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2011 Sleight of Hand Cellars The Archimage – Bottle Notes

Sleight of Hand was founded in 2007 by Jerry and Sandy Solomon, and Trey Busch. The formula at Sleight of Hand is high quality wines from Washington’s most exceptional vineyards. Sleight of Hand produces a full range of red and whites and without question has one of the top few tasting rooms in both Walla Walla and SoDo.

Crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Merlot and Cabernet Franc in just about equal parts. Red fruits, leather, cigar box and spice on the nose. Big, structured and silky. Cherries, cassis and smoked meats on the palate. The finish is long with a healthy dose of drying, green tannins. This bottle was a magnum, but it feels like more time in the cellar would be beneficial. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 91 points.

The wine is fairly priced at $52 via the winery and retail.

I’m not a big wine club guy but if I had to pick one from Washington, Sleight of Hand would be at the top of my list.

I wrote about Sleight of Hand previously in New to Washington Wine? Check out Sleight of Hand, Gramercy & Force Majeure.

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2014 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay – Bottle Notes

Grgich Hills Estate, in Rutherford, in the Napa Valley, was founded in 1977 by Mike Grgich. Grgich earned fame in 1976 when the Chardonnay he produced as winemaker at Chateau Montelena won first prize among white wines at the now famous Paris Wine Tasting. The estate has 366 acres of vineyards in American Canyon, Carneros, Yountville, Rutherford and Calistoga and is still best known for its Chardonnays, which consistently earn accolades from wine critics. Grgich also makes Fume Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and dessert wines.

Golden in color. 14.1% ABV. Gorgeous nose of tropical fruits, lemon oil and peaches. Rich and creamy with just the right amount of acidity. Lush and decadent. Pears, creme brulee, minerals and a kiss of toasty oak on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. The best Chardonnay I have had from Grgich in recent memory. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 93 points.

This wine is widely availed for right around $45 per bottle.

Grgich Hills is one of Napa’s iconic wineries and one of the few wineries in Napa that has a white program that rivals their red program. Hard to go wrong here. Consider stopping by when you next visit Napa Valley.

This review was based on sample provided by the winery.

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2009 Turley Zinfandel Cedarman – 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 right around 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.

Cedarman is a proprietary blend of fruit from both Rattlesnake Ridge and Dragon Vineyards, located at the top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.

Purple in color. 16.2% ABV. Super nose of red and black fruits, licorice and pepper. Full bodied with juicy acidity and just a touch of heat on the palate. Flavors of raspberry liqueur, boysenberry, blueberry and white pepper. The finish is exceptionally long. Enjoyable Zinfandel but you have to be a fan of the Turley wines from this era. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 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 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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The Week in Zinfandel (10/9/17)

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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1998 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Bottle Notes

Clos des Papes is owned by the Avril family, now headed by Paul Avril and his son Vincent. The family has been making wine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape for 300 years. The name Clos des Papes comes from the fact that the original vineyard was part of a papal estate located inside a chateau. The Avril family now owns parcels throughout the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation, giving the estate a total of nearly 90 acres of vineyards planted mostly to Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah.

Light red in color. Almost translucent. 14% ABV. Spellbinding nose of red fruits, iron, kirsch and leather. Light to medium body with perfect acidity. Clean, fresh and elegant. Cherries, black raspberries, garrigue and crushed black pepper on the palate. The finish is incredibly long and silky. Tremendous showing for a CdP approaching 20 years of age. A product of a classic producer and a classic vintage. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 96 points.

Current vintages of Clos des Papes are readily available. Look for the the 2014 and 2015 but expect to pay upwards of $100 per bottle.

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2009 Carlisle Syrah Cardiac Hill – 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.

Cardiac Hill Vineyard, in the Bennett Valley, runs on a very steep hillside at an elevation ranging from 500 to 900 feet hence the peculiar but appropriate name.

Violet in color. 14.2% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, olive brine, smoked meats and violets. Full bodied with gobs of acidity. Big, bold and extremely complex. Blackberry liqueur, coffee, blood and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long with subtle tannins. This Syrah would be a tremendous ringer in a Northern Rhone tasting. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

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.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Belle Du Jour Vineyard – 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.

This is one off Zinfandel for Bedrock from Montafi Ranch Vineyard. Montafi Ranch 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. At some point I hope to understand the back story of why this bottling was labled Belle Du Jour instead of Montafi Ranch.

Opaque purple in color. 14% ABV. Stunning nose of brambly red and black fruits, floral notes and pepper. Full bodied with mouth watering acidity. Rich, lush, complex and perfectly balanced. Blackberry, raspberry liqueur, pepper and earthy soil on the palate. The finish on the wine is exceptionally long. One of the best Zins I have had from Bedrock. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 94 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 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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

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The Week in Zinfandel (10/2/17)

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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2011 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – Bottle Notes

Kosta Browne began as a dream shared 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. Twenty 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.

Sourced from a dozen different Russian River Valley vineyards including Giusti, Kanzler, Keefer and Koplen.

Ruby red in color. 14.5% ABV. Pretty nose of red fruits, cola, cloves and nutmeg. Medium body with racy acidity. Silky on the palate with exceptional mouthfeel. Well balanced, plush and hedonistic. Flavors of cherries, cranberries, plums and baking spices. Tremendous length on the finish. Everything I adore about Kosta Browne. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The 2016 version will be released next Spring and will likely cost around $70. I’ll be a buyer. Past vintages of this wine frequently show up on WineBid for at or near the original release cost.

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!

Kosta Browne fared well in The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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New Releases from Lauren Ashton Cellars

Lauren Ashton Cellars was founded in 2009 by Kit Singh. A Dentist by profession, Kit’s passion for wine was fueled by trips to Napa, Sonoma and Europe’s best known wine regions. Kit’s enology background includes classes at UC Davis and Seattle Community College along with an internship at Delille Cellars.

The inspiration for the name of the winery was Kit’s two children, Ashley Lauren and Ashton Troy. The packaging for the wines is impressive. The black and white pictures on the labels are from buildings in Estonia where Singh’s partner, Riinu Rammal, is from.

I was fortunate enough to try a few of the upcoming releases.

2013 Malbec – Purple in color. 14.5% ABV. Fantastic nose of black fruits, plums, spice and flowers. Medium body with medium acidity. Plush and creamy. Blackberries, cherries, cassis and vanilla on the palate. Medium length on the finish. A young wine that will benefit from 2-4 years in the cellar. $45 at the winery and retail. To be released on October 15th. My rating: 91 points.

2013 Cuvee Mirabelle – Violet in color. 14.5% ABV. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Super nose of black fruits, licorice and white pepper. Full bodied with acidity in spades. Rich and savory. Black cherries, black raspberries, charcoal and pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long and spicy. Really delicious and perhaps the best wine I have had from Lauren Ashton. Drink over the next 5-7 years. $50 at the winery and retail. To be released early next year. Don’t miss out on this one. My rating: 93 points.

The Woodinville tasting room is open Thursday thru Sunday from 1pm to 5pm and is a worthwhile stop on your next winery excursion.

These reviews were based on a samples provided by the winery.

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