Posts Tagged ‘Carneros’

A pair of 1977 wines from the historic Winery Lake Vineyard

I brought backup wines just in case my selections for our latest dinner with Sudip and Melanie were not drinkable.  Though my two old bottles had high fills, I had no idea what to expect of the 1977 Merlot and 1977 Pinot Noir from the Winery Lake Vineyard.

Founded around 1960 by Rene di Rosa, Winery Lake Vineyard is important in the history of Carneros.  The site dates back to the 1880s when it was known as the Talcoa Vineyard.  Like much of California, the vinous ties were broken as a result of Prohibition.  Replanting in Carneros only began in the late 1950s and Rene di Rosa’s efforts helped re-launch the region.  He planted primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with a few other varieties,  selling the fruit off to other wineries in Napa and Sonoma.  Some of these wines were highly regarded, causing new interest in the area.  Carneros Creek arrived in 1971, Buena Vista moved here in 1974, Ravenswood was soon to arrive in 1976, and Acacia was founded in 1979 just to name a few.

By the 1980s, such was the fame of Di Rosa’s fruit that Charles L. Sullivan writes they were the most expensive grapes in the state.  The two bottles I opened were made using Di Rosa’s fruit but the two wineries could not be more different.  Martin Ray needs no introduction. However, this vintage was not made by him as he had passed away the previous year.  Wine and the People was founded by Peter Brehm in an old warehouse in Berkeley in 1970.  This was a home winemaking and homebrew store.  He not only sold equipment but apparently scouted out fruit and even made wine at his warehouse.

The 1977 Martin Ray, Merlot, Winery Lake Vineyard has a lead capsule.  Our bottle had a perfect cork with very dark staining and weinstein only at the business end.  The 1977 Wine and the People, Pinot Noir, Winery Lake Vineyard cork was a touch softer, dark throughout, and smelled appropriately of old wood.  The Martin Ray is a bit stinky at first and while it does clean up, the nose remains the most mature aspect of the wine.  In the mouth it is flavorful, luxurious feeling, and full of life.  There is a certain sweetness to the flavors which I felt was initially distinct.  With air the parts come together and this 40 year old wine is nothing but fun to drink.  If tasted blind, I would guess The Wine and the People is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  There is darker fruit, balanced acidity, and a classic wood box aspect to the aromas and flavors.  It does not have the staying power of the Martin Ray but for an hour or two you will have trouble faulting this bottle of Pinot Noir.  I should add that both of these wines have fair amount of body.  Whether that is due to the vintage and/or the vineyard I do not know.

1977 Martin Ray, Merlot, Winery Lake Vineyard
Alcohol 13%.  The initial bottle stink eventually blows off revealing mature flavors, coffee, and some old notes.  Despite the mature nose the wine is flavorful and full of life in the mouth.  There are sweet, baking spiced fruit flavors, glycerin, and cinnamon towards the finish.  The sweetness of the fruit is a bit separate at first but with air this wine really shapes up to become balanced.  In the end this is a fuller bodied, berrylicious wine with a luscious mouthfeel.  **** Now – 2027.

1977 Wine and the People, Pinot Noir, Winery Lake Vineyard
Alcohol 12.5%.  Smoke and leather aromas develop into a good nose made more complex by wood and spice scents.  In the mouth is a rounded start of blue and black fruit.  The wine is weighty and a little soft in the middle but with air it becomes correct with the acidity supporting throughout.  It only last for one to two hours before turning sour. **(*) Now.

A Casual Tasting Involving 2013 Finger Lakes Riesling to 1979 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Earlier this week my brother-in-law and I went over to Lou’s house to taste a selection of primarily American wines.  Lou recently brought back a bunch of wine purchased during his vacation in the Finger Lakes.  The 2013 Forge Cellars, Riesling, Finger Lakes is the first bottle he has shared with me from this new stash.  It is a collaborative project involving Louis Barruol of Chateau Ste Cosme in the Rhone.  It is also interesting because Louis Barruol decided to use old oak when making the Riesling.  This version is crisp and tart but it remained mostly closed throughout the evening.  I would revisit it a few years from now.  Our second white is the $6 dump bin selection of 2006 Barnett Vineyards, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros.  This is a barrel fermented and sur lie aged Chardonnay which exudes the richness you can obtain in California.  Lovers of this style of wine will gush over it more than I do but I can write that with air it is an enjoyable fully mature wine.

As for the red wines we started with and promptly moved over the 1979 Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Margaux.  The 1982 vintage of this wine still provides pleasure but this 1979 is past any enjoyable drinking window.  We opened it as a vintage pair to the 1979 Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, 125th Anniversary Selection, Rhine Farm Vineyards, Sonoma Valley.  The 1979 is admittedly not the best Californian vintage and it reflects in the aromatic hints that this wine is moving past maturity.  It came from the Earthquake Cellar hence the label arrived stained and is not a reflection of us spilling wine everywhere.  The wine is pretty tasty in the mouth and was not frail.  It really is just the nose holding this one back.  Completely different is the very youthful 1989 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley.  It is slightly herbaceous in a good way, bright, acidic, and structured.  I like the floral aspect and believe you should drink this up now.

We required one more bottle of wine to finish up our sous-vide then grilled flank steak so the cork came out of the 1999 Ravenswood, Pickberry Vineyard, Sonoma.  It offered up flavorful black, bramble berries with some added complexity from age.  This dump bin find is drinking at its top form right now and would make an interesting alternative as a daily drinker.  In the end, none of the wines blew me away or really captivated my attention but that is fine as I spent a good amount of time talking and not taking notes.


