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Recent Drinks

November 2, 2017 Leave a comment

After first trying a glass one year ago, I finally had the opportunity to visit the 2002 Robert Hunter, Brut de Noirs, Sonoma Valley over two nights.  With bits of yeast, toast, fruit, and baking spices this is a mature Californian sparkler  with plenty of life.  I might even venture that I preferred it on the second night.  My overall impression is that the 2010 Poggio all Guardia, Maremma Toscana is not yet ready to drink.  The meaty aromas, mature edge to the flavors, and old wood reveal bottle age but the wine is still firm and structured. Perhaps it is best drunk with food.  Finally,the 2015 Domaine La Manarine, Cotes du Rhone is another wine based on vineyards in Le Plan de Dieu.  There are attractive bright, grapey flavors but there is some distraction from bitterness in the black fruited finish.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2002 Robert Hunter, Brut de Noirs, Sonoma Valley
There is a light straw color and a nose of apples. In the mouth there is a strong start of bubbles and acidity on the tongue, the former of which soon dissipate into a froth. The wine has the slightest hint of attractive yeast and toast. There are structured flavors of white fruit and baking spices with a vein of acidity that cuts through. This is a robust, mature wine which still has moderate amounts of fruit making for an attractive drink right now. *** Now – 2022.

2010 Poggio all Guardia, Maremma Toscana
Imported by Vias Imports.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese.  Alcohol 14%.  A meaty nose! There is a mature edge to this robust wine.  Black fruit mixes with minerals and old wood and even some plum. There is a fine+ textured structure that will see this wine through many more years.  Good texture in the aftertaste.  A solid wine but will it come around?  **(*) Now – 2025.

2015 Domaine La Manarine, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age. The fruit was destemmed with elevage taking 20-24 months.  Alcohol 14%.  A spiced cinnamon nose.  Higher-toned in the mouth with grapey flavors, prominent acidity noticeable on the tongue.  There is fine grapey texture which lasts through the finish which is blacker and almost bitter.  **(*) Now – 2021.

Three recent releases from California

December 14, 2016 2 comments

A couple weeks ago we tried the trio of wines featured in today’s post.  The 2015 Ghost Block, Sauvignon Blanc, Morgan Lee Vineyard, Napa Valley is an attractive, sur lie aged Sauvignon Blanc of substance.  While being the opposite of a grassy, acidic wine it is not over done.  It is flavorful and you may drink it over several days.  The latest 2015 Neyers, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County is a bit of a step down from previous vintages.  The Neyers Chardonnay 304 is a staple in our household.  I find this new vintage a bit too rich and missing some liveliness.  I will try another bottle in case something went wonky.  Finally, the 2014 Halcon Vineyards, Tierra, Yorkville Highlands tempers Petit Sirah to be a flavorful, mouthfilling wine capable of aging yet without bracing tannins.  If black fruit, baking spices, sage, and oregano sound interesting to you then you will certainly enjoy this wine for many years to come.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2015 Ghost Block, Sauvignon Blanc, Morgan Lee Vineyard, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc aged sue lie.  Alcohol 13.8%.  This bright, mineral wine is full of white and yellow fruit.    It drinks well over several days maintaining a rounded start and an increasing amount of lemon flavors that fill the mouth.  A substantial wine.  *** Now – 2017.

2015 Neyers, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County – $22
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented and raised in a combination of stainless steel and cement.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The oak upbringing is still obvious on the nose.  In the mouth this wine is almost rich and certainly broad shouldered with tropical, white flora, fruit flavors. There are fine toast and sage notes.  It could stand more acidity.  ** Now.

2014 Halcon Vineyards, Tierra, Yorkville Highlands – $26
This wine is 100% Petit Sirah that was aged in 25% new oak.  Alcohol 14.6%.  This wine is very forward, immediately conveying savory and mouthfilling flavors of black fruit, cinnamon, and other baking spices.  It sports a dry texture and a rather interesting finish that mixes sage and oregano notes.  ***(*) Now – 2031.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Assorted Wines

We went through a variety of wines during a BBQ at our house earlier this month.  I managed to jot down a just  few notes.  Unfortunately, the 1999 Ravenswood, Merlot Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley is no longer in a good drinking state even at the low price.  The 2004 Sonador, Dreamer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is certainly lively and robust right now, only showing notes of maturity in the finish.  There are attractive flavors and integration but it also reflects the warmth of Napa in its size.  Lovers of big-scale wines will appreciate this more than me.  I found that a small glass was just fine.  I double-decanted the 2005 Il Fauno di Arcanum, Tuscany but it took several more hours for the wine to loosen up.  The nose is fine.  Anyone who smells it blind will immediately think of a Bordeaux blend.  It is not ripe and generous, rather it sports just enough of everything to make it attractive now but it is truly still in a period of slow development.  If you do not mind your Bordeaux from Tuscany than lay down several bottles.    This could be quite good in several years.  It was a group favorite.

