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California Wines Showing More Balance: SF Family Winemakers Tasting

2012 September 13

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Family Winemakers of California is the primary trade association for the state’s wineries. They lobby—for increased market access, fewer taxes and fees, and less regulation—and they assist members in marketing their wines. The primary way they assist in marketing is through organizing large tastings for the trade and media. The biggest of these tastings is the annual two-day event at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Festival Pavillion, which took place on Sunday and Monday this week.

Buyers fly in from around the country for this event, which I’ve attended for several years now. Last year over 300 producers were on hand. This year, however, following months of reports showing significant post-recession recovery in fine wine sales, there were less than 250 participating wineries. Even among those who had reserved tables at the event and been announced as participants there was a significant number of no shows—over two dozen. These absences were presumably due, in most cases, to the fact that this year’s event fell two weeks later than usual, coinciding with harvest activities that commenced early in this year of generally favorable weather conditions.

Although it is impossible for a single person to taste even half of the wines poured at this event, I always prepare a detailed target list, aimed at taking me to as many new producers and first-time participants in this event as possible, as well as to many reliable producers—like La Jota, Paloma and Turley—who usually participate in few, if any, tasting events other than this annual affair.

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Christina Turley of Turley Wine Cellars

To reach a manageable number, I eliminate from my list producers whose wines I’ve sampled recently at other events—like Pinot Days, the recent West of West Festival, and a comprehensive tasting of Lake County producers that occurred the day before this tasting. I usually end up with a target list of about 100 wineries, and ultimately make it to about 70% of those.

That was exactly the case this year. By the end of nine hours of tasting from Sunday through Monday, I had sampled 244 wines from over 70 producers.

I can’t claim the wines I end up tasting—which this time represented close to one-third of what was poured—are a representative sampling of California’s wine production. Since I focus about equally on producers that are new to me and producers I know well, with proven track records, I tend to taste a lot of good things, as well as a lot of average to mediocre wines. Nonetheless, after sampling over 20 dozen wines, mainly current releases, from wineries located all over the State, one walks away with a comparative sense of recent vintages and some possible trends.

If California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine producer, after Italy, France and Spain. California has long been heavily planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are very big varieties for us too.

This event always seems to me to be heavily dominated by Cabernet and the other varieties associated with the red wines of Bordeaux—Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Once again, many of the best and most ageworthy wines at this event were Cabernets and Bordeaux blends.

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Winemaker Jim Duane of Seavey, producer of some of the best Cabs at this event

What was noteworthy for me among the wines I tasted was a decline in the overripe versions of these wines that had come to dominate production over the last two decades. Due, I’m sure, to the relative coolness of the last few vintages in California, as well as to a conscious aim for higher acid, more balanced wines by an increasing number of winemakers here, the Cabernets I tasted this year were noticeably more balanced and lower in alcohol. These wines—with their tart currant, menthol and tobacco flavor profiles–reminded me a lot of the typically balanced, ageworthy Cabs we produced here prior to the mid-1980s.

A mini-trend I noticed was an increasing percentage of Petit Verdot in the meritage blends I tasted. There were even 11 single-variety bottlings of Petit Verdot represented this year, more than double the number poured only two years before.

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Darms Lane bottled a delicious Petit Verdot

I’m a big fan of black fruited, structured Petit Verdot, with its signature pencil lead notes. It’s a grape many Bordeaux producers are very fond of, but in too many years it doesn’t get ripe enough there to play much of a role in their blends. In the warmer, drier conditions of California, by contrast, this grape seems to be doing very well, and I suspect we’re going to see it playing an even bigger role in our state’s meritage offerings. (As of 2011, it was the 14th most planted black grape in California, but stood tenth in tonnage of black grapes crushed.)

The coolness of recent vintages also appears to have had a salutary effect in promoting balance in wines made from other grapes that tend toward ripeness and high alcohol levels, like Zin and Petite Sirah.

Of the over 70 producers whose wines I sampled at this tasting, the 23 producers responsible for one or more wines I rated 92 points or higher were Adastra, Ancien, Black Sears, Cain, Culler, Darms Lane, Field Recordings, Freemark Abbey, Keenan, La Jota, Lamborn Family, Mauritson, Merryvale, Paloma, Saxon-Brown, Seavey, Sojourn, Spring Mountain, Tablas Creek, The Terraces, Turley, Vino Noceto and Wallis Family. None of the couple dozen producers that were new to me at this tasting made the list above, although I did taste some good wines from newer producers like Anakota, Cowan Cellars, Galerie, J. Rickards, Patel, Petroni, Tayson Pierce, Trombetta Family and Wait Cellars.

