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2013 Sandlands Trousseau – Bottle Notes

Sandlands is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. Tegan is the Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Turley. The line-up encompasses some of the forgotten classic California varieties, primarily grown in decomposed granite from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations but have remained the outliers of California viticulture.

The fruit for this wine was sourced from Bohan Vineyard in Cazadero on the Sonoma Coast.

Light red in color. Almost translucent. 12.8% ABV. Pretty nose of red fruits, roses and minerals. Light body with refreshing acidity. Lithe, bright and fresh. Pomegranate, rhubarb and bing cherries on the palate. The finish is long and earthy. This closely resembles a Beaujolais or Village level Burgundy. So much to like here. Drink over the next several years.

My rating: 91 points.

Seriously consider signing up for the Sandlands mailing list. Tegan has a model of exceptional wines at extremely fair prices from impeccable vineyards. What more can you ask for?

Just this past year Sandlands made its debut on The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2014 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 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.

The fruit for the 2014 Sonoma Coast was sourced from Riddle Ranch and Manzanita Vineyards.

Ruby red in color. 14.1% ABV. Brooding nose of dark fruits, pine needle, smoke and forest floor. Medium body and bursting with acidity. Deep, dark and rich. Black cherry, cranberry, sassafras and minerals on the palate. The finish is perfection. This is different than previous versions of this bottling. Dark and more brooding as opposed to light and floral. Irregardless, this wine is exceptional and a great value at $30. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 92 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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Pick My Next Bottle – 2005 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon

The March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Washington Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2005 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 this Sunday and a Bottle Note will be published later that week.

I chose Washington Cabernet Sauvignon as March is Taste Washington Wine Month. Taste Washington Wine Month is an annual celebration of Washington State’s award winning industry. The culmination of Taste Washington Wine Month is Taste Washington, a massive tasting of food and wine held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

2005 was a very good vintage in Washington. The hot Summer was followed by cool weather in September and although the crop was smaller than normal, the wines have aged beautifully.

The Contenders:

  • 2005 Betz Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon – 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. Good deep, bright ruby-red. Sappy aromas of crushed blackberry, licorice, minerals, and spices. Wonderfully sweet but less pliant and open today than the Clos de Betz; more affected by the bottling. With aeration, this showed subtle cabernet notes of cassis, Belgian chocolate and fresh herbs. This dense, thick wine boasts outstanding structure and dimension, and finishes with terrific persistence. Betz used his highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon to date in this wine, and the lowest amount of Merlot. 93 points from Stephen Tanzer.
  • 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard – The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard comes from the fifth leaf of this estate vineyard and in this vintage contains 4.5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak. Opaque purple-colored, its distinctive aromatics leap from the glass. Toasty oak, scorched earth, a hint of truffle, black cherry, black raspberry, and blackberry liqueur aromas are quite mesmerizing. On the palate, this sizable effort is firm, full-bodied, and structured, demanding 6-8 years of cellaring. It should be hitting its stride by 2015 and remain at that level through 2035. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley –  The Cabernet is sharply defined, with interesting citrus flavors defining the borders of the fruit. Lemon peel, candied pineapple and even grapefruit add lovely grace notes indicative of rich, clean, natural acids and a wine with plenty of glycerin. The stunning red fruits are polished and backed with details such as dried herb, and a tiny hint of mint. This may well be the most ageworthy Leonetti Cabernet ever made. 96 points from the Wine Enthusiast.

Which 2005 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon should I open?

  • 2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (39%, 20 Votes)
  • 2005 Betz Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon (37%, 19 Votes)
  • 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard (24%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 51

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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 April installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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2011 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands – 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.

The fruit for the 2011 Santa Lucia Highlands was sourced from Garys’, Pisoni, Rosella’s, Sierra Mar and Soberanes Vineyards.

Light crimson in color. 14.5% AB. Pretty nose of red fruits, baking spice and forest floor. Medium body with medium to strong acidity. Light and more earthy than the other Kosta Browne appellation wines. Cherries, cranberries, spice and sarsaparilla on the palate. The finish is long and the earthy tones linger. Slightly less impressive in this vintage than the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 91 points.

