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.

 

 

Matter of Taste New York 2018

 

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Wine critic and writer Robert Parker’s wine magazine, the Wine Advocate, hosts a series of global wine events throughout the year “bringing iconic wines of the world to Advocate’s members”. They host walk-around tastings, Master Classes and Dinners. In 2018 the journal hosted events in London, Singapore, San Francisco and on November 10th, their 40th anniversary addition of Matter of Taste New York City. The event was held this year as in last at the Conrad Hotel  located at 102 North End Avenue down the block from the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan.

This wine event is one of, if not the best consumer wine tasting of the year. The walk-around tasting featured a staggering amount (over 300) of some of the best wines from the wine producing countries of Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United States.

At these mega-tastings, there are far too many wines to try to sample in one afternoon or at least sample all and still be standing by the end of the afternoon, so I did what I usually do at these huge events and focused my tasting. That meant meandering around the Bordeaux and California tables and stopping to sample outliers at Spain and Italy. I was able to attend one of the interesting master classes as well. I tasted a lot of good juice this afternoon.

Some of what I sampled:

 

New World

2014 Kistler Vineyards Chardonnay “Kistler Vineyard” (Sonoma Valley) Light gold, dusty nose with gun-metal notes on the moderate fruit.

2014 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay “Estate” (Santa Cruz Mt) Dark gold, juicy tropical nose with tropical fruit and lime notes on the finish.

1996 Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” (Santa Cruz Mt) Dark brick with a pretty perfume of sweet fruit and dark chocolate, chewy and dusty fruit with firm acids.

2002 Joseph Phelps Vineyard “Insignia” (Napa Valley) Black in color, roasted coffee and dried leaf on the nose, chunky with some cooked fruit notes on the fruit, still has good balance.

2007 Crocker & Star Winery Cabernet Sauvignon “Stone Place” (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red with dark red fruit on the nose, chunky and juicy with silky, firm tannins.

2008 Ramey Cellars “Pedregal” (Napa Valley) From a 3 acre plot, black in color, dried leaf and black licorice on the nose, chewy and thick with herb notes on the finish.

2013 Continuum Estate Red (Napa Valley) Dark red, barnyard and crushed red fruit on the nose with chewy, barnyard fruit.

2013 Donelan Family Syrah “Obsidian Vineyard” (Sonoma Valley) Medium red with dusty barnyard on the nose, thick and chunky with smoky, dusty fruit on the balanced finish.

2014 Opus One (Napa Valley) Opaque black, warm crushed black fruit on the nose, tight and concentrated with a silky, tight finish.

2014 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Dancing Bear Ranch” (Napa Valley) Dark red, barnyard notes on the nose, dark chocolate on the fruit, firm tannins.

2014 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Red Rock Terrace” (Napa Valley) Opaque dark purple, floral herbs on the nose, chewy with a nice grip on the balanced finish.

2014 Brion Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Moon Mt” (Napa Valley) Deep black in color, crushed red fruit on the nose, thick dark chocolate fruit, balanced, long finish.

2014 Harlan Estate “Harlan Estate” (Napa Valley) Dark red with dusty crushed red fruit with some barnyard notes on the finish.

2014 Krupp Bros. Cabernet Sauvignon “Stagecoach Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Dark red to black, crushed black fruit on the nose, chunky and chewy black licorice on the fruit, balanced.

2015 Pahlmeyer “Proprietary Red” (Napa Valley) Dark red in color, toasty red fruit on the nose with dusty red fruit.

2015 Gallica Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley) 96 cases made, medium red, dusty plums on the nose with concentrated dark red fruit with a dusty finish, balanced.

2015 J. Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir “West Block” (Sonoma Valley) From old vines (1869), Medium purple with dark fruit and a touch of pine on the nose, tight, chewy fruit with some tart notes on the finish.

 

Old World

2014 Domaine Jean Chartron Chevalier Montrachet “Clos des Chevaliers” (Burgundy) Light gold, dirty nose with lime notes on the finish.

2005 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Paulliac) Dark brick with an amber rim, crushed dark fruit, mint and some barnyard on the nose, chewy dark chocolate on the fruit, moderate tannins and acids, long finish.

2005 Chateau Trotanoy (Pomerol) Dark red to black with an amber rim with a floral perfume, chewy with bell pepper notes on the tight and tannic finish.

