Sunday, July 5, 2020

Our Wine Cellar

Our Wine Cellar

Each month the leading wine publication, Wine Spectator features a collector in their Collecting column. We along with our cellar collection were the feature in the Collecting  section in the June 15th, 2001 issue. A highlight of our feature was our collection of birth year vintage wines for the birth years of our children coupled with our collection of large format bottles of those wines - 3 liter double magnums, 5 liter Jeroboams, 6 liter Imperials, and a 9 liter Salmanazar.

Our cellar - Its not fancy, its functional, for a purpose. People often ask me about cellar design. Its a cellar - for wine storage. If you're creating a showroom or tasting or dining room, then so be it.. But who wants to dine in 58 degrees?

Racks? There are all kinds of racks and kits and professional designs and installations. Again, our cellar is utilitarian and the racks were somewhat of a 'family affair'. In fact, most of them were father-son projects over a period of time where we designed and built a wine storage rack as part of a fun, teaching, bonding, collaboration project. Each section and project provided an opportunity to spend time together and teach basic woodworking as well as project planning and management. 

Hence, we have several racks of various  bespoke designs, not perfect, but uniquely 'ours', and each a special memory, and functional for the long run, especially those over-engineered or excessively designed, all purpose built for our cellar. 

Our cellar contains racks that were designed and purpose built for standard size 750 ml bottles - some for bulk storage and some for 'display'. We also racks built for our large format bottle collection - some for 1500ml or 1.5 liter 'magnum' bottles, 3 liter 'double magnum' bottles, and larger format bottles as well. 

We also have bulk storage racks designed to hold full original wood cases (OWC's) of wine - a format used for many premium and ultra-premium wines as well as many Grand Cru Classe and other quality Bordeaux wines. 

Temperature and humidity control - If building a cellar to store wine for more than the shortest term, temperature and humidity control are essential. Once again, there are residential and commercial grade units for temperature and humidity control. It's best to have these professionally installed as they can be complicated with needs for special wiring, water supply and water disposition. 

Our cellar employs two methods of temperature and humidity control. First, it is a true cellar, placed in a basement under the house at nine feet deep below grade. It is sided by concrete walls on three sides that are exterior below grade. So the basic temperature is naturally moderate and rather stable. 

Additionally, we have a passive temperature control system. Living in an unincorporated location without municipal services, we have our own well for water service to our home. As part of that system, we have a large well water tank to pressurize and supply our property with water. That well tank is in our wine cellar and provides a constant 55% degree heat sink to moderate the cellar environment. 

We also have supplemental air conditioning to provide auxiliary cooling for the cellar when needed. 

At the end of the day, (or decade), the true test is how well bottles age in the cellar. We regularly open aged vintage bottles of wine that have been stored in our cellar since being acquired upon release, ten, twenty and as long as thirty-five years earlier. Invariably, the bottles, corks, labels, and most importantly, the wine have aged gracefully and appropriately. We often say, whatever we are doing, keep doing it, when we open such bottles of well maintained, properly aged, fine wines.  

We hold about 2000+ bottles in our cellar, and while we're at a stage of life where we should be consuming our wine, we still tend to acquire our share as well so the holdings remain the same. We have almost as much have fun acquiring the wine, as we do drinking it. 

Two other dimensions of our cellar collection are vertical and horizontal holdings of particular labels, producers, or vintages. A vertical collection is a series of different vintages of the same label. A horizontal is a collection of different labels from the same vintage. 

Selection from Vertical Collection of Dunn Vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignons

This pages are filled with different examples of tasting events of various verticals or horizontals. We hold vertical collections spanning as long as three decades of numerous producers including Del Dotto, Robert Craig, Clark Claudon, Dunn Family Vineyards and others.

See the following features from our earlier blogposts highlighting vertical or horiztonal tastings: 

Ducru Beaucaillou Vertical Showcases Pour Boys Wine Dinner

Kathryn Hall Vertical Tasting - Hall Wine Release Tour 2015

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Vertical

 In some cases we did a mini horizontal and vertical in one tasting:

Caymus and Del Dotto Napa Cabernets - 1995-96 horizontal - vertical !

