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2009 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc – Bottle Notes

Spottswoode is a family owned winegrowing estate located on the western edge of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. The 46 acre estate, established in 1882, is distinguished by the historic Victorian home depicted on the label. Its entrance is graced by classic formal gardens, while the vineyard stretches behind to the Mayacamas Mountains.

The Spottswoode Estate was bought by Jack and Mary Novak in 1972. The first Cabernet Sauvignon was produced in 1982. Spottswoode also makes an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, a second Cabernet named Lydenhurst and a Rhone blend known as Field Book.

Light straw colored. 14.1% ABV. 52% Napa County and 48% Sonoma County. Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Musque. Zingy nose of lime zest, citrus fruits and melon. Bright acidity with a racy texture. The palate is all about grapefruit, vanilla, green apples and lemon oil. Lots to like here. Ready to drink.

My rating: 91 points.

The 2013 vintage was released early this year and is just under $40. Available at the winery via the mailing list and quite often at retail.

I blogged about Spottswoode previously in Overlooked Wines from Great Producers.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The July Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. Voting will close this Saturday and the winning bottle will be opened this Sunday. A Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

The last in a run of four good vintages in the Rhône, 2001 in Châteauneuf-du-Pape produced some great wines with balance and length. The key features of the year were low yields, a hot, dry summer and ideal harvest conditions. 2001 compares favorably with the best vintages of the last 15 years including 1998 and 2005.

The Contenders:

    • 2001 Vieux Telegraphe – The 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau is gorgeous, structured, impressive. Full-bodied and backward, with great depth, purity, and heady aromatics, this 20,000-case blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and 15% miscellaneous amounts of the other permitted varietals will easily rival the 1998. A deep ruby/purple-tinged color is accompanied by a sweet perfume of salty sea breezes, seaweed, melted licorice, kirsch liqueur, creme de cassis, and iodine … a classic Vieux-Telegraphe aromatic display. Powerful as well as firmly structured, this is a wine to lay away for 4-5 years. It should prove to be uncommonly long-lived, lasting a minimum of two decades. It gets my nod as the greatest Vieux-Telegraphe since the 1998. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
    • 2001 Vieux Donjon – One of the appellation’s classic, old style offerings, the Michel family continues to produce an uncompromisingly long-lived, remarkably consistent Chateauneuf du Pape. The dark plum/purple-colored 2001 boasts a huge, Provencal-styled bouquet of ground pepper, lavender, roasted herbes de Provence, beef blood, and cranberry as well as black cherry liqueur. This perfumed effort exhibits sweet, broad, full-bodied flavors, moderately high tannin, and admirable density and chewiness. There are also hints of underbrush, new saddle leather, incense, and black fruits. This striking 2001 needs 1-3 years of cellaring. It will drink well for 12-15 years. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
    • 2001 Domaine du Pegau Cuvée Réservée – The 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee is a prodigious effort. The dark plum/ruby/garnet color is followed by a spectacular smorgasbord of aromas, including roasted meats, lavender, ground pepper, and thick, sweet blackberry and brandy-macerated cherries. Full-bodied, dense, and chewy, it has high levels of tannin, a huge finish, and a monster upside. Although less voluptuous than the 2000, the 2001 looks to be potentially the longest-lived and finest Cuvee Reservee since the wonderful duo of 1989 and 1990, both of which are aging splendidly. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2020. 95 points fom the Wine Advocate.

 

Which 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape should I open?

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The Week in Zinfandel (7/21/14)

Welcome to the latest installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

Natalie Maclean writes 5 Surprising Facts About Zinfandel.

Gregory Dal Piaz of Snooth writes about Blind Tasting 2012 Zinfandel.

Sherri Housman writes about Dutcher Crossing.

Sunset Magazine on Great Recipes to Pair With Zinfandel.

Monique Soltani of Wine Oh.tv writes about A New Zinfandel Tradition.

If you want to do more than read about Zinfandel consider the ZAP Simply Summer Celebration in mid August.

