Friday, June 30, 2023

Chappellet "Signature" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Chappellet "Signature" Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon at Angeli's Italian 2006

Friday night dinner out, we dined at Angeli's Italian, our favorite neighborhood trattoria. I took BYOB this aged vintage Napa Cabernet for the occasion. It was a perfect complement pairing with my basic Spaghetti and Meatballs with Bolognase Sauce entree, and Linda's Salmon.

Our exploration of Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignons continues. Over the past two weeks we tasted two other Pritchard Hill labels, Cloud View Vineyards, and the week before we had David Arthur Cabernets at a separate dinner. 

I wrote in detail about the history and unique terroir of Pritchard Hill at the time and mentioned the broad number of ultra-premium labels produced there by legendary top tier producers. 

No discussion of Pritchard Hill is complete without mention Donn Chappellet and his history as one of the first modern era producers to settle that and his presence today as the largest vineyard holdings in the area. 

Hence it was only fitting to include Chappellet "Signature" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in any discussion and review of Pritchard Hill wines. For more than 30 years, the "Signature" Cabernet Sauvignon label has been Chappellet's flagship wine.

This is the oldest of a half dozen vintages we hold of this label in our cellar. It calls for going out and buying the latest release to replace it to keep the collection going. 

We visited the Chappellett estate vineyards (shown at bottom) and winery up on Pritchard Hill during our Napa Wine Experience back in 2009.

At seventeen years of age, this was consistent with, but better than my previous tasting of this wine back in 2011 as the wine has developed in the bottle aging for another decade. 

This release was awarded 94 points and a 'Cellar Selection' by Wine Enthusiast, and one of the Top 100 Wines of 2009 and Highly Recommended, 94 points by Wine Spectator. Wine Advocate gave it 93 points and said it was "one of the most impressive 2006s I tasted".James Suckling gave it 92 points and Jancis Robinson 18/20 points.

This is actually a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 76%, Merlot 18%, Malbec 4%, and Petit Verdot 2%.

Tonight's tasting was consistent with what I wrote back in 2011, "Dark inky purple color - medium-full bodied, complex and concentrated blackberry and black raspberry fruits in a tightly wound core accented by spicy oak on a balanced structured tannin finish." 

It's complexity featured highlights of currant fruits and anise with notes of tobacco, dark mocha chocolate, and hints of cedar on the long finish. 

Tonight I rated this 93 points, vs the 92 points from my earlier review. 




Sunday, June 25, 2023

Cloud View Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Cloud View Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend 2005

Sunday night dinner at home on the deck, Linda was preparing grilled New York Strip steaks, baked potatoes and fresh corn on the cob - one of my favorite summer meals. I pulled from the cellar a premium aged Napa Valley Bordeaux varietal blend - Cloud View from Pritchett Hill. 

This is a Bordeaux Blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Merlot sourced from the Cloud View Vineyards located on Pritchard Hill toward the southern end of the Vaca Mountain Range that forms the Eastern boundary above Napa Valley. 

I have a mini-vertical of this wine from 1999 through this vintage 2005. Normally, I would drink the oldest vintage as part of cellar management, but I chose the newest or latest vintage tonight since Linda prefers younger wines. 

Also, I wanted to compare it with the David Arthur wine we drank the other evening, another Pritchard Hill label Cabernet

Cloud View Vineyards was owned by Leighton & Linda Taylor. The estate was 23 acres of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon planted on hillside vineyards between an elevation of 1000 and 1500 feet, notably at and above the fog line which reaches to 1200 feet.

Leighton was a former marine Biologist who wrote extensively about marine life including several well-regarded books and one film about whales. 

This was the last vintage produced by the winery which ceased operation in 2005 when it was sold to Tim Mondavi who established Continuum Estate on the site. 

When it was produced in the late 1990's to 2006, they focused winemaking on this one wine each year; a Napa Valley Estate Red Wine blended from the best grapes from the property - part Cabernet Sauvignon and part Merlot, the ratio varying slightly from year to year.

Pritchard Hill is the site of some of Napa's most prestigious labels; Brand, Bryant Family, Colgin, Del Dotto's ultra-premium Villa Del Lago, Ovid and of course, David Arthur.

While Pritchard Hill is not an official appellation (AVA - American Viticultural Area), it certainly could be, but lacks a sponsor to apply and lobby for designation. Donn Chappellet, the earliest settler in the modern era owns the 1971 Pritchard Hill trademark and firmly declares, “It will not become its own AVA.”

The grape and wine of choice produced there is Cabernet Sauvignon, sometimes blended with other Bordeaux varieties and in at least one case, a Syrah, which we own from the very limited production. 

The hill is named for homesteader Charles Pritchard who planted vines and produced the 1890 vintage of Zinfandel and Riesling. Pritchard Hill’s modern era began in 1967, when Donn Chappellet acquired and developed their property on the advice of André Tchelistcheff, then at Beaulieu Vineyard.

When Chappellets bought the property, there was an existing vineyard planted there to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Gamay and Johannisberg Riesling. He eventually replaced these with Bordeaux varieties, except for a brief experiment with Chardonnay. Chappellet's approximately 100 acres of planted vines makes their vineyard the biggest on Pritchard Hill.

Following Chappelett over the next decade were two Long families, unrelated. Bob Long and his wife, Zelma (then the chief enologist for Robert Mondavi, established Long Vineyards, which is no longer operating), and David Arthur Long and his father, Donald, planted their vineyard in 1978. Today, David Arthur Vineyards is owned by David, his brother, Bob, and Bob’s wife, Joye. Bob Long also has his own brand, Montagna. 
We visited David Arthur on Pritchard Hill during our Napa Wine Experience in 2013, and previously, we visited Chappellet on other side of Pritchard Hill during our Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley Experience - Autumn '09 with our visit to long time resident/producer Chappellet Vineyards.

Pritchard Hill is known for red soil known as Sobrante, described by David Arthur’s and Montagna’s winemaker, Nile Zacherle, as “volcanic clay loam.”The terrain is littered with huge boulders which some wineries, like Colgin and Brand, dynamited to clear the land to make it suitable for planting.

