Exceptional Red

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Tinto Pesquera 2011

Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Tinto Pesquera 2011

Wines produced by Alejandro Fernández are made exclusively from the difficult, quick-maturing Tempranillo variety, of which he is the acknowledged master.  His world-famous Tinto Pesquera is aged a minimum of 18 months in oak, with selected Reservas and Grandes Reservas remaining in barrel for 24 months and longer.  Already over 70 years old, Alejandro shows no sign of letting up, rising at five every morning and personally overseeing all stages of the winemaking.  The attention to detail is evidenced in this excellent vintage.

Opening a bottle the color is a very dark Ruby with aromas of red/black fruits with hints of espresso, toast and spice.  The palate shows ripe blackberries and black cherry flavors with a spicy edge, lively acidity and developed tannins.  The long finish brings an earthy toasty oak flavor making a this well balanced wine.  Shows good backbone and should develop well for a few more years.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Quinta de Pancas 2011 Grande Escolha

Quinta de Pancas 2011 Grande Escolha

Quinta de Pancas was founded in 1495 by the Guimarães family and remained under their ownership up until 2006, when Companhia das Quintas acquired it. Located in Estremadura, “Alto Concelho de Alenquer” next to the Pancas Village, the property is noticeable for the architecture of the manor house, especially the entrance arch and its panels with tiles from the 16th Century. Estremadura is a prolific wine region located at the center of Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Despite being one of the country’s most productive vinicultural areas, its name remains relatively obscure, as its wines have traditionally been labeled with the names of the local sub-regions rather than of Estremadura itself. Until 2008, the Estremadura appellation sat in the VR (Vinho Regional) category, which has now been renamed IGP (Indicaciones Geográficas Protegidas) to bring it into line with the rest of Europe’s wine IGPs. When the switchover happened, the Portuguese wine authorities took the opportunity to rename the Estremadura appellation as Lisboa – after the Portugese capital Lisbon, which marks the region’s southern boundary. Thus, the generic, regional wine title is IGP Lisboa, while location-specific wines are produced under several DOC (Denominacao de Origem Controlada) titles.

Quinta de Pancas has a tradition and history of producing quality wines. The microclimate of the hillsides towards the east is ideal for the ripening of noble great varieties, including Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sunny days and fresh nights result in very generous wines, of aromatic flavours and balanced structures. It has approximately 50-hectares of vineyards, where white and red wines of national and international notoriety and recognition are produced.

Opening a bottle I noticed a deep ruby color with concentrated aromas of black and red fruits, with hints of spice. The wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional (35%), Petit Verdot (35%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), and spent 20-months ageing in new French oak barrels. The palate showed ripe fruit flavors of blackberries and fresh raspberries with a touch of spice and an earthy mineral tang. The full-bodied wine had good balance, subtle tannins and nice structure for mid-term future ageing, say 5+ years. Enjoyable! This wine was a gift from my colleague, Amandio, a native of Portugal, who brought back this wonderful treasure from one of his trips back home.  Muitíssimo obrigado!

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Groth 2013 Chardonnay Hillview Napa Valley

In 1981, Dennis and Judy Groth purchased 121 acre parcel in Napa known as the Oakville Vineyards, in the heart of the Oakville Appellation. In fact at that time some of their grapes found their way to Silver Oak and other notable Napa wineries. Between 1999 and 2003, almost 50% of their vineyard was replanted and in 2006 they rebuilt the barrel cellars, crush and fermentation areas.

The Groth 2013 Hillview Vineyard Chardonnay was produced from grapes grown only in the Hillview Vineyard in Napa Valley, 100% Chardonnay. The 2013 growing season matched that of 2012 and produced a banner crop producing grapes that result in wines with a lush and full expression of fruit character and aroma in the flavor.

Pouring a glass, the wine is a light golden yellow color with aromas of gentle stone and citrus fruits. The taste was lighter than other chardonnays showing tart apple, pear and lemon flavors. The wine was barrel fermented on French Oak (25% new). The finish was about medium in length and had a gentle toasty oak finish with a touch of tangy spice on the end. A very refreshing and pleasant wine at a great price. Keep a few in the frig for the summer.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Patz&Hall 2013 Dutton ranch Chard

Patz & Hall 2013 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay

I previously reviewed the 2011 & 2012 vintages and found the wines impressive, but the 2012 growing season was longer and cooler allowing the winemaker to pick the fruit at the peak of ripeness.  Founded by 4 individuals Patz & Hall is one of California’s premier wineries.

