Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alec's Blend, Robert Craig Affinity, Penn Shore Diamond

Celebration Family Dinner - Alec's Blend, Robert Craig Affinity, Penn Shore Diamond

For son Alec's last night home before setting off for the east coast embarking on his professional career, we gathered for a gala family farewell dinner. Linda served up tenderloin beef skewers, twice baked potatoes, green beans almondine, grilled lobster tails, and for desert her decadent flowerless chocolate cake with fresh berries and whipped cream. For the special occasion and gathering, to complement the tenderloin beef skewers of the surf and turf. we naturally served up some of our favorite wines - Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend, 2005, and perennial favorite Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1997. To accompany the lobster tails we served a recent discovery, Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards, Lake Erie Diamond. We tasted and picked up this wine at the winery during our recent trip to the East Coast and the Lake Erie, Niagara and Finger Lakes wine regions.

Watch for more reports from our trip, wine discoveries and tastings.

Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Alec's Blend 2005

The 2005 Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend Napa Valley Red Wine Blend is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is dark inky purple color, full bodied, rich, opulent, forward fruit of black berry and black raspberry with a layer of blueberry, cherry cola and vanilla, smooth sweet oak and a hint of chocolate truffle flavors with highlighting silky chewy tannins on a long lingering finish. This is delicious - the most tasteful, fully flavored, smoothest and most polished Alec's Blend of all the vintages we have tasted.

RM 93 points.  

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

My Winesite features six tasting notes of previous bottles of this wine from the case we bought at the winery in Napa Valley a dozen years ago. This bottle was the most expressive of any in my recollection over the last ten years. It was rich, medium full bodied, dark garnet colored - fruit filled with black currant, black berry, raspberry, cassis and earthy leather reminiscent of a left bank Bordeaux with silky tannins on the finish. (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc).

This wine is now more expressive than the earlier tasting notes, finally fully revealing itself and its full potential with lingering fruit and staying power. The 1997 vintage was praised at the time yet the panned follow on 1998 vintage has been more enjoyable over the last several years. Finally the '97 is awakening and revealing itself, when we're down to the last five of our twelve bottles. It will be fun to see how this continues to evolve, and how long it lasts in its glory.

This is Robert Craig's Cabernet Blend from his three mountains (Mt Veeder, Howell Mountain and Spring Mountain) and a (Napa) Valley collection. Known for its good value and early drinking ability, this fifteen year old is holding up well. We have these wines dating back to the inaugural 1993 vintage in our cellar.
RM 92 points.

From our Robert Craig vertical collection that is highlighted regularly in this blog. Click on the Robert Craig link for more features.

Penn Shore Winery Lake Erie Diamond

This month we traveled east and stopped enroute to visit the Lake Erie wine district which spans the south eastern shore straddling both sides of the New York and Pennsylvania state line. The area developed around the turn of the last century growing fruit for Welch's Grapejuice. Today, they take in 80000 tons of grapes per year. The Lake Erie Appellation evolved and grew to over 150 producers who produces a range of wines from Riesling and Ice Wine to Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc and even Pinot Noir.

We visited Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards, one of the first one encounters when heading east from Erie, Pennsylvania towards New York, on picturesque Route 5, the Lake Erie Wine Trail. It sits on the outskirts of the quaint town of North East. There we tasted a flight of wines including Noiret, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Vidal Blanc and Diamond - the highlight of the lot and the only NV (non-vintage designation). Diamond is actually the name of the grape varietal. It is grown locally but is not popular anywhere else.

The Penn Shore Lake Erie Diamond is honey colored, full bodied, rich, almost thick and syrupy. They say on the label it is semi-sweet with fruit character and this sums it up well. It has aromas of sweet petunias, vanilla and clove with flavors of vanilla, clove and a hint of honey turning to pink grapefruit on the finish. Its more suited to sipping unless consumed with dry aged cheese, or in our case, it was a great compliment to the grilled lobster tails of our surf and turf dinner. Its a great QPR (quality to price ratio)at under $10.

RM 88 points.

