Cellar Selection

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Kathryn Hall 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Kathryn Walt Hall is the proprietor of Hall Wines and has been involved in the California wine industry since her family first purchased a vineyard over thirty years ago. She has had a distinguished career as a successful businesswoman, community activist, and including a United States Ambassador to Austria. Kathryn Hall and her family have been grape growers in Mendocino County since 1972. The Walt family owns 63 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc in the Redwood Valley and has sold their grapes to such wineries as Fetzer, Parducci and Beringer. Kathryn managed the family vineyard from 1982 to 1992. During this time she produced Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon under the label Walt Vineyards. Continuing her family tradition, she maintains a strong emotional attachment to vineyards, wine and the wine country.

Craig Hall is chairman and founder of Dallas-based Hall Financial Group and along with his wife Kathryn, created a premier vineyard and winery company in the Napa Valley area. A life-long entrepreneur and investor, in addition to the vineyard and winery business, his professional interests today include real estate, venture capital, technology and hotels in the U.S. and Europe.

Kathryn Hall’s 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet is magnificent. Dark red with inky edges. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec, with aromas of ripe sweet berry fruit and hints floral and spice. On the palate cherry and sweet blackberry with complex flavors of cacao, spice, earthy notes and wonderful oak. Silky smooth tannins, great balance, lingering finish ending with oak and mineral notes. WOW!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2010

Takes its name from the free-spirited gentleman named Bruscone who lived in the woods of the Barbi Estate. Patented system of vinification, based on the Tuscan tradition of “May Wines.” A wine which was born from the extensive soaking of skinned Sangiovese grapes that rest for 3 months with their pomace. One of the first “Super-Tuscan’s.” Fattoria dei Barbi is “The” reference for Brunello in Montalcino. Barbi’s approach of using tradition to anchor contemporary expressions of wine continues to position Barbi as a leading producer in Brunello. The Colombini family is one of the most influential of the region and have been an integral part in writing the history of Brunello. Fattoria dei Barbi’s commitment to innovation and quality have lead to many “firsts.”

Brilliant Ruby with aromas of wild berry fruits and sweet herb notes, resulting from it’s long aging. On the palate cherry, plum and dried fruits with tobacco and cola notes, well balanced on firm tannins tightly wound, oak notes; need to decant! Lingering finish ending with mineral and earthy notes, 100% Sangiovese grapes. Let this age a few more years.

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Cellar Selection

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Pio Cesare 2012 Barolo

The Pio Cesare Winery was founded in 1881 by Cesare Pio.  He was one of the very first wine producers to believe in the great potential and quality of Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and in the other great wines of Piemonte.  Cesare Pio in the second half of the 1800s, was among the very first winemakers to produce these wines with a philosophy that was dedicated to the terroir and the strictest quality of the wine.  For five generations, the Pio Cesare family has been producing traditional Piemontese wines in its ancient cellars, located in the center of the town of Alba.  The cellars walls date back to the Roman Empire period, 50 B.C.  Recently, significant investments have been made to rebuild and restructure the cellars and the winery’s facilities.

Pio Cesare owns more than 50 hectares (130 acres) of vineyards, located in the most highly rated and better exposed areas.  Within the Barolo region, the “Ornato” Estate and the “Colombaro” Vineyard (in Serralunga d’Alba), the “Gustava” Estate (in Grinzane Cavour), the “Roncaglie” (in La Morra) and “Ravera” (Barolo-Novello).  In addition to its own vineyards, Pio Cesare has fostered long-term relationships with growers for several generations and manages all aspects of viticulture in these vineyards.  These growers have been selling grapes to the family for generations.  The production of the wines of Pio Cesare is intentionally limited in order to maintain their high quality.  Year after year, the wines are ranked among the world’s best and most highly regarded.

