Posts tagged ‘Pinot Noir’

Wine of the Week – 2011 Chamisal Vineyards Pinot Noir Edna Valley

 

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.

 

 

Chamisal Logo

 

 

Overview

I noticed I have had a high percentage of Pinot Noirs as my wine of the week lately.  That’s probably due to me actively tracking down Pinots that have attractive pricing to potentially add to my cellar.  A local wine store had this wine on sale for about half suggested price, which made it easy to grab a couple bottles.  It’s been a few years since I last had a Chamisal wine, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

 

 

The Winery

 

Our Historic Vineyard

In 1973 Chamisal became the first winery to plant vines in Edna Valley, a gamble that paved the way for one of the most revered wine regions of California.  Our Central Coast vineyard is named for the native, white-flowered Chamise plant that thrives on the property.  In the early 1990’s after a period of dormancy, the vineyard was replanted and the estate was renamed Domain Alfred, but when we took ownership in 2008 we restored the original name – Chamisal Vineyard – to honor its place in Edna Valley history.  Now planted to five grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah and Pinot Gris, this exceptional estate vineyard is the centerpiece, source and inspiration of Chamisal’s bold and distinctive wines.

 

Winemaking Philosophy

At Chamisal our winemaking philosophy encompasses an approach that is all about bringing out the natural characteristics of our estate-grown fruit in the wines.  All vineyard work is done by hand.  During harvest, we take as many as four passes through each block to ensure the grapes are picked at ideal ripeness.  We ferment and age each lot separately, tailoring our winemaking, such as the kind of French oak we use, to highlight the characteristics unique to each particular vineyard block.  From our painstaking work in the field to the careful handcrafting of our wines, our style is about allowing each varietal to shine, expressing our Edna Valley vineyard’s naturally bold and complex flavors.

More information on the winery and their wines is available by clicking here.

 

 

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2011 Chamisal Vineyards Pinot Noir Edna Valley – $19.99 (SRP $40)

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made using seven clones of the grape, all from the estate vineyard in the Edna Valley.

 

The different clones were harvested at night over the course of 19 separate picks.  After hand sorting, each pick was fermented separately with a small percentage of grapes left whole cluster.  The grapes were subjected to a pre-fermentation cold soak of three to seven days.  A combination of native and cultured yeasts was utilized for fermentation in small open-top fermenters at low temperatures.  After 10 to 14 days of fermentation the wine was racked to French oak barrels (35% new) for seven months.  At that time, the wines were blended and aged an additional four months in barrels.

 

The wine has 13.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  There were 3,020 cases of this wine produced.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet color.  The inviting nose has black cherries, warm baking spices, crushed stones, earthy underbrush, dark chocolate and dried flowers.  This has medium body with soft to moderate tannins and great acidity.  Cherries and spices jump out quickly on the palate with minerals and underbrush coming in later.  The finish has nice length with a dried floral note entering the picture.  This is a very easy to drink and enjoy Pinot.  (91 pts)

2011 Chamisal Vineyards Pinot Noir Edna Valley

 

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

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

 

Cheers!

 

 

This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2014 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

 

 

Cliff’s Wine Picks mentions or other posts

Here are posts, newsletters, blogs or other articles that either mention this site or that I have written:

 

Click here or on the “Cliff’s Wine Picks On Other Sites” link in the top right corner to see links to other sites that either have my reviews, my thoughts or other posts I have written.

 

 

 

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!

 

Wine of the Week – 2012 Sandler Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

 

 

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.

 

 

Sandler logo

 

 

Overview

This wine was offered in honor of the Wineberserkers website’s 5th anniversary on Monday, January 27th.  That was the day of the Wine Berserker’s annual BerserkerDay.  During that day dozens of offers are released one by one directly to the members of the forum.

 

In this case the offer was a 4 pack of different single vineyard Sandler Pinot Noirs.  The regular price for the four wines was $152, the special price was $100 with shipping included.  It was a killer offer, so I grabbed 2 packages.  Besides this wine the other three offered were from the Peterson Vineyard, Boer Vineyard and Keefer Ranch.

 

 

The Winery

Sandler wines are produced in San Francisco by owner and winemaker, Ed Kurtzman.  Ed’s journey into winemaking began quite by accident, when he took a job at a wine shop during his undergrad studies at UMass Amherst.  It wasn’t long before Ed realized that wine was more than a passing fancy.  He jettisoned his original career plans, moved to California to sell wine, and soon enrolled in the enology program at Fresno State.  After graduating, Ed embarked on an early career that included stints at a who’s who of central coast wineries.  He started out in the cellar at Bernardus, under the tutelage of Don Blackburn and Kirby Anderson.  Next, he spent three harvests as assistant winemaker to Michael Michaud at Chalone before taking the reins as head winemaker for Rob and Diana Jensen’s Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos.  It was at Testarossa that Ed’s deft touch with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay started to gain widespread attention.  Before long, he found himself in demand as a consulting winemaker, taking on clients including Fort Ross, Freeman, Roar and Mansfield-Dunne while becoming a partner in August West.

 

In 2003, Ed launched his own label, the Sandler Wine Company, devoted to small bottlings of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel and Grenache, from his favorite vineyard and grower sources.

 

More information and access to their mailing list is available by clicking here.

 

 

Sandler Graphic

 

 

2012 Sandler Wine Company Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard- $25.00

The vintage according to Ed Kurtzman –

2012 was one of those rare years when perfect spring, summer and fall weather gave the vineyards a healthy crop of high quality and quantity.  The last time I saw a year like this was 1997 when I was at Chalone, a long time ago.  The 2012 Pinots are already drinking well, and don’t appear to be going into shutdown mode like the 2007s and 2009s did six months after bottling.

 

This 100% Pinot Noir has 13.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The enticing nose has black cherries, baking spices, strawberries, earthy underbrush, tomato leaf, dusty minerals and wild flowers.  This has medium body with soft to moderate silky tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the bright red fruit and spice grab hold initially, slowly allowing minerals and a touch of earthiness to slip in on the back end.  The finish has a nice mix of the savory and fruity elements with just a slight but pleasing herbal note coming in late.  This is on the young side and will improve with some cellar time but that doesn’t stop it from being delicious today.  (92 pts)

2012 Sandler Wine Company Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

2012 Sandler Wine Company Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

 

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

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

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

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

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

Cliff’s Wine Picks mentions or other posts

Here are posts, newsletters, blogs or other articles that either mention this site or that I have written:

 

Snooth

WINES THAT RANG OUR BELL IN MARCH 2014 – Our Favorite Wine Writers Share Their Picks – White wines for spring.

http://www.snooth.com/articles/wines-that-rang-our-bell-in-february-2014-5296/?viewall=1#ixzz2z411esZO

 

Snooth

WINES WE’VE LOVED!  Our Favorite Wine Writers Share Their Picks

http://www.snooth.com/articles/wines-we-yve-loved/?viewall=1#ixzz2yOsinkhN

 

Snooth

OUR FAVORITE REDS FOR SPRING – The Wine Cognoscenti Recommend

http://www.snooth.com/articles/our-favorite-reds-for-spring/?viewall=1#ixzz2xkH0dfSj

 

Snooth

WHAT’S A GREAT GRENACHE? – Our Friendly Wine Experts Share Their Favorites!

http://www.snooth.com/articles/what-ys-a-great-grenache-5209/

 

Snooth

SPRING TIME IS FOR PAIRING – Our Favorite Wine Writers Share Their Picks

http://www.snooth.com/articles/spring-time-is-for-pairing/

 

Balzac

Balzac Communications & Marketing – News & Views

http://balzaccommunications.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/y/948F113D27729D90/DF475947E7F379DE2A1BF84ACBDD178B

 

Snooth

WHAT WE’VE BEEN DRINKING – News and Reviews from Around the Blogosphere

http://www.snooth.com/articles/what-we-yve-been-drinking/?viewall=1#ixzz2vy4idw7a

 

Snooth

WINES THAT RANG OUR BELL IN FEBRUARY 2014 – Our Favorite Wine Writers Share Their Picks

http://www.snooth.com/articles/wines-that-rang-our-bell-in-february-2014/?viewall=1#ixzz2vy4DCh5L

 

Crave Local

California Wine Reviews: Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyard

http://www.cravelocal.com/all-favorites/california-wine-reviews-cline-cellars-and-jacuzzi-family-vineyard/

 

Crave Local

Sample Boutique Wines at Affordable Prices with Tastingroom.com

http://www.cravelocal.com/all-favorites/sample-boutique-wines-at-affordable-prices-with-tastingroom-com/

 

 

 

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!

 

Wine of the week – 2012 Calera Pinot Noir

 

 

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.

 

 

CaleraLogoRed

 

 The Winery

Calera is a vision, and Calera’s wines truly express the sense of place.  Rather than follow the recommended path, Josh Jensen became a pioneer in search of the perfect spot on the globe to grow grapes.  Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France.  Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the Gavilan Mountains of California.  Today Calera wines still express that pioneer spirit and are revered the world over.  We are proud to report that even Robert Parker is convinced: “Calera is one of the most compelling Pinot Noir specialists of not only the New World, but of Planet Earth.”

 

The Wine

This 100% Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from the following Central Coast vineyards:

Laetitia Vineyard- San Luis Obispo County

Sierra Madre Vineyard- Santa Barbara County

Antle Vineyard – Monterey County

Bien Nacido Vineyard- Santa Barbara County

Doctor’s Vineyard- Monterey County

Pedregal Vineyard – San Benito County

Chula Vina Vineyard- Monterey County

Besson Vineyard- Santa Clara County

Flint Vineyard- San Benito County

Idyll Times Vineyard- San Benito County

 

 

Spanbauer view

 

2012 Calera Pinot Noir – $23.93

I’ve enjoyed previous vintages of this wine, so I’m interested in seeing how this wine turned out in the highly acclaimed 2012 vintage.  This is usually a very nice middle of the road style of Pinot Noir.  It usually has some richness but is not overly ripe.

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The tempting and inviting nose has black cherries, baking spices, earthy underbrush, wild flowers, cola and a touch of spicy oak.  This has medium body, soft to moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the fruit is a bit brighter than the nose lead me to expect with tart cherries and baking spices up front with some building earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length with fruit and spice carrying the load.  This is very nice for an entry level Pinot and a keeper for a touch over $20.  (90 pts)

2012 Calera Pinot Noir

2012 Calera Pinot Noir

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

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

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

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

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – July 29, 2013 to August 1, 2013

 

 

2010 Don Sebastiani & Sons Sauvignon Blanc Project Paso

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

2007 Anthill Farms Syrah Windsor Oaks Vineyard

 

 

 

2010 Don Sebastiani & Sons Sauvignon Blanc Project Paso – $7.59

Project Paso is a venture by Don Sebastiani & Sons in an attempt to highlight the wines coming out of the Paso Robles area.  In 1990 there were fewer than 20 wineries in Paso Robles, there are now over 200.  The area is now the fastest rowing AVA in California.  The Project Paso wines are meant to provide quality, distinctive, wallet friendly wines that can be enjoyed any time.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light, pale straw yellow color.  The tropical smelling nose has citrus zest, apples, minerals, pineapple, lime, white pepper, and fresh cut grass.  Light body with tart acidity and just a touch of sweetness.  This shows crisp citrus on the palate with some grassy notes and apple.  There is decent length on the finish with a bit of white pepper coming in on the back end.  This is nothing too special but nice on a hot afternoon or with a light meal on the deck or patio.  What more could you want in a $8 wine?  (86 pts)

2010 Don Sebastiani & Sons Sauvignon Blanc Project Paso

 

 

 

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills – $24.00

In my opinion, the Loring appellation wines are some of the best bargains out there when it comes to quality California Pinot Noir.  The Loring appellation wines are, at least to me, dialed down a notch compared to their single vineyard siblings.  This and the lower prices, under $25 make them a nice way to kick up a week night dinner several notches without breaking the bank.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color.  The very sexy and open nose has raspberries, black cherries, cola, baking spices, vanilla, smoke, wild flowers, white pepper, earthiness, and a faint herbal note.  This has a medium body, silky tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine shows juicy, spicy berries, and just a hint of an herbal element that adds to the taste in a positive way, with some building pepper and citrus zest coming in on the back end.  On the fairly long finish the juicy berries, spice and white pepper are joined by some earthiness.  This is an very good wine and a great value for under $25.   (91 pts)

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills

 

 

 

