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2000 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Dunn Vineyards is located east of St. Helena in the town of Angwin on Howell Mountain. The Winery was established in 1979, with the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In 1981, the first release consisted of 660 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain vineyards. In 1982, Dunn released a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dunn is one of the iconic producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. Randy Dunn, to his credit, has held steadfast in how he produces and prices his wines. The wines are exceptionally long-lived and are truly a throwback to a different era in Napa Valley. Favorable press in the last several years from Antonio Galloni of Vinuous has put a well-deserved spotlight back on the winery.

Crimson in color. 13.6% ABV. Powerful nose of red fruits, leather and fresh mint. Big and structured on the palate with fading fruits and substantial tannins. Dried cherries, currants, plums and pencil lead on the palate. The finish is long with coarse tannins. This wine is everything you expect from Randy Dunn in size and structure but just does not match up to the better vintages of the late 90’s and early 00’s. Drink over the next several years.

My rating: 88 points.

Current vintages of Dunn Howell Mountain should cost around $85. The wine is readily available at retail and a great value at the price point.

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2007 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Thomas Rivers Brown and his wife Genevieve Marie Walsh have quickly made Rivers-Marie one of California’s most sought after Pinot Noir labels. The winery was founded in 2002 and the first release was the Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir. In addition to the line up of Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs, Rivers-Marie also makes a few single vineyard Cabernets and Chardonnay. Thomas is in high demand and serves as a consultant for a number of wineries including Schrader and Outpost.

Summa Vineyard was first planted in 1979 by Steve Young on a pristine ridge top site on Taylor Lane west of the town of Occidental six miles inland from the Pacific coastline on the true Sonoma Coast.

Light red in color. Almost translucent. 14.1% ABV. Really pretty nose of cranberry, citrus and pine needle. Light body with vibrant acidity. Light, ethereal and so very delicate. Cranberry, cherry, blood orange and pomegranate on the palate. The finish is long, elegant and silky. I’ve always known that the Pinots from Rivers-Marie were special. It is safe to say the wines also stand the test of time as well. One of the best Pinots I’ve had from TRB. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Rivers-Marie wines are only available via their mailing list. The 2016 version of this wine will be released early next year. Sign up for the mailing list if you have not done so already

I’ve blogged about Rivers-Marie previously in The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Les Enfants Terribles McFadden Farm

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 August Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Les Enfants Terribles McFadden Farm.

Dashe Cellars is a family-owned artisan winery located in the heart of the Urban Wine Country in Oakland, California. The winery was founded by the husband and wife winemaking team of Michael and Anne Dashe. Dashe Cellars crafted its first vintage of Dry Creek Zinfandel in 1996. Since that time, the Dashe’s have focused on producing exceptional, single-vineyard wines using a traditional, non-industrial approach to winemaking. Dashe makes a wide array of red and whites but Zinfandel is the specialty of the house.

McFadden Farm is situated in the Potter Valley of Mendocino County. Certainly an unusual spot for a Zinfandel Vineyard and perhaps why I was so curious to try this Zinfandel.

Maroon in color. 13.2% ABV. Somewhat closed on the nose with faint aromas of red fruits, flowers and white pepper. Medium body with light to medium acidity. Claret style Zinfandel clearly from a cool climate vineyard. More savory on the palate with flavors of black cherry, salmonberry and iron. Medium length on the finish. Distinct and well made but far afield from what I love about Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 88 points.

$25-$30 at retail and the winery.

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The Week in Zinfandel (8/7/17)

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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2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Pagani Ranch – Bottle Notes

Bedrock Wine Co. was founded by Morgan Twain-Peterson in 2007 and focuses on small production wines from many of California’ s most treasured and historic vineyards. The lineup of wines at Bedrock is expanding rapidly, but I think the best of the best are the ancient vineyard Zinfandels, Morgan is clearly passionate about.

Pagani Ranch is just off Highway 12 in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma County. Angela and Felice Pagani came to Sonoma County from Italy, purchased the property and planted the vineyard in the early 1900’s. In addition to Bedrock the fruit goes to Ridge, Seghesio, Biale and Carlisle.

