Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > The 2013 MacArthur Beverages 28th Annual California Futures Tasting

The 2013 MacArthur Beverages 28th Annual California Futures Tasting


At the end of April Lou and I attended the 28th California Futures Tasting organized by Andy Creemer of MacArthur Beverages. This event is sponsored by MacArthur Beverages for the benefit of The Addy and Bruce Bassin Memorial Cancer Research Fund.   Held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel the ballroom easily holds some 40 wineries pouring over 100 different wines.   This year I was invited by organizer Andy Creemer to attend both the afternoon and evening sessions so that I could take notes on as many wines as possible for the store website.  Despite attending both sessions I knew I could not taste all of the wines.  I focused in on new wineries, old favorites, and those I have not written about before.  The tasting has roots in barrel samples of California Cabernet Sauvignon but this year there was a selection of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rhone blends.  The wines represented released selections, unreleased finished wines, and barrel samples most of which were pulled just one week prior.  To order these and other wines please check out the California Futures page at MacArthur Beverages.


Several wineries poured samples of their 2011 wines.  This vintage had a cool spring and summer with slow ripening followed by large amounts of rain in the fall.  Yields were down as well.  There were not enough samples from 2011 to form any conclusions.  What I did taste from this vintage ranged from rich Cabernet Sauvignon to elegant and aromatic wine, finally to tannic wines with more structure than the short fruit flavors could handle.  However this range reflects the geographic diversity of the wines and varietals.  I did prefer the 2010 vintage in the few instances when both the 2010 and 2011 vintages of the same wine were available to taste.  For my notes from last year’s event please read Notes from the 27th California Futures Tasting.



Antica is the California winery of the Italian Antinori Family.  In fact the name is derived from Antinori In California.  The 2003 Library Wine was actually made before the first commercial release.  As such the cork bears the Antinori family crest instead of the Antica name on later vintages.

2011 Antica, Chardonnay – $29
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 11-23 year old vines located at 1400 feet.  The fruit was whole cluster pressed, fermented in 30% new French oak barrels, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for six months on the lees.  The nose was perfumed. The mouth had focus with some density to the fruit. There were some ripe yellow and white fruit, minerals in the finish along with a toast note. The aftertaste had freshness and a bit of texture.

2003 Antica, Library Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon – $65
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines at 1400 feet.  The nose was still youthful with red and black fruit. The tannins were resolved, mixing with red fruit, racy black fruit, minerals, and ripe tannins. It showed some tart red fruit in the finish. It was in a nice place.

2009 Antica, Townsend, Cabernet Sauvignon – $85
The nose bore lower-lying fruit eventually developing red fruit and spices. There was a redder start then ripe, blue, approachable fruit came out. There was structure with spicy tannins and a cool, dense aspect. This showed well.

2010 Antica, Townsend, Cabernet Sauvignon – $85
The fruit was sourced from the Townsend vineyard.  It underwent malolactic fermentation in oak barrels then was aged for 15 months.  The nose was redder and more structured. In the mouth the redder fruit had more acidity and some lushness. The citric tannins were firm with tart flavors and acidity in the aftertaste. Needs age.

2010 Antica, Cabernet Sauvignon – $50
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 11-23 year old vines at 1800 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel then underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged in 40% new French oak.  There was a light nose of red and purple fruit. There was an approachable start with red and blue fruit, tannins, spices, and acidity throughout. There was structure in the end with an overall decent expression.



Arns Winery is located within a 160 acre estate of which only a small portion is planted with vines.

2009 Arns, Syrah
The nose was old-school with pungent aromas of brambly fruit. In the mouth there was a little ripeness to the dense, cool flavors which followed the nose. The acidity was well integrated. It took on perfume and dried spices.

2009 Arns, Cabernet Sauvignon
The mouth had dense blue and red fruit, salivating acidity, and focus. It expanded in the finish with citric tannins. There was a sense of gentleness.

2010 Arns, Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose was a bit more pungent with red fruit then blue. The salivating acidity mixed with the red fruit, showing more structure. It developed perfume as the flavors softly expanded. There were fine, ripe tannins.



Axios Wine is the product of Gus Kalaris a Washington, DC native who founded Constantine Wines.  The wines of Axios are made by Bob Egelhoff.  The fruit comes from hillside and mountain sites.  The Axios wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for approximately 22 months in 70% new French oak.

