Richard Sanford, dubbed the father of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and the first to plant the vine there, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 27.

 

After nearly a half-century of ups and downs in the wine business, Sanford admitted that he’d rather be riding off into the sunset than trying to save the family farm. “It is true that I have been doing this for 44 years, and Thekla and I were looking forward to having some quiet time,” said Sanford. “But that’s just not possible yet.”

 

My Tasting Note

We sampled the wine at room temperature.  The wine is a light yellow to straw color.  The crisp and fresh smelling nose had lemon curd, apples, orange blossoms, minerals, and with some air a pineapple note came through.  This is light to medium body, dry, and has tart, citrusy, acidity.  This is crisp and clean on the palate with nice fruit and minerals leading the way before lemony acidity kicks in.  Decent length on the finish which again highlights the tart lemons and minerals.  This tastes young, fresh, and vibrant.  I grabbed 6 bottles for $5 each and plan on drinking over the next year.

 

 

 

2010 Villa Creek “White” – $20.80

 

My comments

This is one of our Summer white wines.  I generally split a case between this and the Villa Creek “Pink”.  I feel the wine is good not long after release, but a year in the cellar really gives it the time to open up and taste even better.  I wanted to share a bottle of this with a friend who loves white wines based on the Rhone varietals almost as much as I do.

 

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.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a pale golden yellow color. This has hot slate like minerals, white peach, pineapple, apple, lemon zest, and a nice floral note on the fresh, like Summer nose. The wine has medium body with nice crisp acidity. Initially rich and smooth on the palate with luscious, juicy fruit and minerals then the citrusy acidity kicks in leading a fairly long, mouthwatering finish. An excellent, California version of a Rhone white from France. This can be enjoyed over the next few years.  (92 pts)

(This note copied from a bottle I had last month)

 

 

 

2008 Field Stone Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley – $18.99

 

My comments

This was sampled from a nearly full bottle that had been opened about 20 hours earlier for a tasting, but was not needed.  Only a couple of small tastes had been poured before it was recorked and saved at room temperature.

 

Winery history

Field Stone Winery was founded in 1977 with its own celebrated estate vineyards dating back to 1894.  It is owned and operated by John & Katrina Staten and their family.

 

Praised by visitors for its hospitality and unique rustic beauty, the winery is a fascinating, small, underground facility carved into a picturesque oak knoll in the midst of its rolling vineyards in SonomaCounty’s beautiful AlexanderValley.

 

My Tasting Note

From a bottle that had been opened, sampled, and recorked about 20 hours earlier.  The wine is a medium to dark ruby color.  The slightly subdued nose has cassis, tobacco, cherries, dried herbs, and a touch of spicy oak.  This is medium bodied with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  Nice spicy fruit and dried herbs on the palate carry through on the medium length finish.  Not the most complex cabernet out there, but a good value for well under $20.  (89 pts)

 

 

Here’s a picture of Field Stone Winery and a one of the wine country view from the winery taken during a visit there a couple years ago.

 

 

 

 

2006 Carlisle Two Acres

 

My comments

This is another bottle I opened to share with a friend.  I also wanted to try a newer vintage after thoroughly enjoying a 2003 earlier in the week.

 

Normally this is where I’d tell you to go to their website and sign up for the mailing list, but not this time.  Unfortunately the Carlisle mailing list is full, the best you could do is get on the waiting list.  The problem with that one is big, the wines are so good and fairly priced, very few people drop off the list.  My best advice is to find someone on the list and beg them to share a bottle or two of their allocation with you.

 

Winery history

Carlisle is a winery that started as a classic “garage winery” for Owner/Winemaker Mike Officer.  His first foray into wine making was making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Over the next several years, with the help of his wife Kendall (Carlisle), and some friends, he produced a barrel of wine each vintage.  During this period, he also has a “real job” as a software developer.  To make a long story short, eventually the software developer title was left in the rear view mirror and Owner/Winemaker became his new title.  I highly recommend checking out the complete story at http://www.carlislewinery.com/about.html

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The ever changing and evolving nose had crushed berries, dark chocolate, fresh ground espresso, roasted meat, tree bark, leather, cherries, and some dried herbs.  This is a medium to full body wine with ripe tannins and good acidity.  There are loads of spicy berries on the palate with nice earthy elements and dried herbs adding complexity.  This has a nice, lingering, long finish which highlights the more savory elements.  Still young but a very nice wine to follow over an evening.  Outstanding.  (94 pts)

 

 

2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT

 

My comments

This is our current go to wine when we are having a pizza loaded with chunky meat.  The richness and body stands up nicely to the meat and this has just enough acidity to help cut through the cheese.