2007 Anthill Farms Syrah Windsor Oaks Vineyard – $25.00

Anthill Farms likes to make a “one off” wine.  In 2005, they made a Syrah with grapes from the Windsor Oaks Vineyard that turned out so well, it was quickly made part of their line up.  This is a classic cool climate Syrah that shows tart acidity and good savory elements.  The vineyard is only 10 miles from the coast and the grapes struggle to ripen in this area, resulting in longer “hang times”.  This is not a fruit forward, fruit driven, fruit bomb.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby color.  The slightly shy nose eventually shows raspberries, blackberries, dark chocolate, black pepper, minerals, road tar, and some earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate the bright berries and pepper dominate the front end with dark chocolate, more pepper, and some earthiness coming in on the back end along with a big blast of mouthwatering acidity.   The finish shows a touch of stems but otherwise is a continuation of the fruit and pepper.  The finish is a touch clipped when the acidity kicks in.  This could easily sit in the cellar for several more years and may improve if some of the acidity would integrate.  This wine needs food and shines in that role.  (90 pts)

2007 Anthill Farms Syrah Windsor Oaks Vineyard

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

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

 

Cheers!

 

 

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

All rights reserved.

 

 

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

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

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

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – May 13, 2013 to May 16, 2013

 

 

2007 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains

2010 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot NoirSantaLuciaHighlands

2007 Elyse Zinfandel A.K.A.

 

 

2007 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains – $22.79

 

My comments

I grabbed this wine a few years ago when the winery had a tasting at the local store.  The 2002 vintage of this wine was one the best purchases I have ever made.  That vintage took a few years to fill out and open up, so I’m hoping I allowed this vintage to rest in the cellar long enough.

 

Winery history

Martin Ray Winery was established in 1943 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Martin Ray’s mission was to make 100% varietal wines in California that could rival great French Bordeaux and Burgundy wines.  Today, we continue the tradition of making 100% varietal wines from premium mountain vineyards using the same winemaking practices that made Ray a legendary figure in the wine business.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  Cassis and blackberries jump from the glass with vanilla, dried herbs, wild flowers, cherries, licorice, cedar, and a bit of eucalyptus.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and good acidity.  This isn’t as big and rich on the palate as the nose lead me to expect.  The slightly restrained palate has cassis, spicy oak, vanilla, and a floral quality.  The finish has decent length with the minty eucalyptus note making a closing statement along with the cassis, and spicy oak.  The palate was a bit of a letdown after the build up from the exuberant nose, but on the whole, this is a very nice wine.  (90 pts)

2007 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains

 

 

 

2010 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage – $18.71

 

My comments

This was another of my Garagiste Wine purchases.  Sometimes I hate having to wait up to a year to get my wine from them, but generally I either order older Rieslings and ensure I have plenty to ship during one of their shipping windows or order wines I don’t plan on opening for a while.  I grabbed a few bottles of this wine and want to try one to gauge how long to sit on the remaining bottles so I can drink most of them in a prime drinking window.

 

Winery history

Domaine du Colombier is located in the Northern Rhône Valley, in the left bank of the Rhône River.  The estate has been part of the family since the First World War.  The owners gradually moved from a sharecroppers status to that of owners.  Florent Viale joined his father in 1990 and decided to bottle part of their production in 1991.  Now they sell 80% in bottle, 20% in bulk.

 

This 12 hectare (30 acres) Domaine spreads over the two communes of Tain l’Hermitage and Mercurol and is comprised of:

 

1.6 hectares (4 acres) of Hermitage

1.2 hectares (3 acres) of white Crozes-Hermitage

9.2 hectares (23 acres) of red Crozes-Hermitage.

Total: 12 hectares (30 acres)

 

The vineyard, located on stony hillside, is planted with old vines (50-55 years of age): Syrah for the red and Marsanne for the white.  The grapes are harvested by hand.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, cherries, dried herbs, minerals, smoked meat, black pepper, and some forest floor.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the nicely layered palate spicy fruit is joined by minerals and smoked meat with dried herbs and some earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length and leans on the savory elements with the fruit providing a touch of sweetness in the background.  This is drinking very nicely today but there is absolutely no need to drink these soon.  (91 pts)

2010 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage

 

 

 

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands – $24.00

 

My comments

To me, the Loring appellation wines are some of the biggest bargains available.  I always grab at least a mixed case when these wines are offered.  These are generally very good to outstanding California Pinot Noirs that cost under $25.

 

Winery history

My philosophy on making wine is that the fruit is EVERYTHING.  What happens in the vineyard determines the quality of the wine – I can’t make it better – I can only screw it up!  That’s why I’m extremely picky when choosing vineyards to buy grapes from.  Not only am I looking for the right soil, micro-climate, and clones, I’m also looking for a grower with the same passion and dedication to producing great wine that I have.  In other words, a total Pinot Freak!  My part in the vineyard equation is to throw heaping piles of money at the vineyard owners (so that they can limit yields and still make a profit) and then stay out of the way!  Since most, if not all of the growers keep some fruit to make their own wine, I tell them to farm my acre(s) the same way they do theirs – since they’ll obviously be doing whatever is necessary to get the best possible fruit.  One of the most important decisions made in the vineyard is when to pick.  Some people go by the numbers (brix, pH, TA, etc) and some go by taste.  Once again, I trust the decision to the vineyard people.  The day they pick the fruit for their wine is the day I’m there with a truck to pick mine.  Given this approach, the wine that I produce is as much a reflection of the vineyard owner as it is of my winemaking skills.  I figure that I’m extending the concept of terroir a bit to include the vineyard owner/manager… but it seems to make sense to me.  The added benefit is that I’ll be producing a wide variety of Pinots.  It’d be boring if everything I made tasted the same.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to garnet color.  The very enticing nose has black cherries, baking spices, raspberries, minerals, white pepper, forest floor, and fresh wild flowers.  This has medium to full body, silky tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the fairly straight forward palate, spices and fruit kick off the show with white pepper and earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long again highlighting the spicy fruit and some earthiness.  The Loring appellation Pinot Noirs are some of the best values in the marketplace.  (92 pts)

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands

 

 

 

2007 Elyse Zinfandel A.K.A. – $20.00

 

My comments

Elyse has been one of my favorite wineries since my first visit there in 2001.  I was talking to an employee at Merryvale about the style of wines I liked and that I was on the lookout for leads to some nice Petite Sirah based wines.  All he said was, “You have to checkout Elyse”.  As soon as we got back in the car, I pulled out my guidebook of wineries, and looked them up.  According to the guide, they required a reservation so I called them.  About 30 minutes later we were met by a very gracious and inviting tasting room employee.  We spent the next hour trying just about everything they made.  We left with several bottles for the week and ordered a case to be shipped back home.

