Cellar Selection

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 Illumination 2013     Illumination 2013-back

Quintessa Illumination 2013

Fascinated with making a white wine from Quintessa, Agustin Huneeus planted a small plot of Sauvignon Blanc at the estate in 2002. Illumination first emanuated from this little vineyard, its rays penetrating the palates of sommeliers, friends and guests who requested it for their own cellars. He now shares this limited production wine with kindred spirits seeking illumination via wines that express their place of origin. Agustin Huneeus celebrated his 80th birthday, at harvest time in 2013, with the release of the latest vintage of Illumination.

I tasted Illumination at a recent wine tasting event hosted by Quintessa representatives and thought the wine was truly magnificent. The wine was clear, clean and had a bright sunshine yellow color. Aromas of green fruit and citrus were noted along with some floral edges. The wine is a blend of 49% Sauvignon Blanc Musqué, 36% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon; 67% of the grapes came from Napa and 33% from Sonoma. The palate showed sweet ripe grapefruits, fleshy apple and some lemony nuances. The finish was better than medium, showing some spice and a touch of earthy minerals. Limited production, 3000 cases, so if you see it, grab one as it will not be there when you return. Outstanding!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Quintessa 2011           Quintessa 2011-Back

Quintessa 2011

Quintessa, like all classic wines of the world, bears the same name as the vineyard from which it is made. In broad terms, Quintessa is a red meritage wine. Each year, it is a blend that can include some or all of the five varietals grown on the estate: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. The vineyard’s diversity provides a wide stylistic options for the winemaker. Fruit from each component block of Quintessa is harvested, and upon completion of fermentation, each block of wine is aged separately for up to two years in french oak barrels in their caves. After this aging period the components are brought together and the final Quintessa blend is created. The wine is then bottled and laid down for yet another year before release, yielding each vintage being unique, but with finesse and elegance from the character of the vineyards. Quintessa is a wine that complements food extremely well.

I recently tasted this at an event hosted by Quintessa representatives, at my favorite wine shop, Stew Leonard’s Wine, and thought the wine was truly outstanding, almost a crime drinking it so young when only time will enhance the wine. The 2011 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The wine was aged for 21 months in French oak (85% new). Pouring a glass of this remarkable wine I noticed a deep ruby red color with complex aromas of red and black fruits, and spicy notes of earthy peppery scents. The palate shows juicy red cherries, wild blackberries and herbs. On the long finish, notes of leather and cacao were present as well as structured tannins and a gentle mineral essence which gave this wine tremendous balance and silky finesse. This wine is truly a remarkable gem from Agustin Huneeus, and if you are looking for something truly special, grab a Quintessa, you will not be disappointed.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Fess Parker 2013 Ashleys

Fess Parker Sta. Rita Hills 2013 Ashley’s Chardonnay

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, last year, in 2014.

Named after Fess’ daughter, Ashley, this chardonnay represents the best of the acclaimed Sta. Rita Hills growing region (84% Ashley’s Vineyard). The majority of the grapes come from a vineyard developed by the Parker family in 1996 situated only 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Pouring a glass I notice a beautiful light soft pale yellow color with aromas of citrus, pear and green apple and slight spicy notes. On the palate the full fruit comes forth with delightful apple, pear, peach and pineapple flavors, slightly sweet, with just the right balance of acidity, oak and richness, not your typical heavy California Chardonnay, rather light and elegant. This 100% Chardonnay was barrel aged for 8 months in French oak (51% new oak, 12% 1-year old oak, and 37% 2-year or older oak). The wine finishes with a soft touch of spice and oak. This is an outstanding top shelf Chardonnay, and at a real bargain. Only 2062 cases were made so grab a bottle if you see it.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Blindfold 2012      Blindfold 2012 back

Blindfold 2012 California White Wine

Established in 2009, The Prisoner Wine Co. emerged with the change in tenure of the Napa Valley red blend and the typical California Zinfandel. With over a decade of winemaking experience at Ravenswood crafting Zinfandel, winemaker, Jen Beloz started The Prisoner Wine Company along with a family of growers and a winemaking team to grow and produce a selection of premium blends, including Cuttings, Blindfold, and Thorn. Created to provide the perfect white wine companion to The Prisoner, Blindfold is bold and intriguing. In establishing their own spin on a white blend, winemaker Jen Beloz and her team sought out interesting Rhône and aromatic varietals that would nicely complement a classic Chardonnay base. The resulting wine is a blend of 35% Los Carneros Chardonnay, and 60% of a combination of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc from the Central Coast with a finish of 5% of Chenin Blanc and Semillon combined.

