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Posts from the ‘Bottle Notes’ Category

2007 Force Majeure (Grand Reve) CS Reserve Cabernet Sauvigon – 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. Even more changes are in the works including a new label and a Force Majeure Tempranillo.

The 2007 CS Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was made by Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. I decanted the wine for an hour.

Purple in color. 14.7% ABV. Riveting nose of black fruits, pencil lead and molten licorice. Immense and concentrated. Full bodied with super silky tannins. Black currants, cassis liqueur, blueberries and coffee on the palate. Nice length on the finish. In a really good spot right now. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 93 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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2010 Ravenswood Zinfandel Cooke 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 barbecue on the deck out behind the winery. Great wine, great food and great memories.

Cooke Vineyard, planted in 1979, is 10 acres of Zinfandel on a steep hillside about 1200 feet above the Sonoma Valley floor at the lower end of the Mayacamas Range.

Black in color. 15% ABV. Awesome nose of brambly black fruits, licorice and white pepper. Medium body with perfect acidity and exceptional balance. Old school, claret style Zinfandel. Blackberries, cherries, iron and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and spicy. Fantastic Zinfandel that is aging gracefully. Always one of the best single vineyard designates from Ravenswood. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Ravenswood is widely available at retail the winery and via the mailing list. Unfortunately, Ravenswood last produced the Cooke Vineyard Zinfandel in 2012. Look for current versions of Dickerson or Old Hill.

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2012 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 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 a dozen different Russian River Valley vineyards including Giusti, Kanzler, Keefer and Koplen.

Light red in color. 14.6% ABV. Sensational nose of red fruits, cinnamon, cloves and earth. Medium body with just the right amount of acidity. Plush and supple with great mouth feel. Cherries, cranberries, blood orange and baking spices on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. Stunning appellation wine that only bodes well for the single vineyard designates from this vintage. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2016 version was recently released at a price of $68. I’m 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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2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch – 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.

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.

Dark crimson in color. 15.4% ABV. Exquisite nose of black fruits, licorice and white pepper. Medium body with mouth watering acidity. Slightly lighter in style than I expect from Carlisle but more likely a reflection of nine years of bottle age. Black raspberry, cream, anise and pepper on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Super Zinfandel from one of the very best vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Drink over the next year or so.

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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2005 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Switchback Ridge wines are sourced from the Peterson Family Vineyard. The property, located just off the Silverado Trail between St. Helena and Calistoga has been in the Peterson Family since 1914 and was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah in 1990. Kelly Peterson along with her father John founded Switchback Ridge in 1999. She is responsible for all aspects of the business, including all sales, marketing and hospitality functions. Bob Foley has been the winemaker since the inaugural vintage.

Crimson in color. 15.7% ABV. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, licorice, scorched earth and plums. Plush, silky and impeccably balanced. Powerful, concentrated and youthful in appearance. Cassis liqueur, black currants, chocolate and raspberries on the palate. The finish is long and decadent. Fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon and everything you hope for when you open a Bob Foley wine. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Switchback Ridge wines are only available via their allocation list. The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon will be released to mailing list members this fall at around $85 per bottle. Fantastic value here in my opinion.

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2009 Turley Zinfandel Mead Ranch – 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.

Mead Ranch is located in the Atlas Peak Appellation of the Napa Valley. The vineyards at Mead Ranch have been in continuous production since 1916, when the three Mead Brothers, Giles, Charles and Albert, bought the ranch. Souverain produced a “Mountain Zinfandel” from Mead ranch as early as the 60s, Rutherford Hill Produced “Mead Ranch–Atlas Peak” Zinfandel and Zinfandel Port in the 70’s.

Magenta in color. 16.1% ABV. Fantastic nose of red and black fruits, baking spices and white pepper. Full bodied with plenty of acidity. Just a slight bit of heat on the palate. Flavors of cherries, blackberries, anise and pepper. Tremendous length on the finish. Not for the faint of heart but if you are a fan of the Turley wines from the Ehren Jordan era then this will be right in your wheelhouse. Consider me a fan. Drink over the next 1-2 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 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2008 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 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.