 

Since that day, Elyse has always been the first winery we visit when we make it to Napa.  I always have several bottles of Elyse wine in my cellar.  A quick check of my cellar on Cellar Tracker shows I currently have 22 bottles of Elyse wines and 12 from their other label, Jacob Franklin in stock.

 

Winery history

In 1983, Nancy and Ray arrived in California from Cape Cod to fulfill Ray’s dream of making wine and Nancy’s taste for adventure.  After working harvest at Mt. Eden Winery in Saratoga, they moved to NapaValley and became innkeepers for a bed &breakfast. Ray then spent formative time at Tonella Vineyard Management, where he gained philosophical perspective and practical knowledge working in the vineyards.  Ray’s nine year tenure at Whitehall Lane Winery under the tutelage of Art Finkelstein first as a cellar worker and then as head winemaker honed his skills in the art of blending and was the inspiration for Ray’s winemaking style today.

 

In 1987, Ray & Nancy started Elyse Winery with 286 cases of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard, which is still a cornerstone vineyard source for the winery. After a decade of nomadic winemaking at various custom crush facilities, in 1997 they purchased a small winery and vineyard on Hoffman Lane, the home of Elyse Winery and tasting room.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby red color with some bricking at the edge.  The very satisfying nose has brambly berries, black pepper, wood smoke, warm baking spices, leather, minerals, vanilla, and a meaty element.  This has medium to full body, moderate tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate this isn’t a typical, big, jammy, in your face style of zinfandel, this is much more graceful and elegant.  The palate has spicy, peppery berries, minerals, and just a touch of earthiness.  The finish has very nice length and leans a bit more on the savory end with the fruit in the background adding nice sweetness.  This is in a very nice place and should hold for another year or two.  (92 pts)

2007 Elyse Zinfandel A K A

 

 

 

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

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

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

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – May 6, 2013 to May 9, 2013

 

 

2009 The Lucky Country Shiraz

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

2011 La Crema Pinot Noir

 

 

2009 The Lucky Country Shiraz – $11.88

 

My comments

The Lucky Country is a smaller project of Michael Twelftree from Two Hands.  This was created to provide a reasonably priced “artisanal” wine to contrast the growing ocean of mass produced “critter wine” coming out of Australia.  In my opinion, Michael achieved his goals.  You can taste the “Two Hands” lineage and upbringing in the bottle.

 

Winery history

The Lucky Country Wines offers quality wines packaged with iconic Australian photography, representing the lively spirit of Australia.

 

The name is taken from the 1964 book, The Lucky Country, written by social critic Donald Horne and was originally written to be ironic, as an indictment of 1960’s Australia.  Donald believed that the economic success of 60’s Australia was derived from luck rather than skill.

 

But over the years, this phrase has taken on new meaning and is now proudly used by many to describe what is great about Australia.

 

The Lucky Country Wines is the result of hard work combined with vision, creative acumen and business ‘smarts’, and maybe just a little bit of luck to help bring it all together.  The wines are already proving a hit, available in several markets around the world and with the brand continuing to grow every day.

 

The Lucky Country Wines were created to deliver great value, stylish wines to drinkers at a reasonable price.  People everywhere can now share and enjoy the experience of what makes Australia the Lucky Country.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby to purple color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, licorice, dark chocolate, wild flowers, and a touch of cedar.  This has medium to full body, ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  Loads of sweet up front fruit with dark chocolate and spice coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length and leaves a sweet, fruity, closing statement.  This is not very complex but a tasty week night easy drinker.  (88 pts)

2009 The Lucky Country Shiraz

 

 

 

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County – $20.28

 

My comments

Au Bon Climat and owner/winemaker Jim Clendenen were two of the original stars in the California Pinot Noir movement in the mid to late 1980s.  Just about every publication that featured wine bestowed well deserved honors and awards on Jim and Au Bon Climat.  The winery now produces over 30,000 cases of wine a year and is still one of the leading produces of “classically styled” wines.

 

Winery history

Founded in 1982, Au Bon Climat (which means “a well-exposed vineyard”) produces internationally-recognized Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc wine from grapes grown in California’s Santa Barbara County.

 

The Au Bon Climat winery is located on the world-famous Bien Nacido Vineyard, and is owned by winemaker Jim Clendenen.  Au Bon Climat was listed on Robert Parker’s Best Wineries of the World in both 1989 and 1990, while Jim Clendenen has been named Winemaker of the Year in 1992 by the Los Angeles Times, and Winemaker of the Year in 2001 by Food and Wine Magazine.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The very promising nose has a musky edge to the cherries, and raspberries with warm baking spices, earthy underbrush, meat juices, licorice, and a touch of dark chocolate.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate the fruit has nice spice up front with a meaty note and earthiness building on the back end.  The finish has very nice length filled with sweet fruit, spice with an earthy, musky edge.  This may not be the most complex Pinot out there, but it is a very nice bottle of wine to upgrade a week night or a casual weekend dinner.  Drink over the next few years.  (90 pts)

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

 

 

 

2011 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast- $18.99

 

My comments

We had a couple glasses of this wine a few weeks ago at a local restaurant.  When I saw it on the shelf at the local wines store, I had to grab a couple bottles.  I didn’t take notes on the wine at the restaurant, but I remembered it having nice red fruit and some subtle earthiness.  It will be nice spending a bit of time with a bottle to see how it performs over the course of an evening.

 

Winery history

Winemaking Philosophy

 

For more than 30 years, La Crema has explored California’s coastal appellations, a voyage of varietals that started here at our estate in the foggy vineyards of the RussianRiverValley.  On our journey, we have found exciting cool-climate vineyards north in the rugged hills of Mendocino, and south along the wind-swept slopes of Los Carneros.  Most recently, our exploration has taken us to the wind-swept hillside vineyards of Monterey.  Centered always on the dual lens of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we look for one unifying factor at these exceptional sites: coastal wind and fog that allow the grapes ripen slowly on the vine, developing intensely complex aromas and flavors while retaining firm acid structure.

