Weekend Selection

Tags

, , ,

Franck Bonville-1

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc N.V.

Franck and his wife Jeannine after the second war commercialized the first bottles of champagne from a vineyard already connected on the lands of Avize and Oger for over twenty years.  Today, Giles and his wife Ingrid Bonville, together with their son Olivier spend time tending to the operation of the winery, including updating and modernizing the facility.  Their goal is to grow grapes of the highest quality and produce great wines which are fresh, delicate and elegant.  If you read the label, you will see the words “Récoltant Manipulant” or “RM” on the bottle of Franck Bonville, which means that the grapes are grown on the Estate, the Champagne is produced at the Estate and the Champagne is bottled at the Estate.  The grower has full control over the quality of the wine from the vineyards to your glass.  If you search well, and are an informed Champagne lover, sometimes these Champagnes cost less than the “big” guys, reason, NO marketing budget.  For example Franck Bonville only costs $35 as compared to Veuve Clicquot at around $45 (No “RM” on Clicquot label).  The quality between the 2, do not compare.

Opening a bottle, and remember Champagne is an elegant wine, try and not “bruise” the wine by making it “POP” which lets out too much gas prematurely.  Instead slowly twist off the cork and let out the faintest swish of gas.  Another trick to ensure to get maximum bubbles is to chill your glass first (chilling the glass a bit with club soda and ice enhances the bubbles).  I noticed a nice pale yellow color and immediately noted white fruit flavors with a floral bouquet and the presence of chalky minerals.  The bubbles are fine and plentiful with a foam froth top, amplifying the handcrafting that went into the wine.  The taste just exploded in my mouth and rich flavors of peach, lemon and honey comingled together.  The Champagne was well balanced and had a nice structure, somewhat creamy.  The finish had gentle toasty oak flavors with mineral notes that lasted a bit longer than medium length.  A very memorable wine that leave the big guys in the musty cellar.  Great Value!  Grab a few bottles, if you can find them.  Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so plan on opening a bottle.  Enjoy with someone special!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

Tags

, , ,

IMG_2484

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier N.V.

When he inherited the Champagne House in 1833, connoisseur and entrepreneur Louis Roederer took a visionary approach to enriching his vines, aiming to master every stage of the wine’s creation.  He forged the wine’s unique style, character, and taste.  In the mid-nineteenth century, Louis Roederer acquired some of Champagne’s grand cru vineyards, an approach that contrasted sharply with contemporary practices.  While other Houses bought their grapes, Louis Roederer nurtured his vineyards, familiarized himself with the specific characteristics of each parcel, and methodically acquired the finest land.  Louis Roederer’s guiding principle was that all great wine depends on the quality of the soil, a passion for tradition, and an astute vision of the future; the fame and reputation of the House of Louis Roederer was firmly established.  His heir, Louis Roederer II was equally enlightened and adopted his father’s conscientious approach to the production of champagne, patrimonial estate management, and instinctive audacity.  He also drew inspiration from the many books and drawings he collected with great discernment.  In the 1870s, the Louis Roederer Champagne House began to export its wines to the United States, and even to Tsar Alexander II of Russia.

Gently opening a bottle, I poured the Champagne into a chilled glass and noticed a nice golden yellow color and immediately noted the vibrant bouquet of tropical fruits, apples and citrus.  The palate is delicate with lively acid ample fruit, cherries showing the presence of Pinot Noir, and a touch of minerals, overall good balance.  Champagne is a pricier wine, however well worth it when you dive in and truly enjoy a glass or two.  Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so plan on opening a bottle.  Enjoy with someone special!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

Tags

, , ,

IMG_2482

Rubicon Estate 2002 Cask Cabernet

Rubicon is the image of what was once the historic Inglenook property located in the heart of the western Rutherford Bench in Napa Valley’s prime Cabernet Sauvignon appellation.  In 1975, Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased a majority of the Inglenook Estate and introduced the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery with the plan to revitalize its Cabernet heritage.  In 1978 Coppola’s plan became a reality and launched the first Rubicon vintage that became the Winery’s flagship wine.  Much later in 1995, the Coppolas purchased the remaining part of the property, including the Inglenook Chateau, which restored the Estate to its historic dimensions (I guess he made him an offer he couldn’t refuse!).  Coppola said “In America, so few things that are broken apart are ever put back together.  Reuniting this property was truly a dream come true, both for my family and for Napa Valley.”  In 2011, The Coppolas acquired the iconic Inglenook trademark and Coppola announced that henceforth, his celebrated Estate would be known by its historic original name, Inglenook.

