Cellar Selection

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IMG_2673         Emeritus E

Emeritus 2009 Don’s Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

I’m back again this week with another truly outstanding, limited release wine, from Emeritus. In 1999 Emeritus was born when Brice Cutrer Jones closed on the purchase of Don and Marcia Hallberg’s prime apple orchard in the heart of the Russian River Valley. The 115–acre parcel, the Hallberg Ranch, is located two miles north of Sebastopol, on both sides of the Gravenstein Highway and directly on the Gold Ridge, the ten-mile long ridge that bears the name of the predominate soils of the area. The wine I am commenting on today was made in honor of Emeritus’ first winemaker Don Blackburn, this wine is made from the middle of Hallberg Ranch’s C-Block. It captures Don’s spirit of aromatics, fruit and spice and strength. Only two barrels were made of this vintage. Jump on their website and you still might be able to pick up one of these beauties.

Pouring a glass of Don’s Block Russian River Pinot Noir, I noticed an enticing ruby color with crimson hues and immediately noted complex ripe red fruit aromas with a gentle touch of spiciness. To my delight this wine was well structured and focused with dark cherries, raspberries and blueberries. The palate also had firm oak, sweet earthy spice and ending with a nice lingering finish with soft edges. WOW!! An absolute joy to drink.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Emeritus 2009 Wm Wesley      Emeritus E

Emeritus 2009 William Wesley Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

In 1999 Emeritus was born when Brice Cutrer Jones closed on the purchase of Don and Marcia Hallberg’s prime apple orchard in the heart of the Russian River Valley.  The 115–acre parcel, the Hallberg Ranch, is located two miles north of Sebastopol, on both sides of the Gravenstein Highway and directly on the Gold Ridge, the ten-mile long ridge that bears the name of the predominate soils of the area.  Emeritus Vineyards also owns two small parcels in the true Sonoma coast near Annapolis at an elevation of 900 feet.  Named the William Wesley Vineyard, this site offers a different flavor and texture expression of Pinot Noir than the home ranch vineyard.  The William Wesley Vineyard bottling has been the primary wine sold to mailing list customers.

Pouring a glass of William Wesley Pinot Noir I noticed a dark purple color with aromas of full fruit, berries, spice and floral scents.  The palate shows remarkable ripe red fruit flavors, cherries and dried fruits, slightly jammy.  The wine offers firm tannins, lively acid with an overall good balance concluding to a complex lingering finish.  A joy to drink.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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The Calling 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

When Jim Nantz and Peter Deutsch met, they discovered they had both found success by pursuing a calling in life.  For Jim, that calling was to unlock the voice within, eventually calling the greatest sporting events of his generation.  For Peter, it was transforming a small family business into one of the most prestigious wine companies in the world.  Inspired by their mentor fathers and guided by their common values, the two found a new calling: a partnership to produce hand-crafted wines that bear the standard of excellence and style that are the hallmarks of these two men.  The Calling.

The 2012 vintage in the Russian River Valley was widely acclaimed as one of the most ideal growing seasons during the last decade. Consistently moderate weather throughout the season yielded balanced chemistry in the grapes and a bountiful crop.  Pouring a glass, the color was a light golden yellow with aromas of citrus and fresh fruits.  The wine was aged for 11 months on 100% French Oak (35% new).  The palate showed under-ripe crisp fruit flavors, mostly melon, Asian pears and green apples with a citrus tang.  The wine had gentle oak flavors, slight mineral tones, good acid balance and medium length creamy finish.  I would prefer a bit more oak to complement the creamy texture, but still an enjoyable wine at a reasonable price.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Saia 2011

Feudo Maccari Saia 2011 Nero D’Avola

Antonio Moretti, owner of Tenuta Sette Ponti and Poggio al Lupo in Tuscany, along with his daughter, Monika, established Feudo Maccari in 2000.  This 250-acre estate was assembled from numerous owners and more than 50 separate plots on the southerly hillsides near the town of Noto, Sicily.  Vines existed in some parcels, and others were planted to the native Nero d’Avola and other selected red grape varieties.

