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2006 Rudius Grenache Russian River Valley

Date: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 Wine Tasting


It's a rare thing to see a Grenache from the Russian River Valley and what's even more rare is that it would taste this darn good! As we all know Pinot Noir takes central stage in this small part of Sonoma County and you'd probably think someone was nuts to plant a Rhone varietal there.

This is a small 69 case production so you'd be lucky to have a bottle because it's sold out of the winery. It's 100% Grenache whole cluster pressed and aged in neutral oak.

On the nose I get scintillating aromas of strawberry rhubarb, wild strawberry, crushed stones, chocolate, and an aroma that I have rarely used......Goji Berries! There is a slight earthiness to this wine as well but the fruit shines through so clearly that any secondary soil notes are only minutely apparent.

On the palate the wine is extremely perplexing to me because it drinks like Russian River Pinot. It's very powerful wine with a complete tannin structure and sharp acidity. Notes of raspberry, spice, and red currant combine and make up a very intense and serious effort. I've only ever tasted Grenache like this from the likes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 91+ Points

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1996 Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne

Date: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 Wine Tasting


Duval-Leroy is based in Vertus, a village in the Côte de Blancs, and is now one of the largest land-owners in all Champagne. They own vineyards in all the Grand Cru villages of the Côte des Blancs. This vintage cuvée is mostly Grand Cru, from the Vallée de la Marne, Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs.

On the nose I get a very fruit driven bouquet of candied red apple and citrus blossom. There are also subtle yeast and sweet bread notes that combine with mineral, wet stone, and bread pudding aromas. The wine begins to display a deeper and richer yeast aromas as it remains in the glass.

On the palate I get flavors of golden apple, hints of citrus, and fresh white raspberries. The finish is dry and very long, showing green apple and bread notes.

It's important to note this wines superior acidity and dryness on the finish. It's very tight right now and can easily age for quite a bit longer in the cellar, to which I think it will most definitely improve in complexity and balance.

90+ points

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Interesting video about the San Francisco Wine Competition

Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010 Wine Tasting


The San Francisco Wine Competition has become the nations largest wine competition and this video explains the criteria for the judging. I found it somewhat interesting to see how the competition is held and judged.

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The skinny on Dom Pérignon

Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010 Wine Tasting


Dom Pérignon or as the hommies like to call him "Dom P", was a Benedictine monk who, in 1668, was appointed treasurer at the Abbey of Hautvillers near the town of Epernay Champagne. Among Dom Pérignon's various duties was to oversee the running of the cellars and the winemaking, which in this time was considered to be of substantial importance.

Although his contributions to the wine industry are debated at times, what we do know is that among his formidable achievements was the perfecting of the technique of making a still white wine entirely from red grapes. He also was influential in the refinement of the art of blending wines from different vineyards and advances in clarification treatments to ensure a brighter wine than what was the murky norm at that time.

Many believe Dom Pérignon invented sparkling wine, but he actually devoted much of his time researching ways to avoid the dreaded re-fermentation that resulted in so many tempestuous wines.

Although his contributions to the history of wine are unquestionably warranted, Dom Pérignon did not invent Champagne.

Click here to find out more about Dom Pérignon

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The Latest musings from the Wine Blogosphere

Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010 Wine Tasting


Once again we take a glance at some of the interesting posts around the wine blogosphere:


Over at The Corkdork John talks about L'Enfant Terrible Zinfandel from Dashe Cellars and how it's crafted in a different style then most modern day Zins. Read his review here......

Steve Heimoff writes about "vintage huzzahs" and how Bordeaux does it best! He talks about the latest and greatest hype on the 2009 Bordeaux vintage. He highlights the difference between California and Bordeaux in term of vintage assessments. Read the article.....

Deb Harkness over at Good Wine Under $20 is spot on with her timing as always and posted some great reviews of inexpensive sparkling wines for Valentines day. Check it out....

Over at The Passionate Foodie Richard lays out a pretty interesting Saké drinking game called Kyokusui-no-en. Lord knows I'm all about drinking loads of Saké and eating some delicious Sushi while I'm at it! Find out how to play.......

Fredric Koeppel over at Bigger Than Your Head goes "old school" and talks about some the Clos' wines of California - Clos du Bois and Clos du Val. Read his reviews....

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2007 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir

Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010 Wine Tasting


I'm sure Joseph Wagner (winemaker) would prefer that I talk about the wine and not the fact that he's the son of the famous Chuck Wagner of Caymus Vineyards. At any rate his heritage will have to follow him and I'm sure he's proud of his own accomplishments because these wines are great!

