Tag Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley – 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

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Napa Valley – 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

I first discovered the wines of Louis M. Martini on the job as a Wine Steward. I didn’t taste them but was often told by customers of their merits. We carried the Sonoma and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both sold well.  In my mind a side by side tasting and review for Whine and Cheers would be in my near future.  So much so that when I had the opportunity to buy the more expensive Napa Cab at a crazy sale price I jumped at the opportunity. Well, I may have jumped but basically I assigned the task to my parents who lived near this wine source across town.  Luckily for me they did as they were told. This is how I came across a few bottles of both Napa and Sonoma Cabs. How lucky am I?  I put them in my cellar [for those counting; yes still the guest room] about a year and a half ago.

Interestingly when I was hired earlier this year as a Specialty Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market I came to find out that not only would we be featuring the Louis Martini Cab’s at our Grand Opening but that……drum-roll ….. Michael Martini the third generation winemaker and grandson of Louis M. Martini would be in attendance signing bottles.

Bio:

Growing up in his father’s and grandfather’s vineyards, Michael Martini got a hands-on education in the art of crafting world-class wines. His formal study of viticulture began in the world-renowned wine-making program at the University of California, Davis. After graduation, Mike worked alongside his father, Louis P. Martini, before taking the reins as winemaker of Louis M. Martini Winery in 1977. Mike shares his grandfather’s passion for the Napa Valley region and is a past president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, an organization that his grandfather Louis M. Martini helped establish in 1943.

Quite the character Michael [Mike] Martini was a hit at the North Miami store.  Our customers lined up to meet this tall gregarious and quite humorous gent as he entertained all with wine war stories. Thinking back I love that he was bluntly honest about his wines, present and past vintages whether good or bad. He did not hold back.

During this main event and other tastings that followed I was able to compare both wines side by side. Not enough to write about them extensively but definitely enough to know which one I preferred.  So this week finally after cellaring 1-2 years and realizing the 2009 vintage is practically no longer available I popped the cork on the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

My tasting notes:

On the nose; dried dark fruit [blackberry, figs, prune, black currant], wood [oak], cigar box [cedar], tobacco, spicy [black pepper, vanilla]. With the addition of black cherry on the palate.  Aromas of cedar and grape really coming out at the 2 hour mark.

2013 marks the 80th Anniversary of the Louis M. Martini Winery which was established in 1933. In 1936 the winery became one of the first to use temperature-controlled fermentation. In 1943 Louis helps set up the Napa Valley Vintner Association. 1951; Louis P. Martini, 2nd generation winemaker is among first winegrowers to use wind machines to battle frost in the vineyards. 1968; Louis M. Martini Winery is among the first to bottle Merlot as a varietal wine in California.  In 1977 Michael Martini takes the helm. In 2002 the Gallo family, close friends of the Martini family for three generations, purchased the winery and vineyards.

I didn’t officially ever get to my vertical tasting, not yet anyway. But I must admit that the Louis M. Martini 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon bowls me over every time. It is intense, beautifully balanced and has a silky finish.  I am now longing to try their Monte Rosso or better yet take Mikes’ advice which he whispered to me as he was leaving: “Wait until you try the Alexander Valley!”

¡SALUD!

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

“A nice Cabernet, on par with the winery’s equally fine 2008. Shows plenty of class, with rich blackberry, currant and cedar flavors. Earns points for sheer elegance. Ready to drink now.  Editors’ Choice

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. This wine exhibits a deep burgundy color with intense aromas of cassis, sweet herbs and hints of pipe tobacco. Intriguing flavors of ripe black cherries, deep, briary red fruits, and old world complexities linger throughout the finish. This is a well structured and balanced wine that is medium-to-full-bodied and is ready to enjoy now or can be aged up to 5 years.

Winemaker’s Notes

The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. This wine exhibits a deep burgundy color with intense aromas of cassis, sweet herbs and hints of pipe tobacco. Intriguing flavors of ripe black cherries, deep, briary red fruits, and old world complexities linger throughout the finish. This is a well structured and balanced wine that is medium-to-full-bodied and is ready to enjoy now or can be aged up to 5 years.

 

Château Lafitte Marcellin 2009 Côtes de Bordeaux

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Appellation: Côtes de Bordeaux
Varieties: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot.

This wine came via WTSO.com – Wines til Sold Out.  At a cost of $12.00 per bottle including shipping I could not resist this Côtes de Bordeaux or its highly regarded 2009 vintage.  The Château Lafitte Marcellin is also the third 2009 Bordeaux I write about in the last year or so.  First came the Wine Spectator 90 pt. rated 2009  Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur followed by the 87 pt. rated 2010 Kirkland Signature [yes Costco!] 2010 Bordeaux Superieur.

