Archive for the Category ◊ Varietal ◊

09 Sep 2012 Angel’s Blush 2012 Kickstarter Project has launched!

We have launched the Angel’s Blush 2012 Kickstarter Project to raise funds to produce another vintage of Angel’s Blush ™ in a new custom crush facility. We are raising money for stainless steel tanks and barrels for the Rose production.


The last vintage sold out in 2 weeks! It was very, very good…especially on a spring day. The 2012 vintage will be ready by the start of next spring for your enjoyment.


There are many rewards available depending on your level of support! You will only be charged if the target goal of $7,500 is met. When we get close to $7,500, I will be announcing a new stretch goal to help Lionheart Wines expand!

Please help Lionheart Wines grow! We will most definitely take care of our supporters. If you have any questions, please contact Leon at lglover@lionheartwines.com or 650.576.1367. Harvest has started so we need make this happen very soon to get the best fruit.

05 Feb 2011 Zap 2011 — A good time with some great wines!

The 20th ZAP Grand Tasting was a good time for all that attended.  The weather threatened to get ugly but thankfully, held off and ended up being a great day in San Francisco.

The number of wineries seemed to be lower than in past years which is a good and a bad thing.  The bad thing is less zinfandel to taste; the good was that there was more room in both of the event halls which seemed to help with crowd flow at the event.   Also, the casting call for a extras in a Matt Damon movie help keep down the number of barely legal drinkers who normally come to get drink instead of taste.

I was able to taste a large number of wines this year even with being a volunteer for 3 hours.  The wines of the 2008 and 2009 vintages were actually fairly consistent with a trend toward above average zinfandels.  The cooler years seemed to help with not having too many over-ripe fruit flavors and keeping the alcohol levels down to more reasonable levels (14% and 15% instead of some of the recent vintages where alcohol were easily up in 16%+ range).  The change in the fruit flavors and lower alcohol seemed to throw a few wine makers a curve ball as quite a few of the zinfandels that I tasted expressed too much oak in the nose and palate.

The wines of note for me were the following:

Black Sears Estate Wine, Angwin, Napa Valley, 707-963-1334, Website
2008 Black Sears Estate, Howell Mountain, $42 — I enjoyed this wine the most out of what I tasted.  It was very well balanced in aroma, palate, acidity and overall intensity.  It had the classic zinfandel fruit flavors with an added fresh cracked black pepper note that is so rare in Zinfandels now.  It had a very long, pleasant finished with a greater than usual acidity for Zinfandel.  The is lovely by itself but would spectactular with a peppered flank steak.

D-Cubed Cellars, St. Helena, Napa Valley, 707-963-5212, Website
2007 Howell Mountain, Howell Mountain, $37
This wine was really good!  The winemaker told me the fruit comes from the Black Sears Vineyard, so no big surprise that I enjoy it so much!  The wine was elegant, complex and layer in both aroma and palate.  The freshly cracked black pepper aroma and flavor lured you in to enjoy the rest of a balanced and layered fresh fruit flavors starting to show secondary flavors — flavors of black tea, red fruit, black pepper and slight brambleberry.

2007 Napa Valley, Napa Valley, $27 — this was very enjoyable but not as complex or elegrant as the Howell Mountain — primarily fruit driven with noticable tannins, a dense wine.

Klinker Brick Winery, Lodi, Lodi, 209-333-1845, Website
2008 Old Vine, Lodi, $18 — this was a fantastic wine especially for the price point!  The wine shows classed old vine characteristics — mixture of brambleberry, red fruit, black fruit, black tea and hint of floral.  The wine is medium density with a balanced level of tannins for the intensity of the flavors and palate texture.

2008 Old Ghost Old Vine, Lodi $37 — This wine shows vintage variation; this year is a very good year!  The wine is similar to the $18 but with more concentration, complexity and elegance.  This wine will age well which is rare for zinfandels.

Mazzocco Winery, Geyserville, Northern Sonoma, 707-431-8159, Website
They were pouring 8 different wines — most of them single vineyard designates.  The wines were excellent and worth the effort to seek them out. 

Good wines — Worth trying:
Artezin Wines, Napa, Napa Valley, 707-255-1144, Website — 2008 Dry Creek Valley, $25; 2009 Mendocino County, $20
Calcareous Vineyard, Paso Robles, Central Coast, 805-239-0289, Website – 2008 Twisted Sisters, Paso Robles, $20
Downing Family Vineyards, Napa, Napa Valley — 888-440-2468, Website – 2007 Fly By Night, Oakville, $24
Edmeades Winery, Santa Rosa, Mendocino/Lake — 707-522-6488, Website — 2008 Mendocino County, $18 (Very good especially for the price — on the lighter side); 2007 Ciapusci Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, $35.  All of there Zinfandels were quite good but I liked the balance and elegance of the Mendocino County blend best.
Gamba Vineyards and Winery, Fulton, Northern Sonoma, 707-542-5892, Website – 2009 Old Vine, Moratto Vineyard, Russian River Valley $43 (typical Gamba — big, dense, fruit bomb — aka not quite Port but damn close!)
Kokomo Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-433-0205, Website — 2008 Mounts Vineyard, Dry Creek Vineyards, $32; 2008 Timber Crest Vineyard, Dry Creek Vineyard, $36
Mauritson Family Winery, Healsdburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-431-0804, Website — 2009 Dry Creek Valley, Dry Creek Valley $27; 2009 Rockpile Ridge Vineyard, Rockpile, $35
Miraflores Winery, Placerville, Sirra Foothills, 530-647-8505, Website — 2007 El Dorado, $22; 2008 El Dorado, $22.  These are very good, complex wines and nicely priced.
Pezzi King Vineyards, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-473-4310, Website — 2008 Old Vines, Dry Creek Valley, $24 — highly recommended.
Seghesio Family Vineyards, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-433-3579, Website — 2009 Home Ranch, Alexander Valley, $36; 2008 Cortina, Dry Creek Valley $36; 2009 Sonoma, Sonoma County, $24
Sextant Wines, Paso Robles, Central Coast, 805-542-0133, Website — 2007 Holystone, Paso Roables, $27; 2008 Wheelhouse, Paso Robles, $20, 2008 Central COast, Central Coast $15
Storrs Winery & Vineyards, Santa Cruz, Bay Area, 831-458-5030, Website – 2005 Lion Oaks Vineyard, Santa Clara County $34; 2006 Rusty Ridge, Santa Clara County, $30; 2007 Central Coast $20

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!

17 Mar 2010 What to do for the upcoming harvest?

2010 is going to be watershed year for many reasons. 

Jen and I are moving to Southern California (Pasadena / Altadena area).  Jen got a great job with American Realty Advisors.  Given the economy, we would be crazy not to jump on the job offer.  So, I am getting the house ready for sale or as Jen aptly named it “blandizing” the house.  We love bright and bold colors in the house.  Our realtor said the house is beautiful (should be in Architectural Digest or Sunset Magazine) but will not appeal to the widest possible market of home buyers.  I understand the realtor’s point but it is a bit frustrating. 

Winemaking has very similar parallel — do you produce high-end, small lot wines for an intensionally small segment of the wine buying public or do you produce cost-effective reasonable quality wine that we appeal to the masses?  This is a question that I have been thinking about quite a bit.  Our move is forcing me to re-evaluate where we produce wine and what type of product do we produce.  The economic downturn has been very hard on us — we are in the worst hit price segment.  The practical side of me says that we should be looking for the lowest possible production costs that result in an nice and easy quaffing wine at a price point of around $15/bottle retail; I have seen that you can sell wine like that to restaurants for the “By the Glass” program easily yet a wine that is $20/bottle can effectively only be sold for the wine list or to a retailer.  Yet, if I am going through all the hard work, I want to produce the best possible wine that I can.  You can say that by producing the lower end wine that I would be selling out artistically and economically.   I would still be in business while a large number of small-lot, high-end wine producers are going out of business.  Any thoughts from you on the subject?

I also am researching new custom crush facilities down in the Southern California (LA, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Santa Maria).  If anyone has any suggestions for custom crush facilities, please let me know.  As part of the custom crush research, I am debating on what varietals to produce.  I am leaning toward Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and maybe a rose of Syrah / Sangiovese.  Cabernet Sauvignon could be possible if the price point would be below $20/bottle.  I do love Syrah but selling it is quite difficult given the cost of good quality grapes.

Oh well, the facts will drive the decision.  If you have any input on any of these topics, please add a comment or drop me an email at lglover@lionheartwines.com.

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!

02 Feb 2010 19th Annual Zinfandel Festival Grand Tasting
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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)

02 Feb 2010 2008 Syrah blending trials

Recently, I did some blending trails with my two lots of Syrah from 2008.  The two lots are from the Thompson vineyard and White Hawk vineyard in Santa Barbara County.  The goal of the blending trial was to see if the wines were ready to make the primary blend of the two and/or would I need to bottle them seperately.  Thankfully, the two syrahs (each made as a blending component of a Santa Barbara County Syrah) are complimentary to each other.