And last but not least, yours truly writes Making Sense of the Carlisle Mailer.

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1999 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Fontalloro – Bottle Notes

Fattoria di Felsina is a historic estate in the Chianti appellation of Tuscany. In 1966 the estate was purchased by the Poggiali family, and today a second generation of the Poggiali family still run the 153-acre estate. Gambero Rosso, Italy’s leading wine journal, has often awarded Felsina’s wines with 3 Bicchieri, the journal’s highest rating.

Fontalloro is 100% Sangiovese and the grapes come from vineyards straddling the borders between the Chianti Classico and Chianti Colli Senesi appellations.

Ruby red in color and bricking on the the edge of the glass. 13.5% ABV. Amazing nose of red fruits, asphalt, wet stones and rose petal. Lean mouthfeel with a ton of acidity. Crushed cherries, plums, flowers and tar on the palate. Copious tannins and an exceptionally long finish. Everything is in balance here. Fruit, acidity and tannins. Drink over the next 2-4 years for optimal enjoyment.

My rating: 92 points.

Fontalloro is a great Super Tuscan value. Current vintages including the ’07-’09 can all be found for around $50. Exceptional, age worthy wines that are worth seeking out.

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2008 Betz Family Winery La Serenne – Bottle Notes

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family Winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. The winery was sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel (with Bob Betz remaining on as the winemaker), and I fully expect quality will remain high for years to come.

La Serenne is 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard.

Bright purple in color. 14.8% ABV. Awesome nose of black fruits, flowers and espresso. Thick, rich and seamless. Great texture. Blueberries, grilled meat, blackberries, licorice and lavender on the palate. Supple tannins on an extended finish. Great showing. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wine is readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. The 2012 will be released in early September at a cost of $55. Put this wine on your shopping list.

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The Week in Zinfandel (7/14/14)

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

Cliff Brown reviews the 2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch.

Garrett Snyder of Los Angeles Magazine writes A Brief History of White Zinfandel.

T.J. Foderaro of Inside Jersey writes about the 2011 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel.

Randy Fuller of Now and Zin Wine writes about Lodi Native Zinfandel: Fields Family Century Block Vineyard.

Wine Lines Online writes about Bella Vineyards.

And last but not least, yours truly reviewed the 2008 Black Sears Zinfandel.

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Making Sense of the Carlisle Mailer

With the arrival late last week of the Carlisle mailer so began the semi annual struggle of deciding what wines to buy from one of my very favorite producers. It seems that the number of wines available grows with each release making the decision all the more problematic. This particular mailer included a dozen different wines. Pretty convenient if you want to buy a mixed case containing a single bottle of each. Not so convenient if you don’t plan on buying a case or would like to have multiple bottles of some of your favorite bottlings.

Below is how I would approach the mailer at different bottle increments.

 

  • 3 bottles – For me, Carlisle if first and foremost a Zinfandel producer. If I was going to limit myself to 3 bottles I would go with the vineyards that literally represent California wine history in a glass: Pagani, Hayne and Papera. All 3 of these vineyards scored high when I ranked my Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.
  • 6 bottles – If I were able to add 3 more bottles to the 3 above I would include the James Berry Vineyard Syrah, Limerick Lane Zinfandel and Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel. The James Berry Vineyard is one of the premier Syrah sites in the state. The wine itself is comparable to Syrahs from Saxum and Lillian at a fraction of the price. Limerick Lane is a new vineyard source for Carlisle with this vintage. I first started drinking the Limerick Lane Zins back in the 1990′s and can’t wait to see what Mike Officer can do with this fruit. For my 6th bottle I am giving a very slight edge to the Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel over the Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel. Nothing scientific here but my heart tells me that there is just a little extra care and attention that goes into wine made from the grapes you own.
  • 9 bottles – The last 3 bottles I would add to my order would be the Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel, Saitone Ranch Zinfandel and the Two Acres blend. Bedrock Vineyard is a great site farmed by one of my favorite winemakers. Saitone Ranch was the source for one of the best Zins from the 2011 Carlisle lineup and is situated nearby other stellar vineyards including the aforementioned Papera and Carlisle. Two acres is a Mourvedre dominant blend that Carlisle has produced since the very beginning. This wine might be the most age worthy in the entire Carlisle lineup.