Example of a gala Horizontal Vintage tasting from our Pour Boys Wine Group:

Bordeaux 2003 Horizontal Tasting on the Cityscape Deck - Grilled Steak Dinner


2003 Vintage Bordeaux Horizontal Flight
Finally, here is a link to a gallery of our friends' wine cellars, many of which you see featured in these pages over the past years, or certainly the wines from such cellars. 

Friends Cellars 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Big Napa Cabs and #9 for 4th of July Celebration Dinner

Big Napa Cabs - Heitz, Moffett and Marquis Philips '9' for 4th of July Celebration and gala family dinner

The family (sans Alec & Viv, returned to NYC) gathered at our house for a gala 4th of July Celebration and Dinner - bbq, bags, badmitton, beer, tractor rides, swings, fireworks and some fine wine. Our 2 1/2 acre estate property, surrounded by similar estates, provided the perfect setting for the occasion.

Ryan prepared a delicious beef brisket that was the centerpiece of the dinner and Linda prepared grilled burgers, sweet corn, baked potatoes, chips and dips, and more. Ryan brought a salad and Erin brought blueberry cheesecake and chocolate cake. Sean and Michelle brought fireworks.


Ryan selected and I pulled from the cellar two aged Aussie Shiraz's - '97 Rosemount Balmoral and '07 Marquis Philips #9. He brought from his cellar the remains of a Heitz Trailside Napa Cab, '06. I pulled a '06 Moffitt Reserve Napa Cab to compare.

Regretably, the Rosemount Balmoral, at 23 years, was beyond its enjoyable drinking window and we set it aside. The decade younger Marquis Philips was still at the peak of its drinking curve.

Hence my attention turned to the Napa Cabs - enjoying the Heitz, and selecting and trying a comparison pairing.

Marquis Phillips '09' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007

We're getting near the end of an era, the end of cellar holdings of this label that once spanned close to a decade, we have a few bottles left of 05, 06, and '07's.

Crafted by Sparky and Sarah Marquis before they moved to Mollydooker fame, this bold expressive forward wine begs for the tangy spicy bar-b-cue or hearty cheese, and vica versa!

 As I wrote in an eariler review of this wine, last summer, this full-throttle intensely concentrated classic South Australian Shiraz burst on the scene in 2001 with direction from Robert Parker to 'run, don't walk' to your wineshop to buy this wine.  Marquis Philps was the result of a partnership between the highly respected South Australian viticulturists /winemakers, Sarah and Sparky Marquis and their importer, Dan Philips of the Grateful Palate.

Like the other Marquis Philips/Mollydooker branding, this features a whimsical cartoon characterization, this time of a 'roogle', which is 1/2 eagle, and 1/2 kangaroo, representing the American Australian partnership of Marquis and US distributor and partner Dan Phillips. The brand of Marquis Philips produced high QPR wines immediately gained enormous success and a faithful following. This partnership disbanded and Sarah and Sparky Marquis went on to form the follow-on brand/label Mollydooker, launched in 2005. They split up with Sarah taking over, buying out Sparky a couple years ago.

Interesting that for the 2007 vintage, they produced this label as well as the Mollydooker premium Enchanted Path label. We tasted both side by side in another family holiday dinner tasting at Christmas back in 2017. As I wrote then, its not clear if there is any overlap here since their breakup of the venture may cloud the details of the sourcing of their labels. There could be some of the same fruit in the two different labels. In any event, the 2007 vintage '9' is also dark, big, full bodied and concentrated. It is not as complex or polished as the Enchanted Path blend. In addition to the black berry fruits accented by mocha, tobacco and leather, there is a layer of graphite in this that has an edge that tends to detract from the fruit.

This big, complex, concentrated powerful wine with super rich, ripe tongue-coating fruit. This release of  '9' was sourced from McLaren Vale (60%) and Padthaway (40%) in South Central Australia. 