More to come. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2009 - Flinders Shiraz

Château de Beaucastel "Coudoulet de Beaucastel" Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2009

In the Southern Rhone River Valley in South Central France sits Château de Beaucastel, located north of Avignon, five kilometres south-east of Orange at the northern limit of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation. Coudoulet de Beaucastel is known as 'Baby Beaucastel', the second wine of this storied producer to the flagship Chateau Beaucastel, one of the premier producers in the historic Chateauneuf-du-Pape, known for age-worthy big bold complex wines. We visited Beaucastel during our Rhone Wine Experience in 1999.
Chateau Beaucastel Vineyards - Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Coudoulet fruit is grown in a 15 acre vineyard that lies to the east of Beaucastel on the other side of the A7 autoroute. The geology of the soil at Beaucastel and Coudoulet are composed of a layer of marine limestone, rounded stones (or "galets") that contribute much to the wines of Beaucastel as they retain the intense heat of the Mediterranean sun during the day then slowly disperse it to the vines during the night. This provides a head start to the vines in springtime. The long dry Mediterranean summers often can stress the vineyard for lack of water resulting in intense powerful fruit. The resistance built into Beaucastel's vine stock from 30 years of continuous organic culture allows the vineyard to come through periods of drought with few problems. Because the rocky soil is porous and aerated, the vineyards at Beaucastel have developed root systems that penetrate deep into the rocky earth in their search for water. 
As shown above, the vines in the Southern Rhone are cut low to the ground to protect them from the mistral winds that rush up the river valley from the Mediterranean during the winter.  

Coudoulet and Beaucastel are age-worthy wines due to the high proportion (up to 30%) of Mourvedre, a grape that provides a tannic backbone and resistance to oxidation that ensures long life. Mourvedre introduces aromas of leather, tobacco, and spice to the blend. Beaucastel and Coudoulet vineyards are at the northern edge of the growing region of Mourvedre. It it often considered that the best expressions of a varietal come from the cooler parts of their growing areas.

The other primary varietal in Beaucastel wines is Grenache which gives Coudoulet the rounded fullness and intense fruit that is typical of Côtes du Rhône. The remainder of the blend is equal parts Syrah and Cinsault representing about 20% each, that provide tannins and aromatic complexity to Coudoulet. 

Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation covenants allow up to thirteen different varietals in the blend resulting in complex and often very sophisticated wines. Côtes du Rhône wines from the adjacent appellation are relatively simpler and generally more affordable offering high QPR - Quality to Price ratios compared to their bigger more complex neighbors. This is also the case with Coudoulet being a fraction of the price of its big brother Chateau de Beaucastel.  
Irazu Restaurant - Bucktown, Chicago
We met Ryan and Michelle at BYOB Irazu Restaurant in tony Bucktown about six blocks from their place and they brought along this Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Red 2009
Deep ruby purple color, medium.full bodied - very ripe, bold, forward, expressive structured, jammy and dry with aromas and flavors of black cherry and blackberry fruits, herb, grilled meat, leather with hints of pepper and spice with a mineral layer on the lingering moderate tannin finish.

RM 89 points. RP 89-91. 
Grenache 30%, Mourvèdre 30%, Syrah 20%, Cinsault 20%.

Flinders Run Shiraz Southern Flinders Ranges South Australia 2006

We brought along one of favorite big Syrahs, Flinders Run. We love this wine and consider it a benchmark representation of Southern Australian Shiraz at its very best, and at a pricepoint between $25-30 it offers relative great QPR.

The 2006 Flinders is dark inky purple, full bodied, powerfully scented bouquet of dark berries, smoky minerals and fresh flowers bursting with flavors of thick chewy black raspberry, blueberry and cassis with layers of nut, vanilla and hints of mocha flavors on a tongue coating lingering finish.

My earlier tasting notes from last year; "Dark garnet color - full bodied. Mouthful of forward chewy spicy ripe plum blackberry, blueberry and notes of licorice coat the tongue, toasty oak and a layer of vanilla almond on the full long, pure finish. Slight heat and mineral edge is subsiding but detracts from the fruit a bit. Not quite as smooth as the 2005 vintage but delicious none-the-less".

RM 92 points, RP 91, WS 92.

As good as this wine is, we like the 2005 even better! These wines are big and forward and might be 'over-the-top' for the more timid!

Syrah - Shiraz !?!