It just goes to show how strong this offering is when the wines that did not make the cut are all exceptional: the Bedrock Vineyard Mourvedre, Rosella’s Vineyard Syrah and The Derivative white blend. As the saying goes picking wines on the mailer is like picking your favorite child. This is one of those rare mailers where it is hard to go wrong. Exceptional wines at exceptional prices. My advice…buy all you can afford.

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2006 Dehlinger Chardonnay See’s Selection – Bottle Notes

Dehlinger Winery is located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and was founded in 1975 by Tom and Carole Dehlinger. Eva Dehlinger took over winemaking duties in 2007. Known for their Pinot Noir, Dehlinger also makes Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.

The grapes for Dehlinger Wines are largely grown on the Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The initial vines were planted in 1975 and followed by subsequent plantings through 1989.

Golden in color. 14.5% ABV. Great nose of pears, honey and lemon meringue pie. Rich and creamy with terrific acidity. Apples, brioche, hazelnuts, lime curd and flint on the palate. The finish absolutely exceptional. Brilliant wine. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Don’t overlook the Chardonnay program at Dehlinger.

Dehlinger Winery has a great reputation among wine connoisseurs. Wine writers have consistently given strong reviews while praising the winery for its uniqueness, quality, consistency and value. About 75% of their wine is sold via the mailing list. Amazing wines that are well worth the search.

I wrote about Dehlinger previously in the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2012 Efeste Riesling Evergreen Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Efeste, pronounced like the letters “F-S-T” strung together, was named after the last names of founders Helen & Dan Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin & Angela Taylor. Efeste is located in the Warehouse District of Woodinville, Washington. Peter Devison took over full-time winemaking duties when Brennon Leighton left to work with Charles Smith in 2012.

Evergreen Vineyard, in the new Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA, is one of the top sites for white wine in Washington state. Jerry and Butch Milbrandt began planting the site in 1998 not far from the famous Gorge Amphitheater. The vineyard began with 452 acres. Next year the Evergreen Ranch project will cover about 1,200 acres.

Light straw colored. Almost clear. 12.8% ABV. Flowers, mineral, spice and a hint of matchstick on the nose. Mouthwatering acidity with a touch of sweetness. Melon, pears, flowers and apples on the palate. The finish is crisp. $20 at the winery. A perfect Summer wine.

My rating: 88 points.

Efeste has one of the best white wine programs in the state of Washington and the red wines are also exceptional. The wines are readily available at retail, via the wine club and at the winery. The 2011 Emmy will set you back $45.

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2006 Rochioli Chardonnay Sweetwater Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Rochioli is one of the true pioneers in Russian River Valley, with a winemaking history dating back to the the late 1950′s. Although best known for their world class Pinot Noir, Rochioli also produces remarkable Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

There is 1 acre of Wente Selection Chardonnay planted in the Sweetwater parcel of Rochioli Vineyard. Rochioli recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

Bright straw colored and 14.2% ABV. Great nose of lemon oil, pineapple and spice. Rich and nicely textured with just the right amount of acidity. Apple, pears, marzipan, minerals and more lemon on the palate. The finish is perfect. Drink over the next year or two.

My rating: 93 points.

The Rochioli Chardonnay program is second to none and should be in the conversation with the likes of Aubert and Kistler.

At present time (and for the foreseeable future) buying from Rochioli via the mailing list is not an option. The Estate wines do show up at retail periodically, and the winery’s Russian River Valley tasting room is still open for public tasting. They may only be pouring a couple of wines, but it’s a great opportunity to buy a bottle for a picnic on their lovely patio and a few more to bring home for the cellar.

I’ve blogged about Rochioli previously in Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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