Saturday, June 26, 2021

Trio of Big Reds for a hearty wine tasting

Trio of Big Reds for a hearty wine tasting ....  

As posted in the previous blog, our dinner wine tasting extended into the evening and we were joined by more family, friends and neighbors which allowed us the opportunity to break out several more wines to taste

Lang & Reed Two-Fourteen Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2014

I've seen this label many times over the years but admit I belive this is my first initiation to a wine from this producer. I must say I was impressed and will pay more attention to this label in the future. I am a fan of Cabernet Franc and will put this on my watch list for expressive wine drinking from a producer who appreciates and focuses on the varietal that is normally reserved for a but fractional part of the Bordeaux blend.

This is produced by Tracey & John Skupny, who started Lang & Reed Napa Valley in 1993 with the goal to explore the distinct charms of Cabernet Franc and to craft wines that are both expressive and enjoyable to drink.

Their wine experience spans nearly a half century working in the restaurant trade in Kansas City as wine stewards (sommeliers). They pursued their passion for wine and moved to California in 1980, eventually settling in Napa Valley in 1984.

They were intrigued with the distinction of Cabernet Franc, one of the noble varietals from the Loire Valley and Bordeaux wine regions of France. Cabernet Franc is a foundation key varietal in Bordeaux red wine blends, included to contribute aromatics and robust flavors to round out and extend the tasting profile of the blend.  

In 1993, Lang & Reed Napa Valley was born with a focus on Cabernet Franc. Named after their two sons, J Reed and Jerzy Lang, Lang & Reed Napa Valley is family owned and operated. Through their winemaking, their wines tell their family story of a life dedicated to family working together to craft artisan wines.

Through exploration and investigation of all things ‘Cabernet Franc’, they selected Clone 214 that originated in the Loire Valley of France, home to some of the worlds’ most renowned Cabernet Franc vineyards and producers. 

In 2007 they selected the Sugarloaf Vineyard in the southeastern corner of Napa Valley, located on a hillside slope with ideal rocky soils with moderate temperatures and cooling breezes that emanate from the nearby northern reaches of San Francisco Bay. 

This new world climate combined with this old world Loire Clone 214 is the basis for Lang & Reed ‘Two-Fourteen’ Cabernet Franc, the only known bottling of this unique clone in California. 

Winemaker notes: "This is the eighth vintage of the Lang & Reed ‘Two-Fourteen’ Cabernet Franc and, true to type, this wine shows a persistent purity of aromas and flavors.  At first scent, this wine shows a nice burst of raspberry and blueberry, with a top note of violet and  a  backdrop  of  savory  herbaceousness.    The  palate  is  medium  bodied  with  beautiful  Cabernet  Franc  purity,  texture,  and  length.    Though  very  appealing  for  immediate  pleasure,  the  structural  elements  will  allow  this  wine  to  age  gracefully for the next 7 to 10 years."

This is composed of 100% Cabernet Franc, the Loire Entav Clone 214, sourced solely from the Napa Valley Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. The wine is aged 16 Months in French Oak Barrels. 849 Cases were produced. 

This was rated 93 Points by Wine Spectator, 92 Points by Wine Enthusiast and 90 Points by Wine Advocate. James Laube of Wine Spectator says its "Best  from  2020  through  2030.”

This was a big hit with the crowd, all around - dark ruby colored, medium full bodied, forward full expressive ripe dark berry fruits with tangy spice and herbs, notes of tea and hints of cedar and oak with a moderate tannin lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.

 Domaine Des Chirats Sonoma County Rockpile Vineyard Syrah 2013 

As posted in these pages back in April, this is produced by Jeff Cohn, former winemaker at Rosenblum Cellars, in collaboration with Yves Cuilleron from the Northern Rhône, third generation proprietor of Cave Cuilleron, founded by his grandfather Claude Cuilleron in 1920. Yves took over in 1987 from his Uncle. The 150 acre estate produces over 430,000 bottles of wine annually. 

Jeff Cohn and Yes Cuilleron teamed up in 2013 to produce this wine in the historic Northern Rhône style from fruit sourced from Cohn's Rockpile vineyard. Through their collaboration they have crafted this wine in the style of a Northern Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie.

Fruit for this label is sourced from the Rockpile vineyard in the Rockpile appellation in Sonoma. Cohn calls it "a special place for Syrah". Sitting at 2010 ft. elevation, 20 plus year-old Syrah vines are grown above the fog line allowing for plenty of sun to reach full ripeness. The vineyard gets its name from the rocky soil that stresses the grapes resulting in richness and concentration. Jeff began working with the Rockpile Vineyard over fourteen years ago.

Cohn strives for elegant and complex wines and he believes the craggy soil of the aptly named Rockpile produces some of the most complex and distinctive minerality in all of California.

The 2014 vintage of this wine was rated 95 Points by Robert Parker.

Definitely more of a Northern Rhone style, this was preferred by Mandy, moreso than Linda who opts for the more expressive approachable fruits of a new world style. 

Dark purple garnet colored, full bodied, complex and concentrated but polished and elegant, blueberry and blackberry fruits with notes of floral, anise, meaty bacon fat and spice, crisp acidity with firm but approachable tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 92 points

TOR Kenward Family Wines ROCK Hommage Allan Hudson Vineyard Syrah 2013

A previously unknown, undiscovered label, I picked up the last two remaining bottles of this rather obscure label at Binny's and wrote about this Hudson Vineyard Syrah back in December of 2018.

This is the style and profile of Syrah that we favor, dark inky purple, full bodied, concentrated forward black and blue berry and cherry fruits with bright acidity accented by tones of anise, graphite, leather and hints of pepper with a long tongue puckering finish with firm but soft approachable tannins. This was almost over the top for some of the crowd but was a crowd-pleaser none-the-less.

Not as sweet, polished or balanced as some of favorite, preferred, standard bearer Napa Syrahs, but tasty and pleasant drinking in any event.  

RM 91 points.