Archive for the Category ◊ Wine Review ◊

26 Nov 2010 Anderson Valley — Alsace of America?

I love Alsacian wines!  The wines of Alsace have bright, lovely acidity, wonderful aromas and fantastic in your mouth.  The wines happen to be primarily white which may be a turn off for some people.  But, I say give them a chance especially on Thanksgiving.  The region is known for Muscat Blanc, Rielsing, Pinot Blanc, Gewurtraminer and some Pinot Noir.  These varietals all work very well with traditional Thanksgiving foods.  The wines are generally dry but you can find some with a bit of residual sugar for people with a sweet tooth.

Last weekend, I was wine tasting in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.  Anderson Valley is an appellation well worth learning about if you are not familiar.  The valley is known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewurtraminer.   Excellent sparkling wine is also being made in the valley by Roederer Estate and Scharfenberger (once owned by Dr. John Scharfenberger of the chocolate fame — he has since sold it to Roederer Estate).  The valley is in a cooler climate zone relative to most California grape growing locations which the warmish days and cooler nights gives you excellent temperature spreads which encourage phenolic ripeness while maintaining great acidity in the grapes.  As I was tasting, it struck me in how similar many of the wines were in style, aromas and flavors as Alsacian wines. 

On the wine tasting trip, I went to the following locations:
Roederer Estate – I started the day of wine tasting in a very refined way — drinking sparkling wine at Roederer Estate!  I can not recommend stopping here highly enough.  The people and wines are both tremendous.  One of the great things is to try the same wine aged in a 750 ml vs. the same wine aged in a magnum.  The wine aged in a magnum is smoother, better autolysis flavors (toast, yeast, etc).  The price difference is only $5 more for the magnum (generally) but well worth the price difference.  Of the wines I tried, I really enjoyed the Brut NV, Rose Brut NV and the 2000 L’ermitage (in the magnum).

Husch Vineyards – Husch Vineyards is one of the oldest active wineries in Anderson Valley.  They produce a wide range of wines: Muscat Canelli, Riesling, Gewurtraminer, Carigne, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.  They make a dry and a sweet Gewurtraminer — both of which are quite good.  The white wines were better than the reds.  The tasting room is a converted small shack into a cute and eclectic which fits in well in Mendicino County.

Navarro Vineyards — Navarro Vineyards is a must stop by when in Anderson Valley.  The tasting room is very well appointed with many bars and has very nice people working in it.  They were pouring 18 wines when I was there — mostly all white varietals (Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Gewurtraminer).  Navorro does produce some nice lower price point simple Pinot Noirs from Anderson Valley.  The Muscat Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurtraminer and Edelzwicker (blend of Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Gewurtraminer and Pinot Gris — a traditional blend in Alsace) were all very good.  We were also able to taste the 2008 Pinot Noirs and Syrahs that were bottled under a second label — Fireside — due to the smoke issues from all the fires in the Anderson Valley.  The Fireside wines were actually pretty good especially at the price of $12 / bottle; these wines would be great at any BBQ.

Standish Cellars – The tasting room is located in an old apple drying building.  The building is very cool and worth the time to check out.  The wines are quite nice but a bit on the pricey side.  The 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was very good and worth tasting.  You will not be disappointed.

Toulouse Vineyards – They are in the process of building a tasting room on the vineyard site.  The temporary tasting room was in the winery itself that had a wonderful homey and authentic feel to it!  When I get to building a winery / tasting room, I want it have this type of feel.  The wines were quite good especially their Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir!  The people are wonderful and this is well worth your time to taste their wines!  They also have great cheese crackers to cleanse your palate (impossible to just have one). 

Scharfenberger Cellars – Even though Roerderer Estate owns Scharfenberger now, they are maintaining the Scharfenberger house style quite faithfully.   The house style is made to suite the American palate (noticable residual sugar) vs. an older world palate (drier).

Jim Ball Vineyards — specializes in Pinot Noir and does a fantastic job.  If you are in the area, please go in and taste, you will be very glad that you did!  The vineyards were planted in 2000 with the first vintage being in 2004.  The Pinot Noirs are very good especially the owners blend.  The 2007 vintage is very good (as you might expect).

