Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > The 2014 MacArthur Beverages 29th Annual California Futures Tasting

The 2014 MacArthur Beverages 29th Annual California Futures Tasting

At the end of March Lou and I attended the 29th 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 held over 40 wineries pouring more than 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. I knew from experience that 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.  For notes on last year’s event please read The 2013 MacArthur Beverages 28th Annual California Futures Tasting.



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


2010 Arns, Cabernet Sauvignon
There were nice flavors of ripe fruit that was racy and had depth. The clean and dense fruit made way to a spicy finish. Drinking well.


Barnett Vineyards was created by Fiona and Hal Barnet in 1983. Originally focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon wines the estate vineyards are located on steep terraces at the top of Spring Mountain located at 2,000 feet. Today they produce a variety of white and red wines with fruit sourced from estate and single-vineyard fruit.


2012 Barnett, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain
The aromatic nose made way to lots of sweet fruit in the mouth. This was a forward wine with spicy tannins that built in the mouth before the surprisingly softer finish. The fruit enveloped everything.

2012 Barnett, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake
The good nose led to fresh, very sweet and floral fruit. Spice flavors developed towards the finish where the flavors leaned towards purple and black. The flavors complemented the texture and spicy hint.

Bevan Cellars

Russell Bevan and Victoria de Crescenzo were inspired to produce wine after meeting Philip Togni, Bob Foley, Greg La Follette, and Kal Showket.

2012 Bevan Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County
The nose was intense with grassy aromas of Sauvignon Blanc. Though this was a weighty wine in the mouth it had lively flavors on the tongue. There were notes of white tropical fruit which puckered the mouth toward the finish. The wine draws you in to taste more.

Cliff Lede Vineyards

Cliff Lede was established in 2002 on 60 acres of land. The gravity-flow winery was finished in 2005. The vineyard is planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon. For the 2011 vintage of Poetry the naturally low-yields and active leafing meant they were able to produce good wine albeit in a reduced amount.


2012 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap
There was more red fruit on the nose with cranberry aromas. In the mouth were weightier and round flavors of red cranberry fruit. There was good extract, a fresh nature, and subtle barrel hint. It took on a dark note in the finish.

2011 Cliff Lede, Poetry, Stags Leap
There were flavors of minerally black fruit with a nice ripe core of fruit and ripe tannins. It has some grip to the black fruit which stood out amongst the racy nature.


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.  This remains a family run operation with son Mike Dunn managing the vineyard and winemaking under the eye of Randy Dunn.


2012 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
The nose stepped out of the glass. In the mouth were dense flavors of red fruit, earthy notes, and bramble fruit. The acidity was integrated. This dense wine bore unique flavors that continued into the persistent aftertaste. Drinking well now but will age.

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.


2012 Black Cat, Cabernet Sauvignon
There was a scented nose of red fruit and perfume. In the mouth were lovely, clean flavors of red fruit, warming acidity, followed by some spicy and tart hints. This was an approachable and enjoyable red fruited wine.

2012 Black Cat, Special Selection
This was a little more aromatic with strawberry and cherry aromas. In the mouth were tart, yet ripe flavors of strawberry and cranberry fruit, a little spice, watering acidity, and a fine texture. The flavors were more defined and lasted through the long aftertaste.

2009 Black Cat, Cabernet Sauvignon
The good nose was a touch darker with bramble berry. There were tart red fruit mixed with black fruit flavors complemented by a hint of wood note. This was showing well with some weight, nice acidity, and persistent aftertaste.

Fontanella Family Winery

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


2012 Fontanella, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder
There was dense fruit on the nose. This savory wine had fresh fruit that was sweet and ripe. It mixed with spices and a spicy structure. The wine built in flavor and was outright enjoyable.

2012 Fontanella, Cabernet Sauvignon, George III Beckstoffer
There was a subtle but spiced nose which did not hint of the mouth where there were good flavors of glycerin infused fruit. A great entry, though primary in flavor, there was a good core of fruit that surrounded the powerful tannins. This has good flavor.

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.


2012 Hensley Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hillside
There were dense aromas of sweet blue fruit. In the mouth this savory wine had approachable fruit with a good balance between acidity and tannins. The nice fruit already tastes complex.

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. Amongst other vessels he employs concrete cubes and not eggs.


2011 Mark Herold Wines, Flux
The firmer nose bore spices, black, and red fruit. In the mouth was a core of unexpected ripe black and red fruit that was spicy and sappy. It had a good glycerin feel before spices came out.

2012 Mark Herold Wines, Flux
The nose was aromatic with primary berry aromas. In the mouth were ripe and sweet fruit flavors that were lively on the tongue. This wine had lots of texture, a spicy structure that dried the gums, and citric red fruit in the finish.