2013 Forge Cellars, Riesling, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 12.8%.  The color is a lighter, yellow green.  The Riesling aromas moves to a richer note of petrol flavor in the mouth that exists in a tart and crisp wine.  There is some body but the fruit is largely closed down.  The wine is very fresh and tart with a chalky finish.  It does round out a bit with air but it really needs several years of age to integrate and open up.  **(*) 2018-2022.


2006 Barnett Vineyards, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented then aged sur lie.  Alcohol 14.8%.  The nose is of yeast and toast that speaks to the winemaking.  In the mouth is a round, glycerin loaded, ripe fruit start.  This wine bears a lot of wine with some green apple flavors and just enough acidity.  It actually brightens up with air and reveals its mature flavors.  ** Now.


1979 Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Margaux
Imported by Woodley Wine & Liquor.  Alcohol 13%.  There are advanced aromas and roast on the nose.  In the mouth there is a bright start but the wine is too advanced with thin flavors and structure still around.  Past! Not Rated.


1979 Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, 125th Anniversary Selection, Rhine Farm Vineyards, Sonoma Valley
Alcohol 13.0%.  The nose speaks of its age and there is a roast hint.  In the mouth this wine has good body and red fruit flavors.  The sweet, powdery fruit coats the mouth leaving ripe tannins on the gums.  Attractive.  ** Now.


1989 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.1%.  The nose is fresh and  slightly herbaceous.  There is still fresh red fruit in the mouth with a balance between fresh floral flavors and an inky hint.  It is a nice wine that becomes a little shy with air.  I believe the structure will ultimately outlive the fruit.  Why not just drink it now?  *** Now but will easily last.


1999 Ravenswood, Pickberry Vineyard, Sonoma
This wine is a blend of 72% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvigon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.6%.  There are plummy, black fruit and bramble berries.  Rather flavorful but the acidity and structure balance make for a good feeling in the mouth.  There is a good balance between bottle aged complexity and fruit.  *** Now.


A Diamond Creek vertical back to 1978 along with some other good bottles from the 1970s

May 13, 2016 1 comment

This past Friday we gathered at my house to taste a vertical of seven Diamond Creek wines from 1994 back to 1978.  It is only natural to taste more wine than what we gathered for.  So with mixed results we tasted some aged bubbly while we waited for everyone to arrive.  We then sat down at the dining room table to work through four blind mature wines of the California and Bordeaux nature.  Following the Diamond Creek vertical and dinner, we wrapped the evening up with some interesting dessert wines.

The Sparkling Flight

I rarely notice old bottles of Californian sparkling wine for sale.  While there could be a reason for this, Lou and I were sure to snatch up a bottle each from the Earthquake Cellar.  Only the 1996 Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County turned out to be mature and completely drinkable.  The fruit is mature with added complexity from baking spices.  The bubbles are starting to dissipate so I would drink this up.  Unfortunately, no amount of sparkle could resurrect the past-prime flavors of the 1991 Beaulieu Vineyards, “100th Anniversary” Brut Reserve, Sparkling Wine.  To compensate I opened my second bottle of NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne (1970s release) hoping that this one would have bubbles.  It didn’t.  Despite the better looking bottle, the cork was saturated with fuzzy gray mold which did not bode well for what was inside.


1996 Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County
The mature and reasonably attractive nose revealed orchard fruit, some brioche, and baking spice.  In the mouth, the creamy and nutty start mixed with moderate bubbles that dissipated by the finish.  Fully mature. ** Now.


1991 Beaulieu Vineyards, “100th Anniversary” Brut Reserve, Sparkling Wine, Carneros
This smells old with plenty of apple orchard flavors.  In the mouth are ample amounts of aggressive, fine bubbles that yield a youthful framework for the wine.  Unfortunately, the flavors are old and short.  Not Rated.


NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne Brut (1970s release)
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Completely flat with aromas and flavors of a white wine way past its prime.  Not Rated.

The Blind Flight

We kicked off the red wines by tasting a blind flight at the dining room table.  I knew what the first wines were, but having only tasted one upon decanting, it was fun none the less.  The 1982 Niebaum-Coppola, Rubicon, Napa Valley is destined for a long life.  The nose is young, the fruit dark and in balance with the structure and acidity.  The wine is linear and firm, never giving up its flavor.  I believe there was a general consensus this was old California.  It will last but I do not see it improving.  The 1975 Chateau Palmer, Margaux tasted on the light and thin side when first decanted.  An hour of air only benefited the bottle for it offered up attractive aromas and flavors of sweet, mature fruit.  I like Palmer and this bottle of 1975 delivered all I could hope for from this vintage.  Most people thought this was old Bordeaux.  The 1975 Heitz Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley was a flawed bottle.  I could work my way around the nose but in the mouth the brief, hopeful start soon turned coarse.  Impossible to say what this was blind.  Finally, the 1975 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc threw me and others for a loop.  We soon knew the last two wines were from the same vintage but this did not help in any way.  The coffee and chocolate aromas had me leaning towards California but the flavors towards Bordeaux.  The wine turned out to be quite youthful with plenty of strength.  A good wine but not as seductive as the Palmer.


1982 Niebaum-Coppola, Rubicon, Napa Valley
This smells young with cherry fruit.  The flavors are a bit linear becoming darker and blacker as the wine firms up towards the middle.  It is salty and savory with a structure of fine tannins woven throughout.  It does show some mature flavors in the middle before finishing up with salivating acidity.  ** Now but will last.


1975 Chateau Palmer, Margaux
Shipped by Caves Robert Michelle. Imported by Parliament Import. Alcohol 11% – 14%.  There is a good, mature nose of sweet old fruit with a hint of musk.  The sweet fruit fills the mouth in a gentle way.  There is a touch of fat with structure still present through the end.  It is a lighter wine, with attractive flavors, some bacon, and a sappy finish.  Drinking great right now.  *** Now.