Opening a 2012 classic Barolo of 100% Nebbiolo grapes, I decanted it for 60 minutes before giving this young wine a taste, although the 2012 season was difficult, Pio Cesare did well!  The Barolo was aged in French Oak for 3 years!  Rich deep ruby with a full bouquet of fresh dark berry fruits and herb notes.  On the palate, cherry, plum and minty flavors, some licorice and cacao as well, great balance with young tannins.  Complex lingering finish ending with nice earthy notes, a delight to drink now, but more time will benefit.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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La Spinetta Pin 2012

The Rivetti family story begins in the 1890’s, when Giovanni Rivetti, left Piedmont for Argentina. Like many Italians then, he dreamed of returning a rich man, perhaps even one day able to make great wine in his homeland. He never did, though his son, Giuseppe “Pin” did. Pin married Lidia, bought vineyards and began to make wine. In 1977 the family took up residence at La Spinetta (top of the hill) in Castagnole Lanze, it was the heart of the Moscato d’Asti country. But the Rivettis believed that Moscato had the potential for greatness and set out to prove it by making Moscato Bricco Quaglia and Biancospino.

Eventually though the family’s vision was even grander. In 1985 La Spinetta made its first red wine, Barbera Cà di Pian. After this many great reds followed: In 1989 the Rivettis dedicated their red blend Pin to their father.

A blend of 65% Nebbiolo and 35% Barbera d’Asti Bionzo, dark red with complex aromas of dark fruit and smoky spice. On the palate cherry, plum and raspberry flavors with smoky oak and earthy pepper notes. The wine spends about 18 months on French oak, and 15 months resting in the bottle before release. Lingering finish, soft tannins, well balanced with acidity ending with earthy mineral tones.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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B.R. Cohn 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Gold Label

Founded by Bruce Cohn in 1984, B.R. Cohn Winery is located in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Bruce Cohn bought the land now known as Olive Hill Estate Vineyards in 1974. The small family operated winery is surrounded by the 90-acre Olive Hill Estate Vineyards, where soils warmed by underground natural hot springs and gentle ocean breezes create a unique microclimate resulting in ideal growing conditions for outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon. This Gold Label offering from founder Bruce Cohn, who (for us older rockers) managed the Doobie Brothers, one of my favorite groups of the 70’s. Mr. Cohn, when not managing the Doobie Brothers, was learning all about wine.

Opening a bottle I noticed a deep Ruby color with concentrated aromas of dark fruit, slightly sweet smell, with cedar notes. On the palate flavors of blackberry, cherry and ripe plum, with oak and hints of pepper spice. This Cabernet is a unique blend where 67% of the grapes came from Napa and 33% from Sonoma, and aged in French Oak (50% new). Soft tannins, lingering finish ending with cedar spice notes. Drink now for real enjoyment.

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Cellar Selection

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Bodegas El Nido Clio 2011

The Bodegas El Nido & Gil Family Winery is located in the Valley of the Aragona, 10 kilometers north of the town of Jumilla, in the “top boundary”, so named because it is the highest altitude in the municipality. The vines are planted on soils mostly of limestone and very stony surface. The winery began bearing fruit in 2001 as a result of the partnership between the Gil family and Chris Ringland, one of Australia’s best winemakers. The first harvest sold was 2002 under both El Nido and Clio brands.

A personal favorite. Dark red color with intense aromas of ripe fruit, floral notes and perfume spice.  Aged for 24 months on French and American oak, the 70% Monastrell and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon blend shows sweet cherry and blackberry flavors, rich with notes of espresso and toasty oak. Fine tannins, savory, well balanced, developing with each glass, lingering finish, ending with slight earthy tones. Excellent!

