Cellar Selection

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Belle Glos 2014 Dairman Pinot Noir

Owner/winemaker, Joe Wagner chose the name Belle Glos (pronounced “BELL GLOSS”) to honor his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner. Lorna was a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards, an inspirational figure to Joseph and an avid lover of Pinot Noir. Belle Glos produces Pinot Noirs produced from California’s noteworthy coastal wine-growing regions. While each vineyard location lies near the Pacific Ocean, the climate differences are significant, varying with the amount of fog, wind, sunlight, and soil type at each site. Each Vineyard Designate is crafted to distill the purest essence of the locale into elegant expressions of California Pinot Noir. As a fifth generation Napa Valley winemaker, Joe learned his way around a vineyard long before he was able to drink wine. By the time he was 19 he knew that he would continue his family’s winemaking legacy, working alongside his father at Caymus Vineyards. In 2001, he created Belle Glos, with a focus on vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs.

Today I am tasting their Dairyman Pinot Noir. Once a dairy farm and pastureland, this vineyard has realized its greatest potential as a prime, virgin Pinot Noir vineyard. It was first planted in 2000 to a mix of Dijon clones. Dairyman sits in the southern alluvial plains of the Russian River Valley near the ocean, a region where cooling fog comes in through the Petaluma Gap in the morning and once again in the evening. Opening a bottle the color was a Bright Ruby with aromas of ripe berries and smoky spice notes. The palate yields raspberry and black cherries with subtle current character, and herb, cedar and cacao. The smooth tannins, soft finish lingered nicely with fresh acidity, great structure. Wow!

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Freixenet Cava Carta Nevada N.V.

It’s Valentine’s Day, so grab a bubbly and share with someone special!

The first bottle of Freixenet was released in 1914, the creation of a couple named Pedro Ferrer & Dolores Sala who were both from winemaking families. In 1889, Pedro Ferrer married Dolores Sala, whose family had been making wine at their Casa Sala property since 1861. Pedro’s nickname was “El Freixenet”, named after his family’s ranch “La Freixeneda”, which means ash tree grove in Catalan. Dolores’ keen interest in the winemaking process was easily complemented by Pedro’s business savvy and sense of community. Their marriage coincided with the arrival of the Phylloxera plague in Spain, which wiped out most of Europe’s vineyards. Far from being deterred, the couple replanted their decimated land with white varietals to make sparkling wine. In 1914, the first bottles were released with Pedro’s childhood nickname on the label; Freixenet had been born. The Ferrer family continues to own and manage Freixenet today. See poster from the 1920’s below.

Popping the cork, and pouring the Cava into a chilled glass (chilling the glass a bit with club soda and ice enhances the bubbles) I noticed a nice straw pale yellow color and gave off a fruit forward style of peach, apple and citrus. Frothy mousse with small plentiful bubbles. Aged for up to 12 months, the Cava was well-balanced, full-bodied, crisp with zesty fruit, minerality, bread tones on a long finish. This is an outstanding, easy drinking sparkler, and presents an alternative to a pricy bottle of French Champagne. Exceptional!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Calon Ségur Saint-Estèphe 2010

Perhaps because it is one of the oldest estates in the Médoc, or perhaps because its most emblematic owner, the Marquis de Ségur, built an absolute legend around Calon. Historians date the origins of Calon back to the Gallo-Roman era. Its name is derived from the term “calones”, which were small transport boats that travelled up and down the Gironde estuary. Wine growing at the estate can be traced back to the 12th century, but it was in the 18th century, at the time of Nicolas-Alexandre the Marquis de Ségur, who also owned Latour, Lafite and Mouton, that the finest chapter of the property’s history was written. Calon thereafter was to be known as Calon Ségur. The estate acquired the rank of Third Classified Growth in the famous 1855 classification. From 1894 to 2012, Calon’s owners, the Gasqueton family, preserved the estate’s identity with sobriety and elegance. Today, Château Calon Ségur and Château Capbern Gasqueton, are owned by the Suravenir company, subsidiary of the banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa headed by Jean-Pierre Denis, carefully preserve the estate’s historic values.

