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A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 4 “[F]ine American wines can now hold their own with fine wines from France” The wines served at the early tastings

This is the fourth in a series of posts surveying the history behind the MacArthur Beverages California Barrel Tasting and its predecessor Gerald Asher’s California Vintners Barrel Tasting.

Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

The title quote is taken from Frank J. Prial writing in The New York Times about two French versus Californian wine tastings held during November, 1975.  The following summer William Rice in The Washington Post described the Judgement of Paris as “The latest in the continuing, if rather pointless, tasteoffs pitting American versus French wines”.  He noted that the winning wines from Chateau Montelena and Stags Leap Wine Cellars were “expensive” and from “small vineyards, with limited productions”.  A month after the tasting the wines were no longer available in Washington, DC.

There was a great increase in the number of new wineries in California through the 1970s and 1980s.  Several hundred new wineries opened in fact.  However, the number of high-quality wineries was much smaller.  This is reflected in the wines chosen for the various French versus American wine tastings of 1975 and 1976 as well as Gerald Asher’s and Addy Bassins’ California Barrel Tastings.  Look through the lists below and you’ll see such names repeat as Chappellet, Clos du Val, Ridge, and Stags Leap Wine Cellars.  Interestingly enough, on the French side, 1970 Chateau Montrose and 1971 Chateau Leoville Las Cases appear at both the November 1975 comparative tasting and the Judgement of Paris.

 

The First Tasting, November 1975
1970 Chateau Margaux
1970 Chateau Haut-Brion
1971 Chateau Leoville Las Cases
1971 Chateau Greysac
1970 Chateau La Tour de By
1970 Chateau Leoville Poyferre
1971 Chateau Montrose
1971 Mouton Cadet

1970 Sterling Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Chappellet Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Louis Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon
1972 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon
1972 Almaden, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Beaulieu Vineyards, Georges de Latour Private Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Marques de Caceras, Rioja

The Second Tasting, Manhatten East chapter of Les Amis du Vin, November 1975
1972 David Bruce, Chardonnay
1973 Chappellet, Chardonnay
1972 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay
1972 Heitz Cellars, Chardonnay
1972 Mayacamas, Chardonnay
1972 Robert Mondavi, Chardonnay
1973 Spring Mountain, Chardonnay
1972 Louis Latour, Pinot Chardonnay
1973 Albert Pic, Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles
1973 Marquis de Laguiche, Chassagne-Montrachet

First Annual California Vintners Barrel Tasting Dinner, March 1976
1975 and 1974 Wente Brothers, Pinot Blanc
1975 and 1974 Chateau St Jean, Chardonnay
1975 and 1973 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay
1975 and 1974 Parducci, Chenin Blanc
1975 and 1972 Mirassou Vineyard, Chenin Blanc
1975 and 1974 Joseph Phelps, Johannisberg Riesling
1975 and 1973 Beaulieu, Johannisberg Riesling
1975 and 1972 Simi, Gewurztraminer
1975 and 1974 Monterey Vineyards, Zinfandel
1975 and 1974 Ridge, Lytton Springs, Zinfandel
1975 and 1974 Callaway, Petite Sirah
1975 and 1973 Robert Mondavi, Pinot Noir
1975 and 1972 Sterling, Merlot
1975 and 1973 Pedroncelli, Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 and 1972 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 and 1970 Louis M. Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 and 1969 Chappellet, Cabernet Sauvignon

The Judgement of Paris, May 1976
1973 Chateau Montelena, Chardonnay
1973 Spring Mountain, Chardonnay
1974 Chalone Vineyards, Chardonnay
1972 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay
1972 Veedercrest Vineyards, Chardonnay
1973 David Bruce, Chardnonay
1973 Roulot, Meursault Charmes
1973 Joseph Drouhin, Beaune Clos des Mouches
1973 Ramonet-Prudhon, Batard-Montrachet
1972 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet “Les Pucelles”

1973 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Ridge Mountain Range, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Heitz Cellar, Martha’s Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon,
1972 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Mayacamas, Cabernet Sauvignon
1969 Freemark Abbey, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
1970 Chateau Montrose
1970 Chateau Haut-Brion
1971 Chateau Leoville Las Cases

First Annual California Futures Barrel Tasting, June 1986
1984 Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Diamond Creek, Gravelly Meadow, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Diamond Creek, Red Rock Terrace, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Diamond Creek, Volcanic Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Girard, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Johnson-Turnbull, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Long, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Joseph Phelps, Backus, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Joseph Phelps, Eisele, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Joseph Phelps, Insignia
1984 Pine Ridge, Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Pine Ridge, Stag’s Leap, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Pine Ridge, Andrus Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Lyeth, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Ridge, Monte Bello, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Merlot
1984 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Steltzner, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Johnson Turnbull, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 William Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon

Next up: The sources

The 2016 MacArthur Beverages 31st California Barrel Tasting

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

This May I attended the 31st 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.  This year some some three dozen wineries poured 100 different wines at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  Each winery generally brought a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine from the 2014 vintage, still aging in wood, and an older vintage such as 2013.  There are exceptions as each year there is an increasing selection of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and other blends.