The best Cabernets and Meritages for me, meriting 92 points or higher, were:
2006 Black Sears Red – 92 points
2009 Black Sears Cabernet Sauvignon Estate – 93 points
2008 Cain Concept The Benchland – 92 points
2007 Cain Five 92+ points
2009 Culler La Palette – 92+ points
2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvigon – 92 points
2008 Robert Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon – 93 points
2009 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon – 92 points
2009 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon – 93 points
2008 Lamborn Family Cabernet Sauvignon – 92+ points
2009 Merryvale Profile – 92 points
2009 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Caravina – 93+ points
2008 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon – 93+ points
2008 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 93 points
2007 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 92+ points
2007 Spring Mountain Elivette – 93+ points
2008 Spring Mountain Elivette – 94 points
2010 Wallis Family Cabernet Sauvignon Little Sister – 92+ points
2010 Wallis Family Cabernet Sauvignon – 93 points

Pinot Noirs I rated 92 points or higher were:
2009 Adastra Proximus – 92 points
2010 Ancien Shea – 92 points
2010 Ancien Red Dog – 92 points
2010 Ancien Fiddlestix – 92+ points
2010 Sojourn Russian River Valley – 92 points
2010 Sojourn Wohler – 92+ points
2010 Sojourn Ridgetop – 93 points

Zinfandels I thought merited 92 points or higher were:
2010 Black Sears Estate – 93 points
2010 Mauritson Dry Creek Valley – 92 points
2008 Saxon-Brown “Stonewall” Parmelee-Hill – 92+ points
2010 Turley Pesenti – 94 points
2009 Vino Noceto OGP Grandpere Vineyard – 92+ points

Other varietal reds that impressed, including Merlots, Cab Francs, Petite Sirahs and Petit Verdot, included:
2009 Darms Lane Petit Verdot Bon Passe Vineyard – 92 points
2009 Robert Keenan Cabernet Franc Spring Mountain District – 92+ points
2008 Robert Keenan Merlot Napa – 92+ points
2009 Robert Keenan Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard – 93 points
2008 Paloma Merlot – 92+ points
2009 Seavey Merlot – 93 points
2010 The Terraces Petite Sirah – 92+ points
2010 Turley Petite Sirah Hayne – 93+ points
2009 Vino Noceto Barbera Linsteadt – 92 points

Other red blends that impressed me were
2011 Field Recordings “Fiction” – 92 points
2010 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas – 92+ points
2010 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel – 93 points

The only white this year that I rated 92 points or higher was Spring Mountain’s exceptional, white Bordeaux-like 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (92+ points).

For my complete tasting notes in alphabetical order by producer, see below:

2012 22ND ANNUAL FAMILY WINEMAKERS OF CALIFORNIA TASTING – Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, San Francisco, California (9/9/2012-9/10/2012)

Adastra

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  • 2010 Adastra Chardonnay N’Oak – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; poached pear nose; poached pear palate with near medium acidity; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Adastra Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; hazelnut, baked pear nose; hazelnut, baked pear palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Adastra Syrah Optimism Rosé – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Light orange pink color; cranberry, tart lemon nose; cranberry, tart lemon palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Adastra Pinot Noir – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; tart cherry, floral nose; rich, ripe cherry, raspberry, floral palate; medium-plus finish (mainly Swan clone) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Adastra Pinot Noir Proximus – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; ripe cherry, vanilla nose; ripe cherry, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (Pommmard, 777 and 115) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Adastra Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; earthy, tobacco nose; earthy, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Adastra Ed’s Red – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; baked black fruit, berry nose; baked black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish (55% Dolcetto, 33% Zinfandel, 12% Syrah) (87 pts.)

Anakota

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  • 2005 Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Dakota Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; appealing, tart currant, tart plum nose; suave, tart currant, tart plum palate with fine tannins; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Ancien

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  • 2010 Ancien Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, apple nose; tasty, tart pear, ripe apple palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Ancien Pinot Noir Jouisance Russian River Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; floral, tart cherry nose; tasty, tart cherry, floral palate with near medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Ancien Pinot Noir Shea – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (9/9/2012)
    Medium red color with pale meniscus; floral, earthy, cinnamon nose; ripe cherry, cinnamon palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Ancien Pinot Noir Red Dog Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; tart cherry, cranberry, cinnamon nose; tart cherry, cranberry, cinnamon palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Ancien Pinot Noir Fiddlestix – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills – Sta. Rita Hills (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; intense, lifted, spicy tart cherry nose; spicy, tart cherry, raspberry palate with balance; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

A-non-ah-mus

Black Sears

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  • 2006 Black Sears Winery Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appelaing, lifted, dried berry, black fruit nose, reminiscent of Nebbiolo; tasty, tart black fruit, dried berry palate; medium-plus finish (50/50 Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon) (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Black Sears Winery Zinfandel Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; herbal, hibiscus, tart black fruit nose; youthful, characterful, tart black fruit, pepper, hibiscus palate; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Black Sears Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; herbal, black tobacco nose; tasty, tart lum, floral, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish (clones 337 & 191) (93 pts.)

Cain

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  • NV Cain Vineyard & Winery Cain Cuvée NV8 – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; tar, tart black fruit nose; tasty, tart black fruit, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish (48% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Cain Vineyard & Winery Cain Concept The Benchland – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; savory, tart black fruit, herbs nose; tasty, tart black fruit, herbs, tobacco palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2007 Cain Vineyard & Winery Cain Five – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; herbs, tart black fruit, earthy nose; tasty, tart black fruit, herbs, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc) (92 pts.)