Consistent with earlier review notes, "this 2007 vintage '9' is dark, big, full bodied and concentrated. It is not as complex or polished as some of the other vintage releases. In addition to the black berry fruits accented by mocha, tobacco and leather, there is a layer of graphite in this that has an edge that tends to detract from the fruit."

Lacking the blend of the Bordeaux varietal (s) would explain this wine being more single-dimensional and less complex, yet no less bodied or concentrated.

RM 89 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=651009

Heitz Cellars Trailside Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Legendary Joe Heitz and his wife Alice were pioneers of modern California winemaking when they moved to the Napa Valley in 1951. Joe earned an advanced degree in oenology from UCal Davis and he worked with famed winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyards before he and Alice bought a small winery in 1961. Over the decades the estate grew to one of California’s most admired estates spanning 400 acres with vineyards planted in six of Napa Valley’s sub-appellations: Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Oak Knoll District, and Calistoga.

Pioneers in many aspects of viticulture, winemaking and branding, they produced Napa Valley’s first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon, the renowned Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard 1965 Cabernet Sauvignon. Heitz traditional branding retains the original historic label for all the Cabernet Sauvignon selections, differentiated by the script vineyard designation. Each bottle contains a unique identifying bottle number for the vintage release.

Joe died in 2000 but his children continued to run the estate until 2018 when the estate was sold to Gaylon Lawrence Jr., a businessman whose family owns farmland throughout the Midwest and South as well as banks and industrial enterprises. Lawrence has brought in Napa wine industry veteran Robert Boyd as Heitz CEO.

Ryan and Michelle visited the winery last year and had the honor of being served by David Heitz. They tasted and acquired a selection of library wines including this Trailside Vineyard selection. The vineyard has been part of the Heitz estate since 1984 and produces one of their three, single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. sitting along the Silverado Trail, backing up to Conn Creek on the fertile, eastern side of the Rutherford appellation, only the best blocks are selected for this terroir driven Vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon.

The esteemed Trailside Vineyard is a prime slice of Rutherford dirt, hugging the Silverado Trail on its east side and descending at a moderate grade until its opposite boundary nudges the banks of the Conn Creek.

Trailside consists of sixteen blocks of cabernet sauvignon, planted with seven different clones across the layers of eight different soil types that span eighty five acres; legendary Trailside Vineyard is the quintessential expression of the Rutherford terroir.

“The alluvial soil combined with a gradual slope towards Conn Creek makes this site ‘textbook perfect’ for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. We have planted the vines on an east-west orientation to evenly ripen the fruit throughout the day with dappled, gentle sunlight, resulting in small berries and ultimately, a smooth and concentrated wine.” – Brittany Sherwood, Winemaker

The 100% Cabernet Sauvignon label takes five years to produce prior to release. Each block from Trailside is crushed and fermented separately and remains unblended during its year in neutral oak tanks before being moved to 100% new French Limousin oak barrels. Each lot is continuously tasted and evaluated for two years after which on the superior barrels are selected to become the Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are then aged separately by lot for one more year in barrel, for a total of four full years in oak, before finally blending together for bottling. Once in bottle, the Trailside continues to mature for another year, until its release from our cellar.

The 2006 vintage was a tumultuous year, with swings between flooding and a wet spring, to a record-setting heat wave in July, making a year requiring meticulous vineyard management. A cool down in August allowed grapes to ripen at a steadier pace, leading to a long harvest as different varieties were harvested at optimum ripeness.

This was bright ruby purple colored, medium-full bodied, balanced integrated bright vibrant plum, currant and blackberry fruits are highlighted by notes of anise, spice and sultry oak with chewy and gripping tannins on a lingering finish.

RM 93 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=661099

https://www.heitzcellar.com/

Moffet Cellars Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

This wine is from Moffett Vineyard, a 20 acre site sitting 1500 feet up on Howell Mountain on the eastern slopes at the northern end of the range overlooking Napa Valley. 