I recently had this at a wine tasting (as well as The Prisoner, my last post) and was impressed so I bought a few bottles of each for my cellar. Opening a bottle of the 2012 Blindfold White Wine I noticed a golden yellow color and fragrant aromas of tropical, citrus fruit and melons. This wine was aged, 25% in new French and Hungarian oak, 60% neutral oak and 15% in stainless steel for 10 months. The palate shows fresh fruit flavors of melons, lemons, peaches and pears, subtle cinnamon spice, hints of toasty oak finishing with lively acidity and mineral tones, smooth and well balanced.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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The prisoner 2013      The prisoner 2013 Back

The Prisoner 2013 Napa Valley Red Wine

Established in 2009, The Prisoner Wine Co. emerged with the change in tenure of the Napa Valley red blend and the typical California Zinfandel. With over a decade of winemaking experience at Ravenswood crafting Zinfandel, winemaker, Jen Beloz started The Prisoner Wine Company along with a family of growers and a winemaking team to grow and produce a selection of premium blends, including Cuttings, Blindfold, and Thorn. The Prisoner was created and inspired by the drinkable “mixed black grapes” first made by the Italian immigrants who originally settled in the Napa Valley. In 2003 The Prisoner was launched and soon became the most recognized innovative and unique Napa Valley Red Wine blend, leading the resurgence of blends by incorporating Zinfandel (44%) with the unlikely “mix” of Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Syrah (16%), Petite Sirah (18%), and Charbono (2%).

I recently had this at a wine tasting, was impressed, so I bought a few bottles for my cellar. Opening a bottle, I noticed a deep vivid rich ruby red color with red fruit aromas and hints of woody spice. The wine was aged 30% on new oak, a combination of French and American barrels. The palate brings fruit flavors of sweet cherries, juicy blueberries and ripe raspberries, some zesty spice with unexpected acidity on the lively side, which brings good balance. The finish had some cacao notes with oaky flavor that lingered nicely. This wine would go well pasta and also stand up to a thick steak on the grill. Fire it up, I am coming over!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Flowers 2012 Pinot

Flowers 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

As nursery owners in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Walt and Joan Flowers had long dreamed of combining their love of wine with their passion for agriculture. They knew they wanted to produce their favorite varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; what they didn’t know was that their path would eventually lead them across country to Northern California’s rugged Sonoma Coast. After responding to a small classified ad in a national wine publication, that’s exactly where they landed. In 1989, after many information-gathering trips to Napa and Sonoma, Walt and Joan purchased 321 acres, including a ridge top, high above the Pacific Ocean on the northern Sonoma Coast. With the same determination they drew on to build their successful nursery business; the Flowers proceeded with the dream of producing their favorite cool-climate varietals in a place they believed uniquely suited to growing them. Today, Flowers Winery produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from its two estate properties, Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard and Sea View Ridge Vineyard, as well as select vineyards in the coolest regions of the Sonoma Coast AVA, which are farmed to Flowers’ specifications by their own crews.

I tasted this at a private event (as I did the 2013 Chardonnay) and bought a few bottles for my cellar. Flowers has other Pinots, which I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle, as I understand they are also elegant wines.  A light ruby red color (the color was stunning) with aromas of sweet red fruit and slight earthy herb notes.  The 100% Pinot Noir wine was aged for 11 months on French oak, (25% new) before bottling.  On the palate, the finished product was about medium in weight and displayed a central focus of red fruit, sweet cherries and perfectly ripe strawberries.  The wine showed refined tannins surrounded by lively acidity and a touch of earthy minerals, giving the wine a tremendous balance.  This is a very elegant wine that must grace your table, otherwise you are missing a real treasure.  Top-notch!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Neyen 2010

Viña Neyen De Apalta 2010 Espíritu de Apalta, Colchagua Valley

The Neyen Winery was founded in 2002 on the site of one of Apalta’s first wineries, built in 1890. Nestled into a horseshoe-shaped ring of mountains, Neyen produces a treasured red wine reflective of the famed terroir enclosed by the Tinguiririca River, blessed by the sun, and protected by the Coastal Mountain Range. The Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon vines, from pre-phylloxera cuttings imported from Bordeaux, have produced high quality fruit since their first harvest in the early 1890s. For decades, the rich fruit supplied Chile’s top producers. By 2002, Apalta had become known around the world as a source of prestigious wine. The Rojas family, who purchased the property in 1973, knew that the 3,300 acre property they had owned for more than 30 years is uniquely special and created Neyen to showcase this remarkable vineyard. In 2012, they partnered with the Huneeus family, proprietors of Quintessa in Napa Valley, to bring this hidden gem to the US. The desire to make a single, truly great wine led the family to develop a unique blend that would best represent the virtues of this valley. Neyen, meaning “spirit” in the native tongue, had to reflect the centuries of existence and the soul of the Apalta terroir.