1975 Heitz Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.5%.  Strong aromas of VA on the nose.  In the mouth is a brief bit of fresh, young flavors before the coarseness came out.  Shame.  Not Rated.


1975 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc
The aromas of coffee and chocolate had me on the fence about being from Bordeaux.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had a cedar hint before savory, weighty flavors came out.  There is good acidity.  The wine became even more youthful with air, showing dark fruit, and lurking power.  The finish was savory and a bit electric.  Needs more time?  *** Now – 2021.

The Diamond Creek Flights

Anyone with interest in Diamond Creek Vineyards should read the transcript of Carole Hicke’s interview of Albert Brounstein in 1998.  In fact, the entire Wine Spectator California Wine Oral History Series is great fun.  Diamond Creek Vineyards became California’s first all Cabernet Sauvignon winery when the 79 acre property was purchased in 1967.  Al Brounstein wanted to make the best possible wine from Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the more uneven Zinfandel.  He interacted a lot with Ridge Vineyards in those early days before Paul Draper.

The Diamond Creek vineyards were promptly planted in 1968.  Al Brounstein wanted to plant vines from France, but UC Davis said they would quarantine them for six years before they could be released.  Al Brounstein did not want to wait and he wanted the best cuttings possible so he approached the great First Growths of Bordeaux.  The cuttings went from France to Mexico City then up to Tijuana then over to Rosarita Beach.  Here Al Brounstein would fly them back up to his vineyard in his private plane.

The Bordeaux estates from which the cuttings came from are not revealed in the interview.  There is a cryptic clue however, “even though I’m going to tell you three names out of the five, of which two may or may not be included…I’m not revealing any names”.  He goes on to mention Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, and Chateau Latour.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties were planted as a field blend for this practice is what Al Brounstein observed during his vineyard visits in Europe.  The vineyards were first planted with 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot.   In the early 1970s he began to replace dead or damaged vines with Cabernet Franc, eventually coming to 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc distribution.  Wine was first produced with the 1971 vintage.  All of the 1971 vintage, except for the one case which was drunk, was used to top off the casks of the first commercial vintage of 1972.

There were three original vineyards: Gravelly Meadow, Red Rock Terrace, and Volcanic Hill.  The Gravelly Meadow lies on a prehistoric river bed which drains rapidly forcing the vines to search for water.  It is the second coolest microclimate and was equated to Chateau Haut Brion.  The 7 acre Red Rock Terrace faces north with red tinted soil from high iron content.  It has a warm microclimate and was equated to Chateau Haut Brion.  The 8 acre Volcanic Hill faces south where it lies on volcanic soils, producing what is considered the biggest wine of the three.  It was equated to Chateau Latour.

Wines from these three vineyards are what we tasted.  They have always been produced with an eye towards slow development which came out in the young vintages.  The modern 1994 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley is young and densely packed.  Though it will develop for quite some time, it is surprisingly accessible with plenty of fruit.  In contrast, the 1987 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley which also show great future potential, is a more savory wine with less fruit weight and quite attractive in its youth.

The 1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley gave the first taste of an old-school Californian wine.  It is attractively sweaty with more restraint and structure.  It will drink well for sometime and might even improve.  It certainly set the stage for the final pair from 1978.  The 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley is livelier with brighter, red fruit, lively acidity, and very fine tannins.  In contrast the 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley is deeper and darker in flavor, slowly unfurling its power which takes grip on your mouth.  It was my favorite red wine of the night.  I really enjoy this type of wine and all I wanted to do is drink it.


1994 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The red fruit slowly builds intensity, taking on licorice as well.  The wine is quite fruity, packing in a lot of unique flavor, but is also rather young with fine tannins.  With this savory flavor, the wine maintains a dense core of fruit that is clean and thick.  **** Now – 2031.


1992 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  Corked! Not Rated.


1987 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The sweaty nose is dark and aromatic.  In the mouth are savory, mouthfilling flavors framed by structure and watering acidity.  This wine is on the upslope of development.  With air the red and black fruit is lighter in weight making the fine structure noticeable.  The flavorful finish is followed by an aftertaste of dark roast and soil.  ***(*) Now – 2031


1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%. Off bottle! Not Rated.


1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is sweaty and dark, not showing the intensity of the 1978s.  The mature flavors exist in a touch more structure with fine tannins and a sweaty finish.  It shows a good balance between fruit, structure, and acidity. With air there are mature flavors of cherry mixed with dry spices, salivating to juicy acidity and very fine tannins.  ***(*) Now – 2026.


1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is more subtle but deeper with a crayon hint.  The red fruit is balanced by acidity making this more accessible.  The fruit flavors are bright but backed by depth and delivered in a lively, mature manner.  There is good balance with the acidity seamlessly bound in, matching the structure.  It wraps up with fine flavors of clean red fruit and a wood box hint.  **** Now but will last.


1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is a touch earthy.  In the mouth the darker fruit is rich with grip, steadily expanding in the mouth.  The fresh and tart structure is left on the gum as some sweet, not quite grainy fruit, persists through the aftertaste.  **** Now but will last.