I noticed a light straw yellow color and light aromas of fresh fruit, mostly green apples and slightly citrus with floral notes.  On the palate, the flavor was somewhat full and rich with layered flavors of peach, green apple and vanilla spice.  The wine had a slight mineral taste with light oak, noting that the wine sat on French oak, (38% new).  The 2013 reminded me more of the 2011 vintage as the finish seemed a bit sharp and perhaps requires a little time in the cellar, gaining some added benefit.  I will let a bottle sit for 6 months in my cellar and report back, however, still an outstanding offering from Patz & Hall.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Campillo 2001 Gran Reserva

Campillo 2001 Gran Reserva

Bodegas Campillo represents the culmination of the accumulated experience of four generations of winemakers who sought a site at the heart of Rioja Alavesa – Laguardia. Strategically placed in a location in which all key factors: altitude, climate, soil and terrain are ideally suited for growing grapes and ageing their wines. Juilio Faustino Martínez always had the dream of creating a winery surrounded by vineyards, thus transforming the concept of château to the land of Rioja wine. To this end he started his project by acquiring 35 hectares of land near Laguardia in the 1980s which were later expanded to 50. After several years, in 1988, everything was ready to build the winery, even its name: “Campillo”, like the first family estate. The architect Aurelio Ibarrondo Fragüela was responsible for the design. In September 1990, this dream came true.

Opening a bottle, which I decanted for 30 minutes, the wine was a deep Ruby red color with aromas of black and red fruit, with a gentle woodsy fragrance. This 100% Tempranillo wine, from 100-Year Old vines, was aged for 24 months in French oak barrels. The palate puts forth flavors of ripe red cherries, dried fruit, cacao and tobacco. The wine showed plenty of acidity and round tannins, giving the wine good structure.  This full-bodied wine had a long finish leaving with some oak and earthy mineral ending.  A Pleasure!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Rombauer-2013 Chard

Rombauer 2013 Chardonnay Carneros

Koerner Rombauer was born and raised in Southern California, in the small, agricultural town of Escondido, near San Diego. He attended public schools in Escondido and went to the same high school as Joan Ransome, who would later (in 1959) become his wife. Koerner’s first great career passion was flying, and was a commercial pilot with Braniff and flew as a captain along a South American route until the airline ceased operations in 1972. The Rombauers moved their family, two horses, and five dogs from Dallas to the Napa Valley. They purchased 40 acres of hilltop land on the Silverado Trail, near St. Helana, however without any desire to start a winery. In 1976 Koerner and Joan became partners in Conn Creek Winery and learned the business from the ground up. In 1981 they sold their interest in Conn Creek Winery and began construction of the Rombauer Vineyards on their Silverado property.

Opening a bottle of their 2013 Carneros Chardonnay, the color was clear rich gold color, with layered fruit aromas of peaches, melon and pears, with a hint of spice. The taste did not disappoint, with a rich creamy taste of tropical and stone fruit flavors with just the right touch of graceful vanilla oak that should continue to develop over the next few years. Be sure to let this Chardonnay warm up a bit in your glass if it tends to fog up as you will want to taste all of the complex flavors that you will miss if the wine is too cold. The wine had a long smooth silky finish that had me craving for more! Delicious!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Merry Edwards 2012 Sauv Blanc

Merry Edwards 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Warm weather is here again so it’s time to crack open a Sauvignon Blanc, but not just any Sauvignon Blanc, start the summer with one of the best.  One of California’s first woman winemakers, Merry Edwards began her career at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.  She went on to become the founding winemaker at Matanzas Creek in 1977 and remained there until 1984.  For the next decade, Merry consulted for numerous wineries, large and small, in Oregon and many diverse appellations of California.

In 1997, family and friends joined Merry to found Merry Edwards Winery, with a focus on producing Pinot Noirs with a sense of place from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.  Living her dream, she and her husband, Ken Coopersmith, now manage five estate vineyards: Coopersmith, Cresta d’Oro, Flax, Georganne and Meredith.  They maintain collaborative relationships with several other dedicated growers to supplement their estate production.  Two regional blends and six vineyard designates are bottled.  In 2001, a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc blend was added to the portfolio.  Merry and Ken completed their state-of-the-art winery facility in 2008 on the site of Coopersmith Vineyard.  Merry has been making fine wines for over 40 years.

Opening a bottle of Merry’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc I was noticed a pale-yellow color and fragrant aromas of tropical, citrus fruit and melons.  This is one of the few Sauvignon Blancs that are barrel-fermented which adds a wonderful toasty oak flavor which is not expected, but sets this wine apart from the rest.  The palate shows fresh fruit flavors of melons, lemons, peaches and pears, with the subtle earthy mineral tones, lively acidity and a smooth well balanced finish.  The 2011, I previously tasted, was equally as good, and, as always I can’t wait to taste their new vintages, but Merry Edwards only knows how to make fine wine. Also be sure to visit the Merry Edwards website for some fine recipes.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Quinta Do Vallado 2013 Res Branco

Quinta do Vallado 2013 Douro Reserva Branco

Quinta do Vallado, established in 1716, is one of the oldest and most famous “Quintas” in the Douro Valley. It once belonged to the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, and still belongs to her descendents. It lies on both banks of the Corgo River, a tributary of the Douro river, near its mouth, close to the town of Peso da Régua. For almost 200 years, Quinta do Vallado´s main activity was the production of Porto wines that were commercialized by the Ferreira Port House (belonging to the Ferreira family). Following Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira´s great achievement, her Great grand-son Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, and his son Jorge Cabral Ferreira were the main architects of the further development of the Quinta´s vineyards and winery.