Carol Shelton

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Cornerstone

Corté Riva

  • 2007 Cortez 78 (Corte Riva) Firepit – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark ruby color; tart cherry, tart berry nose; tasty, poised, tart cherry, tart plum palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Cortez 78 (Corte Riva) Petite Sirah – USA, California, North Coast, Lake County (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; lifted, charcoal, tart black fruit nose; tasty, tart black fruit, lavender palate; medium-plus finish (98% Lake Co., 2% Napa Valley) (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Corté Riva Cabernet Franc – USA, California, North Coast, Napa / Sonoma (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; roasted black fruit nose; roasted black fruit, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Corté Riva Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; aromatic, tart black fruit, herbs nose; tart black fruit, spice palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Cowan Cellars

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  • 2010 Cowan Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Isa – USA, California, North Coast, Lake County (9/9/2012)
    Lightly cloudy light-medium yellow color; appealing, intense, tart green fruit, lime nose; oily textured, tart green fruit, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Cowan Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/9/2012)
    Light medium red color with pale meniscus; floral, sous bois nose; tart cranberry, sous bois, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Cowan Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley (9/9/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; sous bois, earthy, tart cherry nose; tart cherry, sous bois, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Cowan Cellars Syrah Moaveni Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley (9/9/2012)
    Pre-release: Dark magenta color; nice, roasted black fruit, pepper nose; pepper, roasted black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Culler

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  • 2011 Casaeda Gewürztraminer – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (9/9/2012)
    Very light yellow color; aromatic, old roses, floral nose; tasty, tart citrus, mineral, floral palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Culler Syrah Casaeda – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/9/2012)
    Tart black fruit, light pepper nose; tart black fruit, roasted black fruit, savory palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Culler Cabernet Sauvignon Casaeda – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/9/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; tart black fruit, tobacco nose; tart black fruit, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Culler La Palette – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart currant, lightly herbaceous nose; tart currant, pencil lead, tart black fruit palate; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot) (92 pts.)

Darms Lane

  • 2010 Darms Lane Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; ripe pear, hazelnut nose; ripe pear, hazelnut palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (10 mos in French oak) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Darms Lane Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; sous bois, tart cherry nose; tasty, tart cherry, sous bois palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Darms Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Bon Passe Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark maroon color; tart currant, ripe currant nose; tart currant, ripe currant, lightly herbaceous palate; medium-plus finish (w/7% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Darms Lane Petit Verdot Bon Passe Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Opaque purple red violet color; violet, ripe berry nose; tasty, violet, ripe berry palate; medium-plus finish (with 3% Cabernet Sauvignon) (92 pts.)

De Tierra

  • 2009 De Tierra Chardonnay Vindegard – USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, hazelnut nose; hazelnut, pear palate with lowish acidity; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2009 De Tierra Chardonnay Reserve – USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; hazelnut nose; hazelnut, pear palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 De Tierra Pinot Noir Silacci Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; floral, baked cherry nose; baked cherry, berry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2008 De Tierra Merlot Estate – USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; rich, tart plum, cedar nose; tart plum, cedar, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2007 De Tierra The Puzzler – USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; oak, roasted black fruit, smoke nose; oak, roasted black fruit, smoke palate; medium-plus finish (50/50 Syrah/Merlot) (86 pts.)

Domaine Le Mieux

  • NV Domaine Le Mieux Apple Vin de Pomme Sparkling – USA, California, Central Coast, San Luis Obispo County (9/9/2012)
    Light medium golden yellow color; apple cider nose; tart apple cider, chalk palate; medium finish (81 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Le Mieux Viognier – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear nose; tart pear, honeysuckle palate; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Le Mieux Tempranillo – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; ripe berry, oak nose; oak, ripe berry, black fruit palate; medium finish (84 pts.)

Dragonette

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Elizabeth Spencer

Field Recordings

  • 2011 Field Recordings Wine “Fiction” – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart grapefruit, chalk, tart gooseberry nose; tasty, tangy, tart pear, peach, ripe citrus palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Field Recordings Wine “Fiction” Rosé – USA, California (9/9/2012)
    Light orange pink color; focused, tart pink grapefruit, pear nose; juicy, tart pear, ripe pink grapefruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Field Recordings Wine Old Potrero – USA, California, Central Coast, Arroyo Grande Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark purple red violet color; smoke, charcoal, tart black fruit nose; smoky, charcoal, tar, tart black fruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Field Recordings Wine Petite Sirah Red Cedar Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Dark purple red violet color; ripe black fruit, clove, chocolate nose; tasty, tart black fruit, clove, baked plum palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Field Recordings Wine “Chorus Effect” K.O. Koligian Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; fresh, ripe berry, apricot nose; tasty, ripe black fruit, tart berry, apricot palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Field Recordings Wine “Fiction” – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Very dark purple red violet color; pepper, charcoal, tart black fruit nose; fresh, pepper, charcoal, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Field Stone

Field Vineyards

  • 2009 Field Vineyards Chardonnay Katarina – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart lemon, apple nose; tart lemon, apple palate; medium finish (no malo) (88 pts.)
  • 2003 Field Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Katarina – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (9/10/2012)
    Opaque red violet color; maturing, baked plum, black fruit nose; baked plum, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (French & Am oak for 36 mos) (87 pts.)

