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An intense and dark 1979 Calafia Cellars, Merlot

October 16, 2019 Leave a comment

I pulled the cork on the 1979 Calafia Cellars, Merlot, Napa Valley not knowing one bit of its history.  Founded by Randle and MaryLee Johnson, this bottle is from their inaugural vintage which happens to be the same year the winery was founded.  Just five years earlier, in 1974, Johnson graduated from UC Davis then a year later begin work with Phil Baxter at Chateau Souverain in 1975. In 1977, Johnson started work under Bob Travers at Mayacamas Vineyard which is located on Mount Veeder.  Fascinated with this mountain fruit, Johnson opened Calafia Cellars in 1979.

Johnson explored the terroir of Mount Veeder.  In the early years at Calafia Cellars, he produced Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel from both the southeast-facing and west-facing slopes.  I do not know any background details of this wine but as it is marked Napa Valley, it could be Merlot sourced from the southeastern slopes of Mount Veeder.  Calafia Cellars was a winery in name only so I wonder if this inaugural vintage was made at Mayacamas.  This bottle was showing a bit of its age but the dark and intense flavors bear all the hallmarks of Mount Veeder.  What a treat!

1979 Calafia Cellars, Merlot, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.1%.  Dark in color with a lovely nose.  Ripe and dark in the mouth with firm, dense and polished flavors carried by watering acidity.  In good condition, this wine is integrated all around.  It fleshes out a bit taking on some spice.  It eventually shows its age being a touch hollow in the end.  **(*) Now.

California Chardonnay

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

This year the 2012 Neyers Vineyards, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County has remained our hands-down favorite Chardonnay from California both for flavor and price.  It is not always in stock so this forces us to try other wines.  Of the three wines featured in this post I would recommend the 2010 La Follette, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma County.  I have enjoyed the entry-level wines of La Follette before so I was pleased by the lovely acidity of this more expensive bottling.  The 2009 Chalone Vineyards, Estate Chardonnay, Chalone is rather interesting too for it bears its age very well.  While this should last the acidity is in more of a supportive role so maybe its best to drink it up.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Fontanella Family Winery, Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley – $26
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.4%.  There was yellow fruit and apple aromas on the nose.  In the mouth this fruit-forward wine offered up creamy and tropical flavors that persisted throughout.  Notes of minerals and toast came out.  The wine was lush with some acidity on the sides of the tongue but it lost some grip at the end.  It had a persistent aftertaste.  ** Now.

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2010 La Follette, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma County – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.2%.  The nose revealed old perfume, yellow fruit, and toast.  In the mouth the wine quickly took on weight but still had some nervous acidity on the tongue tip.  The acidic grip on the tongue remained over two nights, enlivening the smoked/toasted infused fruit.  The acidity returned in the finish with apple-like notes led to a textured and salivating aftertaste.  *** Now-2017.

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2009 Chalone Vineyards, Estate Chardonnay, Chalone – $22
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a vineyard at 1,800 feet of elevation.  It was raised in oak barrels.  The nose had yellow fruit accented by toast notes. In the mouth the yellow fruit was rounded with glycerin.  The wine slowly built toast infused flavors as well as texture mixed with minerals by the finish.  There was some toast in the aftertaste.  This drinks well now with the acidity sub servant to the mouthfeel.  *** Now-2017.

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Attractive Zinfandel

I do not drink too much Zinfandel and when I do the bottle typically bears the Ridge label.  Earlier this year Andy recommended these two bottles.  The 2010 Peter Franus, Zinfandel was enjoyable but the bottle was clearly in the midst of development.  The 1995 Hogue, Terraces was surprisingly good.  It was old-school in flavor and in nature.  At 18 years of age it should easily drink for another decade.  I wish I had bought more.  Fortunately the Franus is still available.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Peter Franus, Zinfandel, Brandlin Vineyard, Mount Veeder – $35
This wine is 100% Zinfandel sourced from 85-year-old vines at the Brandlin Vineyard located at 1200 feet.  Alcohol 14.8%.  The light to medium strength nose revealed strawberries and a hint of vanilla with air.  In the mouth the red fruit is gentle then slowly expands bringing ripe fruit and acidity.  With air the black fruit becomes chiseled with lots of acidity.  The wine oscillates in flavor with red fruit and tight, minerally black fruit.  There was a little heat and roughness in the aftertaste.  Give it a year to open up.  *** 2014-2019.

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1995 W. Hogue Vintners, Terraces, Zinfandel, Napa Valley – $27
This wine is 100% Zinfandel which was planted with Werle clones in 1981.  The vines are located on terraces at 300-400 feet on volcanic soils.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The light to medium strength nose revealed cedar box notes along with red berries.  In the mouth there were firm, tart red berries, and plenty of acidity.  It tasted like a traditional/old-school Californian wine and was younger in the mouth.  There were underlying flavors of wood box in the middle and acidity on the tongue tip and front-sides.  It took on a little weight and flavors of cherry and firm black fruit.  The structure was present but integrated with flavors that were cerebral and tasty.  *** Now-2023.

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