Sunday, September 28, 2014

A bunch more random Napa wines, and some others too!

A few more wines enjoyed in Napa, and also one I am enjoying as I type this:

Black Hills 2013 Viognier ($24.95)

Aromas of stone fruit and citrus. The palate might notice some apricot, peach and apple. Rich and juicy. Built to improve with a little time in the bottle but is drinking beautifully now. Am currently enjoying this paired with some aged gouda and dill infused havarti. 89.

Hartford Court 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35.99)

Light and fruity, with buttery notes on the nose and palate. Balanced acidity with a long and beautiful finish. Superb. 91.

Hartford Court 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($35.99)

Smooth and supple, with excellent body and a long finish. Flavors of black cherry and oak wash over the palate. Tons of finesse. A top notch Pinot. 91.

Spencer Roloson 2003 Tempranillo ($27.98)

Plums, cherries and smoke on the nose and palate, with a touch of spice on the palate. Well-aged and drinking well. Has probably peaked, or close to it. 88.

Silver Oak 1999 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)

Garnet in colour with delicate notes of cassis, roses and black cherry. Lots of earthy notes on the palate and a very long, lingering finish. Drinking brilliantly now. 93.

Pine Ridge 2013 Chenin Blanc/Viognier ($18.99)

80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier. What a truly unique blend. Notes of melon, lemon and honey on the nose, with some papaya and a hint of grapefruit on the palate. Subtle sweetness and crisp acidity. Lovely, a real bargain at this price. 89.

Paul Hobbs 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($74.99)

Some mocha, leather and a hint of chocolate on the nose and palate. A touch of caramel on the finish. Drinking nicely but would probably improve with a bit of time in the bottle. 87.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two words: Opus One

We had a terrific tour and tasting at this spectacular winery. Here are my notes on the three wines we were fortunate enough to taste.

Overture (N/V) ($90)

This second label is a multi-vintage blend of the same five varietals. It has much less structure and less aging potential as it's big brother, but it is quite lovely to drink now. If the price of the Opus One scares you off, this is a very good alternative. 89.

2010 Opus One ($265)

84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.5% Merlot, 5.5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec

Aromas of roses, blackberries, coffee and chocolate. Dark fruits dominate the palate which also features earthy notes and a hint of minerality. Tannins are round and velvety. As with all of their wines, this has tons of aging potential. I'll be putting ours away for a decade or so. 96.

2007 Opus One ($*)

79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec

A polar opposite from the above (which is why it was chosen as our second vintage). Lighter and fruitier, with notes of nutmeg, raspberries, cola, chocolate and forest floor. Tannins are soft and supple, with a long and lingering finish. Opus One says "the wine will age effortlessly for decades." No doubt. 94.

*This wasn't available in their wine shop. The 2006 vintage was selling for $775 per bottle.

This should be on everyone's "must do" list for any trip through Napa Valley. We tasted a ton of spectacular wine on this trip, but nothing exceeded Opus One.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A bunch of random wine on our Napa tour

It's not all from Napa, but we've enjoyed a nice amount of random wine on this trip, which I'm reviewing below. When I say "random" what I really mean is it wasn't from any of the wineries that we visited on this trip (which, I hope, goes without saying on the wines from Italy and Spain).

2013 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio ($21,99)

Bone dry with notes of red apples and balanced acidity, this lovely Italian white was a nice find (in Target of all places). 87.

2010 Pesquera Ribera del Duero Tempranillo ($33.99)

Smoke, cherries and cola on the nose with some floral notes. Some red currant and just a touch of pepper. Well structured and would probably improve quite a bit with some more time in the bottle. I'll be looking to pick up another one of these to put away for a while. 90.

2010 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)

As I mentioned in my vacation blog, I picked this up as a "Earthquake special" for only $60. Apparently it had been thrown off the shelf during the recent Napa quake and their loss was my gain. For the money I paid, this was an absolute steal. Lots of sediment made it obvious this had been recently shaken, but luckily we travel with an aerator so that was no issue.

Blackberry and blueberry on the nose and palate, with a bit of earth on the finish. Tannins are well developed but firm enough that it's obvious this is built to improve with medium-long term aging. This is actually a blend that is comprised of 78% C.S., 14% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc, 3% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. 94.

2010 Grgich Hills Chardonnay ($45)

Peaches and citrus on the nose, with just a touch of minerality and vanilla on the long finish. Very fruity and lively. Lacks the buttery notes that a lot of this varietal displays. If you don't like your Chardonnays buttery, you will LOVE this one. 88.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First report on Napa Trip at Duckhorn Vineyards

We had a great tasting experience at Duckhorn, $27 per person for a total of eight wines. Our total was $80 which included a charcuterie plate. Duckhorn has several labels and many different individual vineyard varietals. Although they produce several Cabernet Sauvignons, like every Napa winery, their signature varietal is Merlot.

2012 Migration Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) ($32)

Nectarines and peaches on the nose with some oak. Rich and full on the palate with some intense acidity. 86.

2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($29)

Lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit on the nose. Refreshing and crisp with well balanced acidity and a hint of minerality on the finish. 87.

