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Posts from the ‘Bottle Notes’ Category

1996 Chateau Clerc Milon – Bottle Notes

The history of Chateau Clerc Milon dates back to the early 1800’s. In 1970 Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, acquired Clerc Milon and put the Chateau on course to becoming worthy of its 5th growth status in Bordeaux. In 1983, the illustration for the Chateau Clerc Milon label was changed to a pair of dancing clowns made of precious stones. The original art was created by a 16th century German goldsmith. The 45 hectare vineyard of Clerc Milon in Pauillac is planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere.

This bottle was decanted for about 30 minutes and served with steaks. I bought the wine on release in the late 90’s and the bottle has been cellared properly ever since.

Garnet in color. 12.5% ABV. Textbook nose of red fruits, cedar, leather and cigar box. Drying fruits on the palate with medium acidity and a healthy dose of tannins. Cherries, currants, creme de cassis and earthy mushrooms on the palate. The finish is long and smooth with pronounced tannins. I think it is clear the tannins are going to outlive the fruit here and I would be inclined to drink over the next few years.

My rating: 90 points.

Chateau Clerc Milon is one of the great values in Pauillac. The 2014 version can be found for about $50 and will certainly drink well for the next decade or two.

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2012 Ridge Geyserville – Bottle Notes

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. 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.

Geyserville is a traditional field blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet and Mataro. Portions of the vineyard date back 130 years.

Magenta in color. 14.4% ABV. 71% Zinfandel, 19% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro and 1% Alicante Bouschet. Savory, high-toned nose of red and black fruits, earthy loam and asian spices. Medium to full bodied with medium acidity. Ripe and jammy with a sense of elegance. Raspberry, boysenberry, licorice and black pepper on the palate. The long, delicious finish might be the best thing here. Drink over the next 4-7 years.

My rating: 91 points.

This wine is fairly priced at about $35 and the 2015 vintage is a worthy addition to the wine cellar.

Ridge is an annual winner in the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2011 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 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.

Sourced from Gap’s Crown, Walala and Terra de Promissio vineyards.

Light crimson in color. 14.4% ABV. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, cloves, baking spices and forest floor. Light to medium body with refreshing acidity. Loads of upfront fruit but plenty of structure and balance. Cherries, cranberries, pomegranate and cinnamon on the palate. There are still some tannins on a glorious finish. The wine bodes well for the 2011 Kosta Browne single vineyard wines. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2016 version will be released next Spring and will likely cost around $70. 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 last year’s version of The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2010 Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost Wines was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Zinfandel, Outpost also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

I opened this bottle to prepare for the release of the 2015 Zinfandel that will be made available to mailing list members this week.

Maroon in color. 16.1% ABV. Soaring nose of blue and black fruits, flowers and baking spices. Full bodied with medium to strong acidity. Lush, elegant and remarkably well balanced. Blueberry liqueur, black cherry, licorice and black pepper on the palate. The finish is long with dusty Howell Mountain tannins. Delicious Zinfandel that will drink well for the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Even at $50 this Zin is a buy for me year in and year out. Don’t miss the Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from True Vineyard. Highly recommended.

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2015 Turley Zinfandel Juvenile – 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 right around 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.

The vines that make up Juvenile range in age from about 6-25 years, and are pulled from 15 vineyards across California, including Hayne, Ueberroth, Pesenti, Salvador, and Vineyard 101.

Crimson in color. 15.5% ABV. Sweet nose of red fruits, brown sugar, earth and pepper. Rich, lush and exceptionally well balanced. Full bodied with medium acidty. Raspberry liqueur, cherries and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. This really goes down easy and certainly outperforms the $20 price point. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 91 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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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Ridge Zinfandel East Bench

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 July Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Ridge Zinfandel East Bench.

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. 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.

Ridge has made the East Bench as a single-site Zinfandel since 2006, one of only two Ridge Zins that is 100% Zinfandel. The vineyard sits high atop the bench land that overlooks Dry Creek Valley from the east.

