Cellar Selection

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Solaria 2003 Brunello

Solaria Patrizia Cencioni Brunello di Montalcino 2003

The Azienda Agricola Patrizia Cencioni is a family owned and run winery that is located on the southeast slope of the Montalcino hillside. The property is almost 50 HA of which 8ha are vined growing DOCG Brunello. The vines were planted in 1989, the year Solaria was founded; though its origins go back to the family estate created in the 1950’s by Giuseppe Cencioni, one of the founders of the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino. With Solaria, the estate has vastly improved thanks to the considerable family experience and the entrepreneurial ability of the owner Patrizia Cencioni who adds a feminine touch! A meticulous manual selection of the grapes and an aging process done in large wooden Slavonian Oak casks as well as in smaller casks, reflects the aspiration of Solaria to pursue quality Montalcino production.

Pouring a glass of this 100% Sangiovese, and aged for 30 months in medium sized Slavonian Oak barrels, the wine was a deep crimson red color and gave off concentrated aromas of ripe black fruits and gentle spice. The palate shows rich black cherry, currant like, with a sweet juicy raspberry tang. The wine showed good acidity, balance and depth with silky elegant tannins. The finish ended with a toasty notes, smooth and lingering. I tasted this wine a few years ago and decided to leave it in the cellar for a while, well, I was rewarded! This wine is just about at its peak, so if you are lucky enough to find a bottle, remove the cork and enjoy!

Cheers!

Dessert Wine

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Michele Chiarlo 2013 Moscato

Michele Chiarlo 2013 Moscato d’Asti Nivole

Michele Chiarlo’s extensive vineyards stretch over more than 272 acres of Piedmont, including the hills surrounding Canelli, which offer an ideal microclimate for growing Moscato. Grapes are hand harvested from select vineyards with southern exposure and placed in pneumatic presses, followed by a slow fermentation using natural yeasts to a low level of alcohol. Unfermented Moscato grape must is then added to fine tune the sugar levels. Finally, the wine is immediately bottled in order to preserve the characteristically aromatic, sweet fruit fragrance of the Moscato Bianco grape. The result is a wine with such a delicate finesse that Michele Chiarlo named it Nivole after the Piedmontese word for clouds.

Michele Chiarlo produces outstanding wines and their Moscato d’Asti Nivole is a great wine reasonably priced. Opening the bottle (375 ml) of the Moscato d’Asti, I immediately noticed a slight effervescence in a light golden yellow color. Aromas of sweet stone fruits and citrus filled my glass, along with a touch of floral spice. The palate shows flavors of sweet peaches and apricots with a grape-like tang. The finish is medium in length with some citrus and sweet spice nuances leaving with honey notes. Very nice!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Caparazo 2005

Caparzo 2005 Brunello Di Montalcino

The name of the estate apparently derives from “Ca’ Pazzo”, as shown on some ancient maps. The estate covers an area of 190 hectares, 54 of which are vineyards, 4 are of olive groves, 87 of which are wooded and 45 of which are to be planted with new vines. Caparzo is the only estate-bottled producer of Brunello di Montalcino to have estate vineyards on all five sides of the hill of Montalcino, ensuring that no matter what climatic challenges effect one side, the other vineyards will more than compensate. More than thirty years have passed since the first vines were planted and the first steps in wine-making taken. In this period, Caparzo, bolstered by its background in the Brunello tradition and the different terroirs of the area, has proved its ability to produce wines with a creative flair and spirit of innovation that achieves top standards in quality.

I had this 2005 tucked away in my cellar and thought it would be a good time to pop it open. Pouring a glass of this gorgeous Ruby red wine that was showing only a touch of garnet edges, aromas of berry fruit, spice, oak and tobacco graced my glass. The palate exploded with smooth flavors of cherry, berry and plum, almost sweet, with soft refined polished tannins, well balanced with acidity. The finish was long and satisfying ending with some oak and espresso notes. Probably difficult to find a 2005, but Caparzo makes great Brunello’s so grab one, you won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Bodegas Vinedos Alion 2008

Bodegas y Viñedos Alión 2008

In April 1982, the Alvarez family purchased Vega Sicilia from its previous owner Hans Neuman, a Venezuelan businessman.  Wine thus became the cornerstone of the family’s new business project. In 1991, the Alvarez family created Alión, a modern up-to-date wine, quite unlike the classicism of Vega Sicilia. Coming under the same denomination of origin, just 15km from the earlier brands, it marked a turning point in wine production in Ribera del Duero.

