Tag Archives: Sonoma

Robert Parker 97 pt Rated – Louis M Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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IMG_3252Closing in on 4 years later I finally took Michael Martini’s whispered advice and sampled “the Alexander Valley”. Yes, albeit a different vintage, but yet once again a wine renowned for its quality. With many recent 90pt plus ratings, Louis M Martini wines, from Sonoma to Napa Valley, have been flying off the shelves at our Whole Foods Market. For my 2013 background story click here.  I wonder what  Michael Martini The Wine Whisperer would have to say about his 2014 vintages….

My notes:

Dark ruby-red in color. Luscious and rich fruit on the nose upon decanting with notes of; spice, resinous woods, smoky cedar, leather and a earthy/dusty quality. On the palate; deliciously red and dark fruit forward with strawberry, black currant and blackberry noted.

I have to agree with Robert Parker’s comment: “This is a beauty”.  If this Alexander Valley beauty is available to you, it is well worth the just under $30 price tag. As per The Wine Advocate review will it age well for 20 years? Probably so. But why wait. Don’t think twice. It will not disappoint.   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker notes:

The 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has received high critical praise for its decadent black cherry, black current and blackberry aromas and flavors that weave together with earthy notes of truffle, tobacco and smoky cedar. This expansive wine is dense, rich and well-structured, held together beautifully by assertive tannins that lead into a long, full finish. Its depth and structure give the wine potential to easily age a decade or more.

The Wine Advocate/Robert Parker 97pts.“The bigger, richer 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Sirah aged 16 months in 50% new French and American casks. This is a bigger wine and close to 2% higher in alcohol at 15.5%. There are 11,000 cases of this big, full-bodied, boisterous Cabernet Sauvignon that has a dense ruby/purple color, notes of underbrush, forest floor, tobacco leaf and oodles of blackcurrants and black cherries, with a touch of woodsmoke. The full-bodied wine hits the palate with a cascade of glycerin, fruit and purity. This is a beauty – dense, rich, and structured, but capable of lasting 20 or more years.”

 

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Now and Zin at Whole Foods Market North Miami

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This past weekend in addition to our T.G.I.F. / Thank God It’s Fermented Fridays wine tastings and our casual Saturday afternoon wine tastings it was time for Now and Zin: a Guide to California’s Old-Vine Zinfandels class!

The event was held outdoors under our covered patio [thank you to the weather Gods!] and attended by about a dozen people who pre-registered for the class.

As the photo’s will show the Zinfandel’s paired beautifully with dark chocolate, sausage pizza and various cheeses including: Nancy’s Camembert, an American Artisan cheese from Hudson River Valley NY. A blend of cow and sheep’s milk topped with spicy plum chutney. All of course from Whole Foods Market North Miami.

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We got to enjoy about seven different Zinfandel’s and I must stress the word “enjoy”.  Luckily we didn’t have a bad one among the bunch. Although I must admit favorites were discussed throughout the class and even afterwards as we just had to go back for more and make sure.

I’ll list all the wines below. If we had one clear winner I would have to say it was the SALDO from Orin Swift. A close second would have been the Seghesio with Earthquake and Predator all close too. But as I said all our Zin’s had their fans,  and the fans had their ZIN’s!  ¡SALUD!

WineClass3   Four Vines Truant:  It is blended from vineyards around the state, but it is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. On the nose there are dark berry notes and spicy notes from oak aging. The wine drinks of juicy blackberry, ripe plums and a touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, plenty of structure and a velvety finish. 


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The Lodi appellation PREDATOR Zinfandel is sourced from 50+ year old vines. Aromas of chocolate espresso bean, smoked bacon [yes it’s true!], and baked berries. Medium to full body.

JOEL GOTT100% ZIN The largest component of our blend for this vintage is old vine Zinfandel from Lodi.  With fruit from Sonoma, Mendocino and the Shenandoah Valley in Amador. 

Decoy Zinfandel – This Sonoma County wine offers raspberry jam aromas, as well as hints of vanilla, clove and white pepper. Like a fresh-baked berry tart, the raspberry notes continue on the palate where they are supported by sweet oak and spice flavors that carry through to the finish. This is a lovely Zinfandel expressing both richness and balance.