The high altitude well drained poor soils produce low yields of small, intensely flavored grapes with thick skins. Pritchard Hill sits above the fog line which comes up to 1,200 feet above sea level allowing for extra sunshine when the lower elevation is shrouded in fog. Notably, on Howell Mountain, further north in the Vaca Range, the 1200 foot elevation where the fog stops, is the demarcation point between Napa Valley and Howell Mountain appellations' designated wines.

Legendary winemaker Philippe Melka, one of our favorite producers, makes wines at Gandona, Brand and was Bryant Family’s winemaker until 2006, calls Pritchard Hill “the best of both worlds: Oakville sophistication with the extra intensity of a hillside.” The Brand estate had been owned by the Miner Family Winery till it was purchased by businessman Ed Fitts. Portuguese Gandona owners bought the land from Bob Long (Zelma’s husband) when Long Vineyards ceased operations. 

Another of our other favorite wines in our cellar is Arns Melanson Vineyard Syrah produced by John Arns over on Howell Mountain. He obtains the fruit for this single vineyard designated label from the 10.5 acre vineyard on Pritchard Hill that is planted to Cabernet, Chardonnay and Syrah. Greg Melanson acquired the vineyard back in 1988. Previously, it was owned by Round Pond; Bob and Zelma Long planted the original vineyard in the early 1970s. For years, Melanson sold fruit to the likes of Heidi Barrett (for La Sirena) before starting his own brand.

The Bryant Family Pritchard Hill 13 acre estate was developed in 1985 by the all-star team that included winemaker Helen Keplinger, consultant Michel Rolland and vineyard manager David Abreu. Todd Alexander worked there on Pritchett Hill where he gained notoriety when his wines earned high ratings and critical praise. There he learned the craft under legendary viticulturist David Abreu and winemaking consultant Michel Rolland, following in the footsteps of notable producer Peter Melka before moving to Walla Walla Washington to take on winemaking and production at Force Majeure.

David Del Dotto, developer of a vast portfolio of Napa properties and brands, and producer of one of the largest collections in our cellar knew "Pritchard Hill was a key vineyard site from drinking Bryant Family,” he says. “David Arthur convinced me of the potential of these wines.” From the broad portfolio of Del Dotto labels, he reserves the Villa del Lago brand for his ultra-premium estate Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ovid was developed in 2003 by former software entrepreneurs Dana Johnson and Mark Nelson who bought their vineyard land in 1998 and launched Ovid five years later. They assembled the superstar team including vineyard manager David Abreu, winemaker Austin Peterson (who worked with Michel Rolland at Château Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol) and consulting winemaker Andy Erickson (formerly of Screaming Eagle, now at Dalla Valle).

Cloud View 2005 rear label
The Cloud View Vineyards estate ceased operation with the 2006 vintage when it was sold to Tim Mondavi when he struck out on his own after the family broke away from Robert Mondavi Winery. He acquired the Pritchard Hill estate and founded Continuum Estate. The 62 acre vineyard is the second largest in the region. Note that the Cloud View brand was not sold so we might see it re-emerge in some fashion at some point in the future although the website is gone and the domain name is for sale.

At a vertical tasting by fellow Cellartracker Thirsty1, he wrote, "the 2003, 04 and 05 were fairly interchangeable; mature fruit, acid and tannins in balance. All delicious in their own right. The 1999 was the oldest and looked the part. It was brick around the rim and had that dried blackberry note, plowed earth and cocoa powder texture. It was the only one, aside from the 2000, that I would say was on the decline. Incredible wines on an incredible night." He and I corresponded and actually traded bottles of vintages of Cloud View to each fill a hole in our respective verticals.

At the The Best of the 2005 Napa Cabernet Tasting at the Premiere Napa Valley ’07, Cloud View was rated at the second highest tier alongside an esteemed selection of wines from prestigious producers.

The event draws nearly 1000 winemakers, restaurateurs, and retailers each year - a who's who in Napa Valley wines. Premiere Napa Valley is produced by the Napa Valley Vintners Association, a combination of celebration and fundraiser for the Vintners Association. Between 150 and 200 members of the Vintners Association donate up to a full barrel (20 cases) of what is typically a unique blend, block selection, single vineyard designate, or varietal from their best wine.

Vinography blogger founder and editor Alder Yarrow rated the 2005 vintage wines at the event in his special report. From that report, many of our favorite, popular and well known producers and labels stand alongside Cloud View in this vast extensive horizontal tasting.

2005 Darioush “Apadana Block: Exclusive Single-Vineyard Release” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2005 Pine Ridge Winery “Epitome Select” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2005 Groth Vineyards & Winery “Preview” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2005 Cliff Lede Vineyards “Cinnamon Moon” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
2005 Amuse Bouche Winery Cabernet Franc/Merlot Bordeaux Blend, St. Helena
2005 Cloud View Vineyards “Pritchard Hill” Cabernet Bordeaux Blend, Napa Valley
2005 Paradigm Winery “CS4C” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2005 Monticello Vineyards “CORLEY Proprietary Red Wine” Red Table Wine, Napa Valley
2005 Terra Valentine Bordeaux Blend, Spring Mountain District
2005 Larkmead Vineyards “Larkmead Harvest 111” Bordeaux Blend, Napa Valley
2005 Vineyard 29 “Premiere Napa Valley” Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
2005 O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
2005 Pahlmeyer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2005 Outpost Wines “Inaugural Vintage of True Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
2005 Joseph Phelps Vineyards “Backus Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville
2005 Quintessa “Corona Sur” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
2005 von Strasser Winery Petit Verdot Diamond Mountain District
2006 CONSTANT-Diamond Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Franc Diamond Mountain District

As shown in the picture above, at eighteen years, the fill level, label, foil and importantly, the cork were all pristine. The wine showed no sign of diminution of age whatsoever, likely at the apex of its drinking window and profile, and should age gracefully for several more years.With this tasting, I changed my Cellartracker tasting window from 2018 to 2023.