Opening a bottle of “modern” Ribera del Duero was an absolute joy. The color was a glistening dark Ruby red with concentrated aromas of dark fruits, floral scents and some oak spice. The palate shows sweet blackberries, plums and hints of black raspberry with gentle oak coming through. Tannins were very soft, good balance with acidity, medium to full body. The finish ends smooth with some woody spice, tobacco, smoke and minerality. Outstanding! It was even better sharing this gift from my son, with him!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Calera Mills Pinot 2012

Calera 2012 Mills Vineyards Pinot Noir Mt. Harlan

Josh Jensen became a pioneer in search of the perfect spot on the globe to grow grapes.  Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France.  Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the Gavilan Mountains of California.  Today Calera wines still express that pioneer spirit and are revered the world over.  Located 90 miles south of San Francisco and about 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, it is near Mt. Harlan in San Benito County.  Its elevation is 2,200 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest and coolest vineyard properties in California.

Mt. Harlan is its own “American Viticultural Area (AVA),” which is a designated wine grape-growing region distinguishable by geographic features.  The Calera 2012 Mills Vineyards Pinot Noir was named for Everett Mills, a neighbor and friend who always kept an eye on Josh’s progress during the early development years.

Opening a bottle, from 26 year old vines, I see a nice vivid ruby red color, and notice a bouquet of red fruit and earthy aromas, layered with some herb spice. On the palate the taste transforms into ripe fruit flavors of cherries and red berries, slight earthy and mineral taste. Aged for 18 months on French oak (30% new), the tannins are present and smooth getting structure from the unique soil setting apart from other Pinot’s. Nice length on the finish, rich and full-bodied, only 1400 cases, so grab a bottle and enjoy!

 Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Grgich Chard 2012

Grgich Hills Estate 2012 Napa Chardonnay

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich, as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became their signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that won awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.

I recently opened their 2012 Chardonnay, which was aged for 10 months in French oak (40% new) and did not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve the wine’s natural acidity. Mike Grgich, called the “King of Chardonnay” farms w/o pesticides and is certified organic. The color is a pale golden yellow with aromas of stone, tropical fruit and citrus. The palate shows off apple, melon and peach flavors, with some orange rind and nutty notes coming through. The finish was rich and creamy with some spicy mineral and perfumed tones lingering to a complex ending. Not your typical California Chardonnay, Grgich delivers like a few can!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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FessParker 2013 Pinot BienNacido

Fess Parker 2013 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir

Family run winery established in 1989 by the late Fess Parker. Fess is best known for his portrayal of the frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone during the 1950’s and 1960’s and made him a legion among millions of adoring fans. Fess Parker was originally from Texas, attended the University of Texas and did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy during WWII and moved to California in the 1950’s and began acting. After his acting career was winding down, Fess, in 1986, opened a resort hotel in Santa Barbara on 23 ocean front acres.  In 1989 Fess’ next adventure lured him to the Santa Ynez Valley’s wine country and purchased a 714 acre ranch on what is now known as the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. Today, the Fess Parker Winery is still family owned and operated and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014.

A stunning light ruby red color with subtle aromas of red berry fruit combining slight earthy notes and floral scents. The 100% Pinot Noir wine was aged for 17 months on French oak, (30% new) before bottling. On the palate, the wine was medium in weight and showed vivid focus of berry fruit, raspberry, cherry and cranberry, nothing overpowering. The wine showed soft tannins surrounded by lively acidity and slight earthy minerals, giving the wine a remarkable balance. An elegant wine that is easy to drink, a real treasure, Top-notch! Only 814 cases were made so grab a bottle if you see it.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Dehlinger Pinot 2012 Goldridge

Dehlinger 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

In 1975 Tom Dehlinger planted the initial 14 acres of vineyard. From the start, his emphasis has been on extracting, developing, and preserving the maximum flavor from the grapes and producing small amounts of hand-worked, barrel-aged wines. Today his focus is entirely on estate grown wines, producing 7000 cases annually of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and interested in perfection of technique and the balance and intensity of flavors, than making large amounts of wine.