FiftyRow

  • 2009 Smoke Screen Pinot Noir – USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley (9/10/2012)
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; cola, black cherry nose; cola, black cherry palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2007 FiftyRow Syrah – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; baked black fruit, oak nose; baked black fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 FiftyRow Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford (9/10/2012)
    Very dark purple red violet color; violets, tart berry, plum nose; violets, tart berry, plum palate; medium-plus finish (24 mos. in new French oak) (89 pts.)

Frank Family

  • 2010 Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; baked cherry, loam nose; baked cherry, loam palate; medium finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark ruby color; tart berry, spice nose; tart berry, spice palate; medium-plus finish (w/3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Sirah) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; menthol, cassis, ripe currant nose; tasty, ripe currant, menthol, cassis palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (w/3% Merlot & 3% Petit Verdot) (91 pts.)

Freemark Abbey

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  • 2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark maroon color; menthol, tart black currant nose; tasty, black currant, loam, menthol palate; medium-plus finish (with 12% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc) (92 pts.)
  • 2005 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black currant, leaf tobacco nose; tart black currant, leaf tobacco palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Galerie

  • 2011 Galerie Sauvignon Blanc Naissance – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; smoke, lemon grass nose; tasty, smoke, lemon grass, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (50/50 stainless steel and neutral oak; clones 1, 317 and 376) (91 pts.)

Guarachi

  • 2010 Guarachi Chardonnay – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, floral, almond nose; tart pear, floral, almond palate; medium finish 88+ points (11 mos in new French oak, 50% new) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Guarachi Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; lifted, ripe cherry, oak nose; tart cherry, tart raspberry palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Guarachi Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; brett, cinnamon, tart red fruit nose; brett, cinnamon, tart red fruit palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Idle Hour

J. Rickards

Sept 2012 105

  • 2011 J. Rickards Sauvignon Blanc Croft Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; lemon grass, tart grapefruit nose; smoky, tart grapefruit, lemon grass palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 J. Rickards Zinfandel Ancestor Selections – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; tart berry, baked berry nose; tart berry, baked berry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 J. Rickards Malbec Ashley’s Vines – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; violets, tart berry nose; violets, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2009 J. Rickards Sauvignon Blanc Twilight – USA, California, Sonoma County (9/10/2012)
    From 375 ml – light yellow color; baked peach nose; ripe, baked peach, apricot, lemon grass palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Jones Family

Sept 2012 106

  • 2010 Jones Family Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; intense, oily, tart peach nose; intense, oily textured, tart peach palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Jones Family The Sisters – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, black currant nose; tart black fruit, black currant palate; medium-plus finish (80% new French oak; 1% Cabernet Franc) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, leaf tobacco nose; tart black fruit, leaf tobacco palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Justin

Kathryn Kennedy

  • 2009 Kathryn Kennedy Lateral – USA, California (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; cedar, tart plum nose; cedar, tart plum, tobacco palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (45% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec, 7% Pinot Noir; Kathryn Kennedy is spinning this off as a separate label) (91 pts.)

Keenan

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  • 2010 Robert Keenan Winery Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; ripe pear, ripe lemon nose; tasty, rich, poised, creamy textured, tart lemon palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Robert Keenan Winery Cabernet Franc Spring Mountain District – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; appealing, lifted, tart currant, herbs nose; tasty, tart currant, herbs palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Robert Keenan Winery Merlot Napa Valley – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; lifted, tart black fruit, herbs nose; tasty, tart black fruit, herbs palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Robert Keenan Winery Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; nice, herbs, tart black fruit nose; tight, tart black fruit, herbs palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (20 mos. in French oak; 14.3% alcohol) (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Robert Keenan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, tar, herbs nose; tight, tart black fruit, tar, herbs palate; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

La Jota

  • 2009 La Jota Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/10/2012)
    Very dark purple red violet color; ripe plum, berry nose; tasty, ripe black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/10/2012)
    Opaque red violet color; tart black fruit, menthol nose; tasty, tart black fruit, menthol palate; medium-plus finish (w/12/% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder (9/10/2012)
    Very dark purple red violet color; appealing, black currant nose; tight, ripe black currant, blackberry palate; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (w/5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc) (93 pts.)

