Showing posts with label california. Show all posts
Showing posts with label california. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

2016 Baldacci Vineyards Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

 



We love thinking about wine and what was happening in the vineyards when grapes are picked and turned into a lovely wine like this one.  You have to wonder how gorgeous the fruit must have looked to create a wine that is as black a night with such power and lovely mouthfeel.  The 2016 Baldacci Vineyards Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon is a wonderful example of the unique and beautiful fruits that come from the Stag's Leap District (Napa Valley).  Amazing and definitive aromas of black licorice, raspberry pie filling and baking spices abound.  The color of this wine is hauntingly gorgeous and we knew as soon as we popped this cork we were in for a real treat.  Wonderful, layered flavors of black cherry, chocolate pudding and cinnamon were most dominant, but with additional time in the glass we picked up some very distinct espresso powder and allspice.  We should have decanted this wine for about 30-45 minutes prior to tasting, but Jeff couldn't hold back.  He absolutely LOVES wine that presents itself like this.  For those of you who are put off by sediment, you will definitely want to decant.  But this doesn't bother us at all.  We like purple teeth and we know you are going to absolutely love this wine.  This wine would be fun to try again in 15+ years but we think you can cellar it for much longer.  




ABV:  14.5%

Napa Valley, California

1,027 cases produced

Suggested retail price:  $90.00

Drink The Bottles score:  93/100



Monday, August 31, 2020

2017 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon


Any time we are afforded the opportunity to taste a Cathy Corison wine, we know that we are in for a real treat.  The soon-to-be-released 2017 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is absolutely no exception.  This bottle was tasted in a line up of other Napa cabs about seven weeks ago and we have purposely held off writing about it until the release date is near.  

What immediately struck us was how mature and fine this wine appeared in the glass and on the nose, introducing layers of fresh violet bouquet, cedar plank, dusty spice box and whiffs of tar.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvingon and it rewards the taster with black cherry, plum, blackberry pie with a sweet crust and dried spices.  The violets are always dancing in the glass.  The finesse on this work of art is evident by the long and memorable, effortless finish.  You get mesmerized by the amazing fragrances and stunning color of this wine and it is truly one that makes you wish your glass was bottomless.   Incredible!


ABV:  14.2%

Napa Valley, California (St. Helena)

Suggested retail price:  $100.00

Drink The Bottles score:  97/100



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noir Tasting

Wow, weren't we the lucky ones?   On Tuesday, August 11th, we had the distinct pleasure of taking part in a virtual wine tasting with some great media folks, Sam Folsom of Folsom + Associates and the lovely Theresa Heredia, winemaker at Gary Farrell Winery.  We had a fantastic line up for 7 single vineyard Pinot Noir and want to share our thoughts on some of our favorites....


Here's the line up of these unique and delicious wines that we sampled.  We actually made an afternoon of it, ordering a charcuterie board and inviting a few friends.  It would be a shame to have 7 bottles of wine go to waste.  A few of the folks from our group had never tasted Gary Farrell wines, so this was a win-win for everyone!

  • 2016 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
  • 2016 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinon Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview
  • 2016 Hallberg Dijon Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley (Green Valley)
  • 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russion River Valley (Green Valley)
  • 2016 Martaella Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
  • 2016 Toboni Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
  • 2016 Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap
While all of these wines are absolutely beautiful and unique, the three highlighted wines above were collectively our group's overall favorites.  Some of them also happen to be some of the least expensive of the bunch, so maybe we are cheap dates?