Lagier-Meredith Napa Valley
Mt Veeder Syrah is produced in
the Rhone Style
Stephen Lagier and Carole Meredith produce the Lagier-Meredith label Syrah based Rhone style wines from their mountain top estate high above Yountville on Mt Veeder in Napa Valley. As we are such huge fans of Syrah and Shiraz, I always wondered about the differences in the various Syrah/Shiraz varietals from the old world (France) and the new world (Australia and the US). I found the answer during our visit to Lagier-Meredith Vineyards in Napa Valley during our Napa Valley Mt Veeder tour last spring.

Stephen Lagier and
Carole Meredith

Carole Meredith was a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California at Davis where she conducted research in grape genetics. Her research group used DNA typing methods to discover the origins of some of the greatest old wine varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah. Carol Meredith is a geneticist and has studied and specializes in the Syrah varietal. She attests the Syrahs from Australia and Napa are the same as their ancestors from the old world Rhone River valley where they have been grown since the 16th Century. Lagier-Meredith produce Syrah varietal wines that are true to their heritage as they strive to produce wines in the traditional Rhone style.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggott Range Syrah 2004

Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggott Range Syrah 2004, Conn Creek Anthology 2008

The Capital Grill offers a quality carefully selected
variety of wines.

For our anniversary dinner we chose the Capital Grille (Lombard) where we knew we could match our most favored wine with a comparable dinner and entrees for a memorable dining experience. We took two exquisite bottles we were anxious to taste, secure in the knowledge their spectacular wine list could match our selections if need be. Planning on a perfectly grilled steak I took along a mouthwatering wine to match - Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggott Range Syrah 2004.  

We first tasted this wine during our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2003, when AJ brought a 1997 bottle BYOB to Bistro Jeanty in Yountille, Napa Valley with friends, AJ and Liat. I still remember it as one of the richest, most polished and full flavored Syrahs I had ever tasted. With this backdrop, I chose this for our anniversary celebration dinner. We also took along a Plumpjack Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 in remembrance of our memorable visit to the winery where we tasted and purchased this wine. Indeed, the fabulous Capital Grill cellar (shown above) offered this wine albeit from the 2008 vintage. The atmosphere, dinner and service were spectacular fitting every expectation for this special occasion. Jay was our server and did a superb job.

We feasted on the the Piggott Range, a spectacular complement to my perfectly 'Pittsburgh' prepared Sirloin and Linda's sliced Filet of Beef. It exhibited a rich dark purple color, full bodied, and full smooth polished aromas and flavors of raspberries, blueberry, blueberries and smoked meat with notes of spice and floral elements with hints of oak with nicely integrated silky tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 94 points. 

This luscious Australian Syrah was given a 96 point rating by Robert Parker, stating "A superstar effort, it reveals off-the-chart richness, complexity and intensity. Floral-scented, exhibiting a distinctive minerality along with wonderful blackberry and cassis fruit, and a hint of wood. The mid-palate and finish are both long, textured and intense. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should keep for a minimum of 2 decades."

This winery Clarendon Hills is the namesake of the town and area around Clarendon which was established in 1845. Many of the vineyards surrounding the winery are over seventy years old; the gnarly and twisted bush vines are dry farmed and the grapes are hand picked. The soil profiles of each vineyard are very different with the Piggott Range known for the rock and shale. This is a hillside vineyard planted in the 1960's adjacent to the Onkaparinga Valley. The soil there is notable by it's absence rather predominant with solid rock and shale torturing the vine roots to reach deep for nutrients to survive. Low yields rarely exceeding two tonnes/acre produce deeply rich fruit with firm structure and tannins.  

To accompany the after dinner dessert medley, Capital Grill served us Conn Creek Anthology Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Garnet colored, medium bodied, moderately complex, smooth and polished, the Anthology complements the chocolate and fruit petit fores with berries and floral violets turning to black cherry and mocha flavors with refined tannins on the long, lingering finish. 

RM 89 points.