Ladera

Sept 2012 103

  • 2011 Ladera Sauvignon Blanc Howell Mountain – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; smoky, gooseberry nose; gooseberry, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart currant, loam, menthol nose; tart currant, loam, menthol palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; menthol, tart currant nose; menthol, tart currant palate; medium-plus finish (w/3% Petit Verdot & 2% Malbec) (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Ladera Pinot Noir Pillow Road Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; black cherry nose; black cherry, cola palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Lamborn Family

Sept 2012 062

Larry Hyde & Sons

  • 2009 Larry Hyde & Sons Pinot Noir Hyde – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; oak, baked cherry nose; baked cherry, oak palate; medium finish (11 mos in oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Larry Hyde & Sons Pinot Noir – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/9/2012)
    Dark red violet color; spicy cherry, berry nose; juicy, spicy, ripe cherry, baked cherry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; plush, ripe black fruit, cedar nose; tasty, plush, tart black fruit, cedar palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; ripe berry, black fruit, tar nose; creamy textured, baked black fruit, caramel oak palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Lavender Blue

  • 2010 Lavender Blue Viognier – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; floral, honeysuckle nose; honeysuckle, poached pear palate; medium finish (15.7% alcohol) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Lavender Blue Chardonnay – USA, California, Central Valley, Tracy Hills (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; poached pear, floral nose; ripe, poached pear, floral palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Lavender Blue Petite Sirah Canino Ridge Vineyard – USA, California, North Coast, Lake County (9/9/2012)
    Opaque red violet color; brett, chocolate nose; tart plum, chocolate, brett palate; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Lavender Blue Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Central Valley, Tracy Hills (9/9/2012)
    Very dark maroon color; baked plum, fig, chocolate nose; baked black fruit, fig palate; medium-plus finish (w/3.5% Petite Sirah) (83 pts.)

Mario Bazan

Sept 2012 109

  • 2011 Mario Bazan Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; intense, lemon grass, smoke nose; intense, lemon grass, smoke palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Mario Bazan Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Atlas Peak (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; pepper, tart currant nose; pepper, tart currant palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Mario Perelli-Minetti

Sept 2012 108

Maroon

  • 2011 Maroon Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart lemon nose; tart lemon, citrus palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Maroon Pinot Noir – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll (9/10/2012)
    Bricking medium red color; mature, smoky, tart red fruit nose; tart cherry, smoke palate; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Maroon Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; intense, baked black currant, oak nose; intense, baked black currant, prune, oak palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Mauritson

Sept 2012 107

  • 2011 Mauritson Wines Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; intense, lemon grass, tart grapefruit nose; intense, lemon grass, tart grapefruit palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Mauritson Wines Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark ruby color; lifted, tart berry, tart cherry nose; tasty, rich, ripe cherry, berry palate; medium-plus finish (w/3% Petite Sirah) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Mauritson Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County – USA, California, Sonoma County (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; menthol, tart currant nose; tasty, menthol, tart currant palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Rockpile Winery (Mauritson) Buck Pasture – USA, California, Sonoma County, Rockpile (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, red berry, ripe currant nose; tasty, red berry, ripe currant palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot) (90 pts.)

Merryvale

  • 2010 Merryvale Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; lifted, pear, white jasmine nose; ripe pear, white jasmine, peach palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (43% new French oak) (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Merryvale Pinot Noir Carneros – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; lifted, ripe cherry, raspberry nose; ripe cherry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark ruby color; ripe cassis, black currant, light menthol nose; tasty, cassis, black currant, menthol palate; medium-plus finish (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Merryvale Profile – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, ripe black currant, cassis nose; tasty, cassis, black currant, menthol palate; medium-plus finish (87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc; 14.8% alcohol) (92 pts.)

Mitchell Katz

  • 2010 Mitchell Katz Chardonnay Shadow Hills Vineyard – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; poached pear, Bosch pear nose; ripe pear, poached pear palate; medium-plus finish (50% new American oak, 50% malolactic) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Mitchell Katz Sangiovese Crackerbox Vineyard – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; oak, ripe berry, plum nose; ripe cherry, berry palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (75% new French oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Mitchell Katz Petite Sirah Falling Star Vineyard – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley (9/10/2012)
    Opaque purple red violet color; baked berry, baked black fruit nose; baked berry, baked black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Mitchell Katz Cabernet Sauvignon Tawny Port Falling Star – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley (9/10/2012)
    From 375 ml – medium orange color; coffee, caramel, blond fig nose; coffee, caramel, blond fig palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Montage

  • 2009 Montage Vineyards Chardonnay Garrison Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart citrus, ripe apple nose; oats, hay, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Montage Vineyards Pinot Noir Hummingbird Hill – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; tart cherry, baked cherry nose; tart cherry, red fruit, oak palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Montage Vineyards Syrah Vintner’s Reserve – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; roasted plum, pepper nose; roasted plum, pepper palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (3 years in oak; 14.6% alcohol) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Montage Vineyards Grenache Camp 4 Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light red color with pale meniscus; dried cherry, oak nose; light-medium bodied, tart red fruit, cinnamon palate; medium finish (88 pts.)

Naumann

Sept 2012 095

  • 2009 Naumann Vineyards Tre Roso – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, ripe plum, berry, black fruit nose; ripe plum, berry, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc) (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Naumann Vineyards Chardonnay Ashley Hills – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; ripe pineapple, pear nose; ripe pineapple, pear palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)

Paloma

Sept 2012 046

  • 2008 Paloma Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Dark ruby color; tart plum, black fruit, baked plum nose; tasty, poised, tart black fruit, tart plum palate; will go 15 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points (w/15% Cabernet Sauvignon) (92 pts.)