The Dessert Flight

There were four dessert wines opened. The first two in full-bottles were served blind and the last two, in halves, were from Canada.  There is little in print with regards to 1976 Hermann Freiherr von Schorlemer, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.  Despite the greatness of Bernkastel wines, the von Schorlemer family is not mentioned in Andre Simon’s and S. F. Halgarten’s The Great Wines of Germany (1963), Frank Schoomaker’s Encyclopedia of Wine (1965), nor Ian Jamieson’s German Wines (1991).  There are a handful of advertisements for von Schorlemer wines in the late 1960s, usually featuring other offerings of Alexis Lichine.  Fortunately, Phil reached out to Johannes Selbach who promptly responded.  The von Schorlemer is a noble family that owned some of the best vineyard of the Mittelmosel which were highly regarded before World War 1.  They were still a top estate in the 1960s.  It sounds like interests changed so a large holdings of vineyards were sold off in 1969 which marked the slow decline of the estate.  Our bottle was in perfect condition with a supremely beautiful color.  Michael Broadbent rates the vintage four out of five stars noting it was a “supremely rich vintage”. With aromas of apricots and baking spices the sweet peach flavors were sported along by watering acidity.  If you happen to have a bottle I would consider drinking it.  The finish was a touch short but the wine resurrected itself with a very long aftertaste.  I freely admit I had no clue what the 1995 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume was.  It was not as mature in color as the von Schorlemer and much younger in the mouth.  It needs time in bottle but you simply must love the fat and electric acidity that carries the residual sugar down your throat.


1976 Herman Freiherr von Schorlemer, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Imported by Woodley Wine & Liquor.  Alcohol 10%.  This golden colored wine smells of apricots, cream, and baking spices. There are flavors of textured sweet peach with watering acidity.  The intensity of the flavors fall off in the finish only to return in the incredibly long aftertaste.  **** Now.


1995 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume
Shipped by Bertrand Bordeaux. Imported by Prestige Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Though lighter than the 1976 Riesling, the color suggests maturity.  In the mouth is a very sweet start with fat, lots of sugar, and almost electric acidity.  ****  Now – 2046.


A pair of Californian Chardonnay from 2012

November 6, 2014 Leave a comment

The 2012 Antica, Chardonnay, Napa Valley provides the same impeccable level of balance I experienced with the previous vintage.  This is not a fruit bomb from Napa Valley, rather it leans towards the understated!  After going through many bottles of the 2012 Neyers Vineyards, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County I was finally able to try the 2012 Neyers Vineyards, Chardonnay, Carneros District.  The former was raised in stainless steel with the later in French oak.  Quite honestly, I preferred the 304 for its lively complexity over the Carneros District which came across as more flat.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 Antica, Chardonnay, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The color was a rather light straw.  The nose revealed perfect integration of toast and yellow fruit.  In the mouth were toast infused flavors of round fruit.  The wine was a bit creamy and dense with the acidity always right there.  *** Now-2015.


2012 Neyers Vineyards, Chardonnay, Carneros District – $26
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented with indigenous yeasts and raised in 25% new and 75% used French oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose revealed low-lying yellow fruit that was slightly tropical, along with a toast hint.  The mouth bore similar flavors with slight texture.  The wine was balanced, quite gentle in the mouth, and had smoke hints in the finish.  ** Now.


Recent Rosé

I clearly love drinking red wine so when the weather warms up I have an affinity for rosé over white wine.  I prefer an inexpensive wine with red fruit, crispness, and some juicy acidity.  In this vein you cannot go wrong with the 2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes or the 2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret. I prefer to begin my evening with a glass while I prepare dinner or clean some dishes.  So I was shocked by the intense acidity of the 2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé.  In fact it was so powerful I literally could not take more than one sip.  Far more preferable was the 2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec which was more thought provoking than thirst-quenching.  Priced at the highest-end of the range is the 2013 Robert Sinsky Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros.  The color was matched by delicate floral aromas and flavors.  It is an attractive rosé but bear in mind you may purchase both the Brassdes and Mourchon for the cost of one bottle.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes – $12
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A vibrant cran-cherry color.  There were cherries and fruity raspberry candy on the nose.  In the mouth were firm, hard cherry fruit which had a touch of ripeness.  This ripeness was delicate, mixing with perfumed flavors, and fresh texture in the finish.  With air the wine became slightly rounder with supporting acidity and pastille flavors in the aftertaste.  Satisfying.  ** Now-2015.


2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret – $13
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The flavors of firm cherry and strawberry mix with good acidity.  ** Now-2015.


2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé – $19
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 12.5%.  The citric red fruit is immediately followed by a tremendous amount of quality acidity.  Literally impossible to drink on its own until the fifth night.  This clearly needs food and is not my style.  * Now.


2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.   Alcohol 12%.  There were tart red fruit flavors that were drier.  Combined with the juicy acidity this wine had a lot of presence.  Though the flavors were lighter there was a sense of strength before the stone notes in the firm finish.  ** Now-2016.


2013 Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros – $27
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13.1%.  The color was of pale dried roses.  The nose revealed delicate floral aromas.  In the mouth were floral fruit flavors and acidity at the back of the throat.  There was a little grip to these delicate flavors followed by a firm finish.  Drank well over several nights.  ** Now-2016.


There is No Shortage of Bedrock at Sonoma’s Best

Inspired by the pair of Bedrock wines I detailed in my post I Find Paydirt in Bedrock I decided to look for more in the hometown of Sonoma.  Barry Herbst of The Rare Wine Co. had recommended I check out Sonoma’s Best for an affordable selection of wines.  When I walked into the wine shop, proprietor Tom was pouring samples at the bar.  I took a turn about the store only to be surprised by a dozen different wines from Bedrock.   Tom helped me pick a trio of wines at different price points.  All three of these wines need further age which might seem a bit odd since one is a rosé.  I have no clue how these wines will develop but if the 2012 Bedrock Wine Co., Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley is an indication of  drinkability then stash a few bottles in your cellar.   Remember, these wines were purchased at Sonoma’s Best so stop by before they disappear.