Blend: 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, 11% Merlot, 7% Petite Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc

Conn Creek located in the historic Rutherford district along the Silverado Trail has been producing Napa Valley wines since the mid-1970's. Their flagship, Anthology is named for a Greek word that refers to a collection of literary or artistic works akin to its Bordeaux blend made from a collection of Napa Valley’s notable vineyards and diverse AVAs for growing Bordeaux varieties.Grapes are sourced from nearly all of Napa Valley’s appellations to provide great variety and options in crafting Conn Creek's flagship wine. The 2008 Anthology includes vineyard lots selected from the following appellations: Cabernet Sauvignon from Atlas Peak - Stagecoach Vineyard, Stags Leap District, Howell Mountain - Hughes Vineyards, St. Helena - Collins Vineyard, Oakville - Stanton Vineyard, Calistoga - Surber & Frediani Vineyards, Yountville - Herrick Vineyard, Carneros - Truchard Vineyard, and Mount Veeder: Cabernet Franc from St. Helena - Carpenter Vineyard, Atlas Peak - Stagecoach Vineyard, and Spring Mountain; Merlot from St. Helena - Collins Vineyard, and Atlas Peak - Stagecoach; Petit Verdot from Yountville - Tall Trees; and Malbec from Yountville - Herrick.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1994

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1994

This is one of the remaining bottles of a case we picked up following our visit to the winery during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 1999This is one of the joys of a wine cellar - to conduct periodic comparison tastings over the years to see how a wine ages. We tasted this at home with some artisan cheeses, grilled beef tenderloin, roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus.

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - My last tasting notes were a year and half ago on this blog as part of a "diverse-cabernet-bordeaux-blend_tasting" , and previously three years earlier; both notes consistent with this time. 
This bottle took an hour to open and shed an initial slight tart cherry edge, which it did. Dark inky color - medium to full bodied. Full forward black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors starting to show its age a bit with earth and leather emerging over the subtle currant, ripe plum, cedar and a hint of anise on a full firm finish. Earlier notes talk of a milk chocolate layer which was very subtle. I would say the aging of this bottle seemed no more-so than the previous tasting as it is holding its fruit quite well. RM 91 - WS 92.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Inniskillin Niagara on the Lake Wine Experience

Niagara on the Lake - Inniskillin Wine Experience

Desert wine is nectar in a glass - essence of honey, apricot, violets - there is nothing like it under the sun. Among the absolute finest desert wines in the world are ice wines - wines from grapes allowed to lie on the vine beyond ripening, then past the winter freeze such that as much as eighty percent of the juice in the grape is frozen leaving behind but all the sugars in the remaining twenty percent of the juice. Such is ice wine which in North America comes from a small area in the Pacific Northwest where Inniskillin Okanagan operates in Oliver, British Columbia, and from Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small strip of land between the western tip of  Lake Ontario to the north and the eastern tip of Lake Erie on the south. The small land mass adjacent to the Niagara escarpment there traps the air to protect the grape vines.

When the temperature reaches 8 degrees fahrenheit the conditions are right to harvest the grapes and collect the extracted sugar rich grapes suited for ice wine. Inniskillin Wines in the Niagara on the Lake appellation, licensed in 1974, the first winery to be licensed since 1929, has been producing and specializing in perfecting ice wines since 1984. Their Vidal Ice Wine from the 1989 vintage received the prestigious Grand Prix d'Honneur at Vinexpo in France. Inniskillin produces ice wine from several varieties of grapes including Vidal, Riesling, Chardonnay and even Cabernet Franc. They even produce a sparkling ice wine, which in other realms might be considered an oxymoron. Their 2006 Vidal Sparkling Ice Wine and 2007 Riesling Ice Wine won the Premio Speciale Gran Vinitaly "World Cup of Wine" in 2007.

We love desert wines and serve them with salads, artisan cheeses and of course with deserts ranging cake to petit fours to dark chocolates. So  when it came time to visit Niagara on the Lake, our whole focus was on Inniskillin, the house of ice wine. 

Readers of this blog know we have a fairly extensive cellar, with numerous desert wines from the world's finest producers from the finest wine regions - late harvest rieslings from California, Sauternes from Bordeaux, Trockenberenauleses (TBA's) from Germany and Austria, and of course ice wines from the Niagara escarpment.

Inniskillin, named for the Irish village from where GI's hailed who were stationed in the area during the great WWII, has 120 acres of vines, and purchases grapes from local producers from another 250 acres to source the grapes for their wines. Their specialty and flagship wines are ice wines.