Londer Vineyards – they have a very nice tasting room in Booneville (eastern Anderson Valley) and have a wide range of excellent wines!  The white and red wines were equally good which is rare thing at a winery.  2008 Corby Vineyard Chardonnay is very good (the Robert Young clone is very distintive and enjoyable).  The three Pinot Noirs (2007 Anderson Valley, 2007 Ferrington Vineyards – Anderson Valley, and the 2007 Parabol Vineyard – Anderson Valley) that I tried were all very good and distinctive — you must try all of them.

If you are not familiar with the wines of Anderson Valley, it is well worth your time to learn more!

11 Feb 2010 Terroirs & Signatures De Bourgogne 2010 – San Francisco

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to the Terroirs & Signatures De Bourgogne 2010 wine tasting in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, I only had an hour and half to taste so I had to go into speed tasting mode.  Given I was speed tasting, I was just rating the wine up to 5 stars where 5 is the best but not taking any significant notes.   I only got to 12 out of the 21 producers.  Overall, the wines were very good with only a few of the wines showing “earthy / barnyard” characteristics.  The wines seem to be much cleaner than in the past from the region — excellent fruit characteristics, bright acidity and well balanced (in general).   It seems that the international wine style is starting to creep in Burgundy or is it more modern production techniques cleaning up some cellar issues (not sure but it seems like an improvement to me).  For more information on Burgundy — http://www.Burgundy-wines.fr

The tasting will also be available in Los Angeles  on February 12th to trade only.

Exhibitors Choice Table
4 stars — Maison Jaffelin, 2007 Rully (white)
3.75 stars — Collin Bourisset, 2007 Pouilly-Fuisse
3.25 stars — Domaine ROUX Pere & Fils, 2007 Rully, Clos des Mollepierres [Note: the oak seemed a bit much to me]

Champy
3.25 stars — 2007 Saint-Romain (good minerality and acidity)
3 stars — 2008 Bourgogne (white) (spicy)
3 stars — 2007 Corton-Charlemange (too much oak for my taste)
2.75 stars — 2007 Volnay
3.5 stars — 2007 Vosne-Romanee (light & delicate)
3.25 stars — 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin (heavy and earthy)
3 stars — 2007 Corton (dark fruit and earth)

Chanson Pere & Fils
3 stars — 2008 Vire-Clesse
3.25 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
3.25 stars — 2007 Beaune 1st Cru, le Clos des Mouches
3 stars — 2007 Pernand-Vergelesse 1st Cru, en Caradeux(white) (flavors seem a bit under developed)
2.75 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (spicy by thin)
2.8 stars — 2007 Pernand-Vergelesse 1st Cru, Vergelesses (red) (seemed overcropped but has potential in later harvests)

Collin Bourisset
2.25 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir
3 stars — 2008 Macon Villages
3 stars — 2008 Vire-Clesse

Maison Joseph DROUHIN
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis, Vaudon
3.5 to 3.75 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
3 stars — 2007 Chorey-les-Beaune (an easy drinking wine)
3.25 stars — 2007 Cote de Beaune
3 stars — 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin

Domaine FOURREY & Fils
2.75 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Mont de Milieu (had a musty note to it — would have score much higher otherwise)
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Vaillons

Domaine Pierre GLANTENAY
3 stars — 2007 Volnay
3.5 stars — 2007 Volnay 1st Cru, Santenots
2.25 stars — 2006 Pommard (earthy and some brett)

Maison JAFFELIN — A producer to watch!
3 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
2.25 stars — 2007 Meursault (too much acidity — flavors are overwhelmed)
3.25 stars — 2007 Rully (white)
3 stars — 2007 Pouilly-Fuisse (good mineral and green apple)
2.5 stars — 2008 Macon Peronne (strong honeyed fruits)
3 stars — 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet
2.25 stars — 2007 Rully (red) (light concentration and quite earthy)
3.5 stars — 2007 Givry 1st Cru, les Grandes Vignes
2.75 stars — 2007 Beaune 1st Cru, Les Cent Vignes
3 stars — 2007 Pommard
3.25 stars — 2007 Nuits-Saint-George

