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2004 Araujo Syrah Eisele Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Araujo Estate is a 38-acre vineyard in northeast Napa Valley, east of Calistoga. It was established in 1990 when Bart and Daphne Araujo bought the historic vineyard from Milt and Barbara Eisele, who planted the vines in the 1960s. For nearly 40 years the Eisele Vineyard has been known as one of the valley’s great vineyards, consistently producing outstanding wines. The Araujos completed many renovation projects after they acquired the estate, and planted many varietals including Petit Verdot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Nevertheless the estate’s signature wine is its highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignon.

Garnet in color. 14.8% ABV. Rich and ripe on the nose with aromas of cassis liqueur, leather and violets. Full bodied with noticeable heat. Lots of sediment. Blueberries, olives and raspberry liqueur on the palate. Like the ’03 this is pushing the envelope on ripeness and is a little over the top for my tastes. Drink over the next year or so.

My rating: 88 points.

Disappointing bottle and not up to the reputation of the vineyard and the Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon. I would have a hard time paying the $150+ this wine goes for in the open market. Proceed accordingly.

Several years ago Bart and Daphne Araujo sold the winery to Francois Pinault, the owner of Chateau Latour. The winery is now known as Eisele Vineyard.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 1995 Bordeaux

The April installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Bordeaux from the the now 22 year old 1995 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 on Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

James Suckling, formerly of the Wine Spectator, first compared the ’95 vintage in Bordeaux to classic vintages like ’47, ’59 and ’82. The vintage was rated 95 points by the publication. I have followed the vintage for fifteen plus years now. The vintage is definitely a throwback to a bygone era with tannic wines that will undoubtedly be long lived. Many wonder whether the tannins on some of the classified growth wines will ever resolve.

The Contenders

  • 1995 Léoville-Poyferré – While not as backward as the 1996, the opaque purple-colored 1995 is a tannic, unevolved, dense, concentrated wine that will require 8-10 years of cellaring. The 1995 exhibits pain grille, blackcurrant, mineral, and subtle tobacco in its complex yet youthful aromatics. Powerful, dense, concentrated cassis and blueberry flavors might be marginally softer than in the 1996, but there is still plenty of grip and structure to this big wine. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. 90 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 1995 Calon Segur – As I have said many times since I first tasted this wine, the 1995 Calon-Segur is one of the great sleepers of the vintage (I bought the wine as a future for a mere $250 a case). The wine has closed down completely since bottling, but it is a sensational effort that may ultimately merit an even higher score. The wine is opaque purple-colored. With coaxing, the tight aromatics reveal some weedy cassis intertwined with truffles, chocolate, and beef blood-like aromas. On the palate, there is an element of sur-maturite (1995 was an extremely late harvest at Calon-Segur), fabulous density and purity, and a boatload of tannin. This deep, broodingly backward, classic Bordeaux will require a decade of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2035. 92 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 1995 Grand-Puy-Lacoste – Unbelievably rich, multidimensional, broad-shouldered wine, with slightly more elegance and less weight than the powerhouse 1996, this gorgeously proportioned, medium to full-bodied, fabulously ripe, rich, cassis-scented and flavored Grand-Puy-Lacoste is another beauty. It should be drinkable within 4-5 years, and keep for 25-30. This classic Pauillac is a worthy rival to the other-worldly 1996. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2025. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 1995 Bordeaux 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 and your thoughts on the ’95 vintage as a whole.

Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the May Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series Grenache – Bottle Notes

Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and made its name pairing some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval.  The winery recently transitioned from Collaboration wines to Estate wines. Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, is the winemaker for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There is also a second label that was introduced last year named Parabellum.

85% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre made by James Mantone of Syncline.

Bright crimson in color. 15.9% ABV. Subdued nose of red fruits, gravel and kirsch. Full bodied with optimal acidity and great mouthfeel. Richly textured and well balanced. Cherries, cassis, black raspberries and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long and pure. Pretty wine and the Mourvedre might be the here here. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Force Majeure is one of the most exciting wineries in the state. The winery is still accepting names for the mailing list .

I’m going to miss the CS wines and in particular the Merlot dominant CS IV but am excited about the direction Paul McBride has in mind for Force Majeure.

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The Week in Zinfandel (4/17/17)

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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2007 Carlisle Syrah Rosella’s Vineyard – 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.