Aged for about 20 months in French oak (30% new) with a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Classic Bordeaux bouquet of rich black fruits and earthy spice. On the palate blackberry and black cherry flavors with leather, gentle herbs and smoky notes. Round silky tannins, elegant with nice acidity balance from start to finish. Very polished lingering finish ending with earthy mineral tones. Tasting Sample.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Caymus Jan 17

Caymus 2012 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

In 1971 Charlie Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son Charles  (Chuck) Wagner, who had just graduated from high school, if he would be interested in joining them in starting up a winery. If Chuck declined the offer, Charlie and Lorna were planning to sell out of their ranch in Napa Valley and move to Australia. Chuck accepted his parents’ offer to launch the winery, Caymus Vineyards. The Wagners produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, Caymus has focused their efforts in the production of quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

Back in the summer of 2015, I received a birthday gift of a Coravin Wine System. The Coravin allows you to take wine out of the bottle (no screwcaps, only corks), leaving the cork in place and preserve and protect the wine until you are ready for another glass or want to open the bottle. I took out a glass on July 25, 2015 and took out a second glass on February 5, 2016, a third glass September 16, 2016, and a fourth glass January 16, 2017.

The wine was still tasting great, actually it was so fresh that I poured a glass and had to let it breathe for a while in order for the flavors to develop. Deep ruby red with focused aromas of black fruit, herbs and vanilla spice. The palate had a burst of vanilla flavor which needed to calm for about 30 minutes first. The wine opened with fresh sweet ripe dark fruit, blackberry and black cherry, with complex oak, leather and chocolate. The wine is well balanced, tannins continuing to develop nicely, slightly savory, finishing with sweet vanilla oak notes. My notes from my four pours using the Coravin were very consistent. It really works! This is an Elegant Wine! It was perfect to drink now as well as for future aging, but why wait? About a half bottle left, check back in about 6 months for another taste.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Louis Jadot Celebration 2012

Louis Jadot Celebration Beaune 1er Cru 2012

Jadot’s 153rd Anniversary bottling celebrates Jadot’s home in Beaune, the village of Beaune. The wine includes fruit from the very first vineyard the Jadot family purchased in 1829 – Clos Des Ursules. It also includes parcels of fruit from the other 18 Premier Cru sites that Jadot works with in this commune. What Jadot has done with this release is flip the whole paradigm on its head, instead of celebrating their 153rd year by selecting one vineyard to shine above all others, they chose to celebrate the diversity of terroirs within their home. They selected barrels from different sites that could be blended together to create final wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. The wine encapsulates the varied limestone, marls and clay soils, the steep and flat aspects, an untold number of Pinot Noir clones and vines of varying age. Its beauty is not in its specificity but in its broad panoramic view of this special place.

Deep Ruby with red fruit and gentle spice aromas, very complex. On the palate the wine displays cherry and raspberry flavors with developed smooth tannins and a hints of earth and spice. Well structured with good acidity balance on a long lingering finish ending with minerality. Wow! Will age nicely for a long time. Tasting Sample.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Renato Ratti Rocche 2009

Renato Ratti 2009 Barolo Rocche

In 1934 Renato Ratti is born. After studying enology in Alba, he “emigrates” to Brazil where he is put in charge of the production of Vermouths and sparkling wines for Cinzano of Sao Paolo. The experiences gained operating in such a vast, and challenging country as Brazil will prove fundamental in the development of an innovative outlook, one that will characterize his later work back in the hills of Piedmont’s Langhe region. In 1965 Renato Ratti returns to Piedmont and buys his first vineyard for the production of Barolo: a small plot in the historical zone of Marcenasco, right below the Abbey of L’Annunziata (Our Lady of the Annunciation) at La Morra. In the ancient (14th Century) Abbey, he creates his first single vineyard (cru) Marcenasco Barolo.  In 1969, his nephew Massimo Martinelli, he too an enologist, joins the company and together, they perfect a technique of vinification, maturation and refinement for their Barolo.

I went to a private tasting and they had a bottle of this 2009 classic Barolo of 100% Nebbiolo grapes, which was decanted it for about an hour. The Barolo was aged in Oak for 2 years in French oak!  Deep rich Ruby with a grand bouquet of black fruit, blackberries, black cherries, leather, some cacao, tobacco and licorice with sweet spice and earthy notes, a Barolo with elegance and finesse which will only get better. This wine has excellent structure and balance with polished silky tannins, was a delight to drink now, but what will another 10 years yield? If you see a bottle do not hesitate to add this to your cellar.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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19Crimes Warden 2015

19 Crimes The Warden 2015

Nineteen Crimes turned criminals into Colonists. Upon conviction, British rogues, guilty of at least one of the 19 Crimes, were sentenced to live in Australia, rather than death. This punishment by “transportation” began in 1788, and many of the lawless died at sea. For the rough-hewn prisoners who made it to shore, a new world awaited. As pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick. This 19 Crimes wine celebrates the rules they broke and they culture they built.