This year I attended both the afternoon and evening sessions.  Despite spending a large amount of time tasting wine, it is impossible to get through everything in a meaningful fashion.  I tried to balance new wineries and rotate through the veterans.  The 2014 vintage was largely positive throughout California.  The wines I tasted are not tannic monsters.  Instead most of the wines offer plenty of flavor and supportive acidity.  This made for the least palate fatiguing tasting of the last few years.   You will find my tasting notes below.  Please note that most wines tasted were samples.   To order these and other wines please check out the California Futures page at MacArthur Beverages.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

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

2012 Arns, Syrah
The nose is subtle with dark aromas yet leaves a fresh sensation. The creamy start moves to a core of racy, dark red and purple fruit. The wine is infused with glycerin and spice, seductive, and nice.

2012 Arns, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A familiar seduction but with more greenhouse and more grip. In a sense the wine is lighter but well framed by fine, ripe tannic texture. It mixes in some baking spices and leaves a cool aftertaste.

2014 Arns, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
The subtle, dark nose is a touch rugged. The fruit is redder, mixing with vanilla, black tea, and a spicy finish. It is attractive but really needs time to integrate.

BANSHEE
Banshee was started in 2009 by three friends who to make distinct wines. Katy Wilson is part of the winemaker team.

2014 Banshee, Pinot Noir, Marine Layer, Sonoma
This wine is tart with tightly rounded flavors supported by a lighter framed structure. Despite the youth there is a perfumed flavor towards the finish.

2014 Banshee, Pinot Noir, Tina Marie Vineyard, Russian River
The nose remained subtle and tight. The bright start brings dense, clean, red fruit flavors that take on a creamy edge as the wine expands. It becomes almost savory with some spice and supportive structure.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

BARNETT
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.

2014 Barnett, Merlot, Spring Mountain
Ample fruit on the nose. In the mouth the savory, ripe fruit has no hard edges as it moves to a spicy middle. The weighty fruit persists through the end as does plenty of texture.

2014 Barnett, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
The wine is rich and spiced but bears a touch more of a grapey, purple personality. The wine is rather ripe and forward with less obvious acidity. This wine is all about seduction topped off with creamy flavors.

2014 Barnett, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake, Napa
There is a touch more red fruit mixing with the core of ripe, black fruit. Though seductive and enveloping in flavor there is tang and spiciness to keep it balanced.

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.

2014 Bevan Cellars, Chardonnay, Ritchie Vineyard, Russian River
The wine is aromatic with tart yellow fruit and toast. In the mouth is a creamy, rounded start with toast and some citrus notes. This is all about the seductive mouthfeel.

2014 Bevan Cellars, Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast
Rich varietal aromas. This is a very fruity wine of red then black fruit which shows grip and has a vein of acidity. The finish continues the ample fruit with baking spices and ripe tannins.

 

CHATEAU BOSWELL
Chateau Boswell has been releasing wine since the 1979 vintage when Andre Tchelistcheff was the winemaker. Today they focus on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

2013 Boswell, Chardonnay, Ritchie Vineyard, Russian River
The nose is slightly nutty with both yellow and white fruit aromas. The creamy, rounded, toasty start is seductive. This wine is all about the body with glycerin and fat. There is a hint of yeast and baking spices as well.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

DONELAN FAMILY WINES
Donelan is a small family winery in Sonoma County which aims to express the terroir of their vineyard sites.

2014 Donelan, Two Brothers, Pinot Noir
Varietal aromas. There is a cool start of red and black fruit, a rich middle, acidity, and texture tannins. A core of tasty flavors carries through the end.

2013 Donelan, Syrah, Cuvee Christine, Sonoma County
A rounded start moves on to tart fruit then this youthful wine becomes inky and dense. The structure is supportive for aging.

2014 Donelan, Syrah, Cuvee Christine, Sonoma County
The nose is a little grapey. The rich flavors of ripe red and blue fruit have a lighter frame with less structure.

2014 Donelan, Syrah, Obsidian Vineyard, Knights Valley
There are tight flavors of blue and black fruit with fine grained tannins which make for a spicy, stone-flavored finish.

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.

2014 EMH Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Cat, Napa
The good aromas of cassis make way to flavors of licorice and herbs.

2014 EMH Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Selection, Napa
This wine stands up right away with dense flavors of tart red fruit, puckering acidity, and a touch of ink.

2012 EMH Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Cat, Napa
The tart red fruit takes on some black fruit in this tangy wine. I particularly like the grip. This is showing well in its youth.

2013 EMH Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Cat, Napa
The nose is perfumed. In the mouth are dense, lower-lying flavors of dark red fruit and black fruit. With good texture and a seductive nature, this wine is drinking well.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

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.

2012 Mark Herold Wines, Flux
The dense, tart red flavors of strawberry come to a tangy middle. The good fruit persists with the structure.