2008 Chateau Pape-Clement (Pessac-Leognan) Black in color, dark chocolate on the nose, tight with frim tannins and acid.

2009 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (St-Julien) Dark purple, closed nose of mint and bell pepper, silky tannins.

2010 Chateau Pavie (St-Emilion) Black in color, dusty red fruit on the nose with slate notes on the fruit, silky tannins.

2010 Chateau Figeac (St-Emilion) Dark red, toasty crushed black fruit and dark chocolate on the nose with dusty slate notes on the finish.

2015 Chateau Canon (St-Emilion) Very dark amber, warm cooked black on the nose with tight, silky tannins.

2007 Marchesi Antinori “Solaia” (Tuscany) Black as tar with silky red fruit, tight finish goes long.

2013 Marchesi Antinori “Tignanello” (Tuscany) Dark red, green herbs on the nose with very tight fruit.

2013 Tenuta Guido “Sassicaia” (Tuscany) Medium red, warm dried leaf on the nose, tight, moderate juicy fruit with firm acids.

2004 Vega Sicilia “Unico” (Ribera del Duero) Dark red to black with dusty, dried leaf notes on the nose, dusty fruit.

2014 Pingus “Pingus” (Ribera del Duero) Dark purple to black with an amber rim, slate notes on the nose, tight with gun metal notes on the dusty finish.

 

Master Class: A Preview of the 2016 Bordeaux Reds

From what I’ve been reading, the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux was weird. The first part of the year saw massive rains which worried the owners and wine makers that the vintage would be a washout, but then the rest of the year was bone dry which seems to have balanced things out and many are calling it an excellent vintage. At this seminar I was able to sample one white and thirteen reds, many of which were recently bottled. At this stage they haven’t had a chance to settle in, with that I found a lot of concentrated red fruit with robust tannins. These wines are built for aging, I would love to try this tasting again ten years from now.

Smith Haut-Lafite Blanc                Smith Haut-Lafite

Pape Clement                                   Leoville Barton

Pontet-Canet                                     Rauzan-Segla

Canon                                                 Peby Faugeres

Troplong Mondot                             Valandraud

Belair-Monage                                  La Fleur-Petrus

Trotanoy                                           La Conseillante

 

 

 

Matter of Taste New York 2017

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Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate presented its Matter of Taste wine event on Sunday, December 3rd. It was the final event of the year of their global tasting series that had similar events held in London, Singapore and Macau. This year’s theme was The Ultimate Cult Cabernets and Champagne and featured over 300 wines rated 90 points or more by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

The event was held at the Conrad hotel located at 102 North End Avenue in lower Manhattan and was a walk-around tasting with a couple of seminars thrown in.

Wines were offered from many of the wine-producing countries of the world but the stars of the afternoon were the Cult Cabernets from California. There were many high-end wines from Washington State as well. As with tastings of this size I had to focus my efforts and that focus was on the California wines. Without a doubt this was one of the best tastings of the year with a copious amount of the best wines from California available for tasting.

Some of what I sampled:

California

2014 B Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer Vineyard” (Napa Valley). Dark purple, green herbs and dark chocolate on the nose with chewy, cocoa and tobacco fruit on the nice balance.

2013 Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Proprietary Red (Napa Valley). Mostly Cabernet Franc, black in color, graphite on the nose, tight with teeth coating tannins at the end.

2014 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon “Ganymede” (Napa Valley). Black, warm cooked fruit on the nose, concentrated and thick with green herbs on the finish, moderate tannins and acids.

2013 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon “Tomahawk” (Napa Valley). Black, crushed black fruit and sage on the nose, concentrated with firm tannins, moderate acidity.

2013  Chimney Rock “Elevage” (Stags Leap District). Bordeaux blend, Black with a sweet perfume of violets and cooked ripe fruit, tight and concentrated black fruit with a good grip on the balanced finish.

2015 Clos du Val Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley). Black, dark chocolate on the nose, chewy, dark chocolate fruit with silky, firm tannins.

2015 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon “Hirondelle Estate” (Napa Valley). Black, green vegetable nose, black fruit, firm finish, nice balance

2014 DuMol Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Dark purple, green herbs on the nose, concentrated with nice balance.

2011 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mt). Dark red to black, green herbs on the nose, moderate fruit with tobacco notes on the nicely balanced finish.

