2014 bASH Food and Wine Event in St. Helena – Delicious!

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Napa, Tasting Notes (1 Comment)

Appellation St. Helena recently held their bASH Food and Wine Competition.  This annual extravaganza is one that wine and food lovers should not miss.  Fine wines crafted from vineyards in the St. Helena Appellation are paired with incredible gastronomic treats created by chef teams from the California Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and professional chefs representing local caterers and restaurants.   Attendees enjoy a lively, fun filled evening of sipping, tasting and voting for their favorite wine and food pairings.  Results are tallied and winners are announced at the conclusion of the well-orchestrated event.  My favorites among the many delicious pairings this year included the following:

Charles Krug Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Food pairing:  Lobster Bisque with Pickled Asian Pear and Crab Meat created by CIA Team 24; Jason Raffin (Los Angeles, CA) and Alexa Mejia (Los Angeles, CA)

This crisp, lively Sauvignon Blanc is a lovely quaff heralding racy acidity.  Aromas and flavors of citrus flecked pineapple, tropical fruit, tangy lime and mineral notes capture the senses.   This food and wine pairing was striking in its contrast.  The brightness and acidity of the wine cut right through the heavenly rich and creamy bisque leaving you with a keen desire for more of each.

Corley Family Napa Valley 2010 Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:  Monticello Braised Short Rib Tortellini with Black Pepper Cream Sauce & Pumpkin Seed Pesto created by Sweatpea Catering & Private Chef Services Chef Jeanna DeMarco

This Cabernet Sauvignon is powerfully built yet approachable now with generous cassis, cherry and black plum fruit flavors, savory spice, well integrated tannins and a nice shade of oak from its 28 months aging in new French oak.  The firmly structured wine displays precise balance of fruit, tannins and acids, which suggests good cellaring potential too.  This tender meaty tortellini with a savory sauce was a perfect match to the spicy, dark fruit components and refined tannins in the wine.

 Louer Family Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:  Venison Ragout with Ricotta Tortellini created by CIA Team 8; Josh Hurst (White Plains, NY) and Ryan Hatton (Maryville, TN)

This Cabernet Sauvignon is fruit forward, balanced and velvety smooth.  Chock full of blackberries and currant with accents of spice and woodsy nuances, it is bright and plush throughout.  The rich and tasty dish brought out the savory, earthy notes in the wine.  This pairing showcased complementary flavors and textures with the earthy tones in the wine matching up with the subtle gamey quality of the venison ragout and the wine’s velvety texture harmonizing with the smoothly textured tortellini.

Taplin Cellars 2009 Taplin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:  Slider topped with Gorgonzola Dolce and Terra 9 Cabernet Caramelized Onion Jam on an Herbed Gougère created by CIA Team 13; Kathryn Schmitz (Richmond, VA) and Bryan Owens (Hollywood, MD)

This deep, terroir driven Cab Sauv boasts aromas of eucalyptus and cassis.  It fills the mouth with black plum, cassis and savory notes interlacing with a stream of minerality that makes its way from start to elevated finish.  The wine paired deliciously with this meaty, Gorgonzola heightened slider with caramelized onion accents.  The fat content in both the meat and cheese tamed the firm tannins exquisitely.

Parry Cellars 2010 Parry Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Food Pairing:  Fennel Risotto with Braised Lamb created by CIA Team 3; Trisha Holguin (Los Angeles, CA) and John Pelham (Maplecrest, NY)

This Cab from Parry Cellars’ half acre Parry Vineyard is fresh and full flavored with impressive precision.  On the palate cassis and dark berry entwine with herbs and finely integrated oak nuances.  The impressively balanced wine was a perfect coupling with the tender meaty lamb and creamy herbed risotto.  The simpatico flavors flowed together in unison, lusciously satisfying the taste buds.

