Posts tagged ‘Treasure Hunter’

Cliffs Wine Picks – Feb 17, 2014 to Feb 23, 2014

 

 

2000 Château de Carles

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

2008 Colognole Chianti Rùfina

2009 Patel Proprietary Red

 

 

 

2000 Château de Carles – $17.49

I tried this one at a store tasting not long after it was released.  I don’t have the specific grape make up of this wine, but the winery’s vineyard is planted to 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec.

 

This has 13.0% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color with just a touch of brick at the edge.  The very tempting nose has black cherries, tobacco, cedar, dried herbs, earthy underbrush, minerals and violets.  This has medium body with integrated tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the savory notes rule with the fruit providing a touch of needed background sweetness.  The finish has decent length with cherries and oak dominating the show.  Probably at peak or slightly past peak but drinking nicely.  (89 pts)

2000 Château de Carles

2000 Château de Carles

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm – $17.52

This negotiant wine is a blend of 59% Syrah, 18% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre and 5% Tempranillo from Paso Robles.

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

This is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, minerals, baking spices, charred meat, vanilla, cherries, dark bittersweet chocolate, and some earthiness.  This has a fairly full body, moderate to solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate a loads of juicy berries, tart cherries, and minerals hit first with nice spice and a meaty element coming in on the back end.  The finish is long and lingering with some dark chocolate joining the spice and berries.  This is a very impressive wine that drinks several notches above its price point.  (93 pts)

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen's Helm

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm

 

 

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – $17.50

From the winery – In 2008, the zinfandel was sourced from four appellations, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Valley, to create this delicious zinfandel.  Four percent Dry Creek Petite Sirah from Teldeschi Ranch seemed to bring the components together, rounding out the palate nicely.  Think of our 2007 Sonoma County Zinfandel blended with our 2006. Aged in French oak, 20% new, and based upon our experiment last year, bottled completely in screw cap.

 

This has 15.0% alcohol by volume and the bottle was sealed with a twist off closure.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, ruby color.  The sexy and inviting nose has black raspberries, white pepper, melted licorice, violets, dried herbs, and lesser notes of baking spice, dark bittersweet chocolate, and underbrush.  This has fairly full body, moderate ripe tannins, and outstanding acidity.  The palate starts off with solid black raspberries and pepper with the dried herbs and dark chocolate building quickly, on the back end a floral note and some earthiness come into the picture adding even more depth and complexity.  The long, lingering finish showcases the juicy berries, chocolate, and earthiness with the acidity giving a lot of lift and brightness.  This is in a nice drinking window, and the tannins and acidity will keep this alive and kicking through most of the decade.  (92 pts)

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County

 

 

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard – $46.00

In most vintages, this is my favorite vineyard in the Loring Pinot Noir offerings.

 

This has 14.8% alcohol and as usual for Loring, the bottle is sealed with a twist off closure.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep maroon color.  The very appealing nose has black cherries, roasted herbs, white pepper, minerals, vanilla bean, crushed berries, earthy underbrush and violets.  This has medium body with moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is lighter on its feet than I expected with nice up front fruit and spice followed by minerals and some earthiness, but then the crisp acidity kicks in and cleans up leaving some white pepper and your mouth watering for more.  On the finish the berries re-enter the picture offsetting the acidity with sweet, juicy fruit.  This is not a light bodied Burgundy styled Pinot but it is also not overly ripe and plodding.  A very nice job with a high “yum” factor.  (93 pts)

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

 

 

2008 Colognole Chianti Rùfina – $9.49

The local store offered this wine at a close out price via their e-mail list.  Since, like a lot of people, we love pizza and Italian food, I had to grab a six pack.

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red with a slight ruby tint.  The very inviting nose has black cherry, baking spices, vanilla, strawberry, earthy underbrush, minerals and dried flowers.  This has medium body, moderate ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Cherries and spice jump out first on the palate with minerals and earthy elements coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length with the cherries and spice closing the show.  This was a steal at under $10.  (91 pts)

2008 Colognole Chianti Rùfina

2008 Colognole Chianti Rùfina

 

 

2009 Patel Proprietary Red – $60.00

This is a blend of 70% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Malbec.  I just found out the wine maker for Patel is the consulting winemaker for Jean Edwards, which is a winery I really enjoy.  I bought this wine based on a suggestion from a wine loving friend.

 

This has 14.2% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The inviting nose has black cherries, cedar, dark chocolate, black currants, tobacco and wild flowers.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  Tart cherries and spicy oak pop out first on the palate with dark chocolate and minerals coming in on the back end.  The finish is dominated by the cherries and spicy oak.  A nice bottle of wine, but not a QPR star at the price.  (89 pts)

2009 Patel Proprietary Red

2009 Patel Proprietary Red

 

 

 

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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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 – June 28, 2013 to June 30, 2013

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm

2007 Graeser Cabernet Franc Estate Grown

2004 Bodegas AAlto Ribera delDuero AAlto

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm – $17.52

Treasure Hunter is a “négociant’ label.  The “winery” doesn’t own any vineyards or even a winery.  They buy excess wine from other wineries and either bottle it as is or do some blending and then bottle the finished product.  In most cases Treasure Hunter wines are identical to another, much more expensive, wine in the market place.  During the recent “economic downturn” when a lot of wineries were cutting back on their production, Treasure Hunter was the recipients of some great juice that they sold at killer prices.