Opening up the 2002 Cask Cabernet, the color was a deep garnet, with slightly brown edges.  Aromas of rich ripe sweet black fruit, with subtle scents of vanilla notes and a hit of earthiness.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and spent 26 months aging on American oak.  The flavors of very ripe blackberries, blueberries and black cherries, somewhat sweet, almost jammy.  Tannins were very subtle and smooth, virtually nonexistent,  A well balanced Magnificent wine that was a joy to drink, amazing and got better an hour later when we poured the final glasses.  With only 2200 cases made, I cannot imagine if any bottles are around to pick up, but I am sure it would fetch well over $100.  Rubicon Estate Cask, the ultimate in Sipping Fine Wine.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

Tags

, , , , ,

Justin Isosceles 2011

Justin 2011 Isosceles

In 1981, Justin Baldwin purchased 160 acres in Paso Robles, with the aim of crafting wines that belong in the company of the finest in the world by making world-class Bordeaux-style blends.  Rich in limestone, the soil of Paso Robles produces grapes with intense flavor and great structure, making it a perfect location for JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery.  Limestone “stresses” the vines, producing grapes that fully express their varietal character.

Rich dark purple color with aromas of black fruit, spice and a whiff of dusty chocolate.  The wine is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc that spent 24 months in new French oak.  On the palate the wine seemed a bit tight so I set it aside for about 45 minutes.  Later the wine showed dark ripe fruit, blackberries, blueberries and black cherries, with some light spice and oak.  The wine was full-bodied, well balanced and had firm tannins that lingered on the finish.  Very enjoyable wine, but keep it in the cellar for a few more years, and it will pay dividends!

Cheers!

Restaurant Selection

Tags

, , ,

Emeritus 2011 Hallberg

Emeritus 2011 Hallberg Estate Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

In 1999 Emeritus was born when Brice Cutrer Jones closed on the purchase of Don and Marcia Hallberg’s prime apple orchard in the heart of the Russian River Valley.  The 115–acre parcel, the Hallberg Ranch, is located two miles north of Sebastopol, on both sides of the Gravenstein Highway and directly on the Gold Ridge, the ten-mile long ridge that bears the name of the predominate soils of the area.

Pouring a glass of Hallberg Pinot Noir, which production is aimed primarily for the restaurant business, I noticed a dark cranberry color with aromas of sweet spiced cherries.  The palate shows remarkable ripe red fruit flavors, soft oak, spice and sight mineral notes.  The wine shows lively acid with good balance and a firm finish that lingers nicely.  An absolute joy to drink.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

Tags

, , ,

Silver Oak 2010 Alexander Cab 1.5L

Silver Oak 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

I recently wrote about Silver Oak Cellars having its roots dating back to 1972, see January 6, 2015 review of Silver Oak 1998 Napa Cabernet.  Over time, Silver Oak continued to acquire vineyard land, including the Red Tail and Miraval Vineyards in Alexander Valley and the Soda Canyon Ranch and Jump Rock in Napa Valley.  The winery also developed close relationships with longtime growers in both appellations.  The result is that both the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon are blends, made from grapes grown in both wineries’ estate vineyards as well as growers’ vineyards in both regions. The two wines have always been separate and distinct, consistently representing the very best of their respective appellations.  Today I will discuss their Alexander Valley offering.

I was entertaining a big crowd so one of the bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon was a 1.5 liter bottle of Silver Oak Cellars 2010, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, barrel aged for 24 months and another 15 months in the bottle before release.  Deep Ruby color with aromas of black fruit, chocolate and spice.  The attack on the palate was rich ripe berries and cherries, a hint of sweetness and the right touch of oak.  The wine had nicely integrated tannins and medium plus length finish which should give way to let this wine age for the next decade, especially the 1.5 liter which can last longer that the standard 750ml bottle.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

Tags

, , , , ,

Silver Oak 1998 Napa Cab

Silver Oak 1998 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

When Raymond T. Duncan first visited the Napa Valley in the late 1960s, he was taken by the region’s rugged beauty.  He was also wise enough to understand the potential of the fledgling wine industry.  In the 1970’s, he began to buy land in both Napa and Alexander Valleys with the goal of planting vineyards. But with his home and business in Colorado and no viticulture expertise of his own, Ray approached Justin Meyer, whom he had met through mutual friends, and asked him to plant and manage the vineyards.  Then working at Christian Brothers, Justin agreed with one condition: in addition to managing the vineyards, he wanted to create a winery that would forever raise the standards of California wine.  The year was 1972, and Silver Oak Cellars began.