2012 Mark Herold Wines, Collide
A youthful, rugged nose is followed by tangy, drying berries in the mouth. The uncrushable fruit expands by the finish where the integrated structure bears out.

2013 Mark Herold Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose is pure and aromatic. With a cool profile, there is an ample core of fruit. It is showing well with the structure and acidity in balance.

2013 Mark Herold Wines, White Label
The brighter start soon makes way to some good, inky fruit, all framed by structure. Needs age.

2014 Mark Herold Wines, Flux
Young oak aromas on the nose. There are flavors of tart, red fruit and very fine tannins as the wine becomes drier towards the finish. Tight.

2014 Mark Herold Wines, Collide
The red fruit is clean and deep, standing up to the good dose of fine tannins. It takes on spices and leaves a dry, red fruit fruited finish.

2014 Mark Herold Wines, Brown Label
The nose sports herbs. This savory, herb infused wine leaves textured fruit on the tongue. It has an attractive mouthfeel.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

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.

2014 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Youthful fruit aromas make way to dense, similar fruit in the mouth. This savory wine has seamlessly integrated structure and the right amount of supportive acidity.

2014 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nathan Coombs Estate
With more fruit on the nose there are flavorful, racy, purple flavors in the mouth which persist through the aftertaste. There is a slightly salty aspect. The lovely structure is firm but not overbearing as the wine wraps up with a spicy finish.

KEEVER VINEYARDS
Keever Vineyards is a family winery located in Yountville.

2014 Keever, Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Napa
Ripe fruit aromas mix with attractive, sweet greenhouse notes. In the mouth are rich, racy, mineral flavors that turn blacker towards the finish. This flavorful wine is supple at first before it firms up from the structure.

2011 Keever, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Inspirado
There are good aromas of mixed herbs and greenhouse. The wine is surprisingly mouthfilling with ripe and spicy flavors that are in no way heavy. The somewhat savory wine continues to expand with thick texture, ripe spices, and some softening structure.

JACK LARKIN
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.

2014 Jack Larkin, Cabernet Franc
There is a subtle, grapey nose. In the mouth is enveloped with ripe blue fruit and strawberries. This sexy wine sports a lot of baking spices, less obvious acidity, and spicy finish of drying tannins.

2014 Jack Larkin, Larkin Red
The flavors are tautly coiled with spiced blue and black fruit, the right amount of acidity, and a black stony finish. A big wine.

MINER FAMILY WINES
Miner Family Wines was founded in 1996. They produce a wide range of wines using many vineyards. The wines are aged in underground caves.

2012 Miner, Oracle, Napa
This wine is linear, tight, and well-focused. Right now it is less forgiving and more structured.

2014 Miner, Oracle, Napa
The muted nose does not hint at the sweeter, fruity start. The spicy structure soon comes out as the wine fills the mouth with flavor and very fine tannins. There is acidity moving it along with an aftertaste of cocoa.

PAHLMEYER
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.

2013 Pahlmeyer, Proprietary Red, Napa
The nose is subtle, not yielding much. In the mouth are tart, red fruit flavors that become puckering with a spicy, inky finish.

PEACOCK VINEYARD
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.

2014 Peacock, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain
This aromatic wine is accessible in the mouth with its almost inky, ripe black fruit. The fruit mixes with spices, both good acidity and structure, and an attractive herbal/spiced note. Quite approachable.

PRIEST RANCH
Priest Ranch wines are produced by Craig Becker of Somerstone Winery, drawing fruit from vineyards located throughout the 1,600 acre estate.

2014 Priest Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc
The nose is grassy with floral pastille aromas. The good acidity on the start brings a floral middle with tart flavor and more acidity on the sides of the tongue. There is a good mouthfeel with tart white fruit and a textured finish.

2014 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc
The brighter nose leads to an almost piercing start before the fruit comes out in the mouth. There are rounded edges to the wine with both weight and texture leading to peach flavors in the finish. It wraps up with some tang and tannins.

2013 Priest Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Celestial Block
This tangy wine has a dense start with slowly building power and flavor through the finish. It culminates with salty, minerally, black fruit.

2014 Priest Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Celestial Block
The cranberry accented nose makes way to a good tart flavors and fuzzily textured red fruit. The watering acidity moves the wine towards a finish of nice, coating ripe tannins.

2012 Priest Ranch, Coach Gun, Napa
This wine quickly builds a punch of flavor. With mouth coating tannins this young wine brings forth blacker fruit by the finish which pairs well with the cream and spiced aftertaste. This is a sense of minerality in this taut wine.

2014 Priest Ranch, Coach Gun, Napa
A more approachable wine with an herbal hint, cocoa notes, and a powerful, very fine structure. The dense black fruit is there for the structure to integrate with over time.

RAVENSWOOD
Ravenswood was founded in the 1970s by Joel Peterson.  Though he began with Zinfandel he soon expanded to use Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Today he also produces blends reminiscent of wines from before Prohibition.