 

My Tasting Note

This is a deep, dark maroon color.  The very nice nose has blackberries, minerals, baking spices, charred meat, vanilla, cherries, dark bittersweet chocolate, and some earthiness.  This has a fairly full body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate a loads of juicy berries, tart cherries, and minerals hit first with nice spice and a meaty element coming in on the back end.  The finish is long and lingering with some dark chocolate joining the spice and berries.  This is a very impressive wine that drinks several notches above its price point.  (93 pts)

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen's Helm

 

 

 

2007 Graeser Cabernet Franc Estate Grown – $33.33

There’s a story behind this bottle of wine.  This is (was) a very small winery on Diamond Mountain in Calistoga.  We had visited the winery several times and enjoyed their wines, especially the Cabernet Franc.  I received an e-mail in January 2010 offering this wine at a nice discount on a case purchase.  The wine wasn’t bottles yet, but was to be bottled in early May and shipped as soon as possible after that time.  Mid May rolled around, and I sent them an e-mail asking if the wine would ship before it got too hot and didn’t receive a response.  I e-mailed and called the winery several times over the next few months with no response.  In September or October, their phone was disconnected and e-mails started bouncing.  A Google search confirmed my worst fears, the winery had entered into bankruptcy.

 

Over the next two years, I continued attempting to track down anyone associated with the winery or whoever purchased their “assets”.

 

Finally in late 2012, I heard back from the former owner, he had finally checked the old e-mail accounts.  After several phone calls and dozens of e-mails, he agreed he owed me my case of wine.  All of the wine at the winery had been seized, but he had been able to slip a few cases out.  He sent me a case from this “private stash”.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The classic nose has cedar, cassis, tobacco, well worn leather, dried herbs, baking spices, a touch of cherry and some earthiness.  This has medium body, moderate tannins, and very bright acidity.  On the palate the cassis and spicy oak jump to the forefront with dried herbs and some earthiness in the background.  The finish has decent length with cherries and dried herbs coming into the picture.  This lacks a bit of the richness of some earlier vintages and the acidity is fairly prominent at this point in the wine’s development.  Maybe another year or two may help integrate the acidity, but this will never live up to their stunning 1992 and 2002 vintages.  This will appeal more to those with an old world palate than those expecting a big and rich California wine.  (89 pts)

2007 Graeser Cabernet Franc Estate Grown

 

 

 

We paired the Cabernet Franc with a lighter dinner on the deck since it was a very nice but slightly cool evening.  We made an herb rubbed pork tenderloin with a creamy tarragon sauce that gets a bit of a kick from grainy Dijon mustard.  We also made one of my favorite Summer sides dishes, a salad made from fresh corn and lima beans.  Maybe not a classic pairing, but it worked very nicely on this occasion.  If you would like either recipe, leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail to cliff@CliffsWinePicks.com.

Pork Tenderloin and Corn-Lima Bean salad

 

 

 

2004 Bodegas AAlto Ribera del Duero AAlto – $31.67

I have several “friends” who had the great fortune of spending the last week touring parts of Spain on someone else’s dime.  After seeing their pictures, reading their tweets and Facebook posts, and checking out their blogs, I’m in the mood for something from Spain.  I don’t think they visited the Ribera del Duero region, but I wanted something big and burly to go with grilled rib-eyes, so this was the winner.

 

I’ve enjoyed this wine many times over the years.  I have a few older vintages in the cellar, but since I have a nice stash of this vintage, I decided it was time to check in to see how it is coming along.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon, dark color.  The stunning nose has blackberry liqueur, melted licorice, warm baking spices, cedar, dark bittersweet chocolate, some earthy underbrush, and a nice floral note.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate the wine is rich and plush with spicy berries, dark chocolate, and some earthiness.  The finish is long and loaded with spicy fruit and dark chocolate.  This tastes outstanding today, but may get even better with some additional cellar time.  (94 pts)

2004 Bodegas AAlto Ribera del Duero AAlto

 

 

 

 

***** 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 – Apr 15, 2013 to Apr 18, 2013

 

 

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County

2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Petite Sirah The Sweet Trade

2004 Stephane Azemar Cahors Clos d’un Jour

2009 Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble

 

 

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – $17.50

 

My comments

In my opinion, this is one of the greatest wine values in the world.  When it comes to California Zinfandels, I dare anyone to name a better one that costs less.  Wine like this is the reason the Carlisle mailing list is closed and very few people get moved off of the ever expanding waiting list onto the allocation list.  I guess if I was forced to give a negative comment about the winery it would be that they make an incredibly large list of wines, well over two dozen.  If anyone wanted to grab a few bottles of every wine, their cellar size would have to be increased.

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, ruby color.  The sexy and inviting nose has black raspberries, white pepper, melted licorice, violets, dried herbs, and lesser notes of baking spice, dark bittersweet chocolate, and underbrush.  This has fairly full body, moderate ripe tannins, and outstanding acidity.  The palate starts off with solid black raspberries and pepper with the dried herbs and dark chocolate building quickly, on the back end a floral note and some earthiness come into the picture adding even more depth and complexity.  The long, lingering finish showcases the juicy berries, chocolate, and earthiness with the acidity giving a lot of lift and brightness.  This is just entering a nice drinking window, and the tannins and acidity will keep this alive and kicking through most of the decade.  (92 pts)

2008 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County

 

 

 

2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Petite Sirah The Sweet Trade – $16.90

 

My comments

I’ve been a big fan of the wines being churned out by this Négociant winery.  This winery owns no vineyards and actually isn’t really a winery, in the normal sense.  They buy “wine” from other wineries that have excess.  Usually the wine is in barrels, but on occasion they buy the wine after it has been bottled.  The winery generally does some blending if needed, bottle the wine, and send it on its way to customers around the country.  For the wine lovers, this generally means getting a quality bottle of wine for far less than it would have cost if it was sold by the original winery.