Pellet Estate 2011 Pellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:  Braised Oxtail with Brioche Cauliflower Crumbs created by CIA Team 12; Addison Girdner (Boise, ID) and Michael Pazan (Ventura, CA)

Here is an earthy Cabernet Sauvignon that shouts out dark fruit and heady spices on the nose.  The spicy, fruity qualities remain consistent upon entry, expanding further in the mouth with good depth, purity and complexity.  This Cab was adroitly paired with the earthy wine-braised oxtail.  The dish complemented the savory qualities in the wine while softening the firm backbone of tannins; wow, a pairing made in heaven.

Ehlers Estate 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Food pairing:   Beurre Blanc Shrimp Salad on Toast created by CIA Team 18; Daniel de la Rosa (Los Angeles, CA) and Steven Fedalen (Los Angeles, CA)

This perky and crisp unoaked Sauvignon Blanc showcases purity of fruit from the first whiff to the refreshing palate through the elevated finish.  Grapefruit, lemon drops and fresh chopped herbs are wrapped around a lively spine of acidity.  It was a delightful match with the expressive and flavorful herb scented shrimp salad which brought out a nice creaminess in the energetic wine.

Raymond Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:   Cracked Pepper Beef Carpaccio on a Vegetable Terrine prepared by CIA Team 19; Ben Newlin (Thousand Oaks, CA) and Tom Stribling (Santa Rosa, CA)

This Cab’s alluring aroma of dark berry, plum, tobacco and spice merges impeccably with black currant, licorice, hints of lead pencil shavings and well integrated oak, richly filling the mouth.  Refined tannins frame the attractive layers of fruit, tobacco and savory spice on the palate.  I thoroughly enjoyed how the spicy flavors of this delectable cracked pepper adorned beef carpaccio bonded with this beautifully expressive, well balanced Cabernet Sauvignon.

Titus Vineyards 2012 Zinfandel

Food pairing:  Warm Smoked Duck with Radicchio Salad created by CIA Team 20; Kelly Gladstone (San Diego, CA) and Ying Chen (Taiwan)

This Zinfandel is abundantly fruit forward and lip-smackingly juicy.  The senses are filled with briary blackberry, olallieberry and chocolate-dipped strawberry goodness meshing with hints of toast, spice and vanilla bean.  Salad is often a challenging pairing and this one worked extremely well.  The savory, smoked duck melded with the wine’s lush fruit sumptuously.  The fat and richness of the duck in this dish subdued the slightly bitter note of the radicchio too, a creative and tasty pairing.

Robert Biale Vineyards 2010 Thomann Station Petite Sirah

Food pairing:  Spring Lamb Belly with Pea Puree, Black Pepper and Licorice prepared by CIA team 14; John Miller (Sioux Falls, ID) and Alex Tubero (St. Helena, CA)

This complex, deep, darkly hued Petite Sirah offers up aromatic pepper spice and black fruits on the nose, followed by intense flavors of blackberries and blueberries with hints of savory herbs and fresh cracked pepper coating the palate.  It is a richly textured, full bodied wine with firmly structured tannins.  The black pepper spiked meaty lamb belly with its layers of fat softened Petite Sirah’s power and concentration of tannins, and the consistency of black pepper spice in the wine and the dish pulled the combo together seamlessly; an irresistible pairing.

St. Helena Winery 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:  Cream of Mushroom Soup with Madeira Brandy created by Goose and Gander Chef Kelly McCowan

This captivating Cabernet (blended with 2% Petit Verdot) draws you into the glass with its dark fruit and heady spiced tea aromatics.  Flavors of cassis, blackberry, plum and hints of earthiness weave harmoniously on the palate around a firm backbone of tannins.  This paired divinely with the rich and creamy mushroom soup.  The mushroom flavors brought out the earthiness in the wine, and the creaminess of the soup rounded out the tannins without taking away from the wine’s complexity, sumptuous.

Sequum 2009 Kidd Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Food pairing:  Flat Iron Steak with Bordelaise Sauce, Fennel and Apple Slaw prepared by CIA team 1; Ekin Huynh (Orange County, CA) and Fangfang Gong (Chicago, IL)

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon speaks clearly and proudly of the St Helena appellation terroir.  Dark berry, black cherry and Herbs de Provence aromas and flavors wow the senses.  It is bright, complex and penetrating on the palate with velvety tannins and a kick of toasted oak on the long finish.   This wine was provocatively paired with the Bordelaise-sauced steak.  The weight of the full bodied wine and the rich dish were exquisitely in sync and the Herbs de Provence spice in the wine complemented fennel accent in the dish.