One would think I am on a search for the perfect budget Bordeaux.  In fact I have probably been swayed by raves for the 2009/2010 vintages and am really just looking for good wine.   I’ve lucked out with my three choices thus far.  But at the same time I have not felt the urgent need to return to them either.  I am quickly realizing  my search will just have to continue. Hard work I know.

In the case of the light bodied Château Lafitte Marcellin my opinion is that it is still too young to show its true colors. Upon opening I immediately detected very tight aromas on the nose with slight fruit detectable at first.  This started to change almost immediately from just sweetness to more of a dark fruit scent. But still not powerful or forward at all.  I noted the lack of wood [this wine not aged in wood] and also a mustiness that appeared after about 10 minutes of decanting.

On the palate I noted very dry/tight unripened fruit.  At 40 minutes after decanting; dry fruit became more obvious on the nose with the addition of anise. As we passed the 60-90 minute mark the fruit scents continued to open along with a pepperiness that was not evident before.  But it did not develop much more even after 2 hours. Of course I could have been more patient but at that point there was just no more wine to let breathe 🙂

My verdict: An additional 2-5 years may tell a different story and luckily once again I have a couple more bottles in my cellar to let sit a spell. This is where I remind myself that patience is still a virtue…   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker information:

This 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot blend is made in
stainless steel tanks with a pre-fermentation maceration lasting
5 days, followed by fermentation for 10 days, under controlled
temperatures. The wine is then aged in vats before being bottled
on the estate.

The 35-acre vineyard of Chateau Lafitte Marcellin is nestled in the heart of rolling hillsides along the Garonne River, in the commune of Soulignac (20 miles SE of Bordeaux), with some plots located right on the slopes. This particular topography allows for maximum sunshine on dry soils with a welcome wind blowing from the banks of the Garonne. Such a micro terroir and its specific alchemy give this Cote de Bordeaux its unique attributes: a deep nose of dark berries, welcome smoothness, vibrant fruit, and firm end-of-mouth tannins.

Not far from the property, in 1946, the “Soulignac treasure” was discovered by a family ancestor. This treasure, discovered on the locality of Marcellin, consisted of a large earthenware pot containing about 65 pounds of bronze and silver coins from the Roman era, bearing the effigy of Roman rulers… They are now to be found in the Bordeaux Musee d’Aquitaine. Local legend has it that the finder cried out: “With such a treasure, we are richer than Laffite!”

Joel Gott Zinfandel – 2011 vs. 2009

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A SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  – as I wrote my original 2009 JOEL GOTT piece which I am  including below.

Unfortunately that event never came to pass because the 2009 vintage quickly sold out.  That said I was soon afterwards able to buy their 2011 Zinfandel. So although we may not be having an actual side by side tasting it’s time to finally compare 2009 versus 2011!

This 100% Zinfandel 2011 vintage comes to us via California’s; Lodi, Russian River, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Shenandoah Valley’s wine-producing areas. At 14.3% alcohol this wine was barrel  aged in 25% new American oak and attained a Bronze Medal at the 2013 SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE WINE COMP. – Easy-to-like, the red-berried ’11 Joel Gott Zinfandel is light and easy on the palate; finishes with a berried touch.

2011 wine growing notes:

Late spring rains and a cool summer meant a smaller crop and longer time on the vine for fruit during the 2011 harvest. The largest component of our blend for this vintage is old vine Zinfandel from Lodi. Fruit there was picked before the rains hit California well into harvest, and the longer than average hangtime in Lodi made for wines with better concentration than those from other appellations. Fruit from Sonoma, Mendocino and the Shenandoah Valley in Amador maintained the spice and red fruit characteristics that they’re known for. Blended, the various appellations produce a balanced, yet jammy and rich, Zinfandel.

My notes

I was pleasantly surprised at being able to differentiate the two vintages almost immediately even though our taste test was not occurring side by side.  The 2011 vintage came across as more controlled in nose and palate. The sweetness of the 2009 had been reigned in. Making this wine truer to what I would expect from a Zinfandel.

On the nose I detected sweet dark fruit [blackberry], tar, black pepper and an herbal earthiness. On the palate the addition of dark cherry, cocoa and the aforementioned controlled sweetness which I would best describe as fruity versus sweet.

2009? Or 2011? Which one would I choose?  Individually these are both fine choices and I must admit neither lasted very long once opened. But, put to the test I would pick the 2011 Joel Gott Zinfandel vintage.  Fruity over sweet wins me over.  The 2009 is what some would describe as a [sweet] fruit bomb. The controlled 2011 I would describe as jammy.  A slight difference in description but one that made all the difference to me.   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2011 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of raspberries, blackberries and blueberry jam. Dense and rich on the front of the palate with bright acidity on the mid-palate, and a long finish.

Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

Life without Zin finally caught up to me. That, and the great sale price of $9.99 from $18.99.  I find I am not alone since I just ordered another case for our store this week.  It is interesting how sale prices draw attention to wines one might not know. Once discovered our customers keep coming back for more whether on sale or not for the most part, but of course more so with a deal to be had.

As a lover of Zinfandel, per my many posts on this varietal,  I  had my eye on this one in particular for a while.  Once the sale was announced I had no excuse.  Even better I enjoyed it and have recommended it to our customers ever since. Therefore our diminishing inventory 🙂

The 2009 vintage, released September 2011,  is 100% Zinfandel from various areas in California: Napa Valley, Amador, Lodi, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River.  Barrel aging was done in 30% new American oak and comes in with an approximate alcohol level of  14.5%.

My notes:

Dark fruit on the nose such as; plum, prune and raisin. In addition I  sensed green pepper, grass and cedar/oak. On the palate the addition of cherry [red fruit]  may explain why I was surprised to note a strong sweetness I usually do not note on this varietal, but this faded nicely to the background as the wine breathed and expanded. An hour into the drinking experience I also noted an earthiness of dirt/soil and Kirsch [again cherry].

We truly enjoyed adding this wine to our repertoire and am already looking forward to trying it again. Conveniently the 2011 vintage has now arrived at our store and SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  Ahh..the things I must do for The Love of Zin.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of sweet cherries, plums, blackberries and vanilla spice. The wine is juicy and full of red fruit, with a soft mid-palate and a bright, lingering raspberry finish. Drier in style than most Zinfandels.

2009 Wine growing notes:

Throughout California, 2009 was an exceptional harvest—touted by many as the best vintage of the decade. Moderate temperatures across the state allowed the fruit to ripen slowly, creating good quality fruit with great flavor and depth. Dry farmed, old-head-trained vines in Lodi and Amador produced dark, intense, structured fruit, while fruit from the Napa Valley harvest added power and complexity. The cooler climates of Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River produced fruit with classic, peppery Zinfandel aromatics, good acidity and great fruit flavors. Bringing together fruit from these varied regions helped to create a balanced Zinfandel.

Winemaker information:

While running Palisades Market in Calistoga in the early 1990s, Joel Gott noticed a growing need for quality, value wines. Having worked at Kenwood Winery in Sonoma County, and with a family history in the business, Joel felt sure he could fill this void in the marketplace.

In 1996, Joel purchased a few tons of Zinfandel from family friend and grape grower Tom Dillian. With the help of then-girlfriend—and winemaker at Joseph Phelps—Sarah, Joel produced his first vintage of Dillian Ranch Amador County Zinfandel. The wine received praise from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, which was all the encouragement Joel needed to produce additional varietals.

Creating quality, balanced important wines continued to be important, and in 2005 the 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon won a Food & Wine American Wine Award. Two years later the California Zinfandel would do the same. Joel Gott Wines continues to grow and receive accolades for delivering a great product at a value price point.

Whole Foods Market North Miami – The Day After the Day Before

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The Day After the Day Before.  An opening sentence that may need a little explaining.  The Day After: Yesterday was our stores PREVIEW day with sold out tours from noon to 8 PM. My unofficial estimate is about 400 guests [including me!] got to enjoy not only the visuals but many sample products to taste and take home in their goodie bags.  The Day Before: because tomorrow is GRAND OPENING! All kinds of sampling events are planned including free breakfast being served between 8-9 AM and even more goodie bags to the first 500 shoppers.  We have been told not to be surprised if the truly dedicated start lining up as early as 4 AM 🙂

Wisconsin Cheese

The Specialty Teams first week in the store was a lot of work and fun as we all got to know each other and continued to realize what a great team we have.  The  daily tastings of products we will be carrying didn’t hurt either YUM!  Pictured here was the unveiling of a Wisconsin cheese sculpture designed for us with our Art Deco store as its theme. Also pictured here is my wheel cracking training for Parmigiano Reggiano.  Thank you Erin for the great pics! We’ll also be doing this at the store and via a live web feed on Saturday. BTW that’s an 80 lb wheel!

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The wines started to arrive a little over a week ago and continue to do so daily leading up to tomorrows BIG day.

922975_10200985217335786_1753826288_n (1)Of course my favorite day was on a recent Friday. Not because of the usual reasons one would think on this particularly favored day of the week but because that was the day the wine started to arrive.  As we unloaded the palettes and cases I was like a kid in a candy shop in awe of all the names I recognized and even more so over the ones I did not and would soon be discovering.

I have to say our wine set is beautiful. Over 900 wines; Old World [France, Italy, Germany…] divided by countries and New World  Chile and Argentina along with domestic [USA!] divided by varietals [Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay …].  Also included in our set are; hundreds of beers, Port, Sauterne, Mead, Kosher wine, Saki, Kombucha, Eco-friendly and Biodynamic wines.

