Cellar Selection

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Domenico Clerico Aeroplanservaj Barolo 2010

Domenico Clerico spends his days among the vineyards of Monforte’s Crus, as he has been doing for years. In 1976 this Piedmont producer took the reins of the family winery and dedicated himself exclusively to the production of great wines, and acquired some of the most highly-rated parcels of the Monforte Crus.

Aeroplanservaj (“wild aeroplane”), is the nickname his father gave him when he was little and in his fantasy world imagined himself flying high above the vines. Only produced in the best vintage years, it’s a Barolo that starts life in a vineyard with east/south-easterly sun exposure in Serralunga d’Alba. The soil composition, altitude and climate set a decidedly acidic stamp on the wine, but this is toned down in the cellar thanks to clever refining for around 30 months in French oak barrels (80% new and 20% second use).

Had this beauty at a recent wine tasting, striking ruby color with a rich intense bouquet of fruit, earthy spices, and hints of floral. The palate is powerful and chewy, with ripe cherry flavors, leather, espresso and cacao integrating into a rich and robust wine. The finish is savory with nice toasty oak notes and structured tight tannins. One of the better Barolo’s I have tasted, this is an excellent and enjoyable wine that you should not pass up, if you can get your hands on a 2010, but let it develop for another 10 years to unwind before you pop the cork!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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BV Georges De Latour Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

In 1900, when Georges de Latour’s wife, Fernande, first laid eyes on the land that would become their original Rutherford vineyard, she named it “beau lieu,” or “beautiful place.” Shortly thereafter, de Latour sold his thriving cream of tartar business, bought the four-acre ranch and founded Beaulieu Vineyard with the vision of making Napa Valley wines that would rival those of his native France. When prohibition hit most wineries shuttered, Beaulieu Vineyard increased its business fourfold by selling sacramental wine to the Catholic Church. After the repeal in 1933, Georges de Latour became dedicated to the research and innovation that would bring about his Rutherford Estate’s finest expression. In 1938, he traveled to France and met André Tchelistcheff, famed viticulturist and enologist who instituted the philosophy of continuous innovation in vineyard and winery to which we remain dedicated today. When he joined Beaulieu and tasted the de Latour family’s private wine (what they called “Private Reserve”) from the 1936 vintage, he insisted it be bottled and sold as the winery’s flagship offering. In 1940, Beaulieu Vineyard released the first vintage of Private Reserve and named it in our founder’s honor. The resulting wine became the first release of Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that was destined to become Napa Valley’s first “cult” Cabernet.

A blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot, and aged in 94% new French oak, dark and enticing, with complex berry flavors and sweet spices, noting some floral scents. On the palate, cherry and blackberry flavors with cacao notes and spices on firm yet approachable tannins.  Lingering finish with plenty of toasty oak notes ending with mineral tones. Very nice but needs more time to develop into a gem!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection 

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Tenuta Il Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino 2010

Tenuta Il Poggione was founded at the end of 1800 when Lavinio Franceschi, land owner from Florence, decided to visit the area after hearing the stories from a shepherd, who brought his herds around Montalcino during the winter. He fell in love with the landscape and the people who lived in that area, and decided to buy land and establish a grape farm. More than a century later, Tenuta Il Poggione covers an area of 530 hectares, of which 140 hectares are planted with vines and 50 hectares with olive trees. The vineyards are at an altitude between 490 – 1475 feet above sea level: this large gap, together with the age of the vineyards, promotes easy harvest to obtain well-structured wines with long aging potential. After more than a Century, Lavinio Franceschi’s work is still a fundamental point of reference for his successors, Leopoldo and Livia, who continue to develop the business with that same dedication and unrelenting passion, combining the ancient skills of winemaking crafts and tradition with the latest, most innovative techniques.