The 2016 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley was very vibrant with ginger and pomegranate aromas that really permeated the nose and mouth.  Tons of bright red fruits and dried herbs were on the palate and the notable acidity created a long, lovely finish.  If you haven't had any memorable Pinot Noir before, this is where you should start.  Absolutely delicious.  And....you might just find your favorite here!    Drink the Bottles score:  96/100


Next in the lineup was the 2016 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview and it presented rustic and earthy aromas including dusty book, blackberry and notes of crushed violet petals.  There are tons of plum flavors up front and a hint of soy sauce with a fun, spicy finish.  The colors on this wine are stunning!  Drink the Bottles score:  92/100


Asking a winemaker what wine is their favorite is similar to asking a parent which child is their favorite.  And while Theresa did share some hints to how she leaned, we will tell you up front that the 2016 Hallberg Dijon Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley was our overall #1 wine of the day.  The blue colors against the deep red center were very unique and mesmerizing.  Strawberry jam, cigar box and chocolate on the nose.  In the mouth is a light to medium bodied combination of strawberries, black tea, cigar leaf and raspberries.  The palate gives a bright tingle and Jeff thinks that this is absolutely a great cigar wine!   Drink the Bottles score:  96/100


It's not every day you get to taste a wonderful line up of very individually-tasting wines.  But that's what makes this fun.  Most people have an idea of what a "typical" Pinot Noir tastes like.  However, when you put multiple bottles together, you get to see, smell and taste the differences of the unique growing climates.  Theresa really went into depth about Brix and clones and vineyards, which was absolutely fascinating.  We were surprised to see different some of the wines looked on the cork.

What's a wine tasting without amazing charcuterie?

Halfway through the tasting experience is the 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley.  Ripe black cherries, cola and young flowers are prominent.  The tasting was more herbal with wintergreen and sweet cherries.  Full disclosure here - this wine was very unique and all over the place for us.  It seemed like every sip presented new flavors and we would love to try it again sometime.


The 2016 Martaella Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley was another real stunner for us!  Blueberries and cedar were dominant and mouth-watering.  This wine seemed to have more structure and was incredibly silky.  Blueberry pie filling, home made biscuits and baking spices were what really stood out in this lovely and fine example of Pinot.  You can really get lost in this wine and at only $65 per bottle and a small production of 618 cases, you should get this one fast!
Drink the Bottles score:  95/100


From the blueberry pie to Syrah.....and we aren't mad!   2016 Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noir Toboni Vineyard, Russian River Valley was more flowery on than many of the other wines we tasted this day.  In addition to vanilla custard, we noted cedar box, fresh cut flowers and cherries.  There's a solid full body feeling with this wine and it could easily be an every day drinker for the Pinot fan.  Jeff definitely could see some Syrah similarities in this wine and thought the flavor and overall mouthfeel was unique.  The stronger tannins give this wine an edgier feel but your mouth will thank you when you sit back and smile at the juicy finish!  Drink the Bottles score:  94/100

Look at the gorgeous color of these Pinot Noir wines!


Our final wine of the day was the 2016 Gap's Crown Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap.  At $80 a bottle, it was the most expensive of the lot.  At one point one of the other media participants asked about wine pricing.  Theresa explained that some of the pricing structure had to do with whether or not the winery paid for the grapes or what the yield was for that season.  This wine was definitely the most herbaceous of the group, showing dusty road, saddle leather and hanging potpourri.  Pomegranate was again introduced into the line up with this wine along with cherry preserves, cherry cola and mushrooms.  The color of this wine is reminiscent of a pomegranate and left us with a warm and welcoming finish.  
Drink the Bottles score:  94/100

It was a perfect day for an outdoor Pinot tasting!

If you get the opportunity to taste wines with a winemaker, don't let it go to waste.  Whether it is 7 different varietals or a vertical tasting, you will absolutely love the experience.  We are looking forward to our next virtual tasting.

We invite you to visit Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery to learn more about these wines and purchase them directly from the winery.  In fact, most of the wines presented here are available ONLY from the winery.   Tell them we sent you!  Cheers!