2014 Ravenswood, Icon, Sonoma
There are darkish aromas of rich fruit. In the mouth the good acidity moves the blue and red fruit flavors. The oak is supportive, coming out as fine dry tannins at the end.

2014 Ravenswood, Pickberry, Sonoma
The nose is subtle but the medium weight flavors are forward and mouthfilling. The good dark flavors exist with good acidity and gobs of tannin.

RELIC
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.

2015 Relic, Pinot Noir, Putnam Vineyard
Good nose with spices. The flavors are quick to expand in the mouth but are not heavy and supported by tart acidity. The fruit has good depth and a citric hint in the finish. Spicy aftertaste.

2014 Relic, The Prior, Cabernet Franc
Good fruit aromas mix with herbs and black tea. The dense fruit mixes with herbs before weaving in ripe texture in this savory wine. The herbs come back in the finish along with a mineral streak. It exhibits good power and eventually some creamy black notes.

2014 Relic, Artefact, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma
Savory, herbal aromas move on to low-lying, dense, sweet fruit in the mouth. This seductive wine has blacker ripe fruit with good, seductive texture. Though there is a strong dose of fine ripe tannins but the wine packs deep flavor to match it.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

RIDGE
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.

2015 Ridge, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountain
Aromas of cassis, florals, some greenhouse, and perhaps oak. This is a lively wine with great integration of the acidity. The textured purplish fruit builds towards the black fruited finish which then leaves persistent red fruit in the mouth. Fine drying tannins.

2014 Ridge, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountain
Rather aromatic with flavors that follow the nose. The deep fruit and citric grip is a good match for the dose of tannins. The core of flavors shows good potential for the future.

2013 Ridge, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountain
The dense, flavors of tart red fruit mix with some herbs. The flavors become deeper with extended air, showing fine harmony, good fruit and acidity.

LA RUE
La Rue was founded in 2009 by winemaker Katy Wilson. She produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. She also makes wine at Banshee.

2013 La Rue, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Great varietal nose. The fruit weighs on the tongue with clean flavors that take on good acidity. There wine is lighter in weight with some toasty tannins. Needs time to open up.

2013 La Rue, Pinot Noir, Rice-Spivak Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
The nose bears low-lying, attractive musky red fruit. There is a more electric start of tart cranberry fruit and a creamy middle. There is a sense of lightness with more structure evident through the finish. Will certainly age.

SANGUIS
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.

2013 Sanguis, Chardonnay Loner W-13a, Bien Nacido
A yeasty nose moves on to an effortless and ethereal start before roundted and subtly textured flavors drape the tongue. The acidity is there as the wine picks up interest from biking spices and lees. There is some dryness and good structure.

2013 Sanguis, Chardonnay/Roussanne Borrowed, Santa Barbara
Higher-toned aromas with a touch of rich, botrytis like influence. The dense start brings racy, complex, tropical fruit in the middle and white nuts in the end. It is gentle in a sense.

2013 Sanguis, Pinot Noir Loner R-13 Santa Barbara
The scented nose has tart aromas of berry punch. A softer start brings low-lying, complex red fruit, black tea, then blacker fruit flavors. The black tea and mixed herbs bring interest. It wraps up with drying structure for aging.

2013 Sanguis, Grenache Verve, Santa Barbara
This fruit forward wine is rounded with sweet strawberries and cream accented by spices. It is salty in the midpalate with dense textured fruit, perfumed finish, and spices galore. Very drinkable.

2013 Sanguis, Syrah Pilgrim, Santa Barbara
A good clean nose entices before the blue and black fruit. This is a rich wine with baking spices and structure packed in there. The fruit can handle it but there is a sense of heat. The spicy aftertaste climbs up the nose.

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.

2014 Tablas Creek, Espirit de Beaucastel, San Luis Obispo
There is plenty of berry fruit on the nose. The rounded, tart red start is followed by pastilles and lots of strawberry flavor. There is texture, a good mouth feel, and very fine structure before the spicy aftertaste.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

TATE
David Tate is the winemaker at Barnette yet produces small lots of wine under his own label using fruit from micro-vineyards.

2014 Tate, Cabernet Sauvignon, St Helena
There is a good nose of cassis and licorice. There is a ripe start but the acidity and structure are immediately supportive. This enveloping and generous wine finishes with baking spices and textured, ripe tannins.

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.

2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Rockpile Vineyard, Napa
Aromas of fruit punch on the nose. A tangy, tart start of citrus fruit comes off the tongue tip to bring a creamy, textured midpalate of tropical fruit. There is a good cut of dryness, texture, and acidity at the end.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

WAYFARER VINEYARD
Wayfarer Vineyard is the project of Jayson Pahlmeyer. The vineyard was planted in 2002 with the fruit originally blended under the Pahlmeyer label. It was in 2012 that the fruit was produced under the Wayfarer label.