Olivier LAROCHETTE
2.25 stars — 2008 Macon Villages (funky taste)
2.5 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Chardonnay, Vieilles Vignes
3 stars — Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Vieilles Vignes (very soft wine but seemed a tad out of balance)

Chateau de Messey/Domaine BELLEVILLE
3 stars — 2007 Mercury (white) (floral, strong mineral and good concentration)
3.25 stars — 2007 Rully 1st Cru, la Fosse (ripe fruit – apple and mineral)
3.75 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet, les Boudrieres
3.5 stars — 2006 Meursault 1st Cru, la Piece sous le Bois
3 stars — 2007 Aloxe-Corton

Domaine des MALANDES — Outstanding producer
2.5 stars — 2008 Petit Chablis
3.5 stars — 2008 Chablis, Vieilles Vignes, Tour du Roy (50% oak)
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Cote de Lechet
3 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Vau De Vey
3.5 stars — 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudesir
4 stars — 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, les Clos

Domaine PARENT
2.75 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (good acidity, should improve in the bottle)
3 stars — 2007 Pommard
3.5 stars — 2007 Pommard 1st Cru, les Epenots
3.75 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru, Les Renardes (needs many years of bottle age)
3.25 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru (red) (violets)
2.75 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru (white)

Chateau de VILLARS Fontaine
2.75 stars — 2002 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les Jiromees (white)
3 stars — 2003 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, le Rouard (white)
2.75 stars — 1997 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les enevrieres
2 stars — 1993 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les Genevries

11 Feb 2010 Bottling 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese next week

Thankfully, my palate is not longer on the fritz. :)   After getting that back, I went back to double check the 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese which is scheduled to be bottled on the 16th.  It will be bottled into shiners as the label is no where near ready…I have to write up the back label text based on my tasting of the wine.

My tasting notes on the wine:
App -> opaque ruby/black core transitioning to ruby rim (very deep color)
Nose -> clean, medium+ intensity aromas of boysenberry, oak, baking spice, black fruit (cherry, olive), sour cherry
Palate -> high acidity; medium tannins with a hint of fine-grained green tannins on the finish, medium alcohol; medium to long length; pronounced flavors of black cherry, sour cherry, oak, boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry, baking spices with a tart finish; medium+ concentration and mouth-filling texture.
Overall -> the wine strongly reminds me of a Brunello de Montalcino from a fairly warm site. This is a huge wine that will need 12 to 18 months in the bottle before the true nature of the wine will be revealed. The wine has very dark aromas and flavors but a nice balance of spice and tannins to help give it longevity.  The acidity is quite bright so it will age very well and we be really good with food!

The difference between the 2007 and 2008 vintages is huge and surprising.  The 2007 vintage was much more like a Chianti Classico made in a lighter style than the dark, brooding 2008.  Each are lovely and I am looking forward to enjoying them in the future!

09 Feb 2010 Have you had your palate go on the fritz before?
 |  Category: Wine Production, Wine Review  | Leave a Comment

A couple of days ago I was checking the final blend of the 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara to make sure it was ready for bottling.  A very interesting thing happened to me — my palate was not working due to the nasty cold that has been around.  This is the first time that I have had this happen to me.  It was very strange — I could smell the lovely aromas of dark cherry, sour cherry, boysensberry, floral and tar notes; when I put the wine in my mouth, I was expecting to have similar flavors and good concentrated wine based on the depth and intensity of the aromas I smelled but I got a nasty surprise.  I could only taste fruit and oak tannins with a bit of white pepper on the finish.  It really kind of freaked me out. 

I took a sample home with me to have some of my friend try to see what they picked up in the wine.  Thankfully, they really enjoyed the wine and gave me some good feedback on the wine.  My palate had started to return to normal that day but it take take another couple of days before my palate returned to normal. 

Your taste is primarily driven by what you smell.  So, if your nose is stuffed up, you tend not to taste sublte flavors or any flavors at all.  In my case, I had nasal congestion but I could still smell the great aromas which was a good sign for the wine that I picked up such strong and pleasant aromas.    I have done a small amount of research on why the temporary loss of taste bud sensativity but I have not found anything yet.  If you know of any reason why this is, I would love to find out more about it.

