Tuesday, July 29, 2014

June 21, 2014 – Wine: 2005 Domain Henri Perrot Minot Morey St Denis En la Rue de Vergy

When I read about the greatness of France’s 2005 vintage, I hunted down a few half-bottles of Bordeaux.  And, because my wine-tasting buddy is absolutely enamored by Burgundy wines, I picked up a few nice half-bottles of that as well.  Clearly there is a big difference in the wine making styles of Burgundy and California’s Pinot Noir producers.  Most good Pinots from the Russian River or Anderson Valleys deliver their fruit in a pure and clean way.  They also tend to peak after about four years before entering into a secondary stage of evolution.  The Burgundies that I have tasted all seem to be made in a rustic style, where flavors of rocks, forest, and baking spices are woven tightly with the fruit.  This wine conforms to the Burgundian style, delivering flavors of cranberry, plum, stones, redwood (?), and baking spices.  This was a villages blend.  I have some premiere cru blends still waiting for the cork to be tugged.

2005 Domain Henri Perrot Minot Morey St Denis En la Rue de Vergy


Saturday, July 26, 2014

June 20, 2014 – Wine: 2005 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

If you want to age a wine, you have to forget that you have it.  It had been two years since the last opening and I was ready for a progress update.  When this wine was young, it featured prominently the palette of the vintage: cranberry, raspberry, cherry, and coffee.  As the wine has evolved, some of the sweet fruits (in this dry wine’s tannins) have waned, but the complexity has grown.  Most surprising in this evening’s bottle was the development of a richness on the mid-palette which is well-controlled.  I noted flavors of cherry, raspberry, cranberry, chalk, mint, and a hint of mineral.  This may be my second favorite vintage of Corison’s Cabernet (after the 2001) and it is showing quite nicely right now.  The tannins suggest the wine will hold up for another five to ten years more in the half-bottle too.
2005 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Twomey Cellars, Russian River, July 2, 2014

Winery - 8 / Wines - 7
Range:  1 to 9 (9 is best, 5 is average)
Modern beautiful tasting room with great vineyard views.  Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.

Twomey Cellars operates two tasting rooms: one in Calistoga in Napa Valley, and this one in the Russian River Valley.  The Calistoga location is designed after a classic farmhouse, while the Russian River location is a modern design with a curving room and sweeping, panoramic view of the vineyards just outside.  The Russian River Valley tasting room was acquired by Twomey when they purchased the Roshambo Winery operations (in 2006).  My first visit was in 2007 and I quickly fell in love with the place.  I have returned nearly every other year since then to explore their amazing Pinot Noir wines.  Depending upon when you visit, you may have an opportunity to explore as many as four different Pinot Noir growing regions side-by-side.  Twomey produces Pinots from Santa Barbara County, the Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley, and the Russian River Valley, allowing the taster to learn the influences each region may have on the wine from the same grapes.  And, yes, there is a noticeable difference between them.
The courtyard entry to Twomey Cellars

Driving up the Westside Road that hosts most of the wineries along the Russian River, it is easy to miss the Twomey Cellars tasting room, so watch carefully for the driveway entrance (which is well marked).  The winery building is on the downside of a small hill and easily missed, but certainly worth the extra effort to find it.  There is a courtyard leading to the front door with a handsome fountain sporting the winery’s name.  The exterior (and interior) is modern, finished in concrete with neutral warm tones and large walls of glass facing the vineyards.  Inside, the tasting room is a long, high space with a gently arching ceiling finished in in rich wood planks.  The flooring is a glossy dark brown with off-white walls along the interior.  Floor-to-ceiling glass lines most of the tasting room offering view onto the vineyards just outside.  I large patio sits just outside the tasting room and is furnished with a number of elegant patio tables fitted with umbrellas, which is where you really should be tasting in this glorious weather that the Russian River offers most days.
Walls of glass bring the outside in at Twomey Cellars.

My tasting flight began with the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp version of this wine.  (I am starting to miss the beautiful 2012 Sauvignon Blancs as they were truly magnificent.)  Next I enjoyed a side-by-side comparison of the 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and the 2012 Russian River Pinot Noir, both of which were delicious.  This was followed by the 2009 Merlot.  As luck would have it, they had a 2007 Merlot open from earlier that was tasting deliciously, with a subtle richness to it.  My favorites were the two Pinots, and I brought home a bottle of each.