2010 Axios, Cabernet Sauvignon – $110
There was a light nose of firm but perfumed black fruit. The savory flavors mixed with fresh herbs, perfume, and dense, cool fruit. The ripe tannins made for an approachable wine.

2007 Axios, Cabernet Sauvignon – $95
There was focused fruit on the nose. The mouth was savory and complex with a resolving start. It was weight with power to the ripe fruit but showed good balance. It took on some wood box and herbs. It had good density of flavor.  Nice.

Bevan Cellars

2011 Bevan Cellars, Kick Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc – $30
The medium nose revealed raspberry, kirsch, and stone fruits. The acidity made for vibrant flavors on the tongue. There was white fruit to this big wine with a stone-like and grassy finish.


The Blackbird Vineyard was a walnut orchard that as first planted with vines in 1997.  They produce Pomerol inspired wines.  The earlier ripening Merlot and Cabernet Franc came in before the rains.

2010 Blackbird, Arise – $45
This wine is a blend of 61% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 19% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 21 months in 50% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.8%.  The nose bore perfumed berries. In the mouth the forward fruit expanded as a core of acidity and tannins came through.

2010 Blackbird, Illustration – $125
This wine is a blend of 48% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 21 months in 75% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was subtle but good. There was lush fruit in the mouth with expansive flavors that maintained focus. The structure became evident in the end as spicy tannins and sweet spices came out.

2011 Blackbird, Illustration – $100
There was a more expressive nose with some good greenhouse notes. There were red and blue fruits in the mouth, a little tart, as well as citric tannins and a cool aspect. Tastes confident for the vintage.

Carte Blanche

Carte Blanche was founded by Nicholas Allen who comes from a winemaking family which owns Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion.  Luc Morlet is the winemaker.

2010 Carte Blanche, Cabernet Sauvignon – $125
This wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.  It stated with dense fruit in the mouth which was not jammy. The savory flavors continued with minerals and black fruit which while coiled were still approachable. This was a big wine with power. The tannins came out in the finish where there was a cool aspect. The core of fruit and integrated structure left a sense this will develop well.



Dunn Vineyards originated in 1978 when Randy and Lori Dunn purchased 14 acres on Howell Mountain.  Since 1982 they have produced two wines which are both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon: the Napa Valley and Howell Mountain.  With the 2010 vintage both of the wines feature 100% Howell Mountain fruit.  The Napa Valley wine features younger, more approachable lots whereas the Howell Mountain features more age-worthy lots.

2010 Dunn, Howell Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon – $65
There was an old-school nose with a good, minor greenhouse aroma. There was beautiful red fruit in the mouth which was complex and old-school. This was already easy to drink with an old wood note, good mouthfeel, and grapey tannins.

EMH Vineyards


EMH Vineyards originated in 1999 when Merrill Lindquist purchased her estate.  The Special Selection is produced using just a portion of the wine from the various barrels.  This maintains the quality of the base wine.  Merrill also poured a sample from her new project “Little Black Cat” which is aimed to be more of a daily drinker.  It is blended from various wine she still has.

2011 Black Cat, Cabernet Sauvignon – $60
The aromatic wine had minerally red fruit in the mouth. It was structured with restraint and is the sort of wine which will develop with age. The finish had brighter, red fruit, a touch of ripeness, and drying tannins.

2011 Black Cat, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon – $80
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in new and used French oak.  The nose was articulate with red fruit and old perfume. The mouth had focused red fruit with citrus hints, salivating acidity, and integrated tannins.

2010 Black Cat, Cabernet Sauvignon – $76
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 20% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.4%.  The tighter nose managed to be scented. There were flavors which followed the nose, focused red fruit, spicy tannins, and a tight, long aftertaste. This clearly needs age.

2009 Black Cat, Cabernet Sauvignon – $75
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 30% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.2%.  There was a tight nose of mixed berries. This was more expressive in the mouth but retains focus to the fruit. There was good acidity throughout with citric tannins at the end.

NV “Little Black Cat” AKA Sparkles
This was aromatic and more approachable. It showed familiar red fruit and acidity but was dialed back compared to the vintage wines. It mixed red and black fruit in the finish. There was spicy and very fine, drying tannins.

Fontanella Family Winery


The Fontanella wines originated when Jeff and Karen purchased a 26 acre property in 2005 and launched their brand in 2008.

2011 Fontanella, GIII Beckstoffer, Cabernet Sauvignon – $80
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 28 months in 80% new French oak.  This was a little savory with tart red fruit, confidence, nice feel, and good complexity. This was very approachable.  Nice.

