2010 Sokol Blosser Rose of Pinot Noir Estate Cuvee


Sokol Blosser Rose of Pinot Noir Estate Cuvee

Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills

Wine Tasting Note:

I was looking at some recent tasting notes on this wine and I definitely have a different view. There are those that record the gradual loss of fruit in a white/rose wine as a marker of the descent into oxidization and eventual fault. I don’t understand this thinking. Wine does not need to be a fruit bomb to be appreciated. In many quality wines, bottle age promotes balance and softens structure – qualities I enjoy very much. Apparently, this thinking does not follow the palate of many wine consumers. I prefer some bottle-age on fine whites and rose! Take a well made white/rose with solid acidity, nice texture, lower alcohol, a minimum of oak and without any one characteristic overpowering the other… put some age on it and I am sold! Doesn’t matter whether white, rose, or bubbly. The right wines almost always do improve. So, this one knocked my socks off! It is a different tasting experience than the first bottle back in 2011. Beautiful, delicate nose of strawberry, hay and herbal mint. The palate is losing the fruit, but still begins with tart strawberry and now just a hint of watermelon. A touch of butter comes through from the lees. The huge acidity has toned down a bit, but still assertive enough to surpass most of the rose I taste. This is wonderfully dry, with enough fruit to mask any bitterness. The texture on this rose is wonderful! What the winemaker did with leaving this on the lees to age for a time before bottling, is almost god-like in its brilliance. IMO, the optimal window for drinking this wine is 2014-2015. Don’t let it sit much longer, or too much of the fruit will resolve. What a great value in Rose! Oregon shines again!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dundee Hills, Pinot Noir, U.S. Wines by Region, Willamette Valley, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

Jim Duane – Winemaker Interview

Seavey Vineyards 

California, Napa Valley


Jim Duane – Winemaker

Please follow this link to the Winemaker Interview Series at: http://winemakerinterviewseries.net/2014/07/22/wine-liquid-sunshine


I look forward to folks reading the piece. I would love to hear feedback, or comments. Always interested in what people have to say. I enjoy telling stories with my writing and I hope this piece gives you a glimpse into the winery and the man. I really enjoy these family wineries and hope the piece does their story justice.





Leave a comment

Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine by Varietal, Wine Industry, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2006 Seavey Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Caravina


Seavey Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Caravina

California, Napa Valley

Wine Tasting Note:

This is a monster cab. If you are a big Robert Parker fan, this is his kind of wine. Initially, the nose was hot and a bit funky with a very closed flavor profile. For an 8-year-old cab, this wine is STILL drinking very young. After 3 hour decant… Much of the alcohol has blown off now, but is still present. The nose has plum, blackberry, a touch of herbaceousness and menthol. It has a very complex palate of typical Cabernet Sauvignon flavors – black fruit, leather, tar, graphite, dark chocolate and oak. The wine shows a very long bitter chocolate finish. The age has resolved the tannins somewhat and they are now medium-high, but still a bit grainy. The wine is very acidic and would be best drunk accompanying a rare steak. The texture is full, fleshy and soft. This needs more time in the bottle to come together. I am looking forward to popping the next bottle after several more years. This wine has plenty of structure to hold up into the next decade. A suggested prime drinking window might be 2017-2020.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

Ballard Canyon AVA – New World Syrah Country!

More Great Central Coast Rhone Wines: Ballard Canyon Region (AVA)

Panel Tasting at the 2014 U.S. Wine Bloggers Conference

Flowers in Your Syrah?

Floral Syrah usually means added Viognier. This is a traditional practice in Northern Rhone wines. Too much… and the winemaker can create a style that will overpower much of the Syrah character. Several of the wines reviewed here have a very noticeable inclusion of the Viognier flavor profile, for those of you that prefer this style, take note of those mentioned below.

2012 Vintage Wines

2012 Kimsey Syrah

Nose full of floral Viognier. Palate is of bitter chocolate, light black pepper, medium-high tannins with high acidity. Very simple wine profile. The wine is not fruit forward and has a long bitter finish.

2012 Beckmen La Purisima Moutnain Syrah

Nose of butter, black fruits and nail polish. The palate has sweet black plum and blackberry with a mid-palate of dark chocolate. High tannins and medium-high acidity. Good structure. If the idea is to lay this down, there may not be enough fruit to wait out the resolution of the tannins.

2012 Stolpman Vineyards Originals Syrah

Nose is cloyingly sweet, sugary and very floral.  The palate is of violets, black fruit and a sweet syrup. A better balance could have been struck here. I prefer a different style of Syrah and Stolpman usually produces wines with a more balanced style. If you are a fan of the big, extracted Australian Shiraz style, this will be a favorite.

