Exceptional Red

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Heitz 2009 Cab

Heitz 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

Recently I reviewed Heitz Cellars 2012 Napa Chardonnay (see my July 15, 2014 review), not overly complex, but a refreshing Chardonnay.  However, Heitz is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, so let’s get to it.  I previously mentioned that in 1966, Joe Heitz had the foresight to single vineyard designate the Cabernet grapes from the May’s vineyard and crafted the renowned Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, initiating a concept in Napa Valley.  Joe’s winemaking mastermind was evident, and the acclamation for Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which continues for 48 years and counting, helped to usher California onto the world stage.  Heitz makes a few different Cabernet Sauvignon’s, today I will talk about their Napa Valley offering.

The Heitz Cellars 2009 Napa Valley, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, is sourced entirely from Napa Valley and is aged on Oak for 3 years. Opening a bottle, especially a 2009, I would recommend decanting for at least 45 minutes before enjoying this wine.  Pouring a glass I noticed a very deep ruby red and aromas of black cherries and dark berry fruit.  On the palate layers of complex flavors pour forth, dark berries and cherries, hint of sweet spice and a touch of leather notes.  Wine is well balance with a soft smooth tannin structure that lingers nicely.  Delicious!  Grab a bottle for around $40.  Stay tuned, I will try some of their other offerings, including the renowned Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Ramey 2011 Chard Russ River

Ramey 2011 Chardonnay Russian River

Earlier this year I reviewed Ramey Wine Cellars 2010 Syrah, see my March 28 Review.  Ramey Wine Cellars crafts outstanding quality wines that are both delicate and magnificent and comes from some of the finest Sonoma vineyards.  Ramey selects vineyards for their ability to continue producing the highest quality fruit.  David and his wife Carla founded Ramey Wine Cellars in 1996 after spending time at Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus and Rudd. Ramey Wine Cellars is located in Healdsburg, in the heart of the California wine country.  Ramey’s varietals are basically Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah.  Today I will review their Chardonnay, and I know the Cabernet is just around the corner.

Ramey Cap

The 2011 Chardonnay comes from grapes grown at Dutton Ranches (30%), Martinelli Vineyards (29%), King (14%), Rochioli (10%), Forchini (8%), Green Pastures (3%), and Hyde (6%) Vineyards. The blend sits on about 25% new oak for approximately 12 months.  Pouring a glass I notice a nice, slightly pale, golden yellow color, with aromas of stone fruit and honey.  The palate shows an intense flavor of rich and clean ripe fruit flavors, white peaches, pears, a bit of tropical fruit and a slight cinnamon spice note.  The finish has a light mineral touch with very faint oak.  Very well done!  An absolute joy to drink!  Should be great to Sip the next couple of years, but don’t wait, you will miss something remarkable!

Cheers!

 

Exceptional Red

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Alto Moncayo Veraton 2010

Alto Moncayo 2010 Veraton

Bodegas Alto Moncayo is truly among one of Spain’s finest wine estates. Bodegas Alto Moncayo is a joint venture of Jorge Ordoñez, Jose Miguel San Martin, Dan Phillips together with Bodegas Borsao.  Their flagship wine is Alto Moncayo made from 100% old vines Grenache grapes.  Today I will comment on their other offering, Veraton, also made from 100% old vines Grenache grapes planted between 50 and 100 years ago.  As you will soon learn, the Veraton is an outstanding wine that is a significant value for the price.  Their website is still being developed, but check out what they have and read the reviews from Robert Parker, a top U.S. wine critic.  Located in the town of Bulbuente, Spain, the winery possesses very unique soils of red clay and the hillside location provides soils very poor in organic matter and shallow.

Opening a bottle of the 2010 Bodegas Alto Moncayo, Garnacha Campo de Borja Veraton, I see a sumptuous dark ruby red color and begin to smell aromas of dark berry fruit. The wine is aged in both American and French oak for about 18 months.  The palate yields a full bodied taste of ripe berry fruit, with a hint of vanilla spice and some mineral notes.  The finish is medium length with the slightest touch of oak.  I have always stated that wines from Spain are superb and at tremendous values.  I would drink this wine from Bodegas Alto Moncayo before some others costing twice the price.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Sonoma Curtre 2011 Les Pierres

Sonoma-Cutrer 2011 Les Pierres Chardonnay

Recently I commented on Sonoma-Cutrer 2012 Russian River Chardonnay (see May 9, 2014 post) and described that I first became acquainted with Sonoma-Cutrer during a Sonoma wine tasting event in the 80’s and met Brice Cutrer Jones. When I tasted his Chardonnay, in a word, outstanding, one of the best I have tasted, but that was a while ago.  The Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay was my “go-to” Chardonnay until about the time Brice Cutrer Jones was no longer associated with the winery.  In 1999, Brown-Forman, the Kentucky-based drinks giant acquired Sonoma-Cutrer, and 2 years later fired Brice Cutrer Jones.  Since Brice’s departure, the Chardonnay was good, but not “outstanding”.  I have tried several vintages throughout the early 2000’s and was not impressed and the style changed a bit from a richer Chardonnay with layered flavors to more of a single dimension wine lacking depth and complexity.  For a time Brown-Forman put on a screw top and recently went back to cork (not for all of their offerings).  Although I have tried and commented on premium “screw top” wine, there is something magical about pulling out a cork when serving wine.  Try ordering a screw top wine in a fine restaurant, it’s almost comical when the waiter opens the wine and really doesn’t know what to do!  One waiter actually gave me the cap to smell!