2013 Bedrock Wine Co., Old Vine Rosé, Ode to Lulu, California – $22
The old-vine Mourvedre was sourced from Bedrock Vineyard and Pagani Ranch, the Grenache from vines planted in 1888 at Gibson Ranch, and the Carignane from vines planted in the 1950s at Ukiah.  Alcohol 12.6%.  This took a few days to open up, revealing more floral perfume mixed with fruit punch berries.  In the mouth were ripe flavors of black cherry, some firmness, and slightly  juicy acidity.  **(*) 2014-2017.


2012 Bedrock Wine Co., Red Wine, Evangelho Vineyard Heritage, Contra Costa County – $34
The fruit for this wine was sourced from old vines located along the Sacramento River Delta.  This wine is a blend of 40% Carignane, 38% Mourvedre, and 22% Zinfandel, Palomino, Alicante, and Mission.  It was raised in French oak barrels and foudre.  This wine had flavors of tart, dark fruit with a citric note.  The flavors eventually play it close despite the easy start.  There was some toast and good acidity mixing with the tightly wound fruit.  The flavors were red in the middle followed by ripe black fruit in the finish.  The structure remained subtle with hints of cinnamon spices and lipstick in the aftertaste.  *** 2015-2020.


2011 Bedrock Wine Co., Syrah, T’n’S-Blocks, Hudson Vineyard South, Carneros – $43
This fruit for this wine is sourced from one block planted in 1993 and a second in 2006.  The fruit was 50% whole-cluster fermented then aged for 15 months in a variety of French oak barrels.  A little smoke flavor mixed with cool black fruit. There was some sweet fruit grip, a racy finish, followed by a spicy grip, ripe spices and a not quite robust aftertaste.  This is young and clearly leaves the impression it needs some time to develop.  ***(*) 2016-2025.


Crushed By Foot: Two Wines From Ryme & Verse

May 17, 2013 1 comment


Ryme Cellars was founded by Ryan and Megan Glaab in 2007 followed by the introduction of Verse Wine in 2011. The Ryme wines tend to feature Italian varietals whereas the Verse wines have featured the more popular varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In exploring these new wines I decided to pick one from each line. I first opened the 2011 Verse, Pinot Noir. At first it was flirting along a style of wine which is, quite honestly, not my favorite. But then on the second night it relaxed and expressed that it should develop into something interesting. My favorite of the pair is the 2011 Ryme, His Vermentino. I had no clue what to expect from a skin-contact Vermentino from California so it was with complete curiosity that I poured my first glass. The skin-contact is certainly exhibited but it is nothing extreme, instead it adds complexity and character. I drank the bottle over a week, one glass at a time. It showed best on the second and third nights with one glass at a time proving to be quite engaging. I am still curious to try more. These wines were purchased directly from Ryme Cellars.


2011 Ryme Cellars, His, Vermentino, Las Brisas Vineyard, Carneros – $32
This wine is 100% Vermentino which was crushed by foot, whole cluster fermented with the skins for two weeks, pressed to barrel then aged for ten months. Alcohol 11.9%. The color was a light+ nutty yellow which was slightly cloudy. The light nose was of rich, honied aromas which took on orange and tropical notes followed by fragrant flowers. In the mouth there was ripe fruit with vibrant acidity before the wine became so smooth and seamless. It left powdery, ripe flavors in the aftertaste. With air it maintained a gentle texture and fine aftertaste but developed hints of stones. Lovely to smell. *** Now – 2015.


2011 Verse Wines, Pinot Noir, Las Brisas Vineyards, Carneros – $28
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was mostly destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 10 months in neutral oak. Alcohol 12.9%. The nose stood out with grapey aromas of red fruit and a little Pilsner. In the mouth the flavors were vibrant art first with tart red fruit on the tongue tip. It was youthful with primary, grapey fruit, yellow citrus notes, crunchy acidity, and some baking spices. It tasted more like a “natural wine” on the first night but that dissipated a bit on the second night as it fleshed out and took on more spices. **(*) 2014-2018.


The 2013 Bacchus Importers Portfolio Tasting: Individual Wineries

For the second post from the Bacchus Importers Portfolio tasting I have focused on individual wineries.  It is always a bit tricky to take any substantive notes during a portfolio tasting.  So please treat these as a general overview of what was going on.  Below you will find my notes arranged in the order I visited the winery tables.  Within that the wines are presented in the order tasted.


Brewer-Clifton and Palmina

Toby Oshiro

Toby Oshiro

Brewer-Clifton is the project of Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton who also produces Palmina.  The fruit for Palmina is sourced some several vineyards including Homea and Walker Vineyards.  The Homea Vineyard was planted with Italian varietal specifically for Steve.  Across the street is the Walker Vineyard which is owned by the Walker family but farmed by Steve.  This year’s Brew-Clifton lineup includes the Machado Pinot Noir.  This is the newest vineyard to be sourced from.  It is located on the arm coming off of the Kessler-Hawk Vineyard.  Steve and Greg took a land-lease of this 15 acres of  bare earth to plant Pinot Noir and a little Chardonnay.  The vineyard is only a couple of years old so the 2010 bottling is the first pure Machado vintage.  The Palmina wines are of strong value and I particularly liked the Dolcetto.  If I had to pick one Brewer-Clifton wine the Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills was lovely.

2010 Palmina, Arneis, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 100% Arneis sourced from the Honea Vineyard.  The nose was fresh with citrus, white fruit, and floral aromas.  The flavors were a little richer in the mouth with yellow fruit along with some orange and lemon flavors which took on weight.  There was acidity and a little drying nature at the end.

2010 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from multiple vineyards in Mount Carmel, 3-D, Gnesa, Sea Smoke, and Zotovich.  The nose was heady, yeasty, and a touch earthy.  In the mouth there were fresh apple and white fruit flavors followed by tart apple with green acidity.