 

Naturally, our winemaking team seeks to express the essence of the terroir in our wines, capturing the unique personality and flavor profile of the vineyards.  Elizabeth Grant-Douglas infuses our winemaking regime with a highly personal touch that combines the best of traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques with a contemporary California style.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red to ruby color.  The very enjoyable nose has cherries, baking spices, strawberry, lilac flowers, and a touch of earthy underbrush.  This has medium body, moderate ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  Spicy red fruit kicks off the palate with more spice and some earthiness coming in afterwards adding depth.  The bright fruit carries no excess weight or overly ripe notes.  The finish has decent length and again highlights the spice laden red fruit.  This very nice week night Pinot Noir offers great QPR if you can find it for under $20.  (89 pts)

2011 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

 

 

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

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

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

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Mar 11, 2013 to Mar 14, 2013

 

 

2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard

2006 Two Hands Brave Faces

2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico

2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek

 

 

 

 

2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard – $19.94

 

My comments

The owner/winemaker is Cody Wright, the son of well known and popular Oregon winemaker/owner Ken Wright.  This was a new winery to me when the local wine store had an e-mail special on the wine.  In my opinion, any time you can get hold of a good Pinot Noir for under $20, you buy.  This sat in the cellar for almost 2 whole days, so it’s time to try one.

 

Winery history

Purple Hands winery strives for the expression of genuine inherent terroir of soil and grape.  We search for ideal moments of ripeness and complexity balanced with authentic strength of soil character.

 

Our wines are windows into dynamic breadths of terroir, extracting and unlocking a code of sweet and savory from our rich Oregon soil.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red color with a slight ruby tint.  The soft and nuanced nose has black cherries, raspberries, fresh flowers, and subtle earthiness.  This is medium body at most, with racy acidity, and soft but persistent tannins.  The silky palate has tart, juicy fruit, spice, and a bit of earthiness which carries through on the slightly short finish.  This is a nice, light weight style of Pinot with juicy acidity and a touch of earthiness and spice to balance out the fruit.  This is a nice change up from the broad shouldered California Pinots.  (90 pts)

2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard

 

 

 

2006 Two Hands Brave Faces – $17.09

 

My comments

Two Hands is one of my wife’s favorite wineries and ranks pretty high on my list.  This is a winery not afraid to allow their grapes to get fully ripe before picking.  Some of their wines get awfully close to the over ripe and syrupy side of the line, but most of the time they don’t cross that line.  Remember, ripe fruit is not a flaw in a bottle wine.

 

I was able to grab a case of this wine from my local wine store during a blow out sale a year or two ago.  To me, this was an absolute no brainer buy for a touch over $17 a bottle.  This is 65% Shiraz, 35% Grenache and 100% BarossaValley.  This is the type of wine that made Australia famous before the mass produced “critter wines” did their best to kill that reputation.

 

Winery history (Core Values)

Quality without compromise is central to the Two Hands philosophy, driving all the decisions from fruit and oak selection to packaging and promotion.

 

We strive to differentiate ourselves; to be unique, fun and innovative in our business approach while maintaining a high degree of professionalism and integrity.

 

Our wines are made by a process of barrel classification – selecting the very best barrels for the Flagship range followed by Garden Series then our Picture Series.  This is achieved by sourcing the best parcels of fruit available to us from six premium regions within Australia.

 

We handle every parcel of fruit, however small, separately from crushing through to fermentation and oak maturation to ensure complexity and personality in the finished wines.

 

Fruit will be the primary feature of all our wines, with oak playing a supporting role.

 

Much more information available at:  http://www.twohandswines.com/

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very outgoing and friendly nose features blackberries, Asian spices, black pepper, dying charcoal embers, cherry, vanilla, blueberries, and bittersweet chocolate.  This is fairly full bodied with ripe tannins and good acidity.  The palate is loaded with juicy berries, spice, and pepper.  The finish is fairly long with some dark chocolate adding a nice element to the spicy, peppery, berries.  This is drinking very nicely and should hold in the cellar for at least another year or two.  (92 pts)

2006 Two Hands Brave Faces

 

 

 

2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico – $18.59

 

My comments

This wine made my “Best Buys” list for 2012, finishing at number 8.  To see the whole list see my post, Top 10 QPR Wines of 2012.

 

Even though I do like a “regular” Chinti, in my opinion, you need at least a Chianti Classico if you’re having pasta with a meat sauce, which is on our menu for this evening.

 

Winery history

Many of the wineries in the Chianti Region double as tourist attractions.  Not Paolo De Marchi’s Isole e Olena; when you turn right at the main gate and drive by the burnished steel fermentation tanks, you will come to a muddy square where you may find someone working on a wagon with an arc welder.

 

“We don’t have time for tourism,” says Paolo.  “It would distract us from our wines.”  His dedication is our gain; Isole e Olena’s wines are superb.  In addition to Chianti Classico, there is Cepparello, a pure Sangiovese of towering complexity and finesse, and a breathtaking Vinsanto.  The winery also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay, and L’Eremo, a Syrah.

 

Syrah is an ancient grape from the RhoneValley, which Paolo originally intended to use to add color and depth to his Chianti Classico (he feels that the Cabernet used in most Tuscan wineries can overwhelm Sangiovese).  However, he has since decided that the best way to improve Chianti is by careful selection of Sangiovese (Chianti’s principal grape), and is working to that end.  Meanwhile, L’Eremo placed fourth in a world-wide blind tasting of Syrah, after three wines from the RhoneValley.

 

Isole e Olena is also worth visiting if you like to talk wines.  Though Paolo has dropped out of the Consorzio del Marchio Storico (formerly Gallo Nero) for philosophical reasons, he firmly believes in the Chianti Classico region, and his opinions are the result of much thought.  For example, there is a movement to establish extra-high quality subzones within the Chianti Classico region.  “Since one of these zones includes Isole e Olena, it would be good for me,” he says with a grin.  “But so long as wineries can double their quality by hiring new enologists, I’m against it — it’s too soon.”