2011 Fontanella, Mt. Veeder, Cabernet Sauvignon – $40
This wine is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot which was aged for 21 months in 80% new French oak.  The nose was more restrained with red fruit. In the mouth there were vibrant mixed berries then blue/black flavors on the tongue. It was mouth-filling with baking spices and acidity in the finish. The spicy tannins were more obvious than the GIII.

Hensley Family


Hensley Family Vineyards was founded by Mike and Carol Hensley and first released a wine in 2009.  Mike is a resident of Houston, Texas where he owns and operates a commercial printing business.  After many years of visiting Napa Valley he decided to enter the wine business.  Jeff Fontanella is the winemaker.  The 2011 Hillside is interesting in that approximately 20% of the fruit comes from the Beckstoffer George III Vineyard.

2010 Hensley Family, Hillside, Cabernet Sauvignon – $49
There was tart red and blue fruit followed by perfumed red fruit. It was weighty but not overbearing. The acidity mixed with the structure in the firm finish. Perhaps a touch savory.

2011 Hensley Family, Hillside, Cabernet Sauvignon – $49
This had a really good mouth feel, glycerin like, with perfumed blue and black fruit. Baking spices eventually came through as well as spicy tannins. It was already showing well.  Nice.

Hope and Grace


Hope and Grace was founded in 2001.  Charles Hendricks is the winemaker and also consults for other wineries like Barnette Vineyards and Regusci Winery.

2010 Hope and Grace, St Helena, Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
The nose stepped out with, perhaps, some violets. The mouth followed the nose with a mixture of purple fruit and florals. It became drier and firmer towards the finish which had very powerful, fine, spicy tannins.

2011 Hope and Grace, St Helena, Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
The nose was more pungent and aromatic with red and black fruit. The mouth followed the nose with a wood note, expansive, drying citric tannins, and old perfume. Definitely young and showing more tannins than fruit at this point. Good nose.

Hourglass Wine


The Smith family had been involved with orchards and vineyards since 1976.  After Jeff Smith met Dr. Kliewer, the Dean of Viticulture at UC Davis, he planted four of the best acres with Cabernet Sauvignon.  With Bob Foley was the winemaker they released their first vintage with the 1997.  In 2006 the Smith family along with their friends purchased a 41 acre property which they transformed into the Blueline Vineyard.  All five Bordeaux varietals are grown at this vineyard.  Last year Hourglass brought on Tony Piagi as the winemaker.

2011 Hourglass, Blueline, Merlot – $75
This was a very forward wine with ripe, smooth, extracted flavors followed by spicy tannins in the finish.

2010 Hourglass, Cabernet Sauvignon – $135
There was lush fruit which was supported by more acidity. There were herbs, perfume, and lots of texture to this lush wine.

Jacquelynn/Chateau Boswell


The inclusion of Semillon in the first wine gives it the ability to age.  Joshua Peeples is currently drink the 2007 and 2008 vintages.

2011 Jacquelynn, Sauvignon Blanc
This wine is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon which was whole-cluster pressed, fermented with indigenous yeasts in 35% new French oak.  The nose had good aromas of berries which stepped out of the glass. There was weighty, ripe fruit in the mouth which built to an amazing, racy quality. It was mouth filling with expansive, weighty flavors and a textured aftertaste. Should age.

2010 Chateau Boswell, Voyage, Chardonnay
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was whole cluster pressed, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged in 60% new French oak.  There was good fruit on the nose with mixed perfume and floral aromas. The flavors were more vibrant on the tongue with good weight in the mouth, perhaps a touch of lees, and ripe white and yellow fruit. It showed some structure and a toast note.

2011 Chateau Boswell, Cabernet Sauvignon – $125
This wine is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot and Merlot.  It was fermented in stainless steel and oak barrels with indigenous yeasts then aged for 19 months in French oak barrels.  The nose stepped out with perfumed red and blue fruit. The mouth had ripe, candied berries which had a good feel. There was good perfumed fruit in the finish. It had some salivating acidity and drying, spicy tannins.

2011 Jacquelynn, Cabernet Sauvignon – $150
This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 20% Petit Verdot which with 50% fermented in puncheons then aged in 100% new French oak barrels.  This was more forward with immediate ripe fruit and spicy tannins. There was some old perfume, graphite, and lots of flavor in this very powerful wine. The spicy tannins coated the mouth in the aftertaste.


