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Posts from the ‘Bottle Notes’ Category

2011 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill Ranch Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Ravenswood was founded in 1976 by Joel Peterson. The winery is a pioneer in producing single vineyard Zinfandels from some of Napa and Sonoma’s most treasured vineyards, including Dickerson, Old Hill, Cooke and Belloni. I used to visit Ravenswood in the summer, when they released their single vineyard wines. Back in the day they also served delicious barbeque on the deck out behind the winery. Great wine, great food and great memories.

Old Hill Ranch is possibly the oldest continuously farmed vineyard in California. It was established in 1852 by William McPherson Hill who was the first viticulturist to import non-Mission grapes into Sonoma.

Purple in color. 14.9% ABV. Stunning nose of red and black fruits, plums and white pepper. Full bodied with moderate acidity. Rich and plush with great texture on the palate. Flavors of raspberry compote, boysenberry, earth and pepper. Chalky, dusty tannins on an exceptionally long finish. Easily the most impressive Zinfandel I have had from Ravenswood in the last several years. Old Hill Ranch is the diamond in the Ravenswood SVD lineup. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 94 points.

Ravenswood is widely available at retail the winery and via the mailing list. The ’14 version of the Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel will cost you right around $50.

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2005 Domaine de Cristia “Renaissance” Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Bottle Notes

Domaine de Cristia, founded by Etienne Grangeon in 1942, was originally comprised of 2 hectares of Grenache. It was developed further by the driving force of his son Alain, who joined the domaine in 1963. Passionate about viticulture, he notably contributed to the expansion of the domaine and planted additional grape varieties including Syrah and Mourvèdre and created the identity of Cristia, based on the knowledge and respect of his soils. Today, Domaine de Cristia is managed by Baptiste Grangeon and Dominique Grangeon. Domaine de Cristia produces three red Chateauneuf du Pape wines and a Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc.

Renaissance comes from a blend of 60%, 100 year old vine Grenache and 40% Mourvedre. In some vintages, Syrah is added to the blend.

Violet in color. 15% ABV. Sublime nose of cassis liqueur, soy sauce and lavender. Full bodied with ample acidity and just the slightest bit of heat on the palate. Big, concentrated and powerful. Flavors of raspberry, blueberry, kirsch and white pepper. The finish is long with still substantial tannins. Even at 12 years of this age this wine is a reflection of the 2005 vintage and not for the faint of heart. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Current vintages of Renaissance can be found for about $75.

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2014 Chateau Puech-Haut Saint-Drezery Cuvee Prestige – Bottle Notes

Chateau Puech Haut is in Saint-Drezery, a small village northeast of Montpellier. In Provence, a ‘Puech’ means a small hill. A ‘Puech Haut’ is a hill higher than the others. This wine comes from 60-70 year old vines and is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. Aged half in concrete and half in neutral barrel it is a special bottling made for Eric Solomon by Philippe Cambie for the US market.

Dark crimson in color. 15% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, lavender and truffles. Full bodied with medium acidity. Big, rich and flamboyant. Black cherry, bacon fat, smoke and iodine on the palate. The finish is long with subtle tannins. Delicious wine. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 91 points.

This wine is an unbelievable value at the $13 I paid at Costco. If I recall correctly I paid closer to $17 for previous vintages. Regardless, I’m tempted to go back for a case. We all need a wine to open on a Monday night and this wine absolutely fits the bill.

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2008 J. Rochioli Chardonnay River 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.

River Block Vineyard is the portion of Rochioli Vineyard situated nearest to the Russian River. The winery recently published a detailed map of the Estate Vineyard that is required viewing for fans of the winery.

Bright gold in color. 14.2% ABV. Intriguing nose of lemon oil, match stick and butterscotch. Rich, lush and creamy. Medium to full body with acidity in spades. Meyer lemon, pears, creme brulee and toast on the palate. The finish is long and smoky. Really elegant Chardonnay but missing some of the bright tropical notes I typically adore in the Rochioli Chards. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 91 points.

The single vineyard designate Chards are released each Spring 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.

I’ve blogged about Rochioli previously in the The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and the Fab 5 of Mailing Lists.

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2008 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma County – Bottle Notes

Williams Selyem Winery began when Ed Selyem and Burt Williams started making wine as a hobby in 1979 in Forestville, California. Their first commercial release was in 1981, and in less than two decades they created a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Setting a new standard for Pinot Noir winemaking, they put Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley at the forefront of the best Pinot Noir regions in the world.

Today, John and Kathe Dyson, who purchased the winery from Burt and Ed in 1998, work with winemaker Jeff Mangahas to carry on the passion for Pinot Noir without compromise. Other varieties bottled at Williams Selyem include Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc.

Ruby red in color. 13.8% ABV. Pretty nose of red fruits, cloves and nutmeg. Light body with medium acidity. Fresh and elegant. Bing cherries, cranberries, blood orange and minerals on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. This bottle got away from me as I tend to drink the appellation wines 5-7 years from vintage. The being said this showed really well. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Williams Selyem can periodically be found at retail, but the mailing list is highly recommended.