02 Feb 2010 19th Annual Zinfandel Festival Grand Tasting
 |  Category: Varietal, Wine Review, Wine event  |  Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment

Last Saturday was the 19th Annual ZAP Grand Tasting at Fort Mason, San Francisco.  I was lucky enough to get into the trade portion of the tasting at 10:00 AM.  The trade crowd is maybe 1000 to 1500 people vs. the general portion which was between 5000 and 6000 people.  The attendance this year seemed much lower than in previous years — it could also be that I left around 2:00 PM (only an hour into the general portion).

I was in speed tasting mode so I only have a star rating from 1 to 5 where 5 is the best.  A new find for me was C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery — the owner is a food scientist who has moved into wine making.  He has done a very good job with his wines — give them a try!  The Gregory Graham, Gamba, Mazzocco and Edmeades wines really stood out for me this year.  I strongly suggest that you try their wines / visit the wineries.   The wines are listed alphabetically by winery

Bella Vineyards & Wine Cave, Healdsburg, Sonoma
3.75 to 4 stars — 2007 Lily Hill, Dry Creek Valley $38 – (light, complex, layered with ripe fruit but not overly so)
3.75 stars — Two Patch, Alexander Valley, $38

Boeger Winery, Placeville, Sierra Foothills
3.5 to 3.75 stars – 2006 Walker Vineyard, El Dorado, $18

Bradford Mountain Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma

3.5 stars — 2006 Dry Creek Valley, Dry Creek Valley, $28
3.75 stars — 2006 Grist Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $34

Brutocao Cellars, Hopland, Mendocino
3.3 stars — 2007 Estate Reserve, Hopland Ranches, Mendocino, $34
3.25 stars — 2006 Estate, Hopland Ranches, Mendocino, $22

C. G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery
3.5 stars — 2006 Gunther Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley, $25
4.25 stars — 2006 Southern Exposure, Shenandoah Valley, $35
3.75 stars — 2007 Sierra Foothills, $18

Calcareous Vineyards, Paso Robles, Central Coast
4.25 stars — 2005 Twisted Sisters, Kate’s Vineyard, Paso Robles, $26
4 stars — 2006 Calcareous Vineyard, Kate’s Westside Vineyard, Paso Robles, $26

Candor/Hope Family Vineyards, Paso Robles, Central Coast
3.25 stars — NV Candor, Central Coast — a zinfandel blend, good concentration

Chatom Vineyards, Murphys, Sierra Foothills
3.5 stars — 2006 Calaverous, $19
3.75 stars — 2008 Barrel Sample, Calaveras, $19

D-Cubed Cellars, St. Helena, Napa Valley
3.75 stars — 2006 Napa Valley, $27
3.25 stars — 2006 St. Helena, $32
3.25 stars — 2006 Howell Mountain, $37

Edmeades Winery, Redwood Valley, Mendocino (they poured 7 zinfandels and they were all very good this year)
4 stars — 2006 Perli Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino Ridge, $31
4.25 stars — Piffero Vineyard, Redwood Valley, Redwood Valley, $31
4 stars — 2007 Mendocino County, Mendocino County, $20

Four Vines Winery, Paso Robles, Central Coast
3.25 stars — 2007 Biker, Paso Robles, $25
3.25 stars — 2007 Dusi, Amador, $25
3 stars — 2007 Sophisticate, Sonoma County, $25
4.25 stars — 2007 Zinbitch (blend of Biker and Dusi) — only 300 magnums made!