2011 Palmina, Dolcetto, Santa Barbara County
The nose was pretty god with purple aromas and a little grapey, inky note.  In the mouth there was good, fresh fruit, grapey flavors of black and purple fruit, along tannins and acidity all in balance.  There were grapey tannins in the aftertaste.

2010 Palmina, Barbera, Santa Barbara County
The light nose bore dark red strawberry aromas.  In the mouth there were cranberry, pomegranate, strawberry type fruit with more acidity towards the finish and a puckering quality.  The finish brought acidity and black fruit.

2011 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from three vineyards in Mount Carmel, 3-D, and Machado.  There was a beautiful nose of red fruit, orange, and ink.  The youthful mouth follows the nose with an orange hint and serious profile. Nice.

2010 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Machado, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Machado vineyard which was planted in 2007.  The nose of youthful Pinot Fruit doesn’t have the depth of the Santa Rita Hills.  In the mouth there was bright red fruit, citrus, and a yeast note.  The flavors show some weight and depth as spices come out in the finish.  There was a grapey, young, spicy tannin touch.


Hank McCrorie

Hank McCrorie

Burly stems from Hank McCrorie’s college football nickname.  The fruit is sourced from the Simpkins Vineyard.  The 2008 vintage saw a devastating frost which destroyed two-thirds of the Cabernet Sauvignon crop.  This did not diminish the remaining one-third from making a tasty wine.

2010 Burly, Sauvignon Blanc
The nose was subtly grassy with white fruit.  In the mouth the white fruit had weight but was also lively on the tongue.  There was some creaminess, flavors of pastilles, and tannins.

2008 Burly, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The dark nose revealed earthy black fruit and some greenhouse notes.  In the mouth there was coiled up power to the red and black fruit.  The tannins and acidity were integrated.  There were chocolate notes and a good midpalate of roast and spicy notes.  This will develop but can be drunk now.

Soter Vineyards

James Cahill

James Cahill

Tony Soter is the founded of Etude Wines.  Soter Vineyards is a family winery located in Oregon.  We tasted three tiers of wine.  Planet Oregon is focused on good value, young Oregon Pinot Noir, sourced from and produced at certified sustainable properties.  The North Valley wines focused on producing fruit from vineyards located in northern Willamette Valley such as Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, and Ribbon Ridge.  Finally the Estate Wines use fruit sourced solely from the 30 acre Mineral Springs Ranch.  James Cahilll is the winemaker who previously worked at Beaux Feres and Elk Cove Vineyards.  The North Valley rose was a beautiful, captivating wine and the North Valley, Pinot Noir was very good with earth and black fruit.  The Soter, Mineral Springs Pinot Noir was a confident treat and I liked how the Proprietary Red Wine was a balance between Oregon and California (and it includes some Malbec!).

2011 North Valley, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented in 10% new French oak, 30% used French oak, and 60% stainless steel barrels.  One quarter of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 12.8%.  The tight nose bore sweet white floral fruit and some yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was tart weight to the fruit which was crisp, with lots of feel on the tongue.

2012 North Valley, Compass Cuvee, Rose, Willamette Valley
This is a blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir which was just bottled.  The nice aromatic nose revealed strawberry and raspberry aromas.  In the mouth there were acidity driven flavors of raspberry and pastilles with a drier finish.  This was very crisp with nice acidity. Nice.

2011 Planet Oregon, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  The nose was muted.  In the mouth there were acidity driven flavors with a little citrus note to the light, red fruit.  There were youthful tannins and some spice.

2011 North Valley, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented with 15% whole clusters and aged in 10% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.6%.  The nose had more depth.  In the mouth there were earth and red fruit flavors, nice.  It was weightless with a little black fruit and ink in the finish, along with very fine ripe tannins.

2010 Soter, Pinot Noir, Mineral Springs, Yamhill-Carlton District
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Mineral Springs Ranch.  The fruit is destemmed then undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged for 12-15 months in 33% new French oak.  The nose was younger but more confident.  There were red fruits in the mouth which became blacker with focused ripeness.  The tannins and acidity were subservient such that the aftertaste left an earthy note.  This should age well.

2007 Soter Vineyard, Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 2007 and 2006 vintages featuring 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Malbec.  It is Tony Soter’s last Californian wine and was produced in Oregon.  There were black fruit flavors, minerals, acidity, and a focused aspect.  The tannins were balanced as dark flavors pervade the aftertaste; drying on the lips.

Adelsheim Vineyard

Margeaux McLain

Margeaux McLain

Adelsheim Vineyards was founded by Daivd and Ginny Adelsheim in 1971.  The estate has grown from the original 15 acre vineyard at Quarter Mile Lane to 11 vineyards encompassing 190 acres.  The Elizabeth’s Reserve is a barrel selection meant to produce a wine capable of aging.  The Bryan Creek is the only single-vineyard wine aimed for the East Coast.  I thought it too would age and it would be fun to taste these two several years down the road.

2011 Adelsheim, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Gris which was gently pressed then fermented with cultured yeasts or which 15% of the wine was fermented in older neutral French oak barrels.  It did not undergo malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The nose had fresh white fruit with a  little honied note.  The flavors were white and tart in the mouth before taking on some ripeness.  The finish was drier and tart.

2011 Adelsheim, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was whole cluster pressed then 82% fermented in stainless steel tanks with 18% in neural barrels.  It did not undergo malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 13.2%.  This was crisp and focused on the nose followed by a similar mouth with powdery notes.  There was apple like acidity.

2011 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed, fermented with inoculated yeast then aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.0%.  There was a light, tight Pinot Noir nose.  In the mouth tart red fruit was on the tongue tip before turning redder with acidity and some chewy texture.  There were mouth coating tannins then a finish with blacker fruit and citrus.