I'll watch carefully for another opportunity to enjoy this rare label and the other five vintage releases that I hold in the cellar.

Dark garnet colored, medium to full bodied, rich concentrated full round but approachable balanced and integrated dark berry and plum fruit accented by floral, smokey vanilla, clove spice and notes of camphor with a long tangy acidic silky tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.

The website is no longer active and the domain name is for sale.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Purdue Union Autograph Hotel Wine Dinner

Purdue Union Autograph Hotel Wine Dinner

Indiana Getaway features history, architecture and fine dining at the Purdue Union Autograph Hotel

Usually I am cautious about expectations of a hotel restaurant being more than a glorified coffee shop serving three squares a day. So it was that I was a bit dubious booking the 8eleven Bistro Restaurant in the Purdue Union Club Autograph Hotel for our Friday night dinner during our weekend getaway trip to (West) Lafayette, Indiana. 

We met dearest life-long best friends Eric and Cathy from Indy who made arrangements for the day, in the town of their alma mater, Purdue University. 

The attraction was the Indiana Automotive Lafayette Tour, an inside look at automotive landmarks and rare Indiana-made vehicles, sponsored by Indiana Automotive, and the Indiana Landmarks Foundation. 

Indiana Automotive celebrates and commemorates Indiana’s role in the birth and flourishing of the automobile industry and its legacy of places worth preserving and spectacular automobiles that match the best ever built, anywhere.

IndAuto-logo wtext Indiana Automotive celebrates the early auto visionaries and their products, and promotes the preservation of the cars, the factories and showrooms, the homes of auto moguls, and the landscaped parkways and roadside architecture birthed by the auto age.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, more than 250 automobile manufacturers opened shop in Indiana—Duesenberg, Stutz, Cord, Auburn, and Studebaker among them—whose products rank as landmarks on wheels.

Indian Automotive is an affinity group of Indiana Landmarks umbrella.

We then attended a reception at the historic Frank Lloyd Wright Samara House, recently restored and reopened to the public for tours and special events.  

The John and Catherine Christian House, commonly known as Samara, is one of the most complete Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the US. 

Samara, named for the winged seeds found in pinecones and several of the trees on the site, was completed in 1956 near the end of Wright’s career. It is a classic Usonian style home with floor to ceiling windows, garden views, and complete Wright designed furniture and fixtures. 

 Readers of these pages know of my interests in Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School architecture. As a Docent/Interpreter and Researcher for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in Chicago and Oak Park, IL, I give public tours at the FLW home & Studio in Oak Park and have done extensive research on Wright and Prairie style buildings and sites.   

My work as a volunteer certified docent/interpreter and research captain for the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust is enriched by my knowledge of work by Wright and his contemporaries

I publish a Wright site that includes a photo gallery of prairie style architecture and FLW sites I have visited as part of my travels and studies. and his contemporaries. 

Samara House Alexander Vertikoff Photo

Indeed, our hosts for the day, Eric and Cathy built and live in an authentic Prairie Style home in Indianapolis, which is also featured on my site.  


My photos from my library of over 25000, have been published on PBS, in text books, children's books, architecture and history books, and most recently, my photography was selected for the "Finn Juhl and Danish Chairs" Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition highlighted some of the Finn Juhl's design works featured in Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house.

In planning our weekend getaway, I researched dining options in greater Lafayette and West Lafayette, looking at the numerous restaurants and exploring their menus and associated wine lists for the optimal food and wine pairing. In the end, we opted for the most convenient option, our hotel restaurant, which appeared to a have a suitable wine list and menu for the occasion. Thankfully, 8Eleven Bistro met, actually exceeded our expectations for a delightful fine dining experience. 

The clubby 8Eleven Bistro is named to commemorate Purdue alumni trailblazing tradition of two of NASA’s most daring aerospace programs, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11, missions commanded by Purdue alum, astronaut Neil Armstrong.

From the menu, we ordered for starters the Baked (Conneticut Blue Point) Oysters with brie, shallot chablis and parsley, Spicy Tuna Bruschetta clementine with avocado and pistachio, and the Golden Beets & Apple arugula salad with whipped goat cheese, sunflower seeds and citrus vinaigrette. All were delicious, delightfully prepared and presented. We had to ask for a serving of fresh bread with butter.


For our dinner entree we shared the Braised Beef with pommes puree, roasted pepper, pearl onion and shaved fennel. It too was delicious and ample for sharing. 

For a wine pairing we selected from the wine list the premium Napa Valley estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Montelena

The 8Eleven wine list is ample and artfully selected offering several favorite producers and labels with a range of offerings from the US, France, Italy, Australia and South American. There are varietals and blends to match and pair with all the food selections. Prices are targeted at the roughly 2.5x retail price, typical and customary for such venues. 

The winelist offer a nice selection of fourteen WBTG - Wines by the Glass, six red, five white, one rose and two sparkling. 

The separate Bottle Wine list features all the popular varietal and styles, five each sparkling wines and Sauvignon Blancs, eight Chardonnays and ten 'other' Whites. 

The red wine selection is comprehensive and well selected with six Pinot Noirs, sixteen Cabernet Sauvignons and Red Blends, and seventeen 'other' Reds. The Reds include labels from Napa, Oregon, Washington, Italy, Australia, France and feature Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, Italian Sangiovese and Barolo, Australian Syrah/Shiraz, Rhone Blends and a popular premium American Zinfandel. For several popular producers they feature the estate, premium and ultra premium labels such as Caymus Napa and Caymus Special Select, and Trefethen Estate Cab, Reserve, and their flagship Halo label. 

Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

We ordered from the wine list the Chateau Montelena 2019 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. While it was posted at $132 on their website, the updated menu price was $150.
This is the standard premium label crafted from Montelena estate and select contract grower neighbor vineyards located in the northern end of Napa Valley, in and around Calistoga, sites selected for their alluvium soil profile which provides an earthy, complex and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon. This label is not to be confused with their "Estate" flagship label which costs more than two times the price.