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The soft and friendly nose has blackberry jam, baking spices, licorice, violets, dark bittersweet chocolate, white pepper, and a touch of forest floor.  This has medium body, moderate ripe tannins, and nice acidity.  The palate has jammy fruit and spice with a bit of earthiness and oak creeping in on the backend.  The finish has decent length with a touch of dark chocolate entering the picture.  I don’t think this is one to keep for several years in the cellar, open this one over the next few years and enjoy the rich fruit.  (88 pts)

2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Petite Sirah The Sweet Trade

 

 

 

2004 Stephane Azemar Cahors Clos d’un Jour – $13.92

 

My comments

This was another “find” by Jon Rimmerman of Garagiste Wine from Washington.  In my opinion, Jon provides two great services to wine consumers, he can hunt down perfectly aged German Rieslings and can help find occasional gems that you never heard of let alone tried.  This falls into the second category.

 

Winery history

As usual for small “old world” wineries, there is not a lot of background available on the internet.  I did find a write up about the owners Véronique and Stéphane Azémar and the winery on  La Revue du Vin de France.  You can check it out if you can read French or tolerate the web based translation programs.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The relaxing nose has blackberries, forest floor, dark chocolate, fresh ground dark roast coffee, roasted herbs, and just a touch of charred meat.  This has medium body, mostly integrated tannins, and nice acidity.  The palate has a quick hit of berries followed by a blast of dark chocolate, meat, and earthy elements.  The finish is fairly long again highlighted by dark chocolate and berries.  Drinking nicely today but seems to be approaching a crossroads where the savory notes will totally override the remaining fruit.  (88 pts)

2004 Stephane Azemar Cahors Un Jour

 

 

 

2009 Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble – $25.00

 

My comments

I’ve slowed down my Copain purchases over the last couple of years, but I’m still a big fan of their “Tous Ensemble” wines.  To me, the Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Rosé all have quality that greatly exceeds their price points.  This has been a consistently good $25 Anderson Valley Pinot that is comparable to $40 or higher wines from the area.

 

This was Copain’s effort to put out a value priced, mid-level, appellation branded level of wines.  The Copain Tous Ensemble line up has grown to now include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Viognier, and a Rosé.  In my opinion, the Copain Tous Ensemble lineup offers stunning quality for the price.  I’ve had and greatly enjoyed multiple vintages of the Syrah, Pinot Noir, and the Rosé.  I believe these wines have some distribution, I highly recommend grabbing a bottle to sample if you see one on your local wine store’s shelf.

 

Winery history

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s RhôneValley in particular.  So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best.  For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s RhoneValley.  During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.  At Copain, he creates wines that are firmly rooted in California, yet with the sensibilities of the European wines that so moved him.  He is as committed to crafting these elegant, nuanced wines as he is to building a legacy that will be passed down to his daughters in the great tradition of European winemakers whose estates have been in the same family for generations.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium ruby red color.  The slightly shy nose eventually has earthy raspberries, baking spices, cherries, and a faint herbal note.  This is barely medium body with soft, silky tannins and good acidity.  Much more open on the palate than the nose with sweet, juicy cherries and baking spices, some earthiness comes in on the backend.  The finish has decent length with a slight herbal note again making an appearance.  A bit more complexity would be nice but this is an outstanding week night Pinot.  (89 pts)

2009 Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble

 

 

 

 

***** 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

 

 

 

 

Music Corner 

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

Nothing new to report in this area this week.  The Villa Creek Summer offer came out last week which is a buy event for me.  I have to stock up on their White and Rose for the summer season.

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

Nothing new so far, but I have a couple shipments scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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 1, 2013 to Feb 3, 2013

 

 

2006 Myriad Cellars Syrah Las Madres Vineyard – $38.00

 

My comments

This is a mailing list I jumped on based on the top flight labels Mike Smith had worked with in his brief career.  Even though I have several vintages in the cellar, this will be my first Myriad Syrah.  I have had and greatly enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon wines over the past year or two.

 

Winery history

“Sometimes success is as simple as hearing your inner voice.”

 

Mike started his winemaking career under the direction of Thomas Brown in 2001.   Traveling from PortlandOregon, Mike worked each crush “free of charge” to learn his craft.  Following his 3rd harvest, Mike accepted a full-time assistant position from Thomas and moved his family to St. Helena.  Today, Mike continues to work with Thomas on several labels (i.e. Schrader, Rivers-Marie, Maybach & Tamber Bey).  The Myriad wines are custom crushed along side these greats…  showcasing Mike’s talents and stylistic “purist” approach to winemaking.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby color, lighter at the edge.  The outstanding nose has blackberries, black olives, charred meat, roasted herbs, dark chocolate, minerals, plums, black pepper, with some road tar and earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the fruit takes a back seat to the savory elements, adding a nice crushed berry element on the mid palate before some savory roasted herbs and meat juices take over.  The long finish is again highlighted by the meat juices, olives and roasted herbs with the fruit adding nice sweetness.  An excellent example of a wine that puts the fruit in the back seat and allows the savory elements to drive.  My style of wine.  (92 pts)

2006 Myriad Cellars Syrah Las Madres Vineyard

 

 

 

2010 Treasure Hunter Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Panjanatan Paso Robles – $19.79

 

My comments

I grabbed several bottles of this wine, since a social media friend, Mark Adams, was the wine maker.  I’m glad I loaded up since the past few bottles have all be very good.  It’s always nice to get a good Cabernet for under $20.