The 2015 version was recently released for $68. 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 last year’s version of The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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The Week in Zinfandel (3/13/17)

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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2014 Hartford Family Winery Zinfandel Russian River Valley Old Vine – Bottle Notes

Hartford Family Winery was founded in 1994 as a result of Don and Jennifer Hartford’s appreciation for the wines, the people, and the unique vineyards near their Russian River Valley home. Located in the Sonoma County town of Forestville, the winery is about 15 miles from the cool Pacific Coast. Jeff Stewart is the Hartford Family Winemaker.

Purple in color. 15.7% ABV. Gorgeous nose of black and blue fruits, peach and a touch of vanilla. Full bodied with medium acidity. Jammy and bursting with fruit. Exceptional balance. Blackberry, blueberry, salmonberry and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and seamless. Delicious Zinfandel. Drink over the net 4-6 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The 2014 Hartford Family Zinfandel was the Number 10 Wine of the Year in the Wine Spectator Top 100. I have limited experience with this producer but this particular bottle is worthy of the praise. Fairly priced at $40 per bottle. I’ll buy more when the opportunity arises.

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2011 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel – Bottle Notes

Alberto Rafanelli, an Italian immigrant, first founded A. Rafanelli Winery in the early 1900’s. It wasn’t until the early 70’s that Alberto’s son, Americo, came out with the present day label and started selling the wine commercially. David and Patty Rafanelli now run the winery and a 4th generation Rafanelli, their daughter Shelly, is the winemaker. The winery is perhaps best known for their Zinfandel but also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with all the fruit sourced from their vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.

Bright red in color. 14.7% ABV. Sensational nose of black fruits, white pepper, cocoa powder and iron. Full bodied with gobs of juicy acidity. Rich and plush. Blackberry liqueur, black cherries, pepper and anise on the palate. The finish is long and spicy with dusty tannins. Just a great Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Motivates me to go long on the upcoming release of the ’15 version. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 93 points.

$42 at the winery.

I’ve previously posted on Rafanelli in What’s Your Price for Zin?

Rafanelli is very traditional in how they run the winery. If you want to join the mailing list you need to send them a letter. They do not correspond via email, but will likely answer the phone if you give them a call. The extra effort required to acquire the wine is worth it. The tasting room is open by appointment and is always worth a visit to try the new releases.

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2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Gold Mine 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.

Gold Mine Ranch was planted in 1914 by Charlie Derrick, just before riding off to join the Cavalry of World War I. The vineyard is situated in the southwest corner of Dry Creek Valley.

Bright crimson in color. 15.2% ABV. Red and black fruits, cream, milk chocolate and anise on the nose. Medium body with juicy acidity. Pretty delicious Zinfandel but slightly lacking the verve and energy that I typically expect from Carlisle. Cherries, blackberries, iron and white pepper on the palate. Medium length on the finish. The bar is so high for Mike Officer that despite being eminently drinkable this wine falls short of expectations. Drink over the next year or so.

My rating: 90 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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2000 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera – Bottle Notes

Elvio Cogno first came up with the idea to produce wine at the Ristorante dell’Angelo in La Morra. Elvio Cogno’s family had been growing grapes for generations, but no one had thought of turning that work into a job. It was so successful that by the late 1950s, with the support of a business partner and the growing prestige of his wines, Elvio Cogno decided to leave the restaurant business and produce wine full time. The first Barolo that the Cogno family bottled was the great vintage of 1961.

Despite perfect storage the cork was wet to the foil. This bottle was decanted for an hour and served with homemade lasagna.

Light crimson in color. 14% ABV. Great nose of red fruits, iron, leather and wet fur. Light body with strong acidity. Rustic and complex with drying tannins. Dried cherries, blood, plums and spice on the palate. The finish is long and silky. Ultimately here the fruit is starting to fade and the tannins are still substantial. I’m inclined to drink in the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Current vintages of Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera, including the ’11, ’12 and ’13 are recommended and attractively priced in the $60-$70 range.

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The Week in Zinfandel (3/6/17)

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!

 If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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