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2007 J. Rochioli Chardonnay River Block 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.

Rochioli recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

River Block is a 13 acre parcel of Rochioli Vineyard planted in 1989.

Shimmering gold in color. 14.2% ABV. Sensational nose of honeysuckle, lemon oil and pears. Full bodied with bright, racy acidity. Just a hint of toasty oak. Lemon curd, peach, apple and minerals on the palate. The wine finishes strong. At or slightly past it’s prime but delicious nonetheless. Drink over the next year.

My rating:  91 points.

The current version is $65 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 The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power RankingsReflections on Two Days in the Russian River Valley and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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Pick My Next Bottle – Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

The June Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. 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 this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

The Sonoma Coast American Viticulture Area includes about 2,000 vineyard acres, and fewer than 10 wineries (not counting wineries that belong to overlapping appellations such as the Russian River Valley). Many of California’s most celebrated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are grown here. The producers I selected make some of the best wines in the AVA, if not the state.

The Contenders:

2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard – Ruby-red. Energetic aromas of black raspberry, blood orange, candied rose and minerals. Vivid, impressively focused red and dark berry flavors are complicated by an exotic floral pastille quality. The silky tannins add support and gentle grip to the long, subtly sweet finish. 93 points from Stephen Tanzer.

2004 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Peay Vineyard –  Good deep ruby-red. Knockout, high-toned nose of black raspberry and minerals. Fully ripe but quite dry, pure and penetrating, with a youthfully aggressive character. The dense flavors of wild brambly berries and bitter chocolate reminded me of a wine on the Nuits-Saint-Georges/Vosne-Romanee border. Finishes with serious tannic spine. Very impressive but in need of some cellaring. May ultimately merit an even higher score. 92 points from Stephen Tanzer.

2006 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa Vineyard – Outstanding. A wonderfully complex nose is highly expressive, offering notes of black cherry and spiced raspberry that lead to equally complex middle weight flavors that possess good detail and a lovely layering effect on the solidly persistent finish. This is not especially dense in the manner of the 2004 and 2005 versions though the extract confers the sense of concentration on the delicious backend. A study in balance and grace. 92 points from Stephen Tanzer.

Which Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Should I Open?

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

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New Releases from Troon Vineyard

Troon Vineyard, established in 1972, is located in the heart of the Applegate Valley AVA, the southernmost appellation in Oregon. Troon was one of the first grape growers in Southern Oregon, and is home to the region’s earliest planting of Zinfandel in 1972. They now grow more than 20 additional varietals on over 40 planted acres.

I was fortunate to try some of the wineries newest releases.

2014 Troon Vineyard Druid’s Fluid Red Table Wine – Magenta in color. 12.5% ABV. Interesting blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Tempranillo and a few other varieties. Red fruits, earth and leather on the nose. Spicy and plush on the palate with firm acidity. Cherries, plums and white pepper on the palate. Warm tannins on a medium length finish. Easy to drink. $18 at the winery and retail. My rating: 88 points.

2014 Troon Vineyard Druid’s Fluid White Table Wine – Straw colored. 11.5% ABV. Viognier, Marsanne, Muscat and Vermentino. Flowers, stone fruits and slate on the nose. Crisp and refreshing with light acidity. Lime, pears and lemon pound cake on the palate. Delicious white blend to enjoy this Summer. $18 at the winery and retail. My rating: 88 points.

2014 Troon Vineyard Vermentino – Gold in color. 12.5% ABV. 80% Vermentino and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Super nose of tropical fruits, lemon oil and pears. Lush and fresh with spicy acidity. Key lime, lemon meringue and honeysuckle on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Drink over the next 1-2 years. $24 at the winery and retail. My rating: 90 points.

Reviews based on samples provided by the winery.

Stephen Hall, most recently with Robert Biale Vineyards, joined Troon as the Winemaker earlier this year. Craig Camp, most recently of Cornerstone Cellars, stepped in as General Manager. With compelling wines that are fairly priced, Troon Vineyard is clearly a winery to keep an eye on.

Tasting rooms for Troon are located in Grants Pass and Carlton, Oregon. I hope to stop by on my next trip to the area.

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The Week in Zinfandel (6/13/16)

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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2008 Turley Zinfandel Zampatti Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley and specializes in small lots of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from some of California’s most historic and treasured vineyards. Turley now makes 28 separate wines from 35 different vineyards, some with vines that date back to the late 1800’s. Tegan Passalacqua is the Director of Winemaking at Turley and has been instrumental in revitalizing the brand.

Zampatti Vineyard is located in downtown Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. Planted in 1915 on 2.5 acres, the vineyard is farmed organically by Alida Morzenti, granddaughter of the Zampattis.

Blood red in color. 15% ABV. Gorgeous nose of brambly red fruits, pepper and wild flowers. Medium body with juicy acidity. Exceptional balance. A wine of elegance and finesse. Raspberries, cherries and earth on the palate. The finish is long and succulent. Tremendous Zinfandel. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 94 points.

With all due respect to Carlisle and Bedrock, Turley is arguably the best Zinfandel producer in California. Exceptional vineyards sources throughout the state of California and no detail spared in the winemaking process. The wines are simply better than ever.