This release is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot from Oak Knoll appellation in southern Napa Valley, added to soften the wine. It was aged 16 months in 28% new French and some Hungarian oak.

Winemaker notes - "Everyone fondly remembers the wines from 2005 or 2013 when quality was simply there for the taking, and that was the case with 2019. Amusingly, as a winemaker, our favorite vintages are typically those that follow a Hollywood-esque storyline with unforeseen challenges, plenty of character development, and of course a final victory. With that said, it is just as gratifying to hit that pitch out of the park if the opportunity is there. Moreover, while it’s true that every vintage builds character, growing seasons like 2019 beget gratefulness and reflection in reminding us why Napa Valley in general and the Montelena Estate vineyard in particular are so special. In short, this vintage exemplifies all of the characteristics that one could seek in delicious, age-worthy wine." - Winemaker Matt Crafton.

"NOSE - Pure and powerful, this wine opens with fresh blueberries, blackberry pie and cassis, endless dark fruit is complemented by a range of baking spices: vanilla at first, but also clove and cinnamon.'
"PALATE - the first sip instantly reveals the character of this Cabernet: dense and chewy with bright red fruit, incredible tension and pure, fine grain tannins. Not only is everything in its place; but the layers of flavor, the depth of the fruit and the sublime texture are constantly rearranging. Each glass will be a unique experience.'

"FINISH - In contrast to the dynamic palate, the finish is focused and stout. Abundant cocoa, espresso bean and black pepper dovetail into dark, black fruit while tart raspberry and strawberry jam linger. The wines at Chateau Montelena are often described as having classic “old-world” structure with ripe California fruit, and the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is emblematic of this style. These wines tend to have more acid and more moderate alcohol levels as compared to some of the “cult” Cabs. This combination of classic chemistry and California sunshine allows them to offer immediate pleasure and complexity on release, and the ability to develop beautifully."

This release was rated 91 points by Wine Advocate. 

Bright garnet colored, medium to full-bodied format, slightly disjointed with somewhat obtuse, vibrant, slightly astringent acidic plum, blackberry and black raspberry fruits, notes of cinnamon spice, expresso and vanilla, with fine grained tannins on the tangy lingering finish. Will likely improve as it integrates and settles a bit with some age. Still a nice tasty pairing with the robust hearty beefsteak.

RM 91 points. 


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Wayfarer Sonoma County Seaview Ross Chardonnay with lobster

Wayfarer Sonoma County Seaview Ross Chardonnay with whole lobster and fresh corn on the cob

Son Ryan discovered and turned me on to this label. While picking up a Bordeaux futures delivery at Binny's, our Chicagoland Beverage Superstore, I found and picked up the last few remaining bottles in stock. 

Linda prepared whole lobsters on the grill with corn on the cob - a perfect pairing with this ultra-premium label Chardonnay. Corn on the cob is a highlight of summer cuisine in the Midwest, one of the things I missed dearly, along with hearty tomatoes and succulent beef, when we lived in Northern California.

This is from well known Napa Valley producer Jayson Pahlmeyer known for his Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red “California Mouton” Bordeaux varietal wines. Jayson collaborated with the great winemaker Helen Turley and together produced consistently award-winning wines. 

We're huge fans of Pahlmeyer wines of which we hold many labels across several vintages in our cellar, which are featured regularly in these pages.

After nearly 30 years as an acclaimed Napa Valley vintner Jayson Pahlmeyer became increasingly entranced by the wines of Burgundy. “Every oenophile eventually gravitates to the wines of Burgundy,” he says. In the early 1990s, Jayson began seeking out the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in the world.

A close friend, legendary French wine importer Martine Saunier, had located two parcels for sale in Burgundy – Clos de la Roche, a Grand Cru Pinot Noir vineyard in Côte de Nuits Grand Cru, and Corton Vergennes, a Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyard in Corton. Pahlmeyer's notable winemaker, Helen Turley, was to make the wine with the hands-on assistance of the renowned Michel Niellon at his Chassagne-Montrachet winery. However, just after the papers were signed, the deal was nullified by an obscure Burgundian real estate clause that permitted last-minute alternative offers.

Helen Turley discovered Wayfarer, an organic farm on remote ridges on the Sonoma Coast, named for the dream of its owners, Dave and Dorothy Davis, to travel the world. Her own vineyard, Marcassin estate and vineyards were just down the road and Helen understood well the extraordinary character of fruit this land could yield. 
When the Davises listed the farm for sale in 1998, Turley brought good friend and fellow vintner Jayson Pahlmeyer to survey the site. Pahlmeyer recognized the proximity to the ocean and cool sea air tempering the brilliant sun, with Goldridge soil with thick forest of redwoods to the east and fog-blanketed bluffs to the west, had the potential to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Helen declared it destined to be “the La Tache of California” and Jayson promptly claimed the land for his own.

Jason selected legendary viti-culturalist and producer David Abreu to plant the Wayfarer vineyard in 2002, and in 2005, Jayson started blending Wayfarer Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with fruit from Russian River vineyards, bottling it under the Pahlmeyer label. By 2012, the vineyard’s exceptional fruit produced wine worthy of its own vineyard designated namesake label. Jayson tapped his daughter, Cleo Pahlmeyer, to oversee Wayfarer.

Wayfarer vineyard's 30 undulating acres lie in the Fort Ross-Seaview 27,500-acre sub-appellation on the far north-western end of the Sonoma Coast AVA. Defined as a distinct appellation in 2011, the extreme landscape is often deemed “the true Sonoma Coast” as it overlooks the Pacific beaches and receives the cool wind and fog from the frigid California Current flowing down the coast. The entire appellation resides above the fog line at an elevation of 800 feet and higher, above the fogline thereby allowing ample sunshine for ripening. Situated on a jagged portion of the San Andreas Fault, most of the acreage is unfarmable due its dramatic terrain.

We visited the area and drove the scenic rugged Sonoma Coast, staying in Bodega Bay, during our Napa/Sonoma County Wine Experience back in 2017

Cleo Pahlmeyer, proprietor/general manager of Wayfarer, was raised in Napa in the wine business and culture. After receiving a BA in Art History from the University of Virginia, she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Connoisseurship of Fine and Decorative Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.