Tuesday, August 4, 2020

2016 Knights Bridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley



This wine was the second bottle of the night and had so much going on.  The first bottle was an 'every day drinker' that we have a case of at the house.  Immediately upon popping the cork, we were pretty confident that we had something very special with this 2016 Knights Bridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  On the nose was a wonderful mix of violets, blueberry, tobacco leaf and suggestions of cedar.  This is one of those wines that really make your mouth water as you're pouring your first drops in the glass.  We were very pleased how smooth this wine is and what full flavors jumped out of the glass.  Dark cherry, cocoa powder and grilling spices were all showing their colors and left a gorgeous feel in the mouth and at the finish.  This is a wine that will really hold up well for the next decade or longer.  It is absolutely appealing to the Cabernet lover!  We encourage you to reach out to the winery to pick up this wine here:  2016 KB Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


ABV:  14.5%

Knights Valley (Sonoma County), California

Suggested retail price:  $60.00

Drink The Bottles score:  93/100

Friday, July 31, 2020

2018 Baldacci Family Vineyards Fraternity



If you are looking for a wine that pairs with just about anything in your pantry or freezer, you have found it in the 2018 Baldacci Family Vineyards Fraternity blend.   Don't roll your eyes and scoff about red blends....certainly not this one!  The picture above should really be all that you need to know about how much we enjoyed this wine.   The bottle is empty!  This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (36%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Syrah (7%) and Petit Verdot(2%) is exceptionally balanced and a real palate masseuse!  This wine opens with grandma's homemade preserves, dried spices and some incredible hints of earthiness.  It is absolutely full of fruit flavors like juicy bing cherries, ripe plum and multi-berry cobbler, including the taste of spice racks flavors in the crust.  It is always incredible to sip a wine like this, sit back and just laugh at how wonderful it is at this price point.  This wine is young but it drinks like it has been bottled for 10 years.  The color on this wine is absolutely captivating and you just want to get lost in those legs.  We applaud Michael Baldacci on this lovely bottle.  You can find this online directly from the winery here:  2018 Baldacci Fraternity Red Wine


ABV:  14.5%

Napa Valley, California

2,833 cases produced

Suggested retail price:  $50.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100



Monday, July 20, 2020

2017 Pope Valley Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon



We absolutely LOVE trying new wines!  And we get super-excited when we get a chance to work with someone we have never tasted before, as is the case here.  This is the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) from Pope Valley Winery.  As you can see, in the glass what you would expect from a beautiful Cabernet - dark to the rim.  This young wine was swirled extensively and the cherry and spice aromas leaped effortlessly from the glass.  In the mouth was blackberry preserves, cedar, at times a hint of dark chocolate and a very solid and definite finish.  Despite teetering the 15% ABV mark, this wine is not hot in any way, which is testament to the winemaker and time in the barrel.  The tannin was surprising small and soft.  The winemaker states that this wine spent 26 months in oak before bottling and we absolutely love the youthfulness and potential to age this wine.  This would be a fun one to open again in a year, 3 years and 5 years.  At this price point, you really can't go wrong.  This wine is very lovely and worth your time.  You can purchase this wine directly from the winery here:  


ABV:  14.84%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $52.00

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100



Monday, July 13, 2020

2016 Coquerel Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


"You really can't find any great wines under $100 per bottle" is a huge disagreement that you and I can have all day, every day.  It simply isn't true.  This 2016 Coquerel Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect example of what I'm talking about today.  This wine is wonderfully delicious and won't kill your bank account.  And with only 322 cases produced, this wine surely won't be available much longer. In fact, the magnum is sold out, so you have been warned!


This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (about 82%) with a smart blend of Malbec remaining.  This gorgeous color reminds me of black raspberry pie in a glass.  It's deep and the aromas are soul-filling and mouth-watering.  You can really appreciate the ripe black and red fruits, hint of cedar and dried spices and a bit of vanilla-y graphite.  In the mouth is a powerfully fruit-forward wine that introduces micro tannins with every sip, creating a sleek and persistent finish.  You can certainly pop this one open now or cellar this for several years.  This wine is solid and very delightful.  Please visit my friends at Coquerel Wines to purchase this directly here:  2016 Coquerel Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

ABV:  14.5%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $60.00

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100

Monday, July 6, 2020

NV Winking Owl Merlot



Why would you buy a bottle of wine for $2.49 you ask?  I honestly don't have an answer.  Curiosity probably got the best of me.  Flashbacks of "Two Buck Chuck" bounced around in my head as I passed this at Aldi several times yesterday.  But I like to keep an open mind and I'm always up to a challenge so I figured at this price, I'm really no worse for wear.  This bottle is less than a cup of coffee at most restaurants and I've spent far more money on less satisfying objects in my lifetime.  So, without further ado, I present the non-vintage Winking Owl Merlot.....