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Weekend Selection

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Chateau De Sales 2010 Pomerol

Chateau de Sales, situated in the Right Bank appellation of Pomerol, is an estate with a long and prestigious history. Owned by the same family for over 500 years, the chateau is the largest in Pomerol with 47 hectares of vines. The soil of Chateau de Sales is characterized by an omnipresence of iron oxide, called “crasse de fer” locally, which gives the wine a distinct personality. The majority of aging for Chateau de Sales wines takes place in traditional concrete tanks, spending only 6 months in oak barrels, to preserve the wine’s qualities of freshness, fruitiness and terroir expression. Chateau de Sales has been in the same family hands since 1464. This probably sets a record in Bordeaux for continuous ownership of a chateau. In 1464, Bertrand de Sauvanelles agreed to rent and manage the estate. It has remained in the same family hands for close to 6 centuries! The Chateau was created in the early 1600’s, which was also quite rare for Pomerol at the time as the region has never been the home to the type of grand chateaux found in the Left Bank. In fact, the chateau for de Sales is one of the few, true, regal chateau in the Pomerol appellation. Chateau de Sales did not become a working Bordeaux vineyard until some in the late 1700’s.

This Right Bank Bordeaux is bright Ruby red, from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Fresh red fruit aromas, with complex spice. On the palate concentrated flavors of blackberry and cherry with hints of plum, some cacao, tobacco and licorice notes. This wine shows oak and mineral tones with smooth tannins and great balance. Lingering finish, smooth, with complex ending. Best to consume on the younger side, no real benefit from long-term aging.  A great wine that is reasonable priced to drink now.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Sonoma-Cutrer 2013 Les Pierres Chardonnay

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 Sonoma-Cutrer 2013 Les Pierres Chardonnay (their premium Chardonnay), I noticed aromas of stone and citrus fruits with oak spice. The wine was crisp with apple, pear and lemon zest, good balance with toasty oak, nice but not complex. Good length on the finish ends with sweet mineral tones. You should also visit the Sonoma-Cutrer website as they have a bunch of interesting recipes you can download and try.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1980

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).

I had a very special occasion and needed a wine worthy of the event, so I opened a 37 year old wine! In a word Magnificent!!! A blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, and 5% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano, and aged for 10 Years in old American oak barrels! Wow!! The 1980 bottle was sealed with red wax, preserving the wine, which worked as the cork crumbled on extraction! Very light Ruby, enticing, with complex aromas of juicy red fruit, earthy spices and smoke. On the palate cherry flavors with espresso spice, vanilla, smoky oak, earthy leather and bits of black pepper. Well balanced with very smooth tannins and a long lingering delicate finish ending with earthy spice tones. Very Nice, a rare treat to enjoy a mature Rioja, something really special!

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Cellar Selection

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Caymus 2012 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

In 1971 Charlie Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son Charles (Chuck) Wagner, who had just graduated from high school, if he would be interested in joining them in starting up a winery. If Chuck declined the offer, Charlie and Lorna were planning to sell out of their ranch in Napa Valley and move to Australia. Chuck accepted his parents’ offer to launch the winery, Caymus Vineyards. The Wagners produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, Caymus has focused their efforts in the production of quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

Back in the summer of 2015, I received a birthday gift of a Coravin Wine System. The Coravin allows you to take wine out of the bottle (no screwcaps, only corks), leaving the cork in place and preserve and protect the wine until you are ready for another glass or want to open the bottle. I took out a glass on July 25, 2015 and took out a second glass on February 5, 2016, a third glass September 16, 2016, a fourth glass January 16, 2017 and a fifth glass August 18, 2017.

The wine continues to tasting great, just starting to mature and develop a little. Deep Ruby with complex focused aromas of black fruit, herbs and vanilla spice. The wine opened with fresh sweet ripe dark fruit, blackberry and black cherry, with oak, leather and cacao. The wine is well balanced, tannins continuing to develop nicely, slightly savory, finishing with sweet oak notes. My notes from my five pours using the Coravin were very consistent, but now noticing the wine maturing. It really works! This is an Elegant Wine! It was perfect to drink now as well as for future aging, but why wait? About a 1/3 bottle left, check back in about 6 months for another taste.

Cheers!