Returning to the family winery in 2008 after working in the international art world, Cleo worked closely with her father to learn every aspect of the family business. Beginning in sales and progressing to manage direct to consumer sales and marketing, then public relations, she went on to be appointed President in 2017.

Wayfarer is a family affair, with Cleo, a mother of three, mentored by her father, and joined by her husband, Jamie Watson, who pours his own passion for wine into Wayfarer. “I must be my father’s daughter,” Cleo explains, “because like him, I have naturally gravitated to Pinot Noir. Wayfarer is a very special place for me personally. It has a soul that can only be felt by breathing in its air, walking on its soil, feeling its warmth."

Wayfarer's winemaker is Todd Kohn who grew up in Redding, three hours north of Sonoma. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, Todd first worked at the California sparkling wine house, Schramsberg, where he worked in the vineyard, lab and cellar, learning all aspects of winegrowing and winemaking. He went to gain further experience at several premiere Napa Valley wine producers including Opus One. He then spent time in Australia working in the Mornington Peninsula region of Australia where he worked growing and crafting world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Todd joined Wayfarer in 2013 as Assistant to the Winemaker, working the next 5 years with the Consulting Winemaker to establish Wayfarer’s vineyard practices and winemaking techniques, before taking the helm as Winemaker in December of 2017.

Wayfarer Wayfarer Vineyard Sonoma County Seaview Ross Chardonnay 2019

This is the ultra-premium flagship label for Wayfarer Chardonnay. While Cleo Pahlmayer, Proprietor, oversees the operations, Founder Jason Pahlmeyer's signature conspicuously adorns the label.

The 2019 vintage began with several months of heavy rainfall. Total rainfall for the year was 78 inches, second only to record-setting rainfall in 2017. Chardonnay shoots emerged a full week later than normal. A warm April advanced shoot growth quickly feeding on the energy in the soil from the heavy rainfall, which hit again in May.

Flowering began in early June, a week later than normal, but progressed under the bountiful sunshine in June. The summer of 2019 was full of sunshine, with moderate to cool temperatures the gave way to average high temperature through July and August, perfect for gradually ripening the Chardonnay.

In 2019 Wayfarer waited until the vines reached their optimal point, then moved in with canopy work to transition the vines from vegetative growth to fruit maturation. By the time veraison began in early August, the vines were tracking only three days later than normal. Picking started in mid-September and concluded harvest in early October.

This is a blend of four different clones planted on the Wayfarer property, Berlenbach Old Wente, Dijon 95, Hyde and Mount Eden.

This release was awarded 97 Points by Jeb Dunnuck, 95 Points by Erin Brooks of Wine Advocate, and 93 points by Antonio Galloni, Vinous and Kim Markus of Wine Spectator.

Producer Tasting Notes - "Aromas of star jasmine, white peach, lemon zest and meringue emerge from the glass, along with roasted almond, coconut and baking spice. Graceful and subtle in its richness, this wine has plenty to offer. The dense palate is beautifully balanced with fresh acidity and salinity. An elegant chalky texture lingers on the finish, indicating great aging potential."

This was light golden colored, medium full bodied, floral aromatics, concentrated but nicely balanced and integrated, rich full flavors of citrus, green apple and hints of peach with notes of almond and flint with a crisp clean long finish. 

RM 93 points. @WayfarerWine

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Pour Boys Impromptu Wine Dinner on the deck

 Pour Boys Impromptu Wine Dinner on the deck features top flight Napa Cabernets and medley of reds and whites

We hosted a short notice impromptu wine dinner with Pour Boys Dan and Lyle Saturday evening on the deck. Linda prepared grilled New York Strip beefsteaks with stuffed mushrooms, toasted cheese bread, mashed potatoes, gezpacho soup and tomato and burrata salad. 

Dan and Lyle brought some classic wines from their cellars and I matched or complemented each with matching labels from our cellar, plus several selections to accompany and complement the dinner.

I also pulled a couple of bottles I was eager to try. Following our recent gala Pour Boys Winers and Diners Cityscape wine dinner where Cos d' Estournel was one of the WOTN - Wines of the Night, I was eager to try this aged vintage Cos from our cellar, but held it for a special occasion such as tonight when I could share it with fellow oenophiles. 

Similarly, I recently acquired this 100 point Alvaviva Concho y' Toro Chilean red wine, the Chilean property of the legendary first growth Bordeaux producer Baron Phillip Rothschild, that I was eager to try and share. 

Lyle brought from his cellar a premium Beringer Private Reserve Napa Cabernet so I matched it with a David Arthur from the same vintage, 2008. Additionally, we opened this aged vintage Cos that I was eager to try following the WOTN (Wine of the Night) showing of this label at Terry and Lyle's gala Pour Boys dinner recently.

Dan brought from his cellar a vintage premium Aussie Shiraz, Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggot Range so I pulled a near age label, Montes Folly. We also matched these with the 100 point Alvaviva Concho y' Toro Chilean red wine from the Baron Phillip Rothschild Chilean estate, that I was eager to try and share.

For a starter, prior to dinner and with the chilled gazpacho soup and a tomato, burrata balsamic salad course, we opened a casual easy sipper Napa Valley Rutherford appellation Sauvignon Blanc. Later in the evening we also opened this aged dessert wine.

To close the evening with the grilled peaches on angel food cake and fresh chocolate brownie desserts, I opened another Beringer label, Nightingale Sauterne blend style dessert wine. Look at the dramatic difference in the color of these two white wines! 

The flight:

  • Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2018
  • Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Chateau Cos d' Estournel St Estephe Bordeaux 1979
  • Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggot Range Shiraz 2011
  • Montes Folly Shiraz 2010
  • Baron Phillip Rothschild Almaviva Concho y' Toro Chile 2017
  • Beringer Nightingale Botrytized Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2004


Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2018 

Long Meadow Ranch farms in 3 counties over 2,000 acres of grapes, olives, fruits, vegetables and pasture. The Mayacamas Estate is rugged 650-acre landscape nestled in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains also gave way to a long, sweeping meadow, thus the name Long Meadow Ranch was born. 