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1999 Ravenswood, Merlot Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley – $18
Alcohol 14.9%.  A ripe sweetness surrounds prominent herbal flavors.  Unfortunately, the wine is becoming unknit and the flavors are past prime.   Not Rated.

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2004 Sonador, Dreamer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, and 5% Merlot.  Alcohol 14.8%.  There are fine aromas of blue and black fruit intertwined with wood.  The fine black fruit has a clear cedar note from the start.  This is a big wine, no doubt, but there is a good integration of all components.  You get a hint of maturity in the back end.  A one glass at a time wine.  ** Now – 2021.

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2005 Il Fauno di Arcanum, Tuscany – $20
Imported by Sovereign Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 77%  Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A fine nose evocative of Bordeaux.  The slight round start brings red and black fruit with flavors that are noticeably dry in the middle.  The wine is still firm and slightly tannic but the watering acidity maintains balance through the perfumed aftertaste.  After many hours of air it starts to open up.  *** Now – 2026.

 

Excellent 2008 Bründlmayer, 2008 Cayuse, and a few others

A few weeks ago I joined Lou for a game meat  (moose, rabbit, etc) dinner party at his house.  I took few pictures and even fewer notes but I did stop when I tasted the 2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling.  Lou purchased this bottle a few years back when he was in Vienna.  Lucky me that he opened it. Bründlmayer produces this wine from a 4 hectare parcel in Steinmassel.  This area was originally a quarry and that stone nature clearly comes through in the wine.  This is really good stuff!

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2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling
This wine is 100% Riesling that was fermented in both stainless steel and large oak casks.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is aromatic with fresh floral notes and a petrol hint.  In the mouth this vibrant wine begins with white fruit that morphs into petrol followed by a decidedly stoney finish.  There is richness to the wine but the flavors are dry with a citric, grippy finish.  This is on the upslope of maturity and will only get better.  **** Now – 2026.

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There were other wines too.  A 2002 Robert Hunter, Brut Blanc de Noir, Sonoma Valley really hit the spot.  It is mature with the right amount of bubbles and brioche.  Others liked it as well for the bottle was rapidly drained.  The 2010 Palazzone, Orvieto Classico Superiore Campo del Guardiano is far more mature than the Bründlmayer.  The acidity is more piercing with flavors of orchard fruit, dried herbs, and lychees.  A solid wine in comparison.  We finally had a solid bottle of 1970 La Mission Haut Brion, Graves.  It was completely drinkable, not too far over the hill, but not worth writing any more about.

I really liked the 2009 Pascal Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes de 1939, Chenas.  It was four years ago that I last drank this and I now believe it is fully mature.  There is less strawberry and Kirsch flavor now.  It leans towards an autumnal spectrum with the tannins fully integrated.  We soon swung towards the modern spectrum with the 2011 Clos St Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape (16% ABV!) and 2008 Cayuse, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley.  Both wines were double-decanted for several hours.  The Clos St Jean showed rather well with plenty of grip and some complexity.  But it was the Cayuse which wowed me.  My best description is as if Chateau des Tours made wine in Walla Walla.  Ethereal yet backed by substance, complex with no assertive structure.  Great stuff.  There was a bottle of 2013 El Nido, Clio, Jumilla which I did not like at all.  Too modern, clean, and massive.  We wrapped the evening up with a bottle of 1986 Fetzer, Port, Mendocino County.  This actually bore a resemblance to a traditional Port.  It was a bit simple, short, and spirituous but the flavor profile was right.

