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1996 Léoville-Poyferré – Bottle Notes

The 1996 Léoville-Poyferré was the winning bottle in the August installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for an hour and served with Beef Stew.

Château Léoville-Poyferré is in St.-Julien. The estate is a Second Growth Bordeaux. Along with Léoville-Las-Cases and Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré was part of a large estate in the Medoc owned by the Marquis de Léoville. After the French revolution the estate was divided and sold at public auction, where the portion that is now Château Léoville-Poyferré was bought by Monsieur Poyferré. Today the estate is owned and run by Didier Cuvelier and his family.

Blood red in color with some bricking at the edge of the glass. 13% ABV. Great nose of cigar box, cedar and leather. Medium body with a sense of power that belies the 19 years of bottle age. Flavors of currants, cassis, cherries, graphite and earth. The wine finishes strong and still shows some complex tannins. This vintage of Léoville-Poyferré is showing really well right now but well stored bottles should continue to develop for another 3-5 years.

My rating: 94 points.

Léoville-Poyferré is on a roll as of late. The 2009 and 2010 scored 100 points and 98 points respectively from the Wine Advocate. If you are interested in purchasing the wine I would suggest futures of the 2014 vintage which is compellingly priced at right around $60.

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The Week In Zinfandel (8/24/15)

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!

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2002 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Dalla Valle was founded in 1986 by Gustav and Naoko Dalla Valle, who purchased 21 acres on the east side of Silverado Trail on Oakville Hill. They planted the vineyards to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and had their first crush in 1986. Dalla Valle produces a Cabernet Sauvignon and a very limited amount of a proprietary red named Maya, after the couple’s daughter. Maya usually contains 45-55% Cabernet Franc, and Robert Parker has written that the finest Cabernet Franc in “the New World is from Dalla Valle’s vineyard.” Though Gustav Dalla Valle died in 1995, Naoko has continued to run the winery.

Decanted for about one hour.

Ruby red in color. 13.5% ABV. Soaring nose of red fruits, mint and graphite. Great concentration and power. Black currants, cassis, cherries and tobacco on the palate. Super silky tannins on an exceptionally long finish. Fantastic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from a wonderful vintage. I’ll drink my remaining bottles over the next 3-5 years. One of the best Napa Cabs I have had in recent memory.

My rating: 96 points.

Dalla Valle wines are only available via the mailing list. The current vintages runs $175 and will be released later this Fall.

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Pick My Next Bottle: 1996 Bordeaux

The August installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 1996 Bordeaux. 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. I plan on opening the winning bottle this coming weekend and will publish a Bottle Note shortly thereafter.

1996 was a classic year for the Left Bank. Robert Parker scored St. Julien, St. Estephe and Pauillac at 96 points. The hot, sunny and dry conditions gave the vines the perfect amount of stress which allowed the Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen perfectly. The wines are considered rich, concentrated and tannic. As the wines approach 20 years of age they should be well into their peak drinking window.

A couple side notes regarding the vintage:

  1. There has been an ongoing debate about whether the 1996 vintage was better than 1995. The Wine Spectator has always favored ’95, while Parker has always favored ’96.
  2. Rains in late August really took a toll on the Right Bank and the wines are for the most part inferior to their counterparts on the Left Bank. In a way the vintage is the polar opposite of the ’98 vintage when the Right Bank excelled and the Left Bank did not.

The Contenders:

96 Leoville Poyferre – This fabulous 1996 was tasted three times from bottle, and it is unquestionably the finest wine produced by this estate since their blockbuster 1990. Medium to full-bodied, with a saturated black/purple color, the nose offers notes of cedar, jammy black fruits, smoke, truffles, and subtle new oak. In the mouth, there is impressive fruit extraction, a tannic, full-bodied structure, and a classic display of power and finesse. The longer it sat in the glass, the more impressive the wine became. Backward, and massive in terms of its extract and richness, this should prove to be a sensational Leoville-Poyferre for drinking over the next three decades. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

’96 Clerc Milon – This is among the finest wines I have ever tasted from this estate. Lavishly oaked, with gobs of pain grille and rich fruit, it is massive and concentrated. The color is dense ruby/purple. The bouquet offers notes of roasted coffee, tobacco, and jammy cassis. Although surprisingly soft and opulent on the attack, the mid-section and finish reveal the wine’s full body, high flavor extraction, and moderate tannin. This complete, large-scaled Clerc-Milon will be at its finest between 2005-2018. 90 points from the Wine Advocate.

’96 Lagrange – This impeccably run, Japanese-owned property has fashioned a superb 1996. Opaque purple-colored, with a backward yet promising nose of classically pure cassis intermixed with pain grille and spice, this medium to full-bodied, powerful yet stylish wine possesses superb purity, a nicely-layered feel in the mouth, and plenty of structure. It will not be an early-drinking St.-Julien, but one to lay away and enjoy over the next 2-3 decades. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2022. 90 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 1996 Bordeaux Should I Open?

  • '96 Leoville Poyferre (39%, 11 Votes)
  • '96 Clerc Milon (32%, 9 Votes)
  • '96 Lagrange (29%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 28

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the September installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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The Week in Zinfandel (8/17/15)

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!

