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2003 Chateau Pontet-Canet – Bottle Notes

The 2003 Pontet-Canet was the winning bottle in the September Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. This bottle was decanted for one hour and served with steaks.

Chateau Pontet-Canet is situated next to Mouton Rothschild in the Pauillac region of Bordeaux. Pontet Canet was granted Fifth Growth status in the 1855 classification. Herman Cruse purchased the estate in 1865. The Cruse family owned Pontet-Canet for 110 years, until another negociant , Guy Tesseron, acquired it in 1975. Since Alfred Tesseron took over in 1994, this property has continued to improve year after year. The wines are consistently on par with most, if not all, of the Second Growth wines.

Violet in color. 13% ABV. Absolutely fantastic nose of red fruits, leather and cigar box. Medium body with perfect acidity. Lush and silky on the palate. The wine is incredibly powerful and concentrated. Flavors of currants, cassis, lead and black licorice. The finish is exceptionally long with silky tannins.  This wine has none of the flabby, roasted characteristics many associate with the ’03 vintage. On top of that this is unmistakably Bordeaux and any comparisons to Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon miss the mark. It should drink well for another decade.

My rating: 94 points.

The very best wines from 2003 seem to be aging beautifully. Will they age as long as their counterparts from classic vintages like ’00 and ’05? Perhaps not, but I’ll continue to enjoy them for what they are over the next 10 years or so.

Pontet-Canet from the best vintages has become quite pricing with the ’09 and ’10 retailing for over $200. My advice would be to search out Pontet-Canet from less heralded vintages like ’04, ’06 and ’08. Anything in the $100 range can be considered a really good deal.

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The Week in Zinfandel (9/19/16)

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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2012 Turley Zinfandel Old Vines – 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.

Old Vines is composed of a variety of old sites from California that are either too small to be made into a vineyard designate wine or are new to the Turley stable. Vines are anywhere from 41 to 129 years old and sourced throughout the state.

Crimson in color. 15.5% ABV. Subtle nose of red and black fruits, earth and pepper. Medium body with ample acidity. Everything is in balance. Raspberry, blackberry and cocoa powder on the palate. The finish is long and lush. Drink over the near term while you continue to cellar the single vineyard designates.

My rating: 90 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 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2005 Dehlinger Pinot Noir Goldridge Vineyard – 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.

Light red in color. 14.5% ABV. Fabulous nose of red fruits, cloves and baking spices. Medium body with bright, racy acidity. Cherries, cranberries, pomegranate and minerals on the palate. The finish is long and seamless. Gorgeous Pinot Noir and better than the last bottle I had several years ago. In a perfect place to drink now.

My rating: 94 points.

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.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2003 Bordeaux

The September Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 2003 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. The winning bottle will be opened this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

We all know the background on the historically hot 2003 vintage. The wines are incredibly polarizing. From my experience, the top wines of the vintage are fruit forward and aging well. That being said, I think it is wise with a vintage like this, to check in on the wines periodically.

The Contenders:

2003 Pichon Baron – This is a brilliantly run property year in and year out, and especially since the mid- to late 1980s has produced one of the top four or five wines made in Pauillac in virtually every vintage. With 13.4% alcohol, the 2003 is one of the most powerful efforts this chateau has ever made. Its dense purple color is accompanied by sweet, jammy creme de cassis notes intermixed with roasted herbs, smoked meats, and chocolate. Although ripe, dense, full-bodied, and moderately tannic, it is silky (because of its low acidity and high glycerin) as well as accessible. It should firm up in the bottle, and be at its peak between 2008-2025. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

2003 Rauzan-Segla – Forty-seven percent of the crop made it into the savory, complex, fully mature 2003 Rauzan Segla. Notes of coffee bean, white chocolate, forest floor, red and black currants and tobacco leaf are present in this dark plum/garnet-colored 2003. The final blend was 53.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and the rest tiny dollops of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. There is a slight herbal tinge to the wine, but it is fresh, complex aromatically, and exhibits the vintage’s opulence. Enjoy it over the next 5-8 years. 91 points from the Wine Advocate.

2003 Pontet Canet – One cannot say enough about the labors of proprietor Alfred Tesseron, who has personally overseen the dramatic increase in quality of the wines at Pontet-Canet which started in a significant manner with 1994. This is a classic Pauillac-styled wine (meaning oodles of cassis flavors), as one might expect from a vineyard on the plateau of Pauillac, across the street from Mouton-Rothschild. One of the great successes of the vintage and certainly one of the most profound Pontet-Canets made over the last decade is the 2003. Deep purple to the rim with a glorious nose of scorched earth, black currant jam, smoke, licorice, and roasted meats, it is full-bodied, incredibly powerful, dense, with low acidity but high tannin, broad-shouldered, and savory. This is a stunning, pure, classic Pontet-Canet that should be at its best between 2010 and 2035. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2003 Bordeaux Should I Open?