I should start by saying that I am generally perplexed by anyone who can put wine in a bottle for this price.  After all, sans juice, you still have the bottle, the cork, the label, the capsule, the outer packaging, the marketing, etc, etc to take into consideration of the total cost at checkout.  So when you remove those items from the cost of the bottle of wine, what do you have?  I would guess about $.38 worth of actual "product" in the bottle.  You can quickly realize that this wine is made in the thousands or tens of thousands of gallons.  Don't get me wrong here.  Mass producing wines is commonplace in the industry for larger companies and there are a fair number of higher quality wines that are birthed this way.  In fact, E&J Gallo (they're the wine behemoth that produces this label) started out generations ago as grape sellers and eventually as a bulk wine dealer).  This is right in their wheelhouse.   

I'm not going to lie.  I see this wine marketed to or appealing to the 40-something single woman, sipping away in her bathtub on a Saturday night as she listens to Yanni and swipes left or right on Tinder.   Too harsh?  Hell, she might even have a two-bottle night if she can indulge herself with a Fabio book and some chocolates.  I digress.....


The wine is a lovely medium red color and thin in appearance.  Subtle but typical Merlot aromas of raspberry and vanilla are most recognizable.  Is there a black cherry in there?  Perhaps with some time in the glass and vigorous swirling you can pull additional aromas.  In the mouth is a straight-forward, very fruity glass of what some might refer to as a table wine or maybe even a "free" wine at your cousin Lenny's wedding.  It's not memorable and the finish is almost non-existent.  For the back label to state that this is a medium bodied wine is, well.........inaccurate.   That's not to say that this wine is a complete dud.  It isn't.  It is a bottle of wine................for under.............$3.00.  Let that sink in.  I often refer to these types of wine as Midwestern wines, because in my experience, folks throughout the Midwest loooooooooooove their fruit bombs.

Again, it's not horrible.  It really isn't.   What I'll reiterate is that it is a cheap bottle of wine and you get what you pay for in most cases.  We have come a long way since the Charles Shaw plonk and this wine proves just that.  I'm not going to go out and buy a couple of cases, but I had fun tasting this.  And for the record, I paired it with some delicious steak tips.  When assigning a score, I have to look at the complete picture.  The marketing and affordability really add to the overall appeal and score here.  And if you're looking to buy this at your local wine store, you won't find it.  The Winking Owl label is available exclusively at Aldi.   And you can find some really amazing cheeses at Aldi to pair this wine with this Saturday night!

ABV:  12.0%

California

Suggested retail price:  $2.95

Drink The Bottles score:  80/100


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Navigating Wine Country During a Pandemic (aka let's help each other)



There is little doubt that the first half of 2020 has been anything less than unexpected from what most would consider a 'normal' daily life.  The global pandemic has affected every person in some way, and most people significantly enough to alter their lifestyle, even if temporarily.  Work, school, daycare and financial hardships have reached into most homes, creating a fear of uncertainty and anxiety for many.  But all is not lost.  Whether it is a false sense of security, the need to return to an accustomed lifestyle or a belief that the worst of this virus is over, people are starting to venture out of their homes and travel.  


There is no doubt that a large number of the world's population are still cautious and some, even frightened, about the health of the world and those around us.  It's difficult to control the actions of those around us, but by using common sense and social distancing, we can begin to appreciate the lives we are customary of enjoying.  I, for one, have chosen to travel.


It has been much too long since we visited California's amazing wine country.  My wife and I feel very blessed to be able to make this trek with friends later this summer and we are going to maximize the fun, the feels and the fellowship during this long weekend.  But wine country (at least online) looks much different than it did previously.  Nearly every web site lists COVID-19 precautions and health protocols.  Some wineries are asking guests to sign health release forms upon arriving on property.  Access to many areas that were once readily available is now off limits.  And that mask?  You better be wearing one.  So how do you drink wine through a mask?   Let's discuss that later.