2011 Kobalt, Sauvignon Blanc – $30
The light nose had a tight core of perfumed fruit. There was a bright start with light fruit and integrated acidity which did not stand out. The white fruit became floral in the tart finish.

2011 Kobalt, Cabernet Sauvignon
From the last drops of the last bottle. The nose was pungent with bramble berries. The mouth was very savory, with old perfume, and some firmness.

La Rue


La Rue is the new project of Katy Wilson who is a winemaker at Kamen.

2010 La Rue, Pinot Noir – $60
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged for 16 months in 40% new French oak.  The aromatic nose was pungent with finely articulated and delicate aromas of flowers and spices. Truly a very nice nose. In the mouth there was brighter red and black cherry fruit which had a citrus lift. It was lithe in the body with a gentle finish and aftertaste.

Mark Herold Wines


Mark Herold started working in the wine business as a Research Oenologist at Joseph Phelps Vineyard.  After his own 1998 Merus he started a consulting business where he has worked with Kamen, Kobalt, and others.

2011 Herold, Flux – $28
The nose was pungent with some ripe fruit and a little perfume. There was an approachable start with blue and ripe fruit. There were spicy tannins.  Nice.

2009 Herold, Acha – $40
This wine is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 12% Grenache, 9% Carignan, 5% Graciano, and 4% Petit Sirah.  his was savory with old-school red flavors, more structure, and restraint. There was a drying structure in this obviously young wine.

2011 Herold, Acha – $38
This was more aromatic with grapey, natural aromas. There was salivating acidity, red fruit, and powerful, very fine, drying tannins. Needs age.

2009 Herold, Collide – $27
This wine is a blend of 40% Petit Sirah, 35% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This bore savory fruit with good approachfulness despite the firm tannins. The fruit is plentiful with blue and black fruit, and a touch of raciness.

2010 Herold, Cabernet Sauvignon – $70
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The nose bore subtle greenhouse notes, butter, and smoke. There was a good, savory start with blue and black fruit, and a little salt. It was an attractive, young wine which took on spicy structure.

2011 Herold, Cabernet Sauvignon – $95
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The nose was more pungent with red and black fruit. The red fruit was tart, tasted cooler, showing more structure than fruit at this point.

Metaphora Wines

Metaphora was created by Ravi Mehta who started off as an attorney.  The 2009 vintage represents the current release.

2009 Metaphora, Pinot Noir – $75
There was a confident nose. The tart red fruit was structured in the mouth eventually developing lush minerals. It should age nicely.

2011 Metaphora, Cabernet Sauvignon
The good nose was delicate in a sense. The mouth started with a surprising and good, initial burst of fruit followed by structure and restraint. Lifted black fruit develop as spices and spicy tannins coated the mouth.

2010 Metaphora, Cabernet Sauvignon – $125
The nose had interesting aromas of berries and vintage florals. There was tart red fruit, vintage floral perfume, restraint, and some weight. This will benefit from age.

2009 Metaphora, Cabernet Sauvignon – $150
The nose stepped out with blackberry, cassis, and perfume. This had the weightiest flavors which were lush in a sense before firming up with some structure. There were fine and strong, drying tannins. This needs some age.



Maze is the creation of Paul and Gerry McSharry with Mark Herold as the winemaker.  The Sauvignon Blanc is raised in concrete eggs with the Clew being a barrel selection.

2012 Maze, Sauvignon Blanc – $28
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the Blau Vineyard.  Alcohol 13.6%.  It was fermented and aged in concrete eggs.  The nose was very aromatic with articulate raspberry candy and grassy aromas. There was good acidity but not too much, mixed with white fruit which sticks to the tongue. The flavors were focused and racy in the finish where the grassy element returns. There was a citrus hint.

2010 Maze, Cabernet Sauvignon – $60
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged in French oak.    Alcohol 14.7%.  The nose was of black and red berries. There were savory flavors of blackberry and red fruit which were soft in approach and weighty. It took on focus as the flavors expanded in the mouth with old floral perfume. The tannins and sweet spices coated the lips in an enjoyable manner. There was a black, minerally aftertaste.  Nice wine.

2010 Maze, Clew, Cabernet Sauvignon – $125
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged in French oak.    Alcohol 14.8%.  The nose bore more fruit and floral aromas followed by delicate perfume which stepped out of the glass. The mouth showed more focus with a dense core of fruit to the mouth filling flavors which ate up the tannins. There were baking spices and a racy touch in the finish.