Turley wines are available via the mailing list and periodically at retail. Turley has tasting rooms in both Amador and Paso Robles. If you are not on the mailing list, this is an easy way to secure bottles. Both are not to be missed if you are in the area.

Turley was a big winner in The 2015 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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The Cru Bourgeois Wines of Bordeaux

The Cru Bourgeois classification lists some of the Chateau from the Médoc that were not included in the 1855 Classification of Classified Growths. The first Cru Bourgeois list was drawn up by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce in 1932, selecting 444 estates for the classification. A substantial revision of the classification in 2003 reduced the number of Chateau listed to 247. This list is now revisited every year and currently stands at 251.

The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc did an online tasting earlier this week. I was fortunate to participate. All the wines below were provided as samples.

2012 Chateau Fonbadet Pauillac – Crimson in color. 13% ABV. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon. Powerful nose of scorched earth, red fruits and graphite. Medium body and rustic on the palate. Flavors of currants, cassis and plums. Coarse tannins on a medium length finish. Drink over the next 4-6 years. $38 at retail. My rating: 87 points.

2012 Chateau Bellevue De Tayac Margaux – Dark red in color. 13% ABV. 70% Merlot. Super nose of red fruits, cocoa and graphite. Plush and fruit forward on the palate with medium acidity. Flavors of cherries, plums, earth and bacon fat. The finish is long with soft, caressing tannins. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $35 at retail. My rating: 89 points.

2012 Chateau La Haye Saint Estephe – Purple in color. 13.5% ABV. 50% Merlot. Savory nose of red fruits, leather and pipe tobacco. Rich and plush with nice acidity. Tart cherries, currants and minerals on the palate. Supple tannins on a medium length finish. Easy to drink. Best over the next 2-4 years. $20 at retail. My rating: 88 points.

2012 Chateau La Cardonne Medoc – Ruby red in color. 13% ABV. 50% Merlot. Succulent nose of red fruits, leather and tobacco. Medium body with a hint of richess. Cherries, currants and minerals on the palate. Coarse tannins on a lengthy finish. Drink over the next 3-5 years. Not yet released. My rating: 88 points.

2012 Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin Listrac-Medoc – Purple in color. 13.5% ABV. 60% Merlot. Super nose of red fruits, iron and plums. Medium to full body with nice mouth feel. Licorice, cherries and spice on the palate. Graceful tannins on a medium length finish. Drink over the next 3-5 years. $30 at retail. My rating: 89 points.

Bordeaux is more often than not associated with the Classified Growths and in years past has drawn criticism for exorbitant prices. What flies under the radar is that some of the very best wine values in the world also come from Bordeaux. The wines above are available at retail right now. The super 14’s will be coming to market in the next year or two. Exciting times for an exciting region.

What are your go to Cru Bourgeois?

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The Week in Zinfandel (6/6/16)

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 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Flax Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Williams Selyem Winery began when Ed Selyem and Burt Williams started making wine as a hobby in 1979 in Forestville, California. Their first commercial release was in 1981, and in less than two decades they created a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Setting a new standard for Pinot Noir winemaking, they put Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley at the forefront of the best Pinot Noir regions in the world.

Today, John and Kathe Dyson, who purchased the winery from Burt and Ed in 1998, work with winemaker Jeff Mangahas to carry on the passion for Pinot Noir without compromise. Other varieties bottled at Williams Selyem include Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc.

The Flax Vineyard is located just south of Williams Selyem, in the Russian River Valley. Three blocks totaling 9 acres make up this unique vineyard which was planted in 1996. Flax was a source for Williams Selyem through the 2010 vintage.

Ruby red in color. 14.4% ABV. Sublime nose of warm cherry pie, pine needles and forest floor. Elegant, complex and exceptionally well balanced. Flavors of black cherries, cloves, nutmeg and mushrooms. This was always a favorite in the WS lineup and it is unfortunate that the wine is no longer made. In a great spot now. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Williams Selyem can periodically be found at retail, but the mailing list is highly recommended.

I wrote about Williams Selyem recently in Reflections on Two Days in Russian River Valley and The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2014 Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County

Zinfandel of the Month is a new 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 June Zinfandel of the Month is the 2014 Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County.

Seghesio Family Vineyards  was established in 1895, when Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. The focus at Seghesio has always been Zinfandel and Italian varietals.

Bright red in color. 14.8% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, plums and black pepper. Medium body with juicy acidity. Claret style Zinfandel. Blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and baking spices on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Delicious and easy to drink. Not all that complex but still compelling at the $20 price point. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 88 points.

This wine is readily available at retail. A solid value year in and year out. You also might want to consider some single vineyard Zinfandels from Seghesio including the Monte Rosso and Rockpile.

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2006 Cayuse Impulsivo – 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.

Impulsivo is 100% Tempranillo sourced from En Chamberlin Vineyard.

Crimson in color. 15.2% ABV. Stunning nose of red fruits, campfire, raw meats and blood. Mouth coating, palate staining fruit with plenty of acidity. Flavors of cherry liqueur, veggies, iron, saline and minerals. The silky texture and suave tannins, on an exceptionally long finish, are noteworthy. Without question the best Impulsivo I have ever had. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 97 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 blogged about Cayuse previously in The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5.

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