Exceptional Reds

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Michael Two Hands 2

I recently went to a private wine tasting where one of the Founders of Two Hands Wines, Michael Twelftree (pictured above) opened four of his wines and provided some in depth commentary on those wines and his winery. I will review two of his wines today and the other two I will make some comments my next two reviews, in a few days, keep a look out!

TwoHands CabSexyBeast 2014

Two Hands 2014 Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon

The idea for Two Hands was born in September 1999 when founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz sat at a friend’s engagement party and decided it was time to make their own wine and market it on the world stage. The original aim was, and still is, to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized growing regions throughout Australia. With so much Australian wine being sold around the globe under multi-region labels in a formulaic style, the intention was to break the mold and showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional and vineyard characteristics by allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines. Two Hands’ first vintage was in 2000, after a modest $30k investment and starting with just 17 tonnes of fruit. The journey had started.

In 2004 a state-of-the-art winery was built in the picturesque Barossa Valley in South Australia, specifically designed for small batch handling. To maximise the individual regional and varietal characteristics and to allow for greater quality control, every parcel of fruit, no matter how small, is handled separately from crushing through to fermentation and oak maturation.

Opening a bottle, I noticed deep dark Ruby color with aromas of sweet currants, red berry and earthy herbs. On the palate generous red berry fruit and plums with a touch of black pepper. Tannins are a bit firm and tight but overall the wine was well balanced with good length on the finish. The wine is drinkable right now and over the short term, say 5 years. Tasting Sample. Good value!

TwoHands AngelsShare 2013

Two Hands 2013 Angels’ Share Shiraz

Opening a bottle of the 2013 Angels’ Share Shiraz (Angels’ Share refers to the portion of wine that evaporates during the fermentation process), I noticed a clean deep and dark reddish purple color with aromas of fresh blue fruits with an earthy mineral nuance. The palate revealed rich ripe fruit, blackberries, blueberries and also noting some hints of plum and dried cherries. The wine is well balanced with firm tannins and lively acidity. The finish shows some cacao and fresh oak with earthy herbs in a medium length. Should improve with a few more years, but don’t wait too long as you might be disappointed! Very nice Shiraz! Tasting Sample!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Penner-Ash 2012 Yamhill

Penner-Ash 2012 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars embodies the spirit and passion of a small producer focusing on Pinot Noir in the northern Willamette Valley, Oregon.  After working for some of Napa’s premier wineries and Rex Hill Vineyards in Oregon, winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash and her husband, Ron, started Penner-Ash Wine Cellars in 1998.  In the winery, the focus is on small-lot indigenous yeast fermentation with extended cold soaks to extract a rich, fruit-focused, textured mouth feel.  Each lot is treated individually and depending on the outcome, either blended into their reserve quality Willamette Valley Pinot Noir or bottled separately as a vineyard designate.

The Penner-Ash Winery was completed in 2005 and is nestled in a hillside overlooking the Chehalem Valley in picturesque Oregon.  Penner-Ash primarily makes Pinot Noirs and Syrahs which have often been described as “Earthy, Elegant, Thoughtful and Structured”.  Surrounded by 80 acres of land, the Winery is tiered into three levels of the hillside giving way to spectacular views of the Chehalem Valley, with the Chehalem Mountains to the north and the Red Hills of Dundee to the south.  An added benefit of the Winery design is that the storage cellars are carved right into the hillside, which minimizes swings in temperature and humidity and helps achieve the desired atmosphere for the proper cellaring and aging of wine in both the barrels and bottles.  Approximately 15 acres immediately surrounding the Winery is planted with Pinot Noir grapes and 2005 was the vineyard’s first harvest.