2009 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Elizabeth’s Reserve, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed, fermented with inoculated yeast then aged for 10 months in 34% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.4%.  There was a good nose with some depth.  The mouth was tight with red fruit, some of it tart, a little grip, and an overall ability to age.

2010 Bryan Creek, Pinot Noir, Chehalem
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Bryan Creek Vineyard which were destemmed then underwent malolactic fermentation in 30% new French oak barrels.  There was a pure Pinot Noir nose.  There were red and black fruits, minerals, a racy aspect then black fruit and citric notes.  The acidity was cool.  This was rugged in a sense, leaving minerals and the notion it will age.

2009 Adelsheim, Syrah, Chehalem
This wine is 100% Surah sourced from several rows of Syrah next to the tasting room.  Alcohol 13.6%.  There was some black fruit then red tart fruit.  It was a little racy with structure, citric tannins, and a spicy firm finish.

Summers Estate Winery

Bob Mazzola

Bob Mazzola

Summers Estate Winery originated in 1987 when Jim Summers purchased 28 acres in Knights Valley.  This holding was expanded by 25 acres through an additional purchased in 1996.  Summers Estate produces the largest amount of Charbono in California.  Bob suggested if we could only taste one wine then to try the Charbono.  I’m glad we did.  I also liked the Zinfandel, it showed balance.

2009 Summers, Charbono
This wine is 100% Charbono which was aged for 18 months in 50% new oak of which 50% was American and 50% French.  Alcohol 13.7%.  There was a tight, inky, black nose.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with old-school flavors.  Though dense it was approachable with very fine tannins.  Neat.

2009 Summers, Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 19 moths in 60% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  There was a black, licorice nose, smells like Knights Valley.  The flavors were focused in the mouth, similar to the nose but a bit haunting.  This was young with focus and watering acidity.

2008 Summers, Zinfandel, “Four Acre Zin”
This wine is 100% Zinfandel which was aged for 16 months in 70% American and 30% French oak.  The nose was more expressive with good fruit.  The fruit was balanced in the mouth with mixed berry flavors, sweet spice, and a young, good finish.  There was some depth along with clean, strong, spicy tannins.

The Four Graces

Rebecca M. Oliver

Rebecca M. Oliver

The four Graces originated in 2003 when Steve and Paula Black purchased a 110 acre vineyard in Dundee.  The winery is named after their four daughters.   I particularly liked the Pinot Gris both on the nose and in the mouth.

2011 The Four Graces, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Gris which was whole clustered pressed then fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13.1%.  There was a pretty nose of floral, ripe fruit.  The crisp start bore flavors of floral, sweet white fruit.  It was a little chewy with sweet spices in the finish.

2011 The Four Graces, Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Point Blanc.  Alcohol 13.3%.  The nose was tight with nutty aromas and a light texture.  In the mouth the fruit was again up front with texture from the acidity then it flattened out.

2011 The Four Graces, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged for nine months in 25% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.8%.  There were aromas of toast, popcorn and roast.  In the mouth the firm black fruit flavors mixed with toast as dry, powerful tannins came up.  The finish was lighter in flavor with a very dry aftertaste.


Tom Pillsbury

Tom Pillsbury

I looked forward to tasting the wines of DuMOL again this year and I was not disappointed.  There is a step up in quality with the various bottlings with the Clare Chardonnay and Estate Pinot Noir showing the most complexity.  I should like to see how these develop over the short term.

2010 DuMOL, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Dutton Ranch, estate, Heintz, Ritchie, and Hyde vineyards.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 15 months in 40% new French oak.  There was a citrus driven nose with some toast and lees.  The flavors were rich in the mouth, expansive with yellow fruit in the finish, complexity, and some ripe notes.

2010 DuMOL, Clare, Chardonnay, Carneros
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Hyde Vineyard.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 15 months on the lees in 50% new French oak.  The nose was more complex with less lees.  The mouth was lovely with rich but assured fruit that was younger in a sense.  The tart yellow fruit balanced acidity and tartness.

2010 DuMOL, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the seven vineyards.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 11 months in 40% new French oak.  There was a good Pinot Noir nose which was expressive with black cherry aromas.  The fruit was riper in the mouth with minerals, structure, and tart red fruit with weight.  There were red citrus flavors left on the back of the tongue.

2010 DuMOL, Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the estate vineyard.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 14 months in 55% new French oak.  The nose was tight with ripe, sweet spiced aromas.  There was more specific fruit flavors in the mouth with good expansive but light in nature.  The spices mixed with young fruit, making way to a long aftertaste.

2010 DuMOL, Syrah, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from six vineyards.   The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 15 months in 35% new French oak and 2 months in tank.  The nose was tighter with sweet, blue fruit.  The flavors were lively in the mouth with black minerals, fine, strong tannins.


California, Rhode Island, Macedonia, and More

December 17, 2012 1 comment

For the most part I take pictures of all of the wines I drink, be it by the glass or bottle.  I write down tasting notes for the vast majority of these wines but in social settings I find taking notes prevents me from joining the conversation.  I want to maintain a history of everything I drink, not to tout trophy bottles (which rarely cross my lips) but to provide material for a vinuous biography later in life.  The first two wines were brought by my Uncle to Thanksgiving dinner.  He served the 2009 Etude, Pinot Noir Estate in a decanter with the bottle squirreled away.  In a feat of sheer luck and brilliance I deduced 2009 Californian Pinot Noir.  I do not drink many Californian Pinot Noirs but this worked well in the general hub-bub of dinner which was punctuated by a few crackles from the fireplace.  I believe everyone enjoyed it for it was tasty to drink.  We then moved on to the 2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Cent-Vignes.  Still showing firmness this wine encouraged you to take small sips then reflect upon them.  I think it should be cellared a few more years but I did not mind its current state.