The producer, Trent Moffett carries on the tradition started by his parents John and Diane Livingston, growing grapes and producing Napa Valley wines for over thirty five years.

Sourced from two Napa Valley vineyards: one high up on Howell Mountain and the other in St. Helena, it strikes a beautiful balance in the blend composed of 94% cabernet sauvignon and 6% cabernet franc. 

This is inky purple / garnet colored - medium-full bodied - polished and smooth with full flavors of blackberries, ripe plum and currants - the fruit slightly subdued from earlier tastings, highlighted by a layer of smoky creosote and black tea with tones of mocha chocolate and anisewith a touch of oak and spice - the wine shows great balance of toasted oak and acidity.

RM 92 Points

http://unwindwine.blogspot.com/2015/12/moffett-vineyards-cabernet-sauvignon.html

http://unwindwine.blogspot.com/2016/01/fantesca-chardonnay-dunham-cellars.html

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=661237

http://moffettvineyards.com/ 






What is better than to sit at the end of a day and drink wine with friends, or substitute for friends.

 -James Joyce

But there is no substitute for family!


Friday, July 3, 2020

Key to Wine and Champagne Bottle Sizes


In Bottle Sizes... Bigger is Better
Key to Wine and Champagne Bottle Sizes

I often mention 'large format' bottles in these pages. There are actually seventeen different standardized bottle sizes for wines and champagne. Large format refers to larger than the standard 750ml bottle size. The larger sized bottles are produced in less quantity than the standard size bottle, and are typically worth more than just double or whatever multiple of the contents of the price of the regular size bottle accounting for the increased cost of the oversize packaging. 

Champagne is most popular and common in using larger bottles. The magnum is a double sized bottle (1.5 liters) and is one of the best selling sized bottles for Champagne. Many California Cabernet Sauvignons, Red Bordeaux, and Red Burgundies are produced and collected in these larger formats.

It is generally accepted that wine will age better - longer, more gracefully and uniformly, in a large format bottle - hence their popularity with collectors. This is due to the smaller proportion of air in the vessel in relation to the proportion of wine. 


Many of the larger format bottle sizes are named after Biblical kings, perhaps in reverence or remembrance to their size and stature. 

There is also great novelty and fun in opening and serving a large bottle. Often for special occasions, one will have all the quests sign the label of a large bottle as the labels are proportionately larger with the large bottles. 

See Rick's large format bottles, labels and large bottle feature in Wine Spectator Magazine

The 17 Standard Bordeaux/California Bottle Sizes

SPLIT
Made for Sparkling Wine.
187 ml.
1/4 of a standard bottle
HALF-BOTTLE
375 ml.
1/2 of a standard bottle
Standard BOTTLE
750 ml.
1 standard bottle
MAGNUM1.5 litersEqual to 2 standard bottles.
DOUBLE MAGNUM3 litersEqual to 4 standard bottles.
JEROBOAM - This is what Champagne and Burgundy call their 3 liter bottles. Equal to 4 standard bottles.
REHOBOAMAbout 4.5 liters.Equal to 6 standard bottles.
JEROBOAM
(Bordeaux / California wines)
5 litersEqual to about 6 3/4 standard bottles.
IMPERIAL6 litersEqual to 8 standard bottles.
METHUSALEM - This is what they call an "Imperial" in Champagne and Burgundy.
SALMANAZAR
This one is a case of wine in one bottle.
9 liters
12 standard bottles.
BALTHAZAR
12 liters.
Equal to 16 standard bottles.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR
12 to 16 liters
Depending on the country of origin this will be from 16 to 20 standard bottles. 
SALOMON

PRIMAT / GOLIATH

MELCHIZEDEC

 SOVERIGN
18 liters

27 Liters

30 liters

50 liters
24 bottles

  36 bottles 


40 bottles

 67 standard bottles


Big Bottle Display at Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou -
St Julien Beychevelle, Bordeaux