Based on this experience, I would rate the winery as an 8 and the wines offered as a 7.  This is consistent with my prior visits.

Friday, July 18, 2014

May 24, 2014 – Wines for a party

It was time for my sister’s birthday.  She was giving a back yard BBQ party with ribs, and the guests each brought something to complete the meal.  One guest brought a cake, others brought salads and slaws, there were the twice-baked potatoes, and I helped cook skillet potatoes.  And I brought four nice bottles of wine.  There are thousands of wines you can buy for under $20, but I was able to shop sales to bring some amazing quality to this party.  Everyone’s favorite wine cost me $21, but the other three ranged in price from $13 to $19.  Both my sister and my mother are big fans of Cabernet Franc, so I brought a 2010 Provenance to satisfy them.  Here is the list of wines:

2010 Provenance Cabernet Franc (everyone’s favorite)
2008 Boete Cheval Rouge (a Meritage-style blend)
2010 Saint Clement Napa Valley Merlot (my favorite)
2010 Angel’s Secret Petite Sirah (the best value)


Sunday, July 13, 2014

May 14, 2014 – Wine: 2012 Blackbird Arriviste Rosé

Okay, so I am usually the first person to try to trade a rosé wine in my wine club shipment for something red or white.  But this was a half-bottle of rosé, and I can probably work my way through a (shared) half-bottle of nearly any good wine.  The fact that Blackbird made this wine made it even more attractive as I am a big fan of their quality.  When the impending heat wave was announced in the news, I tossed this bottle (and a split of Sauvignon Blanc) into the refrigerator, and tonight opened it cold to enjoy on the back deck as the temperature dropped outside.  This rosé is different from most in that it was made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes (rather than Syrah, Pinot Noir, or Zinfandel).  It was delicious, with flavors of sweet plum, strawberry, pink grapefruit, and subtle cherry notes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ridge Winery, May 25, 2014


It was time once again to preview Ridge’s flagship wine, the 2013 Monte Bello, at the Final Assemblage tasting event.  I enjoy attending this event as it helps me to learn how young wines evolve.  During the component tasting in March, you get to learn how each of the four grape varietals that make up the Monte Bello tastes and how they might taste when added together.  (Though here the total wine is much greater than simply the sum of its parts.)  This time, the grapes have had another two months in barrel, and there has been careful consideration of each lot’s contribution to the final blend.  The result is a 2013 Monte Bello that already tastes like a great wine, with much potential to develop further.

As is customary during these Monte Bello events, you are handed a glass with a taste of the 2012 Estate Chardonnay as you sign in for the event.  As the weather was tending towards warm, this was a welcome opener.  Inside, the 2013 Monte Bello is accompanied by four other wines, as well as some cheeses, bread, and tasty salami.  I started with the 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (which is performing better than I had expected), the 2011 Torre Petit Verdot (which is a rare release), the 2013 Monte Bello final assemblage, and the 2010 Monte Bello.  While the Petit Verdot was interesting, my favorite wine was the 2010 Monte Bello, followed very closely by the 2013 final assemblage.  It is remarkable how much progress has been achieved in the two months since the component tasting event last March.

The new garden wall welcoming visitors to Ridge's Monte Bello estate.

A full review was written already about Ridge Winery during my visit on March 3rd, 2012.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

May 4, 2014 – Wine: 2003 Saint Supery Elu Meritage

After tasting the impressive 2010 Saint Supery Elu Meritage at the winery last week, I decided it was time to open another of the superb 2003’s from my collection.  Make that the last half-bottle from my collection.  This wine has always impressed me, especially this vintage.  It was my good fortune that this wine is probably at its peak right now.  There is terrific balance, nice nose, and a beautiful palette featuring flavors of sour cherry, currant, ripe tomato, and minerals.  I will certainly miss this wine, as it was also the last vintage bottled in 375ml bottles.  I may have to get a full-bottle of the delicious 2010.