 

Winery history

Allegrini is the leading producer in the Valpolicella Classico area and one of the most highly acclaimed wineries in Italy and throughout the world. The family’s roots in Valpolicella date back to the 16th century. Today the winery consists of more than 100 hectares (247 acres) set amongst the rolling hills of the “Classico” appellation. All wines made under the Allegrini label are produced exclusively from these estate vineyards. Through research and experimentation over the years, Allegrini has introduced radical innovations in the vineyards, in the grape drying process and in the cellar, with the objective of enhancing the intrinsic quality of Valpolicella.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The elegant nose has blackberries, plums, smoke, dried herbs, vanilla, black cherries, wild flowers and minerals.  This is medium body with silky, ripe tannins and decent acidity.  There is nice layered fruit, spice, and dried herbs on the palate with just a touch of earthiness in the background.  This has nice length on the finish which shows spicy berries.  Very nice.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

 

Rudius

I’ve been on the Rudius mailing list since the beginning.  Rudius is Jeff and Brittany Ames.  Jeff’s name may not ring a bell, but here’s a bit of his bio:

In 2001 Jeff became Thomas Brown’s assistant winemaker at brands including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor.  Two years later, Jeff was named the head winemaker at Tor, a position he still commands.   Rudius is the culmination of Jeff’s goal of owning his own wine brand.

 

I have purchased a fair amount of Jeff’s wines and every one that I have opened has been outstanding.  I have had several of his cabernets and wines made by the Rhone varietals.  I highly recommend the Rudius mailing list.  More information about Jeff and Brittany, Rudius, and most importantly a link to join the mailing list is available on their site.  Visit http://www.rudiuswines.com/

 

 

McPrice Myers

The newest offer from McPrice Myers hit the inbox today.  I am part of their 6 bottle Wine Club.  This means I will automatically receive two bottles of each 2010 Altas Vinas, 2010 Larner Syrah and 2010 Les Galets Syrah.  Now I have a week and almost 2 weeks to decide if I want to add any more of these or a few library wines the still have in stock.

 

 

Herman Story

I’m not on the Herman Story mailing list, but a friend who is on the list shares some of his allocation with me.  These are big, ripe, bold wines and every once in a while that’s what I get in the mood for.  These wines aren’t for Francophiles.  If my friend wasn’t on the list, I’d join.  If you like that style of wine as much as I do, I highly recommend checking them out, perhaps you can get something from the just released offerings.  Visit http://hermanstorywines.com/ for more information.

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

(4) 2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 NapaValley for $30 a bottle from Elyse Winery

(1) 2009 Trentadue Winery La Storia “Cuvee 32” for $16.90 from local wine store

(1) 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico for $18.59 from local wine store

(2) 2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard for $37.99 from local wine store

(2) 2009 Calera Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard for $46.54 from local wine store

 

 

 

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!

 

Sept 24, 2012 to Sept 27, 2012

 

 

 

2003 Carlisle Two Acres – $29.50

 

My comments

I’ve been buying wine from Mike Officer’s Carlisle winery for several years.  His Red Rhone Blend, known as Two Acres has been a long time favorite.  I thought about saving this and having a party around the 8 year vertical I have in the cellar.  After opening this bottle, it will be down to a 7 year vertical.  This vintage is a blend of 75% Mourvèdre, 18% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane, and 2% Alicante Bouschet.

 

Normally this is where I’d tell you to go to their website and sign up for the mailing list, but not this time.  Unfortunately the Carlisle mailing list is full, the best you could do is get on the waiting list.  The problem with that one is big, the wines are so good and fairly priced, very few people drop off the list.  My best advice is to find someone on the list and beg them to share a bottle or two of their allocation with you.