Birthyear vintage large format bottles
Served at daughter Erin's wedding

Six Liter Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard 1990
in OWC - Serial #'s 41 & 44 -
Holding for son Alec's wedding
Standard Champagne Bottle Sizes

Bottle NameBottle EquivalencyCapacity
Split
1/4 bottle
18.7 cl
Half
1/2 bottle
37.5 cl
Bottle
1 bottle
750 ml
Magnum
2 bottles
1.5 l
Jeroboam
4 bottles
3 l
Rehoboam
6 bottles
4.5 l
Methuselah
8 bottles
6 l
Salmanazar
12 bottles
9 l
Balthazar
16 bottles
12 l
Nabuchadnezzar
20 bottles
15 l

Display of range of bottles offered at Moet Chandon Champagne House
in Epernay, Champagne, France
9 Liter Salmanazar
Served at daughter
Erin's wedding



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Our Wine Cellar

Our Wine Cellar

I regularly refer to our wine cellar in these pages. I expose and feature it here. Each month the leading wine publication, Wine Spectator, features a collector in their Collecting column. We and our cellar collection were the feature in the June 15th, 2001 issue.

A highlight of the feature was our collection of birth year vintage wines for the birth years of our children, coupled with our collection of large format bottles of those wines - magnums, 3 liter double magnums, 5 liter Jeroboams, 6 liter Imperials, and a 9 liter Salmanazar.

Indeed, we served fine wines from those large format bottles at our two childrens' weddings, and we're holding more for the others' upcoming weddings, and for other gala celebrations and events to come.

See my feature page Wine Bottle Sizes Explained on the different size bottles for different wine types.
Large format, birth year vintage wines served at
our daughter's wedding.
Our cellar - Its not fancy, its functional, for a purpose. People often ask me about cellar design. Its a cellar - for wine storage. If you're creating a showroom or tasting or dining room, then so be it.. But who wants to dine in 58 degrees?

Racks? There are all kinds of racks and kits and professional designs and installations. Again, our cellar is utilitarian and the racks were somewhat of a 'family affair'. In fact, most of them were father-son projects over a period of time where we designed and built a wine storage rack as part of a fun, teaching, bonding, collaboration project. Each section and project provided an opportunity to spend time together and teach basic woodworking as well as project planning and management. 

Hence, we have several wine racks of various  bespoke designs, not perfect, but uniquely 'ours', and each a special memory, and functional for the long run, especially those over-engineered or excessively designed, all purpose built for our cellar. 

Our cellar contains racks that were designed and purpose built for standard size 750 ml bottles - some for bulk storage and some for 'display'. 

We also built racks for our large format bottle collection - some for 1500ml or 1.5 liter 'magnum' bottles, 3 liter 'double magnum' bottles, and larger format bottles as well. 

We also have bulk storage racks designed to hold full original wood cases (OWC's) of wine - a format used for many premium and ultra-premium wines as well as many Grand Cru Classe and other quality Bordeaux wines. 

Also, many large format bottles have their own individual OWC's. Shown right are six liter bottles of 90BV6L - Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard 1990 - one bottle per OWC.

Temperature and humidity control - If building a cellar to store wine for more than the shortest term, temperature and humidity control are essential. Once again, there are residential and commercial grade units for temperature and humidity control. It's best to have these professionally installed as they can be complicated with needs for special wiring, water supply and water disposition. 

Our cellar employs two methods of temperature and humidity control. First, it is a true cellar, placed in a basement under the house at nine feet deep below grade. It is sided by concrete walls on three sides that are exterior below grade. So the basic temperature is naturally moderate and rather stable. 

Additionally, we have a passive temperature control system. Living in an unincorporated location without municipal services, we have our own well for water service to our home. As part of that system, we have a large well water tank to pressurize and supply our property with water. That well tank is in our wine cellar and provides a constant 55% degree heat sink to moderate the cellar environment. 

We also have supplemental air conditioning to provide auxiliary cooling for the cellar when needed. 