Opening a bottle of their 2012 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir, sourced from Shea Vineyard (44%), Fennwood Vineyard (33%), Estate Vineyard (15%) and Wapato Ridge Vineyard (8%), I saw a vivid ruby red color and fresh fruit aromas of red berries and spices.  The palate yields sweet cherry and raspberry fruit with a hint of smoky espresso tang.  The wine is well balanced and finishes long with smooth tannins and residual fruit.  The wine was aged for 10 months in new French oak (26%), one-year old French oak (41%), two-year old French oak (24%), and neutral French oak (9%).  Less than 200 cases of this beauty was produced, be sure to grab one for about $60.  Be sure to visit their website for some great recipes.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Wente 2013 Riva Chard

Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2013

The Wente Vineyards story began in 1883, when German immigrant, C.H. Wente made the voyage to America with the dream of creating a better life. After studying winemaking under Charles Krug in Napa Valley, he immediately knew he had discovered a passion and focus amongst the vineyards. He soon met and married Barbara Trautwein, and they moved to the Livermore Valley to pursue his new career. Unlike others of the time who started wine businesses as a hobby, C.H. Wente made his pursuit a lifelong commitment. His original 47 acres quickly grew to 200 acres before the constraints of Prohibition hit. To his seven children he was a father who emphasized hard work, but as he would say, “Work made life sweet.” Fast forward to today, Fifth Generation Winemaker Karl D. Wente, pays homage to his family legacy by crafting a portfolio of wines that are 100% Estate Grown and Certified Sustainable.

Opening a 2013 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, the color is deep straw yellow with complex aromas of tropical and stone fruits with floral spices. The palate displayed flavors of lemons, peaches and vanilla oak along with minerality. The wine is buttery but not overdone. The medium finish ends with plenty of fruit flavor and light spice, acidity and a touch of spice at the end. Nice!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Faust 2013 Cab

Faust 2013 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Interesting to learn that Faust, the wine, celebrates a legend which has inspired many great minds, among them the German poet Goethe, from whose masterpiece they draw inspiration.  In Goethe’s most famous work, the aging scholar Dr. Faust barters his soul in the afterlife in exchange for another chance at youth.  He gets his chance, yet ultimately his soul is saved by love.  Faust is indeed the fruit of renewed passion for Agustin Huneeus, though Mephistopheles has not yet appeared to claim his soul.  The underlying premise for all of the wines he has ever produced has been that great wines must be a reflection of a great vineyard.  Faust is not.  Instead, Faust is a tribute to Napa Valley’s noblest grape – full-bodied, decadently rich and unctuous Cabernet Sauvignon.

Expressing the complexity of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and diversity of the Napa Valley, Faust obtains Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Agustin’s family vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville, one of Napa Valley’s newest appellations located in the eastern foothills south of Atlas Peak.  Agustin’s relationships with growers in other Napa Valley appellations, such as Yountville, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak, St. Helena and Rutherford, round out the wine with small lots from these spectacular mountain and valley terroirs.  Faust is crafted at the Quintessa winery in Rutherford, a state-of-the-art winery with the most modern technologies.  The grapes are hand-picked, double-sorted, gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel and French oak fermentation tanks.  The wine is then transferred to French oak barrels for an aging period of 19 months.

We went to a steakhouse, so I ordered a Faust to pair with our 40 oz. Porterhouse. The 2013 vintage is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Interesting Faust now adds Petit Verdot, making the wine a classic Bordeaux style blend, previous older vintages they omitted Petit Verdot. Pouring a glass I noticed a deep purple wine with ruby edges and aromas of red and dark fruit with cedar spice notes. The palate showed ripe blackberries, blueberries and sweet red berry fruit, with sweet and savory oak notes. Very approachable for a 2013, but it needs 30 minutes to open up. On the finish tannins were smooth and firm, showing some minerality on the long finish. Faust wines do not disappoint, even when young.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Saintsbury 2012 Pinot Carneros

Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir 2012

In 1977 David Graves and Richard Ward, both UC Davis graduate students met in brewing class. In addition to sharing a passion for brew, they also had a passion for Burgundies. In 1978 they began working the Napa harvest at Chappellet and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. In 1981 David and Dick founded Saintsbury and began focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  The winery’s namesake honors George Saintsbury (1845-1933), literary historian and oenophile.

Vivid ruby red, with a bouquet of dark red fruit and spicy aromas. On the palate ripe fruit flavors of cherries, plum and dried red berries, slight earthy and mineral taste. Aged for 8 months on French oak (15% new), the tannins are silky smooth, savory and tangy. The finish has nice length, rich and full-bodied, grab a bottle and enjoy!