2013 Wayfarer Vineyard, Fort Ross Seaview
The nose is aromatic with mulberries. In the mouth is a compact, darker start that soon fills the mouth with red fruit, stones, and black fruit all bound together. It takes on some cocoa, sweet tannins, and a mineral hint. This is a fruity, forward wine.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

ZD WINES
The deLeuze family have been producing wine since the first vintage of Pinot Noir in 1969. Since 1987, the winery has focused in on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

2014 ZD Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
The acidity driven black fruit is well matched by the structure. There are hints of cocoa in the tannic finish. Quite a nice wine for aging.

2013 ZD Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa
The nose is a little deeper and meaty leading to a savory, dense wine. It exhibits good play between the black fruit and structure.

2013 ZD Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
This dense, black flavored wine becomes savory with great structure that is well integrated. There is a sense of electricity making this a compelling wine.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

MacArthur Beverages. 31st California Barrel Tasting. © James Finch. Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

The 2016 MacArthur Beverages 31st Annual California Futures Tasting Notes Are Coming!

The notes are typed up and the pictures are selected.  My post on the 2016 MacArthur Beverages 31st Annual California Futures Tasting will come out next week.  In the meantime please enjoy this gallery of barrel sample labels.

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.

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Arns

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

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Larkin

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.

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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

Montagna is located at nearly 1200 feet on Pritchard Hill.

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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

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.

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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.

Peacock

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.

Ravenswood

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.

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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.

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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.

Ridge

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

Somerston

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.

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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.

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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.

The 2013 MacArthur Beverages 28th Annual California Futures Tasting

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Blackbird

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Kobalt

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Ridge

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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

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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

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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.

Stonestreet

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

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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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Notes from the 27th California Futures Tasting

March 13, 2012 4 comments

Washington, DC home of the 27th California Futures Tasting

This past Saturday Lou and I attended the 27th 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 room easily holds the 40 wineries with such spacing that the wait at a table is never that long.  In the 2.5 hour time span of the tasting it is impossible to taste all of the wines with any consistent degree of concentration.  We decided to focus old favorites, new attendees, and those which people were buzzing about.  In the end I wrote 41 tasting notes on wines from 17 wineries.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel

The typical format for this tasting is for a winery to present at least one wine from a finished and bottled vintage along with the subsequent vintage sample which is still being raised in barrel.  Most of these wine samples will not be bottled until the fall.  These barrel samples were collected between two days and three weeks prior to the tasting.  Of these samples some represent final blends whereas others represent approximate blends.  There is some variation in the quality of the wines due to their state which seemed apparent in a few wines.

Barrel Sample from Ridge

In general the finished wines were from the 2009 vintage and the barrel samples were from the 2010 vintage. There was some variation with Dunn showing the 2009 barrel sample and Ridge showing both 2010 and 2011 barrel samples.  If I grossly generalize the 2009 were riper whereas the 2010 were more structured for aging.  I also found the 2010s to have spicy tannins but this might just be a result of the barrel samples.  Unfortunately, I did not take detailed notes the past two years for comparison sake.

Barrel Sample from Tablas Creek

It is hard to venture a list of favorite wines but my distilled impressions are that the 2010 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel and 2010 Ridge, Monte Bello were excellent at the less riper end of the spectrum.  While the Ramey Cabs stepped it up I found the Syrah a refreshing break during the middle of the tasting.  And how can you not like the $22 Mark Herold Wines, Flux?  The 2010 Kamen Cabernet had an interesting array of Indian spices.  The 2009 Hensley Family showed really well for an inaugural vintage.  The Pahlmeyer and Staglin were very good, a bit more restrained with the Pahlmeyer showing sweeter and the Staglin more classic.  Surely the best buy of the evening and a simply outstanding wine was the 2009 Dunn, Howell Mountain.  I anticipated tasting it after loving the 2008 from last year and was impressed again.  At the high-end the wines of Morlet were consistently very good wines needing age.  The 2009 Bure Family, Duration was really very good with  the 2010 Thirteen close on its heels.  But the 2010 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, To-Kalon was a stunner.

Arietta

Arietta was founded in 1996 by Fritz Hatton along with John and Maggy Kongsgaard.   The original parcels were purchased at Hudson Ranch with additional purchases at Howell Mountain in 2003 and 2004.  Fritz and his wife Caren bought out the Kongsgaard’s in 2005 and brought on Andy Erickson as the winemaker.  Andy Erickson has worked at both Harlan Estate and Staglin.

2009 Arietta, Cabernet Sauvignon – $125
This wine is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot sourced mostly from Coombsville along with Calistoga and Carneros.  It was aged in 75% new and 25% second-use French oak.  This showed saline, red fruit with alcoholic heat coming through the structure.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Arietta, Cabernet Sauvignon – $125
This was more floral on the nose with purple fruit.  In the mouth this showed better balance than the 2009 with sweet spice, a wood note, and some spicy heat.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Barnett Vineyards

Barnet 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.