 

Winery history

Carlisle is a winery that started as a classic “garage winery” for Owner/Winemaker Mike Officer.  His first foray into wine making was making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Over the next several years, with the help of his wife Kendall (Carlisle), and some friends, he produced a barrel of wine each vintage.  During this period, he also has a “real job” as a software developer.  To make a long story short, eventually the software developer title was left in the rear view mirror and Owner/Winemaker became his new title.  I highly recommend checking out the complete story at http://www.carlislewinery.com/about.html

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, saturated maroon color with a touch of bricking at the edge.  The very pleasing and inviting nose features blackberries, licorice, tree bark, leather, meat juices, dried herbs, violets, and a touch of Asian spices.  The wine is fairly full bodied with nice, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate there are nice, spicy berries with just a touch of earthiness and a hit of dark chocolate.  Even though the nose and palate are top notch, the finish is probably the best part of the wine.  The finish is very long and loaded with berries, chocolate, dried herbs, and earthiness with just a bit of a meaty element.  The length is incredible!  There are absolutely no rough edges or any overly dominant tastes or aromas in this wine.  This wine is in a perfect drinking window, if I had more, I’d recommend drinking over the next year or two.  (95 pts)

 

 

 

2006 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – $18.99

 

My comments

Buehler Vineyards was a winery we really liked before we paid them a visit.  After the visit we liked them even more.  We were met by John P. Buehler in his SUV.  He proceeded to drive us all around their vineyards including all the fantastic views of the area.  Next stop was the wine making facilities and barrel storage.  After the tour, John took us back to the tasting room and poured us several of their wines.  It was a marvelous couple of hours.  I highly recommend paying them a visit, but call first, their tours and tastings are by appointment only.  The one caveat is watch out for the fairly long one lane road.

 

Winery history

The winery is located six winding miles east of St. Helena and nestled in the mountains below HowellMountain, Buehler Vineyards encompasses three hundred acres of NapaValley hillside terrain.

 

In 1971, John Buehler, Sr., a 1934 West Point graduate who served twenty years in the Army Corps of Engineers and another twenty years as a Bechtel Corporation executive, was ready to retire.

 

Along with his wife, Helen, he bought a remote NapaValley hillside property that  had been the site of a “ghost winery” before prohibition.  As John Sr., built his retirement home, his son, John Jr., began to fulfill his life-long ambition to become a wine grower.

 

Dabbling as a home winemaker during the early years, John Jr. was satisfied selling grapes to other wineries. Only after years of constant praise for the quality and complexity of his hillside fruit did John decide to make the first vintage of Buehler Vineyards wine.

 

In 1978, John hand-crushed 700 cases of wine. Pleased by the results, he gradually increased production until 1982, when he hired a talented young winemaker, Heidi Peterson  Barrett. By the time she left in 1988, Heidi had become a rising star, and Buehler Vineyards was building a worldwide reputation.

 

John reassumed the winemaking role at Buehler until 1993, when he found another talented young winemaker, David Cronin.  Under David’s direction, Buehler has proven itself to critics and consumers alike as a winery that can be relied upon for excellent wines, vintage after vintage, at prices real wine-lovers can afford.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep maroon color.  This has cassis, licorice, dried herbs, tobacco, and a touch of cedar and violets on the elegant nose.  The wine is medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and has very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine shows nice fruit and spice with just a touch of toasty oak and some nice dried herbs adding depth.  The finish is fairly long with the berries and dried herbs slowly dissipating.   One of the better values out there for a Napa Cabernet and in a very nice drinking window.  (90 pts)

 

 

 

Here’s a picture of my wife and John P. Buehler from a visit to the winery a few years ago.

 

 

 

2001 Aminea Taurasi Baiardo – $12.99

 

My comments

I’ve been looking forward to trying this wine since I grabbed a few bottles in 2008 from Garagiste.  I held off when I realized some of the professionals had drinking windows from 2009 to beyond 2020.

 

This is from the Campania region in Italy and made with the Aglianico grape.  Taurasi is the first southern Italian wine to obtain DOCG status, and is widely considered the most noble red wine from Campania.