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby to maroon color.  The deep and dark nose has blackberries, cassis, cedar, dried herbs, minerals, smoke, licorice, baking spices, and violets.  This has medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and good acidity.  The wine is rich and velvety on the palate with spicy fruit, dried herbs, and minerals leading the way.  The finish is fairly long with nice spicy fruit, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness slowly fading away.  A nice, rich, but not over the top Cabernet from Paso Robles.  (92 pts)

2010 Treasure Hunter Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Panjanatan Paso Robles

 

 

 

2005 Saxum Broken Stones – $45.00

 

My comments

I was a big fan of Saxum wines long before a certain wine publication brought them to everyone’s attention by naming one of their wines the Wine of the Year a couple years ago.  This wine was always a steal at the release price of $45.  Eventually the winery also noted this and the wine now is released for about $90.  The wine is usually outstanding, but my purchases have been cut back a bit because I just don’t need a boat load of $100 wine in the cellar.

 

Winery history

Saxum Vineyards is focused on producing Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre based blends from the Templeton Gap/Willow Creek area of Paso Robles.  We let our rocky calcareous soils, steep hillsides, sunny days, and cooling ocean breezes speak through our wines by keeping our yields low, picking the fruit at the peak of ripeness, and using a minimalist approach in the cellar.  We respect our land and farm everything sustainably without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.  Because our vine’s roots penetrate deep through the fissures in the calcareous soil irrigation is rarely needed.  Production is kept at 3000-4000 cases a year divided between seven different cuvees, Broken Stones, James Berry Vineyard, Bone Rock, Booker Vineyards, Paderewski Vineyard, Heart Stone Vineyard and Terry Hoage Vineyard.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep violet color.  The very enticing nose has blackberries, minerals, earthy underbrush, roasted herbs, meat juices, cherries, licorice, dark chocolate, warm baking spices, black peppercorns, and smoke.  This has a fairly full body with solid, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate this is big and ripe but held together perfectly by the acidity and well supported by the tannins, providing a well balanced wine.  The flavors reveal themselves layer by layer.  The finish is very long and loaded with complexity, the closing notes of dark chocolate and spicy, earthy, cherries seem to never fully fade.  (95 pts)

2005 Saxum Broken Stones

 

 

 

2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc – $6.64

 

My comments

I grabbed a few of these on close out at the local wine store.  I wanted to try one to see if I should grab some more to last through the upcoming Spring/Summer seasons.  This is a blend of 64.3% Roussanne and 35.7% Grenache Blanc from the Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco.

 

Winery history

With his family’s assistance, Randall purchased property in the Santa CruzMountains in a magically quaint area known as Bonny Doon, intent on producing the Great American Pinot Noir.  The GAPN proved to be systematically elusive, but he was greatly encouraged by experimental batches of Rhône varieties.  The late, great Bonny Doon Estate Vineyard (1981 – 1994, a tragic victim to Pierce’s Disease) was eventually planted to Syrah, “Roussanne,” Marsanne, and Viognier and produced achingly beautiful wines, confirming that California’s temperate climate is well suited to the sun-loving grapes of the Mediterranean. In 1986, Bonny Doon Vineyard released the inaugural vintage (1984) of Le Cigare Volant, an homage to Châteauneuf-duPape

 

My Tasting Note

A very nice looking light yellow to golden color.  The fresh smelling nose has honeysuckle, beeswax, apples, minerals, spices, pears, lemon zest, peaches, orange blossoms, and a touch of honey.  This is light to medium body, is dry, and has good acidity.  Nice tart fruit, minerals, and spice take center stage on the palate with lemon zest and peaches coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long with a big streak of minerality hanging on seemingly forever.  Don’t serve this too cold, it’s much better at a cool room temperature.  (92 pts)

2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc

 

 

 

2005 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Bartolucci – $37.99

 

My comments

Another wine that was purchased locally at a close out sale.  See, you can get great deals if you become friendly with a local wine store.  I am lucky enough to have a local store that scours the distributors close out lists for gems like this to offer at great prices.  I paid well under $40 a bottle for this wine, the average cost on Cellar Tracker for this is about $70.

 

Winery history

In 1964, Louis Honig purchased a 68-acre ranch in the heart of the NapaValley and planted it with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  He sold the fruit to neighboring wineries with the dream of retiring one day from his San Francisco advertising business and making wine from his vineyard in Rutherford.  Before he could realize his dream, Louis passed away, leaving the estate to his children and grandchildren.  In 1981, as a tribute to his legacy, the family rallied together to produce several hundred cases of Louis Honig Sauvignon Blanc in the vineyard’s old tractor barn.  The wine won a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair, and thus, the winery was born.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The very pleasing and soothing nose has cassis, cherry, cedar, baking spices, smoke, dried herbs, leather, and violets.  This has a medium body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate the wine has nice spicy fruit and dried herbs with no notes from overly ripe fruit or aggressive, over extraction.  The finish has very nice length.  This is in a prime drinking window and is one of the better 2005 Cabernets from the NapaValley.  (92 pts)

 

Sorry for the low quality picture, this has to be one of the worst labels out there to try and photograph.