Dark crimson in color. 14.6% ABV. Spellbinding nose of red and black fruits, cloves and fresh flowers. Medium to full bodied with juicy acidity. Black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and cocoa on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Blockbuster Zinfandel from one of the top vineyards in Sonoma. Nicely done. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The mailing list at Bedrock is highly recommended. Exceptional wines, fair prices and great customer service. Put your name on the waiting list.

I blogged about Bedrock in The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

I blogged about Pagani Ranch in Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.

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2009 Betz Family Syrah La Côte Rousse – 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 over five years ago. Louis Skinner, a longtime assistant of Bob’s, is now the full time Winemaker.

The 2009 La Côte Rousse is 100% Syrah from Ciel du Cheval and Kiona Vineyards.

Dark purple in color. 14.8% ABV. Monolithic nose of blue and black fruits, charcoal, ash and molten licorice. Full bodied with big acidity. Immense, concentrated and voluptuous. Blueberry, raspberry liqueur, white pepper and barbecued meats on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. The color and the structure on this wine belies the 8 years of bottle age. Delicious Syrah but patience will be rewarded. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 94 points.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wines from Betz are readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. The 2015 La Cote Rousse was recently released to the mailing list and should be available at retail soon enough. I’m a buyer.

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1996 Chateau Lagrange – Bottle Notes

Chateau Lagrange is a third-growth St-Julien owned by the Suntory group since 1983. The 270 acre estate is situated next to Gruaud Larose. The winery went through major improvements and huge investments in the decades that followed the purchase by Suntory. The vineyard is planted to 67% Cabernet Sauvignon , 27% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot . Over the years, the vineyard has continued to increase their percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, the average age of the vines is more than 35 years of age.

The wine was decanted for 1 hour.

Crimson in color. 13% ABV. Stunning nose of red fruits, cigar box, leather and pencil shavings. Lush, rich and elegant. Medium body with moderate acidity and resolved tannins.  Cherries, plums, currants and iron on the palate. The finish is long and silky. Just a gorgeous bottle of Bordeaux that is aging beautifully. Hard to imagine this wine gets better from here but well stored bottles will drink well for another 2-4 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Lagrange is a great value year in and year out. The 2014 is an amazing buy for $40 or so.

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The Week in Zinfandel (7/31/17)

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 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Switchback Ridge wines are sourced from the Peterson Family Vineyard. The property, located just off the Silverado Trail between St. Helena and Calistoga has been in the Peterson Family since 1914 and was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah in 1990. Kelly Peterson along with her father John founded Switchback Ridge in 1999. She is responsible for all aspects of the business, including all sales, marketing and hospitality functions. Bob Foley has been the winemaker since the inaugural vintage.

Purple in color. 15.7% ABV. Soaring nose of red fruits, creme de cassis and a newly opened box of Whitman Sampler. Richly textured, plush and chewy. The balance is notable give the high ABV. Currants, raspberries, cassis liqueur and dark chocolate on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with fine grained tannins. This wine has a spot in my cellar but you have to pick the right spot when opening. I’d advise against opening this with your friends who prefer old world style wines. Not for the faint of heart. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Switchback Ridge wines are only available via their allocation list. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon will be released to mailing list members this fall at around $85 per bottle.

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2011 Carlisle Zinfandel Saitone Ranch – 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. Many of these vineyards are heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants and date back to the late 1800s . They have also recently added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

Saitone Ranch is situated in the Russian River Valley on the east side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa flood plain and was planted in 1895.

Maroon in color. 15% ABV. Stunning nose of red and blue fruits, licorice and a hint of peach. Medium body with mouth watering acidity. Exceptional balance and tremendous purity of fruit. Raspberry liqueur, blueberries and pepper on the palate. The finish is long, plush and spicy. This was the first vintage of Saitone Ranch from Mike Officer. What a treat! Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 94 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.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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