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Posts from the ‘Bottle Notes’ Category

2004 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Bottle Notes

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the Rhone Valley, was founded in 1898 by Hippolyte Brunier. Located on the highest terrace of the appellation, the domaine was named for an 18th century telegraph relay tower located nearby. Today the 173-acre domaine is run by Daniel and Frederic Brunier, the great grandsons of the founder. Vieux Télégraphe is one of the appellation’s most admired estates. The vineyards are planted to 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault and other grapes.

Light crimson in color with some bricking at the edge of the glass. 14.5% ABV. The nose is scintillating with aromas of red fruit, leather, garrigue and herbes de Provence. Medium body with perfect acidity. Rustic, old school CdP. Concentrated and powerful. Kirsch, tea, dried cherries and white pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with substantial tannins. Super Chateauneuf-du-Pape from an overlooked vintage. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

I previously wrote about Vieux Télégraphe in 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape: My Recommendations. Recent vintages of this wine can generally be had found for $60-$75. Hard to wrong here.

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2008 Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard – Bottle Notes

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.

Cailloux was Christophe’s first Walla Walla Valley vineyard. This 10-acre plot was planted in the stones of Milton Freewater in 1997.

Crimson in color. 14.1% ABV. Co-fermented with 8% Viognier. Textbook Cayuse on the nose. Cherries, meat, smoke and a hint of flowers. Medium to full bodied with ample acidity. Olive brine, cured meats, cherries and herbs on the palate. The finish is extraordinary. Stunning Syrah that exhibits both power and finesse. Best over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 96 points.

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!

Last year Christophe Baron finally made the cover of the Wine Spectator. Cayuse, Horsepower and No Girls make some of the top wines in Washington. Christophe recently launched a new project, Hors Categorie. Christophe also has a new vineyard in the works. Expect to hear more about Fiddleneck Vineyard in the next year or so. Lastly, Christophe at long last is hard at work on making a vintage Champagne. Details on this project are still a couple years out.

I blogged about Cayuse previously in The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power RankingsWinery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and Cayuse Vineyards – Better than Ever.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch

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 January Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch.

Ridge Vineyards was founded in 1959 when three Stanford Research Institute engineers bought an abandoned winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The vineyards had been planted in the late 19th century by a San Francisco physician who produced his first vintage in the original winery, called Monte Bello, in 1892. The first Ridge vintage was in 1962. Paul Draper recently retired and John Olney is making the wines at Lytton Springs. Ridge makes Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Rhone style wines.

When I first became interested in Zinfandel the buzz was always around the Three R’s of Zinfandel: Ravenswood, Rosenblum and Ridge. 25 years later Ridge is still at the top of its game, turning out single vineyard Zinfandel from some of California’s most precious vineyards.

Pagani Ranch is just off Highway 12 in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma County. Angela and Felice Pagani came to Sonoma County from Italy, purchased the property and planted the vineyard in the early 1900’s. In addition to Ridge the fruit goes to Bedrock, Seghesio, Biale and Carlisle.

Violet in color. 15% ABV. 83% Zinfandel, 10% Alicante Bouschet and 7% Petite Sirah. Great big nose of ripe red fruits, rose petals and maraschino cherries. Immensely concentrated and lush. Cherry jam, raspberry liqueur, white pepper and baking spices on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Delicious but so very young. Give this Zinfadel some time in the cellar and then drink over the next 6-8 years.

My rating:  93 points.

This wine was recently released and can be found for $34-$40.

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2011 Sandlands Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands – 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.

Crimson in color. 12.9% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, gamey meats and lavender. Medium body with medium to strong acidity. Light, elegant and fresh. Cherries, olive brine, barbecued meats and minerals on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Reminds me more of a Saint-Joseph than your prototypical California Syrah. Delicious for what it is. Drink over the the next 2-3 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?

Sandlands fared well on The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2001 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Gavin Newsom and Gordon Getty established PlumpJack Winery in 1995, inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, Sir John “PlumpJack” Falstaff. PlumpJack Winery sits squarely in the heart of Napa Valley’s renowned Oakville region, surrounded by a 42-acre estate vineyard highly regarded for the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon. Aaron Miller is the winemaker at PlumpJack.