The name Belle Glos (pronounced "bell gloss") was given to these wines in honor of Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, grandmother of Joe and a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards.

The Clark & Telephone vineyard was established in 1972 and was originally planted to "own root" Martini clone Pinot noir. It's located in the Santa Maria Valley near the corner of Clark avenue and Telephone road.

On the nose this wine shows aromas of sandalwood, brown spice, red raspberry, and hints of herb and spearmint. The texture of this wine is very round, supple, and sensuous, but then on the finish there is a load of intense spice and firm tannin. The flavors are packed with delicious red fruits and a dazzling spiciness that comes from the presence of oak.

Some friends and I tasted this wine along with several other Pinot's and all agreed that this was among the most bold and spicy efforts. If you like a classic example of the Santa Barbara style Pinot Noir then this totally hits the spot. This is the type of Pinot that will age gracefully as well, because of it's powerful structure, big tannin, and razor acidity. 90 Points

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2007 Zepaltas Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir

Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010 Wine Tasting


I didn't realize at the time when I tasted this wine that it was only a small 145 case production. There's something so special about drinking single vineyard wines that only a few people in the world have the opportunity to experience each vintage.

This wine is 100% Pinot noir made from clones 777 and 115. It was aged in 38% new French oak for a total of 11 months.

On the nose I get aromas of strawberry, mineral, herb, concrete, and wild raspberries. On the palate the wine is drinking exceptionally elegant and soft. It was opened the night before and is drinking beautifully. Flavors of cherry, raspberry, and soft herbal notes grace the palate with bracing acidity and superb balance. 92+ points

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Lady gets ruffed up making wine...!!

Date: Tue, Feb 9, 2010 Wine Tasting


I can't help but laugh! Does that make me such a bad person :D

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2003 La Cerisiere Nuits Saints Georges 1er cru

Date: Tue, Feb 9, 2010 Wine Tasting


This wine was nearly impossible to find any information on! What I think is it was a grower who decided to bottle some of his grapes and probably sold the rest to a negociant. However, I did enjoy tasting a lesser known Burgundy and would love to find more wines like this.

On the nose I found this wine to be very fruit forward with intense cherry notes. It does have a bit of leather, crushed stone, and perhaps a touch of a rustic soil character. A few friends that tasted it with me thought it was very "French" but I had to disagree. I've tasted a whole lot of Burgundy that shows much more "barnyard" character, while I thought this was a much more modern style.

On the palate the wine shows flavors of tart cherry, leather, earth, and crushed rocks. It's a very dry wine but would be brilliant with food. This wine is classy but in my opinion very young still. This style of Burgundy is very sturdy and could easily age a decade or so with it's tight tannin structure and sharp acidity. 88+ points

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Joel Aiken joins Amici Cellars

Date: Mon, Feb 8, 2010 Wine Tasting


Photograpghy by Pricilla Upton












Former Vice President of Winemaking for Beaulieu Vineyard Joel Aiken has been announced as the winemaker and partner at Amici Cellars of St. Helena, California. Joel is famous for his 25 years at BV where he produced the highly praised Georges de Latour Private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

From winebusiness.com:

“We’re thrilled to have a winemaker with such a long history of making superb wines from Napa Valley,” said Bob Shepard, Managing Partner of Amici Cellars. “Joel has a reputation around the world as a brilliant winemaker, and we know that he can make some fabulous wines for Amici Cellars.”

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2007 Alban Central Coast Viognier

Date: Mon, Feb 8, 2010 Wine Tasting


John Alban is a pioneer in Central Coast Rhone varietals and has been making Viognier for close to 20 years there. This wine is mostly sourced from his estate vineyards with about a third of the grapes being purchase from other Central Coast vineyards.

As to be expected with Viognier in general (especially in the case of Alban) this wine has amazing aromatics. I joked with some friends tasting with me that this wine could aptly be used as perfume if sprayed on. The floral aromas mixed with intense stone fruit, orange blossom, ginger, honey, and candied citrus make this wine a total blockbuster aromatically.

On the palate this wine shows extreme density and thickness. It's rich and high in alcohol and shows flavors of peach, meyer lemon, and orange popsicle. On the finish the wine is a bit clumsy and warm but overall it's obvious that this wine expresses the best of the varietal here in the United States. 89 points

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2005 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc

Date: Mon, Feb 8, 2010 Wine Tasting


I don't often get the opportunity to taste a lot of white Bordeaux so when I saw this wine at a recent tasting I attended I was really excited to try it. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is located in Bordeaux's Graves appellation and have been growing grapes in this site as early as 1365. It has a storied history of producing quality wine and in 1990 the property was purchase by the Cathiard family who have revamped the operation and started to make wines of immense quality and high acclaim.