The Warden is a Shiraz-based red blend (can’t find the rest of the blend, even the US distributor didn’t know…maybe it’s a Crime!). Deep dark purple red with aromas of blue & red fruits with spicy notes. The palate shows cherry and plum flavors, with cinnamon spice and leather notes.  A big wine with big tannins that needs a few minutes to breathe. Medium finish ending with cacao and black pepper on the finish. Tasting Sample.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Pico Maccario 2012 Barbara

Pico Maccario Lavignone Barbera d’Asti 2012

The Pico Maccario Winery was founded in 1997 in Mombaruzzo, Piedmont with 70 hectares of vineyards in one piece of property in the heart of the Barbera d’Asti DOCG appellation. From the beginning, brothers Pico and Vitaliano Maccario have chosen modern methods to manage their vineyards and produce wine, due in equal parts to their personal taste and young age of their winery. The rose has always been a symbol of the winery. 4500 rose plants of the same cloned variety have the duel function of marking the start of each vineyard row, and – a traditional use – of signaling vine-threatening diseases before they get the chance to do damage. The presence of these thousands of rosebushes creates a beautiful walking experience between the rows of Pico Maccario.

The wine is made from 100% Barbera grapes grown in clay rich soil. It should be noted that Barbera d’Asti achieved DOCG status in 2008 (controlled designation of origin guaranteed). I was lucky enough to get a 1.5L bottle and tucked the 2012 in my cellar for about 2 years, and I was well rewarded!  Warm vibrant Ruby color with a full bouquet of berry fruit aromas and sweet perfumed spice. On the palate complex flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry, white pepper, good structure, balanced with savory acidity and super soft tannins. The wine had a lingering finish loaded with juicy fruit on the ending. Exceptional! Great Value! Tasting Sample.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Far Niente Cab 2012

Far Niente Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

One of California’s oldest wineries, Far Niente was founded in 1885 by John Benson, a forty-niner of the California gold rush and uncle of the famous American impressionist painter, Winslow Homer. The winery flourished until Prohibition, at which time it was abandoned and fell into complete disrepair. The stately stone shell of a winery was purchased in 1979 by Gil Nickel, as part of his quest to create a world class wine estate in the Napa Valley. During restoration, the original name, Far Niente, romantically translated to “without a care,” was found carved in stone on the front of the building, where it remains to this day. In 1982, Far Niente produced the winery’s first Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon came from the Martin Stelling Vineyard, located behind the winery in Oakville, and is the cornerstone of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon. Planted on some of the best gravelly loam soil in the Napa Valley, the wine is a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, dark purple with focused aromas of black and dried red fruits, herb and earthiness. On the palate plum, blackberry and cassis with savory vanilla, cacao and espresso. Well balanced, super fine tannins, a touch of toasty oak carrying this wine to a lingering finish. Has plenty of room to run, have a bottle to open in 10 years!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Stemmler Windside 2012 

Robert Stemmler Winside Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012

After making wine in his native Germany, Robert arrived in Napa Valley in 1961, working with the Mondavi brothers at Charles Krug Winery, then becoming winemaker at Sonoma County’s historic Simi Winery.

Rob Stemmler

In 1976, he opened Robert Stemmler Winery, and in 1982 released his first Pinot Noir to critical acclaim. Meanwhile, in 1981, Anne Moller-Racke arrived from Germany to work at the family’s Buena Vista Winery. They soon became friends. After promoting Pinot Noir nationwide, Robert retired in 1989, and the Racke family purchased his label. When Anne launched an “ultimate Pinot Noir project” at The Donum Estate in 2001, Stemmler wines became Donum’s sister brand, sharing estate grown fruit and an uncompromising commitment to quality. I met Robert Stemmler in the 80’s and tasted some of his early Pinot’s which were fabulous, he was ahead of his time!  Until recently, it was difficult to get Robert Stemmler’s Pinot’s on the East Coast!

The artwork on the label, originally chosen by Robert Stemmler, portrays a portion of the famous Les Vendanges tapestry, a depiction of the grape harvest woven in Flanders in the late 15th century, which now hangs in the Cluny Museum in Paris.

Formerly known as Nugent Vineyards, the Winside Vineyards Pinot Noir was aged in French Oak (25% new). Dark Ruby with a nose of dark berry fruit and robust spice. On the palate blackberry and rich cherry flavors, with leather and tobacco layers. Soft texture, fine tannins well balanced on a lingering finish ending with earthiness. Very Nice!

Cheers!