Gamba Vineyards and Winery, Fulton, Northern Sonoma
4.5 stars — 2008 Estate Old Vine, Russian Rivery Valley, $43
4 stars — 2008 Moratto Vineyard, Russian River Valley, $43
4.25 stars — 2008 Russian River Valley, $35

Gregory Graham Wines, Lower Lake, Lake County
4 stars — 2007 Crimson Hill, Red Hills, Lake County, $18
4.5 stars — 2007 Crimson Hill, Red Hills, Lake County (late harvest – 375ml), $22

HammerSky Vineyards, Paso Robles, Central Coast
3.25 stars — 2007 Estate Reserve, Paso Robles, $39
3.25 stars — 2007 Open Invitation Zin Blend, Paso Robles, $49

Harney Lane Winery, Lodi, Central
2.5 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Lizzy James Vineyard, Lodi, $33
2.75 stars — 2007 Lodi, $20

Hendry, Napa, Napa Valley
2 stars — 2006 Block 7 & 22, Napa Valley, $30

Klinker Brick Winery
3.35 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Lodi, $18 (light but complex aromas and flavors)
3 stars — 2007 Old Ghost Old Vine, Lodi, $37 (fruit was overripe)

Lava Cap Winery, Placerville, Sierra Foothills
3 stars — 2006 Rocky Draw, Lava Cap, El Dorado, $22

Leonhardt Vineyards, Geyserville, Northern Sonoma
3.3 stars — 2007 Rserve, Dry Creek Valley, $48 (complex and spicy)

Mauritson Family Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma
3.75 stars — 2007 Rockpile Cemetery Vineryard, Cemetrery Vineyard, Rockpile, $39
3.5 — 2007 Rockpike Ridge Vineyard, Rockpile Ridge, Rockpile

Mazzocco Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma (they had 4 reserve zinfandels — all very good and 6 regular zinfandels — all very good but not quite as concentrated as the reserve wines)
4 stars — 2007 Maple Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $32
4.5 stars — 2007 Maple Vineyard, Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, $40
4.25 stars — 2007 Smith Orchard Reserve, Dry Creek, Valley, $50
3.75 to 4 stars — 2007 Pony Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $32

Murphy-Goode, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma
3 stars — 2006 Snake Eyes, Alexander Valley, $35
3 stars — 2007 Liar’s Dice, Sonoma County

Novy Family Wines, Santa Rosa, Northern Sonoma
3 stars — 2008 Novy, Russian River Valley, $20

Outpost Estate Wines, Angwin, Napa Valley
3.5 stars — 2008 Barrel Sample, $45 (will be bottled in 3 months, good concentration with a elegant layered finish)

Perry Creek Winery, Someset, Sierra Foothills
2 stars — 2006 Zinman, Sierra Foothills, $14
2.5 stars — 2006 Altitude:2401 Fair Play Farms, Sierra Foothills

Renwood Winery, Plymouth, Sierra Foothills
2.5 stars — 2006 Grandmere, Amador, $40

Rosenblum Cellars, Alameda, Bay Area
3.5 stars — 2007 Rockpile, $?

Saddleback Cellars, Oakville, Napa Valley
3.5 stars — 2006 Old Vine, Napa Valley, $36

Selby Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma
3.5 stars — 2007 Bobcat, Sonoma County, $34 (ripe flavors w/ RS and 17.8%abv!)
3.75 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Sonoma County, $24 (elegant, layered, concentrated with 15.7% abv)
4 stars — 2007 Zinfandel Port, Sonoma County (fragant, perfume aromas with a clean finish)

Carol Shelton Wines, Santa Rosa, Northern Sonoma
3 stars — 2006 Wild Thing, Cox Vineyard, Mendocino County, $24
3 stars — 2006 Rocky Reserve, Florence Vineyard, Rockpile, $33
4 stars — 2006 Karma Zinfandel

Sierra Starr Vineyards, Grass Valley, Sierra Foothills
3.5 stars — 2009 Zinjolais, Sierra Foothills (Zinfandel fermented using carbonic maceration — this would be a great wine chilled in warm weather.  Note: this must be a unique wine!)
2.5 stars — 2006 Old Clone, Estate Vineyard, Sierra Foothills

St. Francis Winery & Vineyard, Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley
3.5 stars — 2007 Karen’s Terrace, Sonoma Valley, $35
3.25 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Sonoma County, $25

Storrs Winery, Santa Cruz, Bay Area
3.25 stars — 2005 Lion Oaks Vineyard, Bay Area, $34
3.25 stars — 2006 Rusty Ridge, Bay Area, $30

Storybook Mountain Wines, Calistoga, Napa Valley
3.25 to 3.5 stars — 2007 Mayacamas Range Estate, Napa, $34

