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!

Mid-Week Red

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Mongrana 2011

Agricola Querciabella Mongrana 2011

Querciabella, founded in 1974 by Giuseppe Castiglioni, an avid collector of French wines, including the largest collection of Louis Roederer Cristal in Italy. The property is now managed and owned by Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni. The wine takes its name from that of the noble family of knights depicted by the Italian Renaissance poet Ludovico Ariosto in his epic masterpiece Orlando Furioso (“Mad Orlando”). Mongrana is the quintessential expression of the colors, sights and sounds of the Maremma region. The wine takes its name, and its character, from that of the noble family of knights depicted by the Italian Renaissance poet Ludovico Ariosto in his epic masterpiece Orlando Furioso (“Mad Orlando”).

A blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. Deep red with red berry fruit aromas and sweet spice. On the palate ripe cherry and strawberry with a touch of cinnamon spice, firm tannins, nicely balanced. Medium finish lingering with a little light toasty oak on the ending. Nice value.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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casanova-dineri-2009

Casanova di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino 2009

Casanova di Neri was established in 1971 when Giovanni Neri acquired a large estate within Montalcino, and over the years acquired land which is now 120 acres of vineyards divided among four separate sites. Today the property is operated and wines made by Giacomo Neri, who states, “Our greatest pride is our vineyards: their high quality and their history.”

Had this beauty at a recent wine tasting. Aged in oak barrels for about 42 months, deep Ruby color with ripe berry fruit aromas and hints of floral scents. On the palate, this full-bodied wine shows cherry and blackberry fruit with complex spice, licorice, tobacco and cacao. Lively acidity with smooth young tannins, smoky oak notes take this wine to a rich lingering finish. Needs a few years to fully develop. Tasting Sample.

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Cellar Selection

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caparzo-2011-brunello

Caparzo 2011 Brunello Di Montalcino

The name of the estate apparently derives from “Ca’ Pazzo”, as shown on some ancient maps. The estate covers an area of 190 hectares, 54 of which are vineyards, 4 are of olive groves, 87 of which are wooded and 45 of which are to be planted with new vines. Caparzo is the only estate-bottled producer of Brunello di Montalcino to have estate vineyards on all five sides of the hill of Montalcino, ensuring that no matter what climatic challenges effect one side, the other vineyards will more than compensate. More than thirty years have passed since the first vines were planted and the first steps in wine-making taken. In this period, Caparzo, bolstered by its background in the Brunello tradition and the different terroirs of the area, has proved its ability to produce wines with a creative flair and spirit of innovation that achieves top standards in quality.

Pouring a glass of this alluring Ruby red wine showing aromas of red berry fruit and woody spice. On the palate flavors of cherry, berry and plum, almost sweet, with fine silky savory tannins, well balanced with cacao and sweet spicy tones. The finish was lingering ending with some oak and peppery spice notes. Caparzo makes great Brunello’s, at a great price, so grab one, you won’t be disappointed.

 Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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hacienda-monasterio-2012

Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero 2012

Hacienda Monasterio is owned by Carlos del Rio whose family has been in the sherry business for decades. Being fortunate enough to own some prime, south-facing parcels on the right side of the river, Carlos hired Peter Sisseck, the owner/winemaker of the famed Ribera estate Pingus to take over the winemaking in 1995. Peter has helped to turn this old estate into a Ribera powerhouse with wines that can age for years.

A blend of 80% Tinto Fino, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot and aged for 17 months in French oak (30% new). Deep vivid red with berry fruits and light whiffs of earthy mineral aromas. On the palate fresh blueberry, cherry and plum flavors with silky smooth tannins with slight hints of light spice. The finish lingers ending with some oak and smoke tones. Drinks very well now!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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lunch-bages-1995                   lunch-bages-2013

Chateau Lynch Bages 1995 & 2013

Although there are records of the Bages territory as far back as the 16th century, the history of wine production in the area really began in the 18th Century. From 1749 to 1824, the vineyard was owned by Thomas Lynch, the son of an Irishman from Galway who worked as a merchant in Bordeaux. Thomas Lynch managed the land wisely and produced high quality wines under the name of ”Cru de Lynch”. As part of the prestigious 1855 Classification, for the Exposition Universelle de Paris, his wine would soon be classified as one of the fifth growths.

