Napa Stars: Shafer Vineyards

Tasting Notes

A delightful trip to Shafer Vineyards recently showed a few notable wines.

Red Shoulder Ranch 2003 Chardonnay
Forward fruit focused aromas lead to layers of tropical fruit and crisp apple flavors that explode on the palate. A rich and creamy, complex Chardonnay with bright acidity and a finish that is long and memorable.

Firebreak 2002
A delightful blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The spicy, earthy characteristics of Sangiovese dominate in the bouquet and the minute it hits your tongue. Dried cherry and berry flavors come alive on the mid palate and finish with pleasing berry and leather notes.

2000 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep, dark berry and cassis aromas lead to an elegant supple richness on the palate. Full bodied and intense, focused black berry and cassis flavors and hints of anise and spice carry through from start to finish. This absolutely gorgeous wine from 100% hillside grown fruit is smooth as silk with refined velvety tannins, a jewel from the highly touted Stag’s Leap region.

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.

Napa Stars: Provenance Vineyards

Napa, Tasting Notes

Another “don’t miss” winery is Provenance. If you haven’t been here yet, I suggest you add it to your must visit list.

2002 Mt. Veeder Merlot
Whoa!!! Here is as decadent a Merlot as you can imagine! Deeply hued, with dense, concentrated blackberry and boysenberry flavors laced with cinnamon and dark chocolate, nicely topped off with oak nuances from start to finish. A full throttle yet polished merlot with firm tannins – WOW!

2000 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
From the To-Kalon Vineyard, this Cab opens with a hint of violets and rich berry pie spices filling nose, leading to juicy berry and ripe dark plums, exotic spices and licorice. The tantalizing flavors meld together seamlessly, and the sweet fruit allows for drinking now, yet firm tannins suggest it will benefit from cellaring as well.

Limited Release 2002 Syrah
Smokey bacon and meaty aromas promise a blockbuster wine, which it surely delivers on the palate. Dark blackberries and vanilla blend harmoniously, and a dash of orange peel adds drama. This is a big, chewy incredibly well structured wine. Hats off to Tom Rinaldi, winemaker extraordinaire!