Their restaurant tasting room hospitality center is on St Helena Highway as you enter town from the south.

Winemaker notes - “A beautiful growing season produced another early and expeditious harvest of outstanding quality. Our overnight picks and slow cold fermentations resulted in rich aromas of pink grapefruit, lemon verbena, and lychee on the nose that carry through to lime zest, lemon curd, and guava on the palate. Crisp, clean, elegant, and mouthwatering, the always versatile Sauvignon Blanc is fit to quaff and pair.” – Justin Carr

Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This is the flagship Cabernet from one of the most storied producers in Napa Valley. Beringer dates back 1868, when Jacob Beringer, emigrated from Germany, and settled in Napa Valley 1869 where the rocky hillside soil and fertile valley floor resembled that of vineyards back home in Germany. He became cellar foreman for Charles Krug, one of the first commercial winemakers in Napa Valley. In 1875, he and his brother Jacob purchased 215 acres adjacent to Charles Krug in St. Helena for $14,500. The Beringer Brothers' first harvest and crush followed in 1876 producing nearly 40,000 gallons of wine, or 18,000 cases, that first year. 

The Beringer Cabernet was named #1 Wine of the Year for the 1986 Cabernet by Wine Spectator (1990 edition). Six years later, Wine Spectator named the 1994 Chardonnay #1 Wine of the Year (1996 edition) - this is special because not only is it the first time a white wine has ever garnered that top spot, but Beringer was the first and only winery to ever have both a red and a white wine in that top slot. 

Former Chief Winemakers Myron Nightingale and Ed Sbragia created the Private Reserve program in 1977 as the flagship labels of the portfolio. The Private Reserve Chardonnay was introduced with the 1978 vintage, and together these wines have earned three decades of extraordinary accolades, including two "Wine of the Year" awards. The 2015 and 2016 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon vintages were awarded back to back 99-point scores.

The fruit for this 2008 vintage release was predominantly (80% St. Helena, 18% Steinhauer) sourced from the Home Vineyard on the Beringer estate just on the outskirts of St. Helena. This vineyard was part of the original 215 acres Jacob Beringer purchased in 1875. The Cabernet Sauvignon planted on the sloped sedimentary soil of this 48-acre vineyard has been a key component of our Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon since 1982.

The remainder of the Cabernet was sourced from the Steinhauer Ranch vineyard, located at 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain, this 36-acre vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc sits above the fog, exposed to cool mountain temperatures and high solar radiation. The vineyard is named in honor of Beringer's longtime vineyard manager Bob Steinhauer.

The final blend includes a touch of Petit Verdot (1%) and 1% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Howell Mountain AVA Bancroft Ranch Vineyard. The mountainous 89 acre vineyard has nutrient-poor, rocky soils at 1,800 feet, and produces the intense Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in this Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemaker Notes - "The 2008 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon shows youthful characters of fresh blackberry, black cherry and blueberry, and has bright characteristics of blackberry and blueberry aromas, accented by notes of toast, graphite, cedar and brown spices. The palette is rich and supple with seamless, mouth-coating tannins. The rich, juicy fruit core is highlighted by flavors of cassis, blackberry, sweet cocoa and a light savory note. A nice acidity lifts the fruit and carries it into a prolonged, pleasing finish."

This was awarded 93 points by Stephen Tanzer and 92 points by Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. 

Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, dense concentrated but superbly balanced and integrated, bright expressive ripe sweet blackberry and black raspberry fruits predominate with layers of cassis, dark mocha, with hints of oak, vanilla and graphite. Wine Spectator set the drinking window through 2023 and it certainly appeared to be at its apex. 

RM 94 points. @beringervyds @beringerwinery

David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

The superb Beringer Cabernet was ideally matched by this premium label from the southern end of the Vaca Mountain range of Napa Valley. I pulled this 2008 vintage release to compare with the Beringer for a mini-horizontal tasting. 

We have fun with this label produced by the Long Family on the Long Family Ranch, high atop Pritchard Hill. We visited the David Arthur Napa Valley Estate Vineyards and Winery during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2013. We were joined on that trip by the other of  the Ned Long daughters, wife Linda and sister Pat, who grew up on the Long Family (no relation) farm in Indiana.

David Arthur Vineyards was founded in 1985 by brothers David and Bob Long on land their father Don Long purchased in the late 1950s. David settled in Napa Valley in 1977 and learned the wine business from the ground up working at nearby Chappellet, Joseph Phelps and Schramsberg. 

David prepared the Long Family Ranch site in 1978-79 and planted the first grapes in 1980. Don’s youngest son, David Arthur, founded the winery with his then wife, Joye Dale, in 1985 with the purchase of 30 French oak barrels. The first vintage was the 1985 Chardonnay followed by the first red wine, Meritaggio, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sangiovese in 1992 and then Cabernets.

David and Joye’s daughter, Laura Long, now work side by side with her father running the day-to-day operations of the winery and vineyards.

This David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 was awarded 93 points Wine Enthusiast. 

This was a great comparison tasting of the same vintage Beringer, both showing superbly at fifteen years of age, likely both at the apex of their drinking windows.

This is blended with 11% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Dark ruby purple colored, medium full bodied, slightly softer and more focused and less complex than the Beringer, since this is sourced from but one single vineayard site, black raspberry and black currant fruits with notes of vanilla, cocoa, hints of mineral, mint, toasty herbs and oak.

RM 93


Chateau Cos d' Estournel St Estephe Bordeaux 1979

As noted above, we tasted together this label from a near recent vintage at Lyle and Terry's dinner recently. Hence I was eager to share this aged bottle of the label. 

We drove by the magnificent historic Chateau estate and vineyards that sit on the road on the edge of St Estephe as you round the bend and climb the gentle hill from the Pauillac appellation. 

This release was awarded 92 points Wine Spectator, Three Stars from critic Michael Broadbent.

