Category Archives: Napa Valley

2003 Rubicon Estate Cabernet Franc, Estate Reserve

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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.

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

Chappellet Vineyards and Sonoma Loeb Tasting Streamed to 45 Total Wine Stores

Chappellet Live! A Virtual Tasting from Napa Valley’s Pritchard Hill

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Tempe, AZ

Featured Wines:
Sonoma Loeb Chardonnay Reserve – $29.99
Sonoma Loeb Chardonnay Envoy – $39.99
Sonoma Loeb Sonoma Pinot Noir – $24.99
Sonoma Loeb Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Reserve – $39.99
Chappellet Napa Chardonnay – $34.99
Chappellet Cervantes Mountain Cuvee – $34.99
Chappellet Napa Signature Cabernet – $49.99
2008 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet – $119.99

WINE EVENT INTRODUCTION

Fabulous idea! This is a great way for a medium size winery (under 40K cases?) to reach a broad audience. Technology provides opportunities, if we know how to leverage it. Unfortunately, the technology had its challenges. The audio had a terrible echo, which could have been eliminated by muting all the sites other than the point of origin. The message was a bit scattered, but the mother of the host family was awesome! She was interesting enough to host her own wine talk show… all in all, for a first effort at internet marketing – a gallant one, and they will get better over time. Keep it up guys! Good Luck!

WINE FLIGHT #1 – WHITE WINES (3 NOTES)

I liked the lower cost Sonoma Loeb on its own, but the Chappellet chard would be best accompanying food.

  • 2012 Chappellet Vineyard Chardonnay

USA, California, Napa Valley

This was a VERY traditional Napa style chardonnay specifically made for accompanying food. The color was a very pale straw and extremely clear. The nose was very weak, but bright, with notes of grapefruit, lemon curd and oak. The palate was a touch sweet, light-bodied with very high acidity. The flavors on the palate matched the nose with a short finish. This is not an easy drinking aperitif. It would be much better with a nice seafood, or pork dish.

  • 2012 Sonoma-Loeb Chardonnay Private Reserve Carneros

USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros

This is an attempt at a classic Burgundian oaked chardonnay. Very weak nose, showing nail polish initially, then aromas of lemon curd, vanilla and oak. Medium bodied and very dry with high acidity. Palate was soft, but had a minimum of depth to the flavors. I sort of enjoyed this for an easy drinking chard at a wine bar kind of beverage. It resides somewhere between a food wine and an aperitif. Over-priced at $30/btl, but decent enough.

  • 2011 Sonoma-Loeb Chardonnay Envoy

USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Russian River Valley

The winemaker tried so hard here, but missed the mark. I guess if you were looking for a Rombauer chard you might find this appealing, but they do over-the-top chards much better. Big nose of lemon curd, butterscotch and pineapple with a strong presence of oak. There is some minerality, but it does not come through to the palate. The wine coats the mouth with rich textures. The palate simply brings the nose through with no mid-palate and there is a medium finish of pineapple. Only medium acidity… so food pairing options would be limited. There is too much oak and the freshness is lost because of it. I didn’t care for this wine.

WINE FLIGHT #2 – RED WINES (5 NOTES)

Regarding the Pinot Noir, the lower priced Sonoma Loeb again was superior to the higher-priced wine. Of Cab Sauv and blends, the Pritchard Hill Cab stood out by far as superior, but at $120/btl… my goodness!

  • 2011 Sonoma-Loeb Pinot Noir

USA, California, Sonoma County

The nose is full of cherry cough syrup, browned butter, oak and medicinal overtones. High acidity and medium tannins provide a fair amount of structure. The texture is very light. The palate is full of red cherry and oak. It also has a smokey flavor with a light spice character. This is too fruity and the oak is not integrated. There is enough structure and complexity present to elevate it a bit.