2009 Barnett Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain – $60
This wine is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petite Verdot that was aged for 22 months in 65% new and 35% once-used French oak barrels.  This was unique with a nose of oysters, seaside, and the woods.  There was ripe fruit in the mouth along with sweet cinnamon and maple.

2010 Barnett Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain – $60
With a touch more Petit Verdot there was not much on the nose.  In the mouth Eucalyptus notes and red fruit mixed with orange-juice acidity before the tangy finish.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Barnett Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake – $120
This fruit was sourced from volcanic soil and was aged for 22 months in wood.  This was the most perfumed with lavender, red and black fruit in the mouth.  Lively on the tongue it took on red grapefruit and orange citrus tannins.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Bure Family

Valeri Bure, Bure Family

Valeri Bure developed a passion for fine wine and food over the ten-plus years he played hockey.   Luc Morlet is the winemaker with the wines made at Chateau Boswell Winery.

2010 Bure Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Thirteen – $135
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Barn Vineyard.  The nose was inky, dark.  In the mouth there were gobs of brambly, deep fruit which slowly unveiled and expanded in the mouth.  There were sweet spices, very fine tannins, and racy perfume.  Very good and should get better over the year.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Bure Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Duration, Oakville – $175
There are 100 cases of this wine.  It s a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon from Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard and 20% Cabernet Franc from Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard.  The nose was interesting.  In the mouth the flavors were initially quite creamy, though more tannic than the Thirteen, there was a balanced vein throughout.  The flavors turned towards bright red fruit in the finish as it explodes in the mouth.  The aftertaste left impressions of orange peel and nuts. Young.  A lot going on, very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Bure Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Duration, Oakville – $150
This showed more lift to the nose as compared to the 2009.  The perfumed, tart red fruit flavors mixed with purple flavors and show more restraint.  The tannins were the most drying and there was a hint of heat.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Crocker & Starr

In 1971 Charlie Crocker purchased the historic Durell & Sonw Winery which was established in the 1870s.   In 1997 Pam Starr joins Charlie to create Crocker & Starr where she is the manager and winemaker.  After graduating from UC Davis Pam worked at Edna Valley Vineyard and Carment Winery.    In addition to starting Crocker & Starr Pam started consulting to Adastra Vineyard, Gemstone Vineyard, and Garric Cellars.

2009 Crocker and Starr, Stone Place, Cabernet Sauvignon – $81
The nose was restrained with red fruit and barrel notes.  In the mouth the tight flavors mixed with perfume which turned to incense and old-style perfume in the middle.  There was a smooth mouthfeel.  This needs time to come together.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Dunn Vineyards

Mark Longsworth, Country Vintner

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.

2009 Dunn Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley – $65
The nose was beautiful with underlying brambly fruit.  In the mouth there was an immediate lovely mouthfeel, inky notes, ripe sweet fruit which turned cool in the middle.  The beautiful spices mixed with depth and controlled power. The finish and aftertaste wrapped up with creamy, ripe cherries.  Again, outstanding.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Mark Herold Wines

Mike Loberg, Assistant Winemaker, 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.

2009 Mark Herold Wines, Flux – $22
This is a blend of 68% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 12% Carignan, and 5% Petite Sirah.  The nose revealed scented red and blue fruits.  In the mouth the red fruit was mouthfilling with some vanilla, a bit of weight, and a spicy, ripe finish.

2010 Mark Herold Wines, Flux – $24
The Petit Sirah was very dark with this vintage so less was used as compared to the 2009.  The nose was darker and more concentrated over the 2009.  There were tart, purple grapey flavors with a tart middle and very fine, spicy tannins in the finish.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Mark Herold Wines, Acha – $40
This wine is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 12% Grenache, 9% Carignan, 5% Graciano, and 4% Petit Sirah.  There was a nose of red fruit and subtle spice.  In the mouth there redder fruit had power with very fine drying tannins.  Very young.

2010 Mark Herold Wines, Acha – $36
This wine is 100% Tempranillo.  The nose revealed delicate perfume.  In the mouth the red fruit was tart and inky with a dark fruited finish.  The ultra fine tannins slowly build in the mouth.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Mark Herold Wines, Collide – 
This is a blend of 40% Petite Sirah, 35% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.  The brambly nose was blue and bright.  In the mouth the weightier flavors started with initial acidity then it was smoother and dark with even more fine, drying tannins than the Acha.

2010 Mark Herold Wines, Collide – $26
Unlike the 2009 this wine has some Syrah in it.  The nose was tighter yet retained some lift.  There was red fruit, low-lying dark flavors, and fine drying tannins.  Young and playing it close right now.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Mark Herold Wines, “B” Cabernet Sauvignon – $70
The fruit is sourced from Stagecoach vineyard along with Bennett and Rochas vineyards in Coombs Valley.  There were cassis flavors along with greenhouse florals which started off as round in the mouth.  The wine becomes a bit spicy with dense weight, and a good mouth feel.  The mouth follows the nose.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Hensley Family Vineyards

Mike Hensley, 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.