Overlooking the Salinas River Valley, the 50-acre Rosella’s Vineyard rests along the benchlands of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. Owners Gary and Rosella Franscioni planted the vineyard in 1996.

Purple in color. 14.7% ABV. Showstopping nose of blue and black fruits, olive brine and white pepper. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. Incredibly complex and structured with a sense of freshness. Blueberries, blackberries, soy sauce and iron on the palate. The finish is monumental. One of the best Syrahs from Mike Officer in recent memory. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 95 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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2013 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 family. Vines are anywhere from 41 to 129 years old, and a true representation of California old vine Zinfandel.

Garnet in color. 15.5% ABV. Super nose of brambly red fruits, earth and white pepper. Rich, lush and spicy. Full bodied with juicy acidity. Raspberry compote, spiced plums, boysenberry and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Delicious Zinfandel. Drink over the next 1-2 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 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2016 Troon Vineyard Whole Grape Ferment Riesling – Bottle Notes

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.

Orange in color. 12% ABV. The first skin fermented white wine from Troon. Vibrant nose of pear, peach cobbler and apple. Plush and round on the palate with light acidity. Very dry. Tangerine, blood orange and wet stones on the palate. The finish is long with a dose of minerals. Intriguing wine. Probably best over the next few years. Serve with food.

My rating: 89 points.

$20 at the winery and retail.

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.

Review based on sample provided by the winery.

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2003 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir West 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. In 1987 Rochioli released their first estate wine, the 1985 Rochioli Pinot Noir. Although best known for their world class Pinot Noir, Rochioli also produces remarkable Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Garnet in color. 14.2% ABV. Soaring nose of dark fruits, sassafras, cinnamon and forest floor. Big and robust with strong acidity. Black cherry, anise, cherry cola and baking spices on the palate. The finish is long and sappy. At 14 years of age I was expecting a Pinot Noir that was light and elegant. This wine was anything but that. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2015 West Block will be released to the mailing list this Summer and should cost right around $110 per bottle. It will undoubtedly sell out quickly.

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 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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Cayuse Vineyards – Better Than Ever

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.

The first weekend in April is unofficially known as Cayuse Release Weekend in Walla Walla, Wa. Members of the Cayuse mailing list make the pilgrimage to Eastern Washington for the two single days all year when you can taste wines at Cayuse Vineyards. This past weekend was the first time I have been able to attend since 2014.

In regards to logistics the Release Party runs from 10am-5pm on Friday and Saturday at the facility in Milton-Freewater, OR. The event itself is bigger than ever. Reservations at any restaurant in downtown Walla Walla need to be secured at least 2-4 weeks in advance. Hotel rooms are at a premium. Lastly, the staff at Cayuse is diligent about monitoring traffic into the winery to keep crowds under control.

This weekend nine wines were being poured and there were ample passed small dishes designed to complement the wines. Below are my notes, albeit brief, on the various wines:

Camaspelo – A Bordeaux style blend. More structured and tannic than recent versions. Lots of promise but needs 5+ years in the cellar.

God Only Knows – Grenache. Big and smoky with lots of fresh strawberries. I like this wine better than most.

Lovers- Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Once again bigger and more structured than I am accustomed to. I’ve always liked the packaging more than the wine.

Cailloux- Syrah co-fermented with Viognier. Flowers, stones, cherries. One of the highlights of the day.

En Cerise- Syrah. Cherries and more cherries. Super wine but outclassed by the other Syrahs being poured today.

En Chamberlin- Syrah. Brings just a little of that Cayuse funk that we know and love. My second favorite wine of the day.

Bionic Frog- Maybe one of the best Frogs ever. Clearly the highlight of the wines being poured.

Armada- Syrah. Cherries, olives and game. Really tight but this wine always shows well with time in the cellar.

Impulsivo- Tightly wound and a bit of palate fatigue at this point. What is lurking under the surface shoes promise.

As it should be the Syrahs stole the show this weekend.

In addition to trying the wines the Cayuse Release Party is always a great chance to catch up with old friends. I got a chance to chat briefly with Trevor Dorland who is the General Manager at Cayuse. Christophe is not one to rest on his laurels and it sounds like the Hors Categorie project is set to launch next spring and Christophe’s Champagne project in 2019 or so. More to come here I am sure.

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 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5.

Christophe Baron continues to do everything right at Cayuse and I am thrilled to be on the mailing list. Props to him and his team.

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The Week in Zinfandel (4/10/17)

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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