  • 2012 Sonoma-Loeb Pinot Noir

USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

A strong oak character. The nose is full of sweet red cherry, butter and oak. The acidity is very high with low tannins. Not very well balanced. The texture is very light. This could have been very good with more freshness to the fruit. On its own, the acidity bites… but paired with the right foods, this wine would be awesome. The flavor profile is a bit simple.

  • 2011 Chappellet Vineyard Cervantes Mountain Cuvee

USA, California, Napa Valley

Powerful nose of alcohol that did not blow off dominates. This is a light bodied wine, with high acidity and high tannins. Good structure with reasonable balance. The palate is fruit forward with sweet cherry and black raspberry moving to a mid-palate of bitter dark chocolate and a long slightly bitter finish with earthy undertones. This would be a very good table wine, pairing well with richer food dishes, but I would expect it to cost under $30/btl.

  • 2011 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Reserve

USA, California, Napa Valley

Very dark extracted looking wine with an intense nose of alcohol, plum and blackberry. High acidity and high tannins – very young. This has a light mouth-feel, offering more of a food wine approach. The palate is fruit forward with sweet plum, blackberry and white pepper. The fruit is very concentrated. The mid-palate brings in oak and toffee and then finishes with vanilla. A middle of the road Napa cab.

  • 2008 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard

USA, California, Napa Valley

A beautiful wine. The nose is full of rich black plum with a pretty floral character, moving to menthol and alcohol. High acidity and high tannins with a nice mouth-feel. The palate is fruit forward with extracted plum and blackberry with a mid-palate of tobacco, tar, oak and vanilla. The finish is long with a mildly bitter dark chocolate flavor. This wine is balanced and has good structure, but it is still young and would benefit from another 3-5 years in the bottle.

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Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2006 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga

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Ramey Wine Cellars

California, Napa Valley, Calistoga

Wine Tasting Note:

2006 was an interesting vintage year that seemed to favor old-world style Napa producers. IMO, it was difficult to find valley floor producers with exceptional wines. Whereas, many of the mountain fruit producers (Spring, Howell, etc.) with a more subdued style (Ladera, Cain, etc.) released amazingly soft, nuanced cabernet sauvignon. This Ramey followed the line… After 30 min. decant, complex nose of blackberry, plum, cigar box and mint. This wine is black fruit forward with a mid-palate of vanilla and a medium short finish of bitter dark chocolate. The texture is a bit watery and the alcohol is not integrated well. Medium-high acidity with medium tannins. Rather disjointed and unbalanced. This is difficult to enjoy, without food. Try accompanying beef, or pasta with a rich tomato-based sauce. I don’t think this will improve with more time in the bottle. Drink now.

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Filed under Calistoga, Napa Valley, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2007 Delectus Syrah Mt. George Vineyard

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Delectus Syrah Mount George Vineyard

California, Napa Valley

Wine Tasting Note:

Strong alcohol on the nose. Hard to pick-up the other aromas. The palate is much more balanced. Less complex than I would have hoped for an old-world style mid-priced syrah, but it was still very enjoyable. Fruit-forward blackberry, plum and black currant flavors moving to rich dark chocolate and a short bitter finish. Good effort on the texture… not silky, or velvetty, but still soft and refined. An amazing feat, considering the alcohol content at 15.8%. Medium tannins and medium-high acidity. The value here was good for a Napa Syrah with some old-world character. Though, this was missing the cool climate complexity I would expect from this style, in higher priced wines.

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Can You Justify Spending on Premium Wines?

Okay, I know there aren’t many wine drinkers out there that maintain a diverse cellar of bottle-aged wines, but for those of you who do, and invest in the spendy, premium wines… how do YOU justify it?

Which Wines Are in Your Cellar?

2/3 of my cellar is made up of moderately priced red and white wines of good value.  The other 1/3 is reserved for more expensive, special red wines.  So, just what constitutes a “special” wine worthy of a premium price? It has taken me 20 years of collecting wine and an evolving palate to finally arrive at a couple of answers.  My justifications for spending $75+ on a bottle of wine are:

1. Wines that have structure, balance, texture, be complex, BUT ALSO be accessible in no more than 5 years, and be able to age (AND improve) for 10 years or more from the vintage date (yes, even Barolo).