At the end of the day, (or decade), the true test is how well bottles age in the cellar. We regularly open aged vintage bottles of wine that have been stored in our cellar since being acquired upon release, ten, twenty and as long as thirty-five years earlier. Invariably, the bottles, corks, labels, and most importantly, the wine have aged gracefully and appropriately. We often say, whatever we are doing, keep doing it, when we open such bottles of well maintained, properly aged, fine wines.  

We hold about 2500+ bottles in our cellar, plus more in a couple wine coolers adjacent to the kitchen for staging. While we're at a stage of life where we should be consuming our wine, we still tend to acquire our share as well so the holdings remain the same. We almost as much have fun acquiring the wine, as we do drinking it, as this blog will atest. 

As to be expected, 95 percent of our wine cellar is Red wines. Only a couple cases of whites and Champagnes are held for short duration cellaring, nearer term drinking. We do have a collection of white dessert wines which do age well and can be held for decades or more but its single digit cases.

As mentioned often in these pages, we maintain our cellar inventory in CellartrackerI was developing a personal app on my own and had a vision for essentially the same solution, however, I'm a marketing guy, not a software engineer with the skills to develop a comprehensive sophisticated application. I spoke of my vision for such a site in my Wine Spectator interview in 2001.

CellarTracker was originally created in March, 2003 by Eric LeVine who was working for Microsoft at the time, to track his own collection. After extending access to several friends the site quickly grew to 100 users tracking 60,000 bottles.

LeVine launched the site to the public in 2004 and left shortly thereafter to manage it full time. Since then, the site has grown steadily every since.

Today, CellarTracker is the leading cellar management tool with hundreds of thousands of collectors tracking more than 75 million bottles. CellarTracker has also grown to become the largest database of community tasting notes with more than 5.8 million notes as of late 2016. The site is also visited by millions of wine enthusiasts annually to read the reviews and get wine recommendations.
Also, take a look at the cellars of our Pour Boy wine group and other friends

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Dunham Trutina Red Wine 2010

Dunham Cellars Trutina Columbia Valley Red Blend 2010

As written last night, we discovered Dunham Cellars Cabernets on-line with Winebid.com. Having been awakened to the brand, when we saw this label at local merchant Vin Chicago, we grabbed it, tried it, liked it, and went back and bought some more. That was back with the 2009 vintage, and we then purchased the 2010 vintage when it arrived the following year.

At a price point of $25, this provides reasonable QPR - Quality-Price-Ratio when compared with equivalent quality Bordeaux Blends and Cabernets from California and Washington State.  

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate says, "This is the least expensive, yet the richest of the lineup" from Dunham Cellars.

Dunham Cellars Trutina Columbia Valley Red Blend 2010

This vintage release label got 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. 

The 2010 Trutina is a blend of 63% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Syrah. The fruit is sourced from Washington State Columbia Valley Vineyards: Lewis Estate Vineyard, Double Canyon Vineyard, Phinny Hill Vineyard, Yellowbird Vineyard and Frenchtown Estate Vineyard.

We've tasted a half dozen bottles of the 2009 vintage release but this is our first encounter with the 2010. 

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, smooth and approachable, complex bright vibrant blackberries and black cherry fruits with notes of mocha chocolate , hints of cassis, spice box and notes of sweet oak with tangy acidity and smooth tannins on the lengthy finish.

RM 91 points. 

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=1428241

https://www.dunhamcellars.com/

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Dunham Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Dunham Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

We discovered Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon through Winebid, the online wine auction site. Over the years we've acquired close to a decade of vintages of this label through that vehicle. We've also acquired another Dunham label, Trutina, a Bordeaux Blend from Vin Chicago, a local merchant.  

We stopped by the tasting room during our Washington Wine Experience back in 2018 but it was a drive-by without a reservation and the place was packed. We didn't realize they had the Walla Walla facility and we failed to connect there while we were in town during our Walla Walla Wine Experience in 2018. 