Check out Appellation St. Helena’s website at www.appellationsthelena.com, and next spring don’t forget to buy a ticket and attend this fabulous event.  I assure you it is a delicious, enlightening experience with tantalizing sips and tastes that will please even the most scrutinizing palate!

Gems in My Glass . . . April 2013

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Napa

Appellation St Helena wines continue to impress!

The second annual bASH Wine and Food Pairing Competition was a big success again this year with impressive wine producers from the St. Helena appellation pairing their wines with palate pleasing dishes prepared by both professional chefs from local restaurants and student chefs at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.

Among my favorites were:

Taplin Cellars 2008 terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon:  An intense, full bodied, brilliantly hued Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of cassis, dark berry and hints of tobacco spice wrapped around firm tannins.  Paired with this bold Cabernet was Fiscalini Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with accents of bacon and parmesan.  The rich creamy dish nicely rounded out the tannins of the firmly structured wine; a match fit for a king!

Vineyard 29 2010 Aida Estate Zinfandel: An enticingly aromatic Zin chock full of vibrant black and red berry fruit, savory pepper and nutmeg spice.  It was paired deliciously with a Duck Confit Brioche with Roquefort Cheese and Arugula Salad.  The juicy fruit is lifted and bright acidity cuts right through the rich duck. The Zin’s lingering aftertaste caps off the tasty package.

Charles Krug 2012 Sauvignon Blanc:   Bright and fresh with aromas of lemon verbena, sun ripened casaba melon and mouthwatering white grapefruit that persist through the palate.  Zippy acidity keeps this oh-so refreshing quaff impressively balanced.  Terrific pairing with smoked sturgeon which really brought out the minerality in the wine.

2008 Varozza Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon:  This rich, deep and round Cabernet combines black currant, plum and dark berry fruit with a generous sprinkling of anise spice, a hint of violets and nicely integrated oak notes throughout.  The Steak Sliders with Blue Cheese married heavenly with this beautifully balanced Cabernet.

V Madrone Cellars 2011 Old Vines Zinfandel: This lip smacking Old Vines Zin entices the senses with spice laden berry compote aromas.  Filling the mouth are densely concentrated wild berry and blackberry flavors with savory black pepper accents, all weaving together in harmony.  The spicy puréed sweet potato and bone marrow served in a flaky spiced cone was a magical pairing.

Ehlers 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc:  Bright and crisp with pleasing floral and citrus aromas followed by lively flavors of grapefruit, lemon drops, fresh pears, citrus peel and a kick of herbs on the zesty finish.  Splendidly paired with a crisp crostini topped with tasty Fava Bean Purée adorned with Pecorino Cheese.

J. Lohr 2010 Carol’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:  Enticing forest floor and wild berry aromas interlace with crème de cassis and Bing cherry flavors saturating the palate.  Striking purity and intensity hold through the long finish. This Cab paired divinely with a Savory Mushroom Risotto which was made with a bit of Cab pulling the dish and the wine together perfectly.

Freemark Abby 2009 Josephine Cabernet Sauvignon:  Stunning aromatic with scents of fresh blackberries and a hint of eucalyptus entrancing the nose.  Richly textured with layers of black cherry, blackberry and black raspberry sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg spice coating the mouth fully.  Well-structured with integrated tannins and a touch of spicy oak on the lingering finish.  The pairing with savory lamb sausage delighted the taste buds.

Pellet Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: This complex Cab (blended with a touch of Merlot and Petit Verdot) opens with gorgeous aromas of cassis, fresh blackberries and floral notes.  Expanding on the palate are flavors of blueberries and plums, a thread of graphite and skillfully integrated oak.  This Cab is full bodied with a backbone of firm tannins and a velvety smooth texture. Scrumptiously paired with a delectable bite-sized Beef Wellington.

