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.
Magenta in color. 15.5% ABV. Sensational nose of brambly red and black fruits, anise and freshly cracked black pepper. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. Rich, plush and seamless. Raspberry liqueur, black cherries, molten licorice and pepper on palate. The finish is sweet and exceptionally long. Absolutely glorious Zinfandel. Drink over the next 4-6 years.
My rating: 95 points.
The 2014 Hartford Family Zinfandel was the Number 10 Wine of the Year in the Wine Spectator Top 100. Having tried both the ’14 and ’15 I would contend the latter is a superior wine. Fairly priced at $40 per bottle. I’ll buy more when the opportunity arises.
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 wines made at Sandlands include Syrah, Trousseau, Carignane, Mataro and Chenin Blanc.
The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Soberanes Vineyard which is farmed by the Pisoni family.
Purple in color. 13.2% ABV. Savory nose of blue fruits, olive brine, wild flowers and pepper. Medium to full bodied with perfect acidity. Fresh, complex and well structured. Blueberries, gamey meats, black pepper and olive tapenade on the palate. Tremendous length on the finish. Reminiscent of a Northern Rhone Syrah. Unique and extremely well crafted. Drink over the next 2-4 years.
My rating: 92 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?
The March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on wines from the 2003 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 Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.
We all know the background on the historically hot 2003 vintage in Europe. The wines are incredibly polarizing. From my experience, the top wines of the vintage are fruit forward and aging well. Heat was also an issue in Napa Valley. With all that being said the wines are now 15 years of age so we would all be well served to check in on them periodically.
2003 Léoville-Poyferré – The spectacular 2003 Leoville Poyferre exhibits a dense purple color with a touch of lightening at the edge as well as notes of creosote, barbecue smoke, jammy black currants, licorice and spice box. This intense, voluptuously textured, full-bodied St.-Julien possesses low acidity and ripe tannin. Still fresh and exuberant, it is just entering its plateau of full maturity where it should remain for 10-15+ years. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
2003 Antinori Tignanello – Antinori’s 2003 Tignanello (85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc) is a terrific effort. Typical Sangiovese notes of red cherries, tobacco and underbrush dominate the flavor profile of this intensely flavored Tignanello that manages to be ripe and open, while retaining notable balance and freshness, although the tannins dry out a bit on the back end. This is a delicious Tignanello to enjoy now and over the next decade. The high altitude of the vineyards was clearly an asset in 2003. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2018. 92 points from Vinous.
2003 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon – In 2003, production jumped up to 3,700 cases, with the blend identical to so many other vintages with 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. This was a year where there was some freaky heat spells, but this wine has come through nicely. Deep bluish purple with notes of blackberry and cassis and charcoal followed by a soft, velvety textured, opulent and full-bodied wine that seems to be approaching full maturity. It is interesting, this wine is far more evolved, and on a faster evolutionary track than the 2001 or 2002. Nevertheless it is a beauty, loaded, layered and impressive. It must be one of the top 2003s. Drink it over the next 20-some years. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
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.
Bedrock Vineyard, formerly known as Madrone Ranch, was first planted in 1854. Senator George Hearst purchased the property in 1888 and planted most of the vines that exist to this day. Located in the Sonoma Valley the vineyard is also a fruit source for Ravenswood and Carlisle.
Crimson in color. 14.6% ABV. Savory nose of red and black fruits, licorice, flowers and pepper. Medium body with exquisite acidity. Elegant, claret style Zinfandel. Black raspberry, blackberry, kirsch and spiced plums on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Big Zinfandel that still manages to maintain a sense of freshness. This certainly seems to be the calling card of Morgan Twain-Peterson. Best over the next 2-4 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.
Champagne Paul Bara was founded in 1860. The village of Bouzy is situated in Montagne de Reims. Paul Bara is the most successful grower Champagne from Bouzy where much of the grapes produced go into mass-produced wines of the large, corporate champagne houses.
Imported by Kermit Lynch.
Salmon colored. 12.5% ABV. Disgorged 12/2016. Persistent tiny bubbles. Pretty nose of red fruits, citrus and recently baked bread. Fresh and creamy on the palate. Flavors of strawberry, green apple, cream and minerals. The finish is long, crisp and refreshing. Really well made Champagne. I imagine this will age gracefully.
My rating: 91 points.
This bottle is fairly priced at $60. I suspect we will be going back for more.
No Girls Wines is a partnership between famed Cayuse vigneron Christophe Baron and longtime friend and Cayuse general manager, Trevor Dorland. The fruit comes from the Cayuse La Paciencia vineyard, which means patience—appropriate as the project was ten years in the making. The vines are tightly spaced and planted on an angle, giving No Girls a profile all its own. Elizabeth Bourcier is the Winemaker at No Girls.
The name No Girls comes from a mid-19th century building Christophe purchased. Just past the main entrance, at the top of a flight of stairs, the words “no girls” were painted on the wall. The decades old sign was a symbol that this house of ill repute had been shut down. The wine label is an actual photograph.
Light red in color. 13.8% ABV. Savory nose of red fruits, game, olive brine and rose petals. Medium body with medium acidity. Elegant and supremely complex. Cherries, strawberries, mushrooms and smoked meat on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long and silky. A very unique expression of Grenache that clearly stands apart from the Cayuse God Only Knows. Likely best over the next 2-3 years but I won’t be surprised if it ages gracefully for years beyond.
My rating: 95 points.
The wine is incredibly hard to obtain. Sign up for the waiting list. Be patient.
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.
The West Block Vineyard grapes come from a 1.5 acre parcel of Rochioli Vineyard that was planted in 1969.
Light crimson in color. 14.2% ABV. Pretty nose of red fruits, cloves and wet forest floor. Medium body with medium to strong acidity. Light and ethereal. Bing cherries, cranberries and sassafras on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Extremely well made Pinot Noir that clearly outperforms most of the Russian River Valley Pinots from this somewhat disappointing vintage. Year in and year out this is one my favorite Rochioli SVD’s and the ’04 is no exception. Drink over the next year or so.
My rating: 93 points.
The single vineyard designate Pinots are released each Fall and are only available to long time mailing list members.
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.
Paolo di Marchi has run Isole e Olena since the age of 20. Paolo avoids the Cabernet Sauvignon many of his neighbors have begun to incorporate into their Chiantis, believing it overshadows the Sangiovese. The flagship wine at Isole e Olena is Cepparello, a barrique-aged Sangiovese classified as an IGT – because at the time of its creation in the 1980s, a wine comprising 100% Sangiovese could not legally be labelled as Chianti.
Garnet in color. 13.5% ABV. Exquisite nose of dried red fruits, road tar, iron and menthol. Medium body with acidity in spades. Perfect balance of fruit and tannins. Dried cherries, blood, graphite and anise on the palate. Medium length on the finish with super silky tannins. Absolutely stunning. One of the best bottles from Tuscany in recent memory. If you are fortunate to still have a bottle in the cellar it will not get any better than it is right now.
My rating: 97 points.
The winery is firing on all cylinders and current vintages are readily available for about $75. Look for the 2013.