Do You Know Petit Verdot?

Primarily used as a component in Bordeaux-style blends, Petit Verdot could use a champion or three. I found a trio of winemakers who take this grape beyond the blend, making it the star of the show.

My first article for SevenFifty Daily takes a look at Petit Verdot through three winemakers:

I not only explore the difficulty of making wine from this thick-skinned, tannic grape, but also consider how the heck you sell it.

Take a look:

The Challenges and Rewards of Making Petit Verdot

Vineyard image courtesy Virginia Wine.

The post Do You Know Petit Verdot? appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Two Wines That Prove Colorado Is The Next Wine Region to Watch

I grew up in Colorado. If you had told me as a high schooler that Colorado would one day be making fine wine, I would have laughed in your face. High quality beef? Sure. Beer? of course. Fantastic weed? Plausible. But wine? Never. But that was before I understood the origins of the vitis vinifera in the arid plateaus and of central Asia. That was before I visited Chile and Argentina and Turkey and Sicily and before I tasted wines from the high deserts and scrubby foothills of snow capped mountain ranges.

Now the idea of Colorado wine is not only plausible, it's quite intriguing. Which is why, two years ago, I jumped at the chance to be a judge at the Colorado Governor's Cup wine competition. Wine judging is thankless work. It's tedious and difficult, and usually yields a splitting headache for me at the end of the day. But it also remains the single best way to take a crash course on an unknown or less familiar region or wine style. So I've had something of a short education in Colorado wine, and since then, I've been watching it close enough to be able to confidently say that it has crossed the line from regional novelty to serious potential.

Two Wines That Prove Colorado Is The Next Wine Region to Watch

You see, wine is now made in every one of the fifty united states. But in many states, it remains a largely local fascination -- something that the locals enjoy because it is theirs, but not worthy of much attention by wine aficionados, let alone the major critics. In recent years, several states have broken out of the cottage industry territory by making wines that were simply too good to ignore. Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, Texas and New Jersey have all proven that they can make wines capable of holding their own against wines from America's much better known wine regions such as California, Oregon, Washington, and New York.

Colorado now belongs in that company. Though there are some who have been making that case for decades.

Chief amongst the believers in Colorado's potential you'll find a surprisingly famous name: Warren Winiarski, the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars winemaker responsible for the winning Cabernet Sauvignon at the legendary 1976 Paris Tasting. In perhaps the least known episode of the famed winemaker's professional history, Winiarski left his position at Robert Mondavi Winery in 1968, and accepted a winemaking position at Ivancie Cellars, a pioneering winery founded by a wine loving dentist that would close six years later after having made wine primarily from grapes trucked in from California. But along with making wine from Napa fruit, Winiarski helped to put some vines in the ground that would literally be the seeds of an idea that encouraged other adventurous, enterprising and risk-tolerant wine lovers to try their hands at more local production. The knowledge that grapes had been cultivated in the state as far back as the late 1800s helped Winiarski and others that followed imagine the possibilities, and beginning in 1978 commercial wineries began to pop-up around the state.

Two Wines That Prove Colorado Is The Next Wine Region to Watch

Today, Colorado boasts more than 120 vineyards with 1000 acres of vines spread across several key winemaking regions and two official American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). More than 88% of the vines are in the high plateaus of Mesa County, which borders Utah in the western part of the state, but wine is now made in more than 9 different areas of the state.

Winemakers have experimented with many different grapes in Colorado over the years, and they continue to do so. The local winemakers seem particularly excited about aromatic white wines such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, and Muscat, but while I've had reasonably competent examples, I've yet to have one of these that really excites me from Colorado. Instead my tastings have led me to believe that the most promising grapes in the state are Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and other Bordeaux blends. I've also tasted a couple of really excellent Chardonnays and Petit Verdots.

Colorado is on its way up, and as with most up-and-coming regions, that means there's still a lot of value to be had in the region. While there are some winemakers using very expensive barrels and charging $40+ a bottle, some of the best wines can still be had for under $20. Unfortunately, the flip side of this equation is that outside of Colorado these wines can be a little tougher to locate. But there's always Wine Searcher.

So, if you're a curious wine lover (and you should be, as that is a virtue) then I suggest you get a taste of what the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Here are two wines that truly demonstrate Colorado's potential.

2015 Guy Drew Vineyards Syrah, Colorado
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry and, curiously, strawberry fruit. In the mouth, ripe flavors of blackberry and boysenberry have a wonderful cool stony aspect to them with just a faint hint of aromatic sweetness. Excellent acidity and balance, this is a beautifully poised wine that will please most Syrah lovers. 14.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2015 Holy Cross Abbey Reserve Merlot, Colorado
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of plum and cherry fruit. In the mouth, slightly nutty flavors of cherry and plum are juicy and bright thanks to excellent acidity. There's clearly wood present, and more wood flavor than I would like, but it is nicely integrated into the wine and delivers a mocha sweetness to the finish. Very well made. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28.

Images courtesy of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.



Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 4, 2018

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I'm pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included some more wines from one of my favorite producers in Italy, Feudi di San Gregorio. I've been writing about these wines for more than a decade, and they just keep getting better. This week we're looking at two Aglianicos -- their entry level Taurasi bottling, and their more reserve Piano di Montevergine, both of which are worth getting your hands on, but the Piano is showing beautifully at the moment.

While still on that side of the Atlantic, we should note the ever-affordable Viña Real bottling from C.V.N.E. that represents their entry-level Rioja. At $16 it's an easy house red.

Closer to home, this week features some prestigious producers of Pinot and Cabernet. I've got three single-vineyard bottlings from William-Selyem that are fairly true to the winery's form, though one could have done with a little less oak.

On the Cabernet side, we've got three wines from the single-vineyard producer Nickel & Nickel, whose Cabernets are quite reliably polished and tasty. My favorite was the State Ranch Cabernet, which offered everything that you want from a traditionally modern Napa Cabernet.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 4, 2018Detailed notes below. Enjoy.

