Cellar Selection

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Sonoma Cutrer 2008 Pinot

2008 Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Pinot Noir

I found this 2008 Pinot Noir tucked away in my cellar. Winemaking Director Mick Schroeter hand signed this bottle at a tasting a few years back. Winemaking is often a trade passed down from generation to generation, and Mick Schroeter is no exception. Starting out on his own as an oenologist at Kaiser Stuhl winery in Australia, Mick wanted to blaze his own trail and had no intentions of following in his father and uncle’s footsteps at the Penfold Winery. Then in 1982, as fate would have it, Penfold bought Kaiser Stuhl and reunited Mick with his family in the business. Mick rose rapidly through the Penfold system and had the privilege to be part of their red winemaking team, eventually working on Penfold’s legendary Grange Hermitage, the benchmark of Aussie Shiraz. From there Mick went to California and did a 17-year stint at Geyser Peak Winery. It is his long track record of success and illustrious career in Australia and California, along with twice being named “Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, that gave Mick the encompassing experience to take the reins at Sonoma-Cutrer.

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. 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 2008 Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Pinot Noir is an outstanding offering from the winery, and tasting this in 2016 was a treat. The color was a bright ruby red, somewhat luminous, giving off aromas of fresh fruit, cranberry and ripe red cherries with spice accents of cinnamon and vanilla.  The wine is silky smooth, with rich fruit flavors of berries and cherries, balanced acidity and fine tannins. I noted a bit of cedar and sweet tobacco on the clean lingering finish. Well Done and aged very well! You probably will not find this wine on the store shelf, but look for a current vintage that Mick Schroeter has crafted, you will not be disappointed. I also 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!

Cellar Selection

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 Caymus 2012 Cab

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.

Coravin                       Caymus 2012 Cab-dates

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.

Deep ruby red with focused aromas of black fruit, herbs and spice.  The palate is focused on sweet ripe dark fruit, mostly plum, blackberry and black cherry, with complex oak, leather and chocolate.  The wine is well balanced, nicely developed tannins, slightly savory, finishing with sweet vanilla notes.  My notes from my two pours from the Coravin were very consistent. It works! This is an Elegant Wine! It was perfect to drink now as well as for future aging, but why wait?

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Muga 2006 PradoEnea

Muga 2006 Gran Reserva Prado Enea

Since the XVII century, the Muga family has been linked to the wine world and to the area of Rioja. Fast forward to 1932 when Bodega Muga Winery was founded and today the winery operates with the same principals it did almost 100 years ago.  Muga also has its own cooperage and is able to control the right touch of oak desired in its offerings. Bodegas Muga vineyards are located on the foot of the Montes Obarenses, within the area called Rioja Alta. The site climate is exceptional due to, on the one hand, the singular geography and orientation of the vines and on the other hand, the surrounding climates –Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental climates are combined harmoniously thus creating a suitable climatic for grape growing.

Opening a bottle, which I let sit for about an hour, the color was a glowing bright ruby. The nose was clean with plenty of ripe red and black fruits with a touch of spice and herbs. The wine is made from a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano and aged for three years in oak and another three years in the bottle before release, remarkable aging practice. The palate was complex with ripe red berries, blackberries and hints of dried fruits, well integrated oak and acidity with nuances of earth, pepper, tobacco, toast and vanilla.  The finish was smooth with fine tannins and mineral notes, complex and lingering. Outstanding!  This wine, a gift from my son, was remarkable and impressive. I should note that this wine is not produced every year. The grapes are grown in higher altitudes and experience a cooler climate, and if too cold, Muga doesn’t get the magic they put the bottle. Accordingly, in 2007 & 2008 the climate was too cool and therefore the Prado Enea wine was not produced.  The next vintage to be released will be the 2009. Search for the 2006 and put one of these bargains away, you will really enjoy it.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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David Bruce 2012

David Bruce 2012 Sonoma County Pinot Noir

The David Bruce Winery was founded in the remote Santa Cruz Mountains in the early 1960’s and was one of the first of a new generation of wineries that would lead a modern resurgence of premium winemaking in the region. David Bruce Winery has earned an international reputation throughout its nearly four decades for its dedication to producing the greatest pinot noir in the world. In pursuit of his goal, the winery has adhered to traditional European winemaking practices that trace their lineage back to the early pioneers of winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley. David Bruce Winery has also been at the forefront of efforts to develop innovative new methods that have changed the face of winemaking in California.