Had this beauty at a recent wine tasting. Aged in French oak barrels for about 36 months, produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes, picked by hand from 20-year old vines. Powerful Ruby with ripe red fruit aromas and complex floral and spice scents. On the palate, this remarkable full-bodied wine shows cherry and berry fruit with layered spices, cinnamon, tobacco and cacao, well integrated. Savory with smooth young tannins, smoky oak notes take this wine to a rich lingering finish. Needs a few years to fully develop. Outstanding! Tasting Sample.

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Cellar Selection

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Chateau Latour Pauillac de Latour 2010

Chateau Latour is among the First Growth properties classified in the Bordeaux 1855 Classification. The estate is situated in the southern portion of Pauillac, bordering St. Julien and the Gironde estuary. Latour is considered one of the longest-lasting First Growths, reflecting its high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon. The blend is typically Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The fruit is grown in vineyards with notably high levels of gravel and an ideal southeastern exposure. Latour is typified by its concentrated fruit and complexity. Chateau Latour also produces a second wine called Les Forts de Latour and a third wine labeled simply Pauillac, which I am featuring today.

I had this beauty at a wine tasting. Representing about 25% of their production, the wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of sweet dark berry fruits with complex aromas of spice and cedar. On the palate multiple layers of berry fruit, cherry and raspberry, leather, cacao and licorice. Silky smooth tannins, full-bodied, delicious, lingering finish. Hard to believe it’s their third label! Wow!!

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Cellar Selection

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Chateau Palmer 2012 Alter Ego

In 1938, four Bordeaux families – Sichel, Mähler-Besse, Ginestet, and Miailhe – all active in the Bordeaux fine wine trade – joined together to buy Palmer and restore it to the rank it deserved. Two of these families have since left the estate, leaving the Sichel and the Mähler-Besse families at the helm. Since their acquisition of Château Palmer, the families of shareholders have applied single-mindedly the key principles that contributed to the prosperity of this great wine: authenticity, quality and constancy. Originally from the Netherlands, the Mälher family were successful in the textile and the wine business. Having settled in Bordeaux with his wife Marguerite Besse, Frédérick Mälher, the founder of the Franco-Dutch dynasty, set out a wine trade. His friends, Sichel, Miailhe and Ginestet convinced him to join them in 1938 in their Château Palmer venture. Today, their descendants remain active partners and enthusiastically encourage continuing the adventure.

Palmer and its Alter Ego are two nuanced expressions of the Château Palmer terroir, two interpretations of the variations offered by the climatic conditions of the vintage. These variations can be likened, in music, to symphonic pieces and their jazz adaptations, in the visual arts, to a classic painting and a contemporary rendering of the same subject, and, in literature, to an epic narrative in alexandrine verse and a prose poem. Alter Ego was born with the 1998 vintage. It resulted from a new approach to selecting and blending devised to interpret the Château Palmer terroir differently without departing from the values that make the reputation of their wines – namely, finesse and elegance, aromatic richness, harmony and length.

Opening a bottle of the second wine of Château Palmer, I noticed a deep Ruby red color with intense fruit aromas of red/blue and dark berries. The palate on this blend of Merlot: 51%; Cabernet Sauvignon: 40%; Petit Verdot: 9%; aged for 18 month on oak (about 30% new) shows cherry and blackberry fruit flavors with vanilla spice. The tannins are well developed and pack a punch, full and rich but calmed down after decanted, well balanced. The finish was complex, elegant and enjoyable, giving mineral nuances with good length. The 2012 is tasting well now and will get better over time! Very Nice!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Mt. Brave Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Mt. Brave pays homage to the pioneering spirit of those who settled the rugged terrain of Mt. Veeder during the 1800s and a tribute to the Wappo Indians, “The brave ones,” the original inhabitants of this special land they called home. Mt. Brave Vineyard was originally purchased in 1841, before the gold rush which forever changed California. Mt. Brave sits above the fog line, with morning sun warming the grapes each day. Soils are a sparse, gravelly loam. Nutrients and minerals are scant, resulting in tiny berries with concentrated and complex flavors.

A blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc with soft bright fruit aromas of dark fruits and floral notes. On the palate black cherry, berries and sweet dried fruit, complex with silky smooth tannins, great mouthfeel with a touch of gentle oak and minerality. This is a real find, the 2009 still has room to develop.  Grab a steak and you have a great meal!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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La Dame de Montrose 2010

Château Montrose overlooks the Gironde Estuary. In fact, the proximity of this vast body of water (called locally “The River”) is a major advantage. The estuary is responsible for maintaining a mild microclimate and toning down extremes of temperature. Helped by the presence of nearby marshes, it provides remarkable air conditioning in the summer while also compensating for the severities of winter. The large gravel found throughout the estate’s topsoil originated in mountains in the Massif Central and the Pyrenees. These pebbles absorb the sun’s heat during the daytime and release it at night. This is an important way of improving the maturity of the grape.

Had this beauty at a recent wine tasting. A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petite Verdot. Dark red with complex aromas of ripe fruits, currants and floral scents. On the palate black cherry and raspberry flavors with cacao, tobacco and fine pepper spice. Smooth soft tannins, still a bit tight, on a long lingering finish, great balance and mouthfeel, a little creamy texture and still has plenty of room to improve over the next 5 to 10 years.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay 2012

Shafer Vineyards traces its beginnings to 1972 when John Shafer left a 23-year career in the publishing industry and, with his family, moved to the Napa Valley to pursue a second career in wine.  After purchasing a 210-acre estate in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, the Shafer family faced the arduous task of replanting the existing vineyards, which dated to the 1920s, and terracing the steep and rocky hillsides, eventually expanding vineyard acreage to its current 50 acres.  From a modest beginning of 1,000 cases in 1978, the winery has grown steadily until reaching its present size of 32,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Please check out the Shafer Website and look at some of the fine recipes that Annette Shafer offers.

Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a wine that bears the elegant imprint of its vineyard home, 68 acres that roll across the pastoral hill country of Los Carneros, a place where Napa Valley meets the northernmost rim of San Francisco Bay. The vineyard is named to honor the Red-shouldered Hawks and other birds of prey that play a vital role in sustainable farming practices (in this case keeping gopher and other rodent populations naturally under control).

Vivid medium yellow color with aromas of tropical fruits and sweet floral scents. On the palate melon, pineapple and some peach flavors and hints of lemon citrus, delicate, complex and well balanced.  Lingering finish, savory, ending with mineral tones and nutty smoky oak. Outstanding!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1995

It all started in the middle of the nineteenth century when French negociants visited the Rioja region to find alternative sources of quality grapes to transform into wine, since the phylloxera epidemic had decimated their vineyards. Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic student in the art of wine making, followed closely in their footsteps. Don Rafael fell in love with the region and especially the area around Haro, the mythical capital of the Rioja Alta region. He observed that there was a magical combination of soil and climate that would offer the perfect environment for producing wine that would eventually become world famous. Around 1877 he began the design and construction of the complex that is today known as the López de Heredia bodega (winery), the oldest in Haro and one of the first three houses in the Rioja region. Bodegas López de Heredia stands out as one of the few family-run bodegas regulated by the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja – DOC (Appellation region).

A blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo and Graciano, and aged for 10 Years in old American oak barrels! Wow!! The 1995 is the current release, and the bottle is sealed with red wax! Light Ruby with complex aromas of red fruit, spices and smoke. On the palate cherry flavors with herb spice, vanilla, smoky oak, leather and hints of pepper. Well balanced with smooth tannins and a long lingering finish ending with earthy spice tones. Very Nice, something really special!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Merry Edwards 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

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. 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. Be sure to visit the Merry Edwards website for some fine recipes.

Had this at a restaurant, went well with the Sushi Grade Tuna I ordered! A blend from 5 different Sonoma Coast Vineyards. Deep ruby with black fruit aromas and earthy spice notes. On the palate, raspberry, black cherry and plum flavors, rich and complex with integrated spice and oak. Fine smooth tannins with good balance of acidity has plenty of room to last. Lingering finish, an outstanding wine.

Cheers!