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice ruby red color.  The very enjoyable nose has cherries, plums, baking spices, dried herbs, violets, and a touch of earthy underbrush.  This is barely medium body with ripe tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the wine has nice tart red fruit and spice up front with some earthy elements coming in later adding depth and complexity.  The finish has good length with the tart fruit, spices, and earthiness held together nicely by the acidity.  If you can find this for under $20, stock up.  (91 pts)

2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico

 

 

 

2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek – $9.50

 

My comments

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

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby red color.  The easy going nose has blackberries, black cherries, baking spices, vanilla, wild flowers, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body, soft, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The wine provides a mouthful of jammy fruit with some earthiness and spicy oak coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length with the spicy, earthy fruit.  Not a lot of complexity but a very tasty week night wine.  Offers an outstanding “quality to price ratio” if you can find it for under $10, like I did.  (88 pts)

2009 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Feb 25, 2013 to Feb 28, 2013

 

 

2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard, 2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford

2009 Château des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape, 2003 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

 

 

 

2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard – $37.99

 

My comments

When the local wine store offered this wine and the winery’s Mill Vineyard Pinot at a special price via an e-mail offer, I had to grab a few bottles of each.  I’ve enjoyed the lower end Calera Pinots in the past, but these will be my exposure to their higher end, single vineyard offerings.

 

Winery history

Calera is a vision, and Calera’s wines truly express the sense of place.  Rather than follow the recommended path, Josh Jensen became a pioneer in search of the perfect spot on the globe to grow grapes.  Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France.  Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the GavilanMountains of California.  Today Calera wines still express that pioneer spirit and are revered the world over.  We are proud to report that even Robert Parker is convinced: “Calera is one of the most compelling Pinot Noir specialists of not only the New World, but of Planet Earth.”

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium, bright ruby red color.  The sexy and inviting nose has black raspberries, cherries, mint, Asian spices, wild flowers, cola, and a touch of earthiness.  This is barely medium body with soft, fairly integrated tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate the sweet berries and spicy cherries lead the charge but some nice earthiness and a touch of mint come in on the back end adding depth.  The finish is fairly long leaning on the raspberries, floral note, and earthy elements.  This is the real deal and it should gain additional complexity with a bit more cellar time, but it is delicious right now.  (94 pts)

2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard

 

 

 

2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford – $17.25

 

My comments

This wine has been a long time favorite of mine.  This is one of those wines that tastes great upon release, but transforms into something magical with a decade in the cellar.  I was lucky enough to restock this wine at a steal of a price via WineBid a couple years ago.  I don’t know who sold these, but they should rest assured they found a good home and provided a lot of pleasure to those lucky enough to have been around when I opened one.

 

Wine Techie Stuff and information

This is made up of 93% Petite Sirah and 7% Zinfandel.  The Petite Sirah comes from the Wood Ranch.  Wood Ranch was owned by Frank “Laurie” Wood, who passed away in August 2011.  The Wood Ranch was purchased a couple months ago by Frank Family winery, at this time it is not known if they will keep the Petite Sirah vines.  Personally, I hope they keep these vines and continue selling the grapes to Elyse for this wine.  An interesting tidbit is the bud wood used in the Wood Ranch Petite Sirah block was sourced from the old vines of the famed Hayne Vineyard by Elyse’s very own Ray Coursen.   See a picture below of Frank “Laurie” Wood at the Ranch.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The outstanding nose has blackberries, melted licorice, smoky embers, black peppercorns, dark chocolate, dried herbs, earthy underbrush, and meat juices.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  One the palate there are loads of berries, licorice, and black pepper up front with dried herbs, meaty notes, and dark chocolate coming in on the back end.  The finish is long and full of berries, black pepper, and dark chocolate.  This is in a fantastic drinking window, full open and absolutely no rough edges.  I wish I had a few more bottles for drinking over the next few years.  Outstanding!  (95 pts)

2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford

 

 

 

Frank “Laurie” Wood at his Ranch which was the source of the Petite Sirah grapes used in the 2002 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford described above.

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2009 Château des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape – $12.34

 

My comments

This wine was brought in by the local wine store as part of a blow out sale.  Even though this winery was not familiar to me, I grabbed a few bottles for week nights.  The average price paid on Cellar Tracker for this wine was over $20, so my $12 cost could have been a bargain, but I’ll have to try one to make sure.

 

Winery history

Château des Karantes is a magnificent vineyard located in the south of France, in the Languedoc Roussillon Region.  The domaine is in the heart of a small valley overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and is just two minutes from the seaside resort towns of Narbonne Plage and St. Pierre sur Mer.  The estate offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea with the PyreneesMountains visible in the distance.  The beautiful winding access to the vineyard through the garrigue fosters a sense of remoteness and contributes to the peaceful surroundings of the estate.

 

The vineyard is named after a former Bishop of Carcassonne, owner of the estate hundreds of years ago.  The estate is 193 hectares and produces 44 hectares of vines.  Nestled in the Mediterranean Garrigue, it extends along the limestone, clay and rocky slopes, which form the “Massif” or Ridge of La Clape.  The exceptional South-East/East exposure and proximity to the sea contribute to the production of our quality wines.  The entire vineyard is in the Coteaux du Languedoc – La Clape Appelation.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, smoke, plums, dried herbs, a touch of road tar, Asian spice, dark chocolate, and fresh ground dark roast coffee.  This has medium body with fairly substantial tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate nice fruit and dried herbs take center stage with some spice, dark chocolate, and coffee coming in later.  The finish is initially a touch short and has a slight stemmy/green note that creeps into the picture.  After about 3 hours of decanter time, the stemmy/green note integrates and is barely noticeable and the finish adds some length.  Not bad now, but some cellar time will be greatly rewarded.  (90 pts)

2009 Château des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape

 

 

 

2003 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles – $15.83

 

My comments

I could say I saved this bottle to see how a Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles priced in the mid teens would be at 10 years old, but the truth is it simply fell through the cracks.  Personally, I’m interested to see what this bottle has to offer.