Now that (like it or not) we understand that times look much different than they did just six months ago, how do we navigate California's wine country?  What is new and what is required and what is the best way to plan your trip?
  • If you're headed to Napa like we are, check out the new health guidelines before you go.
  • Bring a mask or several masks.  (Nobody wants to wear a wine-stained mask).  If you don't have one, stay home.  You'll be turned around at the cellar door without one.  
  • Make reservations because they are required now.  Long gone are the days of just "popping into" a winery for a quick tasting.
  • Keep your distance and be respectful.  Re-opening to the public after being closed for months can be scary and foreign to your hosts.  Tread lightly and follow their lead.
  • If you like the wine, consider making a purchase and/or joining a wine club.  Most wineries are family owned and have suffered greatly because of the pandemic.  Show some love and you'll be rewarded with your incredible wine purchases.

Now that we have a few pointers on how to navigate your upcoming wine trip, let's discuss about what you should expect from a winery before and during your visit.
  • Communication.  Seems easy enough, right?  You would be surprised.   I have reached out to about twenty California wineries during the planning of our upcoming trip.  I am amazed at how many of them never even bother responding to an email.  We get it; the wineries and tasting rooms are starting to get busy with re-opening in its infancy.  But if we have specific needs or your web site scheduling tool doesn't work, we have to email you in order to plan our tasting experience.  The lack of communication sends a message of apathy and we could have been your newest and biggest fans.  I call this a "don't be a dick rule".  
  • Create a memorable experience.   We understand that some areas and experiences may still be closed, but wineries still have an incredible opportunity to create lifelong memories for their guests.  In lieu of a cave tour or super secret hidden gem tasting room that is inaccessible, maybe a sit-down with the vintner or a special library bottle tasting could be an extra-special treat?   Or perhaps it is connecting us with the most special wine tasting room host who would blow our socks off with his/her knowledge, personality, humor and kindness?
  • Try not to make things too sterile or uncomfortable.  We're all scared.  And we, as guests, promise to follow all of the rules and breathe the hot summer California air through our uncomfortable masks.  We ask in return that the tasting room doesn't smell of hospital disinfectants and everyone doesn't spray us down with Lysol if we clear our throat.
We are all going to get through this together.  We are going to wear our masks and pull them down when permitted (and to drink wine!).  We are going to try to get back to a "normal" lifestyle and enjoy everything that wine regions all over the world have to offer.  But most of all, we are going to embrace the ability to move freely, travel the world and drink some superb fucking wines.  Go explore!


This article does not necessarily convey my personal feelings regarding the current global pandemic.  While I encourage my readers and oenophiles to travel and enjoy wine, I also advise everyone to use common sense, be safe and exceptionally courteous to those around you.   -Jeff










Thursday, June 18, 2020

The $200 Wine Tasting Fee and Why You Should PASS!

I recently followed up with a contact from a Napa Valley winery who I had virtually met about two years ago.  We are currently planning a trip to wine country in late August and she had previously left an open invitation to host me and a guest for a private tasting the next time we were in town.  I have always been a fan of this particular winery and they make ONE varietal every year.  Their inaugural vintage was beautifully crafted, and according to popular ranking publications, each year seems to get better and better (or so the points would leave us to believe).  While the winery itself is about 10 years old, the family behind the juice has been making wine for decades, in fact, multiple generations.

Before I get into this article further, let me say that I wholeheartedly believe that wineries should charge for tastings.  There is no doubt about it.  I think that paying for the tasting experience cuts down on the weekenders who are looking to just get loopy (aka "Wine Country" movie) and not appreciate the hard work and love that goes into every vintage.  It also makes people pay attention and want to learn more.  Whether you are hearing about veraison for the one-hundredth time or learning some amazing, deep dark secrets about a particular winery, you tend to pay more attention when you are vested in the overall winery tasting adventure.  