 

Winery history

I couldn’t get too much of the winery’s history since the English portion of their site appears to be broken and since I’m American, I don’t really speak any other language fluently.

 

A little of Jon Rimmerman’s colorful prose from his Garagiste offering:

From grapes grown at high elevation (almost 2000 ft above the sea), the cool-toned nature of the vineyard is the cerebral key to the wine’s success. From an area known for sun-baked and overripe wine, the Aminea combines the best of all worlds, almost like a mini version of Galardi with a similar influence of moderation from the climate (you know how well received the 2001 Galardi was). The result is a sophisticated but still wild red fruited wine with all the nuances of a top Tuarasi. All in all, this is just a terrific example with the ability to age for at least 10-15 years

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby color with some bricking.  This has a fantastic wine with blackberries, loads of minerals, dried herbs, tobacco, plums, and a very nice dusty element.  The wine is medium body with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine seems very young, not 11 years old.  Nice plums and berries are in the forefront of the palate with dried herbs and minerals providing nice depth and “seasoning”.  The finish is fairly long with the dried herbs and dusty element in front and the fruit in the background.  A very nice wine that may show additional improvement with some more time in the cellar.  I will hold off at least a couple of years before opening another.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm – $18.04

 

My comments

My local wine store has to be one of the bigger sellers of the Treasure Hunter wines in the country.  It seems like they get just about everything they release.  Treasure Hunter isn’t really a winery, more of a wine business.  They buy excess grapes/juice/wine and sell it as is or blend different lots to create their wines.  These are generally very good to outstanding wines that sell for prices well below their level or quality.

 

In this case, this is a blend of 59% Syrah, 18% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre, and 5% Tempranillo from Paso Robles.  I don’t know exactly where the grapes came from, but you can taste the quality of the grapes in the wine.  This wine could easily pass for one of the $40 or more blends coming from the region, and this cost me under $20.

 

Winery history

Treasure Hunter is a label under the 3 Finger Wine Company family of wines.

 

Each Treasure Hunter wine goes through a pain-staking process of examination from our panel of nine called The De-Vine Nine. Made up of top sommeliers, winemakers and restaurateurs, they are the best of the best and they pour through hundreds of wines before they are deemed worthy.

Each wine is a small one-time offering and represents an extraordinary opportunity to drink seminal wines of great importance.

 

My Tasting Note

This is a deep maroon color.  The wine has blackberries, grilled meat, vanilla, blueberries, baking spices, minerals, dark chocolate, licorice, cherries, and a bit of earthiness on the very open and exuberant nose.  This is full bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins and good acidity.  Big, ripe, juicy berries and spice hit the palate with meat, earthiness, and dark chocolate in the background.  The wine has a long, lingering finish featuring the berries, dark chocolate, and a touch of spicy oak.  Very impressive wine that drinks well above the price point.  (93 pts)

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

 

Rudius

I’ve been on the Rudius mailing list since the beginning.  Rudius is Jeff and Brittany Ames.  Jeff’s name may not ring a bell, but here’s a bit of his bio:

In 2001 Jeff became Thomas Brown’s assistant winemaker at brands including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor.  Two years later, Jeff was named the head winemaker at Tor, a position he still commands.   Rudius is the culmination of Jeff’s goal of owning his own wine brand.

 

I have purchased a fair amount of Jeff’s wines and every one that I have opened has been outstanding.  I have had several of his cabernets and wines made by the Rhone varietals.  I highly recommend the Rudius mailing list.  More information about Jeff and Brittany, Rudius, and most importantly a link to join the mailing list is available on their site.  Visit http://www.rudiuswines.com/

 

 

McPrice Myers

The newest offer from McPrice Myers hit the inbox today.  I am part of their 6 bottle Wine Club.  This means I will automatically receive two bottles of each 2010 Altas Vinas, 2010 Larner Syrah and 2010 Les Galets Syrah.  Now I have a week and almost 2 weeks to decide if I want to add any more of these or a few library wines the still have in stock.