2005 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Bartolucci

 

 

 

Super Sunday in Wisconsin, fire up the grill even in 12 degree temperatures on a snow covered deck.

Grilling in the snow

 

 

 

 

***** 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!

 

Top 10 QPR Wines of 2012

 

 

top10

 

 

 

QPR Stands for Quality to Price Ratio.  These are the wines that represented the highest quality and lowest prices.

 

Here are the top QPR wines I had in 2012.  I selected only bottles of wine that I purchased in 2012.  Will all (or any) of these wines be available in your area?  Good question.  The short answer is, all won’t be available, but one or two may be sitting on a shelf, especially the ones I bought towards the end of the year.

 

Instead of using the price I paid, which may have been a close out price, I am using the “Community Average value” from Cellar Tracker.  This means, you may actually find the wine for a lower price.  I just needed a good way to show an actual price.  It would be stupid for me to show a wine with a suggested price of $50, just because I bought one bottle at a blowout for $19.99.

 

The Cellar Tracker “Community average value” can be skewed if there were a lot of bottles bought at a sale price.  That means, I’m sorry if you can find the wine but it is considerably higher than the price I have listed.  There are a lot of factors that could cause the average price to drop below the current cost, volume discounts, special offers, sales, etc.

 

To be in the Top 10, a wine’s “Community Average Value” had to be under $20.  As an added bonus, I included five wines with an average value of $20.00 to $25.00.  Like I mentioned earlier, since the price listed is the “average” price, you may be able to find some of these for under $20.

 

Unfortunately, the average price of a couple wines in my list had their average price creep over $20 in the last week.  Instead of removing them, I left them on the list since with low “ownership” wines, one person paying suggested price can skew the average.

 

QPR

 

 

10 – 2009 Brassfield Estate Winery Eruption Volcano Ridge – $13.56

 

My comments

This was a new one for me in 2012.  I bought one bottle, tried it, and had to load up.  I think this one will improve a bit with some cellar time and drink well for a couple of years.

 

My Tasting Note

This was decanted about 2 hours.  The wine is a deep, inky purple color.  Blackberries, Asian spices, licorice, cracked black peppercorns, plums, cherries, eucalyptus, underbrush, cherry, and a hint of smoked meat on the very nice and open nose.  This has medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and decent acidity.  Loads of spicy fruit on the palate that is not raisiny or syrupy.  Ripe but not overly so, walking the fine line.  Nice length on the finish which does show a bit of spicy oak.  Tasty now, but a bit more cellar time may be rewarded.  (90 pts)

Brassfield Eruption

 

 

 

9 – 2011 Villa Creek Pink – $15.10

 

My comments

This is one of my perennial summer Rosé wines.  This one is generally good with a light dinner on a warm day, or just a cool beverage to tame some Summer heat.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a very nice looking pinkish salmon color.  The very crisp and clean nose has strawberries, white peaches, cherries, Asian spices, citrus zest, and a touch of earthiness.  Light to medium body with crisp acidity and just a touch of sweetness makes for a very nice palate on a warm evening.  The palate has nice crisp, sweet fruit and spices with some earthiness lurking in the background.  The finish shows nice length with the fruit and spice slowly giving way to a touch of mouthwatering, citrusy acidity.  This is a very nice Rose with or without food.  (91 pts)

VC Pink

 

 

 

8 – 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico – $22.45

 

My comments

This was suggested to me by a friend at my local wine store as one to try.  I did, and as usual, he was right.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice, ruby red color.  The very nice and pleasing nose has plums, black cherries, baking spices, underbrush, dried herbs, and fresh flowers.  This is barely medium body with ripe tannins and very good acidity.  The wine is rich and lush on the palate with plenty of acidity holding everything together very nicely.  The finish has very nice length with red fruit, spice, and nice earthiness.  A very nice Chianti Classico, I need to pick up some more.  (91 pts)

2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico

 

 

 

7 – 2008 Core Grenache Santa Barbara County – $16.43

 

My comments

A top notch winery, a high quality region, and one of my favorite grapes, how could I not love it?

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a garnet red color.  The very intriguing nose has cherries, Asian spices, plums, dried leafy herbs, meat juices, leather, white pepper, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body, moderate, ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  This has solid fruit and spice on the plush and velvety palate.  The palate leans heavily on the tart cherries and Asian spices, but the pepper, plums, and pepper spread out to totally envelope the palate in flavor.  The long, lingering finish echoes the palate with the spicy, cherries and a touch of earthiness seeming to never totally fade.  This is a fantastic value that should find a place in your cellar.  This can be enjoyed over the next 4 to 5 years.  (91 pts)

2008 Core Grenache Santa Barbara County

 

 

 

6 – 2009 Cellers Can Blau Montsant Can Blau – $14.47

 

My comments

I used to drink a ton of this wine, but for some reason, probably price, I moved on to other wines.  My local wine store had this at a great price so I had to grab a few bottles, I’m glad I did since it is as good as ever.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The very tempting nose features plums, cherries, wood smoke, baking spices, wild flowers, and some dried herbs and cedar.  This has a medium body with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate tart cherries and dried herbs grab the initial spotlight with some spicy oak and baking spices adding nice depth in the background.  The finish has nice length and highlights the savory elements with the fruit in the background.  A very nice, value priced “baby Priorat”.   (91 pts)

2009 Cellers Can Blau Montsant Can Blau

 

 

 

5 – 2008 Treasure Hunter Cabernet Franc Catch 22 – $19.33

 

