Tag Archives: Napa Valley

Caymus Sails From Argentina to Napa via Red Schooner Voyage 4

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CSchooner BTLrazy talk: Caymus Malbec? Napa? Argentina? Wagner Family? Followed by, how could they use the Caymus name? Trademark fraud! All these confused thoughts popped into my head simultaneously as I reviewed a restaurant’s wine list over lunch with the parental units to celebrate a birthday.  There it was, Caymus Malbec. I didn’t order the wine that day, and very soon regretted it.

As days passed and the shocking thoughts calmed I remembered meeting with a winemaker from Argentina who happened to mention that a BIG name in Napa Valley was buying most of their grapes. He didn’t know what they were doing with it and asked if I’d heard anything.  I of course had not. Fast forward and we have the; Red Schooner by Caymus Vineyards, yes that Wagner Family Wines.

From Red Schooner Winery;

For more than 40 years we have been making dark, rich red wine from Napa Valley. We are also, perhaps not surprisingly, avid consumers of diverse wines from around the globe. We still love to learn about California with its array of soils and extreme maritime-influenced climate, but we have also found that venturing far afield helps us see what is close by in unexpected ways. And for us this perspective inspired us to experiment in a way we wouldn’t have imagined even 10 or 15 years ago.The Red Schooner label and name evoke the challenge – along with the thrill – of voyage and discovery. Since our experiment falls outside the normal rules and we think our “chill-and-ship” may even be a first in the world of fine wine making, we were unable to use standard labeling practices. You won’t find a vintage date, varietal or grape origin on our label. Instead Red Schooner is a “Red Wine of the World” and it will be known by the voyage from which it was produced.

 

ScoonerCorkHaving connected all the Caymus dots, I looked for the opportunity to return to the same restaurant. Before me appeared the opportunity: out-of-town visiting relatives with a request for restaurant eating.  Having recently had such a good experience my better-half unbeknownst suggested the same! restaurant. Now you know why they’re referred to as my better-half.  Dinner night arrives, menu’s are scanned, and I suggest a bottle of red wine for the table. Instead of the expected “sure why not” I hear “NO!!!! we want cocktails instead”.  I scan the table to no avail for any possible takers that would share this possibly magical event with me and then I order Bourbon instead…..

Days later still focused on trying this boutique-wine, I found myself at a wine super-store chain to no avail thanks to little assistance from the newly hired very friendly clerk. About to give up I finally ordered a bottle of Red Schooner online, but wait for it, from the same said super-store chain that claimed to not have it yet I picked it up two hours later at the same location! Deep breaths. At least now I had my wine safely in-hand patiently waiting for a night to pour, sniff and taste.

My tasting notes

Dark and ink-like, the color coats the glass and has legs for days with an alcohol level of 14.75.  A great nose with wood [cedar, oak vanilla], caramel, butterscotch, chocolate licorice and berry [strawberry, raspberry].  On the palate, full-bodied with red fruit, chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, fig, dried dates/prunes, Crème de cassis and to me the tropical fruit sapodilla.  Jammy as it opened I imagine the Caymus Red Schooner Voyage 4 would pair perfectly with fatty foods, rich sauces and grilled meats.

Happy to say I have now experienced the Red Schooner Voyage 4 which of course now makes me want to taste the previous voyages to compare. Is it worthy? I say yes. For fans of the big, bold and fruit forward Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon this is a perfect wine. Does it scream Malbec? Not particularly. Does it taste like a Caymus? Oh yeah……  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker’s Notes

This Malbec is made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains, shipped chilled to Napa Valley and produced with the same techniques as our Caymus Cabernet. Falling outside standard labeling rules, it does not include a vintage date but is known by the voyage from which it was produced (Voyage 4 is the 2013 vintage). Offering scents of ripe plums and cherries, this wine is powerful and supple, with flavors of French oak and soft tannins.