Moving from the centuries-old tradition of selling the farm´s production to the Ferreira Port wine House, in 1993, under the direction of Guilherme Álvares Ribeiro and his wife Maria Antónia Ferreira, the company decided to extend the business towards the production, bottling and marketing of own-label wines, with the objective of increasing the production of high quality grape varieties. The construction of the new winery and barriques cellar, started in 2008 and concluded in the fall of 2009, combines state of the art technology with a high quality architecture project, making it one of the places to visit in the Douro valley.

Opening a bottle of this real Gem, comprised of Gouveio/Verdelho (35%), Arinto (30%), Viosinho (25%) and Rabigato (10%) grape varieties, I noticed complex gentle aromas of stone fruits with earthy mineral notes and slight floral undertones. The palate revealed a well-balanced wine with good acidity with refined and integrated oak. Flavors of citrus and dried fruits along with spicy notes came forth in this full-bodied white wine. The wine concluded with a long crisp and fresh finish. Very enjoyable! I read about 50 cases of the 2012 vintage were exported to the US, I don’t believe any of the 2013 made it over.  My colleague, Amandio, a native of Portugal, was at it again and brought this treasure back from another trip back home. Muito Grato!

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Cakebread 2012 Sauv Blanc

Cakebread Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Cakebread Cellars was founded, in 1973, by Jack and Dolores Cakebread and they have an enduring commitment to quality, their belief is that life’s occasions are elevated by good people, good food, and good wine flows through everything they do. The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was Cakebread’s 38th vintage from Napa Valley, and considered one of their best. The wine is a blend of Grapes: 87% Sauvignon Blanc, 9% Sèmillon, and 4% Sauvignon Musqué. In 2013, Cakebread Cellars celebrated their 40th wine harvest, and the second generation of winemaking, and in 1995, the family purchased a 60-acre former apple orchard in Anderson Valley near Boonville and began developing this vineyard to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Today, the winery owns 13 sites totaling 982 acres, 460 of which are currently planted.  The Cakebread Website is full of interesting information and loaded with recipes, lots of great recipes, so be sure to check out the website, you won’t be disappointed. Julianne Laks, winemaker at Cakebread, comments that “2012 was a picture-perfect vintage in California.”

As I opened a bottle of their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, fermented in stainless steel (82%), and in barrels (18%), and aged for 5 months in neutral French oak, I noticed delightful aromas of earthy herbal and fresh citrus fruits. The wine was clear, light straw color and on the palate the flavors were crisp and forthcoming with lively apples, pears and melons, together with zesty citrus essences. Well balanced, perfect acidity, and showing a touch of fragrant spice and minerals with a medium finish. This is a refreshing offering, and with summer coming, grab a few for the BBQ and pair it with your favorite salad, seafood, poultry and pasta dishes, or just offer this as an ideal apèritif wine for your guests.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Ferrari Reserve Chard 2012

Ferrari-Carano Reserve Napa Chardonnay 2012

One of my absolute favorite California Chardonnay’s is the Ferrari-Carano offering from Sonoma County.  Today I will comment on their Napa Reserve 2012 vintage.  The Ferrari-Carano Winery was founded in 1981 by Don and Rhonda Carano and is located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley.  If you enjoy pairing food with wine, be sure to visit the Ferrari-Carano website where Rhonda has a number of recipes.  So if you are adventurous and have a passion for good food and wine, then try some of her recipes.

I opened the 2012 Napa Reserve Chardonnay and observed a clear golden yellow color.  The 2012 Napa Reserve Chardonnay is from vineyards in Napa-Carneros.  The wine had nice aromas of ripe stone fruits and sweet spicy notes.  The palate showed complex flavors, apple, pear and fig with buttery toasty oak overtones and savory traces of nuts and cinnamon.  The wine was aged in French oak, about 33% in each of 1 year, 2 year and 3 year old barrels.  Their wine from Napa’s cool climate showed more finesse than their counterpart from Alexander Valley.  To me the wine was great to drink, but a little overdone with the malolactic fermentation making the wine too creamy and a bit out of balance with the oak.  Worth a try if you like a really big, bold, oaky and buttery Chardonnay.

Cheers!