2011 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($55)

Red berries dominate the nose and palate, particularly raspberry. Some oak and vanilla on the palate as well. Finishes beautifully and could improve with another couple years in the bottle. 89.

2011 Napa Valley Patzimara Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($95)

88% Cab Sauv with 12% Merlot to round it out. Raspberry and leather on the nose with a hint of grass. Rich and complex, plums and strawberries are joined with some earthy notes and dusty tannins. Finishes very long. 88.

2011 Napa Valley Monitor Ledge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($95)

Twice as much Merlot as it's counterpart above, this wine displays beautiful red fruits, oak, thyme and leather on the nose. Some cherries and flowers on the palate. Lovely now and some aging would only enhance. 90.

2011 Napa Valley Atlas Peak Merlot ($70)

Beautiful nose of cherries, red currant, plum and wet stone. Tannins are dusty and sharp, with layers of red fruit and oak. Will likely improve greatly with age. 88.

2011 Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard Merlot ($95)

87% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc. On the nose, more delicate and muted than it's counterpart above. Plums, blackberries on the palate. Long, elegant finish. Another one that will much improve with age. 88.

2010 Duckhorn Vineyards The Discussion ($135)

Their signature Bordeaux blend, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The nose brings some licorice, blackberry, thyme and violets. The palate might experience some bing cherry, plums, with silky tannins. Drinking very well now and this one is built for some medium-long term aging. 91.

Not a bad wine in the bunch! A terrific tasting experience I recommend to all when visiting Napa.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Some serious wine, and serious catching up

OK apologies for the lack of posting in the last month or so, things have been a little crazy. In a few days we are off to California, with tastings in Napa Valley and the Temecula Valley, so this blog will probably be quiet for most of September before I get a chance to catch up on all the great wine we are going to sample in Cali!

For now, reviews of everything we've enjoyed during the past few weeks:

Quails' Gate 2008 Chardonnay ($50 from winery)

Notes of toasty oak and honey on the nose and palate. Hints of the classic butter and caramel that accompanies so many great Chardonnays. Drinking exceptionally well now. 89.

Quails' Gate 2009 Pinot Noir ($24.99)

Red berries and some light floral notes on the nose. Supple tannins and a long, persistent finish. Drinking incredibly well now, and this spectacular vintage would probably age for another year or two as well. 91.

Quails' Gate 2006 Dry Riesling ($50 from winery)

The aging makes it as smooth as you could possibly imagine. Lots of minerality and flint and a smooth, long finish. Beautiful. 91.

Quails' Gate 2013 Gewurztraminer ($17.99)

Subtle notes of rose petals and lychee on the nose. Slight hint of spice on the mid-palate, giving way to a smooth and off-dry finish. 89.

Bonitas 2008 Casabella ($17.99)

 An intriguing blend of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris Dessert Wine. Some fruit and honeysuckle on the nose. Fruity on the palate. Has probably passed it's prime. 78.

Cedarcreek 2013 Gewurztraminer ($17.95)

Tropical fruit notes, with some nutmeg and lychee on the nose and palate. Slightly spicy finish with just a touch of ginger. 89.

Cedarcreek 2011 Merlot ($19.95)

 Aged 18 months in French oak and it shows. Toasty and fruity. Tannins are silky and smooth. Raspberries and strawberries on the palate. 87.

Cedarcreek 2013 Riesling ($17.95)

At only 9.9% alcohol, it's a sure thing you'll want to enjoy two bottles. Maybe three. Slate and fruit on the nose and palate. Citrus joins in on the palate leading to a smooth finish. 91.

This instantly rocketed up to the top of my list of BC Rieslings. Until.......

Cedarcreek 2013 Platinum "Block 3" Riesling ($24.95)

Lighter and more delicate on the nose than the above, with some very very light floral notes. The palate is sublime; lemon lime with lots of minerality that enhances, and does not overpower, this terrific wine. Superb. 93.

Desert Hills 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.90)

Berries, cassis and a hint of mint and oak on the nose and palate. Very long and luscious. 88.

Desert Hills 2011 Cabernet Franc ($26.90)

Strong, big notes of blackberries on the nose and palate. Black currants and some chocolate round out the palate. Very long and lingering finish. 88.

Joie Farms 2013 A Noble Blend ($23.90)

A blend of Gewurtzraminer, Riesling, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Schoenberger. Lots of fruit up front with a touch of cloves. Lychee and a hint of spice on the palate. Finishes with some citrus. 86.

Mission Hill 2011 Perpetua Chardonnay ($34.90)

Some peach, honey and orange on the nose and palate. A very long, lengthy finish. Fruity, without the butter notes so many Chardonnays exhibit. 86.

Castiglio del Bosco 2008 Brunello di Montalcino ($69.99)

Cherries, currants and just a hint of cinnamon on the nose. Bright, rich and dense, with cherries, oak and a touch of spice on the palate. Well balanced and lovely. 91.

La Crema 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($65)

Fresh aromas of nectarines, pears and stone fruits. Lemons, apples and melons join the party in your mouth. Finishes long and beautifully. Spectacular. 94.