As mentioned earlier along with the excitement of having all these new wines to research and taste I was very happy to see many familiar wines I have written about here.  I did a little digging and found at least 20 such examples.  Below you’ll find links to these wines.

As I begin this new and exciting chapter with Whole Foods Market North Miami I found this to be the perfect opportunity to look back as I move forward.  A perfect segueway to ending The Day After the Day Before 🙂   ¡SALUD! 

The Prisoner Orin Swift blend.  Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Show Pinot Noir from Chile.   Joel Gott California Zinfandel.

Chateau Macard Bordeaux.    Four Vines Zinfandel.

Stags Leap  Artemis Blend.  Los Vascos Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

Innovacion  Torrontes blend.  The Dreaming Tree – Crush California Red Blend.

St Francis Multiple varieties.  Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.

Dr Loosen Riesling.    Folie a Deux Chardonnay.

Chateau Bonnet white Bordeaux.    Spain’s EVODIA Old Vine Garnacha.

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon.    Hogue Cellars Genesis.

Lamadrid – Cabernet Sauvignon , Malbec Gran Reserva and Malbec Reserva.

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Celebrating Malbec World Day; Argentina’s LAMADRID 2006 Malbec Gran Reserva

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Malbec World Day officially April 17th came early to our house this year. May have had something to do with the celebratory mood here after being hired by Whole Foods Market as a Specialty Buyer.

Celebrating? My first reaction would be to pull out my favorite Malbec; Lamadrid. No not the Reserve for regular special occasions. The big guns! The 2006 GRAN Reserva.

In 2012 I wrote about the Lamadrid Reserva 2008 Malbec which you can also find below.   I was unemployed and it was just me and Miss Jane Doe our American Bulldog celebrating Malbec while in North Carolina. This year I am newly employed in a field I more than enjoy and am surrounded by friends and loved ones. Jane is here too 🙂  What a difference a year can make.

This Gran Reserva rated 94 points by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate in their May 31st, 2010 issue. Wine Spectator while rating it at 90 points had the following to say on this 2006 vintage:

Lush and exotic, with melted fig, anise, blueberry compote and plum sauce aromas and flavors pumping over graphite and licorice notes. Long and juicy on the rich, fruit-filled finish. Not shy at all, but pulls it off. 

From the LAMADRID web-site [translated from spanish]:

This wine is concentrated, highly structured, with a deep ruby ​​red color. The nose is spicy with findings of  cloves and cinnamon, and the presence of mature fruit. The palate is velvety and intense with tannins perceived to be balanced with the acidity.

The 2006 Lamadrid Gran Reserva Malbec is 100% Malbec from a single vineyard: Agrelo.  Was aged for 16 months in french oak and bottled September 2007. I’ve seen different counts listed on-line but as per the winemaker info; production came in at 8,328 bottles or 694 cases. Make that 693 or 692 because me and a friend  easily bought 1-2 cases over the last year or two. The going price then prior to discounts was about $35.00 per  but I have seen it now as high as $73.00. I am cherishing my last 2 bottles.

I noted a dark purple color turned bright red garnet at its edges and lingering legs on the glass. Both signs of alcohol level but luckily not evident on nose or palate.  I would describe this wine as dark fruit forward well-balanced with wood.  Detected on the nose; casis, oak, blackberry, prune and plum. On the palate the addition of leather, licorice and spiciness. It paired beautifully with a fresh garlic and mushroom pizza.

As I might have mentioned before 🙂 Lamadrid is one of my favorite wineries and their product is one I hope to carry at the new North Miami Whole Foods Market.  Their story truly made me bond with not only their wines but wine in general.    I can honestly say that the inspiration I received helped lead me to where I am today.

HAPPY MALBEC WORLD  DAY 2013!!  

Additional information is listed below.

¡SALUD! 

 

 

Argentina’s LAMADRID 2008 Malbec Reserva 

In honour of Malbec World Day I am partially reposting part of an earlier blog post [see below]. This is one of my favorite Malbec’s and “the one” that made me a fan. I thought what a better way to celebrate April 17th! Unfortunately I am celebrating alone unless you count Miss Jane Doe our American Bulldog who is keeping me company on this special wine day. Luckily she was able to convince me that it was worth opening for a party of one. Good girl Jane.

My notes:

The color; a deep beautiful purple burgundy with lingering legs. On the nose I detected sweet dark fruit [plum, cherry], oak, vanilla, leather. On the palate I tasted; cloves, tobacco, black pepper, the same fruits noted above along with vanilla, casis and a herbaceousness/earthiness factor as it opened. The tannins solid and a nice long finish.