Excited to visit the aforementioned winery (which shall remain nameless), I reached out to their concierge and we chatted briefly about our previous exchange and upcoming trip.  She said she would check availability and get back to me as they are just preparing to re-open next week due to COVID-19.  You can imagine my shock and disbelief when the email I received a few days later came, offering to extend a wine tasting of A SINGLE WINE for a whopping $200.00 per person.  I stared at the email.  Was there a decimal in the wrong place?  Two HUNDRED dollars for a single tasting?  (And folks, we are talking a "tasting" pour, not a full restaurant pour).  I was so put off, I couldn't even respond.   Pass.


If you have incredibly deep pockets or have a chance to taste a "cult" wine (this one isn't, but don't even get me started on cult wines) or just like spending your hard earned cash, maybe throwing a couple hundred dollars at a 1 ounce pour is your thing.  I would venture to say that for 99% of oenophiles that is not the case.  It certainly won't be for me.  There are too many wonderful tasting experiences that you can find value in if you do your homework.

So, what should you expect and what are great values for wine tasting experiences?   

First of all, you should expect a memorable experience.  You should leave the winery wanting more - more wine, more time with the people there and more time soaking in the surroundings.  You should expect to be educated, entertained and welcomed.  But most of all, you should feel satisfied about your choice to choose that particular winery to spend your money and time with during your trip.

The best values really depend on what you are seeking during your visit.  A 'general' wine bar tasting will set you back $25 - $45 most of the time, and it is exactly that - trying wines at a wine bar or tasting room, often not at the winery or estate.  These offerings are particularly popular for budget-minded tourists.  Often, wineries will waive your tasting fee for a purchase of wine or if you join their wine club memberships.  Ask questions during your time at the winery!  

I personally like a tasting party that offers a winery tour, a cave tour, barrel tasting or some time with the winemaker or vintner.  Often these higher end encounters also include an exclusive or library wine that you can only get at the winery.  These more intimate encounters typically range in the gamut of $50 to $80 per person and are an incredible way to make long-lasting memories of wine country.  Of course, there are always options for a light lunch, charcuterie board, fresh garden offerings or a number of other additions to your wine affair .  There are many destination locations that offer picnic packages or even a romantic dinner for two.  The options are endless!  

But lets go back to the $200 tasting fee.  Maybe I'm just hung up on this, but I really don't think so.  At this particular place there are no caves, there are no flights of wine and there isn't a winery tour.  There is a single 1 ounce pour for $200.00.  That's NOT how I want to remember my time to wine country.  Life is too short to drink shitty wine.  Life is also too short to waste your time on disappointments.

Cheers!





Tuesday, June 16, 2020

2018 Calculated Risk Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon



Full disclosure here.   I purchased a few different cases of "close out" wines from an online discounter just to have some cheaper, every day drinking wine.  One of the purchases was this 2018 Calculated Risk Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  I bought 4 bottles and for the price (and free shipping), I thought it was worth the..................wait for it...............calculated risk.  (Insert laughter here).  I digress.

This wine really didn't disappoint.  Of the wines that I purchased from the discount vendor, this one was one that I preferred over many that were less than spectacular.  There was a very distinct Cabernet nose and medium red color.  Sometimes you can open a cheap Cabernet only to find that you struggle to identify the aromas that typically accompany these grapes.  This was not the case here.  Dried fruit with dark chocolate yielded to dark, ripe cherries and a faint dusty book taste.  The finish wasn't incredibly long but it was pleasant and kept me coming back to finish the bottle.   I'm definitely not mad at myself for trying this one, although the suggested list price tag on the winery web site would leave you scratching your head (I paid $14.99 and free shipping).  I don't think this bottle would be one you could take a glass or two from and put back for another day.  It's a one and done deal!  Drink now through 2024.