2015 Williams Selyem "Eastside Road Neighbors" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and raspberry. In the mouth, bright cherry and raspberry fruit is clearly oak inflected, but so boisterous with bright acidity that it's hard not to enjoy the juiciness as it washes over the palate. Muscular tannins wait in the wings to add some stiffness to the wine and shepherd it through a long life. 13.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2015 Williams Selyem "Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and boysenberries. In the mouth, bright cherry fruit flavors are shot through with the flavors of oak, which stick out a bit much for my taste at this point in the wine's evolution. Excellent acidity and underlying minerality, plus suede-like tannins that hang at the edges of the palate. Give it a bit of time and it will really sing. 13.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $200. click to buy.

2015 Williams Selyem "Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry, cherry and fresh cut herbs. In the mouth, aromatically sweet flavors of black raspberry and raspberry are tinged with dried herbs and the faintest sweetness of oak. Gorgeous, silky tannins hang at the edges of perception, and lovely acidity keeps the fruit bright and juicy across the palate. Delicious. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $135. click to buy.

2011 Feudi di San Gregorio Aglianico, Taurasi, Campania, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and leather and earth. In the mouth, supple, powdery tannins billow around a core of black cherry, leather, and earth. Good acidity and very nice structure, but very very drinkable. Excellent. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $39. click to buy.

2011 Feudi di San Gregorio "Piano di Montevergine" Aglianico, Taurasi, Campania, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and black cherry and leather. In the mouth, black cherry and sour cherry flavors have a wonderful brightness thanks to excellent acidity, and a tangy sourness that lingers pleasantly in the finish. Very fine grained tannins skirt the edges of the mouth. Smooth as silk. Almost regal in its bearing. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $58. click to buy.

2013 Viña Real "Crianza" Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cherries and raisins. In the mouth, cherry and a faint raisin flavor mix with vanilla and leather. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit vibrant in the mouth despite being on the dried end of the spectrum, and the tannins are so light as to be imperceptible. Aged for 12 months in a mix of French and American oak. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16. click to buy.

2015 Nickel & Nickel "Element 28" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cola. In the mouth, cherry and cola flavors have a mouthwatering juiciness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Fine grained tannins add a little grip, but this wine is mostly about juicy fruit and a touch of caramelized oak smokiness that is quite appealing. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $??

2015 Nickel & Nickel "John C. Sullenger" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cassis. In the mouth, cassis and tobacco leaf flavors have a very grapey primary character, bursting with acidity. Fine grained but very muscular tannins aggressively grip the palate. This wine is quite young yet, and should be left alone for a year or two at least. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2015 Nickel & Nickel "State Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of ripe cherry fruit. In the mouth, cherry and cola flavors have a touch of cocoa powder to them even as they burble with bright acidity. Fine grained tannins flex their muscles as the wine finishes, gripping the palate firmly while notes of sour cherry and a touch of citrus linger in the finish. Very well integrated oak, and nice balance. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.



The Rockstar Vintage: Tasting 2016 Cabernet at Premiere Napa Valley

Some people run a marathon once each year. That's not my speed. Instead, I knuckle down and taste 200 Cabernets for breakfast on one particular Saturday morning.

Each year, the Napa Valley Vintners Association pulls out all the stops to host its annual fundraising event known as Premiere Napa Valley. Not to be confused with its star-studded charity auction in the spring (known as Auction Napa Valley), Premiere Napa Valley is a more focused event. It is a barrel tasting and auction, in which the wines on offer are all unique creations made specifically and only for this event, offering purchasers the opportunity to own an incredibly rare wine that often represents the very pinnacle of the winemaker's efforts in that vintage. All the invited bidders are ostensibly in the wine trade (retailers, distributors, etc.), while other attendees include the media and winery staff. The proceeds from the auction of more than 200 unique lots of wine go to help fund the Vintners Association itself.

The auction action at Premiere always serves as something of a barometer for California wine, measuring both the strength of the Napa brand in the marketplace, as well as the interest in the upper echelon of fine California wine (many auction lots sell for well over $2000 per bottle).

This afternoon, the Vintners raised more than $4.1 million dollars at the auction, which was a hair less than the $4.2 million earned last year, a bit less than the $5 million raised in 2015, and $6 million earned in 2014 and 2015. I continue to be surprised at the downward trajectory of earnings at this event. If I were a betting man, given the strength of the economy, and the quality of this vintage, I would have expected this year's take to be an uptick again. I'm somewhat stumped as to the reason for the continued decline in revenues. It does seem to me that there are fewer of the real superstar wineries (extremely allocated, hard to get labels like Scarecrow, Futo, Dalla Valle, etc.) consistently offering auction lots, and these are the ones that push bids into the six figure range. While the Alpha Omega, Rombauer and Vine Hill Ranch lots hit $75,000 apiece (VHR was just 5 cases, making for a bottle price of $1250) and Staglin clocked in at $65k, only Silver Oak's lot made it to six figures at $110k, and most of the other bids fell below $50k. I haven't done the analysis, but it may also be that wineries are offering smaller lots, which are in turn resulting in smaller bids.

In any case, the economics of this event interest me much less than the wines on offer. Each of the auction lots at Premiere usually represents something approximating the best possible wine that a given winery can make in the vintage. Consequently, the wines offer a unique window into the pinnacle of quality for that particular vintage. Every year, I attend Premiere with the goal of tasting as many of these wines as I can, in an effort to get a bead on the vintage as a whole in Napa.

The Rockstar Vintage: Tasting 2016 Cabernet at Premiere Napa Valley

In the case of today's event, the vintage under review was the 2016 vintage, which as vintages go, was about as close to perfect as you get. Especially after a (finally) wet winter that, if it didn't end it completely, certainly provided much needed relief to the multi-year drought in California. The most remarkable thing about the 2016 growing season was perhaps the fact that it was unmarked by any extreme weather events. The spring was relatively normal, the summer mild, and things heated up a little towards the end of the summer leading to a steady harvest into October, and plenty of warning for the first rainfall of the season, letting almost everyone get harvest in without a hitch.