Anomaly Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon:  Inviting anise spiked dark fruit aromas captivate the senses and remain focused on the palate.   Rich and impeccably balanced with black plums, cassis and licorice flavors at the core offset by striking acidity. The smooth texture and integrated tannins persist through the memorable finish.  Tri-tip Sliders with Blue Cheese paired perfectly with this well-crafted Cab.

Trinchero 2009 Mario’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:   Aromas of red currants and a bouquet of spring flowers rise from the glass.  The rich entry introduces layers of raspberries, Lambert cherries, a touch of oak and hints of tobacco spice bursting forward on the palate.  A nice backbone of tannins supports the depth of this powerfully crafted Cabernet.   A delicious pairing with the savory braised short rib croquettes.

This second annual bASH Food and Wine Pairing Competition was thoroughly delightful and delicious; I encourage you to get tickets well in advance for next year’s event.  Watch this space in early 2014 for further details:  www.appellationsthelena.com, you would not want to miss it!

Gems in My Glass . . . April 2012

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Napa

Appellation St. Helena put on the first annual Food and Wine Pairing Competition this month at the Culinary Institute of America, and it was a bASH! to be remembered.    Wines from the St. Helena Appellation were creatively paired with unique and tasty bites prepared by local professional chefs as well as student teams from the CIA’s Culinary Program.   Among the impressive wines presented were:

Anomaly Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon:  Spiced aromas meld deliciously with blackberry, chocolate dipped cherry and licorice flavors that generously fill the palate.   Savory earth-tinged notes led me to ask if there was a splash of Cab Franc, and indeed there is; and a touch of Petit Verdot also adds complexity.   This solidly built Cab Sauvignon with a creamy, rich texture and beautiful oak integration is approachable now, and is also cellar worthy. 

Benessere Vineyards 2008 Sangiovese:   This aromatically inviting 100% Sangiovese is delightfully reminiscent of a classic Italian Sangiovese with its dried cherry, strawberry and trace of orange peel intermingling with a dusting of herbs on the palate.  Elegant and precisely balanced with an uplifting kick of acidity holding firm through the tasty, lingering finish.   

Calafia Cellars 2007 La Reina, Johnson Vineyard:  Deeply hued with bold, dark fruit aromas, this rich, smooth Meritage crafted of 66% Cab Sauv, 15% Malbec and 19% Petit Verdot really packs a punch upon entry.  Black plums, cassis and wild berries sprinkled with freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon spice take center stage, all framed by firm tannins; finishes long and strong. 

Flora Springs Winery 2009 Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon:   Intoxicating aromas of fresh raspberries waft from the glass and expand broadly on the palate.  Earthy, cherry, red currant and herbal notes artfully playing off one another and lead to a memorable finish.  Tremendous depth and purity in the glass with deft handling of oak, this full bodied 100% Cabernet Sauvignon speaks volumes for the sense of place; beautifully crafted.

David Fulton Winery 2007 Petite Sirah:  Appealing aromatics of blackberries and spice draw you straight into the glass.  Juicy black cherry, blackberry and dried plums, black pepper spice and a thread of earthiness unfold richly on the palate and hold up to firmly structured tannins.  Bold and powerful, with dense, concentrated fruit continuing to build through the persistent finish; should cellar nicely for many years.

Charles Krug Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc:  Wildly expressive aromas chock full of grapefruit and attractive grassy notes leap from the glass and remain focused and clean, dazzling the palate.    Lean and minerally, the grapefruit notes meld seamlessly with lemon grass, guava, lime peel and a touch of stone, all framed by a backbone of racy acidity; delicious!

Charnu Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon:   The senses are fully engaged from the moment you lift the glass with this lush, full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.   Black raspberry, plum and cassis aromas and flavors join fresh tobacco and savory spice notes swirling exotically on the palate.    The ripeness of the fruit is spot on and the texture is smooth as silk.  Impressively balanced with a finish that lingers with persistence; a pretty, age worthy wine.