2012 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mt). Black with green herbs and dark chocolate on the nose, dusty, firm, with cocoa notes on the balanced finish.

2015 Gemstone Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Alluvial Selection” (Napa Valley). Dark purple with tobacco and green herbs on the nose, chewy with moderate tannin and acids.

2013 Hertelendy Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Black in color, cinnamon spice on the nose, tight and concentrated with silky tannins and coffee notes on the nicely balanced finish.

2014 Hertelendy Audère Red Blend (Napa Valley). Black, sweet black cherry on the nose, concentrated and tight with big tannins.

2014 Joseph Phelps “Insignia” (Napa Valley). Black in color, roasted nuts on the nose with tight, silky red fruit with tobacco notes on the firm and balanced finish.

2013 Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (Sonoma). Black with a perfume of black leather, chewy and chunky with a nice balance.

2014 Larkmead Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon “Solari” (Napa Valley). Black, closed nose of tree bark, concentrated and juicy with a balanced finish.

2013 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon “Lot 1” (Napa Valley). Black, dark chocolate and dark red fruit on the nose, dusty, cocoa and nice silky tannin on the fruit.

2014 Martin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon “Collector’s Reserve” (Napa Valley). Dark red with graphite and fresh herbs on the nose, dusty slate notes on the concentrated fruit, nice grip.

2015 Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon “Animo” (Napa Valley). Dark purple, plum and green herbs on the nose, deep red fruit with a moderate to long finish.

2013 Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon “M” (Napa Valley). Single vineyard Cabernet, dark purple to black, graphite and dark chocolate on the nose, firm and balanced on the long finish.

2013 Mauriston Wines Cabernet Sauvignon “Suther” (Sonoma). Dark purple with a perfume of smoky violets, dusty black cherry fruit ending with teeth coating tannins.

2014 Newton Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Mt Veeder). Dark red to black, sweet black fruit on the nose, green herb notes on the concentrated fruit, drops a bit at the end.

2004 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mtn). Black with a perfume of mint, tar and crushed sweet black fruit, juicy, crushed fruit, moderate acidity, tasty.

2004 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon (Mt Veeder). Black, sweet perfume of plums and toast, dusty concentrated, firm finish.

2014 Quintessa Winery Red Blend (Napa Valley). Bordeaux blend, dark purple, green herbs on the nose, juicy fruit with nice balance and a long finish.

2013 Sbragia Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Monte Rosso” (Napa Valley). Black, camphor, black fruit on the nose, chewy black licorice fruit ending with firm tannins.

2013 Sbragia Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Godspeed Vineyard” (Sonoma). Black, big perfume of mint, tight and concentrated with toast notes on the firm finish.

2013 Sojourn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer Vineyard George III” (Napa Valley). Dark red, fresh herbs on the nose, dusty black fruit with a nice finish.

2014 Sojurn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville). Medium red, closed nose of spice with dusty red fruit and a long finish.

2010 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon “MM Vineyard” (Napa Valley). Black with tobacco and red cherry on the nose, chewy tobacco notes on the balanced fruit.

Others

2010 Chateau Phelan-Segur (St-Estephe). Dark red, nice perfume of tar, tight dark fruit with silky tannins on the moderate to long finish.

2008 Ducru Beaucaillou (St-Julien). Dark red, camphor and petroleum on the nose with concentrated dark fruit with a grip of bitter black cherry at the end.

2014 La Croix de Beaucaillou (St-Julien). Medium red with herbs and toast on the nose, bell pepper notes on the moderate fruit and firm tannins.

 

Wine Spectator’s NY Wine Experience 2017

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The 37th annual Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience was held on October 19-21. It was three days of sit down seminars, wine pairing lunches, critics choice grand tastings ending with an awards banquet on Saturday night. The event was held at the Marriott Marquis hotel at 1535 Broadway in the heart of Times Square, Manhattan with all of the net proceeds going to the Wine Spectator’s scholarship fund.

Over 2,000 people attended the Grand Tastings each night on Thursday and Friday evenings which featured over 250, 90+ wines from some of the best wine regions in the word. I attended on Friday night.

What can I say, it was an embarrassment of riches with such an impressive choice of high-end juice that would take days to try them all. Unfortunately  I had one night so I had to focus my tasting. I decided on reds from Bordeaux and California Cabernet with the Italians at the end of the evening for a chance of pace.