Light red in color. Almost translucent. 14% ABV. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, cloves and baking spices. Light to medium body with exquisite acidity. Lithe and delicate with the fruit starting to fade ever so slightly on the palate. Flavors of bing cherries, cranberries, earth and pine needles. Medium length on the finish. I’m not sure Williams Selyem intends for their appellation wines to be aged for 10 years but this wine has stood the test of time. Best over the next year or so.

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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2017 Lauren Ashton Cellars Rosé – Bottle Notes

Lauren Ashton Cellars was founded in 2009 by Kit Singh. A Dentist by profession, Kit’s passion for wine was fueled by trips to Napa, Sonoma and Europe’s best known wine regions. Kit’s enology background includes classes at UC Davis and Seattle Community College along with an internship at Delille Cellars.

The inspiration for the name of the winery was Kit’s two children, Ashley Lauren and Ashton Troy. The packaging for the wines is impressive. The black and white pictures on the labels are from buildings in Estonia where Singh’s partner, Riinu Rammal, is from.

Light salmon in color. 12.5% ABV. 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre ad 20% Counnoise. Pretty nose of pink grapefruit, citrus and freshly cut grass. Bright and refreshing with ample acidity. Strawberries, cranberries and minerals on the palate. Medium length on the crisp finish. My type of Rosé! Wait until things heat up and enjoy this all Summer.

My rating: 90 points.

The Woodinville tasting room is open Thursday thru Sunday from 1pm to 5pm and is a worthwhile stop on your next winery excursion. The Rosé will be released the weekend of 4/21-22 with a portion of the proceeds from that weekend’s sales going to the Northshore Schools Foundation. The release price is $21.

Review based on a sample provided by the winery.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel Sonoma County

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 April Zinfandel of the Month is the 2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel Sonoma County.

Dry Creek Vineyard was founded in 1972 by David S. Stare. Kim Stare Wallace now runs the winery and Tim Bell is the winemaker. Dry Creek Vineyard makes a wide array of wines but is certainly best know for it’s Zinfandel program.

Purple in color. 14.5% ABV. 79% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah and 1% Carignane. From 20+ year old vines in Sonoma County. Savory nose of black fruits, plums and earthy loam. Full bodied with medium acidity. Rich, plush and spicy. Black cherry, blackberry, salmon berry and pepper on the palate. Good length on the finish. Easy to drink Zinfandel that is widely available and attractively priced at under $20 per bottle. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 89 points.

Although not quite on par with the best values like Carlisle Sonoma County and Turly Old Vines the Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zin compares well with the Ravenswood Appellation Zins and Seghesio Sonoma County. Give it a try!

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2008 Saxum James Berry Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Saxum Vineyards is located in the Paso Robles AVA of Central California. Founded in the early 2000’s by Justin Smith, a young winemaker who had previously been part-owner of Linne Calodo, Saxum leapt into the limelight in late 2010 when its 2007 James Berry Vineyards wine was named the #1 Wine of 2010 by Wine Spectator. Smith owns the winery with his wife Heather, and produces up to 2,800 cases of wine a year.

The James Berry Vineyard is the Smith family’s estate vineyard. It is located 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean with an average elevation of 1200 feet. This particular bottling is 52% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre and 17% Syrah. The wine was not decanted.

Crimson in color. 15.8% ABV. Blockbuster nose of black fruits, scorched earth, molten licorice and flowers. Full bodied with nice acidity. Exceptional balance. Rich and powerful with great concentration. Black cherry liqueur, creme de cassis and grilled meats on the palate. The finish is extraordinarily long, silky and seamless. This wine takes your breath away. Stunning effort. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 98 points.

Current wines from Saxum are available via the mailing list at $98 per bottle. There is a several year wait before you can expect to receive an offer.

I’ve written about Saxum previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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