 

Winery history

During a family trip to France in the late 70’s, Robert visited the Rhone valley and was captivated by the winery lifestyle of farming, crafting wine and the pairing of wine with food.  Robert began developing his idea for a premium-producing vineyard and winery in the early-80’s, and ventured west with the goal of visiting each of California’s wine appellations to explore the optimum growing conditions for the production of premium wine grapes, specifically the Rhone varieties he had enjoyed so much.  In early-90’s, Robert and Margaret discovered the perfect terroir in the Paso Robles appellation.  Featuring soil rich in nutrients, coupled with warm days and cool nights, Robert felt the viticultural conditions were ideal to the development of the enological characteristics he was seeking to produce.  “Home Ranch” was acquired in 1995.  Soon after, the “Terrace” and “Bench” vineyards joined the Hall Ranch enclave.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a ruby red color with just a touch of brick at the edge.  The classic nose has cassis, leather, dried herbs, tobacco, baking spices, smoke, and just a touch of cedar.  This has medium body, fully integrated tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has a quick hit of cassis but the savory elements take over with spices, dried herbs, and a touch of oak coming in.  The finish has nice length with a touch of cassis adding nice sweetness to the savory elements.  This may be on the back side of its aging progression, but it was a very tasty week night Cabernet.  (89 pts)

2003 Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

 

***** 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

 

 

 

 Mailing Lists

 

The end has to be approaching since it seems like I have been getting offers every day for the last month.

 

One of the big boys did hit this week, Bedrock Wine Co.  This is a no brainer, stock up, winery.  I’ll be placing my order this weekend, but I already know my order will be between two and three cases.

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

 

I received a nice box of samples from Northwest Totem Cellars that I’ll be tasting in the next few weeks.  Keep an eye out for a special post on these gems.

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Qo-Ne

2009 Northwest Totem Cellars Low Man

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Cabernet Franc

 

 

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!

 

A Couple of Gems from La Rochelle

 

 

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Ferrington Vineyard (SRP $65.00)

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands (SRP $38.00)

 

(Based on bottles supplied by the winery)

 

 

logo (1)

 

 

La Rochelle chard and pinot

 

 

 

La Rochelle is part of the Steven Kent Portfolio of wine.

 

Our mission at La Rochelle is a simple one:  to make California’s best, most interesting, most collectable Pinot Noir.

 

My family introduced the Pinot Noir grape to California in the 1850s.  Today, we partner with the state’s most renowned Pinot Noir vineyards – Garys’. Sleepy Hollow. Rosella’s. Londer. Paraiso. Tondre. Ferrington. Deer Park.  We craft Pinot Noir grown on these famed estates that let the individual vineyard’s terroir, its special sense of place, shine through.

 

My great-great-great grandfather left the French port of La Rochelle one hundred and sixty years ago on a voyage of possibilities.  Our journey at La Rochelle Winery is an equally exciting one:  to discover the best Pinot Noir vineyards and translate those exceptional estates into limited releases worthy of our heritage.

 

If your passion is Pinot, then your journey has led you to the right place… –  Steven Kent Mirassou

 

 

 

Sign up for the La Rochelle Mailing List

 

 

More Winery Information

 

 

 

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Ferrington Vineyard (SRP $65.00)

 

 

Ferrington Vineyard

 

Ferrington Vineyard is home to our only Anderson Valley Chardonnay site as of 2012.  Located near Boonville, on the same side of Hwy 128 as Deer Meadow, Ferrington was originally planted in the late 1960s.  The 70 acre site is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer on decomposed sandstone and clay soils.  In 2010 we entered into a contract to purchase about two tons of Robert Young clone of Chardonnay, and the first vintage yielded just over 100 cases.  Ferrington was purchased by the Schoeneman family in 1997 and it has since become one of the most sought after sites in AndersonValley.  We gained access to Pinot Noir from this site starting in 2012.

 

 

Technical info

The grapes were harvested for this 100% Chardonnay on October 18, 2010.  This was barrel fermented and aged sur-lie for 14 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.

 

The final alcohol is 14.6%.

 

 

Tasting note

The wine is a very light yellow to golden color.  The very exotic and inviting nose has apples, flinty minerals, lemon curd, lime zest, Asian spices, hazelnuts, and a touch of toast.  This has medium body and tart, citrusy acidity.  Bright apples and citrus greet the palate with minerals, spice, hazelnuts pouring in over the top and from all sides.  The finish is very long with the spicy, citrus driven, fruit and spice seeming to never totally fade away, leaving a nutty, lemony note.  This is incredibly young at this time and will improve with some cellar time.  One of the best California Chardonnay wines I’ve ever had the pleasure to drink.  This is stunning.  (95 pts)

Chard

 

 

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands (SRP $38.00)

 

Santa Lucia Highlands

 

One of the most exciting Pinot Noir appellations in the world, this slender hillside growing area extends roughly 18 miles northwest to southeast in MontereyCounty.  Cooled by wind from the Pacific ocean just a mountain chain to the west and gaining ripening sun from its elevated exposures, the Santa Lucia Highlands is home to some of the most profound Pinots now being made.  La Rochelle works with a number of vineyards spanning the entire length of the appellation.  Each wine we produce has its own special site-driven notes.  They all share, however, the passion of the people who farm them.

 

 

Technical info

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  The vineyards used are Paraiso (31.3%), Sarmento (31.2%), White Sage (12.5%), Tondre Grapefield (12.5%), and Mission Ranch (12.5%).

 

The wine was aged 31 months in 100% French oak, 40% new and 60% second use.

 

The alcohol is 15.2%.

 

Tasting note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The dark and enticing nose has cherries, earthy underbrush, wood smoke, cola, minerals, warm baking spices, black raspberries, dark chocolate, and a touch orange zest.  This has medium body, ripe, velvety tannins, and very good acidity.  Earthy cherries, baking spices, and minerals grab the palate initially, slowly allowing some cola, black raspberries, and spicy oak to add considerable depth.  The finish has very nice length with earthy fruit and spice slowly fading away.  This is very young and deserves some cellar time to open up and fill out.  (92 pts)

Pinot

 

 

 

 

***** 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!

 

Jan 14, 2013 to Jan 17, 2013

 

 

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – $25.00

 

My comments

I am a big fan of the Loring appellation wines.  These wines are blends of grapes from different vineyards in the region.  These wines may lack some of the uniqueness of the single vineyard wines, but to me they seem to highlight the best features from each vineyard.  The best part is these wines are about half the price of the single vineyard wines so they can be enjoyed without too much guilt any day of the week.