Tin Barn Vineyards, Sonoma, Sonoma Valley
3 stars — 2007 Dalraddy Vineyard, Napa Valley, $27

Valley of the Moon Winery, Glen Ellen, Sonoma Valley
2.75 stars — 2006 Estate Old Vine, Sonoma Valley, $25
3 stars — 2007 Sonoma County, $20

Venge Vineyards, Calistoga, Napa Valley
2.75 stars — 2007 Scout’s Honor, Napa Valley, $38

Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery, Boonville, Mendocino
2.5 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Redwood Valley, $30 (lacking in fruit and too many tannins)

10 Nov 2009 2008 Eberle Mill Road Vineyard, Viognier, Paso Robles

Appearance:  medium bright, lemon-green core transitioning to a water-white rim

Nose: clean, medium intensity aromas of mineral, sea shell, dried apricot

Palate: medium+ intensity flavors of pear, dried apricot, mineral and lemon pith; low tannins; high alcohol (hot on the finish); medium+ acidity (angular on the palate); medium+ concentration.

Quality: The wine is average to good; the wine is slightly out of balance due to the alcohol and angular acidity.  The flavors are typical for central coast viognier without being over oily in texture.  The wine is best served chilled.

18 Oct 2009 Wine & Spirits top 100 – October 14, 2009
 |  Category: Wine Review, Wine event  | Leave a Comment

I attended the Wine & Spirits annual top 100 wines tasting event held at The Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center on October 14, 2009.  It is a very well attended event; this year I would estimate the attendance at roughly 550 – 600 people.  The event is well worth your time to attend next year!  I highly recommend it. 

The purpose of the event is allow people to try the wines from top 100 wineries from the year in one place.  It is a great experience to get an understanding of what the wine critics of Wine & Spirits are giving high scores, what varietals are in favor, learn about new wine regions and the specific wine styles of those regions.  The wines being poured were in the following categories: sparkling wine, Crisp white wines, floral whites, rich whites, sherry, pinot noir, Austrian, Italian, Iberian, Rhone family, Cabernet family, Zinfandel and Port.  It is a bit of an odd classification but it helped to have the wines grouped on the tasting floor.

I tasted quite a few wines so the rating (out of 5 stars) and comments are very limited.  Disclaimer: your mileage may vary due to the number of tastes:

Sparkling:
Roederer Estate, 2002 Anderson Valley L’Ermitage Brut – 4 stars [W&S:93, $45]
Roederer Estate, NV Champagne Brut Premier – 3.75 stars
Schloss Gobelsburg, NV Kamptal Brut Reserve – 4.25 stars (a lovely blend of Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

Crisp whites:
Boutari, 2008 Santorini — 3 stars (Assyrtiko — fresh cherry, mineral, sea shells)
Gaia, 2008 Santorini Wild Ferment Assyrtiko — 2 stars (aged in acacia wood, too much wood and mineral and lack of fruit) [W&S:94, $35]
Gaia, 2008 Santorini Thalassitis — 2.5 stars (mild cherry, mineral)
Schiopetto, 2006 Collio Sauvignon — 3.5 stars (grapefruit, high acidity) [W&S: 95, $30]

Floral Whites:
Sheldrake Point, 2007 Finger Lakes New York Dry Riesling — 3.5 stars overall, 4.5 stars nose (smells like a high-end Mosel riesling, palate comes across as too dry for the aromas)
Sheldrake Point, 2007 Finger Lakes New York Dry Magdalena Vineyard Riesling – 4 stars (balanced flavors, aromas, intensity with botritysis elements).
Kilikanoon, 2007 Clare Valley Mort’s Reserve Watervale Riesling — 2.5 stars [W&S:93, $35]
Dr. Loosen, 2007 Mosel Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese — 4 stars
Dr. Loosen, 2007 Mosel Erdener Pralat Riesling Auslese GoldKapsel — 4.75 stars (not cloying, good acid with great Mosel characteristics (floral, petrol, stone fruit)
Joh. Jos. Prum, 2007 Moswel Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese — 3 stars
Nigl, 2007 Kremstal Kremsleiten Riesling — 3 stars (mild floral, light stone fruit)
Nigl, 2003 Kremstal Kremsleiten Riesling — 2.75 stars (mineral, white floral)