Patel

Sept 2012 098

  • 2009 Patel Proprietary Red – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark maroon color; appealing, black currant, French oak nose; plush, black currant palate; medium-plus finish (70% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Malbec) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Patel Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; ripe black currant, berry, vanilla nose; ripe black currant, berry, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Patel Proprietary Red – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; herbs, black currant nose; tasty, herbs, black currant palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (68% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, with Malbec and Petit Verdot) (91 pts.)

Peter Paul

  • 2010 Peter Paul Wines Chardonnay – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, peach nose; tart pear, peach palate; medium finish (50% neutral oak, 50% stainless steel; no malolactic) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Peter Paul Wines Chardonnay Mill Station Road – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, light hazelnut nose; tart pear, light hazelnut palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Peter Paul Wines Chardonnay Bacigalupi Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart lemon, lemon cream nose; tart lemon, lemon cream palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Peter Paul Wines Pinot Noir Mill Station Road – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; black raspberry nose; black raspberry, baked cherry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Peter Paul Wines Pinot Noir Trenton Road – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; baked cherry, black cherry nose; baked cherry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Peter Paul Wines Pinot Noir Temperance Hill – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark red color; forest floor, herbs nose; forest floor, herbs palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Peter Paul Wines Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; tobacco, tart black currant nose; tobacco, tart black currant palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Petroni

Sept 2012 096

  • 2010 Petroni Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart grapefruit, lemon grass nose; ripe grapefruit, lemon grass palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Petroni Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very light yellow color; lemon grass, smoke nose; tasty, lemon grass, smoke, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Petroni Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown – USA, California, Sonoma County (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; loam, tart black currant nose; loam, tart black currant palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (15.5% alcohol) (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Petroni Brunello di Sonoma Poggio Alla Pietra – USA, California, Sonoma County (9/10/2012)
    Bricking dark red violet color; aromatic, dried berry, chocolate, baked plum nose; dried berry, chocolate, baked plum palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Pietra Santa

  • 2009 Pietra Santa Chardonnay Twin Terraces – USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light straw yellow color; ripe pear, peach nose; ripe pear, peach palate with low acidity; medium finish (blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris) (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Pietra Santa Sangiovese – USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; aromatic, light cherry, red berry nose; tasty, tart red berry, very tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Pietra Santa Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Collection – USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black currant, loam nose; tart black currant, loam palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Pride

  • 2010 Pride Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; oak, nutty, almond nose; tasty, tart pear, almond palate with near medium acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Pride Mountain Vineyards Syrah – USA, California, Sonoma County (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; tart plum, lightly herbaceous nose; tart plum, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot – USA, California, North Coast, Napa / Sonoma (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; ripe black fruit, chocolate nose; ripe black fruit, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish (w/9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Petit Verdot and .5% Cabernet Franc) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black currant, menthol nose; tart black currant, menthol palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (w/11% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot) (90 pts.)

R & B Cellars

  • NV R & B Cellars The Improviser – USA, California (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark red violet color redolent, tart red fruit, char nose; tart red fruit, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (62% Lake Co. Zinfandel, 28% Contra Costa Mourvedre, 4% Contra Costa Barbera, 4% Napa Petite Sirah, 1% Napa Cabernet Franc, 1% Napa Merlot) (86 pts.)
  • 2009 R & B Cellars Zinfandel Zydeco – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark red violet color; baked black fruit, oak nose; baked black fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2006 R & B Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lyric of the Vine Reserve – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; baked black fruit, oak nose; bake black fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)

Robert Biale

Rua

  • 2009 Rua – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Opaque red violet color aromatic, tart berry, black fruit, menthol nose; tasty, tart black fruit, menthol, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (Merlot & Cab Franc, co-fermented; 2/3s to 1/3) (90 pts.)

Saxon-Brown

Sept 2012 053

  • 2008 Saxon-Brown Sémillon Cricket Creek – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; aromatic, oily, rich citrus nose; oily textured, ripe pear, tart peach palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Saxon-Brown Sémillon Casa Santinamaria Vineyards – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; aromatic, herbs, very tart peach nose; tasty, oily textured, tart peach, mineral, orange blossom palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (75 yr old field blend vineyard with Muscadelle) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Etre Wines Chardonnay – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/9/2012)
    Light golden yellow color; pineapple, tart pear nose; rich, pineapple, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Saxon-Brown Chardonnay Durell Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (9/9/2012)
    Light lemon yellow color; mineral, earthy, toasty, tart lemon nose; tasty, rich, tart lemon, lemon cream, mineral, hazelnut palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Saxon-Brown Zinfandel “Stonewall” Parmelee-Hill – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (9/9/2012)
    Medium dark red color; aromatic, ripe cherry, raisins, ripe berry palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Seavey

Sept 2012 051

  • 2009 Seavey Vineyard Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, tart black fruit, herbs, tobacco nose; tart black fruit, espresso palate; approachable now; medium-plus finish (w/10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 50% new French oak) (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Caravina – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, espresso nose; tasty, rich black fruit, espresso palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, redolent, tart plum, roasted black fruit nose; tasty, rich but poised, tart black fruit, tart blackberry, tar palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (w/10% Petit Verdot) (93 pts.)