My comments

This is a Negociant that buys excess juice from wineries, sometimes does some blending, bottles it and sells it for a fraction of the price the original winery would have charged.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The very interesting and inviting nose has blackberries, dried herbs, licorice, black cherry, baking spices, cigar tobacco, dark chocolate, cedar, and some violets.  This has medium body with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a fair amount of upfront berries and black cherry with dried herbs and spices, slowly a nice hit of dark chocolate creeps in on the backend.  The finish has decent length and leans more toward the dried herbs and dark chocolate with the fruit playing more of a supporting role in the background.  This is a fantastic, young wine for under $20.  I’m going to try and hold off opening another for a few months, but it will be tough.  (92 pts)

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Cabernet Franc Catch 22

 

 

 

4 – 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvedre Ode to Lulu Rosé – $18.46

 

My comments

This is another of the Rosé wines I load up on before Summer rolls around.  This one usually has a bit more acidity than the Villa Creek Pink (#9 above).

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice, light, pinkish salmon color.  Minerals, strawberry, white pepper, melons, orange zest, and a bit of dusty earthiness on the very appealing nose.  This has light body with crisp acidity.  This is a very dry rose with nice minerality and fruit with the white pepper and citrus making an appearance on the back end.  Nice, lingering, mouthwatering finish. The real deal. Even those who like a crisp French Rose will find pleasure in this wine.  (92 pts)

Bedrock Rose

 

 

 

3 – 2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT – $18.02

 

My comments

This is another wine I used to buy in large volumes but avoided when the price crept up.  The local store featured this for an outstanding price and I ended up getting well over a case to enjoy over the next few years.

 

My Tasting Note

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

2008 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT

 

 

 

2 – 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Casa Santinamaria – $17.89

 

My comments

I joined the Bedrock mailing list to get their red wines, but thus far I have preferred their Rosé and whites.  The Bedrock red wines need some cellar time, but their whites, like this one are outstanding and offer fantastic value.  This is composed of Muscadelle, Chasselas, Zinfandel, Semillon, and even a little bit of Chardonnay.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow/straw color.  This ha a very intriguing nose with apples, pears, peach, minerals, white pepper, citrus zest, a very nice floral note and just a bit of an herbal note.  This has medium body with crisp acidity and just a hint of lingering sweetness.  This has luscious, juicy fruit on the palate with citrus, herbal notes and a bit of white pepper in the background.  This very unusual blend is very unique and delicious.  This is another winning white wine from Bedrock.  (92 pts)

Casa Santinamaria

 

 

 

1 – 2007 Core Hard Core – $20.16

 

My comments

This is a blend of 37% Mourvèdre, 33% Cabernet, 26% Syrah and 4% Grenache, and that add up to 100% delicious!  I’m not sure if Dave Corey still has any of this and what his current price is, I was able to load up during a sale on Invino.  This wine is just entering a nice drinking window.  Thankfully I still have some in the cellar to enjoy over the next few years.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, ruby color.  The captivating nose has black cherry, smoked meat, black pepper, cassis, vanilla, dark chocolate, fresh ground espresso, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness and cedar.  This is medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  The wine is rich and spicy on the palate with layers of flavors popping in, including nice dark chocolate and espresso grounds elements.  This has a fairly long finish full of fruit and dark chocolate with some nice, spicy oak and earthiness adding to the enjoyment.  This is an outstanding effort that will reward additional cellar time.  (93 pts)

Hard Core

 

 

 

Bonus – Five wines from $20.00 to $25.00

 

 

 

11 – 2007 Core Tempranillo C3 Reserve – $21.40

 

My comments

I’m a big fan of Spanish Tempranillo wines, but other than Villa Creek’s Mas de Maha, which is a blend with a fair amount of Tempranillo, most from California haven’t been noteworthy.  Finally, an outstanding California Tempranillo wine!

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a slightly hazy deep ruby color.  The wine has an exotic and exciting nose full of cherries, black raspberries, well worn leather, earthy underbrush, baking spices, licorice, and dried herbs.  This has a medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine is loaded with tart cherries, raspberries, and baking spices up front with some earthiness and dried herbs in the background adding nice depth and complexity.   The finish is fairly long and full of juicy fruit and spice that slowly gives way to dried herbs and a touch of earthiness.  This is still very young and with the abundance of fruit, acidity, and tannins, some additional cellar time will be rewarded.  One of the better California Tempranillo wines I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy.  (93 pts)

2007 Core Tempranillo C3 Reserve

 

 

 

12 – 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch – $22.17

 

My comments

How about that the third Bedrock wine to make my QPR list, and like the two previous entries, it is not a red.  This is the second vintage in a row that this wine was a killer value.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright straw color with glints of green and gold.  This has a fresh and refreshing nose full of apples, white peaches, stony minerals, citrus zest, eucalyptus, fresh cut grass, with a nice floral note.  This is light to medium body with crisp, citrusy, acidity.  This is bright and very lively with the fruit, citrus, and herbal notes taking turns enticing the palate.  The finish is fairly long with the eucalyptus making an appearance to lend a savory element to the fruit and citrus.  No hurry on this one, it should easily last a few years in the cellar, but as soon as you finish a bottle you will be drawn to open another.  (92 pts)

Bedrock SB

 

 

 

13 – 2010 Helioterra Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – $22.89

 

My comments

This was another new find for me in 2012.  I bought a few bottles of Helioterra wine based on a recommendation during a “Berserkers Day” event.  If you don’t know what a “Berserker Day” is, visit Wine Berserkers.