The resulting wines are really very, very good. I'd describe them as generous, but beautifully balanced. Acidity was excellent (though one never knows how much of that is nature contributed versus winemaker contributed in general) and tannins are mostly supple, fine grained, and well proportioned. Those who chose to harvest on the earlier side got mouthwatering cherry fruit flavors, and those who waited for more maturity got powerful black cherry and cassis qualities.

Not since the 2013 vintage have I been so excited about the quality of these wines, and, truth be told, I believe 2016 will exceed 2013 in quality if only because it seems almost impossible not to have made excellent wine in 2016. I think it was a very forgiving vintage, allowing those with less skill to make good wines, and those with true talent to make exceptional wines.

The Rockstar Vintage: Tasting 2016 Cabernet at Premiere Napa Valley

There were many standouts among the wines today, many from unsurprising sources, as well as a few from producers I'm not used to seeing at the top of my lists. Continuum, Corison, Ovid, and Staglin are often among my favorites. Inglenook offered a really gorgeous, racy wine this year, as did O'Shaughnessy, whose red blend of Malbec, St. Macaire, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and other "lesser" Bordeaux varieties was as delicious as it was interesting. Not surprisingly, Schramsberg's late disgorged sparkling wine showed exceptionally well and made for a delicious palate cleanser amongst the big reds.

As perhaps a more quantitative evaluation of the vintage, it's worth noting that this year, compared to my notes for the last 10 years of attending this event, contains the single largest number of wines scored at or above 9 on my scale. Let me be blunt: 2016 is a rockstar vintage for Napa. Mark my words.

I continue to watch the evolution of oak usage in these wines with both amusement and fascination. This year's sampling yielded an interesting inversion of sorts. A number of producers known for their judicious or even rare use of new oak told me specifically that the wine they had produced for this event used more new oak than normal, and deliberately so in the hopes of being more attractive to buyers. On the other hand, I continue to be appreciative of what seems to be a general and gradual moderation in the use of newer oak by many producers, at least for these particular auction wines (no assumptions should be made that this approach will carry over into these producers' mainstream releases). I continue to be impressed that number of producers are deliberately selecting used or neutral barrels for these wines, which result in wonderfully fresh and pure expressions of fruit that I find much superior to their oak inflected (or overwhelmed) counterparts.

Here are my scores for everything I tasted. The notes in italics after each wine are my brief thoughts made on the spot while tasting. I managed to get through most of, but not all, the 219 wines on offer. Note that anyone interested in getting ahold of the wines below can discover their availability through Premiere Napa Wines, a web site designed to connect successful bidders with consumers who may want to purchase the wines.

The mainstream releases of the 2016 vintages from these wineries (i.e. the ones that will cost you much less than $800 per bottle) will likely be mostly in the autumn of 2018 or in the months following the spring of 2019.


WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10
2016 Continuum Estate Red Wine, Napa Valley. A stunner of a wine. Seamless and polished.
2016 Corison Winery "Premiere Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Lithe, gorgeous
2016 Inglenook "Cask Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Stony, gorgeous, lean and mouthwatering.
2016 Ovid Napa Valley "MMXVI" Red Wine, Napa Valley. Gorgeous, supple, fantastic fruit with almost no trace of oak influence.
2016 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Phenomenally juicy, silky, delicious.
2016 O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery "Best of the Bordeaux Blenders" Red Wine, Howell Mountain. Lovely, expressive, wonderful acids, and a refreshingly unique blend of "lesser" grapes.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2016 Arietta "First Franc" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Juicy, bright, herbal.
2016 Arrow & Branch "Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Wonderful earthiness matched with ripe fruit
2016 Cliff Lede Vineyards "Diamond Fire" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Rich, powerful.
2016 Davies Vineyards "McEachran/Aguirre" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District. Juicy fruit, bright
2016 Davis Estates "The Final Phase" Red Wine, Napa Valley. Bright, delicious.
2016 Dyer Vineyard, Meteor Vineyard "The Wolf Origin" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Very pretty, lush, but with an acidic edge that is very nice.
2016 Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards "Tres Appellations" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich, ripe fruit, juicy, with some restraint.
2016 Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Really pretty, great acidity and balance.
2015 Heritance Vintners "Beckstoffer Georges III" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Juicy, delicious, with just the right amount of herbal leanness.
2016 Hourglass "Eye of The Beholder" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Bright, juicy, cherry cola
2016 Matthiasson "Dead Fred Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Dunno who Fred was, but he's got some kick. Great acidity and restraint.
2015 Notre Vin "In Memoriam" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Gorgeous, sour cherry, mouthwatering.
1997 Schramsberg Vineyards "Schramsberg Reserve Late Disgorged" Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley. Always fantastic. Yeasty, salty, brioche yumminess.
2016 Stony Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Juicy, mouthwatering, ripe for this producer.
2016 The Debate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Juicy, with great balance. Rich, but not over the top.
2016 Turnbull Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Bright, juicy, lovely.
2016 Viader Vineyards & Winery "Homenaje" Red Wine, Napa Valley. Very pretty blueish and red fruits. The Malbec shows in this wine.
2016 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Chiles Valley District. Gorgeous, supple, cherry cola.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2016 Accendo Cellars "Mountain & Bench" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Alpha Omega "Dr. To Kalon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Rich, ripe, but not over the top.
2016 Antica Napa Valley - Antinori Family Wine Estate "C.S. & F. Ltd" Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak. Young. Needs time, but nice balance.
2016 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Bright, juicy, delicious.
2016 Blackbird Vineyards "Premiere Napa Valley Cuvee" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Muscular tannins.
2016 Clos Pegase "Les Minéraux" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Coho "SoNa" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Pretty, with nice acidity.
2016 Dakota Shy "Next Chapter" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Darioush Red Wine, Napa Valley. Rich and ripe but with great acidity.
2008 Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling Wine, Yountville. Deliciously saline and bright.
2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley. Plummy and bright but a lot of oak showing.
2016 Ehlers Estate "Block 4" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Farella Vineyard "Terrace Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Bright, with more oak than normal, but not overdone. Still, would have preferred less wood.
2016 Favia "The Summit" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Oak signature but lovely
2016 Freedom Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Quite pretty.
2016 Gemstone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Mocha surprise.
2016 HALL "Sacrashe" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Velvety.
2016 Hewitt Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Jamieson Ranch Vineyards "Redemption" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Quite nice.
2016 JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset "Decadence" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich.
2016 Joseph Phelps Vineyards "Backus Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Rich and ripe.
2017 Kale Wines "Heritage McGah Vineyard" Red Wine, Rutherford. A really nice blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre.
2016 Keenan Winery "Tribute ll" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Bright and juicy.
2016 Kuleto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Lail Vineyards "Henry VIII" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. Juicy, bright, intense, floral
2016 Lang & Reed Wine Company "XX" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Gorgeous.
2016 Larkmead Vineyards "The Lark Ascending" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Great acidity, very pretty fruit.
2015 LATERAL Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Juicy.
2016 Lewis Cellars "Premiere" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Juicy.
2016 Luna Vineyards "Riserva" Sangiovese, Napa Valley.
2016 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Pretty.
2016 Mi Sueño Winery "Herrera Selección" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville. Pretty.
2016 Mt. Brave Red Wine, Mount Veeder. Silky, lovely.
2016 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Fruity, muscular tannins. Lots of wood.
2016 NINE SUNS Grenache, Napa Valley. Juicy, lovely
2016 PlumpJack Winery "East Meets West" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Pretty.
2016 Pott Wine "Being and Time" Red Wine, Mount Veeder. Heidegger would be proud, but that's just an interpretation.
2016 Pride Mountain Vineyards "Summit Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Raymond Vineyards "Masquerade" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2017 Saintsbury Pinot Noir, Los Carneros. Quite pretty.
2016 Seavey Vineyard "Franco-Swiss Terrace Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Fantastic; fine, grained tannins.
2016 Shafer Vineyards "Sunspot Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Very rich.
2016 SODHANI Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery "Spring Creek Vineyard" Petite Sirah, St. Helena. Restrained and deep, with well managed tannins.
2016 Spring Mountain Vineyard "Fog Line" Red Wine, Spring Mountain District. Really nice acidity and cool fruits.
2016 Stone The Crows Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich and ripe, but delicious.
2016 Switchback Ridge "Anniversary Blend" Red Wine, Calistoga. Juicy, delicious.
2016 Terra Valentine "Earth, Sea and Sky" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Tasty.
2016 TEXTBOOK "Paris Accord Fake Wine" Red Wine, Oakville. Lovely restrained, juicy
2016 The Hess Collection Winery "Ridge 4" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder. Juicy with lots of blue fruits.
2016 Tierra Roja Vineyards "Ames Straight" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Perfumed.
2016 Trefethen Family Vineyards "Celebrating 50 Years" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Balanced bright
2016 Vine Cliff Winery "Memories" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Very pretty.
2016 Vineyard 29 "The St. Helena Special" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 William Hill Estate Winery "The Notch" Red Wine, Napa Valley.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2016 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards "JYGNTOR" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Artesa Vineyards & Winery Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 AXR Winery "Sleeping Pritchard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Barlow Vineyards "Vineyard 4415" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Boeschen Vineyards "Gullwing Amalgam" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Boich Family Cellar "Proprietor's Barrel" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Bougetz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District.
2016 Buehler Vineyards "Kindly Well" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Buena Vista Winery "The First" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District.
2016 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 CAMi Vineyards "THS" Red Wine, Calistoga.
2016 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Chimney Rock Winery "North to South" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Clos Du Val "Full Circle" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Fairly ripe and missing the leanness we're used to from Clos du Val.
2016 Correlation Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Rich
NV Courtesan "Veronica" Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Emerson Brown Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Freemark Abbey "VanZ Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Ghost Block & Markham Vineyards Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Girard Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Oaky
2016 Groth Vineyards & Winery "Sweet Spot" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Hertelendy Vineyards "L'Éternité" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Ideology Cellars "Cento" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.
2016 Jean Edwards Cellars "Trois II" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Kelly Fleming Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga.
2016 Kenefick Ranch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga.
2016 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain. Heavily oaked, but great fruit.
2017 Leaf And Vine "Unicorn Tears" Chardonnay, Oakville.
2016 Long Meadow Ranch Winery "Bear Canyon Vineyard" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley.
2016 Louis M. Martini Winery "254 Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Materra, Cunat Family Vineyards Merlot, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.
2016 Miner Family Winery "Three's Company" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Nemerever Vineyards "Hillside" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Newton Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Oakville East Exposure "Harter Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Paradigm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Paraduxx Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 PEJU "60/40 Heart & Soul" Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Pine Ridge Vineyards "5x5" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder.
2016 Provenance Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Round Pond Estate "SVS Gravel Series" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2015 Schweiger Vineyards "Mr. Hyde's Blend" Red Wine, Spring Mountain District.
2016 Sciandri Family Vineyards "I Am Delicious" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2016 Silverado Vineyards "Limited" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery "Louis XIV" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "S.L.V. First Growth Cabernet Franc" Cabernet Franc, Stags Leap District.
2016 Stags' Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District.
2016 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Stewart Cellars "NOMAD Heritage Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Titus Vineyards "Ehlers Lane Hillside Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Truchard Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Los Carneros. Earthy and restrained.
2016 Twomey Cellars Red Wine, Napa Valley. Oaky.
2016 VHR, Vine Hill Ranch "Assessment" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Vineyard 7&8 "Homestead" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Super rich
2016 von Strasser & Lava Vine Winery "So Sori" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District.
2016 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Y. Rousseau Wines "Les Deux Montagnes" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2015 Yao Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2016 Amici Cellars "Missouri Hopper" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Very ripe
2016 Axios Napa Valley "Tridelphia" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Barnett Vineyards "Mountain Meets Valley" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Ripe.
2016 Bell Wine Cellars, Hoopes Vineyard, Mira Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville.
2016 Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Buoncristiani Family Winery "A Tale of Two Mountains" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Burgess Cellars "Brush Breaker" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Heavily oaked.
2016 Ca' Momi Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
2016 Cain Vineyard & Winery "François' Pick" Petit Verdot, Spring Mountain District.
2016 Calla Lily Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Faust "The Pact Barrel Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2016 Frank Family Vineyards "Winston Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Grgich Hills Estate "Paradise Block Old Vine Cabernet" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Struck match smokiness with a bit of funk.
2017 Hestan Vineyards "Estate" Grenache, Napa Valley.
2016 Honig Vineyard & Winery "Campbell Hillside Cabernet" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Jarvis "Frankly Franc" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley.
2016 Krupp Brothers "The Brothers' Choice" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Mario Bazán Cellars "Mario Bazán Premiere Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Monticello Vineyards "Block 2" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Ripe
2016 Mount Veeder Winery Red Wine, Mount Veeder. Tannic.
2016 Nellcôte "Tumbling Dice" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Palazzo Wine "Midnight Angel" Cabernet Franc, Los Carneros.
2016 Paul Hobbs Winery "Nathan Coombs Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2017 Pellet Estate "The 'A.K.'" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Porter Family Vineyards "Lion's Lair" Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville.
2016 Quixote Winery Petite Sirah, Stags Leap District.
2016 Reynolds Family Winery "CFMR16" Red Wine, Napa Valley.
2016 Robert Craig Winery Red Wine, Howell Mountain.
2016 Rutherford Hill Winery "Rutherford Dust" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 S. R. Tonella Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford.
2016 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Swanson Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Tamber Bey Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville.
2016 Terlato Vineyards "EPISODE" Red Wine, Napa Valley.
NV ZD Wines "Petit Abacus" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2016 Anthem Winery And Vineyards, Llc Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder. Too ripe
2017 Bouchaine Vineyards "Best Barrel" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
2016 Hesperian Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak.
2016 J. Moss Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Quilt Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Ripe. Too much so.
2016 Red Mare Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
2016 Rocca Family Vineyards "Grigsby Vineyard Old Vines Winemaker's Barrel" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Too ripe for me.
2016 Rubissow "Hawkwind" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder.
2017 Schermeister Cellars "Oak Before Smoke" Chardonnay, Atlas Peak.
2016 Starmont Winery & Vineyards "Stanly Ranch Estate" Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
2016 Taplin Cellars "Ethel Lewelling Taplin" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena.
2016 Tate Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2015 Casa Nuestra Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. Too grapey.
2016 JAX Vineyards "Block 3" Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga. Too ripe.
2016 Metaphora Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Raisined
2016 Palmaz Vineyards "T-Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Too raisined for my tastes.
2016 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak. Too ripe, too sweet




