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The Week in Zinfandel (2/23/15)

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 Carlisle Zinfandel Montafi Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards.

Montafi Vineyard was planted in 1926. Located farther up the eastern bench of the Laguna de Santa Rosa flood plain, bordering the Santa Rosa city limits, this vineyard is mostly Zinfandel but does contain a good amount of Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir.

Violet in color. 14.9% ABV. Crazy good nose of jammy red fruits, tar and white pepper. Light on its feet with just enough acidity. Raspberry compote, strawberries, pepper and lavendar on the palate. Gritty tannins on a super finish. Ready to drink. Montafi is my favorite of the Carlisle single vineyard Zinfandel lineup.

My rating: 93 points.

Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

In related news, Seghesio Family Winery recently purchased Montafi Vineyard. It is my understanding Carlisle will still continue to receive fruit for the foreseeable future.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The February installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the the 2007 vintage. 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. The winning bottle will be opened on Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate rated the ’07 vintage in Châteauneuf-du-Pape 98 points. “This is the greatest vintage I’ve ever tasted in the southern Rhone” exclaimed Parker. The vintage was warmer than normal in Châteauneuf-du-Pape but cool nightime temperatures allowed the wines to maintain a unique freshness.

Eight years later the wines of the vintage are really coming into their own. Many though, criticize the hype bestowed on the vintage by Parker and think it has more to do with his taste for hedonistic wines. That being said I think it time to check in on a few of the bottles myself.

The Contenders

  • 2007 Cuvée du Vatican “Reserve Sixtine” – The blockbuster 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Sixtine (55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre from 50- to 105-year-old vines) boasts an inky/purple color as well as a sensational perfume of camphor, graphite, black currants, black cherries, licorice, and smoke. Built like a young Bordeaux with its tannic structure, this full-bodied, intensely flavored wine reveals a meaty character in the mouth. As with most vintages since 1998, the 2007 requires cellaring. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2007 Le Vieux Donjon – Still backward and unevolved, the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape (75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 5% other authorized varietals) was aged completely in foudre. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by a reticent, but burgeoning bouquet of black cherries, plums, black currants, garrigue, lavender, and licorice. One can sense the weight, power, and richness in the mouth, but the tannins are there, and the wine also has very good acids. Consequently, patience will be required, and this is one 2007 where 2-3 years of bottle age is warranted. The wine is capable of lasting 15-20+ years. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2007 Domaine Ferrand – An amazing effort, the 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape eclipses what I wrote about it last year. Every time I went back to it, the wine revealed more nuances as well as greater depth. Full-bodied and powerful, it exhibits a compelling bouquet of creme de cassis, ground pepper, incense, seaweed, garrigue, and licorice. The knock-out aromatics are followed by a wine with colossal richness, a multilayered texture, no sense of heaviness, an incredibly deep, penetrating palate feel, and a finish that goes on for 50+ seconds. Philippe Bravay is one of the most modest and serious Châteauneuf-du-Pape vignerons, and it is a thrill to see him hit a home run in this vintage…The dense purple-colored 2007 will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age, and last for 20-25 years. Bravo! 98 points from the Wine Advocate.

Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another.

Which 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape should I open?

  • 2007 Domaine Ferrand (43%, 13 Votes)
  • 2007 Le Vieux Donjon (33%, 10 Votes)
  • 2007 Cuvée du Vatican "Reserve Sixtine" (24%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 30

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Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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The Week in Zinfandel (2/16/15)

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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2003 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

Leonetti is near and dear to me as a wine consumer, and I’ve been on their mailing list for 20 years. Vintages like the ’92 Merlot and ’98 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are included among my most memorable wines.

The ’03 Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Mill Creek Upland, Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Leonetti Estate Vineyards. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 3% Carmenere, and 3% Cabernet Franc.

Dark crimson in color and just starting to fade slightly at the edge of the glass. 14.4% ABV. Great nose of red fruits, spice box, cocoa and anise. Rich, lush and full bodied. Great concentration. Currants, cassis cherries and graham crackers on the palate. Delicious wine with a lengthy finish. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you should be able to find bottles right around $85.

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2005 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.

Armada Vineyard was planted in 2001. At 1815 vines per acre, this 16-acre vineyard, was the highest density planting in the Walla Walla Valley until 2008. Besides the Armada Vineyard Syrah, notable wines include the God Only Knows Grenache and Edith Grenache Rosé.

Deep purple in color. 14.2% ABV. Complex nose of dark fruits, campfire, olive brine and game. Medium body with medium acidity. Great grip on the palate. Fresh and vibrant. In the mouth there is an explosion of black cherries, white pepper, olive tapenade and smoked meats. Modest tannins on an exceptionally long finish. Drink over the next several years. Another winner from Christophe Baron.

My rating: 96 points.

The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!

I’ve wrote about Cayuse previously in The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5.

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2002 Rochioli Pinot Noir Three Corner 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.

Three Corner Vineyard is a small triangle shaped parcel at the southern end of Rochioli Vineyard. The winery recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

Crimson in color. 14.2% ABV. Super nose of red fruits, sarsaparilla and cloves. Medium body with excellent acidity. Great length and depth on the palate. Flavors of cranberry, black cherry and spice. The finish is long and belies the fact that this wine is 13 years old. A great showing. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir at its very finest. Drink over the next year or two.

My rating: 95 points.

The current version is $85 off the mailing list.

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 the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings, Reflections on Two Days in the Russian River Valley and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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The Week in Zinfandel (2/9/15)

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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2004 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans – Bottle Notes

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville is a hillside estate in Volnay, in Burgundy’s Cote de Beaune. The 35-acre domain was one of the first in Burgundy to bottle and market its own wines. Today the estate is run by Guillaume d’Angerville and his brother-in-law Renaud de Villette. The domaine’s most prestigious parcels are the Volnay premier cru Clos des Ducs (which is a monopole), and the premier crus Champans, Les Fremiets, Taille Pieds and Les Caillerets.

Light Crimson in color. 13.5% ABV. Black fruits, earth and fresh mint on the nose. Medium body with strong acidity. Somewhat steely with a hint of the greenness that has come to define the vintage. Black cherry, anise and minerals on the palate. The finish is long, but again, a touch green. Drink in the near term.

My rating: 89 points.

More recent vintages will run $75-$100 and should show considerably better.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2012 Thurston Wolfe Zinfandel Howling Wolfe

Zinfandel of the Month is a regular feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The February Zinfandel of the Month is the 2012 Thurston Wolfe Zinfandel Howling Wolfe.

Wade Wolfe and Rebecca Yeaman founded Thurston Wolfe Winery in 1987 to realize their dream of producing unique, finely-crafted wines in small case lots. Together, they have coaxed outstanding wines from a number of grape varietals not commonly used at other Washington State wineries.

Zephyr Ridge Vineyard is situated in the Horse Heaven Hills.

Ruby red in color. 15% ABV. Black fruits, dark chocolate and pepper on the nose. Medium body with medium acidity. Blackberries, black cherry, white pepper and vanilla on the palate. Claret style Zinfandel with a touch of sweetness on the finish. Well made and fairly priced Washington Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 88 points.

Howling Wolfe is readily available at retail in the Seattle area and at the winery. This bottle will set you back about $20.

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