Magenta in color. 14.7% ABV. Brooding nose of black fruits, pepper and granite. Full bodied with mouth watering acidity. Plush, rich and savory. Blackberry, mulberry, raspberry liqueur and pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with gritty tannins. Lots to like here and about the 2015 Ridge Zinfandel lineup in general. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 92 points.

This wine is fairly priced at about $30 and a worthy addition to the wine cellar.

Ridge is an annual winner in the Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2000 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Chateau Montelena dates back to 1882 when Albert Tubbs bought 254 acres of property just north of Calistoga. Tubbs planted vines and by 1896 Montelena was the 7th largest winery in California. Winemaking came to an end with the onset of Prohibition.

The current iteration of Montelena can be traced to 1968, when Jim Barrett was brought on as a partner in the winery. Wine production began again in 1972, with Mike Grgich employed as winemaker. Four years later, the Chateau Montelena 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won first place among the Chardonnays and White Burgundies entered in the “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. This was later chronicled in the popular wine movie Bottle Shock.

Crimson in color. 13.9% ABV. Old World nose of red fruits, cedar, leather and menthol. Light to medium body with light acidity and fading fruit. Plums, currants and cherries on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Somewhat charming on a warm Summer night in Seattle but nowhere near what you expect from Montelena in a good vintage. Drink soon.

My rating: 87 points.

Chateau Montelena is truly a throwback to a bygone era. These are wines meant to be cellared, providing less pleasure on release than they will after 10 or more years of aging. That being said, poor vintages like 2000 should be consumed on the younger side.

Current vintages are readily available at retail and can also be purchased at the winery. Expect to pay $100-$125 per bottle.

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2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Papera Ranch – Bottle Notes

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.

Papera Vineyard is situated in the Russian River Valley and was planted in 1934 by Charlie Papera. Most vineyards from this era are comprised of a number of mixed black varieties. Papera, on the other hand, is 95% Zinfandel.

Interestingly enough the 2012 Bedrock Papera is 60% Zinfandel and 40% Carignane.

Maroon in color. 14.7% ABV. Sensational nose of red and black fruits, leather and pepper. Fresh and vibrant with tons of acidity. Rich and plush with fruit in spades. Raspberry liqueur, boysenberries, plums and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. For me, 2012 is the vintage where Bedrock took it to another level. Exceptionally well made wines across the board. Drink the Papera over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The mailing at Bedrock is highly recommended. Exceptional wines, fair prices and great customer service. Put your name on the waiting list.

I blogged about Bedrock recently in The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2012 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 the Bohan Vineyard in Cazadero on the Sonoma Coast.

Light red in color. Almost as light in color as a red wine can get. 13.2% ABV. Subtle nose of red fruits, citrus and forest floor. Light and refreshing with tangy acidity. Cranberries, pomegranate, black tea and minerals on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Fascinating wine that closely resembles a Beaujolais more than anything else. Drink this one soon.

My rating: 89 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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2005 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée – Bottle Notes

2005 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the winning bottle in the June Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

The family of Domaine du Pegau has roots in Châteauneuf-du-Pape dating back to the mid-17th century. The word Pegau refers to a wine jug discovered in the excavations of the 14th century Pope’s palace in Avignon. Today, the estate is run by the Paul Ferraud and his daughter Laurence. Domaine du Pegau owns 21 hectares of vines in Chateauneuf du Pape.

Light crimson in color. 14% ABV. Stunning nose of red fruits, kirsch, tar and lavender. Medium body with strong acidity. Clean, focused and pure. Balanced and fresh with silky tannins. Cherry, raspberry, garrigue and pepper on the palate. Medium length on the finish. This CdP is deceptively structured and powerful. In a good spot now but should cruise to 20 years of age.

My rating: 93 points.

Current vintages including the 2013 and 2014 can be found had for just about $50. Hard to go wrong with this iconic producer of CdP.

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