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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SolarDeCastro 2009

Solar De Castro Vendimia Seleccionada 2009

The winery’s oldest reference dates back to 1888, year in which Vicente Domeco de Jarauta presented a wine in Barcelona’s world-wide exhibition and won an award. In 1995 José Vicente Domeco de Jarauta built a modern winery where he begins to make commercial wines, and later in 2005, he created Winery Domeco de Jarauta on the occasion of the incorporation. his son Jose Vicente Domeco de Jarauta, who after studying enology in San Sadurni D’Anoia (Penedés) joined the family business creating a winery where its primary target was combining tradition, quality and innovation.

A blend of 80% Tempranillo 20% Garnacha with 12 months of oak barrel aging, this wine has a deep ruby red color and aromas of black fruit and spice. On the palate black cherry and blackberry flavors with hints of woodsy leather and smoky spice. Soft but firm tannins were present with vivid acidity and well balanced. The finish is medium in length and ends with fruity notes. Outstanding value!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Terribancia Campaccio 2007

Terrabianca 2007 Campaccio Toscana Red

In the medieval times, Podere Terrabianca found itself in the ambiguous situation of being situated in the part of the countryside under the rule of Florence and, at the same time, also in the diocese of the Bishop of Siena. The very first documents mentioning its presence, dated 1085, describe it as being a country estate as, in fact, its name clearly implies. Today the winery Terrabianca is located at the heart of the Chianti Classico region, in the middle of Tuscany, 12 km from Siena and 50 km from Florence. The soil which consists of layers of chalk, sand and clay from the palaeozoic and mesozoic ages has the ideal composition to grow grapes of highest quality. On the 307 acres, there are vineyards surrounded by olive groves and woods. They are in the best position, south and southeast exposure, slightly above sea level.

The Legend of the Black Rooster: The historic symbol of Chianti Classico is a black rooster (Gallo Nero) on a gold field. Legend tells the story of how a black rooster contributed to the unification of Chianti under the Republic of Florence and became the symbol of the League of Chianti.  According to the legend, when the republics of Florence and Siena were engaged in bitter struggles during the Middle Ages, the Chianti zone was the scene of constant conflict.  To put an end to the fighting and establish borders between the two republics, they agreed to the following solution. A rider would depart from the capital of each of the two republics, and the border would be drawn where the two horsemen met. The riders were to set out at dawn, and the signal for the race to begin would be the crowing of a rooster announcing the new day. The Sienese opted for a white rooster, while the Florentines chose a black one.  On the day of the race the black rooster crowed before day light which gave the Florentine rider a great advantage over the Sienese horseman who departed much later. As a consequence, nearly all of Chianti passed into the hands of the Florentine Republic long before Siena itself fell to the Florentines. The Black Rooster later became the symbol of the League of Chianti, which was assigned administrative and military defense duties within the Republic of Florence. Today, the Black Rooster on a bottle of wine indicates that it is a Chianti Classico produced according to the rules and regulations of the DOCG.

I found this Gem at the back of my cellar, what a great find! The wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon (I love the smoothness Italian Cab gives to a blend). Pouring a glass the wine was a deep Ruby red color and gave off aromas of dark berry fruits and spice. The palate shows ripe raspberry and blueberry hints, good acidity, balance and depth with fine grain tannins. The finish ended with a slight toasty spice, a touch of leather, smooth and lingering. The wine is tasting well now and has room to age.

Cheers!

Weekend Red

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Cakebread 2012 Cab

Cakebread Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

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 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is a blend of Grapes: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. In 2013, Cakebread Cellars celebrated their 40th wine harvest, and the second generation of winemaking. 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.” Try the Andouille-Crusted Filet Mignon with Garlic Sauce to serve with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Delicious!

As I opened a bottle of their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 18 months in French oak (54% new), I see a deep ruby red with focused aromas of black fruit and complex spice. The palate shows focused sweet ripe dark fruit, black currants and black raspberry, with savory oak, leather and cacao.  The wine is well balanced, nicely developed round tannins, great structure for getting better in a few years.  This is an approachable wine, perfect to drink now as well as for future aging, but why wait?

Cheers!

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!