Woodinville: Board Track Racer Tasting Room

 

Board Track Racer Tasting Room Coming to Woodinville

From Mark Ryan Winery

SEATTLE, February 1, 2018 — Mark McNeilly is excited to announce that he’s opening a new tasting room in Woodinville, this time dedicated to his Board Track Racer line of Washington wines. Located at 19501 144th Ave F-900 in Woodinville’s Warehouse District, the tasting room will open its doors on Saturday, February 24 at 12pm.

Board Track Racer Cellars, one of Mark Ryan Winery’s sister projects, produced its first vintage in 2008 and is named for the wild wood track motorcycle races of the 1920s. The labels for all the wines are inspired by the same era, with great motorcycle-centric graphics—McNeilly is a big fan of vintage motorcycles and the freewheeling spirit they convey. 

 

The current Board Track Racer wines are:

The Vincent Red (Columbia Valley Blend)

The Vincent White (Chardonnay)

The Chief (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot)

The Shift (Syrah, Mourvedre)

 

With inviting gray walls, blond wood, and a communal table for 12, the Board Track Racer tasting room will have a relaxed, motorcycle and rock-n-roll vibe, like the Mark Ryan tasting room. The space has a glass garage door that will offer guests a peek into barrel storage that is shared with neighboring wineries. Capacity is about 85 making the tasting a great option for private events too. 

“The Board Track Racers wines are wonderfully accessible both in taste and price point,” says McNeilly. “I’m thrilled to have a second Woodinville venue to share the wines!”

The tasting room will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm – 6pm, pouring tastes of the Board Track Racer wines, as well as select bottles from both Megan Anne Cellars and Mark Ryan Winery on rotation. For more information, call 425.481.7070. 

Established in 1999 by Mark Ryan McNeilly, Mark Ryan Winery is an acclaimed Washington winery based in Woodinville, just north of Seattle. A largely self-taught winemaker, the first vintages were crushed and produced in garages of friends and family—in the years since, the winery has grown in size, earning respect and acclaim from wine lovers and critics alike along the way. The goal has always been to make delicious wines that stand as true representations of the vineyard from which they come. For more information, visit www.markryanwinery.com.

 
 

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Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

Dynasty noun – a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field.

The Lurton Family can trace its winemaking roots in Bordeaux back to the 17th century. But it was the marriage of Denise Recapet to Francois Lurton in 1923 that the story of this family dynasty begins. Denise and François Lurton had four children, André was born in 1924, Lucien in 1925, Simone in 1929 and Dominique in 1932.

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

André, married to Elizabeth Garros, received the family home, Château Bonnet. In 40 years he amassed property totaling 600 hectares situated primarily in Entre-deux-Mers and the Pessac-Léognan appellation, of which he was one of the founders in 1987. Today, the fourth and fifth generations of Lurton’s control 27 Bordeaux châteaux. Everything from Bordeaux’s largest producer, Chateau Bonnet which is run by patriarch Andre Lurton to 2nd growth Margaux property Chateau Brane Cantenac to Château Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem.

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de LololToday the family has wine interests on most continents and almost all major wine growing regions. In their turn, Andre’s sons, François and Jacques, acquired wine estates in Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Spain and the Languedoc.

