2017 Y. Rousseau Single Vineyard Tannat

This wine is not something you see coming out of California very often, a wine from the Tannat grape varietal. The grape is native to the French Basque region in the southwest part of the country and grown in Gascony in the Madiran AOC.

It’s been grown in California for over a hundred year used primarily as a blending grape to beef up wines. It’s gotten a foot hold in Paso Robles but this version is grown in the tiny Clarksburg AVA which is West of Napa Valley and about an hours drive North of Lodi.

Yannick Rousseau, a French native born in Gascony is the owner/winemaker.

2017 Y. Rousseau Tannat, Clarksburg, California

A blend of 90% Tannat and 10% Syrah. Opaque dark purple to black with crushed blueberries, menthol and sage on the nose, juicy black fruit finishing with dark citrus notes, mouth coating tannins and moderate acidity.

2018 Decoy Pinot Noir LTD Sonoma Coast

Decoy wines are part of the extensive Duckhorn Vineyards portfolio which includes the Paraduxx, Canvasback, Migration, Calera and Goldeneye brands.

This Pinot Noir was made with grapes from the Russian River Valley, Green Valley and Carneros AVA’s.

2018 Decoy Pinot Noir LTD

Clear, bright red in color, floral, tobacco and wood notes on the nose with bright red fruit, cherry, cola, some earth notes and firm acids on the finish. Nothing flawed about the wine but it’s a little one dimensional.

2016 Acacia Vineyards Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Now that the weather is warming up it’s almost Rosé season but in the meantime I’ll start with lighter bodied reds which often mean some Pinot Noir.

Acacia is a winery in the Carneros district of Sonoma county in California which bottle vineyard designated Pinot Noir.

2016 Acacia Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Clear medium to light red in color, warm black plum, tree bark and red cherry on the nose, red leather, black cherry and cola notes on the silky red fruit with a nicely balanced, long spicy finish. Really nice, enjoyable glass of wine.

2017 Ridge Vineyards Petite Sirah Lytton Springs

 

 

Petite Sirah is the new world name for the Durif grape which was developed in France in the mid 1800’s. It’s a cross pollination of the Syrah and Peloursin grape varietals. 

It’s relatively rare varietal with less than 10,000 planted acres in the world with the majority in California. 

It was brought into California in the early 20th century and became a workhorse grape with winemakers adding it to a blend to beef up the wine. 

Ridge Vineyards is know for their Zinfandel (and a good Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon as well) which are often blended with Rhone varietals . This wine is from their Lytton Springs vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County.  The oldest vines in the vineyard date back to 1901.

 

2017 Lytton Springs Petite Sirah

Opaque dark purple with a purple rim, dill pickle, bacon fat and slate notes on the nose, concentrated meaty black fruit, chalky tannins on the peppery, balanced finish. Very enjoyable glass of wine.  

 

 

 

2016 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley

 

 

Beringer Vineyards is an iconic winery in Napa Valley with a 144 year history.

They produce a wide range of wines from basic bottlings to high-end single vineyard and reserve wines.

This one comes from the Knights Valley appellation which is located in North-East Sonoma County.

 

2016 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petite Verdot. 

Opaque dark red with a purple rim, with roast meat, metal shavings, tobacco and red licorice on the nose, thick with black silky fruit with mint notes on the nicely balanced finish. 

 

 

2018 Josh Cellars Rosé California

 

 

Now that the warmer weather is upon us, it’s rosé time. I like a glass of rosé on a warm day. To me they are the casual wear of the wine world, nothing serious to make a fuss about and as long as it’s not sweet, I’ll drink it.

Josh Cellars was founded in 2007 by Joseph Carr and named as a tribute to his Dad, Josh. They produce wines sourced from across the California winegrowing regions.

 

2018 Josh Cellars Rosé California:  Clear copper in color, nose of watermelon and sweet strawberry, dry with light cherry notes and some earthiness on the finish, easy drinking. 

 

 

 

2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley

 

Markham Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley, founded in 1874 by French immigrant, Jean Laurent.

The 2015 vintage in Napa was another drought year in wine country that produced a small crop but good quality wines.

 

2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley:  Clear medium red with a purple rim, nice perfume of earthy raspberries and violets. dusty, chewy, crushed black fruit ending with moderate tannins and acids, nice balance.

 

 

2016 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

 

 

Buehler Vineyards is a 4th generation run vineyard perched on a mountain East of Saint Helena in Napa Valley.

This is their entry level Cabernet Sauvignon and is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.