Robert Biale Vineyards 2009 Old Crane Ranch Zinfandel:   Enticing aromas grab your attention and an energizing burst of goodness wows the palate upon entry.  A decadent mouth full of juicy, jammy, boysenberries and plums accented by black tea notes and inviting pie spices meld harmoniously in the mouth.    Dense and lush with a velvety mouth feel and delectably fresh and clean. 

Tudal Family Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon:   Heavenly floral aromatics make way for focused red currant, cherry and wild berry fruit at the core, supported by finely grained tannins and a nice backbone of acidity.   Leather notes, pretty spice accents and a touch of earthiness add complexity and depth.  Nicely structured and balanced; another Cab Sauv built to go the distance. 

Vineyard 29 2008 Aida Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:  This deeply hued Cabernet opens with a nose resplendent in mixed berry and mocha notes that leave you wanting to stay put and enjoy the aroma forever, but move on, as there is plenty more ahead.    Chocolate covered cherry flavors layered with spicy, earthy notes, a thread of tobacco and a hint of graphite lift this Cab Sauv to even greater heights as it broadens deeply on the palate.   Well structured with velvety, firm tannins suggesting its cellar worthiness.

Keep an eye out for this delicious Appellation St. Helena event next spring (more information can be found on their website www.appellationsthelena.org).  You don’t want to miss out on sipping the beautiful wines and the chance to choose your favorite food and wine pairings – absolutely wonderful!

Gems in My Glass…November 2010

Napa, Tasting Notes

This month I had the pleasure of tasting a variety of stunning wines from the St. Helena Appellation in Napa Valley that really display a delicious sense of place. This is just a sampling of my favorites:

Charnu Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: The provocative earth and berry scents that fill the nose are a perfect gateway for the ripe berry, cassis and black cherry flavors that explode brightly on the palate. Spice and well integrated oak notes add depth through the long finish.

Corison Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: Heady tobacco and black currant aromas fill the senses fully and gain momentum on the palate with layers of cherry, leather and spicy oak kicking in on mid palate. This stylish and complex Cab finishes powerfully with beautifully structured tannins; lay this one down, if you have the patience to wait.

Flora Springs 2008 Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Fragrant aromas of cherry and vanilla really strike a chord and remain persistent with tobacco, blueberry and anise spice filling the palate generously. Rich and balanced with good depth and a solid backbone of tannins that suggest good aging potential.

Trinchero Napa Valley 2007 Cabernet Franc: Forward aromas of black cherry, roasted green bell pepper and herbs accent the bursting juicy cherries and spicy pepper notes at the core. This artfully balanced Cab Franc boasts a firm structure and satiny smooth texture, finishing with a touch of sweet oak and a pretty lingering finish.

Charles Krug 2008 Limited Release Zinfandel: Take one whiff and you’ll be sold on the pure goodness in the glass of this rendition of America’s sweetheart grape. Succulent berry and aromatic spice are equal partners in this Napa Valley Zin that really hits the mark with its ripe, yet not overripe, supple fruit.

Robert Biale 2008 Thomann Station Petite Sirah: A tantalizing monster of a petite! The bowl full of crushed blackberry, wild berry and Bing cherry flavors taking center stage are surrounded enticingly with vanilla bean, cinnamon and nutmeg spices. The copious fruit and acidity are very well in balance, and the huge structure with tannins galore suggests long term aging.

Chase Cellars 2007 Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel: Mouthwatering cherry and ripe wild berry aromas scream Zin, and expand gloriously on the palate with generous layers of fresh coconut, juicy red and black berries, a hint of vanilla and pepper spice interweaving deliciously. Intense and richly flavorful with a beautiful purity of fruit.

Egelhoff 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: An aromatic blend of black cherry, cassis and wild berries with hints of leather fills the senses and remained focused with dried spice and a touch of graphite joining in on the mouth filling mid palate. Richly textured and complex with firmly structured tannins and great length on the finish.

Revana Family Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: The decadent aromas of mixed berries and a splash of balsamic are intoxicating. A dense concentration of juicy blackberries and red currant meld splendidly with brown spice and well integrated oak, coating the mouth deliciously. Polished and well built with a smooth, silky mouth feel and a great tannic backbone suggesting long term aging potential. Finishes long and memorably.