2011 Maze, Cabernet Sauvignon – $60
The assured nose revealed more vintage perfume with delicate berries. The mouth followed the nose with vintage perfume and old-school flavors in the finish. It was lighter weight in the aftertaste with very fine drying tannins.

Morlet Family Vineyards


Though Luc and Jodie Morlet only purchased their historic estate in August 2010, they have been producing wines under the label since 2007.  Luc  graduated with degrees in Enology and Wine Business and began a series of internships in 1988.  Since then he has worked at Chateu Dauxac, replaced John Kongsgaard at Newton Vineyard, worked at Peter Michael Winery, and Staglin.  Over the last five years he has also been the winemaker at Vineyard 7 & 8, Bure Family Wines, and Carte Blanche.

2011 Morlet, Passionnement, Cabernet Sauvignon – $185
The nose was a little pungent with young, red and purple fruit. In the mouth there was good, initial fruit which was complex and though tight, had a great mouth feel. It became spicy as very fine but integrated tannins built in the mouth.

2011 Morlet, Coeur de Valle, To-Kalon, Cabernet Sauvignon – $140
The nose bore purple and black fruits. There was intertwined red and black/purple fruit in the mouth which was determined and focused. The good fruit continued into the finish where there was a little, spicy tannins. The wine had an uncrushable feel.

2011 Morlet, Mon Chevalier, Cabernet Sauvignon – $140
There was an expressive nose of black fruit. The mouth was familial with red, black, and purple fruit. It showed a dryer finish with spicy tannins that left the impression of a long future ahead.



Pahlmeyer history begins when Jayson Pahlmeyer and his friend John Caldwell traveled to Bordeaux in 1972 where they acquired cuttings from five varietals. The Caldwell family owned a 55-acre parcel where they set about creating a vineyard.  It took six years for the vineyard to be productive.  The history is marked by amazing connections such as Randy Dunn’s period as winemaker, Bob Levy work with Chardonnay, and Helen Turley’s period as winemaker.  Today Helen’s assistant Erin Green is now the winemaker.

2010 Pahlmeyer, Propriety Red – $125
The nose stood out with slowly expanding red fruit aromas. There was ripe red and black fruit. It was focused with good integrated acidity, developing structure, and a dark, underlying note in the finish. Young but well-done all around manner that has potential.



The Monte Bello vineyard was originally planted in 1886 in the Santa Cruz mountains.  The vineyard fell into disrepair during Prohibition and was essentially abandoned in the 1940s.  In 1949 eight acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were replanted with the rest of the vineyard  following suit.  Ridge continued the tradition of presenting two barrels samples.  In 2011 the Petit Verdot was declassified so it is not a part of the Monte Bello blend.  The Petit Verdot ripened nicely in 2012 so it was once again included.  The 2012 barrel sample is an approximate blend as the second assemble takes place shortly.

2011 Ridge, Monte Bello – $85
This barrel sample is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.8%.  The good nose bore restrained red fruit and a vein of confident fruit which became weighty. The tart red fruit mixed with vintage perfume then some black fruit. The black fruit and drying tannins came out as well as the acidity.

2012 Ridge, Monte Bello – $105
This barrel sample is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and 8% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.7%.  This bore a more focused core of sweaty red fruit and cassis aromas. The flavors were expansive in the mouth, showing some weight, tart red fruit, and blacker fruit in the finish. There fine, drying tannins in this wine which should age well.

Round Pond Estate

Round Pond Estate was created in 1983 when Bob and Jan MacDonnell purchased the first parcel in what would become the estate.  For the last decade it has been run by brother and sister Miles and Ryan MacDonnell.

2010 Round Pond, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon – $95
This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Malbec.  The nose was weight with aromas and spices. This wine was approachable, racy, showing fruit that mixed with minerals. There was a round and dense mouth feel with sweet spices in the finish. Already attractive in its youth.

2011 Round Pond, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose was a little more pungent. There was a familial round, dense mouth feel with ripe blue and black fruit, acidity, tannins, and a slightly racy finish.



Sanguis is the result of Matthias Pippig’s farming and winemaking efforts.  His Loner series of wines are all single-varietal wines, two of which are sourced from the John Sebastiano Vineyard.  This vineyard spans over 1200 feet in elevation.  It is cool and always windy, so much so that rye grass is planted between the rows to control the wind.  The vines were planted in 2007 and though they are only pruned 20-25% the yields are very low.