During our visit to Niagara and Inniskillin, we were honored to meet the legendary Don Zeraldo, one of the founders and former co-owners of Inniskillin. He was responsible for championing the creation of the Niagara on the Lake AVA, and with the oenology institute there that grants certificates and degrees in viticulture and oenology. And of course with the development and perfection of ice wines in partnership with Karl Kaiser, the father of Niagara on the Lake ice wine.

The tour of Inniskillin starts in the visitor's center, rumored to have been partly designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (more on that later). One then tours the vineyards, source of the Vidal and Chardonnay grapes for Inniskillin wines, followed by the crush area.

The tour visits the cellars and sees a movie of the legacy and heritage of Inniskillin wines featuring the vision and work on Don Zeraldo and Ken Kaiser. One sees the working Inniskillin cellars seeing aging wine in both barrels and bottles, culminating in seeing the wine library featuring bottle storage from the early vintages from the mid-eighties through  recent vintages.

Finally one is treated to a tasting in the tasting room which in fair weather is outdoors, or otherwise indoors in the visitor center. We were treated to the public tour tasting and then a special tasting of select Innikillin wines. We tasted the following Inniskilllin wines:

Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine 2008

Inniskillin Sparkling Ice Wine 2010

Inniskillin Shiraz Cabernet 2010

Inniskillin Kaiser Legacy Ice Wine 2004

Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Ice Wine 2010


Inniskillin Winery and Frank Lloyd Wright - the Wright legend and inspired decor

The staff at Inniskillin spoke to the connection between the winery and Frank Lloyd Wright. The legend of Wright and Inniskillin  is that the property was owned by the Larkin family during the period when they commissioned Wright to design the Larkin Corporation headquarters building in Buffalo. The current winery visitors' center is situated in a barn that was built at that time. The recent owners of the winery decorated the buildings and grounds whth Frank Lloyd Wright inspired decor such as light fixtures, ironwork and windows. One window (below) is a reproduction or knock-off of the famous 'ballon' design windows from the Avery Coonley kindergarten in Riverside, Illinois. An original of these windows is displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago and they are the basis for many popular designs.

Ironically, the dual purpose of our to Niagara region was to visit Inniskillin and to tour the  Darwin Martin House and Complex in Buffalo, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright around the turn of the last century during his golden era of the Prairie Style of architecture. As a docent interpreter for the Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois for the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, I was also the research captain for Wright Plus 2012 for the William Martin House in Oak Park. William Martin commissioned Wright to design his home in Oak Park in 1903. During this time, he introduced his younger brother Darwin Martin to Wright. This lead to the commission for Wright to develop the Martin House and related buildings, and eventually the Larkin Building. Darwin Martin was the financial officer for the Larkin family and their soap and home products company.

In speaking with Don Zeraldo, former principle of Inniskillin. I intimated that I didn't buy into any theory of a connection between Wright and the winery property. He acknowledged that while this was a popular legend, there is no hard evidence of such a connection.

Some of the Wright inspired decor is shown here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vintage Dominus and Two Emerging Napa Cabernets

Long time friends Pat and Maureen poured out the cellar (pun intended) for our visit to Bluebell in suburban Philadelphia and an intimate poolside visit and dinner. An interesting selection of a Napa Valley classic big red Dominus and a couple of delightful new Napa Cabernet discoveries that they found at the local wine shop.    

Erba Mountainside Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Wow, what a find in this new emerging Napa Cab. Watch for great things to come from this exciting new producer Paul Erba, proprietor, and winemaker Denis Malbec. 

Starting in 1998, Paul and Debbie Erba planted the five Bordeaux varietals  (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec) and some Syrah high on the steep rocky volcanic soil slopes of Atlas Peak at 1100 to 1550 feet above south east Napa Valley. Seventy percent of the vineyard planting are Cabernet Sauvignon. Their first release of this wine was in 2003 followed by inaugural releases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in 2006.