This wine [different vintages] is available in stores and on-line although admittedly harder to come by as it is discovered and particular vintages disappear forever. If you should come across it I recommend you partake. At $16-$19.00 it is a steal. This wine could easily be priced at twice as much but lets keep that to ourselves. SALUD!

LAMADRID Estate Wines

I consider this vineyard to be one of my best discoveries of 2011. Their 2008 production is highly regarded, often hard to find at this point. The good news is that the 2009’s now appearing on store shelves have been rated just as high. Guillermo García Lamadrid and Hector Durigutti, master winemaker and general manager are truly masters at what they do. Durigutti considered to be today’s wine maker with the midas touch in Argentina. He also has own name-sake line of Durigutti wines, although hard to find in the states I recently found some in Aventura FL and in Tryon NC of all places.

Guillermo García Lamadrid originally caught my attention in wine class because he originated from Cuba [my people!] and became a successful winemaker when he migrated to Argentina via Puerto Rico. I am sure there is a very interesting story there. I have been lucky enough to have tasted quite of few of their wines; Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon [$14.00], RESERVE Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Cab. Franc [$18.00] and the GRAN RESERVE Malbec  [$35.00].

Provenance Vineyards – Napa Valley 2008 Merlot

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Provenance Vineyards – Napa Valley 2008 Merlot

I first discovered this winemaker a couple of years ago thanks to a dear friend and big Napa fan. In fact I presently have a 2007 and 2009 Cab Franc along with their 2006 Merlot in my cellar. For those keeping count; the wine cellar is still the guest room 🙂

Having tried them all I can say I find these wines to be worthy of repeat purchases. The 2008 Merlot referenced here came to me at a great price via WTSO.com  – Wines til Sold Out .  Usually priced at about $35.00 per bottle the WTSO deal came in at $17.00 each by buying 4 bottles with free shipping.

Wine Spectator rates the overall 2008 Napa Merlot vintage at 89 points – Cool year with uneven ripening; a mixed bag. The Provenance 2008 Napa Merlot came in at 88 points – Sleek and elegant, with red currant and tomato leaf notes to the appealing cherry and cedar flavors. Drink now through 2015. 7,400 cases made. I would almost agree – rating this wine in the 88-90 point range.

In researching Provenance I discovered that winemaker Tom Rinaldi had made wines at wineries such as; Rutherford Hill, Freemark Abbey and helped start one of my favorites Duckhorn Vineyards in 1978.  He is presently the Wine Director for Provenance with Chris Cooney as Winemaker.  Hewitt Vineyard is a sister winery.  I  also had not realized that the grapes used by Provenance are actually from different vineyards within Napa: Recognized as one of the world’s great wine regions, Napa Valley is only 30 miles long and a few miles wide at its broadest point. Within this slender area, a few sub-appellations have demonstrated that they can produce superior Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. By selecting top vineyards in these sub-appellations  Provenance Vineyards showcases the unique personalities of Napa Valley’s best growing regions.

My notes

First off I noticed the aroma of new wood [oak] on the nose. A recent addition to my olfactory palette thanks to my increasing interest in Scotch and Whiskey. Dark sweet fruit forwardness was also noted along with the fact that this wine came across as very well-balanced [fruit:wood].  On the palate I was pleasantly surprised to note that this wine tasted exactly as it smelled with the addition of pepper, cedar/cigar box and later mint or sage to its lingering finish. We paired this wine with yeasty rolls and an incredible homemade, if I do say so myself, Cuban red bean soup. I did not notice much development in the wine from decanting to polishing off in a two-hour period but this Merlot was a great match for the strongly flavored hearty vegetarian soup.

As noted earlier I do find Provenance wines worthy of repeat performances. I have yet to be disappointed by them and now that I realize I have different vintages in the cellar I cannot wait to do comparisons! Again, the things I have to do in the name of research.

¡SALUD!

Red Wine by Provenance Vineyards from Napa Valley, California.  The 2008 vintage gave our Napa Valley Merlot great structure and deep, concentrated fruit character. The wine’s aromas and flavors express rich, velvety layers of black cherry, ripe plum, dark chocolate, clove, sage and tangerine zest. Notes of vanilla and cedar come from aging in more than 40 percent new oak barrels. The firm tannin structure beautifully supports the highly extracted flavors, making it an outstanding food wine, especially with grilled or roasted beef, lamb, pork or game, or with wild mushrooms. As a foodie as well as a winemaker, Chris recommends this Merlot with Moroccan lamb tagine and couscous with fragrant spices and preserved lemons.

For the Love of Zin: Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

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Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

Life without Zin finally caught up to me. That, and the great sale price of $9.99 from $18.99.  I find I am not alone since I just ordered another case for our store this week.  It is interesting how sale prices draw attention to wines one might not know. Once discovered our customers keep coming back for more whether on sale or not for the most part, but of course more so with a deal to be had.