 

“If I were a vine, I would choose to be planted in Chile.” François Lurton

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de LololFrançois and Jacques Lurton found this “dream land” whilst working as consultants for the San Pedro vineyards. The first bottles of Araucano, the name of the last of Chile’s indigenous people, was first released in 1997. In 2000, François bought 200 hectares of land in the valley of Colchagua. The valley around the town of Lolol, had that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, that combination of high altitude clay-limestone soils, radical diurnal temperature change and the cooling influence of the morning fog.

 

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

The estate is located in a high valley that runs from East to West, which funnels cold air from the Pacific Ocean. The large temperature differences between the sea and the land causes a white fog “Humo Blanco” to develop, which can be seen most mornings just above the estate vineyards. Hot, dry days and foggy, cool nights, textbook perfect conditions for growing great wine.

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

The Lurton family bring literally centuries of winemaking knowledge to bear on this project. But, Francois is a forward thinking man with a vision. Francois Lurton employs 10 full time enologist that work across France, Argentina, Spain and Chile. 2012 the Araucano wines obtained organic certification. In 2013, Hacienda Araucano obtained biodynamic certification (Demeter). The winery is also 100% solar powered.

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

Lolol is one of the new coastal appellations in Chile. This wine represents the essence of the cool climate of Lolol. It is made up of the best plots of four grape varieties that excel in the valley: Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. This blend was put together by Francois himself. The grapes are handpicked, double sorted and then left for a lengthy cold soak to gently extract the fruity aromas and smooth tannins. Once fermented separately the different grape varieties are blended together and are aged in French oak for 18 months. A true Chilean wine with a French touch.

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de LololClos de Lolol Red Wine 2013 (Chile) $14.99 / Save $10

“Woodsy, spicy aromas of herbal plum and berry come with a light coating of chocolate. A round, rubbery palate is tight in the long run. Saturated plum and blackberry flavors are oaky in front of an extracted finish that runs long and doesn’t hold back. Drink through 2022.” 91 pts Wine Enthusiast

92 James Suckling, 91 pts Wine Advocate

“There’s never been a better time to buy Chilean wine.” James Suckling, “Indeed, hundreds of outstanding quality wines are entering the market. It doesn’t hurt that the current vintages available, especially for reds, are fantastic – mostly 2013, 2014, and 2015.”

@Chef_LennyChildren of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

The post Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

I’ll Be Here, Hiding Under The Blanket (January 2018 Wine Product Review Roundup)

It’s time for the first monthly wine product sample review round-up of the new year, which means you now have a couple of recommendations for vinous-related things to buy after you’ve returned the crappier gifts that you received during the holidays! You’re welcome!

Since it’s been as cold as Dante’s icy ninth circle of hell around here lately, I decided to focus on reading material, all the better to curl up in front of a fireplace with (drink in hand, naturally) and enjoy while hiding from the real world under a cozy blanket.

First up is Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties & Styles, (Sterling Epicure, 288 pages, $27.95) by three people that I happen to know personally (consider yourself full-disclosure-warned): the affable World Wine Guys Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, and the legendary Kevin Zraly (who might actually still owe me some money). This well-designed book has been getting serious positive press lately, and I’m happy to report that it’s well-deserving of all of it. The subtitle is apt, as Red Wine focuses on being comprehensive rather than exhaustively deep. Having said that, for 98% of wine lovers, they will not need (nor are they likely to find) a better guide to world’s fine red wine grapes than this one. Each grape gets at least a two-page spread that includes wine color, a tasting profile scale that focuses on the wine’s acidity/body/tannin combo, tasting notes and food pairings with at-a-glance icon references, a photo, a brief write-up, and a list of recommended wines to try (from bargain through to splurge price-levels). More ubiquitous grapes get a longer treatment, focusing on stylistic variances between countries, as well as winemaker quotes, and a handful of obscure red varieties (Teran, anyone?) get short highlights. Mad props to Christine Heun, who is credited as the designer, for putting together one of the easiest to navigate references I’ve ever seen in the wine world.

I’ll Be Here, Hiding Under The Blanket (January 2018 Wine Product Review Roundup)Closing out this month’s roundup, we have the gorgeously-photographed (think major food-porn style) Drink Progressively: From White to Red, Light- to Full-Bodied, A Bold New Way to Pair Wine with Food (Spring House Press, 240 pages, $27), by Hadley & TJ Douglas, the husband-and-wife owners of Boston’s The Urban Grape. This is a food-and-pairing-focused wine guide, and includes recipes by Straight Wharf’s Gabriel Frasca. The main idea behind Drink Progressively is to focus on wine body above all else, and then suggest wines and recipes to match that body accordingly. The Douglases do this by moving wines through an increasing body scale of 1 to 10, which leaves us with shorthand terms like “5W” (to describe whites from Burgundy and Mosel, for example) and “9R” (e.g., for bolder reds from Dry Creek Valley, Mendoza, and Barossa). It’s a clever, seemingly-simple conceit that I found gets confusing very quickly. Having said that, this book might be worth the cover price for the recipes and wine recommendations alone, though the latter tend towards the geekier (and therefore probably more difficult to find) end of the spectrum. The unsung hero here is Beatrice Peltre, whose photographs are downright stunning.

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at I’ll Be Here, Hiding Under The Blanket (January 2018 Wine Product Review Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Underground Wine Project

“With my idle hands there’s nothing I can’t do
But be the Devil’s plaything baby and know that I’ve been used”
-Idle Hands by the Gutter twins


To say Mark McNeilly and Trey Busch like to keep busy is literally an understatement. Both have made a name for themselves in the wine business, not just as winemakers but as leaders in the industry. Both Mark Ryan Winery and Sleight of Hand Winery garner scores in the 90’s across the board in the press. Both, these guys are not just successful winemakers but champions of the Washington wine industry. They are also great friends, lovers of good food and great music.

Underground Wine Project
“Let your hands do what they will do
Stand inside, make your maker’s move”

Launched in 2009 with a wine called Idle Hands, the wine quickly became a cult hit. ‘Idle Hands’ was named after a song by Gutter Twins – Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees and Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs.