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2007 Dehlinger Chardonnay – 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.

Bright gold in color. 14.5% ABV. Subdued nose of lemons, green apple and vanilla. Rich and creamy with nice acidity. Lemon meringue, butterscotch, pears and minerals on the palate. This Chardonnay perfectly straddles the line between new and old world. The finish is exquisite. Drink them if you have them.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2013 Chardonnay was released this past Spring and is an unbelievable bargain at $40 per bottle.

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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2008 Araujo Sauvignon Blanc – Bottle Notes

Araujo Estate is a 38-acre vineyard in northeast Napa Valley, east of Calistoga. It was established in 1990 when Bart and Daphne Araujo bought the historic vineyard from Milt and Barbara Eisele, who planted the vines in the 1960s. For nearly 40 years the Eisele Vineyard has been known as one of the valley’s great vineyards, consistently producing outstanding wines. The Araujos have completed many renovation projects since they acquired the estate, and have planted many varietals including Petit Verdot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Nevertheless the estate’s signature wine is its highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignon.

Light straw in color. 14.3% ABV. Apricots, lime, grapefruit and vanilla on the nose. Medium body with compelling acidity. Rich and creamy on the palate. Exceptional mouth feel. Flavors of peach, lemon and key lime pie. The finish is perfect. Aging beautifully. Drink over the next year or so. Always one of the best Sauvignon Blancs coming out of California.

My rating: 94 points.

Araujo is one of the most prestigious wineries in all of Napa Valley. It does not get much more iconic than Eisele Vineyard. It can be included on a short list with the likes of Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon Vineyard.

The Araujo wines can be obtained via the mailing list, at retail and frequently at auction.

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Why I Renewed My Wine Spectator Subscription

I just received my first issue of the Wine Spectator in almost 8 years. I had let my subscription lapse when I last moved and was told it would take upwards of 60 days to move my subscription to a new address. This was 2007, the age of the internet, how could it possibly take so long to change my address in their database? Whatever, I did not need the Wine Spectator. I had been collecting wine for over 15 years. I knew what I liked. On top of that there were great online sites like erobertparker.com that had fresh content every day from wine collectors the world over.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2015. Many of the wines I bought 8 years ago have become so expensive that my purchases have decreased significantly or the wines are just no longer of interest. I still buy Leoville Barton and Spottswoode but certainly not in half case increments. I simply stopped buying wines like Araujo and Cos d’Estournel. I hope the Wine Spectator will enhance my own efforts to broaden my horizons on what is new and exciting in my favorite wine regions. For instance, Tim Fish who covers California Zinfandel for the Wine Spectator, was all over wineries like Bedrock and more recently Limerick Lane long before the wines were hard to get. I can’t wait to hear about his next discovery.

Secondly, the online wine board scene is old and stale. Robert Parker has put up a pay wall and new posts now only trickle in. Wineberserkers is still somewhat compelling but the tone is derisive. Posts about new wines get lost in adoration threads for board favorites like Sine Qua Non, Saxum and Rhys and bashing threads on far ranging topics including John Kapon, Maison Ilan and Premier Cru.

All roads in my wine journey do not lead to Burgundy. I want to hear about wineries like Ferren that was recently profiled by the Wine Spectator. I want to see a series of high scores for Arista in the recent Wine Spectator Pinot Noir 2013 vintage report.

So job well done to the team at the Wine Spectator. You hooked me 20 years ago and then managed to get me back when I thought I know longer needed you.

By the way, in the event anyone from the Wine Spectator reads this, it took almost 60 days from the time I sent in my subscription form to delivery of my first issue. I do hope your systems have improved.

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2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Koplen Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Kosta Browne was founded by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. In the summer of 1997, while working at John Ash & Co. restaurant in Santa Rosa, California, Dan and Michael decided to pool their tips and venture into winemaking. Eighteen years later, Kosta Browne is one of the most sought after Pinot Noirs in all of California. At present time they produce three appellation Pinot Noirs, eight single vineyard Pinot Noirs and a Chardonnay.

The Koplen Vineyard lies in the Middle Reach of the Russian River appellation, just off Olivet Road. Slightly sloped, this young vineyard is showing bold fruit with complex flavors. Dennis Koplen farms the vineyard and Kosta Browne is the only producer to take fruit from this vineyard.

Dark crimson in color. 14.4% ABV. Ripe red fruits, clove and vanilla on the nose. Elegant and creamy with medium acidity. Black cherry, cola, cherry pie and baking spice on the palate. There is a slight candied element to the cherry fruit that is somewhat distracting. For me, Kosta Browne is usually about pure, rich, lush fruit. Just nitpicking but the bar is set pretty high here. Delicious wine that is ready to drink.

My rating: 91 points.

The 2013 version will be released this Fall. As I mentioned in the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists, Kosta Browne is one of hardest lists to crack. Maybe so, but you’ve got nothing to lose by putting your name on the waiting list. Good luck!

The Kosta Browne tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol is worth a visit if you can get yourself an appointment.

I recently blogged about Kosta Browne in The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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The Week in Zinfandel (8/10/15)

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!

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