2009 Hensley Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hillside, Napa Valley – $49
The nose showed blue fruit.  In the mouth the structured blue and black fruit expanded in the mouth and was racy throughout.  The flavors became bluer before taking on red fruit in the aftertaste.  A good wine for the inaugural vintage!  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Hensley Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hillside, Napa Valley – $49
From a sample collected three weeks earlier.  The flavors showed greener with a bit of spritz.  The red fruit was supported by a sweet underlying suppleness before turning red in the finish with acidity.  There was an inky aspect with red fruit and smoke in the aftertaste.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Paul Hobbs Wines

Matt Hobbs, 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.

2010 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $65
This wine has been a blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot sourced from four vineyards that was fermented in closed-top stainless steel fermenters using indigenous yeasts and underwent malolactic fermentation.  The wine is typically aged for 20 months in 74% new French oak barrels. The nose revealed dark fruit and pure aromas of leather.  In the mouth the weighty dark fruit and more leather with a creamy mouthfeel.  A very up-front personality to this very good wine.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, To-Kalon – $195
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented in closed-top stainless steel fermenters using indigenous yeasts and underwent malolactic fermentation.  The wine is typically aged for 20 months in 100% new Taransaud French oak barrels. The nose was quite complex and beautiful with purple fruit, lavender, spices, and violets.  The flavors step up with additional depth, riper, and floral in flavor as well.  There is a red vein of flavor, a licorice note, and powerful fine tannins in the long aftertaste.  Quite nice, outstanding.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Hourglass

Audra Chapman, Hourglass

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.

2009 Hourglass, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blueline – $125
The nose was of red candy, raspberry pastilles, and floral aromatics.  In the mouth this felt heavily supple with sweet nose,a  little inky aspect in the middle and some lift.  Perhaps needing a touch more acidity, the aftertaste was drying with some heat.

2009 Hourglass, Merlot, Blueline – $75
The nose was very sweet, with purple fruit underlying.  In the mouth this saline wine revealed old ladies perfume with a very ripe and sweet finish.

2010 Hourglass, Merlot, Blueline – $66
This had a familial sweet, textured nose.  In the mouth the flavors attack with better ripe flavors, a racy vein, and a dark flavored lift in the finish.  There were buttery flavors in the mouth.  Not my type of wine.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Hourglass, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blueline – $110
The flavors were austere but creamy.  It began with tart red fruit but left the impression of being about the mouthfeel.  There were very fine tannins.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Kamen

Katty Wilson, Associate Winemaker, Kamen

Robert Kamen is the screenwriter of movies including the Karate Kid, The Fifth Element, The Transporter, and Taken.  In 1980 he purchased a 280 acres estate on the southwestern slopes of the Mayacamas Range.  Viticulturalist Phil Coturri was brought in and the fruit was initially sold to wineries.  A devastating fire in 1996 destroyed half of the vineyards and the Kamen’s home.  After replanting the vineyards Kamen produced their first estate wine in 1999.  Kamen aims for ripe fruit, low yields, and high quality.  Mark Herold is their winemaker with the goal of producing “intense, high extracted, terroir-driven wines.”

2009 Kamen, Cabernet Sauvignon – $75
The ripe and dark nose mixed with tobacco aromas.  In the mouth there was a ripe burst of flavor, almost saline before taking on a weight that draped on the tongue.  The finish was primary and sweet.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Kamen, Cabernet Sauvignon – $75
This was more floral with a greenhouse nose.  The flavors show restraint instead of ripeness,with  fresh red fruit, Indian spices, and teeth coating tannins.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Larkin Wines

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.  Unfortunately the barrel samples had been finish by the time we came around!

2009 Larkin Wines, Cabernet Franc – $55
This wine has been a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 2% PEtite Verdot aged for 20 months in 50% new French oak.  The gritty nose contained blueberries and herbs.  In the mouth there was ample purple fruit, dried herbs, and old perfume.  There was a little obvious structure and spices coming out in the finish with a dark aftertaste.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Larkin Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $55
This wine has been a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 4% Petite Verdot aged for 20 months in 50% new French oak.  This was blue in flavor with sweeter spice, a cool expansion with creamy blue fruit in the middle.  It was a bit racy, which I liked.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Larkin Wines, MacArthur Beverages Red Wine – $30
This was quite different showing red berries and red grapefruit tilting toward the tart.  A bit laid back with finer, more obvious tannins and red fruit in the aftertaste.  Find it at Add to Cart.

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 beging 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.

2009 Morlet Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mon Chevalier – $140
This wine has been a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot sourced from a hillside in Knights Valley.  The medium strength nose was of scented ripe fruit.  In the flavors were upfront in the mouth with an expansive beginning followed by a creamy finish, marked by grip, and wrapping up with fine+ tannins.  Very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Morlet Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coeur de Vallee To-Kalon – $140
This wine has been a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Cabernet Franc sourced from the famous Beckstoffer To-Kalon vineyard.  The finely textured nose had feint notes of spearmint.  In the mouth the up-front flavors were purple with a supple texture, an inky Cabernet Franc finish, and sweet spices in the aftertaste.  Very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Morlet Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Passionnement – $185
This wine has been 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Oakville bench.  This concentrated wine showed structure and restraint with a racy finish containing cinnamon spices.  Definitely young and made for age with potential.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Pahlmeyer

Cleo Pahlmeyer, Pahlmeyer

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.