Opening up a bottle of David Bruce 2012 Sonoma County Pinot Noir, I notice a bright ruby red color and complex red fruit aromas with sweet spice. The palate shows full ripe cherries, red raspberries and red plums with generous hit of spices, pepper, vanilla and cinnamon. The finish develops some toasty notes, minerality and round tannins, well balanced with a smooth ending. I tried their 2011 Sonoma Coast last year and the 2012 got better, if you can believe that! A good value Pinot as retail is around $30, rivals some $50 bottles.

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Whitehall Lane 2012 Cab

Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Whitehall Lane was founded in 1979 but the history of the soil cultivation dates back two centuries. In the mid 1800’s, Napa Valley settlers were drawn to the deep, loamy soils and ideal climate, planting high quality grape vines at the Whitehall Lane Winery site. A barn constructed in the early 1900’s for equipment storage is still used today. In 1979, two brothers started the winery and directed their winemaking efforts successfully to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They named the winery after the road that runs along the south border of the property, Whitehall Lane. In 1993, the Leonardini Family of San Francisco took control of the Whitehall Lane estate. They updated the winemaking, instituted a new barrel-aging program and continued sourcing the finest vineyards. They started with one vineyard and now own seven prime vineyards.

The 2012 growing season was ideal in Napa Valley. Opening a 2012 may be a little early but I wanted to see how the vintage was developing. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Merlot (6%), Petit Verdot (5%), and Malbec (4%). The color was a deep red and packed a powerful punch of dark fruit aromas with mocha and wet stone notes. The palate shows ripe fresh blackberries and plums, with toasty oak, noting that the blend adds complexity to the wine. The wine was aged for 18 months in French and American oak and, despite being young, had approachable fine grained tannins. The finish was well balanced with good acidity and a nice mineral edge. This wine should age well for a decade and a great value for around $38. Blows away wines priced $50+. They made some estate blends, and when I get my hands on one (can’t wait), I will report.

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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BearPoint Cab 2009

Stonestreet Bear Point 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

In the autumn of 1989, Jess Jackson acquired the Zellerbach winery and renamed it in honor of his late father, Jess Stonestreet Jackson. Stonestreet quickly garnered international acclaim for their powerful reds and luscious whites. Today, Stonestreet wines are undergoing a transformation, using fruit from Alexander Mountain Estate and new winemaking techniques. Alexander Mountain Estate, with lean, well-draining soils and cooler temperature, produces fruit with smaller berries and more intense color and flavor. Stonestreet is dedicated to fulfilling the promise of Alexander Valley’s exceptional and distinctive vineyards. Traditional, Old World methods of hand harvesting, small barrel lot production, native yeast fermentation and bottling each wine unfiltered brings out the best in specific grape varieties and provides the quality framework for each Stonestreet wine.

I recently reviewed the 2009 Monument Ridge, which is from several vineyards, and I will now compare it to Bear Point, also a 2009, from a single Vineyard. The Bear Point Cabernet block is situated between 1,000 and 1,200 feet in a cooler spot below the fogline. Only a small amount is produced, as only 511 cases were made compared to about 3900 for the 2009 Monument Ridge. Opening, and be sure to decant, I noticed a very dark enticing red color, with a nose of black and blue fruits, and complex spices. The taste develops nicely showing black berries and cherries with some sweet raspberries, tangy spice, oak and cacao with smooth tannins and balanced acidity. The finish lingers nicely and ends elegantly. This wine will complement a steak as well as a milder dish, and will not disappoint. Grab a Bear Point, if you can find one! Delicious!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Trefethen 2013 Chard

