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.

 

Sonoma Barrel Tastings Day 1

 

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The 42nd annual Sonoma Barrel Tasting was held the first two weekends in March from Friday to Sunday each weekend. Over 100 wineries participated in the event in which you had the opportunity to sample their wines that are still aging in the barrels. The wineries also offered the opportunity to purchase “futures” of those wines at a discount.

It’s a yearly party with groups of people coming back year after year for the weekend. Many of the wineries had live bands and music and though not billed as a food event, many served nibbles.

Many of the superstar wineries in Sonoma did not participate in the event but it was a great opportunity to try the smaller, off the radar wineries that would have been overlooked at another time.

Many of the barrel wines were not surprisingly from the 2017& 2018 vintages but some wineries were pouring from older vintages in barrels as well. Surprisingly I found many of the barrel samples less harsh than I anticipated, no doubt because of the warmer growing seasons that kept the acids low. Not too long ago I had a tasting of newly bottled 2016 Bordeaux and my mouth was shriveling from all the tannin.

I was at the event the second weekend which means I missed the extensive flooding that had hit the wine region the previous week. Some wineries told me they had floodwaters coming up to the tasting room door! Since the wines were unfinished, I didn’t take notes, I just enjoyed the party.

Some of the wineries I stopped by for barrel samples:

 

Balletto Vineyards: 2018 Winery Block Pinot Noir, 2018 BCD Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2018 Emerson Block Pinot Noir.

Clos du Bois Winery: 2016 Fumé Blance Reserve, 2017 Chardonnay Reserve, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 2014 Briarcrest.

Davis Family Vineyards: 2017 Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir, 2017 Soul Patch Pinot Noir, 2017 Old Vines Zinfandel.

Deloach Vineyards: 2018 Estate Pinot Noir

D’Argenzio Winery: 2018 Marcucci Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2018 DeNatale Sangiovese, 2018 Marcucci Vineayrd Zinfandel, 2017 Anthesis Pinot Noir.

deLorimier Winery: 2017 Primitivo River Lane Reserve, 2016 Cabernet Franc Romazzotti, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Crazy Creek Reserve.

Fog Crest Vineyards: 2018 Rosé.

Porter Creek Winery: 2018 Fiona Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2018 Carignane  Old Vine.

Pedroncelli Winery: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Block 007, 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Block 007.

WestWines: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

Starlight Vineyards

 

 

 

Lodi California

 

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The 42nd annual Sonoma barrel tasting event was held on the first two weekends in March. Over 100 wineries participated in the event where you had the opportunity to sample wines that are still aging in the barrel. Arriving in California a couple of days before the event I decided to visit a wine region that I had not visited on my previous wine tours in California and that wine region was Lodi. In 2015 Wine Enthusiast magazine named Lodi wine region of the year.

The Lodi AVA (American Vinicultural Area) is located about 100 miles east of San Francisco Bay and just west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The grape growing industry in the area goes back to the mid 1800’s but was only granted AVA status in 1986. Lodi has over 75,000 acres of vineyards and supplies 20% of the California wine grape crop each year producing more wine than Sonoma and Napa combined.

It’s known as the Zinfandel capital of the world with many 100 year old+ zinfandel vines. Driving through the wine country you see rows and rows of those old, gnarly stumps that are still producing fruit. In addition to Zins, because of its Mediterranean climate the region grows over 100 varietals of grapes from many of the wine producing countries of Europe. Spanish varietals such as Albariño, Verdejo and Tempranillo, Portuguese varietals of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão, Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Aglianico and Terlodago and German varietals of Kerner and Dornfelder just to name a few of the100 varietals that are grown in the Lodi AVA.

It should have been about an hour and a half drive from San Francisco airport to the wineries as the crow flies, but the crow didn’t have to sit in city traffic on the way. I had one full day of tasting. Many of the wineries are run by people who have been in the business for generations. This is farm country and the vibe was very casual.

 

Klinker Brick Winery  15887 North Alpine Road

2017 Granache Blanc: Greenish tint with a green apple nose, green apple fruit, crisp and light.

2015 Dolcetto: Dark purple to black, big perfume of crushed black fruit, tight with rosemary notes on the fruit.

2015 Old Vine Zinfandel “Marisa Vineyard”: Black with a purple rim, crushed black fruit and dried herbs on the nose, black licorice on the tight finish.

2015 1850°: 1850 is the number in degrees the temperature needed to make a Klinker Brick. Dark purple, sweet nose of baked apples, tight, dusty fruit.

2015 Petit Sirah: Inky black, some stinky notes on the nose, chalky, dusty, crushed black fruit finishing with tight, firm tannins.

2015 Carignan: Medium purple, roasted nuts on the nose, sweet red leather fruit with firm tannings and a long finish.

 

Van Ruiten Family Vineyards  340 West Highway 12

2017 Pinot Grigio: Medium gold, floral, earth with some peach notes on the nose, moderate acids with some RS on the fruit.

2016 Tempranillo: Medium red, tar and black pepper on the nose, tight black licorice fruit, crisp acids.

 

Oak Farm Vineyards  23627 North Devries Road

2018 Grenache Rosé: Light copper in color, strawberry nose, strawberry fruit, dry.

2017 Sauvignon Blanc: Light yellow, sweet kiwi on the nose, medium to light fruit, low acid, easy drinking.

2017 Corset: Blend of Syrah, Granache, Zinfandel and Malbec. Medium red, roast meat notes on the nose, tight with oak notes on the firm finish.

2016 Petit Verdot: Inky purple, sweet black cherry notes on the nose, juicy with dried herbs on the finish.

2017 Zinfandel “Vapor Trail”: Medium purple, jammy, smoky nose, jammy, smoky black berry fruit, good balance. 16.5% Alcohol.

 

m2 Wines  2900 East Peltier Road

2018 Vermentino: Light gold, sweet nose of peaches, mod fruit with honey notes on the fruit, nice balance.

2016 Lodi Native Zinfandel: Medium brick, beautiful perfume of tar and leather, dark chocolate on the tight fruit, long finish

2016 Zinfandel “Soucie”: From 100 year-old vines, medium red, perfume of warm red berries on the nose, jammy, dark chocolate fruit.

 

Fields Family Wines  3803 East Woodbridge Road

2017 Vermentino Delu Vineyard: Light gold, stinky nose, floral, moderate fruit, nice balance.

2017 Cinsault: Light red, turned earth on the nose, tight cherry fruit with a firm finish.

2014 Syrah “Roasted Slope”: Medium purple, roasted meat on the nose, tight green herbs on the fruit, firm acidity.

2015 Mouvedre: Medium red, red cherry and earth on the nose, juicy with bitter cherry notes, good balance.

 

Harney Lane Winery  9010 East Harney Lane

2016 Tempranillo: Medium purple, perfume of cherries, red cherry fruit ending with bitter cherry notes.

2016 Zinfandel “Lizzy James”: From 115 year old vines, medium purple, jammy, blueberry fruit, firm finish.

2016 Petite Sirah: Dark purple to black, crushed black fruit on the nose, concentrated dark chocolate on the fruit.