Meeting Girard Winery’s Marco DiGiulio

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In-store tasting WFMNMIA

 

They had me at “Girard”.  Recently I was asked by a wine distributor if I’d have an interest in hosting a Meet the Winemaker event for our store, Whole Foods Market North Miami.  Said winemaker would be in town for other events and was interested in doing a tasting/bottle signing event. Since we’d done well with other similar events the offer was put on the table. It was true, we’d had great success in the recent past with winemakers in our store.  Our customers and team members truly enjoyed the one on one interaction and learning experience of these “Rock Star” wine moments.

 

Bottle Signing

 

So far so good, but the question was being put to me during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve trifecta of shopping and retail event madness.  My head was spinning. I recall I mustered the strength to ask “can you tell me who it is?” and the distributor replied Marco Digiulio of Girard Winery. I am sure the distributor went on with a short history of the winery and their wines. All I heard was “Girard“……

 

 

Artistry poured WhineCheersWine

Girard just happens to be the producer of one of my favorite wines: Artistry. A consistently excellent fruit rich yet earthy Napa red blend that I consider to be one of my special occasion go-to wines.  In fact when I was hired by Whole Foods as a Specialty Beverage Buyer and asked to list my top wines for the department you can bet Girard was on there. At the time I was able to bring in their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Artistry. Presently, we also stock their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. On my in-store wish list is the Petite Sirah, presently out of stock and the Old Vine Zinfandel which knocked my socks off.

 

Girard Tasting 2015

 

Whole Foods NMIA CalendarMeeting Marco, yes we are now on a first name basis although some refer to him as Girard’s “Chief Wine Overlord”, was a wonderful opportunity for me to taste and compare earlier, current and new vintages. It was also my first time trying the white wines of Girard. Wines I can now recommend to our customers as I tell them what style of wine-making went into these productions. Stories I picked up from Girard’s Chief Wine Overlord himself.  ¡SALUD!

Honig Napa 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – My First Wine of 2014

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2014 is here! Could last year really have been only a few days ago?  A retail whirlwind for me and many others out there I am sure. Yet I am excited that a fresh new year of wine is before us.

In 2011 we Ended the year with a BANG.  2013 began with Chappallet Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.  2014 found me still holding on to last years resolution; I will not hoard nice wines! and succeeding by popping the cork on a wine recently received as a gift: the 2011 HONIG Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

Harvested September 27 thru October 25, 2011 and aged 18 months in American oak barrels [1/3 new], this Cab is made up of 95.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.6% Petit Verdot. Gotta love the decimals.

Their attention to detail caught my attention. Michael Honig was involved in the writing of the Code of Sustainable Practices for the Wine Institute and helped develop the first sustainable certification for California wineries. HONIG works with many vineyard practices including; solar power, sniffer dogs, bats and birds. For additional information checkout their Practices page by clicking here.

Fruit for this wine is from Rutherford and Napa Valley vineyards. Both sustainably farmed. As listed on the HONIG web-site; Each vineyard block was harvested and made into an individual lot representing that block. The wines were pressed off the skins from 10 to 20 days after crushing. Blending generally takes place between January and April of the year following harvestI like the fact that each block was harvested and made into individual lots.

HONIG Vintage Notes:

2011 began with a wet winter and spring (30% above normal rainfall) that continued with unprecedented rainfall into mid-June. The stage was set for a long, cooler-than-average growing season, a harvest beset with autumn storms, and the latest start to harvest in anyone’s memory. Mid-October rain continued to push the vintage even later, but growers were rewarded with an Indian summer that provided much needed ripening time.

My Notes:

On the nose: “WOW followed by a sigh”. Yes I actually wrote that down. Fruit, spice and wood all very balanced. Vanilla, sassafras, licorice, red fruit with an earthiness as it opened at 30 minutes. On the palate I noted this wine to be on the light side of medium bodied with same levels of tannins. Delicate, with fruit in the background. Fruitier as it opened at 40 minutes with oak fading into the background.

HONIG Tasting Notes:

This Cabernet is medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of red cherry, and plum, alongside anise, black tea, vanilla, white pepper and dried herbs. The finish has the perfect balance of bright fruit, elegantly proportioned tannins, and a hint of cocoa powder.