I recently went to a Private Equity Wine Tasting Gala and I was able to taste the Lynch Bages 1995 side by side with the 2013. First the 1995, a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, aged for 15 months in French oak (70% new). Deep red with, brown edges, ripe fruit flavors and earthy spice. Tasting very well and showing its age, has plum flavors a touch of sweet spice with soft tannins. Well balanced, lingering with heavy earthy tones on the ending. Now the 2013, a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, aged for 18 months in French oak (75% new). Deep vivid red with complex fruit aromas and pepper spice. On the palate, big fruit flavors of blackberry and cherry with cedar, leather and pepper. Fine tannins with great aging potential, smooth and balanced on a lingering finish ending with minerality.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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dominus-christian-moueix-2012

Dominus Christian Moueix 2012

In the late 1960s, while attending the University of California at Davis, Christian Moueix fell in love with the Napa Valley and its wines. Son of Jean-Pierre Moueix, the famed wine merchant and producer from Libourne, France, Moueix returned home in 1970 to manage the family vineyards, including Chateaux Petrus, La Fleur-Petrus, Trotanoy in Pomerol and Magdelaine in Saint Emilion. His love of Napa Valley lingered and in 1981, he discovered the historic Napanook vineyard, a 124-acre site west of Yountville that had been the source of fruit for some of the finest Napa Valley wines of the 1940s and 1950s. In 1982, Moueix entered into a partnership to develop the vineyard and, in 1995, became its sole owner. He chose the name ‘Dominus’ or ‘Lord of the Estate’ in Latin to underscore his longstanding commitment to stewardship of the land.

A blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, deep dense red with aromas of dark fruits, spice and oak with hints of sweetness. On the palate, ripe blackberry, cherry and sweet raspberry flavors, fragrant cedar, tobacco and cacao round out the taste. Firm yet supple tannins with integrated acidity carry this elegant wine to a lingering finish ending with earthy oak tones. Will age well for another decade. Tasting Sample.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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amici-cab-2013

Amici Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

In the 1990’s, a group of friends with a passion for good wine and fun times together crushed a few tons of grapes in the Napa Valley for their personal cellars. The resulting wine was so well-received that they started producing wine the very next year to share with the public. They chose to name the wine, appropriately, Amici (“friends” in Italian). Amici’s owners: John Harris, Bob and Celia Shepard, and Bart Woytowicz; are all great friends with a passion for making and enjoying great wine. I recently met Robert Emery, Amici’s General Manager and tasted a few of his wines, a wonderful Chardonnay from Sonoma and a Napa Cabernet, which I will review today.

A work in progress. Deep red with purple tones and aromas of juicy black fruits and herb spice. A blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot and aged for 20 months in French oak (75% new). On the palate blueberry and blackberry flavors with notes of cacao, espresso and oak. Well balanced with tight firm tannins that need to develop. Lingering finish ending with earthy tones. Should be great in 5 years, put a couple in your cellar. Very Nice Robert!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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clos-mogador-2013-priorat

Clos Mogador Priorat 2013

In an arid and magical place, French monks discovered “Eden’s Ladder”, Escala Dei (12th century). It was here that they made the Lord’s wine. In this very same arid place, 800 years later, a young French woman and a Catalan man, Isabelle and René Barbier, found the place of their dreams, Clos Mogador. René Barbier led the original Priorat movement, proving that exciting and unique fine wines could be made in this forgotten corner of Spanish Catalonia. At Clos Mogador, he nursed back to life abandoned old vineyards planted on steep hillsides, where the ancient Grenache and Carignan vines had learned to struggle against the aridity by sending roots 25 metres down in search of water and nutrients, yielding less than 10 hectolitres per hectare of intense, concentrated and complex juice. The estate became firmly established as the number one address in the appellation, with a bulging press book to back this claim.

I recently went to a Private Equity Wine Tasting Gala, where over 100 top shelf wines were offered, too many to taste as they were all exceptional! Deep red, almost purple with complex fruit and spice aromas. A blend of 49% Garnaxas, 25% Cariñena,10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Syrah, aged for 21 month in oak casks. On the palate intense blueberry and blackberry flavors with gentle complex spice and firm soft tannins. Needs decanting, finish lingered with earthy mineral characteristics. Nice! Tasting Sample.

Cheers!