PlumpJack holds a special place in my heart: My wife and I were married at their Squaw Valley Inn and served PlumpJack Merlot and Chardonnay at our wedding.

Purple in color. 14.8% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, cedar and eucalyptus. Rich, plush and concentrated in such a way that belies the 17 years of bottle age. Black cherries, currants, cassis liqueur and mint on the palate. The finish is extremely long with fine grained tannins. Stunning Cabernet Sauvignon from a glorious vintage that is aging beautifully. Best over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The 2014 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon was recently released and can be obtained at retail and the winery for right around $125. The winery is also a great place to visit on your next trip to Napa Valley.

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1991 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Bottle Notes

Silver Oak Winery was founded in 1972 by Raymond Twomey Duncan, a Colorado entrepreneur who began investing in California vineyards in the late 1960s, and Justin Meyer, a winemaker and former Christian Brother. They produced 1,100 cases of their inaugural vintage. Over the next two decades, Silver Oak grew in popularity. The Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernets sold quickly upon their release from the winery and became a sought-after staple on restaurant wine lists around the country. After selecting Daniel Baron to succeed him as winemaker in 1994, Justin retired, selling his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family in 2001.

Violet in color. 13.5% ABV. Pristine nose of red fruits, licorice and graphite. Incredibly elegant. Holding up well with ample fruits and mostly resolved tannins. Currants, black cherry and anise on the palate. Medium length on the finish with chalky tannins. This was out of magnum so I would say that the wine in this format has aged beautifully. I suspect regular bottles might be on the decline. Regardless, just a great example of what a master the late Justin Meyer was in the wine cellar. Drink soon.

My rating: 91 points.

For me Silver Oak has never been quite the same since Justin Meyer retired. This was one of my favorite wines when I first started this hobby long ago. That being said there is no doubt Silver Oak is still immensely popular. The wines are fairly priced at about $75 for the Alexander Valley Cabernet and $85 for the Napa Valley Cabernet.

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2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

The 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon was the winning bottle in the December Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for one hour and served with steaks on New Years Eve.

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.

Purple in color. 14.9% ABV. Stunningly pure nose of red and blue fruits, molten licorice, violets and crushed rocks. Plush, polished and incredibly silky. Tremendous structure and concentration. Blueberries, currants and cassis liqueur on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with no shortage of tannins. This wine is the complete package and has lived up to all the hype. The epitome of an iron fist in a velvet glove. Drink over the next decade.

My rating: 99 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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2004 Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

In 1987 Jennifer and Herb Lamb purchased a little over 7 acres of hillside property on the eastern hillsides of St. Helena just below Howell Mountain. Starting in 1991 the fruit was sold to wineries like Karl Lawrence and Colgin. In 1997, with winemaker Mike Trujillo at the helm, they released the first vintage of Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dark crimson in color. 14.2% ABV. Scintillating nose of red fruits, cassis, tobacco and scorched earth. Big, plush and super silky. Full bodied and perfectly balanced. Currants, creme de cassis and dark chocolate on the palate. There are substantial fine grained tannins on an extraordinarily long finish. Fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon from a great vintage and an iconic vineyard. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Given the pedigree, Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon is fairly priced at $150 per bottle. The wine is only available via the mailing list.

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2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock 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 added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

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 a fruit source for Ravenswood, Carlisle and Bedrock.

Maroon in color. 15.8% ABV. Gorgeous nose of bright red fruits, peach cobbler and flowers. Medium body with juicy acidity. Fresh, restrained and remarkably well balanced. Raspberry, salmonberry, pepper and a hint of cream on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Lighter in style than I am accustomed to from Carlisle but delicious nonetheless. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 93 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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2008 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard – 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.

Kanzler Vineyard is located in western Sonoma County, just south of Bodega Highway on Sander’s Road and was planted in 1996.

Crimson in color. 14.7% ABV. Stunning nose of red fruits, cloves, sarsaparilla and wet forest floor. Silky and plush with an abundance of fruit. Like tasting liquid velvet. Cherries, strawberries, black tea and minerals on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. Kosta Browne at it’s best. Powerful yet elegant and polished. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The 2016 version will be released next Spring and will likely cost close to $100. I’ll be a buyer. Past vintages of this wine frequently show up on WineBid for at or near the original release cost.

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 The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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