2011 Mark Herold Wines, Acha
The nose had darker red fruit aromas. In the mouth the flavors were lively on the tongue with some bottle age that showed off the dark red fruit to good effect. Drinking well.

2012 Mark Herold Wines, Acha
This had a dark, bramble berry nose. The good fruit was very lively on the tongue, with fine, drying, citric tannins offset by good, underlying flavor. Needs time.

2011 Mark Herold Wines, Collide
The good nose revealed citric red fruit that was taking on maturity. In the mouth the very lively flavors followed the nose with savory flavors and good, earthy darkness. A good, young wine.

2012 Mark Herold Wines, Collide
This had a grapier nose. In the mouth were livery, tighter flavors of juicy fruit, watering acidity, and strong, fine drying tannins. Young.

2011 Mark Herold Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose mixed black fruit with bell pepper. There was a softer and saline start to the green pepper and fruit. Evocative of the sea it had very fine, powerful tannins.

2012 Mark Herold Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon
There was a very subtle nose of purple berries. In the mouth the wine was smooth and polished with bright red flavors, and very fine tannins at the end. Seems balanced to age well.

Paul Hobbs

Paul Hobbs Wines was founded in 1991 and produces small production wines from fruit sourced from the highest quality vineyards. Today he also produces wine in Argentina under the Vina Cobos label and additionally imports wines.  In 2012 Paul Hobbs purchased a 63-acre vineyard in Coombsville.  The Nathan Coombs Estate is the inaugural release and is named after Nathan Coombs who arrived in Napa County during the summer of 1843.


2012 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
The fresh, sweet flavors of black and red fruit had attractive glycerin in the mouth. This seamless wine was supported by subtle, fine, drying tannins.

2012 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nathan Coombs Estate
This showed more inky and racy fruit that had lush hints of minerals. Showing in an attractive manner, the acidity was integrated and matched by a bit more enjoyable structure. It took on a little spice in the finish.

Kathryn Kennedy Winery

Kathryn Kennedy is rooted in California. Her first vintages were sold to Mount Eden Vineyards until she established her own brand in 1979. Today the estate wines are still produced from the eight acres of vines that Kathryn planted in 1973 with cuttings from David Bruce. For this estate the use of wood is to impart texture.


2005 Kathryn Kennedy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
This was very aromatic with finely perfumed fresh herbs and some sweaty, black fruit. In the mouth were acidity driven flavors of black and red fruit with a firmer touch before some ripeness came out towards the finish. There were mature notes, minerals, and herbs in this lively wine. The aftertaste was effortless with cool and dense flavors of black fruit.

2009 Kathryn Kennedy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
The nose stood out with a touch dark and brambly aroma. In the mouth were flavors definitely driven by acidity but in a seamless manner. The flavors began with tart black fruit on the tongue tip then a savory hint for some ripeness made way to the long aftertaste. This was very satisfying and showed great balance of support from structure.

Ladera Vineyards

The vines of Ladera are located on volcanic soils which were first planted with vines in 1877. The wines are made in the historic stone Brun & Chaix Winery built in the 19th century. It underwent renovation and modernization when it was bought in 2000. The vineyards are located between 1600-1800 feet which is above the 1400 foot fog line. Thus in 2011 they were above the rains.


2012 Ladera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain Reserve
Already pleasing, this wine had some weighty flavors of blue fruit, glycerin feel, and hint of citric red fruit. This very young wine had drying tannins, watering acidity, and a bit of a tang. For the cellar.

2011 Ladera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain Reserve
There was a good, articulate nose of fresh scents. In the mouth the red, perfumed fruit had good tangy and salivating acidity. There was a drying structure as black fruit flavors came out towards the finish. There were dried herbs in this young wine which I found hard to describe.


The Jack Larkin estate is named after Sean Larkin’s son. The Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Pritchard Hills Melanson Vineyard which is farmed by John Arns. The Cabernet Franc is sourced from a family vineyard just north of Napa.

2012 Larkin, MacArthur Beverages Red Wine
The red fruited nose had a bit of an enjoyable earthiness to it. In the mouth the clean red fruit had a citric note, watering acidity, and a very fine structure. It left a clean finish.

2012 Larkin, Cabernet Franc
There was an interesting nose which was followed in the mouth by a sort of vintage perfume and blue/black fruit mixture. It had nice lightness and watering acidity.

2012 Larkin, Cabernet Sauvignon
This was lively in the mouth with bramble fruit and baking spices. It had a spicy middle that slowly built spices and texture with air. Definitely ripe with an easy going nature that persisted into the long aftertaste.

Meteor Vineyard

Meteor Vineyards dates to 1998 when Barry and Tracy Schuler purchased a proper in Coombville. The vineyard was planted in 1999 on a rocky knoll at 500 feet. The soils are volcanic and might be part of a caldera. The vineyard is planted with only Cabernet Sauvignon and this particular wine is produced from three different clones.