2012 Rusack Reserve Syrah

Nose of strong black fruits. The palate followed the nose with the characteristic plum, blackberry and white pepper. A VERY pure, fresh profile. Quite elegant and balanced. Medium finish of slightly bitter dark chocolate. Medium-high tannins with medium-high acidity. Good balance and structure. Well composed for aging.

2010 Vintage Wines

2010 Harrison Clarke Cuvee Charlotte Syrah

Nose is very chocolate with plum, blackberry and leather. The fruit aromas are strong with some interesting added  forest floor. The palate reflects the fruit on the nose with some added butter and oak. The wine was very thick and extracted, coating your mouth. Specifically, grainy tannins that will need time to soften, but I have seen this kind of character develop into a very velvety mouth-feel over time. I would love to try this wine in another three years! It may be spectacular! The most interesting of the batch with the most promise.

2010 Larner Estate Syrah

Nose is hot with sweet blackberry and plum fruit flavors. The palate was clean and fresh. I enjoyed the purity of the fruit. High tannins and high acidity. The fruit flavors followed the nose. Nice soft texture. The lack of new oak really allowed the wine to express the character of the fruit.

2010 Jonata Sangre de Jonata Syrah

Nose was floral with a bit of grape candy. The wine had a sweet fruit character that was not too overwhelming. The palate was very soft, with a light texture. The blackberry and plum fruit was in front, along with dark chocolate flavors that showed only a little bitterness.  High tannins with high acidity… this will be a beautiful silky wine on maturity. This is refined and elegant today. The most ready to drink now of all the wines tasted.

1 Comment

Filed under Santa Barbara County, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2008 Terra Valentine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


Terra Valentine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain

A Spring Mountain AVA Story

My wife and I really appreciate the producers on Spring Mountain. If your wine nirvana is mountain grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain will be one of your go-to AVA’s (wine growing region). We have been meaning to try Terra Valentine for quite some time. We see their sign every time down the mountain from Pride Mountain Vineyards… On our last visit, we spoke to the family over at Schweiger and they shared the story of the Wine Growers Association’s effort to keep resort development out of the Spring Mountain area. A great story of family owned wineries who love the beauty and character of their home, trying to keep it that way. The fight prompted an agreement between the wineries to allow a last right of refusal – in case of a principal’s death, the surviving winery owners would be able to purchase the land, before a sale to an outside party. I have not been able to confirm this, but I hope it is true.

Wine Tasting Note

Fruit forward nose with black plum, blackberry, mint, cinnamon, oak and alcohol. On the palate, this has not quite come together yet. Needs another 2-3 years in the bottle to hit its stride. Good structure, high tannins and medium-high acidity… plenty of mojo for continued bottle aging. I would put the prime drinking window at 2016 – 2019. This is moving towards a silky texture and soft tannins… I will try my other bottle in a couple of years. Strong fruit forward flavors of black fruits that follow the nose. Really enjoy the mid-palate of cinammon, vanilla, leather and a touch of mint that comes through. The oak is present, but does not overpower. A bit of milk chocolate on the finish, but it is weak. Perhaps it will improve as the fruit calms down and the tannins soften. At $30/btl. this is a great wine value from Spring Mountain Estate fruit!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine by Varietal, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

What a Waste of Wine & Money?

Exploring Wine can be Expensive and Overwhelming!

The number of different wines out there is daunting! Just walk into any wine shop (heaven forbid a Total Wine) and your first thought is: there are hundreds (if not thousands) of wines to choose from. How do I make a decision and who knows if I will enjoy it? When I first decided to explore wine, it killed me to think of wasting good money on lousy wine… just to find a few I liked. It became very clear to me that price had no correlation to matching my taste. I would guess many of you feel the same way. So… to lessen the pain, you limit yourself to trying wines by the glass at wine bars, or attend tastings at wine shops and/or even travel to wine country to hit the tasting rooms.

How Can I Choose Wines That I Will Enjoy?

Learn Your Palate

The first step is to learn your palate… Do you enjoy red fruit, or black fruit flavors? Do silky, or velvety textures appeal to you? Do you enjoy some astringency in the wine? Do you drink wine by itself, or with meals? Do you prefer slightly sweet, or dry wines? Taking the time to review and decide what you like, will go a long way towards helping you select wines to try.