California

 

2006 Hall Exzellenz “Sacrashe Vineyard” (Rutherford): Dark red to black, complex nose of crushed green herbs, red fruit, chewy dark chocolate fruit with green olives, coffee and dark chocolate on the firm but balanced finish.

2007 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Martha’s Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Medium red to black, tar and mint on the nose, silky fruit, moderate tannins with herbs on the long finish. Delicious wine.

2007 Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” (Santa Cruz): Dark red with an amber rim, crushed sour cherry on the nose, chewy, black licorice and dark chocolate on the fruit, good grip.

2007 Ramey Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Annum” (Napa Valley): Amber in color, big tarry nose, cherry, tar and mint on the chewy fruit, nice balance.

2011 Diamond Creek “Red Rock Terrace” (Napa Valley): Dark red to black, green olives on the nose, tight, bright tarry fruit, good balance, long finish.

2012 Carter Cellars “To Kalon Vineyards” (Napa Valley): Black in color, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy black fruit, juicy with firm tannins.

2012 Mt. Brave “Mt. Veeder” (Napa Valley): Black, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy mint notes on the fruit, juicy and balanced.

2012 Ernest & Julio Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (Sonoma): Black, sweet cherry on the nose, concentrated red cherry fruit, nice balance.

2013 Louis Martini “Monte Rosso” (Sonoma Valley): Black with crushed black fruit on the nose, chunky, chewy, juicy, mint notes on the fruit, balanced.

2013 Duckhorn Merlot “Three Palms Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Dark red to black, roasted coffee and dried red berry on the nose, chewy ending with firm, bright fruit.

2014 Opus One (Napa Valley): Medium dark red, crushed dark berries and earth on the nose, chewy, dusty dark chocolate on the fruit with silky tannins.

2014 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Napa Valley): Dark black, crushed red fruit on the nose, chewy dark chocolate on the fruit, moderate finish.

Bordeaux

 

2002 Chateau Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac): Black in color, closed nose of mint and red cherry, concentrated with chalk notes and roasted coffee on the fruit, hot acids on the finish.

2005 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac): Medium amber, black olives on the nose, tight with coffee notes and silky tannins on the firm, balanced finish.

2006 Chateau Margaux (Margaux): Medium amber, sweet tar on the nose, tight, tarry with mouth coating tannins, some tartness on the finish.

2006 Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan): Dark red, tarry earth notes on the nose, tight silky fruit with silky tannins ending with a nice grip.

2000 Chateau Leoville Las Cases (St-Julien): Black, green olives on the nose, tight, silky tannins with green olive notes on the finish.

2004 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan): Dark red to black, green olives and herbs on the nose, silky fruit, balance, long finish, a beautiful wine.

2006 Chateau Leoville Barton (St-Julien): Dark red to black, smoky, black fruit on the nose, tarry with firm tannins, lingering finish.

2008 Cos D’ Estournel (St-Estephe): Dark red to black, roasted coffee on the nose, concentrated bright red fruit, green herbs on the finish, good balance.

2009 Chateau Montrose (St-Estephe): Black in color, tarry, strawberry and roast coffee on the nose, a little chunky with a big, silky mouthfeel and firm tannins.

2009 Chateau Canon-La Gaffeliere (St-Emilion): Dark red, crushed sour cherry nose, tight, red cherry fruit, firm tannins.

2009 Chateau La Fleur Petrus (Pomerol): Medium amber, closed nose of toasty dark chocolate, chewy fruit with mint and fresh herb notes, good balance.

2010 Chateau Figeac (St-Emilion): Black in color, green olives on the nose, chewy fruit with mint notes, firm with a lingering finish.

2011 Chateau Clerc Milon (Pauillac): Dark red, tarry cooked cherries on the nose, concentrated black fruit, juicy and balance with a good grip.

2012 Chateau Pavie (St-Emilion): Black, roasted coffee on the nose, concentrated red fruit with good balance.

2014 Chateau Pichon-Longueville (Pauillac): Dark red, black olives on the nose, dusty dark chocolate on the fruit with nice balance.

Italy

 

2000 Allegrini  Amarone “Classico” (Veneto): Dark red with an amber rim, roasted nuts on the nose with ripe plums and good acidity on the fruit.

2007 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna del Plano Riserva” (Tuscany): Amber in color, big tarry nose, chewy fruit of tar and mint, chewy finish with a nice balance.