As a lover of Zinfandel, per my many posts on this varietal,  I  had my eye on this one in particular for a while.  Once the sale was announced I had no excuse.  Even better I enjoyed it and have recommended it to our customers ever since. Therefore our diminishing inventory 🙂

The 2009 vintage, released September 2011,  is 100% Zinfandel from various areas in California: Napa Valley, Amador, Lodi, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River.  Barrel aging was done in 30% new American oak and comes in with an approximate alcohol level of  14.5%.

My notes:

Dark fruit on the nose such as; plum, prune and raisin. In addition I  sensed green pepper, grass and cedar/oak. On the palate the addition of cherry [red fruit]  may explain why I was surprised to note a strong sweetness I usually do not note on this varietal, but this faded nicely to the background as the wine breathed and expanded. An hour into the drinking experience I also noted an earthiness of dirt/soil and Kirsch [again cherry].

We truly enjoyed adding this wine to our repertoire and am already looking forward to trying it again. Conveniently the 2011 vintage has now arrived at our store and SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  Ahh..the things I must do for The Love of Zin.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of sweet cherries, plums, blackberries and vanilla spice. The wine is juicy and full of red fruit, with a soft mid-palate and a bright, lingering raspberry finish. Drier in style than most Zinfandels.

2009 Wine growing notes:

Throughout California, 2009 was an exceptional harvest—touted by many as the best vintage of the decade. Moderate temperatures across the state allowed the fruit to ripen slowly, creating good quality fruit with great flavor and depth. Dry farmed, old-head-trained vines in Lodi and Amador produced dark, intense, structured fruit, while fruit from the Napa Valley harvest added power and complexity. The cooler climates of Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River produced fruit with classic, peppery Zinfandel aromatics, good acidity and great fruit flavors. Bringing together fruit from these varied regions helped to create a balanced Zinfandel.

Winemaker information:

While running Palisades Market in Calistoga in the early 1990s, Joel Gott noticed a growing need for quality, value wines. Having worked at Kenwood Winery in Sonoma County, and with a family history in the business, Joel felt sure he could fill this void in the marketplace.

In 1996, Joel purchased a few tons of Zinfandel from family friend and grape grower Tom Dillian. With the help of then-girlfriend—and winemaker at Joseph Phelps—Sarah, Joel produced his first vintage of Dillian Ranch Amador County Zinfandel. The wine received praise from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, which was all the encouragement Joel needed to produce additional varietals.

Creating quality, balanced important wines continued to be important, and in 2005 the 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon won a Food & Wine American Wine Award. Two years later the California Zinfandel would do the same. Joel Gott Wines continues to grow and receive accolades for delivering a great product at a value price point.

Hit or Miss? The Wall Street Journal Wine Club

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The Wall Street Journal Wine Club 

Two years into my membership I am  trying to decide whether to remain a member or invest my money on wines that I choose.   Wine clubs can be a great idea  for those with a lack of access to large varieties of vino and even those who would like to expand their horizons.  A site that reviews wine clubs including WSJ is the Wine Club Reviews and Ratings.

How the wine club works; after receiving a ridiculously inexpensive introductory case of wine, every quarter or so you receive a case [12 bottles] of reds, white or mixed depending on your preference.  The cost averages about $170.00 [U.S.] or about $15.00 per bottle for wines that are usually $12.00-$30.00 each. Other similar clubs include; Virgin and  Laithwaites.

I must admit that my first year I received wines that were very good to excellent but recently the choices have been very middle of the road to even disappointing.  Of course many factors could be at play here; bad choices by WSJ Wine Club, poor vintages, damaged product or just me and my taste buds. I must point out that WSJ will issue credit should you not be satisfied with any of their individual selections. But do you really want to be complaining on a regular basis? Maybe I have outgrown this club and its surprise element  preferring to discover wines on my own.  Could an official  Whine and Cheers for Wine Club be far off?  I say official because many of my friends are already receiving gifts, care packages and recommendations from my findings 🙂  It pays to have friends with wine benefits….

When I originally thought to write about my recent club experience it was to share all the selections I had been disappointed by: yes I had started a list.  But with the passing of time and the realization that we have enough negativity in our lives I have instead decided to share a couple of the recent delicious surprises I have imbibed thanks to the Wall Street Journal Wine Club: Domaine de Lognac Costieres de Nimes 2010 and the Schroeder Estate 2010 Pinot Noir from Patagonia Argentina. Both artfully done somehow with intense and yet delicate flavors representative of their individual varietal/blend.  I believe I may have one more bottle of the Domaine de Lognac in my cellar to enjoy again soon but the other Schroeder has somehow disappeared.  For those with access to these wines drink them now, I do not believe you will be disappointed.  ¡SALUD!