 

My Tasting Note

From a bottle that had been opened but not decanted for about 4 hours.  The wine is a very light, transparent ruby color.  This has cherry, wet earth, underbrush, baking spices, and a hint of a soft, herbal note on the soft, delicate, but very inviting nose.  The wine has light to medium body with soft, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice spicy, earthy cherries on the palate with a very pleasing faint herbal note in the background.  There is decent length on the finish which may fill out with some additional cellar time.  My first exposure to Helioterra, but this will not be my last.  (92 pts)

2010 Helioterra Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

 

 

 

14 – 2009 Trentadue Winery La Storia “Cuvee 32” – $21.81

 

My comments

This is one of my favorite “Super Tuscan” wines coming out of California.  A “Super Tuscan” is generally a wine from Tuscany that had a non Italian grape blended with the native Sangiovese.

 

My Tasting Note

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

2009 Trentadue Winery La Storia Cuvee 32

 

 

 

15 – 2009 Girard Petite Sirah – $24.00

 

My comments

This is another favorite in just about every vintage.  Girard is just about as consistent with this grape as any winery in the world.  They always seem to put out an exceptional Petite Sirah at a great price.

 

My Tasting Note

This was decanted for about an hour. The wine is a deep, dark purple color. There are blackberries, black pepper, smoke, licorice, dark chocolate, dried herbs, underbrush, and some earthiness on the dark and pleasing nose.  This is medium to full body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  There is a lot of fruit and spice on the palate with just a bit of earthiness coming in on the back end with dark chocolate and black pepper.  Nice length on the finish where the dark chocolate really kicks into high gear.  This is very young but already very nice.  (91 pts)

Girard

 

 

 

 

***** 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 7, 2013 to Jan 10, 2013

 

 

2011 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard – $39.67

 

My comments

This was a no-brainer buy for me.  I love Brian Loring’s wines and Grenache is one of my favorite grapes.  The price of admission was a touch steep for a total unknown, but I had to grab some.

 

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 violet color, quite a bit lighter at the edge.  The very interesting nose has black cherries, black raspberries, minerals, dried herbs, white pepper, eucalyptus, underbrush, and Asian spices.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate is full of juicy cherries and berries with solid minerals, on the midpalate dried herbs, spices, and pepper kick in filling out the palate and adding tons of depth.  The finish has decent length but gets a bit youthfully muddled.  This is absolutely delicious today, but will improve immensely with some cellar time.  The palate carries no excess weight or extraction and the wine is in perfect balance.  This should last several years in the cellar, but give it another 6 months or some time in a decanter if you want to sample one soon.  If this was a “test” wine from Loring, I consider it a success.  (93 pts)

2011 Loring Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

 

 

 

2006 Copain Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch – $35.00

 

My comments

I’ve been a fan of Copain’s Syrah wine for several years.  The Eaglepoint Ranch wines have always been a personal favorite.  The area gets warm enough the grapes get ripe but cool enough the wines show very good acidity and nice minerality.  I was disappointed when the winery stopped making this wine after the 2007 vintage.  I’m thankful I still have a nice stash of this wine in the cellar going back to the 2005 vintage.

 

Winery history

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s RhôneValley in particular.  So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best.  For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s RhoneValley.  During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life. At Copain, he creates wines that are firmly rooted in California, yet with the sensibilities of the European wines that so moved him.  He is as committed to crafting these elegant, nuanced wines as he is to building a legacy that will be passed down to his daughters in the great tradition of European winemakers whose estates have been in the same family for generations.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby to maroon color.  The appealing nose has blackberries, smoked meat, black pepper, dried herbs, minerals, violets, brined olives, and some earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a big hit of peppery, meaty, berries with some dried herbs and earthiness filling in the backend.  The finish is fairly long and a continuation of the palate.  This is in a very nice place right now, but there is absolutely no hurry on this wine.  I’ll probably drink my remaining bottles over the next 3 to 4 years.  (93 pts)

2006 Copain Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch

 

 

 

2009 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Papera Ranch – $21.75

 

My comments

Novy is another long time favorite winery.  I realize I have several “favorite wineries” and they represent a high percentage of the wines I review, but there is a reason for that…I review wines from my cellar that I have bought and I generally buy a lot of wine from certain wineries, because I like them.  Generally, I will buy multiples bottles of wine from these wineries because I know they will make the best wine possible with the grapes.  This wine falls into that category.  I like Novy well enough that I loaded up on this wine with no reviews or tasting notes available because it was from Novy, it was a Zinfandel, and it was from Papera Ranch.  By the time there are reviews available of wines like this, they are sold out.

 

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 medium ruby color.  The very interesting nose has brambly berries, black pepper, minerals, smoke, vanilla bean, warm baking spices, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate shows tart, spicy, peppery berries with minerals and some earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish is kicked up a couple notches with the crisp acidity accentuating the fruit and spices leaving your mouth watering for another sip.  Not a big, bruising style of zin.  Very food friendly and one that should last for years in the cellar.  (91 pts)

2009 Novy Family Wines Zinfandel Papera Ranch

 

 

 

2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Pinot Noir Carneros – $18.89

 

My comments

Another wine from my current value oriented favorite, Treasure Hunter.  The label was the result of a glut of wine and grapes due to the economic downturn.  Unfortunately, it seems like the winery’s access to good quality grapes is running out now that the economy is finally turning around.  Their latest group of wines just didn’t do it for me, and I surprisingly passed on everything at a tasting.  Oh well, I’ll enjoy the sizable stash I built up over the last couple of years.