Strategies for Finding Wines You Will Like

This can get very involved depending on your level of wine knowledge, but lets pare it down to the easiest, simplest strategies:

Follow the Winemakers

Many winemakers will allow each vintage of fruit to drive the wine. Some prefer to add wood, spice and vanilla flavors by selecting certain species of oak for aging. While still others will try to make the wine fruitier with whole cluster fermentation, or cold soak. The processes really don’t matter though. Find what you like, identify the winemaker and track their labels. You will be more likely to find wines you enjoy this way.

Follow the Regions

Classic examples are:

Sauv Blanc from New Zealand typically has tropical fruit flavors, while the NorCal Sauvs are more citrusy.

Syrah dominated wines from the Northern Rhone typically have lower alcohol, are inky, with tar, floral and  olive tapenade flavors added to the black fruit, while Southern Rhones are very fruity, with high alcohol, highly textured and likely to have more red, or blue fruit flavors.

Red wines from Rutherford in Napa have an interesting dusty characteristic many find enjoyable.

Again, the specifics do not matter. If you enjoy wines from a specific region, selecting others from the same region will enhance your chances of hitting on wines you can appreciate.

Follow the Vineyards

This is my favorite! The fruit from different vineyards makes wines taste VERY different. Examples of this are:

Cool, coastal vineyards tend to add acidity and structure. Early morning fog at inland vineyards can have the same affect.

Chalky soils can add a mineral aspect to wine – like the Chalk Hill area in Sonoma. Slate can add a flinty component like Riesling from the Mosel.

I regularly seek out wines made from vineyards whose flavors/characteristics I enjoy. It is a sound strategy for finding wines you have a better chance to appreciate.

Follow the Varietal

This is the most obvious. I am sure all of you have settled on grape varieties you prefer, but this is also the least reliable strategy. There can be so much variation within wines from even the same varietal, it does not provide a dependable method for choosing wines to enjoy.

These Strategies can Save $$Money$$

As you find success, you will notice it becomes easier to select wines to try. I have been using these strategies (and more) for many years. I am now comfortably buying wines I have not tasted via the internet and taking advantage of overstock and clearance pricing. I am hoping these ideas will help to end your waste of good money for lousy wine. Good luck and may you find many enjoyable, reasonably priced wines in your future!

1 Comment

Filed under Wine Collecting, Wine Education, Wine Tasting

Market Trends in the 2013 DtC Wine Segment

I was recently reviewing the 2014 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report and felt there were components that pointed to some interesting conclusions. This is a quick recap, with the addition of a few personal observations and opinions of my own.

DtC sales activity is pointing to continuing strong growth and tremendous opportunity within the wine industry. Wineries failing to have some kind of DtC strategy will be leaving big dollars on the table.


Information was excerpted, revised and included in this post as taken from the Ship Compliant and Wines & Vines DtC Shipping Report for 2014. The report was much more extensive. To review the entire document please download at: http://info.shipcompliant.com/2014-direct-wine-shipping-report/. The contributors to the original report are acknowledged below.

Direct-to-Consumer Wine Sales Growing in Unexpected Ways

The largest growth in DtC shipments in 2013 came in the $15/btl and under category. While this sales channel has historically been the venue for ultra-premium wines at much higher prices, it appears the greatest future growth may come from lower price categories. This will put a whole new spin on marketing and channel strategy for the larger wineries and broaden the DtC market.

Quarterly Cycles Defining Volume Expectations

The 4th quarter typically represents a disproportionately large share of annual sales, but the trend worth noting here is the first quarter continuing to lose sales volume. A continuing pattern for four years in a row. Business planning and expense control in this kind of environment will be a challenge.

 Large Wineries Beginning to Build Market Share in DtC

Large wineries (over 500K cases) have had a 76% increase in volume shipped DtC  since 2010, including a 26% increase in 2013 alone. These huge wineries are beginning to develop the DtC channel as a more important vehicle for delivering product. A key factor to note: these wineries are driving an average per bottle price of only $27.12, well below the national DtC average. This is another indicator that the breadth of the DtC channel is growing.

 Lower Cost Whites Showing Their Muscle

With 21% growth in volume in 2013 (against average growth rate of 9.9%), the $15 and under price category represents 19% of all wines shipped DtC. The under $15 category is being dominated by lower cost white wines. This may reflect consumers’ increasing comfort with acquiring lower cost wines through the direct ship channel.

Can DtC Demand for Ultra-Premium Wines Influence Retail Wine Sales Strategies? 

While only 2.8% of total volume of shipments in 2013, the $100-149 price category has experienced 60% growth in volume since 2010. These figures should justify wineries adding the overhead to offer premium services for an elite clientele. Perhaps formally trained staff will find their way into tasting rooms.