The Wine Spectator ratings for the 2011 vintage do not seem to be available yet but the last few vintages show quite the pedigree: the 2007 production came in at 92 points, 2008  rated 91 points, 2009 at 92 and the 2010 a glowing 93 points.  All wonderful scores for a well-balanced Napa Cabernet Sauvignon which retails at about $40.00. A wine not too heavy or tannic that I can now recommend to customers throughout the new year.  ¡SALUD!

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:

The dark ruby-colored 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa possesses a friendly overall style, medium body, a slight herbal character, and attractive fruit. Drink it over the next 5-7 years.

Napa Valley – Mount Veeder Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Mount Veeder WineryI have my new customer base at Whole Foods Market North Miami to thank for introducing me to the Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon.  Customer after customer, probably better described as fans of this wine have repeatedly let me know how well priced [$30-32.00 range] this wine is at our store. I’ve had shoppers buy it by the case [with an extra 10% discount]  tell me they can’t get it better priced on-line or via wine clubs. Good for them and good for us!

Mount Veeder Winery in Napa Valley, was the first to grow all five red Bordeaux varietals planted on the same property. In fact this Cabernet is actually made up of; 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec.

Winery info:

Mount Veeder Winery is a dramatic estate with three vineyards carved high in the hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains, overlooking southern Napa Valley. The property totals 121 acres, mostly forest and brush, out of which only 47 are planted to vine.

Vines ranging from 1,000–1,600 feet in elevation cling to rugged, steep slopes that offer cool conditions that lead to slow ripening, which extends the growing season. Mount Veeder is usually the last to harvest in Napa Valley. The result is fruit with highly concentrated flavors – big, bold and brambly – a Cab lover’s feast.

My notes:

Dark ruby-red in color I noted the fact the nose was so well-balanced immediately as I decanted. Within minutes wood [oak] started to overtake the dark fruit. The aroma of leather arrived soon afterwards with the return of rich fruit as mere minutes passed.

With bold tannins and medium body this wine needs to breathe/open.  A richness developed at the 20-30 minute mark with eucalyptus and an earthiness on the nose and palate.  At one and a half hours cocoa, cigar box  and a fruit finish was established. By the 2 hour mark the herbaceous notes on the nose expanded along with vanilla on the palate.  At 3 hours my notes just read; incredible smoothness.

Obviously I enjoyed this wine and I can see why many of my customers do also. Would I decant this wine for 3 hours? Probably not. But I have to admit the “smooth” epiphany at one and a half hours was well worth the wait!  Not only will I need patience when pouring this wine again, yes I have another bottle in the cellar, but I will also need the gift of patience to wait and not open it tonight!  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker Jane Myers notes:

Appearance: Deep ruby
Aromas: Ripe black currant, dark cherry, and lilac interlace with black pepper, bay leaves, coffee, and toasted oak to create a rich, dense nose.
Flavors: Powerful, rich, and textured notes of dark cherry, ripe plum, caramel, and vanilla weave an intense, voluminous mouthfeel accented by hints of anise and mocha. The back palate is rounded out by a lengthy yet smooth finish of vibrant sweet oak, tobacco leaves, and black olives.

Time in Oak: 20 months

Type of Oak: 70% new oak, predominantly French with some American oak.

Total Acidity: 6.1 g/l

Alcohol: 14%

Additional winery info:

Mount Veeder Winery was one born from the hard work and dedication of Michael and Arlene Bernstein.  The Bernsteins first discovered the rugged property in the early 1960s and later bought it as a rustic retreat.  In the ensuing years they transformed it into an enviable vineyard, almost by accident. After farming the property’s prune orchard for the first few years, a farmhand who lived on the property presented the Bernsteins with a bundle of cast-off grapevine cuttings.  Michael stuck the unrooted cuttings into the ground and never gave them a drop of water.  Miraculously, of the 60 cuttings planted, 58 lived.  Michael turned his full attention to the vines and built his land into a thriving vineyard, ultimately making history as the first vintner in Napa Valley to plant one property to all five of the classic Bordeaux varieties.

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.

 

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.

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.