 

 

Ledge Vineyards

This is one of my latest “finds”.  Mark Adams is the owner/winemaker for this family owned winery.  He releases one wine, and the grapes all come from the family owned vineyard.  The vineyard is about 7 acres currently and is located in Paso Robles not far from Denner and the James Berry Vineyards.  Mark is also been the assistant winemaker at Saxum where he has worked since 2004.  I highly recommend getting in on the ground floor of this exciting list.  Visit http://www.ledgevineyards.com/index.php for more information or to join the list.

 

 

Herman Story

I’m not on the Herman Story mailing list, but a friend who is on the list shares some of his allocation with me.  These are big, ripe, bold wines and every once in a while that’s what I get in the mood for.  These wines aren’t for Francophiles.  If my friend wasn’t on the list, I’d join.  If you like that style of wine as much as I do, I highly recommend checking them out, perhaps you can get something from the just released offerings.  Visit http://hermanstorywines.com/ for more information.

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

August 6, 2012 to August 9, 2012

 

2007 Cosentino Winery Cabernet Franc – $9.49

I used to be a big fan of Cosentino Winery but they fell on hard financial times a couple years ago and the winery and name changed hands.  I haven’t had a chance to try their newer releases so I can’t state an opinion of how the new Cosentino is doing.  I hope they are either back on track or at least headed in the right direction.  This was purchased on a blow out sale from my local wine store while the winery/distributor were sorting out their problems.

The wine was decanted for about an hour.  This is a deep ruby color, much lighter at the rim.  On the very nice nose there are blackberries, dried herbs, cedar, licorice, dark chocolate, and some cherry.  The wine has medium body with soft, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice fruit and dried herbs on the palate with some spicy oak in the background.  Decent length on the finish where the fruit fades fairly quickly but the dried herbs and spicy oak linger for a bit.  This is a nice Cabernet Franc that was an absolute steal at under $10, making it a perfect week night wine.  Not one to age too long, but no big hurry.  (88 pts)

 

 

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – $16.00

Has there ever been a better $16.00 Zinfandel produced by a major California winery?  Wines like this, at this price point, are the main reason no one drops off of the Carlisle mailing list.  I’ve had this wine several times over the last few years and it has never disappointed.  I’d recommend getting on the mailing list but it is full.  I’m sure the waiting list is even longer since Mike Officer, the owner/winemaker, isn’t going to be increasing his production enough to supply everyone.  Like I stated earlier, very few people drop off of the mailing list allowing new people to join the fun.

This is a deep, dark, opaque ruby to purple color.  Enticing nose with brambly berries, vanilla, black pepper, scorched earth, dark chocolate, melted licorice, a faint floral note, and some eucalyptus.  Fairly full bodied with nice, integrated, ripe tannins and good acidity.  Big, ripe, and mouth filling flavors coat the palate.  The spicy, peppery berries lead the way with vanilla and a bit of oak; some dark chocolate comes in on the back end providing additional depth.  The wine has very nice length on the finish with the peppery berries, chocolate, and some earthy elements lingering.  This is an incredible value at $16, without a doubt one of the best under $20 zinfandels out there.  (93 pts)

 

 

2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch – $22.00

I’m going to open a bottle of Bedrock wine to celebrate the arrival of their latest e-mail offering.  I haven’t had one of these in almost a year.  I really liked my previous bottles, rating it 91 pts.  It’s looking like a good day for dinner on the deck, which would be perfect with this wine.  I’ll have to see how this pairs with some seared scallops, but I have high expectations.

A light golden straw color.  Apples, lemon zest, peach, fresh cut grass, flinty minerality, grapefruit, and some baking spices on the fresh and clean nose.  Light to medium body with tart, mouthwatering acidity.  Big citrus and herbal elements on the palate.  White fruit and a bit of peach give way to a load of citrus with the herbal notes and minerals coming in on the back end.  Long, lingering finish with the citrus and herbal notes.  An outstanding California Sauvignon Blanc.  (92 pts)

This paired very nicely with a dinner of large seared scallops, with raw, fresh carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, and cherry tomatoes with a spicy, Creole dipping sauce.