The wine is a brilliant deep ruby color with aromas of complex red and blue fruits.  The palate shows plenty of fruit, raspberries and blueberries, a hint of dark plum with a touch of exotic spice made with 100% Nero d’Avola grapes.  The wine was full body, had nice acidity with structured tannins.  The wine was aged for 14 months in French oak.  The finish had stronger oak flavors than expected, but shows that aging would benefit this wine.  Nuances of cocoa and smoke filled the lingering finish.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Ferrari-Carano 2012 Siena

The Ferrari-Carano Winery was founded in 1981 by Don and Rhonda Carano and is located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley.  If you enjoy pairing food with wine, be sure to visit the Ferrari-Carano website where Rhonda has a number of recipes.  So if you are adventurous and have a passion for good food and wine, then try some of her recipes.

I opened the 2012 Siena, which is a blend of Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Deep Ruby color with aromas of red and black fruits and spicy notes.  The palate shows the fruit well as berries and cherries take over with almost a jammy flavor.  The wine is aged in new Hungarian puncheons (20%) and older French oak barrels (80%) for 12 months in wine caves prior to bottling.  This medium bodied wine has firm, yet supple tannins, allowing the wine to wind down to an enjoyable medium finish.  This is a great value for a nice red blend from California that pairs well with Italian food.  Grab a bottle for around $18 and enjoy!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Stags Leap Wine Cellars 2010 Artemis Cabernet

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2010 Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is considered by many one of the “first growths” of Napa and produces celebrated collectible wines from the historic Stags Leap District.  The winery was founded in 1970 at the time Napa Valley was undergoing a rebirth after the lingering effects of prohibition.  During the mid-60’s there were less than 20 wineries at the time this new enthusiasm was entering Napa Valley.  The distinguishing event that put Napa on the map was the famous 1976 Paris Tasting “Judgment of Paris” (click on for Wikipedia link) when their 1973 Cabernet S.L.V won the event.  At this point I would like to point out and clarify any confusion regarding the name of the winery.  Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is the winery who produces the Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon I am discussing in this Post.  Stags’ Leap Winery is another nearby winery that also produces fine wines and I will also review some in a future post.  I would like to point out the spelling differences between the two “Stags” by the placement of the apostrophe.  Then there is the Stags Leap District, which is the name of the appellation where the two aforementioned wineries are located.  The Stags Leap District (no apostrophe) is renowned for producing outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and is located between the Napa River and the Stags Leap Palisades.

Now getting back to the Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon, named for the Greek goddess of the hunt to honor the winery’s quest for the best grapes from the Napa Valley.  I noticed a very deep ruby red color, with aromas of dark fruit, sweet spice and herbs.  The palate develops the fruit nicely for this blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 % Merlot, as rich and juicy cherries, blackberries, raspberries and plums come forth mingling with herbal notes, well developed tannins, a gentle touch of oak that gives this medium length wine a satisfying finish.  The wine was aged for 18 months on French Oak, (21.5% new).  Artemis should keep well for at least another 5 years.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Shafer 2009 Napa Merlot

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.

Pouring a glass I noticed a dense dark purple color, and outstanding aromas of red and black fruits, cherries and blackberries, with hints of chocolate and spice.  Tasting this wine was absolutely magnificent, concentrated dark berry fruit flavors, spices, leather and oak, exploding on my palate.  Soft velvety subtle tannins provide a nice medium length finish.  This was truly an outstanding Merlot.  If you can find yourself a bottle, do not hesitate.  The wine should be good for at least another 5+ years.  Please check out the Shafer Website and look at some of the fine recipes that Annette Shafer offers.

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Sonoma Cutrer 2012 Pinot

Sonoma Cutrer Russian River 2012 Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a demanding grape and only grows well in the right conditions, climate, soil and proper care, perhaps that is why the grape is favored by most.  Pinot Noir, the Nobel grape from Burgundy, comes from a region in France known for crafting coveted wines made from this grape varietal.  In addition, the Champagne region in France, uses Pinot Noir, which is the main grape used in crafting their sparkling wines.  There are other areas that Pinot Noir has been grown successfully, such as Oregon, New Zealand and of course California.  In fact Oregon makes some outstanding Pinot Noir’s and I have a few of them coming up in future posts to discuss.  I should note that the flavor and aroma of Pinot Noir’s are very different from France vs. California, in part due to the delicacy and complexity of the grape and its growing conditions.