SALDO – The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

Seghesio Vineyards Winemaker Notes:
Spicy, lush black fruit of Alexander Valley
Briary and raspberry flavors, along with structure, of cooler Dry Creek Valley
Characteristic synergy of components – balanced and elegantly structured
Earthquake –  Over the top and shattering to the veins, all varietals under the Earthquake label are Michael David’s reserve level wines.  These wines possess major concentration and daring flavor with only a limited production offered each year.  The original is the Earthquake Zin that comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the time of San Francisco’s great Earthquake in 1906.  While mulling over a label name in the vineyard, Michael Phillips thought it only seemed fitting to relate this intense wine with the historical quake.  With over 15% alcohol and bold tannins, these dark and voluminous will definitely leave your senses quivering.

My life in Zin continues with Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvée

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Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvée

Interesting how I cannot get Zin-ful thoughts out of my head. As I have stated before, most recently in My Zinful Weekend post: Zin to the left of me, Zin to the right…Zin everywhere I turn.

This is yet another wine that I have discovered via my Wine Stewardship with Winn-Dixie.  The price range is $$8.00-$12.00 at your local wine source including grocery stores with sales and coupons bringing down the price to as low as $6-7.00!  Let’s just cut to the chase: at the lower price range I would classify this as a BUY! Even at a $10.00+ price point still a very good buy.  I would compare it to other mass-produced [nothing wrong with that] Zinfandel’s in the $15-$20.00 range. Plus you just have to give them extra points for calling their product “Cuvée”.

Purple Wine CompanyFour Vines originally started by Christian Tietje in 1994 was sold to the Purple Wine Company in 2010. As per Wine Spectator;  a little-known Sonoma firm led by one of the founders of the successful Blackstone brand which was sold off to Constellation Brands in 2001. Purple Wine Company was also in the news earlier this year for selling off their popular Mark West Pinot Noir to again Constellation for a reported $160,000,000.00. Still owned by Purple Wine Company are; Avalon, Bex, Four Vines and Cryptic.

From Wine Spectator who has rated this wine 86 points: Purple Wine focuses on varietal-specific brands such as Mark West Pinot Noir [now sold off], Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon and Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are produced in various facilities around the state, including the firm’s warehouse plant in Graton. Its sister business is Sonoma Wine Company, a custom crush and private label house. 

Having  not read the back label or done any research on this wine prior to tasting, I was surprised at how close our descriptions came. From my notes:

Light to medium tannins. Fruit, spice [all-spice/cloves], eucalyptus and wood [oak] on the nose. On the palate; peppery, spicy, fruit forward [berry/plum] but not jammy, fruity finish more woody as it opened.

The Four Vines OVC  turned out to be a tasty wine we paired with leftover pot-roast. I do not believe anyone would guess I only paid $7-$8 for this wine. And quite honestly I would do it again. Even better I now have a low price good quality old vine Zinfandel to recommend to my customers and friends. ¡SALUD!

K&L Wine Merchants:

Four Vines’ “Old Vine Cuvée” is a multi-appellation Zinfandel blend assembled from fruit leftover from their other Zin productions. In this bottling, Four Vines aims to produce a consistenty generous, fruity and easy-drinking Zin, styled for immediate drinking pleasure. With layers of juicy blackberry and black plum aromas with hints of licorice and smokey spice in the nose, it’s hard not to resist! The palate is rich and velvety, with toasty oak and baking spice accenting the finish. This is fun, no-holds-barred Zinfandel and priced to party.

Pete’s Wine Shop:

Four Vines has such a great wealth of Zinfandel that they have the ability to put together a fantastic multi-appellation Zinfandel Blend. On the nose the wine has layers of berry fruit and anise aromas with hints of spice. On the palate, blackberry and spicy plum fruit with a rich mouth feel trailing to a velvety toasted oak finish. The fruit comes from Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador, Lodi and Mendocino Counties.Related articles

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Battle of Sonoma Cab’s: Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve vs. Rodney Strong

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Battle of Sonoma County Cab’s: 2008 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve  vs.  2009 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon

Somehow this Cab “event” just happened over the last week. Originally I was going to write about these in separate posts but realized, as the empty bottles kept staring at me on my desk, that not only had we drank two Cabernet Sauvignon’s back to back [not on same day] but they were both from California’s Sonoma County.