2009 Pahlmeyer, Proprietary Red – $110
This is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then is typically aged for 18 months in 75% new French oak.   The subtle purple nose had a ripe red fruit note and sweet spice.  In the mouth the flavors were supple with sweet, floral fruit, and a little wood box component.  Very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Ramey Wine Cellars

George Staikos, Ramey

Davie Ramey graduated from UC Davis in 1979 then worked for the Moueix family at Chateau Petrus.  Upon returning to California he helped established Chalk Hill, Matanzas Creek, Dominus Estate, and Rudd Estate.  Davie and his wife Carla founded Ramey Wine Cellars in 1996.

2010 Ramey, Syrah, Rodger’s Creek, Sonoma Coast – $50
This wine is 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier which was cofermented using indigenous yeasts.  In the past it has been aged for 28 months in 75% new barrels.The nose was flora with blue fruit, perfume and some ripeness.  In the mouth this weighty wine was ripe yet cool with good perfumed flavors and concentration.  Drunk halfway through the tasting it was refreshing, very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Ramey, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pedregal Vineyard, Oakville – $180
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot sourced from the lower slopes of the southeastern Oakville hills and fermented with indigenous yeasts.  In the past it has been aged for over two years in completely new barrels.  There was a light, restrained nose.  In the mouth the ripe, deep fruit bceame structured in the middle with wood notes in the finish as the black fruit flavors mixed with fine+ tannins.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2010 Ramey, Cabernet Sauvignon, Annum, Napa Valley – $90
This is an “appellation wine” which has been produced from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the J.H. Davies Vineyard and Petit Verdot from the estate’s Pedregal Vineyard.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts and has been aged for over two years in new barrels. The dark nose made way to a good, concentrated, dark red fruit in the mouth.  There was some grip, a saline aspect, pleasant structure, good acidity, and a long aftertaste.  Very well done and ready for aging.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Ridge Vineyards

Eric Baugher, Winemaker and Michael Torino, Sales Manager, Ridge

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.  I recommend that you read Building Monte Bello: The 2011 Assemblage at the Ridge blog.

2010 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello –
This sample was collected on March 2, 2012.  This is a blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was floral with greenhouse notes.  In the mouth the red and blue fruit was beautiful and balanced by good acidity.  Medium in weight there were fine, integrated tannins.  Very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

2011 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello – $85
This sample was collected on March 1, 2012.  This is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.  Very different from the 2010 in that it was more aromatic with aromas of roasted earth.  In the mouth the flavors were grapey and forward with less weight and more overt tannins.  The Cabernet Franc component shines through.  Needs to settle down.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Staglin Family Vineyard

Ron Brooks, Winebow

Staglin Family Vineyard originated with the purchase of the Rutherford Bench estate in 1985.  Today it is very much a family run winery.   The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a high-end offering.  The 2008 vintage was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot which was aged for 22 months in 95% new and 8% used French oak.

2010 Staglin Family Vineyard, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $185
This sample was bottled six days prior to tasting.  The low-lying and complex nose revealed sweet fruit.  In the mouth the wine was dense with good depth yet remained light on its feet.  The blue and red fruit was very concentrated in flavor with persistent dark red flavors in the aftertaste.  Well-integrated and beautiful, very good.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Tablas Creek Vineyard

Olivier Lotterie, Vineyard Brands

The fruit for the Esprit de Beaucastal is sources 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.  This blend was finalized just under two weeks ago.

2010 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Esprit de Beaucastal – $45
This wine is a blend of 45% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache Noir, 21% Syrah, and 4% Counoise.  There was a nose of delicate red fruit.  In the mouth the brighter red fruit was concentrated and scented with nice, grapey tannins, wrapping up with a fresh, lifted finish.  A very good wine.  Find it at Add to Cart.

Lou and Aaron After the Tasting

The 27th California Futures Tasting, this Saturday

Tomorrow Lou and I will attend the 27th 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.  Lou had been attending the barrel tasting for several years when three years ago he suggested that I might want to join him.  I have greatly enjoyed myself in the past, there are both outstanding wines and food to try.  Held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington, DC there is an ample selection of meats, charcuterie, finger foods, and dessert.  We will be attending the 6:30-9:00pm tasting so if you spot us please say hello!  If you have not already purchased your tickets both the 12:30-3:0pm and 6:30-9:00pm tickets are available at the door.

In looking at the list of attendees, here are the wineries that are making their first appearance at the tasting:

  • Arietta
  • Bure Family
  • Croker & Starr
  • Hensley Family
  • Hourglass
  • John Anthony
  • Staglin Family
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