2016 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon: Opaque dark red, red leather, red licorice and roast meat on the nose, silky dark red fruit of crushed rocks with crunchy tannins and green herb notes on the moderate to long finish.

 

2015 Beringer “Quantum” Red Blend

 

 

Beringer vineyards has been producing wine in the Napa Valley since 1876. Their tasting room is a Napa Valley landmark.

They produce a wide range of wines from budget bottlings to their flagship Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon along with several bottlings of hard to get single vineyard wines.

Their Quantum bottle is a red blend of the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot with some Petit Sirah.

 

2015 Beringer Quantum Red BlendOpaque dark red, violets, anise and crushed black fruit on the nose, juicy and jimmy with black licorice and slate on the moderate to long finish, good grip, some heat. 

 

 

More Barrel Tastings And A Sit-Down Tasting

 

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The Barrel Festival in Sonoma was a three-day event. Since over 100 wineries were participating, I decided to spend each day in one of the sub appellations of Sonoma. Friday afternoon was spent in Russian River Valley, Saturday afternoon in Dry Creek Valley and Sunday afternoon in Alexander Valley with a stop in the town of Healdsburg which is pretty much the center of the Sonoma wine region and has many tasting rooms.

In addition to barrel tastings I was able to attend a sit down tasting at the Ramey Cellars tasting room and a tasting at the Stonestreet tasting room both in downtown Healdsburg.

 

Ramey Wine Cellars

2010 Chardonnay “Ritchie Vineyards” RRV: Medium gold, slightly cloudy, big honeyed nose, thick and chewy, moderate acids.

2015 Chardonnay “Ritchie Vineyards” RRV: Medium gold, closed nose of honey with green herbs, tropical fruit notes and lime custard on the fruit.

2015 Chardonnay “Rochioli Vineyard” RRV: Medium gold, tropical fruit, toast and earth on the nose, tighter than Ritchie with tropical fruit on notes, clean finish.

2015 Chardonnay Estate “Westside Farms” RRV: Clear medium gold with green tints, big peach nose with lime notes on the finish.

2016 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Clear medium purple, plummy nose, raspberry jam on the moderate fruit, tight with some heat at the end.

2014 Syrah “Rodgers Creek Vineyard”: With 10% Viognier, dark red with a perfume of crushed fruit and black pepper on the nose, chewy, spicy with firm tannins.

2015 “Template” Napa Valley: Merlot focused blend, medium to dark red with a perfume of pencil shavings and crushed black fruit, silky dark fruit ending with firm tannins. Only 139 cases made.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon “Annum” Napa Valley: This is their “winemaker’s wine”, dark red with dusty green notes on the nose, juicy and plummy with firm tannins on the long finish.

 

Stonestreet Estate Vineyards High altitude grown wines

2015 Estate Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc: Medium gold, toasty, oily nose, moderate oily fruit and acids, mouth-watering.

2015 Chardonnay “Broken Road”: Medium gold with a greenish tint, toasty nose, moderate tropical fruit and acids, toast notes on the nose.

2016 Chardonnay “Red Point”: Light yellow with greenish tints, tight, toasty tropical fruit on the finish.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon “Bear Point Vineyard”: Dark purple, black olives, bell pepper and pencil shavings on the nose, tight and concentrated with black olive notes on the fruit.

2014 Red Blend “Ridge Walk Mountains”: Dark red to black, dark chocolate on the nose, firm silky red fruit, balance, long finish.

 

Barrel Tastings

Alexander Valley Vineyards: 2017 Estate Pinot Noir, 2014 Sin Zin, 2013 Cyrus Bordeaux Blend.

Acorn Winery: 2015 Cabernet Franc Alegria Vineyard, 2015 Syrah Axiom, 2014 Zinfandel Heritage Vines.

Christopher Creek Winery: 2018 Pinot Noir Bacigalupi, 2018 Pinot Noir Estate, 2016 Pinot Noir Love Vineyard.

David Coffaro Winery: 2018 Zinfandel, 2018 Estate Cuvee, 2018 Terre Melange.

Merriam Vineyards: 2017 Malbec Lower Pond, 2017 Cabernet Franc Windacre, 2017 Right Bank Bordeaux Blend, 2017 Miktos Bordeaux Blend.

Porter Creek Vineyards: 2018 Chardonnay RRV, 2018 Pinot Noir Fiona Hill Vineyard, 2018 Carignane Old Vine.

Soda Rock Winery: 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Twisted Rail, 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon The General, 2018 Primitivo Los Amigos.

Viszlay Vineyards: 2018 Chardonnay, 2017 Pinot Noir.