Sempre Vive

  • 2008 Sempre Vive Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; ripe black currant nose; tart blackberry, ripe black currant palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Sempre Vive Petit Verdot – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; tart black currant, deep black fruit nose; tart black currant, deep black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Smith-Anderson

  • 2009 Havens Wine Cellars Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; apricot, peach nose; apricot, peach palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2007 Stonehedge The Noble Red – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; lifted, ripe red fruit, apricot, cherry nose; ripe red fruit, apricot, cherry palate; medium-plus finish (1/3 each Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) (88 pts.)

Smith Madrone

  • 2011 Smith Madrone Riesling Estate Bottled – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; ripe lime, green melon nose; ripe lime, green melon palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Smith Madrone Chardonnay Estate Bottled – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; hazelnut, tart pear nose; hazelnut, tart pear, apple palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; menthol, tart currant, bay leaf nose; menthol, tart currant palate; medium-plus finish (w/ 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot) (91 pts.)

Sojourn

Sept 2012 111

  • 2010 Sojourn Pinot Noir Wohler Russian River Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; intense, tart cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, intense, tart cherry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Sojourn Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; ripe cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, ripe cherry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Sojourn Pinot Noir Ridgetop Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (9/10/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; redolent, floral, ripe raspberry, cherry nose; silky textured, floral, ripe raspberry, cherry palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Spann

  • 2009 Spann Vineyards Cabernet Franc four barrels Sonoma County – USA, California, Sonoma County (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; redolent, ripe currant nose; brett, ripe currant palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Spann Vineyards Malbec four barrels – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; violets, ripe berry nose; violets, ripe berry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2006 Spann Vineyards Mo Jo – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; oak, baked black fruit nose; oak, baked black fruit palate; medium finish (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Sangiovese, 7% Syrah, 5% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc) (87 pts.)

Spring Mountain

Sept 2012 047

  • 2009 Spring Mountain Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; appealing, oily, tart citrus, tart peach nose; rich, oily textured, tart citrus, mineral palate, very Graves-like; medium-plus finish 92+ points (w/18% Semillon) (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, tart berry, black fruit, French oak nose; very tasty, black fruit, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot) (93 pts.)
  • 2007 Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; redolent, tobacco, herbs nose; youthful, tasty, tart black fruit, tobacco, herbs palate medium-plus finish 92+ points (w/3% Cabernet Franc) (92 pts.)
  • 2007 Spring Mountain Vineyard Elivette – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart plum, herbs, tobacco nose; tight, tart black fruit, black tobacco palate; needs 4 years; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Spring Mountain Vineyard Elivette – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, dark chocolate nose; tasty, tart black fruit, dark chocolate palate; needs 4 years; long finish (94 pts.)

Tablas Creek

Sept 2012 100

  • 2010 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; ripe pear nose; ripe pear, mineral, tart peach palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (60% Roussanne, 35% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul) (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; tart berry, anise, garrigue nose; tasty, tart berry, garrigue, mineral, anise palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/10/2012)
    Pre-release (mid-Oct. 2012 release) – dark red violet color; tart cherry, tart berry, garrigue, anise nose; tasty, tart berry, beetroot, anise, garrigue, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Tayson Pierce

Sept 2012 099

The Terraces

  • 2010 The Terraces Riesling – USA, California, North Coast, Napa County (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; aromatic, tart peach, baked pear nose; oily textured, tart peach, poached pear palate with minerality; medium-plus finish (no malo) (90 pts.)
  • 2011 The Terraces Chenin Blanc – USA, California, Central Valley, Clarksburg (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; pear, tart green apple nose; spicy pear, green apple palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 The Terraces Zinfandel – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; tart berry, spicy plum nose; tasty, tart berry, spicy plum palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2008 The Terraces Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Opaque purple red violet color; tart black fruit, charcoal, graphite nose; tasty, tight, tart black fruit, charcoal palate; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish 91+ point (91 pts.)
  • 2011 The Terraces Chardonnay – USA, California, Central Valley, Clarksburg (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, tart apple nose; tasty, tart pear, tart apple palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 The Terraces Petite Sirah – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/9/2012)
    Opaque black red violet color; appealing, rich, tart black fruit, savory, light herb nose; tasty, chewy, tart black fruit, savory, dried herbs palate; long finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Trombetta Family

Turley

  • 2010 Turley Zinfandel Pesenti Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (9/9/2012)
    Dark ruby color; aromatic, ripe berry, black cherry nose; tasty, tangy, tart black cherry, tart berry, graphite, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (vineyard planted in 1920) (94 pts.)
  • 2010 Turley Petite Sirah Hayne Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (9/9/2012)
    Very dark purple red violet color; rich, ripe black fruit, chocolate, chocolate cake nose; rich, creamy textured, tart black fruit, tart berry, black plum palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)