2009 Etude, Pinot Noir Estate, Carneros
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from various vineyards and aged in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.4%.  There was a light to medium strength nose of dark red fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were spicy with brambly Pinot fruit then brambly bluer fruit.  The wine became racy towards the finish where a sweeter side and some spice came out.  This was forward, pleasing, and drinking well out of a decanter.


2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Cent-Vignes, Beaune 1er Cru
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is 100% Pint Noir which was fermented in stainless steel and is raised in some new oak.  There was a light nose of wild, red fruit.  In the mouth the black cherry flavors were framed with blacker fruit in the finish.  It was still a touch firm with integrated acidity which kept the wine lively and matched by a sense of levity.  There was texture in the finish and orange juicy acidity.  Should drink for a decade but needs a few more years.

We recently popped over to Shane’s for a roasted chicken dinner.  I brought over the Cornelissen and the Tikves in brown bags for the fun of it.  I poured small tastes of the Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru 4 to which Shane wondered if it was something like a Movia wine.  It did not come across too well with exclamations, spitting, and dumping occurring all at once.  This sparked an idea in Shane’s head so he chilled down a Rhode Island Riesling.  The current release is 2010 so his bottle of 2008 Newport Vineyards, Vintner’s Select Riesling has a few years of age on it.  It was a perfectly acceptable wine, while a bit sterile and lacking flavor in the finish, it smelled and tasted like Riesling.  And it was from Rhode Island, how cool.  The 2010 Tikves, Barova, Red showed well reflecting the studious attention paid to the vineyards and winemaking.  Philippe Cambie is the consulting winemaker.  He has helped create a modern wine with fruit flavors that make you scratch your head and wonder what varietals the wine was made from.  Lastly, there was the 2007 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel.  I thought the color and nose were a bit more advanced than its age.  Unsure of vintage I guessed it a French wine made from Syrah and Grenache perhaps from Gigondas.  I got 50% of the varietal composition correct!  And being Tablas Creek a guess of France was not too off base.  To Shane the fruit had a purity which reminded him of California.  I really like the wines of Tablas Creek but am remiss that the Cotes de Tablas Rouge became too expensive for a daily wine.


Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru 4, Dry Rose, Etna
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  Produced from the free-run juice of various indigenous varietals.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Rather cloudy in the glass which is not surprising given the clumps in the bottle.  Beautifully texture, aromatic nose is very enticing.  Then in the mouth it started with pure tart, thin, dry flavors.  Very tart at first but after an hour or two the flavors were of pure, dry, grapefruit juice followed by a yeasty Pilsner finish.  Strange disconnect between the nose and mouth.


2010 Tikves, Barova, Red, Republic of Macedonia
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 85% Kratosija and 15% Vranec sourced from 35-year-old vines located on soils of Smolnik with humus and Povilna wyth fern and mountain flora biomass.  It was aged in stainless steel. Alcohol 14.5%.  There were well made flavors of lightly powdery black and red fruit, a little woodsy tannin, plenty of well done acidity.  Young, nice, and well made.  Should drink well over the short-term.  Contemporary but with a flavor profile I cannot put my finger on.


2008 Newport Vineyards, Vintner’s Select Riesling, Rhode Island
This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a light Riesling nose. In the mouth the white fruit was somewhat ripe at first with clean Riesling fruit.  There was a decent start with some acidity then the wine muted and faded off with no acidity and loss of flavor.  A pleasant enough drink which made a favorable introduction to the wines of Rhode Island.


2007 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel, Paso Robles
This wine is a blend of 44% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 21% Syrah, and 6% Counoise sourced from the 120 acre organic estate vineyard.  It was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts then aged in French oak foudres.  Alcohol 14.5%.  It smelled a bit older on the nose with rich, clean mixed fruit which reminded me of Gigondas.  In the mouth there was a dense mixture of black fruit, spices, and a long, lifted aftertaste that left dark flavors of wood box in the mouth.

Tasting Californian Chardonnay for the Summer

Here are notes on three current releases of Californian Chardonnay which we considered for summer drinking.  All three are from the cooler and low-yield 2010 vintage and available for approximately $20 per bottle.  I have looked to Stuhlmuller in past vintages but just could not get excited by this vintage.  The Scott and Reata were a bit better.  The Reata bears tropical fruit with ripeness and acidity too match, making it the biggest of the three yet still interesting enough for a pre-dinner glass.  The Scott shows more restraint to its tropical fruit and toast notes, giving it a style that is easier to drink.

2010 Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Chardonnay Estate, Alexander Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay fermented with indigenous yeast, 45% underwent malolactic fermentation, aged eight moths sur lie in 7% new French oak barrels and casks.  The color is a very light yellow straw.  The light nose is fresh with some texture, eventually developing tooty-fruity aromas.  In the mouth the tart yellow fruit mixed with plenty of acidity, almost a puckering wine with a wood, toast note.  Tastes young. ** Now-2015.

2010 Scott Family Estate, Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco
This wine is 100% Chardonnay Dijon clones which underwent malolactic fermentation and was ages sue lie.  This is a light to medium golden-yellow in color.  The sweet floral nose bears the hints of toast well.  In the mouth the yellow fruit has a round feel, a slight pineapple/tropical undertone.  There is a soft personality and some toast influence.  This held very well in the bottle over several days. ** Now-2015.

2010 Reata, Chardonnay, Carneros
This is a very light yellow color.  The nose reaveals spiced apples and wood notes.  In the mouth there is almost tropical yellow fruit which reveals acidity-driven ripeness.  Perhaps minerally there are toast notes, some sweet spice, and a roundish character.  There is a chunky textured aftertaste which is rather long.  The apple-like acidity appears with some spices. ** Now.