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a couple shades lighter than ruby red.  The delicate and sensual nose has cherries, smoke, baking spices, vanilla, a touch of earthiness, and a faint herbal note.  This has light to medium body, soft, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  The palate is bright and zippy with tart cherries and spices.  On the back end some earthiness and an herbal note add depth.  The finish has decent length with the tart cherries slowly giving way to the herbal note.  Not very Californian in style.  The herbal note pokes through even more as the wine gets air.  If this green element is not to your liking, my score is accurate, if an herbal note doesn’t bother you, add a couple points.  (86 pts)

2007 Treasure Hunter Wines Pinot Noir Carneros2

 

 

 

 

 

***** 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

 

Nothing landed yet, but getting a lot of “save the date” notices from Saxum, Villa Creek, Loring and others.

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

 

Still being good so nothing new to report.  The being good will end this weekend, I have a couple mixed cases waiting for me to pick up at the local wine store.

 

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Oct 29, 2012 to Nov 1, 2012

 

 

This post will be shorter than usual since I spent two days this week sampling some wines for my previously posted blog on some Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines.  If these every day wines interest you, please check out that post.

 

 

 

2009 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec – $16.14

 

My comments

I knew I’d be facing potentially severe weather this week since I had a business trip to Virginia and everyone knew the Frankenstorm was headed this way.  I decided I wanted to bring a couple of fuller bodied red wines to keep me company in the hotel room in the evening.  I grabbed three bottles of this wine when the local store had a sale of the WS Top 100 wines, this was #58 on the 2011 list.  With a suggested retail price of $24, and a community average price of over $20, I felt I got a good deal.  The only way to know if you got a good deal though, is to drink the wine.  Tonight I’ll find out how good of a deal this was.

 

Winery history

It is part of our family’s folklore that our forefather Nicola Catena, who sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898, celebrated leaving the famine in Europe for this plentiful new land by eating a piece of virtually raw steak for breakfast each morning. Best described as a tireless optimist, he firmly believed that he had found the promised land in Mendoza, where he planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Malbec had been a blending grape in Bordeaux. But Nicola suspected it would find its hidden splendour in the Argentine Andes. Domingo, his son, inherited that dream and took the family winery to the next level, becoming one of the largest vineyard holders in Mendoza.

 

By the 1960s, however, Familia Catena was struggling. The Argentine economy was in shambles and inflation rates were soaring. One year, Domingo realized that it would cost him more to harvest than to leave the fruit on the vines. He asked his twenty-two year old son Nicolás, a recent PhD graduate in economics, what to do about such a dilemma. Nicolás advised him not to harvest. Domingo could not follow his son’s advice with a clear conscience and picked anyway. Nicolás still remembers the sadness he felt for his father that year.

Much more information available at:  http://www.catenawines.com/eng/family.html

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark purple color.  The nose is dark and brooding with earthy blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla, raspberries, eucalyptus, minerals, spice box, and lavender.  This is medium to full bodied with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  The palate is much brighter than the nose indicated with the fruit leaning more towards the cherry to raspberry side of the fruit spectrum.  There are nice spices and some dried herbs as well and earthy elements and dark chocolate.  The finish has decent length and shows a touch of excess oak.  This would be perfect with a hearty week night dinner on a cold evening or just sipping in front of a fire place.  (89 pts)

 

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Cabernet Franc Catch 22 Alexander Valley – $17.81

 

My comments

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

 

I love the Cabernet Franc grape.  At its best it has nice dark berry fruit with some cherry and dried herbs.  If the grapes are over cropped and picked before fully ripe, the dried herbs become the much less pleasing green herbal elements.

 

Winery history

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

 

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

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

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The very interesting and inviting nose has blackberries, dried herbs, licorice, black cherry, baking spices, cigar tobacco, dark chocolate, cedar, and some violets.  This has medium body with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a fair amount of upfront berries and black cherry with dried herbs and spices, slowly a nice hit of dark chocolate creeps in on the backend.  The finish has decent length and leans more toward the dried herbs and dark chocolate with the fruit playing more of a supporting role in the background.  This is a fantastic, young wine for under $20.  I’m going to try and hold off opening another for a few months, but it will be tough.  (92 pts)

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

Turley Wine Cellars

I received a very friendly allocation of the new 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon being released by the winery.  The price, $40, seemed to be very consumer friendly.  The grapes are all from Turley’s Estate Vineyard in St. Helena.  I will be buying a few bottles but won’t be taking my entire over generous allocation.  If you are not on the list but would like to check out the wine, this may be a good time to sign up.

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Sept 24, 2012 to Sept 27, 2012

 

 

 

2003 Carlisle Two Acres – $29.50

 

My comments

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

 

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

 

Winery history

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

 

My Tasting Note

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

 

 

 

2006 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – $18.99

 

My comments

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

 

Winery history

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

My Tasting Note

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

2001 Aminea Taurasi Baiardo – $12.99

 

My comments

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

 

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

 

Winery history

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

 

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

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

 

My Tasting Note

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

 

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Helen’s Helm – $18.04

 

My comments

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

 

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

 

Winery history

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

 

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

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

 

My Tasting Note

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

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

 

Rudius

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

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

 

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

 

 

McPrice Myers

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

 

 

Ledge Vineyards

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

 

 

Herman Story

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

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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

 

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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