Wine Advocate said this was "the best of the 1979 St-Estephes" for the vintage. 

At forty years, it was time to open this bottle and we weren't sure what to expect. The label, fill level and foil and most importantly the cork were all in amazing condition, looking more like they were half their age. In 1998, at twenty years, Robert Parker noted "this wine has aged slowly". The longevity was impressive, especially considering this was a 375ml half bottle, another testament to the provenance of our wine cellar!

This showed minimal signs of diminution from age with decent color, bouquet and fruit flavors - ruby/garnet colored, medium bodied, amazing resilience with its flavors and bouquet of black cherry fruits, notes of cassis, and some vanillin, oaky scents. 

RM 89 points.

We then moved to the bigger more robust Syrahs. 

Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range Vineyard" Syrah McLaren Vale South Australia 2011

This is a label we have enjoyed for more than two decades having discovered it in the '90's. This is our favorite label from this producer who produces several Rhone varietal wines in single vineyard designated labels.

Clarendon Hills is a small family-run winery based in Clarendon, South Australia. The company was founded by biochemist, Roman Bratasiuk, in 1990 when this biochemist and wine lover decided to produce his own wine. Though he'd never trained as a winemaker, Roman was guided by his refined palate and scientific knowledge. Following his favorite producers and preferred styles, Roman sought to make a version of the wines he loved. 

This vintage release of this label was not as big or fruit filled as the other releases I have tasted, taking on a little bit more menthol and acidity than the more complex concentrated fruit flavors of some other vintages we have tasted. 

From an earlier review of this release, "One Cellartracker reviewer MMack gave it 92 points and compared it to a CDP (Chateauneuf du Pape). Vivino reviewer DcLaxFan also likened it to a Rhone, he wrote "From a winery founded by a biochemist, the Syrah opens with a nose of smoked meat, mulberry, tapenade, and plum. Savory mouth of prunes, brisket, cassis, and earth. A wild, smoky, meaty feel like a Rhône Vacqueyras."

Dark inky purple, full bodied, full round blackberry fruits with notes of cassis, bacon fat, black tea and tapenade. The fruit is more subdued than other vintages of this label.

RM 91 points.

Previous tastings of this label: 


To compare with this label I pulled this near vintage, same varietal release from a different part of the world, Chile.

Montes Folly La Finca de Apalta Syrah 2010

From an earlier tasting, Montes Folly has been cited as the best Syrah in Chile. It is the first ultra-premium Syrah to be sourced from Chile. The grapes for this Montes Folly grow on the steepest hillsides of the Finca de Apalta vineyards in Apalta, Colchagua, Chile, where the vines have adapted best and have found good balance between yields and vegetative expression.

The terroir driven soils are of granitic origin and primarily consist of decomposing rocks from high above in the chain of mountains that crosses the valley, and therefore the soils in this sector are rather thin and poor in organic matter with a good percolation capacity, which enables the roots to explore the entire profile in search of water.

The grapes are hand-selected and sorted on special selection sorting tables. The vinified wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 24 months.

The 2016 release of this label was awarded 96 points by James Suckling.

Not in the class of the 'old world' Northern Rhone Hermitage Chave, this 'new world' or emerging market Syrah represents the art of the possible of what is coming from the emerging wine producing regions and nascent producers.

More new world style like a big Australian Syrah with its complex concentrated forward fruits, almost obtuse when compared to the Chave, dark inky purple with blackberry and black raspberry fruits highlighted by notes of spice, cassis, currants, mocha and hints of black olive.

RM 92 points. @MontesWines

And, with the pivot to South America, Chile, I opened this highly rated red from the same region.

Almaviva Baron Phillip Rothschild Concho y' Toro Chile 2017

Almaviva is a partnership between Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, and Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle, Chairman of Viña Concha y Toro S.A., formed in 1997 to create exceptional Franco-Chilean wines and launched in 1998.

Almaviva was the first wine in Chile produced under this French Château concept, based upon exceptional terroir, one unique bodega (estate vineyard site) and one technical team – the three of which are dedicated exclusively to the production of one wine seeking unparalleled quality and excellence. The Château concept was introduced in the XIX century in France as a way to honor creative mastery of winegrowers from Bordeaux.

The vineyards are in Puenta Alto to the south of Santiago, Chile.

Almaviva wines are produced under the joint technical supervision of both partners.

Using the Bordeaux Classification system of producers, created back in 1855, Liv-ex published a 2017 Classification of Bordeaux where Almaviva is ranked as second growth. Liv-ex published its fifth Classification of Bordeaux. Like the original classification of 1855, it places fine wines into five classes based on price and visibility. For the first time, this year’s Liv-ex classification has been extended to include regions beyond Bordeaux.

Almaviva was classified as a second growth. This ranks it alongside world renowned brands such as Opus One, Dominus, Vega Sicilia and Bordeaux’s Pichon Baron and Leoville Poyferre, among the finest wines in the world and top one in South America.

According to the producer, the name Almaviva, despite it's Hispanic sonority, belongs to classical French literature: Count Almaviva is the hero of The Marriage of Figaro, the famous play by Beaumarchais (1732-1799), later turned into an opera by the genius of Mozart.

The label design pays homage to Chile’s ancestral history, with three reproductions of a stylized design, which symbolizes their vision of the earth and the cosmos.

The label bears the name Almaviva in Beaumarchais’ own handwriting. 

This is made from a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties, in which Cabernet Sauvignon predominates at 65%, with Carménère, 23%, Cabernet Franc, 5%, Petit Verdot, 5%, and Merlot at 2%.

It was barrel aged 19 Months in new French Oak.

Producer's Tasting Notes - Deep, intense and opaque ruby red. The nose reveals a generous, powerful and layered bouquet of ripe cassis and blackberries, interwoven with hints of mineral, fine notes of vanilla, coffee, black pepper and earth. Dense and full-bodied, the wine fills the mouth with round, ripe and refined tannins, leaving an overall impression of balance and persistence. Produced from an extremely warm, but superb vintage, this well-structured wine of balanced acidity strikes a wonderful combination of elegance and power, with a very promising long aging potential."

