Sunday, November 30, 2014

Birthday wine treat....and another treat, and another, and another....

Last Sunday was my 45th birthday; in celebration, we booked a suite at River Rock Resort and had a nice dinner party at Tramonto restaurant with some family and good friends.

But before dinner, we met a friend for lunch at Cactus Club and decided to splurge a little on a special bottle to get the day started right!

2012 Black Hills Nota Bene ($55 at winery; $90 at restaurant)

I previously reviewed this one here, My opinion has not changed. It was terrific then, it's terrific now.

We arrived at our suite a couple of hours early and brought along some beautiful bottles of wine to celebrate with. While it was just my wife and I, we finally decided to find out what a wine that received a perfect score of 100 from renowned critic Robert Parker tasted like!

Turnbull Cellars 2010 Fortuna Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($109)

“The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Fortuna Vineyard is perfection! This extraordinary wine offers up notes of creme de cassis, graphite, truffles, blueberries and blackberries as well as a colossal mouth feel with no sense of heaviness, layer upon layer of fruit and glycerin, astonishing purity and a finish that is at least 50 seconds. A magnificent effort that should turn out to be one of the great modern classics of Napa Valley, it should age effortlessly for two to three decades.”
- Robert Parker

Do I agree with Mr. Parker that this wine is perfect? No; but it's pretty damn great. The fruit just explodes in your mouth, and the finish is so long that I'm pretty sure my palate isn't done with it yet, and we drank it a week ago! It truly is superb; can't even imagine that it would get better with age, but it should. It's already spectacular. It's right up there with the best red wines I've ever had. 96.

Off to dinner where we ordered another beauty that I hadn't seen before:

Aces 2007 Pocket Aces Syrah ($95.00)

Your nose might notice some cold cuts and black cherry. Lots of fruit on the palate, with just enough pepper. Full bodied with moderate acidity. Beautiful. 93.

After dinner we went back up to the suite to continue the party, and we cracked open another one that I had purchased last week.

La Rioja Alta 2004 ViƱa Ardanza Reserve ($40.00)

80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha (Grenache). A very expressive nose of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Balanced and well-structured, the Garnacha brings just a tiny bit of juiciness that balances the Tempranillo nicely. Lovely but would have been better to accompany some aged cheese or red meat. 90.

My "birthday weekend" continued on Sunday, when we reached deep into the cellar for this one which we picked up in Napa this past September:

Silver Oak 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($175.00)

Intense and brooding, this is an excellent example of what a nicely aged Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley can be. Blackberries and chocolate with a hint of floral on the nose. Very rich and juicy palate, with some nutmeg joining in with the berries. 93.

My "birthday weekend" morphed in "birthday week" and we've also enjoyed these:

Quails' Gate 2012 Rosemary's Block 25th Anniversary Series Chardonnay ($40.00)

Citrus and apple on the nose and palate. Oaked, but very subtle. Not huge and buttery like this winery's traditional Chardonnays. 89.

And let's not forget this one:

Belle Glos Meiomi 2013 Pinot Noir ($27.00)

From Caymus. Rich garnet in colour. Strawberries hit your nose like a hurricane. A touch of vanilla comes along for the ride. Cherry, plum and a bit of cola on the palate. Lovely and a nice bargain at this price point. 89.

Or this one:

2012 Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay ($28.99)

Orange, apricots, marzipan and citrus all mingle amongst your senses. Finishes fruity and beautifully. 90.

And a couple of "cheapies" we've enjoyed this week:

Kalala 2012 Aspire ($19.99)

Red blend comes on strong but fades a bit at the end. Juicy with lots of fruit. 83.

Kalala 2013 Harmony White ($13.95)

Much better than the price might indicate. An intriguing blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Auxerrois. Slightly off dry, fruity and refreshing. 86.

And, I might as well give one more review. This is the wine I am enjoying while typing this blog!

2013 Black Hills Chardonnay ($29.90)

An exceptional growing year and this wine has tons of potential. Further aging is necessary to really bring it to it's full potential. Notes of apple and citrus. Not a ton of oak. If you like your Chardonnay on the lighter side, this is for you. Should age gracefully until 2018 or 2019 at least. 88.


  1. Happy (belated) Birthday! Mine is this week. Hope to get some nice gifts over the next week! Merry Christmas and thanks for the great write-ups!