I wrote about Williams Selyem previously in Reflections on Two Days in Russian River Valley and The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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1997 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Toscana – Bottle Notes

The Manetti family, which has run the Fontodi winery since 1968, is a true champion of sangiovese. The 200 acre estate is situated in the “golden basin” known as Conca d’Ora, south of Panzano in Chianti Classico. Their flagship called Flaccianello has been produced since 1981 and is from the estates very best vineyard. Amongst other wines, Fontodi also produces a Chianti Classico Riserva known as Vigna Del Sorbo.

Light red in color. 13.5% ABV. Spellbinding nose of red fruits, tar, rose petals and anise. Medium body with exquisite acidity. Seemingly light on it’s feet but powerful nonetheless. Cherries, pomegranate, smoke and earth on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with ever so silky tannins. Beautiful Sangiovese. Well stored bottles will drink well for at least another five years.

My rating: 96 points.

Pricing for this wine has drifted up in recent years and the current 2014 version will set you back right about $125. It is a tough pill to swallow when wines like Tignanello and Cepparello are much more affordable but I will likely put a bottle or two in my cellar.

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2002 Leonetti Reserve Walla Walla Valley – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 17% Petite Verdot all from estate vineyards.

Dark crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Gorgeous nose of blue and black fruits, molten licorice and cassis liqueur. Plush and silky. Medium to full bodied. Blueberry, black cherry, currants, pencil and baking spices on the palate. The finish is long and graceful with fine grained tannins. One of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon based wines being made in Washington. Aging beautifully. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Leonetti was one of my very first mailing lists. Twenty years later I am still a buyer and the wines are better than ever. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices. Although the mailing list is full and the waiting list is long the wine is readily available at retail in late March so look for the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve next Spring.

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2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Old Vines – 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.

Violet in color. A touch cloudy. 15.9% ABV. A fifty fifty blend of Carlisle Vineyard and Montafi Vineyard after both were ravaged by the heat spike in 2010. Scrumptious nose of red and black fruits, flowers and white pepper. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. The balance is noteworthy. Plush and juicy. Raspberry compote, black cherry and more pepper on the palate. Well made Zinfandel from a grueling vintage. Drink over the next few years.

My rating: 92 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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2006 Quilceda Creek Merlot – Bottle Notes

Quilceda Creek Vintners was founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin. Alex Golitzin is a nephew of André Tchelistcheff, the legendary winemaker who put Beaulieu Vineyard at the forefront of Napa Valley Cabernet in the 1960s and 70s. He credits summer trips to visit his uncle in St. Helena, California with developing his early interest in wine. Alex’s son, Paul Golitzin is now chief winemaker at the winery.

Quilceda Creek Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon has earned some of the highest scores of any wine produced in the United States. The 2002, ’03, ’05 and ’07 vintages all scored 100-point ratings from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. Quilceda Creek also produces several single vineyard Cabernets and a Columbia Valley Red Wine.

Magenta in color. 15.2% ABV. Blockbuster nose of blue fruits, violets, molten licorice and tobacco. Rich, concentrated and super silky on the palate. Flavors of blueberry, cassis liqueur, cinnamon and dark chocolate. The finish is exceptionally long with persistent tannins. Absolutely stunning Merlot and unfortunately the last vintage of this variety made by Quilceda Creek. This would certainly rival the best from Washington and California. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 96 points.

Quilceda Creek is best obtained via the mailing list and you may be able to find some at retail in late March or early April.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Reichwage Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard

Zinfandel of the Month is a regular feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The September Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Reichwage Winery Zinfandel Mancini Ranch Vineyard.

Reichwage Winery was founded in 2014 by Max Reichwage to fulfill a dream of producing small quantities of classically made Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Max is the owner and winemaker. Before starting the winery in 2014, Max studied chemistry at the University of Michigan, and viticulture and enology at University California Davis.  Max owns Twin Hills Vineyard in Sonoma County and this will be the site of the winery in the not to distant future. In 2014 Max also purchased Mancini Ranch Vineyard.

The Mancini Ranch was planted in 1922. Mancini is on the eastern side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The 16 acre vineyard is head-trained, dry- farmed, and consists of mostly Zinfandel vines, although it is interplanted with an unusual mix of at least 20 different varieties. There are also two distinct sections of the vineyard, the North-West corner consists of mostly Carignan, while the South-East corner contains of mostly white varieties (Muscadelle, Palomino, French Colombard, and others).

Violet in color. 14.5% ABV. Stunning nose of red and black fruits, licorice and peach. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. Rich and luscious. Raspberry liqueur, blackberry, boysenberry and white pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long and spicy. Just an excellent Zinfandel from a heritage vineyard that is finally getting the attention it deserves. Drink over the next 4-6 years. $35 at the winery.

My rating: 94 points.

Review based on samples provided by the winery.

Production at Reichwage is miniscule so act quickly if you want to secure the recently released Carignane and Zinfandel.

Max Reichwage was mentioned recently in an amazing article by Esther Mobley. Please read Vintners Rally to Preserve Russian River Valley’s Historic Zinfandel Vineyards.

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