I recently sipped this wine at a tasting and was blown away, so I acquired several bottles for my cellar.  Pouring a glass, the color was a rich deep red with purple edges. The fragrant complex aromas of fresh and dried fruits, with some sweet spice notes, exhibited in my glass. The wine is a blend of Carmenère (55%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), which was aged in French oak for 12 months (70% new). The palate shows lively red fruits, mostly cherries and raspberries, little acidity, finishing long with slightly dry sweet taste. I would guess this wine would develop for another 5 years, maybe longer if the acidity was a little higher. Don’t wait, grab a few bottles and enjoy now!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Flowers 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

As nursery owners in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Walt and Joan Flowers had long dreamed of combining their love of wine with their passion for agriculture. They knew they wanted to produce their favorite varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; what they didn’t know was that their path would eventually lead them across country to Northern California’s rugged Sonoma Coast. After responding to a small classified ad in a national wine publication, that’s exactly where they landed. In 1989, after many information-gathering trips to Napa and Sonoma, Walt and Joan purchased 321 acres, including a ridge top, high above the Pacific Ocean on the northern Sonoma Coast. With the same determination they drew on to build their successful nursery business; the Flowers proceeded with the dream of producing their favorite cool-climate varietals in a place they believed uniquely suited to growing them. Today, Flowers Winery produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from its two estate properties, Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard and Sea View Ridge Vineyard, as well as select vineyards in the coolest regions of the Sonoma Coast AVA, which are farmed to Flowers’ specifications by their own crews.

I tasted this at a private event and bought a few bottles for my cellar. A light yellow color with aromas of young apples and citrus. The wine was barrel fermented (18%) new French oak, (62%) 1-2 year old French oak and (20%) 3 year old French oak.  The resulting wine was cellared in barrels for 11 months before bottling.  The palate was crisp and refreshing showing apricot and pears, with a slight hint of sweetness.  The wine displayed firm acidity and slight earthy floral finish, medium plus in length.  A top-notch offering not to be missed.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Tinto Pesquera 2011

Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Tinto Pesquera 2011

Wines produced by Alejandro Fernández are made exclusively from the difficult, quick-maturing Tempranillo variety, of which he is the acknowledged master.  His world-famous Tinto Pesquera is aged a minimum of 18 months in oak, with selected Reservas and Grandes Reservas remaining in barrel for 24 months and longer.  Already over 70 years old, Alejandro shows no sign of letting up, rising at five every morning and personally overseeing all stages of the winemaking.  The attention to detail is evidenced in this excellent vintage.

Opening a bottle the color is a very dark Ruby with aromas of red/black fruits with hints of espresso, toast and spice.  The palate shows ripe blackberries and black cherry flavors with a spicy edge, lively acidity and developed tannins.  The long finish brings an earthy toasty oak flavor making a this well balanced wine.  Shows good backbone and should develop well for a few more years.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Quinta de Pancas 2011 Grande Escolha

Quinta de Pancas 2011 Grande Escolha

Quinta de Pancas was founded in 1495 by the Guimarães family and remained under their ownership up until 2006, when Companhia das Quintas acquired it. Located in Estremadura, “Alto Concelho de Alenquer” next to the Pancas Village, the property is noticeable for the architecture of the manor house, especially the entrance arch and its panels with tiles from the 16th Century. Estremadura is a prolific wine region located at the center of Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Despite being one of the country’s most productive vinicultural areas, its name remains relatively obscure, as its wines have traditionally been labeled with the names of the local sub-regions rather than of Estremadura itself. Until 2008, the Estremadura appellation sat in the VR (Vinho Regional) category, which has now been renamed IGP (Indicaciones Geográficas Protegidas) to bring it into line with the rest of Europe’s wine IGPs. When the switchover happened, the Portuguese wine authorities took the opportunity to rename the Estremadura appellation as Lisboa – after the Portugese capital Lisbon, which marks the region’s southern boundary. Thus, the generic, regional wine title is IGP Lisboa, while location-specific wines are produced under several DOC (Denominacao de Origem Controlada) titles.

Quinta de Pancas has a tradition and history of producing quality wines. The microclimate of the hillsides towards the east is ideal for the ripening of noble great varieties, including Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sunny days and fresh nights result in very generous wines, of aromatic flavours and balanced structures. It has approximately 50-hectares of vineyards, where white and red wines of national and international notoriety and recognition are produced.

Opening a bottle I noticed a deep ruby color with concentrated aromas of black and red fruits, with hints of spice. The wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional (35%), Petit Verdot (35%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), and spent 20-months ageing in new French oak barrels. The palate showed ripe fruit flavors of blackberries and fresh raspberries with a touch of spice and an earthy mineral tang. The full-bodied wine had good balance, subtle tannins and nice structure for mid-term future ageing, say 5+ years. Enjoyable! This wine was a gift from my colleague, Amandio, a native of Portugal, who brought back this wonderful treasure from one of his trips back home.  Muitíssimo obrigado!

Cheers!