Gems in My Glass . . . March 2010

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Napa, Tasting Notes

A recent enjoyable trip to Napa Valley (with wine savvy relatives from Ohio in tow) confirmed once again the quality and consistency of wines that are crafted by winemakers in this premium wine producing region.   Amidst winter rain drenched vineyards and cozy tasting rooms, a host of impressive wines were unveiled:

Joseph Phelps 2006 Insignia:  This 95% Cab Sauv, 5% Petite Verdot blend has an inky dark purple hue with expressive aromas of cassis and tobacco that are ever-so engaging.   This rich blend builds on the palate with opulent, dense dark berry and cassis flavors that are cloaked magnificently in mocha, anise and tobacco notes, and shows off a velvety texture and long finish   Complex with beautifully integrated tannins that suggest long ageability. 

Joseph Phelps 2005 Bacchus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:  The nose is a bit restrained at the moment, but the dark berry and cassis flavors spring forward on first sip and create an elegantly structured and complex elixir full of dense, dark berry fruit, rich cocoa, pleasing minerality and a subtle hint of oak on mid palate.  Well crafted with plenty of firm tannins to go the distance.

Joseph Phelps 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:  Cassis and toasty oak greet the nose and continue on the palate with layers of red and black berry, tobacco, sweet oak and smoke notes and a hint of black licorice, too.  Nicely balanced with silky smooth tannins and a satisfying finish.

Freestone 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir:  Opens with immense florality and cherry on the nose that simply scream Pinot Noir.  Juicy Bing cherry, white pepper, Asian tea spice and smoky notes mesh together gloriously on the palate.  This is a full bodied, elegantly composed wine.

Freestone 2006 Ovation Chardonnay:   Aromatic poached pears and butter notes rise from the glass and meld deliciously on the palate alongside almond paste and toasty oak notes.   Full bodied, rich yet clean and fresh with its bright acidity, this chardonnay strikes a beautiful balance and a lingering finish.

Patz & Hall 2007 Zio Tony Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay:  Stunning aromas of butterscotch and pleasing oak capture your attention and broaden on the palate with crisp green apple, sun drenched peach, candied citrus flavors and a dash of pie spice.   Round and viscous mouth feel with layers that unwind handsomely through the long finish. 

Patz & Hall 2007 Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay:    Enticing aromas of freshly churned butter, subtle oak and minerality lead to a rich, plush mouth filling wine with Asian pear, ripe apple and lemon zest weaving together seamlessly.   Stunning acidity holds up the rich fruit layers strikingly, and the finish is bright and persistent.

Patz & Hall 2007 Jenkins Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir:   Aromas of spicy cherry compote fill the nose and the cinnamon, clove and allspice notes hold enticingly through the palate alongside succulent red and black raspberries, fresh cherries and a generous level of acidity.  Silky and ethereal with a magnificent flavor profile from the beginning through the memorable aftertaste.

Patz & Hall 2007 Freestone Hill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir:  Cherry cola and anise aromas lead to a burst of juicy tart cherry at the core, and layers of mushroom, anise and exotic spice notes add complexity and simply explode in the mouth.   Bright and lifted on the palate, this PN is well constructed and irresistible.

Patz & Hall 2007 Burnside Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir:   Here is a deeply hued Pinot Noir with floral and wild cherry on the nose that lead to a full bodied, complex wine on the palate.  Provocative earthy, forest floor and anise notes accent wild berry and dried cherry flavors that take center stage on mid palate.    Well structured with good depth of flavors and stays nicely focused through the everlasting finish. 

Honig Vineyard & Winery 2008 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc:   Lush tropical fruit aromas promise a juicy mouthful and this Sauv. Blanc delivers!   Grapefruit and lime peel notes meld harmoniously with the ripe tropical mango flavors on the palate; the vibrant acidity enlivens the juicy fruit.   What a perfect spring and summer sipper!