Both of the Underground wine project wines are sourced from Red Mountain. Idle Hands is a 90% Syrah 10% Cabernet Blend sourced from Red Heaven Vineyard. Devil’s Playground is the inverse, 90% Cabernet and 10% Syrah sourced from Quintessence Vineyard. Both these wines are great expressions of Red Mountain fruit.

“My eyes have seen, they have been shown
This is an occupation to stand alone”

In the highly competitive world of wine it is rare to see this sort of collaboration and camaraderie. These guys make great wine and are the sort of guys that make working in the business fun.

Underground Wine ProjectDEVIL’S PLAYGROUND CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 (WA)  $37.99 

This is a delicious, lively and very luxurious Red Mountain Cab for the price. Lots of vanilla laced blackberries, cassis and mocha flavors, with bright, refreshing acidity and juicy tannins. The wine is full bodied and definitely drinks with some sizzle. A nice buy in small batch, top shelf Cab.

Underground Wine ProjectIDLE HANDS CAB SYRAH 2014 (WA) $32.99

Super rich and full bodied Syrah based blend From Mark Ryan and Trey Busch using Red Mountain’s top vineyards. Dark, sexy and full of mocha, blackberry, plum and roasted coffee bean notes. Delicious with a big steak.

The post Underground Wine Project appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Drinking the Past as California Burns


Light night, even as flames roared through the chaparral of Southern California, I attended a wine tasting event to benefit fire relief in Northern California. The mood was quite somber as many of us reflected on how far from complete are the relief efforts in our own back yard, let alone what will be needed when the maelstrom settles in Southern California.

It is, however, not so easy to remain somber while tasting pieces of California history, especially when they are in spectacular shape, as some of the gems below were. Even up until about five years ago, many of these wines (the Diamond Creek wines excepted) could be bought for a song. Or more specifically $25 to $45 on web sites such as WineBid.Com.

But thanks to growing interest and publicity, not the least of which was the spectacular wine program that Kelli White and her husband Scott Brenner put together at Press Restaurant in Napa, these wines have become both more sought-after, and consequently, more expensive.

Tasting such wines is a privilege and a treat, especially when some of them are older than yourself. The alchemy of time can work wonderful magic on well made wines, and transform them into flavors and aromas that are amazing.

And of course, time is also an enemy of these delicate bottles. Not all the wines were in perfect shape. Some far from it. But as many say, after 20 years there are no good wines, only good bottles. Each bottle, even in an unopened case of wine, will age differently, and those differences become magnified with time. And that's before sunlight, oxygen, cork taint, brettanomyces, rot, heat and other dangers set in.

But when you get a bottle that has not only survived such vicissitudes, but grown profound, the experience can be quite moving. Tasting wine older than oneself can lean towards profundity, when it is not merely delicious.

Here are a few old gems from California, cracked open to celebrate the state, and to collect some badly needed funds for fire relief, to which I was happy to contribute.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1982 Diamond Creek "Red Rock Terrace" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark ruby with brown edges, this wine smells of wet felt and herbs. In the mouth, tight tannins clench around herbs, a touch of smoked meets and dirt. Angular and narrow in its expression, there's still some beauty in the austerity. Rain and heavy crops meant tougher harvest this year. Tasted out of magnum. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $195. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1982 Diamond Creek "Gravelly Meadow" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium to dark ruby tinged with coffee, this wine smells of herbs and dried fruit and graphite. In the mouth, pencil lead and dried fruit are balanced by dried herbs and wrapped tightly in a skein of muscular tannins. Good acidity and a long finish help this austere wine, but it remains tightly wound and narrow in its expression. A tricky vintage dodging the rain. Tasted out of magnum. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $300. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1982 Diamond Creek "Volcanic Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Brownish brick red in color, this wine smells of graphite and leather and earth. In the mouth, tight muscular tannins wrap around a core of earth and green herbs and fried fruit. Angular and somewhat unforgiving. Were this wine 20 years younger I'd say give it more time, but sadly I fear it will not improve. Not an easy vintage. Tasted out of magnum. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $120. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1989 Joseph Phelps "Insignia" Red Blend, Napa Valley
A strong medium ruby in the glass, showing the time dilation effects of such a large format bottle, this wine smells of dried herbs and leather. In the mouth, the wine is tight and angular, with a SweetTart sourness of cherry and leather and herbs. Not the best of vintages thanks to rain during harvest, and, well, it shows. Tasted out of a 5-liter bottle. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $175. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1985 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium ruby in the glass with only a bit of orange hue at the rim, this wine smells of smoked meats and graphite and leather. In the mouth, herbs, graphite and leather wrap around the fading core of dried red fruit. Fine grained tannins hang at the edges of perception. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1975 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A light coffee mocha color in the glass with lots of sediment, this wine smells of dirt and dried fruits. In the mouth, the wine simply tastes muddy, dried out and tired. This bottle is dead. A shame, because I've had some fantastic bottles of this wine. Score: around 6. Cost: $282. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1965 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A light ruby with orange highlights in the glass, this wine has a stunning aroma of bacon fat, fresh herbs, and red fruit. In the mouth, gorgeously silky flavors of dried flowers, dried berries, leather and herbs have a slightly saline character that, along with fantastic acidity, makes the mouth water. Stunningly bright and delicious, this wine is in spectacular shape. This particular bottle was quite unusual, as it is actually a magnum champagne bottle, that for some reason Joe Heitz and Narsai David filled with their Cabernet in 1965. Remarkable, and about as rare a bottle of California wine as you can find these days. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $260. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1969 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma
A pale coffee and ruby shade in the glass, this wine has a heady aroma of mint and wet earth. In the mouth, beautiful cedar and cherry and leather flavors linger for a long while on the palate. Excellent acidity. Score: around 9. Cost: $75 click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1985 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium brownish red in the glass with fine sediments, this wine smells of dried herbs, earth, and leather with a touch of mint. In the mouth, leathery flavors of dried fruits and dirt are quite savory and angular. There's something to enjoy here in this wine, but it's fleeting in its floral leatheriness and savory herbs. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1986 Silver Oak "Bonny's" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
Medium ruby in the glass but browning considerably with lots of fine sediment, this wine smells of camphor wood and peat. In the mouth, camphor wood and moth ball flavors mix with dried fruit and leather. This bottle has not aged well and is quite nasty. Score: between 6.5 and 7. Cost: $600 (magnum). click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1994 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
Medium ruby in the glass with a touch of brick, this wine smells of earth and graphite and forest floor. In the mouth, dark and rich flavors of raisins, chocolate and cherry have a wonderful brightness thanks to still-excellent acidity. Great length. Tasted out of Magnum from one of California's storied (very warm) vintages. Score: around 9. Cost: $125. click to buy.