2010 Meteor Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Perseid
There was a youthful greenhouse note to the nose with some complexity developing. In the mouth the flavors were similar with a tart, ripe red fruit presence. The flavors took on black fruit and spice in the aftertaste.

2012 Meteor Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Perseid
The nose was fruity, bright, and clean with a little barrel note. In the mouth were brighter flavors with ample notes of ripe, baking spices. The acidity came back towards the finish where there was chewy and grapey structure. It showed some barrel influence from youth.


Montagna is located at nearly 1200 feet on Pritchard Hill.


2009 Montagna, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tre-Vigneti
There was a clean nose of black-red fruit and a hint of youthful greenhouse aromas. There was a surprising round and dense start before a greenhouse note. The acidity built in the mouth. The wine was quite approachable but was still compact and young, ready for aging.

2010 Montagna, Cabernet Sauvignon, La Presa-One South
The nose was perfumed with a little greenhouse note. There was a sort of cranberry-red fruit aspect that mixed with pastilles and floral flavors. It had a spicy kick in the finish followed by black fruit and structure evident on the gums.

2012 Montagna, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tre-Vigneti
The nose was juicy with cranberry and sweet black fruit aromas. In the mouth the wine was round with a hint of glycerin to the red fruit. The flavors picked up black fruit and citric notes. This fresh wine had nice structure and a spicy aftertaste.

2012 Montagna, Cabernet Sauvignon, La Presa-One South
The nose revealed fresh, floral fruit. There was an attractive start in the mouth with round flavors of red fruit, good extract, and a racy, mineral note in the finish. It had watering acidity. Through very approachable this will age well.


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.


2012 Pahlmeyer, Merlot
The nose revealed dark red berries. In the mouth this forward wine had sweet fruit flavors of cherry, mocha, and a hint of spice delivered in a seamless and smooth manner. Very approachable.

2012 Pahlmeyer, Proprietary Red
The nose was much more subtle. There was a lush start to this very forward wine with increasingly ripe black fruit flavors, black licorice, perfumed flavors, and cool spice. This attractive wine developed more structure.


This wine is produced from vines on a ~6 acre vineyard located at 1,000 feet in elevation. The vineyard is west-facing so it receives the afternoon sun. There is only one tank so everything is blended in then fermented with indigenous yeasts.

2012 Peacock, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain
The nose was grapey with yeasty aromas. In the mouth the red and black fruit had lots of presence and was supported by good structure which leant a nice mouthfeel. There were flavors of cinnamon baking spice in the finish followed by a spicy aftertaste.

2012 Peacock, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain
The flavors were rounder in the mouth with a hint of earth and black licorice. It maintained a round feel with nice acidity, texture, and a persistent aftertaste. A good wine to drink.


Joel Peterson produced the first two vintages of Ravenswood in the “tin shed” at Joseph Swan Vineyards.  The initial wines were single-vineyard Zinfandel but soon Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot followed.  Today there are also variety and vineyard blends.  The Icon represents the pre-Prohibition trend of producing field-blend wines.


2012 Ravenswood, Pickberry
There was a seamless start to the wine with red fruit, a hint of greenhouse, then black fruit that mixed with watering acidity. The flavors were lighter in this youthful wine which had an appropriate tannic structure.

2011 Ravenswood, Icon
There was blacker fruit in the mouth, a little juicy nature, and some grip. This too was lighter with watering acidity, good structure, and a dark earthy hint.

Relic Wine Cellars

Relic began in 2001 by making a few barrels of Pinot Noir. Today they produce wine from many different varietals sourced from Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast.


2012 Relic, Cabernet Franc, The Prior
The low-lying nose was dark with lifted cranberry and hints of sweetness. The flavors were round in the mouth with lots of texture and mouthfeel from the beginning. The notes of ripe spices and tannins built as the wine took on verve and structure in the finish. There was a bit of spicy tannins.

2012 Relic, Cabernet Sauvignon, The Artefact
The nose was low-lying followed by dense flavors of ripeish blue and black fruit in the mouth. The acidity was there but seamless with the fresh red and blue fruit that mixted with lots of texture. The mouthfeel continued throughout the long and thick aftertaste.


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. To help out with the 2011 vintage, they placed reflective material on the ground, and the Cabernet Sauvignon turned out best. They blended in about 5-10% press wine. In 2012 vintage the vines began to show signs of stress and the harvest took place over 12 days instead of the typical five weeks. With the 2013 vintage the Merlot did not respond well to the drought but the Cabernet Franc did.


2011 Ridge, Monte Bello
There was a good nose with an earthy hint to the red and blue fruit. This was lively, fresh, and youthful in the mouth with red fruit that slowly built just the right amount of tannic structure. It became a bit chewy in the finish.

2012 Ridge, Monte Bello
This had a tighter nose. In the mouth were tart and tangy red fruit flavors, tang, fine texture then cranberry notes.