Schroeder Estate 2010 Pinot Noir

  • Country Argentina
  • Grape Pinot Noir
  • Type Still Red Wine
  • Appellation:Patagonia
  • Bottle size:75CL
  • Alcohol:14.5%
  • Units:10.875
  • Drink by:31/12/2015

The vineyards of Familia Schroeder sit in the valley of San Patricio del Chañar to the northwest of Neuquen province, at latitude 39° south.

The traits of the Patagonic terroir -stony soils, quality meltwater, a wide temperature range, frequent winds and low humidity- provide the ideal setting for an appropriate development of the vinestocks.

Endless blue skies guard 110 hectares of varieties such as Malbec, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet  Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

An absolutely delightful Pinot. Nice complex flavor,
The nose is earthy with a hint of tobacco (?), this wine is woody, yet fruity on the tongue and palette with notes of plum and blackberry, a smooth, almost sweet finish.

Domaine de Lognac Costieres de Nimes

Domaine de Lognac Costieres de Nimes 2010

Nicolas Bacqué (of the acclaimed Domaine de Lognac) made the most of the Rhône’s stellar 2010 vintage — and judges at the prestigious Concours des Vins du Gard 2011 agreed — they gave his opulent Costières de Nîems a silver medal.

Usually it’s plush, red-fruited Grenache that’s the star in the south. But here, it’s dark and spicy Syrah taking center stage — it makes up 70% of the blend. Nicolas then added the Grenache (20%), followed by a dash (10%) of juicy Carignan.

Look for a fragrant nose, with notes of red fruit and wild berries such as blackberry and a signature, spicy herb (garrigue) character. More of the same on the palate, followed by a long, smooth finish.

CHAPPELLET 2009 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – SignatureSeries

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CHAPPELLET  2009 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon –

Signature Series

Chappellet-2009-Signature-Cabernet

Last year, well actually the end of 2011, we ended the year with a bang. Not having the opportunity to do the same for 2012 due to my holiday retail schedule,  I decided to instead begin the new year in such fashion.

What a wonderful way to start 2013.  Beginning the new year this way also fits right in with one of my New Years resolutions; I will not hoard nice wines!  They are, for the most part, to be enjoyed in the present and not at some future special occasion that never seems to arrive.

Two days into 2013 I seem to be succeeding because this wonderful wine was a recent Christmas present from my oldest friend. Well, he is old but I actually mean I’ve known him a long time 🙂 A wine lover himself we started talking about taking wine classes a very long time ago.

This 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Malbec, 9% Merlot and 4% PetitVerdot. Wine Advocate rated it at 93 Points and had the following to say about it; The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature is another striking wine. The 2009 doesn’t have the bombastic fruit of the 2010, instead, it stands out for the silkiness of its tannin and pure length. The 2009 Signature is classy and refined from the very first taste. All the elements are beautifully in place in this mid-weight Cabernet. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029.

Their anticipated maturity of 2017-2029 does not of course fit in with my New Years resolution but I am here to tell that this wine is delicious today. Having enjoyed it as much as we did I may have to invest in a bottle for later consumption under the guise of research to avoid my so-called New Years resolution 🙂 That said, at $50.00 a pop some [including myself] may think twice about popping this baby open on a weeknight. With 7,500 cases produced it is truly
worthy of being enjoyed on any night and yes it is worth its value should you be in the market for a wine in this price range.

“Oh my….” yes I actually wrote down Oh my… on my tasting sheet. Below are my notes:

Beautiful rich dark garnet in color as I poured into my wine glass. In the decanter it was more of dark purple-black shade. On the nose; dark fruit including black currant/casis, prune, plum and cherry. Also oak and some cedar which may actually have been tobacco or cigar box. Beyond my very favorable oh my… reaction I found this Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon to be smooth and flavorful. With fruit and wood very well-balanced. Tannins not heavy on the tongue but yet all-encompassing.

At 20 minutes I detected not much change in the nose but the wine becoming more fruit forward on the palate. As it continued to open, very nicely I might add, an earthy quality started to develop. One I defined as peppery at 45 minutes.

Wine Spectator rated this wine at 90 points and as mentioned before Wine Advocate came in at 93 points. I would have to agree with their reviews not only of this wine but of the exceptional 2009 Napa vintage. I am now intrigued to try their 2010 to compare. Christmas 2013 is just around the corner…. I’ll have to put it on my list!  ¡SALUD!


Wine Spectator Editor’s Note:
Dense and a touch rustic,
with chewy tannins, crushed rock, dried berry, sage and savory
flavors. Maintains its firm, tight focus and appears built for the
long haul. Best from 2013 through 2027. Winemaker
tasting notes:
This wine offers all of the color, concentration and complexity of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon from Pritchard Hill. The nose displays, rich, vivid layers of dark berry, cherry, and sweet oak, underscored by background notes of bay leaf, sage, chocolate and anise. The mouthfeel is powerful, yet rounded, with a silky presence that allows the wine to gracefully support its size, and its voluptuous ripe cherry, berry and plum flavors. Spicy oak notes of cinnamon, vanilla and roasted coffee add nuance and depth, while youthful tannins give a fine grip to the palate providing the structure for long-term aging.