2010 Masseto (Tuscany): Medium amber, tar and leather on the nose with chewy dark chocolate fruit and firm acids.

2013 Gaja Barberesco “Sori Tilden” (Piedmont): Medium amber, very closed nose of black cherry with dusty red cherry fruit and silky tannin. Atypical Barberesco.

2013 Tenuta San Guido “Sassicaia” (Tuscany): Medium red, roasted nuts on the nose and on the fruit with balanced tannins and acids.

 

 

Golden Gate Wine Cellars NYC Tasting

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Golden Gate Wine Cellars is a San Francisco based wine retail store that specializes in hard to find boutique and cult wineries. This past Saturday they held their 12th anniversary East coast wine tasting in New York City.

The event was held at the New York City Fire Museum at 278 Spring Street in Manhattan. The museum houses “one of the prominent collections of fire related art, artifacts, gear and apparatus from the late 18th century to the present”

The tasting showcased small and off the radar California wineries with the owner/winemaker on hand behind the tables to pour their wines and answer questions.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Argot Vineyards

2014 Chardonnay “Estate” (Sonoma). Medium yellow, tropical fruit on the nose, juicy, cinnamon fruit.

2014 Pinot Noir “Estate” (Sonoma). Dark red, brick rim, crushed black fruit and cooked plum on the nose, silky, chewy fruit, nice grip on the finish.

2013 Syrah (Sonoma). Black, closed nose, silky, dusty and chewy fruit, nice balance.

 

Attune Winery

2015 Chardonnay (Sonoma). Light gold, melon on the nose, toasty oak notes on the fruit.

2014 Pinot Noir “Estate” (Sonoma). Medium red, brick rim, fresh herbs and dark crushed berries on the nose, tight and firm fruit.

 

Coho Winery

2013 Cab Blend “Headwaters” (Napa Valley). Dark red, closed nose of crushed rocks mint and petrol, chunky and chewy with good balance.

2013 Merlot “Michael Black” (Napa Valley). Black, crushed red fruit on the nose, chewy black licorice fruit, firm balance.

2012 Proprietary Red “C2” (Napa Valley). Dark red, smoky bacon notes on the nose, silky and tight.

 

Dumol Winery

2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Medium gold, toasty kiwi on the nose, juicy tropical fruit, oak notes on the firm fruit, some heat.

2015 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Medium red, crushed rock on the nose, chewy red leather, bitter cherry on the finish.

2015 Syrah (Russian River Valley). Black, purple rim, closed nose of slate, dusty slate fruit, juicy nice balance.

 

Y. Rousseau Winery

2013 Merlot “Pepe” Cavedale  Vineyard. Dark red, brown rim, mint and plum on the nose, tight, pruney with firm acids.

2013 Tannat “Alder Springs” (Mendocino). From a 2.9 acre plot, black with crushed blueberry on the nose, chunky, rustic with a firm finish.

 

Purlieu Winery

2014 Chardonnay “Shibumi Knoll” (Russian River Valley). Medium gold, peaches and tropical fruit on the nose, juicy tropical fruit with lime notes on the finish.

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Black, crushed red berry on the nose, juicy, crushed black fruit and rocks with a juicy finish.

 

Young Ridge Winery

2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley). Light yellow, grassy, cantaloupe on the nose with damp earth on the moderate finish.

 

Inherit The Sheep

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Coombsville). Black with a tight nose of strawberries, concentrated and chewy with good balance.

 

Bohème Carte Blanche

2013 Pinot Noir “Stuller” (Sonoma). Medium to light red, big perfume of crushed strawberry and damp earth with juicy strawberry on the moderate finish.

2013 Proprietary Red Blend (Napa Valley). Dark red to black with crushed fresh herbs on the nose, tight with good balance. 

 

B. Kosuge

2014 Pinot Noir “The Shop” (Carneros). Medium brick with plum notes on the nose, tight berry and smoke on the fruit with good balance.

 

MC4 Vineyards

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (St. Helena). 126 cases from a one acre plot. Black with barnyard, burnt bacon and turpentine on the nose, concentrated fruit with mouth watering tannins on the finish.

 

Post Parade Winery

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Stretch Drive” (Napa Valley). Black, red cherry and black cherry on the nose, juicy red fruit on the finish.

 

Lieu Dit Winery

2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Ynez). Light yellow with honeydew on the nose, tight with citrus notes on the finish.