2013 Ridge, Monte Bello
There was a good, clear blue/black fruited nose with a hint of yeast. The flavors were lively on the tongue showing red fruit which became progressively darker. The wine had a sense of lightness and a good structure of citric tannins.

Round Pond

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.


2011 Round Pond, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
There was an attractive nose of racy black fruit. In the mouth the savory, dense flavors were attractive and covered the tongue. It had a cool aspect and ample mouthfeel.

2012 Round Pond, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
This wine was very dense with attractive, ripe blue fruit, and spicy tannins. There was good balance between the tannins and integrated acidity.

2012 Round Pond, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve
There were cool flavors of fruity blue and black notes. There was glycerin in the mouth followed by building tannins that made way to a tighter, firm and citric finish. This should age.


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. For the Loner series of Chardonnay the fruit from the different vineyards is treated the same. Thus the W-12a shows off its windy Santa Rita Hill origins and the W-12b that of the cool Bien Nacido vineyard.


2012 Sanguis, Loner, Chardonnay W-12a
The textured nose revealed white, tropical aromas. In the mouth the white and yellow fruit slowly built in flavor becoming chewy with an interesting floral perfume. There was a sense of brightness at first followed by ripeness as the flavors took on some weight. There was a lot of texture in the aftertaste.

2012 Sanguis, Loner, Chardonnay W-12b
The nose had some white fruit and perfume. In the mouth were round and forward flavors that had some glycerin. This wine was less textured, more seamless with a gentle and lush, long aftertaste.

2012 Sanguis, Loner, Pinot Noir R-12a
This was very floral with honeysuckle-like aromas overlaying red fruit. In the mouth the floral red fruit was ripe and round with some glycerin before the fine and long textured aftertaste.

2012 Sanguis, Loner, Pinot Noir R-12b
This was floral with black and purple fruit. The wine was lively on the tongue with hints of darker, fruitier red flavors towards the finish. It was weighty with almost savory notes, good complexity, and spicy finish.

2011 Sanguis, Verve, Grenache
This was a bit berrylicious on the nose being very fruity. There was a subtle entry with lots of spice, a softer personality towards the finish and round mouthfeel.

2011 Sanguis, Pilgrim, Syrah
There was a little spice to the nose. In the mouth was black and red fruit that had grip. The Christmas spiced middle turned towards red fruit with grip in the finish. There was a very fine tannic structure that came out leaving very fine, drying spicy tannins in the aftertaste. Needs time.

Signorello Estate

Signorello Estate has its origins when Ray Signorello Sr. purchased a 100 acre estate near the Silverado Trail. The original goal was to sell grapes to existing wineries but the bountiful harvest of 1985 let them try their hand at producing wine. Today there are nearly 41 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier.


2010 Signorello, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate
The subtle nose was followed by round fruit and vintage perfume in the mouth. The wine had a racy middle with water acidity. It took on cooler flavors of black fruit and became drier towards the finish. The vintage perfume persisted into the finish. Drinking well.

2012 Signorello, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate
The nose had higher-toned red fruit. In the mouth were round and fruity flavors which were forward. There was a lot of fruit flavor which bore some glycerin, spicy power, and drying tannins in the finish. Amongst the drying tannins were attractive racy, minerals.

2012 Signorello, Cabernet Sauvignon, Padrone
The red fruit had citric lift in the mouth. There was verve to the textured tannins in the fine, drying structured. There was an ethereal and haunting nature to the fruit but this wine certainly needs cellar time. This should develop well.


The Someston 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.


2012 Priest Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon
There was a coolest smelling nose with red fruit and some cranberry aromas. The wine was surprisingly round in the mouth with citric lift and citric tannins. There was watering acidity, fine drying tannins, and an ethereal note in the finish.

2012 Somerston, Cabernet Sauvignon
This had weightier, low-lying, dense flavors and extract. It was quite approachable with good flavor and very fine, drying tannins in the structure.

Tablas Creek

The fruit for the Esprit de Tablas 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.


2012 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Tablas
The nose revealed primary fruit aromas. In the mouth there was a very round start with accessible flavors of red and black fruit. It was densely focused, clean, seamless, and maintained a sense of ease.

Three Clicks

Three Clicks is named on account of the first journalist, Harry Allen Smith, to legally drink alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition. He allegedly received a “three click” telegraph notifying him of repeal. The Grenache Blanc is sourced from Gary Branham’s vines at Rockpile. This area is known for its red wines so it took some convincing to get these vines planted. As such they were only planted several years ago and this is the first bottling from them.

2013 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Rockpile
The nose revealed brighter, white fruit aromas. In the mouth the white fruit was driven and picked up weight and texture on the tongue. There were precise flavors and clearly defined texture. A lot going on for a wine produced from baby vines.

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