Opening the screw-cap bottle of the Sonoma-Cutrer 2011 Les Pierres Chardonnay (their premium Chardonnay), I noticed a medium yellow color and notes of apple, pear and citrus.  Tasting the wine I found it crisp with light apple and Asian pear flavors, good balance with some slight oak on the finish, however I was expecting more intensity and depth in the combination of flavors.  The wine originally retails for around $38, however my wine shop recently discounted this vintage to $30 a bottle, which is priced closer to the quality I tasted.  You should also visit the Sonoma-Cutrer website as they have a bunch of interesting recipes you can download and try.

Cheers!

Mid-Week White

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goldwater-sauvignon-blanc-wairau-valley-new-zealand-10381553

Goldwater 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Goldwater Estate, Marlborough New Zealand, was established in 1978 by Kim and Jeanette Goldwater when they pioneered wine growing on Waiheke Island.  Using traditional winemaking techniques together with modern technology and the finest French oak, the Goldwater’s produced handcrafted wines with vibrant fruit characters, harmonious balance, elegant structure and exceptional concentration.  Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc is selected from vineyards in the Wairau Valley.  These vineyards produced fruit with the vibrant flavors that epitomize top quality Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Careful canopy and yield management, including leaf plucking and shoot thinning, further enhanced the fruit quality.  The fruit was processed in the Marlborough winery.  It was cool fermented in stainless steel to retain freshness and varietal character.

Opening a bottle of this summer refresher, I immediately notice sweet fragrant flavors of tropical fruits and spice.  The color was a very pale yellow.  On the palate, the wine opened up to develop the tropical spicy aromas noted on the nose combining some citrus flavors and yielding to a crisp earthy finish.  The wine is refreshing and did not disappoint, especially the $16 price tag.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Groth Sauv Blanc 2012

Groth 2012 Napa Sauvignon Blanc

In 1981, Dennis and Judy Groth purchased 121 acre parcel in Napa known as the Oakville Vineyards, in the heart of the Oakville Appellation.  In fact at that time some of their grapes found their way to Silver Oak and other notable Napa wineries.  Between 1999 and 2003, almost 50% of their vineyard was replanted and in 2006 they rebuilt the barrel cellars, crush and fermentation areas.

The Groth 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was produced from grapes grown in various microclimates of the Napa Valley, 97% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Semillon.  The warmer Napa Valley microclimates produces grapes that result in wines with a lush, full melon/citrus character in the aroma and in the flavor.  The cooler Napa Valley fruit provides a solid, crisp backbone that gives the wine an exciting liveliness that balances the rich creaminess from “sur lie” aging.

Pouring a glass, the wine is a light wet pale yellow color with aromas of citrus fruits combined with subtle grassy and earthy notes.  The taste is light, pleasant and refreshing with tangy citrus flavors coming through.  This wine should be a summer staple at the BBQ’s as it will complement a wide range of grilled favorites.  At $20, put a few bottles on ice for the weekend, it will be a real crowd pleaser.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Marco Felluga 2010 MolaMatta Bianco Collis

Marco Felluga 2010 Molamatta Collio Bianco

More than a century has gone by since the first Felluga’s history (Marco’s Great-grandfather) started making wine.  Isola d’Istria, on the coast, was the production point of origin of Malvasia and Refosco.  The Great War had just finished and it was a happy destiny that made the family set foot in Grado, on the other side of the Gulf, and then in Friuli.  Only a handful of kilometres, but the scenery changed radically.  It was here that Giovanni’s second to last son, Marco, as his grandfather before him, discovered, fell in love with and chose to live in that area called Collio which has always had the vine and wine at its heart.  Marco began his training at the prestigious Oenological School of Conegliano and it is he who directed the family business towards the path of innovation with an emphasis on quality and research which is now carried on by his son Roberto, representing the fifth generation, with renewed passion and devotion.  He is now at the head of the two prestigious wineries located in the Collio Doc, Marco Felluga in Gradisca d’Isonzo and Russiz Superiore in Capriva del Friuli.