Opened another outstanding 2012 Pinot from California. Deep red color with aromas of red fruits and a touch of woodsy spice. The palate brings forth cherry and tart raspberry, leather, oak and soft tannins. The wine was well balanced with a lingering finish that improved to the end of the bottle. I have a few more bottles I am waiting on for a few more years. Small production, 1500 cases so don’t hesitate if you see a bottle.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Goldeneye Pinot 2012

Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2012

Goldeneye Winery was founded in 1996, years before the Pinot Noir boom that has reshaped the landscape of California winemaking. But the genesis for Goldeneye goes back even further. In 1990, after fifteen years of making world-class Bordeaux-varietal wines, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn embraced their growing love of Pinot Noir. They wanted to found a winery that could make a terroir-inspired expression of California Pinot Noir of equal stature to the acclaimed Merlots they had pioneered at Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley. The Duckhorns knew that in both the Old and New World, the finest Pinot Noir thrives in very different conditions than Merlot. For Pinot Noir, they believed that true greatness would be found on the cool-climate edges of modern California viticulture where the grape could express varietal purity and an intimate sense of place. Over the next six years, Dan, Margaret and Alex Ryan (who today is CEO and president of Duckhorn Wine Company), explored the potential of fruit from numerous regions, including the Russian River Valley, Sonoma and Carneros. They found what they were looking for in the Anderson Valley. With ideal clay soils and a marine-influenced climate offering long, mild days and cooling fog and winds, the Anderson Valley appellation had all the ingredients for producing world-class Pinot Noir. In 1996, Goldeneye was founded and the first estate vineyard was selected. A year later, Goldeneye harvested its first grapes, a modest 7 tons of estate fruit, yielding 375 cases of wine, which were released in March of 2000.

Opening a bottle from the exceptional 2012 vintage, I noticed a bright Ruby red with aromas of sweet ripe red fruits with an array of floral scents. Grapes blended from four vineyards and aged in French oak (53% new) for 16 months, the palate had flavors of sweet cherry fruit, plums and currants with a savory edge. The wine kept building layers of flavors, leather, cacao and earthy tones, nice mouthfeel that lingered to a long finish. Complex, Very Nice!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Tignanello 2005

Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2005

The Antinori family has been involved in the production of wine for over six centuries, ever since, in 1385, Giovanni di Piero Antinori entered as a member, the “Arte Fiorentina”, the Winemakers’ Guild of the city of Florence. During this entire long period, thorough twenty six generations, the family has always directly managed this work with courageous and, at times, innovative decisions, but always maintaining, unaltered, a fundamental respect for tradition and for the territory in which they have operated. Today the firm is run by Marquis Piero Antinori with the support of his three daugthers, Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia, directly involved in the work of the house. Tradition, passion, and intuition have been the three driving principles which have led the Marquis Antinori firm to become a leader in Italian wine.

I have six bottles of this 2005 tucked away in my cellar and decided it was time to open one. Tignanello was the first Sangiovese to be aged in barriques, the first red wine to be blended with non-traditional varieties (like Cabernet) and one of the first Chianti reds not to use white grapes. Tignanello is a milestone. The 2005 was made from a selection of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged in barriques for about 12 months and for a further 12 months in the bottles. Tignanello is made exclusively from the vineyard of the same name which is situated on limestone and tufaceous soil on the Tignanello estate.

Pouring a glass the wine was a deep Ruby red color and gave off concentrated aromas of ripe black fruits and gentle floral spice. The palate shows rich blackberries with a raspberry tang, complex, good acidity, balance and depth with ultra-smooth tannins. The finish ended with a slight earthy and woody spice, and cacao, very smooth and lingering. I am guessing that this wine is at its peak, so if you are lucky enough to find a bottle, get the corkscrew!

Cheers!