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.

Cheers!

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!

Cheers!

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!

Cheers!

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!

Exceptional White

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Jordan Chardonnay 2014

In 1972, Tom and Sally Jordan, a young couple from Colorado who shared a passion for French food and wine, followed their hearts to California’s wine country. When the two married in 1959, they dreamed of being vintners together. They drank virtually only French wines, enjoyed French food that Sally diligently learned to cook, and traveled throughout France, wining and dining their way through every region. In the 1950s there weren’t any restaurants of note in their home town of Denver, so the Jordans either traveled abroad or entertained at home for culinary experiences. The two knew a winery would one day be in their future, but ironically never seriously considered starting one in France. Then one night while enjoying their first glass of Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour in San Francisco, they had an aha moment: They could realize their very French vision in Northern California. In May of 1972, they signed the deed for a remote piece of property in the Alexander Valley, and Jordan Vineyard & Winery was born and coincidentally on the very same day, their son, John, was born.

Golden straw with aromas of stone and citrus fruits and nutty spice. The palate had flavors of apple, pear, lemon zest and melon, complex, mineral tones with soft oak and sweet spice. The wine was fresh, a bit creamy, with vibrant crisp acidity, well balanced on a long finish. Not a typical CA Chard, with some mid-term aging potential. Outstanding! 

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Ramirez de la Piscina 2007 Gran Reserva

The name Ramírez de la Piscina traces its lineage back to the Navarra Kings who fought in the First Crusade during the 11th century. Included among this noble ancestry is the famous Cid Campeador. The name is also strongly embedded in the small village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, which is centrally located in the Sonsierra lands, in the heart of La Rioja Alta. Bodegas Ramírez de la Piscina elaborates its wines with grapes proceeding from its own vineyards located in Abalos and from other very carefully selected estates.

Aged for 24 months in American and French oak, and cellared for 36 months before release with grapes from its vineyards located in Abalos and other selected estates. Rich bright red with ripe berry fruit aromas and smoky spices. On the palate fresh ripe cherry and blackberry flavors with fine smooth tannins, leather and herbs on tangy acidity. The finish lingers ending with some oak, smoke and mineral tones. Drinks well now, but will continue to improve!

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Sonoma-Cutrer The Cutrer Sonoma Chardonnay 2015

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. Recently they have been producing a better product.

Trying their “The Cutrer” Chardonnay, I noticed aromas of fresh fruits and notes of sweet spice. Aged for 13 months in French oak (25% new), flavors of apple, pear and citrus come forth, with a creamy texture. Vivid acidity, well balanced with slight oak on the finish, ending with vanilla spice tones. You should also visit the Sonoma-Cutrer website as they have a bunch of interesting recipes you can download and try.

Cheers!