Winemaker Denis Malbec studied viticulture and oenology  in France and worked for the storied first growth Chateau Latour starting as one of the cellar workers in 1993 and moved up to enologist and cellar master in 1994, making the vintages from 1994 to 1999. Denis consults several boutique wineries in and around the Napa Valley including Kapcsàndy Family Winery, Blankiet Estate in Yountville, and Captûre Wines and Respite in Sonoma.
Taking some points from the winemakers' notes, this big cab has dark inky purple color, big full bodied, bouquet of cassis liqueur, graphite, violets and smoke give way to big forward flavors bold blackberry, blueberry and plum with subtle spice, tobacco and leather accents giving a supple lush mouthfeel. The long finish exhibits polished tannins with a nice balance of vanilla and toasted oak. We started with this Cabernet and it was fabulous with artisan cheeses and starters. It would be superb with dark chocolate!
Blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot.
RM 93 points. 
Readers of this blog will know that we love big bold mountain fruit wines. I've not seen this wine before but will definitely be on the lookout for this label for great drinking now and collecting for future enjoyment. 

Dominus Estate 1999

The 1999 vintage of the iconic Dominus was Number 11 on Wine Spectators Top 100 Wines of 2002! This vintage was characterized by its extremely long growing season - a season where patience eventually paid dividends in the form of wine with outstanding character and complexity. 

This wine is very Bordeaux-like, true to its heritage and blend of  75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. 

The 1999 Dominus is dark garnet colored, complex and polished - a symphony of integrated flavors and silky smooth tannins - not a big powerful wine but certainly full bodied and flavorful. Delicate floral bouquet gives way to black berry and black cherry fruits with a long fragrant finish of soft oak, spice and hint of cedar and leather earthiness. 

We last tasted this wine Dec 8, 2005 in Chicago at a Dominus Napa Valley Red Wine vertical tasting with the producer Edouard Mouiex that featured Dominus from vintages 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. My Tasting Notes and Commentary at that time said it needed more time. My rating for that tasting was the same as this time.

We have one bottle left from a case of 1986 Dominus that we pulled from and tasted periodically over a decade and a half, when it burst open with fragrance and complex flavors to fully reveal itself, by which time we were down to the final couple of bottles. I remember at that time exclaiming, 'THIS is what Dominus is all about!" I sense the 1999 was similarly subdued withholding its true character and potential that will fully emerge in a couple more years, or perhaps this is all it has to offer. I look forward to opportunities to find out!

We saved this one for dinner and it was the perfect complement to the sirloin steak with roasted potatoes and green beans.

RM 91 points. 

Oliver Hill Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Another discovery of a new emerging producer of Napa Cabernets, Oliver Hill is not to be confused with the Australian producer of jammy Syrahs with the same name. This is the collaboration of college roommates Mike Oliver, the grower, and Jerry Hill, the wine maker/owner. Mike provides Cabernet and Pinot Noir grapes and Jerry handcrafts wine in small batches producing less than 500 cases a year. 
This 2005 Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon is their first commercial release the using the Oliver Vineyard Cabernet grapes sourced from Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard clone 7 planted in 1993. The 100% Cabernet from the Oliver Vineyard, Oakville is barrel aged 36 months in French Oak.

The 2005 Oakville Cabernet medium to full bodied with aromas and flavors of black berry and cherry fruits, hints of dark plum, cola, mocha and cinnamon with lingering soft tannins on the finish. Released at $28 an advertised in the $20-25 range, this wine represents great QPR (quality to price ratio) in a Napa Cabernet.

RM 88 points.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Foley Santa Rita Hills Rancho Santa Rosa Pinot Noir 2009

Foley Santa Rita Hills Rancho Santa Rosa Pinot Noir 2009

On our trip east we stayed in  picturesque Pittsford, NY. We picked this up in the tony Pittford Wine Shop and then enjoyed it BYOB up the street.

The fruit comes from Foley's Rancho Santa Rosa, part of the original Spanish Land Grant, and one of Santa Barbara's most historic properties. Planted into a steep hillside in one of the coolest parts of the Santa Ynez Valley, the site is ideal for growing bright, structured Pinot Noir. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels, which smooth the wine's texture and add spicy notes that complement the crisp acidity.  

The Foley Pinot Noir 2009 was medium bodied, opaque garnet colored, rich, concentrated, black berry and black cherry fruits, marionberry and cranberry with spicy dusty rose, sweet soft oak and a backbone of silky tannins and firm natural acidity.

RM 91 points.