ABV:  14.0%

Sonoma County, California

Suggested retail price:  $49.99

Drink The Bottles score:  86/100

Monday, March 25, 2019

2016 Boeschen Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2016 Boeschen Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

I have never sat in a French bistro overlooking the Champs Elysees while enjoying the finest cuisine.  I have never read a first print of The Call of the Wild while sitting amongst the finest literary classics a prestigious library.   But those are two feelings that I get when tasting the 2016 Boeschen Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is an extraordinary example of winemaking with passion, care and diligence.  Many Napa Valley Cabernet examples are very fruit forward, but this one is more reserved, a big and powerful statement that is held back by the door of opportunity in a wine that can be enjoyed now or for the next 20+ years.  Dark purple, almost inky, this wine has a balance of dark cherry, tobacco leaf, cassis, and antique spice cabinet with satin-like tannin.  This wine was tasted at room temperature multiple times (hence, the wine streaks on the label!) with and without food and was a true champion every time.  I would recommend this with braised short ribs or venison.  Absolutely wonderful!

2016 Boeschen Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  14.6%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $110.00

Drink The Bottles score:  96/100


Monday, March 18, 2019

2016 Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

2016 Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Every once in awhile you taste a wine, taste it again, and then have to scratch your head at the price tag.  Could a wine this wonderful, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, really be just $50 retail?  Am I seeing that correctly?  The 2016 Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is an unfiltered beauty that really pushed be back in my chair!  Absolutely mouth-coating and full of delicious dark fruits, dark chocolate, whisps of dried spices and incredibly satisfying tannins that dance on the palate from beginning to end.  I'll be honest with you.   I spent minutes just swirling and smelling this wine, both at the beginning and throughout the tasting experience.  It's that good.  And remember, you could go to a restaurant and spend $12 - $16 for a glass of wine from a $20 bottle that is mediocre or you go visit the Priest Ranch Winery web site and purchase a few bottles of this Cabernet, knowing that you are getting more than your money's worth!  Highly recommended.

2016 Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  14.8%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $50.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100


Monday, March 4, 2019

2016 Coquerel Cabernet Franc Bennett's Vineyard

2016 Coquerel Cabernet Franc Bennett's Vineyard

Admittedly, I am not a huge Cabernet Franc fan because historically most of it has left me wanting more, often wondering if all Cab Franc was lackluster or if I had just been unlucky.  After today, I am putting all of that behind me and all Cabernet Franc will be judged against this 2016 Coquerel Bennett's Vineyard Cabernet Franc.  Yes, you read that right.   This wine spoils you because it is a 100% varietal and made from a single vineyard - and it shows!   Incredible dark maroon color with lifting aromatics of very ripe blackberries, cassis, hints of barn wood and cherry show the same on the palate with very juicy tannins and a finish that is surely a fist clencher.   I know it was for me.  This wine would pair well with braised short ribs but if you truly love Cabernet Franc, I would recommend this wine with a good book or a lazy Sunday on the sofa.   It's truly a work of art and at only 96 cases you should grab this quickly!


2016 Coquerel Cabernet Franc Bennett's Vineyard label

ABV:  14.8%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  SOLD OUT

Drink The Bottles score:  96/100


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Arns Winery NV Impromp2 2 Cabernet Sauvignon

Arns Winery NV Impromp2 2 Cabernet Sauvignon
This non-vintage 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Arns Winery started out as an experiment in wine aging and Sandi Belcher and her team have hit a home run.  This wine is a fine example of smart blending, expert wine making and risk taking that paid off in a big way.  This wine has three separate vintages in a single bottle.  This wine is rooted in a gorgeous purple color and presents lung-filling aromas of ripe blackberries, chocolate, saddle leather and toasty cedar.  There's a great mid palate feel with this one and generous flavors of dark berries, cedar, dark chocolate, tar and spice box.  This is everything you want to see in a quality Cabernet Sauvignon and I think this is an experiment that went extremely well!  I love seeing winemakers step outside of the box and I think you'll love this too.  Only 200 cases were produced and at this price point, it won't last long.