The 2012 Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Pinot Noir is a very good offering from the winery.  The color is a clear and bright ruby red, somewhat translucent, giving off aromas of fresh fruit, black raspberries and cherries with traces of spices, cinnamon and vanilla.  The wine is smooth, very neat with rich fruit flavors, tangy acid and fine tannins that round out a nice finish.  Quality is consistent as I recently tasted the 2010 and did not find much of a difference, but did like the 2010 just a bit more.  I suggest that you visit the Sonoma Cutrer website and you will find out some interesting information as well as recipes and some food pairings.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Pascal Doquet BdB Champ

Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Champagne

Completely independent since 2004, this vineyard, consists of 8.66 hectares, the winery continually searches for healthier and more environmentally friendly farming methods of the terroir and the consumer without constraint.  Since 2004, the brand sells under the name Pascal Doquet Mesnil Grand Cru and developed a vineyard that evolved to an organic viticulture.  This is another Champagne with the words “Récoltant Manipulant” or “RM” on the bottle label, again meaning that the grapes are grown on the Estate, the Champagne is produced at the Estate and the Champagne is bottled at the Estate.  The grower has full control over the quality of the wine from the vineyards to your glass.  Searching for these Champagnes can come with a reward and not only enjoy a better tasting experience but sometimes these Champagnes cost less than the “big” guys, reason, NO marketing budget.

Opening a bottle, and remember Champagne is an elegant wine, try and not “bruise” the wine by making it “POP” which lets out too much gas prematurely.  Instead slowly twist off the cork and let out the faintest swish of gas.  Another trick to ensure to get maximum bubbles is to chill your glass first (chilling the glass a bit with club soda and ice enhances the bubbles).

I noticed a nice light golden yellow color and immediately noted fresh apples and pears with a bouquet showing the presence of minerals.  The fine bubbles are plentiful, somewhat frothy, amplifying the craft in producing this wine.  The taste was rich with flavors of peach, pears, apricots and sweet citrus dancing around.  The Champagne was well balanced with good acid and structure.  The finish had a slight toasty oak flavor, not as pronounced, but lasted through a medium length finish.  A very memorable wine that will envy the big guys.  I have heard that this Champagne is a “winemakers wine.”  Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so plan on opening a bottle.  Enjoy with someone special!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Franck Bonville-1

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc N.V.

Franck and his wife Jeannine after the second war commercialized the first bottles of champagne from a vineyard already connected on the lands of Avize and Oger for over twenty years.  Today, Giles and his wife Ingrid Bonville, together with their son Olivier spend time tending to the operation of the winery, including updating and modernizing the facility.  Their goal is to grow grapes of the highest quality and produce great wines which are fresh, delicate and elegant.  If you read the label, you will see the words “Récoltant Manipulant” or “RM” on the bottle of Franck Bonville, which means that the grapes are grown on the Estate, the Champagne is produced at the Estate and the Champagne is bottled at the Estate.  The grower has full control over the quality of the wine from the vineyards to your glass.  If you search well, and are an informed Champagne lover, sometimes these Champagnes cost less than the “big” guys, reason, NO marketing budget.  For example Franck Bonville only costs $35 as compared to Veuve Clicquot at around $45 (No “RM” on Clicquot label).  The quality between the 2, do not compare.

Opening a bottle, and remember Champagne is an elegant wine, try and not “bruise” the wine by making it “POP” which lets out too much gas prematurely.  Instead slowly twist off the cork and let out the faintest swish of gas.  Another trick to ensure to get maximum bubbles is to chill your glass first (chilling the glass a bit with club soda and ice enhances the bubbles).  I noticed a nice pale yellow color and immediately noted white fruit flavors with a floral bouquet and the presence of chalky minerals.  The bubbles are fine and plentiful with a foam froth top, amplifying the handcrafting that went into the wine.  The taste just exploded in my mouth and rich flavors of peach, lemon and honey comingled together.  The Champagne was well balanced and had a nice structure, somewhat creamy.  The finish had gentle toasty oak flavors with mineral notes that lasted a bit longer than medium length.  A very memorable wine that leave the big guys in the musty cellar.  Great Value!  Grab a few bottles, if you can find them.  Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so plan on opening a bottle.  Enjoy with someone special!

Cheers!