Drinking the Past as California Burns1990 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
A strong medium ruby in the glass with only a bit of brick red at the rim, this wine appears yet quite youthful. It smells of graphite, mint, and dried herbs. In the mouth beautifully supple, powdery tannins support very pretty, aromatically sweet flavors of cherry, graphite, and dried herbs with a touch of mint and leather. Beautifully balanced with a long finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $115. click to buy.



Barking Frog: Renovation Planned Early 2018

BARKING FROG KITCHEN RENOVATION SET TO SUPPORT 17 YEARS OF EXPANSIVE GROWTH

Barking Frog house kitchen to get an extensive remodel to keep pace with guest demand

 

Woodinville, Wash (December 6, 2017) – After more than seventeen years, the Barking Frog restaurant at Willows Lodge is set to undergo an extensive kitchen remodel in January 2018 to better serve the growing needs of culinary and hotel guests. The restaurant will close on January 2, 2018, and plans to reopen on February 6th, 2018. During the Barking Frog closure, Willow Lodge will be serving a limited menu in Fireside Lounge for breakfast/brunch, lunch, and dinner and the Barking Frog Mobile Kitchen food truck will be parked onsite, serving hotel guests and visitors a fun, mixed menu on weekends.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in our food and beverage demands over the last 17 years at Barking Frog and Willows Lodge,” said Denny Fitzpatrick, General Manager, Willows Lodge. “It is our goal to continue to offer an excellent guest experience and we’re excited to reveal a more modern and efficient kitchen to meet the rapidly growing culinary needs of our valued guests in 2018.”

Willows Lodge will continue to offer Happier Hour daily from 4-6pm in Fireside Lounge. In addition, hotel guests will still have access to a limited room service menu for in-room dining. On Saturday and Sunday, the Barking Frog Mobile Kitchen (BFMK) food truck will be parked out front of the hotel serving brunch items such as warm Beignets, Chorizo Burritos, and Grand Mariner Prawns from 9am-2pm. 

Executive Chef Bobby Moore will be overseeing the Barking Frog renovation. Both Chef Bobby and Chef de Cuisine, Chris Smith, will continue to manage operations at Fireside and BFMK during the renovation, as well share behind the scenes of the remodel in January on social media. 

“We are taking the Barking Frog back of the house to a whole new level and I could not be more excited for the big reveal in February 2018,” said Barking Frog Executive Chef Bobby Moore. “This new work space will allow us to continue to innovate and bring guests the best culinary experience.” 

During the kitchen remodel, the banquette along the windows will get a new, updated look to go along with the remainder of the interior which was redecorated in the past year. An expanded pass shelf and kitchen entry will provide a more open experience for guests to get closer to the action in the kitchen. 

Be sure to follow @BarkingFrogWoodinville and @WillowslodgeWA on Instagram for behind the scenes photos of the renovation, as well as Chef Bobby and Chef Chris around town.  

 

January 2018 Willows Lodge Fireside Lounge Modified Service Schedule

During the Barking Frog closure, Willows Lodge guests will have access to daily food and beverage service in Fireside Lounge:

·       Breakfast: Continental buffet breakfast in Fireside MondayFriday 7am-11am and Saturday/Sunday 7am-12pm ($20 per person).

·      Lunch and Dinner will be served daily on a first-come-first-served (no reservations) in Fireside Lounge. Lunch service from 11:00am-3pm, with a condensed menu including items such as Dungeness Crab Cobb Salad, and Tillamook White Cheddar Cheese Mac and Cheese. Dinner service is from Monday-Sunday 3pm-10pm and will include items such as Braised Lamb Shank Tacos, Beef Tenderloin and Seared Scallops and more. A full modified menu is available upon request and will be available on the hotel website.

·       Fireside Entertainment: Acoustic music and guest musicians on Friday and Saturday only

·       Happier Hour: Daily in Fireside Lounge from 4-6pm

·       Guests may also make reservations at The Herbfarm on property and open Thursdays-Sundays.

 

Be one of the first guests to dine in the newly renovated Barking Frog in 2018. Make your February 2018 reservation on Open Table or by calling 425-424-2999.

 

There is still time to countdown and celebrate the New Year with Chef Bobby and team. Check out all of the great holiday and New Year’s Eve plans and hotel packages at WillowsLodge.com.

 

About Willows Lodge

Willows Lodge, a Northwest style lodge located in Woodinville Wine Country just outside of Seattle, features 84 luxury guestrooms, a full-service spa and high-tech equipped meeting space.  Executive Chef Bobby Moore’s American regional cuisine at Barking Frog reflects the seasonal and organic produce found in Puget Sound, and is artfully paired with an extensive list of Washington wines.  Willows Lodge also boasts Fireside Lounge, offering a casual and sophisticated atmosphere tucked away in the lobby with an outdoor patio overlooking the expansive surrounding landscape.  www.willowslodge.com

 

Contact:

 

Rhanda Rosselot
Marketing Manager
rhanda.rosselot@willowslodge.com
(425) 424-2966

 


Anne Taylor Hartzell

For Willows Lodge

anne@hiptravelmedia.com

(206) 850-6501