Information from Chappellet: The wine
The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon has been our flagship wine for
more than three decades. It is a benchmark for the long-lived
hillside wines of the Napa Valley; full of structure and ageing
potential, yet seductively forward in its concentrated varietal
character. The dry, rocky soils of Pritchard Hill produce small,
intensely flavorful grapes. Crop thinning allows for full, even
ripening and further elevates flavor complexity.
Winery information It’s been 45 years since Donn and Molly Chappellet fell in love with the rolling hills overlooking Napa’s Lake Hennessey. In 1967 they set up shop on Pritchard Hill inspired to craft age-worthy, and noteworthy, wines. Taking to heart the advice of André Tchelistcheff, they became among the first to exclusively plant on high-elevation slopes. Seems that André’s training and instinct has served the wine world well as the rugged terroir of this location lends an intensity and depth to the finished wines. The generous legacy started by Donn and Molly now includes the second generation of Chappellets – all six children have a hand in continuing what their parents started. Their preservation efforts – from
composting, to solar energy to water conservation and organic
farming – are “embracing the romance of Pritchard Hill” and
ensuring it, and the exemplary wines they produce, will be around
for many generations to come.

APOTHIC RED – 2010 Winemakers Blend

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2010 Winemakers Blend

It’s taken me awhile but I finally broke down and tried this very popular wine. Similar to my experience with Cupcake which I recently wrote about; I must have an aversion to well marketed, popular and affordable vino.

Priced in the $8.00-$12.00 range it is usually available somewhere on sale.  In our store it always moves no matter the price. Its fans appreciate this wine whether on sale or not but of course we tend to sellout at the lower price points.  We easily go through 1-2 cases a week without highlighting it on an end-cap. Stock it, they will come 🙂

I would compare the APOTHIC to similar products from CUPCAKE [Red Velvet] and MENAGE A TROIS [Red Blend].  All with similar price points and marketed at the same audience if you ask me.  The audience [?]: first time wine drinkers, women, appreciators of sweet [but not too sweet] red wine, and older people to give some examples.  In my experience if I had to narrow it down to two of these I would say; new to wine drinkers along with the older population [including my parents] tend to love it.  Just imagine an older woman just beginning to try wine and I would say BINGO if asked for advice by a customer.

But admittedly that is narrowing the scope of its marketing and success. I have plenty of younger customers who have tried this wine and come back for more, male and female, excited that they found an affordable wine they and their partners can share.  For me the obvious common denominator is the sugar level or sweetness of these wines. It makes the drinking experience a lot more palpable to many.

As I decanted or poured from the bottle in this case,  I immediately noticed an earthiness on the nose that made me think there was ZIN! in there which of course there was. As a fan I was just glad to detect it so quickly.  The Zinfandel descriptors pretty much stop there though.  Also detected on the nose was a caramel [sweet] undertone.  Upon tasting,  the caramel really exploded along with vanilla and other spices.  I also noted grape sour pop as in the lollipop. I kept almost recognizing a flavor and yet it continuously escaped me. This went on for a while, as my drinking partner kept saying how much they were enjoying this wine, until I finally blurted out ROOT BEER! and they simultaneously said SASSAFRAS!!  The more likely culprit would probably be Cream Soda thanks to the aforementioned vanilla/caramel flavors.

Would I buy this wine regularly? Probably not. But once again I now understand its popularity and can easily recommend it to others who I know will not only appreciate it but make it their “go to” choice on a regular basis. ¡SALUD!

From the winemaker:

Inspired by “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, the wines of Apothic are truly unique in style and taste.

Our winemaker Boyd Morrison crafts bold, captivating Apothic blends by using only the most distinctive California grapes. From vintage to vintage, Boyd lets the character and flavor of the individual varietals guide the shape of each blend.

to create Apothic Red using the most distinctive grapes from California’s renowned vineyards: Zinfandel for its spicy nature, Syrah for its dark fruit flavors, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for a smooth finish.

Winemaker tasting notes;

The brambly spice of Zinfandel, dark fruit flavors of Syrah, the bold notes of Cabernet Sauvignon and the smooth elegance of Merlot unite to create this captivating red blend.

Apothic Red reveals intense fruit aromas and flavors of rhubarb and black cherry, complemented by hints of mocha, chocolate, brown spice and vanilla. The plush, velvety mouthfeel and the smooth finish round out this intriguing, full-bodied red blend.

13.1% Alcohol