Veedercrest

Sept 2012 110

  • 2010 Veedercrest Chardonnay Ruhl Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart lemon nose; ripe lemon, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (stainless steel, no malo) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Veedercrest Merlot Villa Mille Rose – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, tart plum nose; tart plum, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (w/ 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) (91 pts.)
  • 2005 Veedercrest Cabernet Sauvignon Vintner’s Reserve Rutherford – USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; redolent, baked black fruit nose; baked black fruit, blackberry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2006 Veedercrest Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; aromatic, tobacco, tart currant nose; tobacco, tart currant, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (w/ 10% Merlot, 2.5% Petite Verdot, 2.5% Cabernet Franc) (91 pts.)
  • 2006 Veedercrest Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder – USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder (9/10/2012)
    Very dark red violet color; redolent, baked black fruit, black currant nose; baked black fruit, black currant palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Vena

  • 2010 Vena Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; oily, ripe gooseberry nose; oily textured, ripe gooseberry palate; medium-plus finish (85% stainless steel) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Vena Vineyards Merlot – USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; redolent, ripe plum, red berry nose; ripe plum, red berry palaet; medium finish (15 mos in oak) (87 pts.)

Vino Noceto

<Sept 2012 042

  • 2011 Vino Noceto Pinot Grigio – USA, California, Central Valley, Clarksburg (9/9/2012)
    Pale pink yellow color; ripe apple, light peach nose; juicy, tart peach, palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Vino Noceto Moscato Blanco Frivolo – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, California Shenandoah Valley (9/9/2012)
    Pale yellow color; ripe peach, fruit salad nose; rich, sweet, peach, fruit salad palate with some acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Vino Noceto Sangiovese – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (9/9/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; tart red fruit, red berry nose; tart red fruit red berry palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Vino Noceto Sangiovese Riserva – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, California Shenandoah Valley (9/9/2012)
    Medium dark red color; tart red fruit dried red fruit nose; tasty, very tart red fruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Vino Noceto Sangiovese Dos Oakies – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, California Shenandoah Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark red color; tart red fruit, cranberry nose; tasty, tart red fruit, cranberry, cherry palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (Brunello clone) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Vino Noceto Barbera Linsteadt – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, California Shenandoah Valley (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; appealing, tart cherry, red fruit, oak spice nose; tasty, ripe cherry, tart cherry, red berry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (probably the best California Barbera I’ve tasted) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Vino Noceto Zinfandel OGP Grandpère Vineyard – USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County (9/9/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; baked berry, plum, maple syrup nose; tasty, tart plum, baked berry, tart black fruit palate; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Wait

  • 2011 Wait Cellars Chardonnay – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pear nose; tasty, tart pear, ripe lemon palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Wait Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Green Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark cherry red color; intense, ripe cherry nose; tasty, rich, ripe cherry, baked raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Wait Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/10/2012)
    Dark red violet color; intense, black cherry nose; black cherry, black raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Wallis Family

Sept 2012 049

  • 2010 Wallis Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Little Sister – USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; tart black fruit, herbs, savory nose tasty, tart black fruit, coffee, herbs palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (w/ 2.5% Petit Verdot; decent value at $45 SRP) (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Wallis Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain (9/9/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; roasted fruit, tart black fruit, espresso, herbs nose; roasted black fruit, espresso, herbs palate; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Yeilding

Sept 2012 054

  • 2010 Yeilding Wine Pinot Noir Alder Springs Vineyard – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (9/9/2012)
    Medium red color with pale meniscus; forest floor, earthy nose; tasty, earthy, forest floor, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Yeilding Wine Bell Springs Cuvée – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (9/9/2012)
    Dark ruby color; smoky, tar, dried black fruit nose; smoky, tar, dried black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (35% Cabernet Franc, 30% CAbernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Yeilding Wine Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (9/9/2012)
    Dark ruby color; aromatic, tart black fruit, herbs, light pepper nose; tart black fruit, herbs, light pepper palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Yeilding Wine Chardonnay – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (9/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; tart pineapple, ripe pear nose; tart pineapple, ripe pear palate; medium finish (50% stainless steel, 50% oak, 50% malo) (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Yeilding Wine Pinot Noir Late Harvest – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (9/9/2012)
    Dark red color; black cherry nose; sweet, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)

8 Responses leave one →
  1. September 14, 2012

    Holy crap, that’s a lot of tasting notes from a two-day event! As they say in Japan, o-tsukarei sama deshita.

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      September 14, 2012

      Blake,
      あなたに卿をありがとう
      –Richard

  2. September 14, 2012

    Richard,
    Thanks for the notes but thanks a lot for maybe my favorite picture of Diane and me.
    Best, Jim

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      September 14, 2012

      Jim,
      It was great to see you at FW. That is a cool picture.
      –Richard

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