Arns Winery NV Impromp2 2 Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  14.5%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $65.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100

2013 Arns Winery Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Arns Winery Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Arns Winery is another fine example of a powerfully restrained, still young wine with tons of potential.   I "Drink The Bottles" when I get them, so unfortunately, sometimes I miss out what are probably the best years of many stellar wines.  I think that is the case here with the 2013 Estate Grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Arns Winery.  This wine has a gorgeous, sexy black color and a depth that you can see and feel.  Layers of chocolate cake, tobacco leaf, spicy paprika, and cherry cola marry with ease on the nose and in the mouth.  I feel like this wine has so much more to offer and the flavors will explode out of the glass in the next 3-5 years.  But who can wait??  This is a wine that is very tasty now, but will probably bring tears of joy to your eyes if you hold onto it and save it for that special occasion or special someone in the not-so-near future.  With only 300 cases produced, you better grab this quickly!
Arns Winery logo
ABV:  14.8%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $90.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100


2012 Arns Winery Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Arns Winery Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 was a mixed year for many wine producers.  Some soared and some struggled.  Those who did soar rose way above the competition and this 2012 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon from Arns Winery is a fine example of wine made gorgeously and with style.   There is a big contrast in color from the 2011.  This was is very dark and inky, leaving behind a beautiful stamp on the cork.  I decanted this wine for about an hour but couldn't help myself to get lost in the aromas dark fruits, black licorice and damp, loam earthiness.  Solid mouthfeel and the aromas carry over to the same flavors, but add in some cocoa powder and hints of sweet berries on the finish for a mouth covering and memorable drinking experience.   Arns Winery wines are those that you want to take with you to a dinner party.  These are also great wines to share with folks who are not traditionally "wine people", but beware that those folks may think that all wines are this delicious!

2012 Arns Winery Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  14.8%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $90.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2017 Farmhouse White

2017 Farmhouse White wine

The 2017 Farmhouse White from Cline Cellars mixes it up and stands out from most white blends because of the uniqueness of the six varietals that are the backbone of this refreshing beauty.  Medium golden with loads of honeycomb and warm tropic fruits on the nose.  Hints of wildflower appear as this wine warms to (my) proper drinking temperature (which is room temperature).  Blended with Palomino (41%), Muscat Canelli (25%), Roussanne (22%), Marsanne (6%), Viognier (5%) and Riesling (1%), this wine provides a crisp and slightly sweet flavor profile of tropical fruits, pear preserves, key lime pie and cantaloupe. The finish is solid and this wine should be taken seriously, because it is one that will bring you back over and over again.  I would recommend this with raw veggies and dill dip or bruschetta that is high in garlic content.

2017 Farmhouse White wine label

ABV:  13.5%

California

Suggested retail price:  $15.00

Drink The Bottles score:  87/100


Monday, July 2, 2018

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast

I am really digging this 2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese and think it is drinking very well right now.  This is definitely a great Chicken Parmesan pairing now or you could hold it for 5 years to enjoy more depth and less brightness.  This wine is slightly peppery with berries and a bit of funky, wet earth on the nose.  In the mouth, this light-to-medium wine shows off some gorgeous dried cherry bits, hints of candied apples and vanilla.   There's a suggestion of cedar box towards the end and I think it would be great to taste this vintage again in 3 years to see where that goes.  This is a very flavorful wine and one that I think is best enjoyed with the aforementioned meal.  Great value!

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast label

ABV:  15.0%

Sonoma Coast, California

Suggested retail price:  $25.00

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100


Sunday, June 10, 2018

2015 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah

2015 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah

No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you.  This 2015 Petite Sirah from Galante Vineyards is presented in a shorter bottle outside of a traditional bottle (but it's still 750ml).  Clever marketing and it confirms that good things are indeed found in small packages.  Jack and Dawn Galante really have wonderful wines and this 2015 PS is no exception.  Medium to dark purple with flowery fragrances of rose petal and dusty spring flowers combine with blackberries that are so ripe I picture them being as dark as night.  The flavors are well defined and don't mess around.   Cherry, blackberry, vanilla and peppery braised brisket are distinct and welcoming.  Sweeter on the exit and very memorable with a lingering finish.  This is my type of Petite Sirah.  Just over 250 cases made, so get it quickly!

2015 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah label

ABV:  14.1%

Carmel Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $50.00

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100

2016 Baldacci Vineyards Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

  We love thinking about wine and what was happening in the vineyards when grapes are picked and turned into a lovely wine like this one.  Y...