2005 Carlisle Syrah Dry Creek Valley

2012 Villa Creek Pink

2004 Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo Vigneti S. Francesco

2009 McPrice Myers Terre Blanche

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 NapaValley




2005 Carlisle Syrah Dry Creek Valley – $30.50

If you are on the Carlisle mailing list, congratulations, you are on one of the best lists out there.  If you are not on their mailing list, I highly recommend you upgrade your circle of friends to include someone on the list that shares their good stuff.


Now that Carlisle has their own winery and won’t be using outside crush facilities, I look forward to even greater things coming from them in the upcoming years.


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 purple color.  The deep and dark nose is full of smoldering charcoal, blackberries, roasted herbs, black pepper, dark bittersweet chocolate, well worn leather, charred meat, violets, blueberries, and some earthiness.  This has a full body, moderate tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate a load of peppery, smoky berries jump out first with roasted herbs and some building earthiness coming in on the backend.  The finish is fairly long and leans more on the savory elements with the fruit coming in late adding nice sweetness.  I think this is as good as it gets for this wine, I’d advise consuming over the next couple of years.  (92 pts)

2005 Carlisle Syrah Dry Creek Valley




2012 Villa Creek Pink – $12.80

This wine as well as the one from Bedrock are our go-to Summer rosés.  I usually supplement my supply of rosés with other labels from the local wine store, but these two are our most consumed ones.  This vintage is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre from Paso Robles.


Winery history

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


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


Much more information is available on their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright salmon color. The fresh and inviting nose has strawberry, cherry, minerals, apples, a touch of orange zest, and a slight herbal note. This has light body, crisp acidity, and a touch of sweetness. The palate has tart red fruit, apples, and a distinct streak of minerality. The finish has nice length with a nice herbal element coming into the picture before some mouthwatering citrus closes the show.  (89 pts)

2012 Villa Creek Pink




2004 Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo Vigneti S. Francesco – $36.87

It has been several months since I opened a bottle of this wine, and that bottle was outstanding.  I’ve been eyeing this bottle for a few months and decided tonight’s the night to pull the cork.


Roberto Voerzio produces some of the best and subsequently, some of the most expensive wines in Italy’s Piedmont region.  Most of their Barolo wines are well over $100…well over, with some approaching $500 a bottle.  This wine is made up of declassified grapes or grapes from younger vineyards and offers a glimpse of their Barolo wines at a fraction of the cost of admission to the big boys club.


Winery history

Our winery was established in 1986 in La Morra, a town in the heart of the Langhe that has always been renowned for the greatness of its vineyards, some of which were mentioned in town records going back as far as 1250.


We began with 2 hectares, and over the years have managed to acquire the most prestigious, historic crus for the production of Barolo, such as La Serra, Brunate, Cerequio, Sarmassa, Rocche dell’Annunziata and Fossati, and excellent vineyards for Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Merlot.


We then decided to increase the number of vines in the new vineyards, and in some of the old ones, to 6000/8000 per hectare and reduce yield for the most prestigious wines to 500/700 grams per plant.  The clusters we leave on our vines are exclusively responsible for the quality of our wine.


We have always worked in the traditional way in the cellar, with total simplicity at every stage from vinification to bottling, with no interference, letting the diversity of each terroir emerge and giving each vineyard the chance to make its own wine.


Our production is limited: with just over 20 hectares we produce between 40,000 to 60,000 bottles, depending on the harvest.


More information is available at:  http://www.voerzioroberto.it/eng/cantina.asp


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby with some bricking at the edge.  The exotic nose is full of cherries, rose petals, licorice, baking spices, scorched earth, minerals, underbrush and tobacco.  This has medium body, moderate to solid tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the palate, the cherries, roses, and spices pop out first with minerals and earthy elements coming in on the back end.  The long finish is full of spicy, earthy, mineral laden cherries.  This is still on the young side but absolutely delicious today.  I wish I had several more bottles to follow over the remainder of the decade.  (92 pts)

2004 Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo Vigneti S Francesco




2009 McPrice Myers Terre Blanche – $20.80

This bottle of wine was sent to me as part of the semi-annual McPrice Myers wine club.  After reading a few less than stellar tasting notes on the wine not long after release, this was relegated to the back corner of the wine cellar.  A few weeks ago, I ran into this bottle while digging around looking for wines to take with me on a business trip and decided it was worth my time to form my own opinion.  We’ll just pair this with a cheese platter for a Sunday lunch on the deck.  This vintage is a blend of 62% Viognier and 38% Roussanne from the Denner Vineyard in Paso Robles.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light golden yellow color.  The light and flowery nose has honeysuckle, peaches, apples, orange blossoms, lemon curd, and stony minerals.  This is dry with medium body and decent acidity.  Nice fruit and flowers on the palate with just a touch of citrus zest kicking in on the back end.  The finish has nice length and shows good minerality.  I would have liked a touch more acidity on the finish which seems to go a bit flat.  This was much better with a cheese platter then it was on its own afterwards.  (87 pts)

2009 McPrice Myers Terre Blanche




2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley – $30.00

This is quickly turning into one of my favorite wines.  I bought a case and after this bottle, I will be down to a half case remaining.  This is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot.  The number in the wine name indicates the percentage of Cabernet Franc in the blend.


Winery history

As many of you know, when we started making our own wines in 1987, we named the tiny, 200 case operation after our daughter, Elyse.  Not wanting to leave our son, Jake, out of loop, we eventually named our Rhone blend after him – anyone remember “Jake’s Cuvee”?  It wasn’t enough, because at the ripe age of eight Jake asked, “When do I get my own label without her name on it?”  Good point!  And as parents not wanting to show favoritism, why not create a namesake label for him as well?


Jacob Franklin Cellars debut bottling was in 1998 and we fondly and literally refer to it as the brother label of Elyse Winery.  By this time, we had gained access to small quantities of extremely allocated fruit from some highly desirable vineyards in the valley and this label was the perfect place to showcase them along with our only estate wine, Hoffman Lane Cabernet Sauvignon.


Jacob Franklin Cellars is focused on small production, low yield, vineyard designate wines from NapaValley.  Due to the extremely limited production, these wines are available exclusively through the winery, website, and wine club.


Oh Brother!


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby to maroon color. The outstanding nose has cassis, cedar, dried herbs, licorice, baking spices, smoke, tobacco, minerals, dark bittersweet chocolate, and cherries. This had medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity. The palate has a wonderful blend of fruit and savory elements with everything in balance and harmonious. The long, lingering finish has nice spicy cassis and dried herbs with just the right amount of spicy oak adding to the profile without being too obtrusive. I love this wine.  (95 pts)

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley




Wine friendly and easy recipe

Looking for a nice appetizer or something for a party?  I ran across this recipe a while ago and decided we had to give it a shot.  We decided to have these for a light dinner with a salad and they were outstanding.



Pepperoni Pizza Puffs


3/4 cup flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. oregano or Italian seasoning

pinch of salt

pinch of red pepper flakes(optional)

3/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded 4 cheese Italian Blend cheese (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and romano)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1 cup cubed pepperoni

Pizza or marinara sauce, warmed


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes;  whisk in the milk and egg.  Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups (about 1 heaping Tbsp.).  Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Makes 24 – recipe can be doubled.


My notes

After baking, I put the puffs on a platter and gave them a nice dusting of freshly grated Romano cheese and some chopped, fresh picked basil.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the platter, so I am using a picture from the website where I found the recipe.  If this recipe looks appealing, I encourage you to check out their site for a ton of other very good looking recipes at Comfy Cuisine.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs



Connect with me

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


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



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



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