Deep ruby red with concentrated aromas of ripe black fruit with subtle nutty spice and bitter chocolate.  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot.  The palate offers flavors of dark fruit, sour black cherry and dried blackberries, with a firm touch of oak and leather.  Tannins are present, but soft due to the age of the wine.  The finish is elegant with a slight dry mineral tang, medium in length.  Very Nice.  This Napa offering should last a few more years, but why wait, it’s perfect now!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

Tags

, , ,

Lancaster 2009 Alexander Cab

Lancaster Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

In 1995, Lancaster Estate debuted following the acquisition of Maacama Creek Winery and its estate vineyards.  Over the next two decades, from their 53 estate acres, micro-farmed in small vineyard blocks, they produced limited release Bordeaux styled wines, each with its own expression.  Their 53 hillside-acres of vineyards are located in the eastern hills of southern Alexander Valley, at the joining together of the Chalk Hill and Knights Valley appellations.  The valley is emerging as a leading location for producing Bordeaux style Cabernet-based blends to rival the finest from the Napa Valley.

Color of this wine is a very deep dark red with aromas of berries and cherries.  This wine is a Bordeaux blend of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Malbec (7%), Merlot (6%), Cabernet Franc (1%) and Petit Verdot (1%), and aged for 24 months in 100% French Oak.  Tasting this wine was a joy, a burst of rich black fruit tantalized my palate giving way to firm tannins, slightly acidic, adding notes of smoke, leather, oak and spices.  The wine was better after being opened for an hour showing that the wine would benefit from a little more time in the bottle.  The finish was medium in length and enjoyable.  I will lay a few bottles down and check back in a year or so.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

Tags

, ,

Feather 2010

Feather 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

Founded in 2003, Long Shadows is the brainchild of Washington wine luminary Allen Shoup. As president and CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle and its affiliated wineries, Allen spent 20 years building the reputation of the growing region, in part by forging winemaking partnerships that brought winemakers to the Columbia Valley.  After leaving Ste. Michelle, Allen spent the next three years developing Long Shadows, a proposition that was as simple as it was complex: recruit a cadre of the finest winemakers in the world; give each vintner access to Washington State’s best grapes; and outfit a winery to accommodate a diverse group of winemakers’ exacting cellar specifications.  With the vision in place, Allen began by introducing a dream team of celebrated vintners to the vines and wines of the growing region.  The idea quickly sold itself; and from the beginning, the wines have enjoyed critical acclaim that has continued to grow, vintage after vintage.

Now enter Napa Valley vintner, Randy Dunn, who is known not only for his famous wines, but for his philosophy on how to make wine.  He does it his way – leaving the floor of the Napa Valley “to corn and melon farmers,” he tends his vines in the red stony soil of Howell Mountain. There are no road signs; no retail sales.  And don’t look for him in a winery tour guide, as Randy spends his quiet hours making his wonderful heirloom wines.

Pouring a glass, I noticed a vivid deep purple color, and aromas of dark fruits and subtle oak and spice notes.  This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon spent 22 months on French Oak.  The palate show red and black fruits, cherries and berries with a touch of sweet pepper.  The wine had firm tannins, was well balanced and an absolute joy to drink.  A little over 1000 cases were made.  More time in the bottle will certainly enhance the wine’s appeal.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

Tags

, , , ,

Mullan Cellars 2012

Mullan Road Cellars 2012 Columbia Valley Red Wine Blend

Dennis Cakebread, from the renowned Napa Valley winery, Cakebread, ventured into Walla Walla Valley, Washington State, for a Bordeaux style blend of grapes, launching Mullan Road Cellars, a wine made from grapes purchased from Walla Walla’s Seven Hills vineyard.  This is Cakebread’s first step into what could evolve into a full-fledged winery.  Time will tell if the project gets legs.

Pouring a glass, the color was a very deep Ruby red, with noted aromas of dark fruit and sweet spice.  On the palate, the blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc, showed ripe dark fruit, blackberries and plums with a nice touch of oak, smoke and toast.  The wine spent 16 months in 40% new French and American oak.  The wine was full bodied and shows nice balance and subtle integrated tannins.  My only disappointment is that I opened this wine early as I believe time will enhance this wine.  I will grab a few more for the cellar and check back in a few years.

Cheers!