That doesn’t mean the wine will be in its prime drinking window then, just that I can enjoy it and then look forward to another beautiful experience down the road.  Enjoying wines this way, requires a purchase of several bottles of a wine, per vintage.  I will rarely do this until a producer has proven a good match for my palate and been consistent with quality vintages, year over year.  Although, sometimes you just know from drinking a wine… and I say “drink”, not taste.  This has happened too many times… Tasting Room Attendant hits you with attitude, goes on and on about the wine and presses you to purchase his/her amazing $100 (speaking of Napa here) bottle.  Then, you are hit with a 1 oz. pour!  Who needs a direct relationship with a winery, when you are treated like that!  With a good experience, enjoyable wine and the right value, I will become a year-over-year customer and they can start thinking of me as a revenue source for years to come…

2. Wines that my family and friends enjoy.

An example in this category for me is expensive champagne.  Not what I personally would spend big dollars on, but I really enjoy sharing good bubbly with friends who appreciate it!

Overview

IMHO, the holy grail of wine is the 1st category.  Examples for me would be vintages of Barolo, Southern & Northern Rhone (also CA “Rhone Style”) and mountain fruit Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (Veeder, Spring, Diamond & Howell).  Yeah, I know… no classified growth Bordeaux & cru Burgundy included.  I have not tasted Bordeaux meeting that criteria under $75/btl. AND other regions bring the same level of enjoyment for $50.  ENTRY LEVEL Burgundy STARTS at $50/btl and I just don’t enjoy pinot noir enough to explore that varietal for that kind of money.  My Oregon Pinot is just fine thank you.  I have Bordeaux and Burgundy in my cellar, but just to provide a representative collection, and it skews my average bottle price more than I would like.  I know many of you DO spend that $150+/btl for Bordeaux and Burgundy.  I wonder, how do you justify devoting the disproportionate percentage of your wine budget?

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Filed under Barolo, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, Northern Rhone, Southern Rhone, Spring Mountain, Wine Cellar, Wine Collecting, Wine Tasting

2009 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon

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2009 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon

California, Napa Valley

Wine Tasting Note:

Blackberry, plum and vanilla on the nose. Simple palate of black fruit and a touch of bitter chocolate and oak on a medium-short finish. Medium tannins and medium-high acidity. The texture is a bit watery. Nice backbone here, but the structure is missing a mid-palate entirely. Enjoyable every day drinker from Napa Valley that represents a reasonable value. Unfortunately, there is no complexity to this wine. Other vintages have been better.

Wine Tasting Note – UPDATE 2/20/2014:

2nd Bottle of half case:

Second bottle after four months in storage has changed enough to be worthy of note. It is rare to see wine in this price range improve with age. The evaluation is essentially the same as above, but the texture is becoming more silky and the tannins more refined. At least for now, this is continuing to improve.  The same comment holds regarding simplicity, although a short aging window seems to have continued to soften the wine, making it more enjoyable. I wish this wine could magically become more interesting, but for the price, this is a very nice daily drinker.

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Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2007 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

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Frank Family Vineyards

California, Napa Valley

Wine Tasting Note:

Right out of the bottle, this wine was horribly disjointed. After a couple of hours, it started to come together. Maybe just a dead phase for the wine?. The nose is full of alcohol, vanilla and red plum. The texture is a bit thin. High acidity and medium high tannins. The palate is strange for a Napa cabernet. My first impression is of strawberry jam, but then in the mid-palate the traditional flavors show up of blackberry and plum and then leaves you with a medium length finish of lingering fruit and sweet vanilla. No minerality, or earthiness whatsoever. There has to be merlot mixed in this. The alcohol is less integrated than I would prefer. This wine had too much fruit and not enough complexity.

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Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes