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2007 Simi Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Sat, Apr 14, 2012 Wine Tasting


The composition of Simi's Landslide Vineyard Cabernet is roughly 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1.5% Malbec, and .5% Tannat. It was aged for 26 months in French oak barrels.

On the nose I get aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, dark chocolate, vanilla, creme, and cedar. There is also sweet camphor and tea leaf aromas that develop as the wine continues to open up in the glass.

On the palate this wine is chalk full of dark black fruits; cassis, black currant, black plum, and black cherry. There are also secondary flavors of cedar box, dark chocolate, and unsweetened coco powder. 91 points


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2009 Chasseur "Umino" Pinot Noir

Date: Thu, Apr 12, 2012 Wine Tasting

The "Umino" vineyard Pinot Noir from Chasseur is made from grapes harvested from Dave Umino's vineyard block located on rolling hills southwest of the township of Sebastopol on Blucher Valley road. Against the advice of local farmers and consultants Dave planted the property to 4 Dijon clones (115,667,777 and 459) of Pinot Noir in 1997. This wine is aged for 10 months in French oak barrels.

DAVE UMINO IN HIS VINEYARD

On the nose I get beautiful and delicious red raspberry pie and cream aromas, toast, sandalwood, mineral, strawberry preserves, white pepper, and cherry cola notes. This wine really expresses the best of the Russian River Valley and all the big and voluptuous red fruit character that Pinot's can exude from this area of the world. Savory......umami

On the palate this wine is exactly what I have come to expect from the wines made by Bill Hunter, that is wines that are pure, fruit driven, intense, delineated, and just plain delicious. I get savory and delicious flavors of fresh red raspberries, tangy bing cherry pie filling, crushed rock, wild strawberries eaten with some of their leaves still on, cranberry sauce, and blood orange.

This wine is definitely on my list of favorites and is stunning Pinot Noir with all the purity, length, and deliciousness required. 95 Points

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2006 Red Car "The Fight" Syrah

Date: Sat, Mar 17, 2012 Wine Tasting


The 2006 "The Fight Syrah" from Red Car Wine Company is a big, heavy-hitting, California Syrah sourced primarily from the Laetitia Vineyard in the Arroyo Grande valley. The wine is 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier and was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels.

This extremely dark and viscous Syrah has some really stunning aromas of brambly blackberry, blueberry, and boysenberry. If you search past the unbelievably jammy fruit aromas you can actually get a touch of barbecued meat and bacon fat notes too!

On the palate the wine is creamy and thick, but maintains a very nice balance and doesn't come across port-like or overly agglutinative. I get flavors of ripe cassis, blackberry jam, blueberry, melted black raspberry licorice, and just slight hints of smoke and pepper.

I really enjoy this wine because it's proudly California in style and is just loaded with up-front fruit flavors. It's wine that is just so dense and packed with deliciously ripe black fruits, that it's hard to imagine the wine will ever age or be diminished by time. It's a hedonistic experience and a wine to be enjoyed by the progressive palate and shunned by traditionalists. 91 points


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2006 Bergevin Lane Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Sat, Mar 17, 2012 Wine Tasting

Bergevin Lane is a great little winery out of Walla Walla Washington that was established about 10 years ago by Amber Lane and Gary and Annette Bergevin. They produce about a dozen or so different wines and this is their Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2006 Bergevin Lane Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is composed of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon; 16% Merlot; 5% Cab Franc; and 3% Petit Verdot sourced from vineyards located in Washington's Columbia Valley. The wine was aged in French (76%), American (17%), and Eastern European (7%) oak barrels. It's a 925 case production.

On the nose I get beautiful, room-filling aromatics of ripe black cherries, coco powder, cracked peppercorn, and subtle hints of dried herb and vanilla. It's a very well developed and sensuous bouquet that I think has been benefited from some additional bottle age.

On the palate this wine is incredibly smooth and silky, with fully integrated tannins, and flavors of dried herbs, blackberry, peppercorn, vanilla, dark chocolate, prune, and cedar box. The use of American and Eastern European oak; although very slight, is quite noticeable on the palate.

At this point I believe the wine is drinking at it's peak and shows the right balance of both fruit, tannin, acid, and secondary flavors. It's a well-made Cabernet that exemplifies the value that can still be found in quality Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State. 90 Points


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2009 Walter Hansel "South Slope Vineyard" Pinot Noir

Date: Sat, Mar 17, 2012 Wine Tasting

Walter Hansel Winery farms 80 acres of grapes and produces roughly 5,000 cases of Pinot Noir; 5,500 cases of Chardonnay; and 1,500 cases of Sauvignon Blanc.

The 2009 Pinot Noir The South Slope comes from the highest elevation parcel owned by Hansel, a 7-acre sector planted with Dijon Clone 777. It's a really great example of the sheer quality of some of the top Pinot producers in the Russian River Valley.

On the nose I get aromas of fresh raspberry perserves, baking spices, red cherry, rose petal, toasted graham cracker, pine resin, and hints of forest floor. The fruit is very prominet and deliniated on the nose....

On the palate the wine is intense and extremely voluptous, showing flavors of ripe cherry and raspberry, baking spices, and hints of toasted oak. This wine has incredible fruit purity and a deliciousness that can only be found in the best Pinot's from California's north coastal vineyard sites. The wine finishes extremely long and delicious and expresses a very ripe tannin structure and bright red fruit flavors. 93 points


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2009 Clos de L'Oratoire Des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Date: Sat, Mar 3, 2012 Wine Tasting

Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes is a classic producer in the Rhone that has grown in reputation since being under new ownership since 2000. Their classic label was created in 1928 and has remained unchanged ever since. The wine is composed of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault and was aged in large traditional oak foudres.

On the nose I get beautiful aromas of stewed black cherry, cranberry sauce, orange rind, cinnamon, and a savory soy sauce component. There are also secondary aromas of stone, soil, unsweetened coco and rusty metal. It's a stunning bouquet that continues to develop in the glass and with plenty of oxygen.

On the palate the wine has an incredibly smooth and sexy texture and soft tannins for such an amazingly young wine. I have had the bottle open for about 20 hours after uncorking it, and the wine has continued to transform into the ultra urethral concoction that it is currently. I get flavors of ripe black cherry, coco powder, sweet tobacco, tea leaf, dried red currants, and crushed stones. This wine is amazingly delicious and super long and savory on the finish. It has all the complexity and seduction of a great Chateauneuf, but drinks with the ripeness and deliciousness of a new world wine. Wow......this stuff is bonkers. 95+ points


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2010 Chateau de Campuget Viognier

Date: Sat, Mar 3, 2012 Wine Tasting

Chateau de Campuget has been making wine since the early 1940's and is always one of my favorite value imports, that produces great quality wine at an extremely affordable price point. The 2010 Viognier Prestige Blanc is 100% Viognier and was aged for 6 months in oak barrels.

On the nose I get some really interesting aromas of yellow apple, honeysuckle, orange marmalade, kiwi, and just hints of chalky soil and mineral. It's not quite as floral as some Viognier's, but it's still very interesting.....

On the palate the wine display's flavors of apple, anjou pear, meyer lemon, and sea shell. It has a savory character to it and a slight saltiness that balances nicely with the fruit and acidity. With the right dish, this easy drinking and somewhat simple white wine could possibly be transformed into something quite stunning. 86 points


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2009 Alysian Westside Farms Clone 4 Chardonnay

Date: Sun, Feb 26, 2012 Wine Tasting

This is the first vintage for the Westside Farms Chardonnay under the Alysian label. The fruit is sourced from block 3 of the Westside Farms vineyards located along Westside Road in western Sonoma County. The wine is 100% barrel fermented in 100% French oak barrels for a total of 9 months.

On the nose I get beautiful aromas of lemon curd, guava, créme brulée, baking spice, and nectarine pit. It's a classic Chardonnay fruit-bouquet that expresses the essence of the fruit rather than the toast and oak spice.

On the palate this wine expresses flavors of ripe lime, mango, lychee fruit, honey, toast, and just a touch of wet stone. This Chardonnay has a nice ripe core of tropical fruit flavors, and I love how the fruit outshines the oak barrel treatment. It's a real juicy effort and actually tastes a bit like delicious white table grapes. There's also a freshness to this wine and a bright acidity that helps the wine pierce the tongue and finish really long. 91 points

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2010 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Date: Sat, Feb 25, 2012 Wine Tasting

Today I received an allocation of the new 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot's. I'm a huge fan of Thomas Rivers Brown and his winemaking ability, and I've been eagerly awaiting these wines in order to give my feedback....

from the website:

"Comprised of 5 barrels of Silver Eagle clone 828, 7 barrels of Lancel Creek Vineyard clone 777, 9 barrels of Riddle Ranch clones 828 and Pommard and all 3 barrels of Willow Creek, this offering is quite a bit different from the 2009. It’s definitely from a riper part of town but possesses a similar acid/tannin profile. The character here is more pure red fruited with notes of cranberry, red raspberry, spearmint, underbrush and sour cherry. The wine starts out pretty primary and throws off some of its weight as it opens. Given the price point, it’s a nice entry wine for the program but still an offering we take no less seriously than all the single vineyard designates. We feel this edition will drink very well early on and offer you an insight into why we love Occidental in 2010 so much."

On the nose I get generous aromas of ripe red raspberry, wild strawberry, strawberry rhubarb pie, cranberry, orange rind, graham cracker, and just hints of soil. It's a very pretty bouquet and one that perfectly typifies perfectly ripened Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. After three days of having the bottle open the aromatics have dramatically improved and developed. This leads me to believe that the wine will improve with a year or two of additional bottle age.

On the palate the wine expresses a medley of red fruit flavors such as raspberry jam, wild strawberry, and ripe black cherry. There's also a slight toastiness that accompanies the fruit and adds a layer of complexity. The texture is soft and silky and the wine finishes with a really nice baked raspberry pie and toasted graham cracker notes.

For the under $30 dollar price point that this wine is currently released at, I think it represents one of the best values in today's current wine market. It's exceptional wine that really holds up to the current rockstar status that Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir has developed over the last 6-7 years. 92 points

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2009 Alysian Rochioli Vineyard Edgewater Pinot Noir

Date: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 Wine Tasting

We all know the legendary status of the Rochioli family and how they are among the best producers of Pinot Noir in all of California. It's great to be able to taste a wine crafted by Gary Farrell using grapes from one of the Rochioli vineyard parcels. It's a small 240 case production and rolls in around $65 retail.

On the nose this wine is beautifully perfumed and in the classic Russian River style. I get aromas of wild red raspberry, cherry pie filling, wet stone, cherry turnover, and just a touch of oak spice. There is really amazing delineation of aroma and the wine really expresses the essence of the varietal.

On the palate the wine shows a beautiful ripeness and a sexy velvet texture. I get flavors of luscious black cherry, ripe raspberry, oak spice, pie crust, and crushed rocks. This wine shows incredibly purity and beautifully ripened red fruit flavors, and the finish sails on for at least a 2-3 minutes. This is classic Russian River Pinot Noir and I suspect that it will improve with a bit of time in the bottle. 93 points

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2009 Alysian Bradford Mountain Block Three Zinfandel

Date: Wed, Feb 22, 2012 Wine Tasting

I believe this is a brand new release for the winery and as such the tech data and info. about the vineyard is still not available on their website. However, what I do know is that the wine is from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley AVA and that it's a small 157 case production with a suggested retail of $36.

On the nose I get aromas of dried cranberry, cherry, red raspberry, red plum, baking spice, sandalwood, and mineral notes. This is definitely a cooler weather style with a minerality and dried red fruit quality that normally wouldn't be found in the more jammy and hot weather Zinfandel's.

On the palate the wine has a savory and delicious stewed red berry quality that almost melts over your tongue. I definitely get flavors of red raspberry, bing cherry, dried red currants, cranberry, baking spice, mineral, and just a touch of oak.

This wine definitely has great acidity and almost resembles the balance of the Alysian Pinot's. It's more of an elegant and focused style that will pair well with food and isn't over ripe, alcoholic, or clumsy. I really like this wine, but I would pose a caution to those looking for jam....this is not the wine. In fact, I would really recommend this Zinfandel to Pinot Noir enthusiasts looking for an alternative. 90 points

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2009 Alysian Floodgate Vineyard Rock Hill Pinot Noir

Date: Mon, Feb 20, 2012 Wine Tasting

Alysian is a small boutique producer headed up by veteran California Pinot Noir producer Gary Farrell. After selling his very successful "Gary Farrell" label in 2004, he decided to return to producing small lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley under the "Alysian" label.


The Floodgate Vineyard is located in the heart of Russian River Valley’s coveted Pinot Noir sub-appellation known as the Middle Reach. Rock Hill (Block 16) is a tiny block planted in 2000 on one of the rockiest knolls on the property.

On the nose I get beautiful aromas of black cherry pie, baking spice, cola, raspberry-créme, and only the slightest hints of soil and mineral. The wine opens up in the glass beautifully and becomes savory and almost "edible" in nature. "Spicy Berry pie" is my best descriptor.....

On the palate the wine expresses flavors of ripe black cherry, red currant, red raspberry, and black plum. There are also some secondary notes of vanilla bean, baking spice, mineral, and toasted oak (very subtle). The wine finishes with precision from it's balanced acidity, and lingers nicely on the palate showing some really nice cherry and red plum notes.

This wine is elegant, fresh, and delicious, and in my honest opinion is a step up in quality from the cuveé called "Russian River Selection" that I had previously gave a 90 point score. It's just a touch more ripe and delicious, and perhaps shows a bit more focus. 92 points

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2009 Alysian Russian River Selection Pinot Noir

Date: Mon, Feb 20, 2012 Wine Tasting

Alysian is a small boutique producer headed up by veteran California Pinot Noir producer Gary Farrell. After selling his very successful "Gary Farrell" label in 2004, he decided to return to producing small lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley under the "Alysian" label.

The "Russian River Selection" is a carefully crafted blend from multiple vineyard properties and is designed by Gary to express a complexity and depth that my not always be found in the single vineyard sourced wines. Gathering multiple clones and grapes from several micro-climates and geographical zones throughout the Russian River Valley lends itself to finding a true expression of the appellation.

On the nose I get aromas of red currant, raspberry, black cherry, baking spices, coco powder, and mineral. There's and exotic spiciness and minerality and perhaps a touch of sandalwood that accompanies the fruit characteristics.

On the palate I get flavors of spicy red currant, dried black cherries, mineral, cranberry, and cedar-spice. The finish is long and spicy, and flavors of cranberry and dried red currants linger nicely. It's an elegant style and mimics the minerality and acidity of a premier cru Burgundy, but differentiates itself with it's beautifully ripe fruit character. 90 points

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2007 Casa Lapostolle Apalta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 Wine Tasting


The 2007 Casa Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard wine sourced from the Apalta Estate located in Chile's Colchagua Valley. It's composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot and was aged for ten months in French Oak Barrels.

On the nose this wine immediately sings true to Chile and the the great terroir of Colchagua. It has loads of scorched earth, black pepper, black currant, crushed rocks, anise, and gamey aromas. As the wine opens up the minerality, oak, and hints of black cherry begin to really come forth. There is also some very significant peppery aromas that definitely gives this wine a true Chilean aroma profile.

On the palate the wine continues to shows it's overriding rusticity and earthiness, with flavors of graphite, crushed rocks, soil, pepper, oak, plum, and tobacco. Fruit wise this is exactly what black currant would taste like with a bunch of graphite and crushed stones mixed in.

The wine finishes with a gritty and rustic bite and some sandy-like tannins. I would recommend grilled flank steak with this wine or perhaps seasoned lamb chops. It's an interesting wine but really lacks the harmony and grace that I was expecting for a wine in this price range. 84 points


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