2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbary County
App -> opaque black w/purple hues core changes to a purple rim
Nose -> Medium+ intensity aromas of black fruit, black olive, dried herbs, boysenberry
Palate -> Medium+ tannins (fine-grained with a hint of green tannins on finish), high acidity; medium+ intensity flavors of black fruit, violets, fresh raspberry (frambiose), blackberry, earth, cherry; medium+ alcohol, long length

2008 Thompson Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara County
App -> opaque black/purple hues core changes to a purple rim
Nose -> pronounced intensity aromas of toasted espresso, milk chocolate
Palate -> Medium+ Alcohol; pronounced flavors of black fruit, bramble berries, spicy red fruit, light sulphur note (from recent sulphur addition) red grapefruit on finish

The blending trials consisted of 50% Thompson / 50% White Hawk to get a baseline to see how the two complimented each other — quite positive! — followed by blending with different amounts of Viognier, Grenache and/or Mourvedre.  The result of the trial for the primary blend turned out to be 49.5% Thompson / 49.5% White Hawk / 1% Catie’s Corner Viognier.  The primary blend will be completed and put back into neutral barrel as the wine does not need anymore tannins to round out the wine.  The small amount of Viognier does a great job of enhancing the aromatics and softening the strong tannins from the Thompson Syrah (it was in a new barrel with med+ toast). 

Primary blend
App-> opaque black/purple core transitioning to a purple rim
Nose -> Medium+ intensity aromas of black fruit(olive, cherry, cassis), blueberry, earth, red floral, apricot (slight from viognier)
Palate -> High tannins (soft), pronounced intensity flavors of black olive, sweet olive plant flowers, boysenberry, blueberry, currant, warm spice on finish; long length, high acidity, pronounced concentration

The primary blend with re-evaluated in 5 weeks to see how the blend is settling down.  The goal is to bottle the wine sooner rather than later to maintain the excellent aromas and flavors.  I think it will be a very good wine which will need 12 to 18 months in the bottle before it really starts to open up.  The wine is very big with an elegant and complexity to it.  I am very excited to see what it turns into!

12 Nov 2009 Blending 2008 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir…worth the effort!
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Yesterday, I did a blending trial for the 2008 Lionheart Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to get ready for the secondary blending to be done.  I am hoping to bottle the Pinot Noir in the next two weeks — it will not be ready for Thanksgiving unfortunately.

I did 12 blending trials with various combinations of barrels and pinot noir single clone blending wines from the two vineyards I get Pinot Noir from — Bohemian (Freestone / Russian River) and Split Rock/Gaps Crown (Sonoma Coast).  Behemian is right next to the Sonoma Coast border so I just call it a Sonoma Coast AVA blend.  The style of the wine is more appropriate for a Sonoma Coast than a Russian River Pinot Noir.

The blend that I really liked is made up of equal parts from each barrel (90% of total volume), 8% 777 clone from Split Rock vineyard, and 2% 667 from Split Rock vineyard.  The blending session was very interesting for the following reasons: 1) the use of a single clone wine can have a massive change on the overall quality, balance and flavor profile; for example: a 1% shift of the 667 clone was very noticable, 2) 777 clone adds a great deal of body, red fruit flavors and helps extend the finish of the wine quite a bit, 3) aromatics of 667 are very good and are huge contributors to a complex Pinot Noir’s aromatic profile, 4) Pinot Noir is very sensative to chemistry shifts in the wine — aromatics and flavors shift very quickly with a slight acidity and pH adjustment, and 5) lower alcohol Pinot Noir has a much complex flavor and palate profile.

The tasting notes for the 2008 Lionheart Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, blend are:
Appearance: bright, deep+ ruby with violet core transitioning to ruby rim
Nose: clean, medium+ intensity aromas of black fruit (cherry, blackberry), blue fruit (blue berry and hint of boysenberry), hint of cotton candy, light cola, warm spices, red fruit (strawberry, cherry, raspberry) and oak
Palate: high acidity; medium tannins (soft, fine-grained but will need time in bottle to turn to velvety texture), medium alcohol, medium+ concentration, pronounced intensity flavors of blueberry, currant (red and black), cranberry, strawberry, violets, raspberry, black fruit(cherry and blackberry), warm spices on finish; long finish

The 2008 Pinot Noir will be going on sale as futures in the next week or so.  The actual release of the wine will not happen until spring of next year.  But, I might have some samples available at Thanksgiving dinner!

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.