The 2005 Blanc is produced from 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, and 5% Sauvignon Gris. Although I'm not entirely sure of the vinification data, I'm quite confident that this wine is aged in some French oak which added it's richness and full texture.

On the nose this wine is extremely aromatic! Not knowing the varietal blend I would have guessed that their might have been a significant amount of Muscadelle involved because of the floral and exotic fruit notes. However, this wine is 90% Sauvignon Blanc which is absolutely fascinating to me. Aromas of wild flower, clove, papaya, honey, orange blossom, lemon grass, and toast all come together to form a brilliant bouquet worthy of the high praise.

On the palate this wine has stunning weight and viscosity. Flavors of red apple, citrus blossom, honey, mandarin, and buttery oak unfold in layers on a rich and long finish. Tasting this blind I might have though this was Chardonnay with it's richness and complexity.

This wine was perhaps one of the most perplexing of the entire tasting...... 94 Points

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The Latest from the Wine Blogosphere

Date: Fri, Feb 5, 2010 Wine Tasting


Every day I have the opportunity to surf the net in search of new interesting subject matter in the world of wine. Seems like everyday there is some sort of article related to health and wine, wine pricing, wine gluts, wine harvests, ect.....

Here's what's up today:


From Boxwines.org I had a real laugh about the "twitter wines" and left a comment that we might as well get ready for some facebook cigars! See the post.....

Neil at Wine Expedition the "rock star" Pinot Noir grower and producer Gary Pisoni. I thought it was a quirky little interview and admired Neil for his candour while interviewing such an important figure in the wine trade. See the video

Beau Jarvis over at Basic Juice talks about the vino-lock glass enclosure he discovered while drinking a Sicilian Merlot. I enjoyed the commentary about the glass enclosure because I think those are inevitably going to become more popular. See the post...

Tom Wark at Fermentation talks about something really special to me as well, the dinner table. I think we all need to spend more time enjoying our food and wine, but especially enjoying the people we love. Read his comments...

Over at Jason's Wine Blog he talks about the "$5 Cult Wine" the Chariot Gypsy! I used to work at Trader Joe's and I know exactly what he's talking about! Read it here....

The My Wines Direct blog Through the Wine Glass makes 25 bold predictions about wine in the next decade. There are a few that made me laugh like "End of South African reds" and "Box wines will lose their Stigma". It's a fun read! Check it here....

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2006 Chateau Bel-Air Lussac St-Emilion

Date: Tue, Jan 26, 2010 Wine Tasting


Lussac-Saint-Émilion is a AOC located on the right bank of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in Bordeaux. It's commonly grouped in with so-called satellites of Saint-Émilion. Lussac is planted to four of the five Bordeaux varietals, with Petit Verdot being the odd one out. Merlot is the dominant varietal of the four in most blends.

This wine is composed of 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. (25 years old vines) It's aged in 50% vats, 20% new French oak barrels, and 30% one year or older barrels. The wine is 100% Estate bottled.

Chateau Bel-Air Lussac-St-Emilion is a winery that has been in existence for over a century and amazingly enough it's been owned by the same family. They have and amazing history and if you check out their small but well organized website -> Chateau Bel-Air You'll see labels pictures of old 1945 labels.

Another neat thing is this bottle of wine is very inexpensive. I purchase a half bottle for $11.99 at the wine shop!

On the nose I get the classic rustic right bank Merlot leatheriness that is quite common for wines from St. Emilion and it's satellites. It's almost like it smells earthy and austere. There is also some crushed blackberry notes that combine with hints of tar and graphite.

On the palate the wine has a slender texture but packs some pretty astringent tannins on the finish. In fact the tannins are quite green and somewhat bitter. I must point out that this wine is far to young to be consumed and the winemaker would probably want to lynch me if he knew I was reviewing it as a baby. However, there is a overall rustic character to this wine and although it shows some decent cherry notes, the wine is far too bitter and green for me. There is a dirty soil character and a greenness about the tannins that I don't really find too appealing.

I will try the other half of this bottle tomorrow and if it does decide to soften up a bit and shed some of its rusticity then I will report back. As for now I think this wine merits 82 points.

Click here to find out more about this wine


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