 

 

2008 Frimaio Chianti Classico – $18.99

After several weeks of dry weather with above normal temperatures, today is cold and wet.  Light rain and an afternoon temperature of only 62 makes me think of pasta for dinner.  We made a large batch of baked ziti in the Spring and froze some for quick and easy dinners.  Today feels like a baked ziti and garlic bread type of day.  Off to Cellar Tracker to find a nice Italian wine to pair with the ziti.  I chose this wine since I haven’t had one in several months and we had liked it the last time we had a bottle.

Deep ruby to maroon color.  There are cherries, wet earth, raspberries, licorice, dried herbs, blackberries, and a slight floral note on the very fragrant nose.  The wine has medium body with ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  This is bigger and darker than most Chianti Classicos with nice, big fruit, spice, and earth on the palate.  Decent finish with the fruit and tart acidity balancing very nicely, just wish it was a bit longer.  Overall, not your usual lighter bodied sangiovese, but still with the acidity to pair up with a nice meat sauce.  (89 pts)

I bought his during a close out sale at the local wine store, and feel like it was a good bargain for south of $20.  This won’t be mistaken for a high end Chianti Classico, but is perfectly acceptable for a Thursday night dinner.

 

Here’s what dinner looked like, it tasted fantastic.  We generally make a very large batch  of the baked ziti and cut it into 4″ x 4″ cubes once it cools down.  We wrap each chunk individually and freeze them for quick weeknight dinners.  The garlic bread sticks are a store bought, frozen brand we like.  I doctor them up by adding a bit of real butter, garlic powder, and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

 

 

Quick Question

Do you have a preferred publication or website to help find information on a new wine or a wine you see mentioned on a website?  Parker’s Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Tanzer’s IWC, RhoneReport, Pinot Report, etc.  I know we all value our own opinion the most, but I’m talking about a wine you’ve never tasted.  How do you decide to pull the trigger on an offer from a flash sale site, or large store’s e-mail offer?

Personally, my order would be in this sequence Steve Tanzer/Josh Raynolds, Jeb Dunnuck’s Rhone Report, Tim Fish from Wine Spectator, Greg Walter’s Pinot Report, a few Cellar Tracker users whose palates I trust, Robert Parker, then the rest.

 

Rants from Manfred Krankl of SQN

In his latest offer Manfred Krankl, offered up “5 Rants”, any opinions?  Agree or disagree with Manfred on these?  Some of these were fairly long winded and hard to distill down to a sentence or two.

1 – “Yes we are growing fruit in a very hot area, but we have such huge diurnal temperature swings that it balances out and that way we also preserve acidity.”  Do your think hot days and cool nights help make a good wine?  Manfred doesn’t think it does.

2 – ‘Old vines always make better wine than young vines.”  We all know “old vines” or “vieilles vignes” are meaningless, non-regulated terms but do you think wines made from wine from a “lazy-assed” grower and old vines are inherently going to be better than wines made from young vines grown by a “smart, caring, and industrious” grower?

3 – “Our soil is 600 million years old.”  This rant seems to run in a circle but seems to be pointed at a grower in Australia.  A closing comment related to finding a whale bone in the vineyard seems to point to a specific vineyard in Paso Robles.

4 – “Our vineyard is so great because we have such wonderfully well drained soils.”  Manfred feels that “well drained soil” is absolutely meaningless in California since most of the time they get ZERO rain from mid April through September and quite often through October or November.

5 – “Terroir”  This rant is very long winded and hard to paraphrase.  Manfred feels terroir is a term sometimes used to gloss over wine flaws or to highlight a wine without “a fingerprint of its maker.”

To me, most of these “rants” seem to point to a winemaker who makes wine from warm but not hot areas with young vines, in new, valley floor vineyards with the wine maker’s fingerprints all over the finished product, who doesn’t like other wineries getting scores that equal or surpass the ones they receive, and to justify high prices.

 

Bedrock Wine Co. Allocation

This is an outstanding winery and a real challenge.  I joined the mailing list go get Morgan’s big red wines but I’m finding myself being sucked in by his whites.  This is not a put down of the Zinfandel, Syrah, and “Heritage” reds but rather me giving them the credit they deserve with the class of their whites.  I’d love to grab my entire allocation, but I’m going to have to leave some on the table for anyone not offered something they want or for new people to join the list.

 

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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.

 

Cheers!

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