The Collio is a special land, its landscape covered by mountains, streams and gentle hills.  It is here that the family found it impossible to resist the pull of the wine and the land which they knew instinctively to be a soil rich with potential.  The intuition proved true as this area would be one of the first in Italy to be acknowledged with the title DOC in 1964.  The climate here is mild, thanks to the proximity of the Adriatic sea (30 km away) and the protection of the mountains, the Pre Julian Alps, with hot days and cool nights during spring  and delicate and mild summers.  Each hill has its own microclimate, and the soil, rich of marl and sandstone stratification, is the ideal habitat for vineyards and for the cultivation of the special grape varieties particular to the Collio Doc.  This type of soil, called “flysch” (“ponca” in the Friulano language), is due to the phenomenon of the water erosion which took place 100 million years ago.

The Collio Bianco, which represents in a certain sense the wine-image of the Collio territory, is also one of the most important wines of the whole Marco Felluga family production.  “Molamatta” is the geographic name of the place where lie the vineyards which provide this wine.  Popping the cork on this wine I see a nice golden sunshine yellow color and aromas of crisp apples, Asian pears, and hints of early morning floral blossoms.  This wine is comprised of 40% Pinot Bianco, 40% Tocai Friulano, and 20% Ribolla Gialla grapes.  On the palate the fruit comes forth with an assortment of tropical fruit flavors as well as crisp apples with a slight mineral finish.  Very elegant!  I recently had this wine with a soft shell crab dish I prepared with some roasted vegetables and a Maque Choux topping.  Delicious match!  Be sure to put this one on your summer table for about $25.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Vetti 2010 Perbacco

Vietti 2010 Nebbiolo Perbacco

I recently reviewed Vietti 2011 Barbera D’Alba Tre Vigne and talked about the history and roots of the Vietti Winery dating back to the 19th Century and how Mario Vietti, in 1919, made the first Vietti wines, see my July 1, 2014 review.  I was very impressed with the Barbara, I decided to delve deeper into Vietti’s wine offerings.  Also in the July 1, 2014 review, I described how the winemakers, in 1970, began to update their wine labels through their friendship and support of local artists and continues today.

Opening a bottle of the 2010 Perbacco, which is 100% Nebbiolo grapes, that come from eight different locations around the Langhe DOC zone in Piedmont.  The grapes from each of the eight vineyards were first vinified prior to blending.  The Nebbiolo was aged for about 16 months in oak (part in large oak casks and part in “barriques”, which are small barrels holding about 225 liters).  Pouring a glass I noticed a vibrant ruby red color and smelled aromas of red fruit, cherries, strawberries and raspberries, with a hint of earthy tobacco.  The palate shows generous fruit, slightly tart and mineral, slight spice and a soft touch of oak.  A medium length aftertaste with firm, but subtle, tannins.  Very well done!  This wine will only get better with some bottle age.  A great value for about $25.  If you close your eyes you might think you are drinking a Barolo!

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Grgich Hills 2010 Chard

Grgich Hills Estate 2010 Napa Chardonnay

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich, as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.

After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became their signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that won awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.

Grgich Hills 2010 Chard Cap

Pouring a glass, the color is a pale golden yellow with aromas of tropical fruit and a touch of citrus. Tastes of peaches, dried fruit and a sweet, rich and creamy perfumed flavors comes forth on the palate, together with a slight spicy mineral rustic finish, to me is not your typical California Chardonnay. This Chardonnay stands out from the rest and should be on your “must try” list for the summer.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Marques de Murrieta 2007 Res

Marqués de Murrieta 2007 Rioja Reserva

I recently reviewed Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta’s Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2005, see my June 27, 2014 Cellar Selection review, which is their outstanding flagship wine made only in exceptional years. Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta was founded by Luciano Francisco Ramon de Murrieta in 1852.  He spent his youth in Peru and then moved to London.  In 1844, Luciano settled in Spain and decided to make wine.  In 1878, he purchased the 300-hectares Ygay Estate in the Rioja Alta.  Queen Isabel II made him Marquesado de Murrieta; and so the estate of Marqués de Murrieta was born.  In 1983, Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta was sold to Vicente Cebrián-Sagarriga, Count of Creixell, the father of Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga. Today, Vicente’s son, Vicente Dalmau is in charge, with his sister Cristina, together with their technical director Maria Vargas.  Their vines are dominated by Tempranillo, accounting for 75% of the vineyard, with Mazuelo, Garnacha and Graziano largely making up the rest.

Since I enjoyed their Ygay Gran Reserva so much I wanted to try some of their other wines.  Grabbing a bottle of the Marqués de Murrieta 2007 Rioja Reserva, I poured a glass and noticed a deep ruby red color glistening in my glass.  The bouquet was very clean, nice crisp red fruit with a slightly floral aroma.  The taste was traditional for a Rioja, as the wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, 6% Mazuelo, and 1% Graciano, aged in American oak for 20 months and an additional 2 years in the bottle before being released.  On the palate, the wine was complex with layers of fresh berry flavors, slight spicy/smoky oak with neat tannins and a sweet mineral finish, all related to the combination of soil and the grape varieties.  At $25 this is an exceptional offering from Marqués de Murrieta and should not be missed.

Cheers!