Rich Whites:
Marcel Deiss, 2004 Alsace Grasberg — 4.25 stars to 4.5 stars (lovely lush Edelwicker style Alsace blend — very balanced, good concentration with sufficient acid to last many years) [W&S: 94, $67]
E. Guigal, 2005 Hermitage Blanc — 3 stars (noticable oak is distracting from excellent aromas and palate flavors)
E. Guigal, 2007 Condrieu — 2.75 stars (wet wood, hint of humus)

Pinot Noir:
Anthill Farms, 2007 Mendocino County Comptche Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir – 4.25 to 4.5 stars (lovely delicate and refined Pinot Noir) [W&S: 96, $46]
DeLoach, 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir — 3 stars  (medium concentration, red fruit)
Flowers, 2006 Sonoma Coast Andreen-Gale Pinot Noir — 3.75 stars (medium intensity aromas, light floral, red fruit)
Peay, 2007 Sonoma Coast Scallop Shelf Pinot Noir — 3.5 stars (floral, light, red fruit) [W&S:95, $52]
Peay, 2006 Sonoma Coast La Bruma Syrah — 3.5 to 4 stars (fennel, ansise, black pepper) [W&S: 95, $45]
W. H. Smith, 2007 Sonoma Coast Maritime Pinot Noir –3 stars (earthy, dark fruit, classic sonoma coast profile)

Austrian:
Moric, 2007 Burgenland Blaufrankisch — 3.25 stars (blueberry, boysenberry)
Moric, 2006 Burgenland Alte Reven Neckenmarkt Blaufrankisch — 4 stars (blue fruit, soft tannins, medium + concentration — a lovely wine) [W&S:93, $95]

Italian:
Elvio Cogno, 2004 Barolo Vigna Elena — 3.5 stars (old style of Barolo before recent adoption of more modern winemaking techniques)
Elvio Cogno, Barolo Ravera — 4 stars (modern style of Barolo — a bit more fruit driven)
Poderi Luigi Einaudi, 2004 Barolo Nei Cannubi — 3 stars (violets, dried red fruit)
Poderi Luigi Einaudi, 2007 Dolcetto de Dogliani Vigna Tecc — 3 stars (fresh red fruit — slight bitterness (tannins) on the finish)
Vietti, 2005 Barbaresco Masseria — 3 stars (high acid, slight bitter tannins, very dry finish)

Iberian:
CVNE/Conino, 2005 Rioja Graciano — 3.5 stars (red currants, grapey)
CVNE/Conino, 2005 Rioja Reserva — 3.5 stars
Buil & Gine, 2005 Montsant Baboix — 3.5 stars (Smoky, earth, red fruit w/ hint of earthiness
Buil & Gine, 2008 Rueda Nosis — 3.5 stars (Verdelho — red grapefruit, great acid)
Quinta do Noval, 2007 Porto — 4.25 stars (excellent port would have scored higher but slight note of latex paint)

Rhone Family:
Delas Freres, 2005 Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette – 3 stars ( Frances Ferrier cooperage – spicy )
Delas Freres, 2006 Crozes-Hermitage Les Launes — 3 stars
Qupe, 2005 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido X-Block Syrah — 2.5 stars (dry and bitter notes — aged in hermitage cooperage)
Qupe, 2007 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Roussanne — 2.75 stars (dry, mineral)
d’Arenberg, 2006 McLaren Vale The Ironstone Pressing — 4 stars (very similar to Lionheart 2007 Dry Creek Valley Syrah)
Leeuwin Estate, 2006 Margaret River Art Series Shiraz — 4 stars (restrainted, balanced old world style syrah) [W&S: 94, $35]
Leeuwin Estate, 2006 Margaret River Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay — 4.5 stars
Yalumba, 2006 Barossa Valley The Scribbler Cabernet-Shiraz — 3.75 stars (rich, complex, balanced)