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The rich and inviting nose has black raspberries, Asian spices, cola, black cherry, wild flowers, white pepper, and a touch of earthy underbrush.  This has a medium body, moderate, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate the wine has rich, velvety fruit and spice up front with some subtle earthiness and white pepper coming in late.  The finish is fairly long and full of spicy, earthy fruit.  May not be the most complex Pinot out there, but it is delicious and a steal at the mailing list price of $25.  (91 pts)

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

 

 

 

2009 Buehler Vineyards Zinfandel – $15.19

 

My comments

I’ve been a fan of the Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for many years.  It had been a few years since I tried one of their zinfandels.  The local store brought this one in and had it at a great price, so I grabbed a couple bottles.  I sat on my bottles for a few months figuring I could try one and stock up if it was good.  That theory blew up when the wine ended up at #68 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list.  As usually happens, the wine disappeared for store’s shelves.

 

Winery history

Buehler Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery located in the mountains east of St. Helena in NapaValley.  Situated north of Pritchard Hill and Conn Valley, near the base of Howell Mountain, our hillside vineyards are planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller blocks of old-vine Zinfandel.

 

Our family has been farming this beautiful estate for thirty-six years.  We combine that experience and the unique terroir of our hillside vineyards with low yields, meticulous vineyard management, and minimalist winemaking techniques to create wines of uncommon complexity and depth, and to present these wines to wine lovers at reasonable prices.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The refined and elegant nose has brambly berries, dried sage, vanilla, black cherries, dried wild flowers, underbrush, and a touch of black pepper.  This has a medium body with fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  The palate has peppery, berries with spicy oak, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness.  The finish is a touch short and the tannins turn a bit chalky.  This has very nice balance but it may be going through a slight bump in its development.  If the slight chalkiness on the finish resolves with a touch of cellar time, which I think they will, this will be very good for a few more years.  (89 pts)

2009 Buehler Vineyards Zinfandel

 

 

 

2007 John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity – $20.27

 

My comments

It may not be “cool” to admit, but I am still a fan of Australian Shiraz.  Once you get beyond the sea of over ripe, syrupy, raisiny Shiraz, there are some true, bargain priced gems out there.

 

Winery history

Welcome to John Duval Wines.  After 29 years as a winemaker with Penfolds, one of Australia’s most famous wineries, I started my own wine label in 2003.  I have had a fortunate career, graduating in agriculture and winemaking in 1973 at AdelaideUniversity and then following in the footsteps of some of the greats of Australian winemaking such as Max Schubert, the creator of Penfolds Grange and Don Ditter, another famous Penfolds winemaker of the 1970s and early ’80s.

 

I guess there was a family precedent to all of this – the Duval family had for many years run a world famous sheep stud and quality vineyards south of Adelaide, coincidentally supplying Shiraz grapes and vine cuttings to Penfolds.  So I wasn’t exactly a newcomer to wine.

 

I was appointed Chief Winemaker at Penfolds in 1986 and was lucky enough to oversee one of the most dynamic periods of change in the Australian wine industry.  With the support of my team in the Barossa I secured a number of awards for the company – Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London in 1989; Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London in 1991 and again in 2000; and seeing the 1990 Penfolds Grange named the Wine of the Year by the prestigious US magazine Wine Spectator in 1995.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky, purple color.  The deep, dark, and inviting nose has blackberries, dark chocolate, smoked meat, baking spices, black pepper, licorice, dried herbs, and wild flowers.  This has a fairly full body with big, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate there are cocoa powder dusted berries, black pepper, and meaty elements up front with dried herbs, spice, and some earthiness coming in on the back end.  The long, lingering finish has the fruit giving way to the dark chocolate and dried herbs.  This is a fairly big wine but it does not push the ripeness to anything extreme.  This tastes wonderful today, but it can easily be cellared through the end of the decade.  (93 pts)

2007 John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity

 

 

 

2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT – $14.24

 

My comments

This was recently on my list of the Top Value Wines of 2012.  This is still a favorite with week night Italian fare, like tonight’s Veal Parmesan.  I like the extra body imparted by the drying of the grapes but the wine generally retains enough acidity to stand up to the tomato based sauces.  This is also a personal favorite with a nice, meaty pizza.

 

Winery history

Palazzo della Torre comes from the plot of land that encircles Villa della Torre, a veritable jewel of the Italian Renaissance.  The wine is made using an innovative take on the ‘ripasso’ technique.  Most of the grapes are vinified at harvest time, while the rest are set aside to partially dry.  In January, the wine blended with the juice from the raisined grapes undergoes a second fermentation.

 

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 very appealing nose has blackberries, smoke, dried herbs, plums, warm baking spices, minerals, vanilla, and dried flowers.  The wine has a medium body with soft, ripe tannins and good acidity.  The wine is rich and plush on the palate with the spicy berries and dried herbs up front and some earthiness and dark chocolate coming in later.  The finish has very nice length with the spicy berries and dried herbs carrying the load.  If you can find this for $15 or less, load up, I did.  (92 pts)

2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT

 

 

 

 

 

***** 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)

 

Gimme Shelter – U2, Mick Jagger, Fergie

 

Stairway to Heaven – Heart (Kennedy Center Honors)

 

Comfortably Numb Live – Pink Floyd

 

That Smell – Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

ZZ Top – La Grange

 

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

Loring Wine Company

This offer included the following wines:

Russell Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

Aubaine Vineyard Pinot Noir

Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir

Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir

Parmelee-Hill Vineyard Chardonnay

Sierra Mar Vineyard Chardonnay

 

 

Carlisle

The current offer includes:

2011 SonomaMountain “Steiner Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner

2011 RussianRiverValley “Papa’s Block” Syrah

2011 SantaLuciaHighlands “Sierra Mar Vineyard” Syrah

2011 Sonoma County “Three Birds” Red Wine

2011 SonomaValley “Compagni Portis” White Wine

2011 DryCreekValley Zinfandel

2011 Mendocino Ridge “DuPratt Vineyard” Zinfandel

2011 NapaValley “Hayne Vineyard” Zinfandel

2011 RussianRiverValley “Montafi Ranch” Zinfandel

2011 SonomaCounty Zinfandel

2011 SonomaValley “Bedrock Vineyard” Zinfandel

2011 SonomaValley “Monte Rosso Vineyard” Zinfandel

2011 SonomaValley “Rossi Ranch” Zinfandel

 

Wines bought or received this week

Nothing to report now, but I will be picking up some wine this weekend.

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

 

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

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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