2011 Sanguis, Loner, Chardonnay W-11a – $60
This sample is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the John Sebastiano Vineyard.  There was tight, light white fruit on the nose. The flavors showed more minerals in the mouth with some weight, acidity, and a little richness in the finish.

2011 Sanguis, Loner, Chardonnay W-11b – $60
This sample is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Bien Nacido Vineyard.  The light nose was richer with low-lying aromas of white and yellow fruit. The flavors were vibrant on the tongue with fruity, smooth, yellow fruit in the middle followed by a textured and perfumed, long aftertaste. This was more forward than the W-11a.  Nice wine.

2011 Sanguis, Loner, Pinot Noir R-11a $75
This sample is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the John Sebastiano Vineyard.  The nose revealed vintage perfume. The mouth was savory with round flavors of good fruit. It had density, complexity, and an orange berry lift. This was a brooding wine with attractive fine spices and ripe tannins.  Rather nice.

2011 Sanguis, Mule – $70
This sample is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Franc along with Viognier and Roussanne with some of the fruit dried 4-5 days and fermented seperately.  The nose was tight but some complexity escaped. It was more forward in the mouth than expected with the structure building to the finish. It took on some tart blue and black fruit, sweet baking spices, and texture in the aftertaste. It needs time to settle down.

2011 Sanguis, The Pilgrim,  Syrah – $75
This sample is a blend of Syrah and Viognier.  The nose had aromas of finely ground pepper, cardamom, and other baking spices. The mouth was lush, dense with a glycerin-like mouthfeel. There were textured, spicy tannins to the structure in the finish. It had a long, drying aftertaste.

Somerston & Priest Ranch


The Somestone estate is a massive 1600 acres planted with 200 acres of vines.  The land was originally known as Soda Valley and Elder Valley both of which have 19th century origins.  However it was only in 2004 that F. Allan Chapman assembled the estate.

2010 Priest Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon – $38
There was a light and tight nose. The mouth had dense red fruit which had levity. It took on watering acidity towards the finish. This was a more classic wine with its structure of very fine, drying tannins.

2011 Priest Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon – $38
There was a similar, dense set of flavors along with more coarse tannins. It was juicy in a way with its flavors and perfume.

2010 Somerston, Cabernet Sauvignon – $100
The nose was subtle at first but then took on perfume. The flavors were very savory, with more fruit weight and concentration that matched the well-integrated drying tannins. It had some tart red bits and definitely good flavors but needs some age.

2011 Somerston, Cabernet Sauvignon – $100
This was more structured with savory, firm fruit. It was hard to get a read on this wine with its tight black fruit, and tannins.


The wines of Stonestreet are produced from estate vineyard known as Alexander Mountain Estate.  There are some 200 different blocks located throughout the Mayacamas Mountains.

2010 Stonestreet, Monument Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon – $29
The nose was tight. In the mouth the weighty, elegant, and perfumed fruit took on berries in the finish. There was a tannic structure.

2010 Stonestreet, Bear Point, Cabernet Sauvignon – $39
The nose was a touch more expressive. There was savory, dense, cool fruit which had good expansion. It took on tart red and blue fruit with less obvious tannins. It left a cool impression.  Nice.

2010 Stonestreet, Christopher’s, Cabernet Sauvignon – $69
From a very small pour. Lovely, dense fruit with good supporting acidity. The tannins show good integration. The most approachable and enjoyable of the reds.  Well done.

2010 Stonestreet, Bear Point, Chardonnay
This had a creamy start followed by savory, rich, ripe fruit which had good acidity that kept the flavors moving. A rich wine with good use of oak, there were no outstanding oak notes.

Tablas Creek


The fruit for the Esprit de Beaucastal is sourced from vines propagated from budwood cutting from the Chateau de Beaucastel estate in the Rhone.  The 120 acre vineyard is certified organic.  The fruit is fermented in open and closed stainless steel fermenters using native yeasts.  The wines go into barrel then are blended and aged in 1200-gallon French oak foudres.

2011 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Tablas – $45
This sample was a blend of 40% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Counoise.  There was a complex, inviting nose with vintage perfume. In the mouth the red fruit was expansive, almost lush but had restraint. The red fruit and acidity made was to ripe spices and tannins in the finish. This will age nicely.


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