Dunham was founded by Winemaker Eric Dunham. Eric started his career with a 6-month internship at Hogue Cellars in Washington, moving on as Assistant Winemaker at L'Ecole No. 41 in the Walla Walla Valley. With Winemaker Marty Clubb's blessing, Eric began making small lots of Dunham wine at L'Ecole with his first bottling the 1995 Dunham Cabernet Sauvignon I.

After a few successful vintages with Dunham's receiving great acclaim, with some help from his parents, he set out on his own in warehouse space in an old WWII airplane hangar in Walla Walla. A couple of years later, David and Cheryll Blair were introduced to the Dunhams and joined the business to pursue their collective dream of making and pairing great wine with hospitality.

Part of the branding approach from that first vintage was to affix to each vintage the Roman Numeral of the numerical order of each release. Hence, this 2003 Dunham Cabernet Sauvignon, the ninth vintage release, adorns IX on the label.

Dunham Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

For tasting with grilled burgers I pulled from the cellar this 2003 Dunham Cabernet Sauvignon, the IXth successive release of this label. 

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Washington State Columbia Valley vineyards; Lewis Vineyard, Frenchtown Vineyard and Double River Estate Vineyard. It was aged in 60% French and 40% American Oak, 70% new oak and 30% used; 1955 cases were produced of this vintage release. 

At eighteen years of age, this was holding its own, showing no diminution of aging. 

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, a structured core of black berry and black cherry fruits with notes of spice, anise and black tea with hints of oak.

RM 89 points 

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=287264

https://www.dunhamcellars.com/

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Château Croizet Bages, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2014

Château Croizet Bages, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2014

Anne-Françoise Quié,
Owner of Château Croizet-Bages
at UGCB Chicago
I have had the pleasure of meeting Anne-Françoise Quié, owner of Château Croizet-Bages several years at the annual release tours of the UGCB tastings in Chicago.

Ever since, I have sought out the chance to acquire and to taste their labels including vintages of this fifth growth Grand Cru Bordeaux. Their other property, Château Rauzan-Gassies, a great growth of Margaux, seems to be more popular and more widely distributed and thus easier to obtain.

So it was that I was delighted to find a couple vintages of Château Croizet Bages at Binny's last weekend and I picked them up and was eager to taste them.

We drove by the estate property on the plateau of Bages, near Lynch-Bages and Grand Puy Lacoste, during our visit to the Pauillac area last year. The 30 hectare estate vineyards lie just off the highway, as you enter Pauillac from Saint Julien, there near the landmark Cordeillan Bages property on the Route D2 as you approach the city of Pauillac. We'll look forward to including it on our next trip to the region when our focus will be on Pauillac. 

According to the producer, Château Croizet Bages dates back to the early 18th century when the Croizet brothers, both members of the Bordeaux parliament, consolidated a number of small vineyard plots in order to form a wine estate in the famous hamlet of Bages, in Pauillac. The estate was designated among the fifth growths in the famous 1855 classification under the name of Château Croizet-Bages, which remains to this day.

Jean-Baptiste Monnot, an American citizen and owner of the famous Klaxon brand, acquired Croizet Bages soon after the First World War. He sold it to Paul Quié, owner of châteaux Rauzan-Gassies (a great growth of Margaux) and Bel Orme Tronquoy de Lalande, in 1942. Monsieur Quié undertook a renovation of the vineyard during the postwar period. This was completed by his son, Jean-Michel, who took over management in 1968. who continued to upgrade the vineyards and build a new winery and vinification facilities.

Ownership and management remains with the Quié family, Jean-Michel Quié is assisted by his children, Anne-Françoise and Jean-Philippe who took over the reins of the property in 2004.
 
 
Château Croizet Bages 5ème Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2014

Antonio Galloni of vinous.com says "The 2014 Croizet-Bages is a gorgeous wine, not to mention a potential sleeper for the vintage", and rated it 91 points.

The blend is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon 28% Merlot 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot.

We would've first tasted this label at the UGCB North American Release Tour tasting in 2017

Classic left bank Bordeaux characteristics, dark garnet color, medium bodied, dark berry fruits with notes of licorice and black tea, hints of graphite and cherry with pleasant approachable tannins on a graceful finish.