  • 2003 Pontet Canet (50%, 18 Votes)
  • 2003 Pichon Baron (36%, 13 Votes)
  • 2003 Rauzan-Segla (14%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 36

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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 October installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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The Week in Zinfandel (9/12/16)

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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2005 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Terraces Vineyard Reserve – Bottle Notes

Sojourn Cellars was founded in 2001 by Craig Haserot and Erich Bradley. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and recently added a Chardonnay to the lineup. Their fruit is sourced from some of California’s finest vineyards.

Mountain Terraces Vineyard soars to 2000 feet on the western slopes of the Mayacamas in Sonoma’s tiny Moon Mountain AVA.

This bottle was decanted for about 30 minutes.

Dark red in color. 14.7% ABV. Powerful nose of red fruits, cedar and tobacco. Big, bold and powerful. Exceptionally well balanced with just the right amount of acidity. Black cherries, currants and cassis on the palate. Gritty, fine grained tannins on an exceptionally long finish. The wine is in a good spot right now but should drink well over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Current wines are available via the Sojourn mailing list and website.

Definitely consider a visit to the Sojourn tasting parlor on your next visit to Sonoma. They do a one-of-a-kind sit down tasting where you will have the opportunity to sample many of their highly acclaimed wines. My wife and I have had the good fortune to spend some quality time with Craig and Ziggy (his dog with a talent for sniffing out TCA).

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2010 Kanzler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – Bottle Notes

Kanzler Vineyards, located in California near Sebasopol, was founded in 1996 by Stephen and Lynda Kanzler. Planted in 1996 in a former apple orchard, the vineyard quickly developed a reputation for producing world class Pinot Noir grapes featured in award winning wines from some of the finest wineries in Northern California, including Kosta Browne, A.P. VIN and Landmark. In 2004, the Kanzlers launched their own label featuring grapes grown exclusively from their vineyard. Alex Kanzler, the son of Stephen and Lynda, is the current winemaker.

Magenta in color. 14.7% ABV. Stunning nose of red fruits, cloves and fresh mushrooms. Light to medium body with medium acidity. Pretty and elegant. Bing cherries, cranberries, pomegranate and sarsaparilla on the palate. The finish is tremendous. Everything I expect in a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2014 vintage of Kanzler was recently released via the mailing list at a price of $58. Highly recommended.

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New Releases from Bruce Patch Wines

Bruce Patch cut his teeth in the music industry — having once met the Beatles and helped to discover the famous 80’s band, The Cars. Bruce moved to the Russian River Valley in the late 1990’s, and transitioned his sales and marketing background into a successful distribution business representing small independent wineries in Sonoma County. Bruce Patch Wines sources grapes from throughout Sonoma County, including many notable vineyards like Clopton, Harris-Kratka and Carreras.

The winery recently sent me their new releases to sample.

2014 Bruce Patch Wines The Red Dress Zinfandel Blend –  Purple in color. 15.1% ABV. 63% Zinfandel, 16% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and small amounts of Carignane and Petite Sirah. Black fruits, dark chocolate and plums on the nose. Rich and elegant. Blackberry, cherry and black pepper on palate. The finish is long and spicy. The blend works. Drink over the next 4-6 years. $35 at the winery and retail. 90 cases made. My rating: 90 points.

2014 Bruce Patch Wines Patchwork Zinfandel Blend – Dark red in color. 15.2% ABV. Predominantly Zinfandel and Carignane. Pretty nose of dark fruits, slate, earth and minerals. Medium body with medium acidity. Plush and elegant with great mouth feel. Cherries, white pepper and blackberries on the palate. Delicious and easy to drink. Best over the next 3-5 years. $40 at the winery and retail. My rating: 91 points.

2013 Bruce Patch Wines Zinfandel Clopton Vineyard – Opaque purple in color. 15.5% ABV. Predominantly Zinfandel and Alicante Bouchet. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, twizzlers, earth and cocoa powder. Chewy, powerful and extracted. Full bodied with ample acidity. Raspberry liquer, white pepper and cherries on the palate. The finish is exquisite. Drink over the next 4-6 years. $48 at the winery. My rating: 93 points.

2013 Bruce Patch Wines Zinfandel Harris Kratka Vineyard – Bright crimson in color. 16.9% ABV. 85% Zinfandel, 10% Carignane and 5% Petit Sirah. Brambly black fruits, figs and licorice on the nose. Big and full bodied with enough acidity to keep the alcohol in check. Ripe and jammy. Blackberry liqueur, raspberry compote and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and plush. Just a massive Zinfandel that is likely best over the next 2-4 years. $48 at the winery. My rating: 92 points.

Bruce Patch Wines is a winery that, until recently, I was unfamiliar with. This set of samples has placed the winery on my radar. Worth your attention!

As an aside the aforementioned Clopton Vineyard was recently torn out to make way for a casino. Super unfortunate and another reason to support the Historic Vineyard Society.

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2014 Grgich Hills Estate Fumé Blanc – 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.

Light straw in color. 14.1% ABV. Green apple, lemongrass and stone fruits on the nose. Dry and crisp with medium acidity. Meyer lemon, peach and mineral on the palate. The finish is long, spicy and mouthwatering. Delicious Fume Blanc and fairly priced at $31 from the winery. Drink over the next several years.

My rating: 91 points.

Grgich Hills is one of Napa’s iconic wineries. 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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