This was rated 100 points by James Suckling. 

Despite it's pedigree and superior ratings, this was a bit disjointed, perhaps needing more time in which to integrate and settle. Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, tightly wound and structured black berry fruits with notes of cassis, black tea, leather and earth.

RM 91 points.

Beringer Nightingale Botrytized Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2004

In light of the Beringer Private Reserve served earlier, I pulled from the cellar this Beringer French Sauternes-style dessert wine. This is named for Myron Nightingale who joined Beringer in 1971 as the 5th winemaker and developed this special wine.  

This is a classic French Bordeaux Sauterne style blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaker Notes -  "This very special wine offers a golden hue and features aromas of apricot nectar, creme brulee, vanilla and honey. Rich flavors of butterscotch, stone fruit and spice, with just a slight hint of cigar box, coat the mouth and linger for a long, luxurious finish. Whether paired with a cheese course or rich dessert, Nightingale is a wonderful way to end a meal."

According to the producer's website: "The techniques used to make this special botrytised dessert wine were developed by Myron Nightingale (Beringer winemaker, 1971-84) and his wife Alice. The Nightingales spent three decades developing their method for making a wine in the style of the classic French Sauternes. The Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc for this wine were vinified separately and combined only after 23 months of barrel aging."

This was awarded 90 points by Wine Spectator.

Back in 2012, ironically, on the same date, I wrote in tasting this wine,  "Golden yellow on release, this eight year old is taking on a weak tea honey colored hue that will continue to darken with age. Medium to full bodied, scents and flavors of honey, apricot and melon finish with a subtle layer of smoke that moderates the fruit and sweetness." Eleven years later the color has darkened further to a deep golden orange rust color as shown. The sweet fruit is more subdued having taken on more of that smoky tobacco leaf, tea tones.

RM 89 points. @beringervyds @beringerwinery


Monday, June 12, 2023

Signorello Hope's Cuvee Napa Chardonnay 2014

Signorello Hope's Cuvee Napa Chardonnay 2014

Concluding a real estate transaction, Linda and I had an intimate mini-celebration dinner at home on the deck. I pulled from the cellar this premium Napa Valley Chardonnay for the occasion as a pairing with the roasted chicken with haricot verts, carrots and mashed potatoes.

Signorello Hope's Cuvee Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014

As posted in earlier blogposts, we discovered and acquired (the then current release vintage of) this wine during our visit to the Signorello Estate on Silverado Trail in Southeastern Napa Valley during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2013

At that time I wrote about this label: "I am predominantly a red wine drinker and while I enjoy an occasional glass of white, most often with appropriate food, I don't normally get excited about a white wine. This chardonnay was the exception,  memorable and special."

As part of proper cellar management, we pulled from our cellar the oldest vintage release in our collection of the multiple vintages we hold of this label.  I had set this bottle aside over the weekend to open with Sis Pat in town since she was with us when we visited the winery (shown below), but we didn't get to it. 

(Former) Signorello Estate overlooking vineyards
and valley floor.

The Signorello winery sits at the very southern end of Napa Valley and has 43 acres of vineyards, including some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in all of Napa Valley - fruit from 37-year-old vines goes into his Hope’s Cuvée.

The magnificent Estate was destroyed in the fires that engulfed much of sections of Sonoma and Napa in 2017. Fires came down the foothills to the property that sat up the hill back from the highway.

The fire reached the winery and completely destroyed the hospitality center that also housed offices, a wine lab and a family residence upstairs. The adjacent  crush pad and stainless steel tanks survived intact along with the barrel cellar and equally if not most importantly, the vines of the adjacent vineyards. 

In the wake of the destruction from Napa Valley’s October 2017 Atlas Peak Fire, Ray Signorello (Jr) vowed to rebuild. We're relieved to read about the Phoenix of Signorella Estate, rising from the ashes, literally, and being rebuilt, even grander and larger than before. Signorello said he viewed the tragedy as an opportunity to do something new and exciting and is rebuilding with a larger fermentation facility, wine caves and a stunning expanded hospitality center.

The winery has kept almost all of its team employed as an interim step toward returning to normalcy and they have been operating out of a modular building was brought in to serve as a temporary hospitality center.

The adjacent Darioush property nearby that sits at the valley floor closer to the highway and similarly situated properties were untouched.

Signorello "Hope's Cuvée" Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014

The 2014 Chardonnay Hope’s Cuvée is crafted from a selection of the best lots and barrels sourced from the thirty-five year old vines on the 5 acre estate vineyard in front of the winery overlooking the valley floor. There were 379 cases produced of this wine, which went through 44% malolactic and was aged in 56% new French oak. 

Winemaker/producer Notes - Hope’s Cuvée Chardonnay showcases our utmost dedication to excellence, named in honor of my mother, Hope Signorello. It benefits from an intimate understanding of our 5.12 acre parcel on the west side of our hill. Planted 36 years ago with clonal selections from one of the region’s earliest outstanding vineyards, it is now one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards in Napa Valley. Night-time hand-harvesting into small trays protects the varietal’s refined and delicate flavors. This wild yeast and unfiltered Chardonnay can be enjoyed over the next 12 years. 

This release was awarded 96 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

This is one of the few Chardonnays that we keep in our cellar that is vastly predominantly red wines. This was delicious and most likely at the apex of it's drinking profile, but likely not to improve from further aging, so time to drink up. The fill level, label, foil and most importantly, the cork were all pristine, in ideal condition, still wrapped in the tissue packaging, we acquired this bottle upon release and have held it in our cellar for nearly a decade.

Bright golden yellow colored, medium-full bodied, rich, textured, round fruits, hints of butterscotch and peach accented by honeysuckle, nut, stone, and what Parker calls "plenty of orange blossom, lemon custard and crushed rock notes. It is certainly very Burgundian and almost like a grand cru from the village of Puligny-Montrachet," with a long flavorful lip-smacking finish.

RM 94 points.