Honig 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:  Take a big whiff and capture the generous dark berry, herbs and allspice in the nose.   Blackberry and plum laced with spice fill the palate nicely with a dollop of vanilla and coconut weaving throughout.  This Cab Sauv is nicely balanced with soft tannins, and finishes delightfully. 

Honig 2005 Bartolucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:    Inviting  plummy notes rise from the glass and open up to dense black cherry, luscious plum and black raspberry flavors enhanced by licorice, herbs and earth notes.  Complex and tightly woven, this is a powerful Cabernet Sauvignon that should last for several years.

Albeit Expensive, Oakville Appellation Cabernets Rock!

Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Tasting Notes

Dalla Valle 2004 ($150) – 97 pts
Inviting aromatics, earthy and spicy with just the right suggestion of fruit, beautiful saturation, gorgeous silky, supple texture, full and mouth filling on the palate, complex with perfectly integrated tannins and a forever finish.

Gargiulo 2005 OVX ($200) – 95 pts
Intense coffee bean on the nose, opens with tobacco and dark berry on the palate, plenty to enjoy on mid palate with spiciness, and perfectly balanced fruit and acidity. Firm tannins to carry this gem through the years.

Fruto 2005 ($200) – 94 pts
Enticing earthy aromas lead to well balanced dark fruit, cassis and earthy notes on mid palate, intense, rich and full bodied with tannins galore, memorable finish.

Harlan Estate 2004 ($495) – 94 pts
Tart cherry nose, exceedingly earthy, plenty of cassis and spicy flavors upon entry that persist broadly and expansively on the palate, complex with firm tannins, very nicely balanced.

Bond 2004 St Eden ($190) – 92 pts
Deep dark fruity aromas, currant and cassis focused on palate, lively, spicy, powerful and balanced, plenty of tannins to go the distance.

Hoopes Vineyard 2005 (~$65) – 92 pts
Dense, dark and elegant all at the same time; new French oak was ever so evident. Pretty oak notes from start to finish, earth forward with dark cherry and spice notes.

Far Niente 2005 ($125) – 92 pts
Licorice and restrained dark berry in nose, beautifully structured, licorice and tobacco thread through the palate with black currant at the core, beautifully structured.

Gargiulo 2005 Money Road Ranch Cab ($85) – 92 pts
Minty notes on the nose, bright black and red fruit surrounded by toasty oak, lifted on the palate, drinking beautifully now.

Rudd 2005 Proprietary Red ($125) – 91 pts
Brooding dark fruit aromas, deep and chewy currant/cassis on the palate, nice saturation, toasty accents and a lingering finish.

Kelleher 2004 Brix Vineyard ($75) – 91 pts
Expressive earthy, wild berry aromas, ever so smooth on the palate, plenty of tannins, lots of weight without feeling heavy on the palate; pleasing finish.

Mondavi 2005 Oakville Reserve (~$125) – 91 pts
Inviting notes of tobacco and dried fruit in the nose, big and rich dense plum on the palate, mouth-filling with well integrated tannins.

Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Tasting Notes

I recently went to a wine dinner focused on Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak 2003 Cabernet Sauvingons they produce from various appellations. I thought I’d share my wine notes.

2003 Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
Round, lush and full on the palate, incredibly balanced wine with beautiful acidity; nice tannins too. Drinking beautifully now!

2003 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Gorgeous spicy aromas lead to a mouthful of ripe pretty berry fruit laced with spice throughout the lingering finish. Plenty of rich tannins suggest good longevity.

2003 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Intriguing earthy aromas, with dense, dark berry and juicy plum flavors bursting on the palate. A mouthful of huge concentrated flavors laced with vanilla notes continue through the memorable finish.

2003 Claret
A nicely crafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot. Pretty aromatics lead to blueberry and wild berry flavors filling the palate. Recognizable dose of Petite Verdot adds complexity; lovely velvety tannins persist.

Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season!