Trefethen 2013 Chardonnay

Constructed in 1886 by a Scottish sea captain, Hamden McIntyre, the winery was originally known as Eshcol. McIntyre designed it as a gravity-flow system: a horse-drawn winch brought grapes to the third floor of the three-story structure for crushing; gravity carried the juice to the second floor for fermenting; and, eventually, the wine descended to the first floor for aging. Eshcol was among a number of wineries McIntyre designed during this period; the others were Greystone (now The Culinary Institute of America), Far Niente and Inglenook. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Napa Valley was a thriving viticultural community with nearly 140 wineries. However, in the late 1890s, phylloxera, a root louse that destroys grapevines, brought wine production in Napa to a crashing halt. Growers soon recovered with re-planted vines, but in 1920, Prohibition arrived, driving a stake through the heart of the wine business. The old Eshcol facility survived by making sacramental wines, but by 1940 was dormant. When the Trefethen family purchased the property in 1968, the winery had fallen into serious disrepair. John and Janet committed themselves to restoring the building to its former glory. They carefully researched the winery’s past and worked for years to restore it. The Trefethens’ restoration efforts were recognized in 1988 by the Department of the Interior, which placed the winery on the National Register of Historic Places as the only 19th-century, wooden, gravity-flow winery surviving in Napa County. Today, Trefethen Family Vineyards boasts a state-of-the-art fermentation facility and 13,000 square foot barrel cellar, but the McIntyre Building remains integral to the winery’s operations.

Opening a bottle of Trefethen’s 2013 Chardonnay I noticed a straw yellow color with aromas of fresh stone fruits, not overpowering, with a little note of spice. The palate shows tastes of pears, apples and lemons with gentle toasty oak notes and lively acidity. This well balanced Chardonnay finished creamy, medium in length. Visit Trefethen’s website for some delicious recipes!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Stonestreet 2009 Monument Cab

Stonestreet Monument Ridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Ranging in elevation from 400ft to 2400ft, Stonestreet Estate Vineyards stands as the one largest and most extensive mountain vineyards in the world. Towering high above the Alexander Valley in the Mayacamas Mountain Range, Stonestreet Estate defies all previous conceptions of winegrowing. Single vineyard blocks are aligned in every imaginable spot on the compass, with peaks, valleys and ridges creating a broad spectrum of varied facings and elevations. Winegrowers throughout history have looked to high elevation sites with impoverished, rocky soils to produce richly concentrated wines of character. Mountain vineyards are notoriously difficult to farm, and Stonestreet Estate is no exception. The Estate’s myriad of vine spacing, and broad array of elevation and mesoclimate require a vine-by-vine approach to winegrowing.

Opening a bottle, which I let decant, of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine, I noticed a very dark red color with complex aromas of black fruit, spices and floral notes. The flavors kept jumping out of the glass the longer we waited as decanting enhanced the experience. Flavors of this full bodied wine showed fresh black cherries, ripe plums and a touch of sweet raspberries and earthy herbs. The wine finished with cacao, espresso and some minerality with well integrated oak and forward smooth tannins, a little drying, but lingers nicely. Grab a Porterhouse!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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Spring Mountainn2009 Elivette

Spring Mountain Elivette 2009

Spring Mountain Vineyard is an 845-acre estate on the eastern slopes of Spring Mountain in Napa Valley. Only 225 acres of the estate are planted to vine, representing 135 discrete hillside vineyard blocks with many soil types, exposures, and microclimates. A substantial portion of the vineyard is planted in densities of over 4,000 vines per acre and trained to the ancient “gobelet form”, a vertical method invented by the Romans. Originally four contiguous 19th century vineyards, Miravalle, Alba, Chevalier and La Perla are now one vineyard producing exclusively estate grown wines.

I wanted a special Cabernet so I reached for Spring Mountain Vineyard’s Elivette 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon which is blended with Cabernet Franc 12%, Merlot 2% and aged for 22 months in French oak. The color is a rich Ruby red with notes of ripe red fruit aromas, almost sweet, and light floral scents. Be sure to decant this Gem before tasting, I did for 45 minutes and it was not enough. The palate shows raspberries and black cherries, a touch on the jammy side, with complex spice, tender oak and fine tannins. The finish has great length ending with spice, cacao and espresso tones. Very Nice!

Cheers!

Mid-Week Red

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BR Cohn 2012 Cab Silver

B.R. Cohn 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Silver 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 Silver 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, a very clean nose with concentrated aromas of dark fruit with a slightly sweet smell. The palate shows off the fruit nicely, black cherries and sweet ripe blackberries, very mellow and approachable for a 2012. This 100% Cabernet is a blend of several vineyards from different counties and was aged in French Oak. The wine had a very light mouth-feel, fine tannins and a touch of earthy minerals on the finish. Very nice value!

Cheers!