 Napa Dominates All and California Commands Premium Pricing

Napa Valley ships over 73% of all the Cabernet through the DtC channel at an average price per bottle of $81! The average bottle price of a California wine shipped DtC is $40, while non-California wine is only $25. Clearly, California has defined their value message and the State has become its own brand to the average wine consumer.

Sonoma County ROCKS the DtC Channel in 2013! 

Sonoma County wineries increased their shipments to consumers by 25% in 2013. This huge increase in volume came at a cost. The average price of a bottle of Sonoma wine dropped by 6% last year. This could impact profits for smaller individual wineries, but for the bigger Sonoma County picture, bodes well for consumer perception of the wines. Personally, I believe there are great values in Sonoma County. These figures emphasize that fact.

Consumers Discovering Oregon

Oregon saw the largest increase in total shipments at 21% and showed positive growth in average price per bottle. Good news for cool climate Syrah lovers…. After a 100% increase in Syrah shipped in 2012, volume increased another 29% in 2013… with an average price per bottle increase of 59%!

 Zinfandel Losing Its Audience?

Zinfandel represents a full 8% of shipments from outside Napa and Sonoma. This varietal saw a 23% decrease in volume in 2013, on just under a 5% increase per bottle. Interesting that Zinfandel drinkers would react so drastically to such a small relative increase. This may indicate where consumer perception positions Zinfandel in the bigger red wine value spectrum.

 DtC Overall Growth Projections Point to Big Opportunity

Based on recent historical data, 7.5% growth per year in the DtC shipping channel over the next decade is not overly optimistic. If this growth in sales occurs, direct shippers will see a 107% increase to over $3.2 Billion by 2023!


Ship Compliant and Wines & Vines Report Contributors Jeff Carroll, Ship Compliant – Pawel Smolarkiewicz, Ship Compliant – Ben Olsgard, Ship Compliant – Lynne Skinner, Wines & Vines

Leave a comment

Filed under Wine Industry

2003 Rubicon Estate Cabernet Franc, Estate Reserve


Rubicon Estate Cabernet Franc, Estate Reserve

California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

Wine Tasting Note:

Fine example of a 100% Cab Franc produced to age. Decanted for 30 mins. – brought out more fruit. The nose is fruit forward with plum, blackberry, jammy strawberry, leather, wet earth and a bit of funk. The texture is heavier bodied, coats the tongue and is very soft. High acidity, with soft tannins that are still very present. The nose is much more complex than the palate. The palate has black currant, plum and a bit of prune (showing its age) out front. Not much of a mid-palate, although a long finish of bitter dark chocolate. I would have preferred more complexity, but the rating was influenced more by the balance, soft – but very present tannins, and a good structure that held-up over the years. I enjoyed the bright acidity, even if the fruit is losing its freshness. Probably a year, or two past its prime, but still very nice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Napa Valley, Rutherford, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2010 Justin Syrah


Justin Syrah

California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

Wine Tasting Note:

Nose is complex, if a bit shy. The red fruit comes through – mostly raspberry and a bit of strawberry. There is a wonderful touch of wet earthy funk and a little butterscotch. The texture is very elegant. Not too heavy, more middle of the road… but very silky. Medium acidity and medium tannins. The alcohol is only slightly noticeable. Nice balance overall. The palate is fruit forward with black fruits: currant, blackberry, plum with some black raspberry peaking through. Mid-palate includes a touch of butter and vanilla and then a long finish of dark chocolate. The fruit overwhelms the structure, offering the impression of a more simple profile on the palate. Not a one-dimensional wine, but not particularly complex either. The spiciness I enjoy with most Syrahs is missing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Paso Robles, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Remole Toscana IGT

 2012 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Remole Toscana IGT

Italy, Tuscany

Tasting Note:

This is a pretty decent old world styled red. The nose is a bit shy, but has some interesting notes. Red cherry, leather, herbal character -sage? and a touch of mint. Simple on the palate… Fruit forward red cherry, but with some good structure. Tannins are grippy and there is good acidity. Some bitter dark chocolate and leather on the mid-palate. Not much of a finish though. This does not deserve some of the poor scores I have seen on the web. Maybe, a bias towards New World palates? By no means a special wine, but a decent daily drinker… Especially with food. The texture is light and the flavors are a bit simple, actually not a bad expression of a Tuscan IGT for such a reasonable price.

Leave a comment

Filed under International Wines by Region, Italian Wine, Toscana, Wine Tasting