RM 89 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=2075226

https://www.ugcb.net/en/chateau-croizet-bages



Sweet and tart with plums, earth and tobacco on the forefront with a conspicuous note of rusticity in the tannins surfacing in the end notes.
Read more at:https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-tasting-note/?vintage=2014&wine=Ch%E2teau%20Croizet-Bages
Sweet and tart with plums, earth and tobacco on the forefront with a conspicuous note of rusticity in the tannins surfacing in the end notes.
Read more at:https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-tasting-note/?vintage=2014&wine=Ch%E2teau%20Croizet-Bages

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Once & Future Napa Valley Petit Sirah 2017

Once & Future Wine Napa Valley Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah 2017

I found this at Binny's and was intrigued to try it. Only 201 cases were made so its not surprising I had never seen or heard of the label before. Upon further research, they're known for producing Zinfandel. The premium packaging with the heavy bottle with its deep punt was impressive and we love Petite Sirah, a cousin of Sirah/Shiraz, an under represented varietal in Napa Valley, so, I took a chance and bought all six bottles in the store.

This was ideal for casual sipping on the deck with artisan cheeses and fresh hot-house Flavor-Bomb tomatoes.

Winemaker Joel Peterson says, "It's my opinion Napa would be famous for Petite Sirah if it weren't for Cabernet Sauvignon."

According to the Once & Future Website, "Up until the 1960s, Petite Sirah was the most widely planted grape variety in Napa Valley. The few examples show that grown in the right places it does very well producing bright expressive full bodied wines that can be even darker and spicier than Zinfandel, that other “California grape” from Europe. Those that produce the varietal offer a distinctive and interesting choice (not to mention, often with better QPR - quality price ratio) over the leading Napa grape varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon.'

One site ideally suited to Petite Sirah is the narrow riparian canyon just east of the town of Calistoga, at the foot of the magnificent Palisades cliffs. There, cobbly loamy soil of the alluvial fan with hot summers, cool westerly morning breezes, extended sunlight and adequate winter rainfall combine to provide the perfect terroir for exceptional concentration and depth.

Viticulture in the area dates back to 1878, when James Horn, a settler from Scotland, first planted grapes. In 1908, Italian immigrants Domenico and Gilda Barberis, planted more vines along Horn’s Creek. Seven years later, they established “Bonded Winery Number 118” on the site. Despite expanding capacity to more than 20,000 gallons, the winery didn’t survive Prohibition, closing down in 1932. The vineyard survived. however and they continued farming it until 1992. Domenico and Gilda’s son Frank planted Petite Sirah on St. George rootstock in 1968 through the mid-70s.

In the 90s the property was bought by Anne Carver and Denis Sutro who farmed the property, preserved the Petite Sirah, and, as importantly, preserved the Palisades by putting the 500 acres directly below the massif into a land trust.

In 2015 Felicia Woytak and her husband Steven Rasmussen, retained Jim Munk to take over, continuing the place’s traditional of dry farming and head-trained viticulture. Today they source the fruit for this Petite Sirah from those Palisades Vineyard dry-farmed, head-pruned, 44-year-old vines planted in bale loam. The winemaker is Joel Peterson.

Once & Future Wine Napa Valley Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah 2017

This label was awarded 92+ Points by Erin Brooks of The Wine Advocate. The 2018 Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah Napa Valley was awarded 96 pts by Vinous Antonio Galloni. The only Cellartracker reviewer gave it 93 points. 

This was aged in 100% French Oak, 30% new barrels.

This was opaque dark inky purple-black in color. Initially it was closed and tight but opened up after 30 to 45 minutes to full-bodied, firm, tightly wound black and blue fruits, floral notes with cassis, black tea, vanilla, with hints of black pepper and oak with a long gripping tannins on a moderate but lingering finish.

RM 91 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=3248253

https://www.onceandfuturewine.com/