A West-Coast Trio: Sbragia, Ch Ste Michelle, & Ridge

I continue to purchase the wines that are featured on this blog.  Hopefully this gives you a good sense of my interests one of which led me to pick up the 2007 Ridge, Zinfandel, York Creek.  There is an uncanny ability for Ridge wines to develop and age but I feel this particular bottle drank at its peak.  Indeed the back label reveals a development forecast to 2014-2016.  The wine was a bit soft at first but once it firmed up the fruit, minerals, acidity, and structure were in pleasing balance.

Andy has been recommending wines as of late including the 2010 Chateau Ste Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge Estate, Horse Heaven Hills.  This bottle must sport the largest ratio of mouthful-of-flavor to price out there.  It is a seamless wine with dense, dark fruit matched by a chocolate vein.  This will surely be a crowd pleaser, it was a bit too much for me though not fatiguing.  Another recommendation from Andy is the 2011 Sbragia Family Vineyards, Zinfandel, Gino’s Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley.   I had never heard of Sbragia before so if you have not then try this wine.  It is more elegant but has complexity.  I particularly liked the subtle orange and tobacco flavors.  If you drink it now give it a few hours in the decanter otherwise try it at the end of the year.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 Ridge, Zinfandel, York Creek – $23
This wine is a blend of 78% Zinfandel and 22% Petite Sirah sourced from vines planted between the 1970s and 1990.  It was fermented with indigenous yeast then aged for 12 months in new and used American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.6%.  There were rather ripe aromas of macerated fruit.  In the mouth there was a certain softness at first but the wine firmed up with air.  There were minerally flavors of red and black fruit, appropriate acidity, and a supportive structure.  The maturity came through with the cedar and wood-box infused finish.  Drinking well right now.  *** Now-2015.

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2010 Chateau Ste Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge Estate, Horse Heaven Hills – $22
This wine is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Syrah, and 1% Malbec which was fermented with both indigenous and inoculated yeasts in French oak barrels then aged sur lie for 10 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed dense, ripe aromas of musky chocolate.  Tasted over four nights the silky flavors of dense, dark fruit mixed with moderately ripe tannins and had no edges at all.  This completely integrated wine was rich, smooth, and full of flavors including chocolate.  The ample oak influence was matched by the fruit.  *** Now-2016.

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2011 Sbragia Family Vineyards, Zinfandel, Gino’s Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley – $30
This wine is a field blend of 85% Zinfandel, 10% Carignan, and 5% Petite Sirah sourced from 55 year old vines on the 5 acre Gino’s Vineyard.  It was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.4%.  The lighter but complex nose made way to brighter red fruit in the mouth.  The flavors were slightly tart but still ripe with strawberry notes and an orange hint.  There was some tobacco as well as freshness from a little menthol.  With air a lipstick component came out.  *** 2014-2019.

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I Find Paydirt in Bedrock

April 9, 2014 1 comment

Thought I had heard about Bedrock Wine Co some time ago I had never tasted the wines before.  During my recent trip to Seattle I was quite surprised to see two bottles at such an attractive price.  I am glad I saw them for both Jenn and I very much enjoyed both bottles.  I recommend you buy both.  Let the 2012 Bedrock Wine Co., North Coast Syrah age a little while you drink the 2012 Bedrock Wine Co., Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley.  The later of which blends in small amounts of Abouriou and Aubun as a bonus!  Lovely stuff.  These wines were purchased at Pete’s Wine of Eastlake.

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2012 Bedrock Wine Co., North Coast Syrah – $27
This wine is 100% Syrah which was 33-50% whole cluster fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 11 months in 100% French oak of which 15% was new. Alcohol 14.5%.  With viscous legs in the glass the aromas precede the flavors.  This interesting wine had ripe, floral black fruit surrounded by a haze of fine, ripe tannins.  The acidity was seamless with more extract towards the finish.  There was the slightest hint of glycerin in the mouth feel.   Nice wine.  *** Now-2020.

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2012 Bedrock Wine Co., Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley – $27
This wine is 40% old-vine Zinfandel and 60% Carignan, Alicante, Petite Sirah, Abouriou and Aubun which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged in 12% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.6%.  The nose bore red fruit, ripe cranberry, and wet tobacco.  In the mouth were ample, textured flavors that were full of verve.  There was a lot of grip and ripe tannins which stuck to the lips and gums.  There were baking spices, acidity and some red fruit noticeable on the sides of the tongue.  Towards the finish were blacker flavors, dry baking spices, and dry firm tannins.  The wine enticed me to drink it.  ***Now-2018.

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