Napa Stars: Miner Family Vineyards

Napa, Tasting Notes

Dave and wife Emily at Miner have been producing wines under their family label for many years, and they’ve got a beautiful portfolio of wines:

2003 Viognier
Oh baby, THIS is what Viognier is all about! This wine was made with no ML (Malolactic fermentation) and very little oak treatment. The result is a wine brimming with florality on the nose, ripe succulent peaches and a splash of citrus on the palate and bright acidity that lifts it heavenly.

2002 Wild Yeast Chardonnay
Scents of oak and rich, creamy butter pull you invitingly into this exotic multi-dimensional Chardonnay. Focused mango and tropical fruit flavors and a touch of nuttiness weave through the palate, and finish with lingering vanilla oak.

2002 Garys Vineyard Pinot Noir
A powerfully structured Pinot Noir from the highly acclaimed Santa Lucia Highlands Appellation, this is a complex yet elegant wine. Dark cherry flavors and a pungent earthiness create a beautiful, silky mouth feel that is nicely accentuated by subtle oak integration; and the finish goes on forever.

2002 Petite Sirah
Aromas heat you right up before the wine ever reaches your lips – mmm! On the palate this luscious wine delivers a huge punch of blackberry jam and berry cordial flavors, outlined by persistent spice notes, finishing rich and oh so smooth.

2001 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
From low yielding vineyards planted in rocky volcanic soils comes this full bodied Cabernet, dominated by juicy red and black fruits with attractive leather and herbal notes that kick in on the mid palate. Nicely structured with firm tannins and plenty of complexity.

Napa Stars: Charles Krug Winery

Napa, Tasting Notes

Through talented winemaker David Gozignato we gained a new appreciation for the wines and winemaking practices at Charles Krug, where the family has owned and operated the facility since 1943. The Redwood Cellar facility, where Peter Mondavi Sr. used to make wine, still stands. The Charles Krug label consists of only Napa fruit which is hand picked and hand sorted, and the wines show the care and dedication.

2004 Sauvignon Blanc
David crafted a winner from grapes harvested early, in August 2004. It’s no surprise this wine took the top White Sweepstake honors at a recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Having seen no oak, it captures the gorgeous varietal fruit characteristics that scream Sauvignon Blanc. Expressive aromatics lead to gobs of juicy kiwi and lively grapefruit that fill the mouth. It is perfectly balanced with racy mouth-watering acidity – what a BEAUTY! It may be tough to find this vintage (sold out at the winery), but I’m betting the 2005 vintage will be as good!!

2002 Generations
Another beauty, this one a blend of 60% Cab Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 12% Petite Verdot, 5% Cab Franc and l% Syrah, Tons of complexity wrapped around a solid core of juicy berries. Peppery notes and beautiful oak integration complete the tasty package. Finishes with elegance!

2003 Generations
From the barrel, the 2003 Generations is developing nicely with focused spice and dense berry flavors and a dollop of cinnamon and plenty of tannin structure. Should be another winner!

Vintage Select 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon

Here’s a powerhouse Cab!! Deep dark fruited aromas introduce what’s to follow – tons of black and red berry fruit and cassis at the core, framed deliciously by black pepper and cinnamon spices that linger delectably through the finish.

Napa Stars: Honig

Napa, Tasting Notes (1 Comment)

A recent visit to Honig revealed a few special gems:

2004 Sauvignon Blanc
From the first whiff, the varietal expression leaps from the glass. A melodious composition of melon, kiwi and tangy citrus on the palate and a lively finish convinces even a novice that this is Sauvignon Blanc. It is a lovely sipping wine, an extremely versatile food wine and a great value at about $14.

2001 Bartolucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
From vineyards at the foot of Spring Mountain, this Cabernet opens up invitingly with berry and full blown cinnamon aromas. Unveiled on the palate are deep, juicy berry and plum flavors that hold the pretty cinnamon accent, ending pleasantly with lingering spices and nice oak integration.

2002 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Opens with pleasing herbal and earth notes that suggest a dose of Cab Franc is present (and it is, along with a bit of petite verdot and malbec). Full cassis and ripe wild berries grab center stage on the palate, and display a rich velvety texture with firm tannins. A nicely crafted wine.

« Previous Entries