Although I did buy both at a grocery store [Winn-Dixie] and because I realize many if not most grocers do not sell $20.00-$30.00 bottles of wine I have decided not to classify them as such for this post.  As usually happens lately I was attracted to both wines because of their pricing. Not their retail price which runs from close to $20.00 for the Rodney Strong and $28.00 for the Kendall Jackson but their SALE prices.  When I have the opportunity to drink $30.00 bottles of wine @ close to 50% off you bet they get my attention. Heck it actually makes my mouth water if I am being honest. Now if only I could find some $70.00+ wines on sale 75% off… I can dream can’t I?

Notes from the tastings:

2008 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve  Dark purple almost black in color. On the nose; a very rich overall aroma, very appealing. Noted; vanilla, cedar, tobacco, spices as it opened with berry [casis] coming through. Minerality [clay soil?], leather and mocha were also detected as the wine opened. Tasting added dark fruit [plum, fig] along with black pepper.

2009 Rodney Strong  Purple dark garnet in color. Aroma; abundant.  Interestingly this wine was thought to be a Zinfandel upon decanting by a fellow drinker. On the nose we detected; caramel/molasses, wood [cedar], vanilla, tobacco, pepper, dark fruit [currant], and raisins [dried fruit]. Tasting added an earthy minerality, mushrooms, anise, chocolate with a lingering finish and the wine becoming more tannic as it opened instead of the usual reverse. I would better describe it as a long tannic finish.

Rating tidbits found: Wine Enthusiast rates the Rodney Strong at 87 and the KJ at 90 points. Wine Spectator and their vintage chart rates the 2008 Sonoma vintage at 86 with a Hold suggestion for drinkability and the 2009 vintage although not finalized is estimated to be in the 83-86 range. I found this information after drinking the wines,  I do enjoy researching my wines but prefer to not look too deeply into the ratings until I have my say 🙂 The WS vintage chart ratings seem a bit low to me but that could just be due to the saturation of the market with marketing campaigns quoting 90 POINTS! or higher from all types of sources out there. That said, if any organization out there wants to quote my rating on a wine you know how to reach me LOL.

My opinion on these two wines is close to the Wine Enthusiast rating.  The Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was bold and consistent throughout the evening, delicious. Something interesting happened with the Rodney Strong. It was incredible out of the bottle and by itself but as soon as we paired it with food [camembert & goat cheese to start with mushroom pesto pizza later] the flavor of the wine deadened. At first I blamed the pairing but interestingly enough about 1-1.5 hours after decanting the flavor of the wine came back close to its original intensity. I had never experienced flavors fading and then returning as the wine breathed.  I should also point out that the KJ being a 2008 may have a maturity advantage over the Rodney Strong.

I have to say I enjoyed both wines. In a blind tasting I probably would have picked the Kendall Jackson but who knows; the Rodney Strong was delicious straight out of the bottle too.  Would I buy these again? Yes! But hopefully at great SALE prices.  ¡SALUD!

Kendall Jackson winemaker notes:

This Cabernet has distinct flavors of blackberry, blueberry, black currant and cassis with enticing fragrances of mocha and nutmeg. Subtle notes of smoke, cedar and tobacco leaf round out the lingering finish.

Grand Reserve is a winemaker’s blend of our mountain, ridge, hillside and benchland grapes grown along California’s cool coastal appellations. We hand select grapes from our best estate vineyards and then monitor, taste and hand-hold each individual lot throughout the winemaking process. Each lot is kept separate, barrel-aged and handcrafted – boutique winery style. Our winemakers have an unmatched palate of flavors, toast levels and terroir nuances from which they masterfully blend these exemplary rich, deep and complex wines.

Blend: 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec

alcohol by volume:14.5%

Rodney Strong winemaker notes:

Aromas of blackberry, cocoa, and currant lead to a rich, layered mouthfeel, replete with black cherry, cedar, and cassis, and structured with lush, mature tannins. Enjoy this seductive Cabernet Sauvignon now and over the next several years.

alcohol by volume:13.5%