Cabernet Family:
L’ Ecole N’ 41, 2006 Walla Walla Valley Perigee Seven Hills Vineyard — 3.5 stars (noticable fine-grained tannins but pleasant)
L’ Ecole N’ 41, 2006 Walla Walla Valley Apogee Pepper Bridge Vineyard — 3.5 stars (needs more time in the bottle and will improve)
Saviah, 2005 Columbia Valley Laurella — 3.5 stars (super tuscan sangiovese – rich and complex) [W&S:94, $36]
Beaulieu Vineyard, 2005 Napa Valley Tapestry Reserve — 3.25 stars (a bit thin, drying tannins)
Beaulieu Vineyard, 2005 Napa Valley Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cab. Sauv – 3.75 stars
Beringer, 2005 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — 3.5 stars (rich but expected more from the wine)
Diamond Creek, 2005 Red rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon — 4 stars (violets, red currant, concentrated) [W&S:98, $175]
Diamond Creek, 2005 Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon — 4 stars
Louis M. Martini, 2004 Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — 3.5 stars (spicy, red currant)
Ridge, 2005 Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvginon — 3.5 to 3.75 stars (floral, cassis, red currant, slightly drying tannins — needs more time in the bottle) [W&S:97, $145]
Ramey, 2006 Napa Valley Annum Cabernet Sauvignon — 3 stars
Skouras, 2006 Greece Synoro — 4.5 stars

Zinfandel:
Dashe, 2006 Alexander Valley Old Vine Todd Brothers Ranch Zinfandel — 3 stars (slight acetal  acetate notes) [W&S:96, $32]
Dashe, 2006 Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Louvau Vineyard Zinfandel — 3 stars
Storybook Mountain, 2006 Napa Valley Eastern Exposures Zinfandel — 3.75 stars
Storybook Mountain, 2005 Napa Valley Seps Estate Cabernet Sauvignon — 3.25 stars

Port:
1991 Porto Colheita — 4.5 stars (walnut, sherry, hint of aldehyde)

03 Jul 2009 2007 Boeger Sauvignon Blanc, El Dorado
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Appearance:
clear, light+ gold core transitioning to water-white rim

Nose:
medium intensity aromas of grapefruit, gooseberry, freshly cut grass

Palate:
high acidity; medium body; medium intensity flavors of grapefruit, green apple, gooseberry and mild freshly cut grass; long length.  The wine is a between a New Zealand Sauv. Blanc and a Napa Valley Sauv. Blanc in style; the wine is an easy quaffer best served with a chill.  The acidity is a big sharp on the finish.

Quality:
The wine is an average to good depending on the retail price point purchased at.  The wine is more refined that you might expect from a sauvignon blanc from the Sierra foothills.

02 Jul 2009 Alysian 2007 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Appearance:
bright, medium+ ruby w/slight cranberry core transitioning to ruby rim

Nose:
Clean, pronounced aromas of cola, cherry (red and black), light toasty oak, warm spices (mace, allspice, cinnamon), blackberry.

Palate:
Medium, soft tannins (will probably become velvety with bottle age); medium+ intensity flavors matching the aromas; long length; medium+ alcohol; medium concentration but is excellent mouth-coating properties.

Quality:
Good to Excellent — you can drink now but will get better with bottle age;  the typicity of the Pinot Noir is excellent and a great example of Russian River Valley fruit.  The complexity and layered nature of the aromas/flavors are excellent and make you want to have another sip after you let the finish linger into nothingness on your tongue.

Alysian is Gary Farrell’s new wine project; 2400 cases total currently with plans to only reach 3500 cases.  Alysian’s winery is built in part of the old Belvedre winery and utilizes the top winemaking equipment and technology.   The wines will make you think of the best from the Gary Farrell Winery before Gary sold the winery.

02 Jul 2009 2006 Boeger, Merlot, El Dorado
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Appearance:
Deep ruby core transitioning to light ruby rim

Nose:
Medium intensity aromas of slightly overipe red and black fruit, plum, slight reductive note, oak

Palate:
Medium dusty tannins with slight astringency; Medium+ alcohol; Medium intensity flavors of oak, cedar, black fruit (plum, cherry, olive and blackberry) and red cherry; Medium length; medium- body.

Quality:
Good quality merlot that would go very well with food especially braised meats.