Wednesday, December 30, 2009
On the bright side, Ridge has instituted a new membership log-in to streamline purchases online. Gone are the days of manually entering the same old shipping info everytime you want to make a reorder. Thank baby Jesus, too.
Now, here is just a quick recounting of the past year's Ridge ATP/Z-List releases:
December: 2007 Zinfandel Dusi Ranch Late Harvest
November: 2004 Lytton Estate Grenache **
October: 2006 Zinfandel Old School (not tasted)
September: 2006 Nervo **/***
August: Optional Shipment: 2007 Jimsomare ****
June: 2007 Carignane Buchignani Ranch **/***
May: 2004 Petite Sirah Dynamite Hill ***
April: 2004 Zinfandel Oltranti **/***
February: 2005 Zinfandel Buchignani Ranch **
January: 2006 Zinfandel Dusi Ranch *
2007 Geyserville ***/****
2007 East Bench ***
2007 Paso Robles **/***
2007 Lytton Springs *
2007 Pagani Ranch **
2007 York Creek ***
Monte Bello wines:
2006 Monte Bello ***
2006 Monte Bello Chardonnay ***/****
2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ***
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
In New York, if you’ve survived the 2009 onslaught, then in Frank Sinatra’s words, “You can make it anywhere.” The old saw seems true in life as well as wine, at least, that was the feeling I got the other night after the wines were revealed in a tasting of 2005 California Cult Cabernet organized by none other than David Hamburger of Vintage Tastings. I was standing at the bottle tables with another gentleman after the brown paper bags were pulled away and the labels revealed, and I held in my hand my #2 wine of the night -- A wine I had never tasted before, let alone heard of. He was young and rich. A banker of sorts from Germany, and he was familiar with the wine in my hand, a 2005 Sherwin Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
“It’s not expensive,” he said.
“Really?” I said. “How much?”
“Oh … $50 or $60?” he responded.
Well … is $50 or $60 expensive? What about $300? My how things have changed.
Now let me digress.
Some of the best wines in our tasting are unheralded by the major critics, and this is a good thing. In fact, I heard it reiterated over again last night that the Parkerization of one’s palate is a serious insult. Scarves and gloves may – and did -- fly at the mention that one prefers his or her wine overtly “prunish.”
So after all the talk, I was surprised to see the Wine of the Night revealed as, none other than Bryant Family Vineyards 2005, a Parker favorite. It was without question delicious, floral and balanced, and only more so as the night wore on. It was my #5 wine of the night. And it took the sting out of being called a "Parkerite."
Wines in order of appearance:
1. Stanton Cabernet Sauvignon */** (Group 4th place) Low shine; some oak notable and sweet milk cocoa on the nose. On the palate minor green notes; a Bordeaux style with lingering dry tannin on the finish.
2. Shelter *** (Tied 10th place) Deep red color with lots of shine on this. Salty minerality evident on the nose and even some celery salt; I heard the phrase "black cherry cola" bandied about. Certainly a Bordeaux style here as well, not tart, but mildly loamy, not exactly sweet tannin; gains elegance with air, and the celery and fresh herb notes come out on top. Very fresh with air.
3. James Johnson Vineyards Bisou Estate ** (9th place) Low shine; consistent nose as wine #2, with less overt minerality here and more ripe fruit notes. Mellow tannins, with cola and cherry coming up early, but more fluff than substance on the finish.
4. Versant Vineyards ** (Tied 11th place) Good shine. A very Napa nose with minor oak and ripe sweet cherries, mellow spices, and tart, chalky tannin in the middle.
5. Realm Farella Vineyard ** (Tied 11th place) Good shine. Very minor funk on the nose blew off quickly enough. With charcoal (could that be from the hot dog stand downstairs?) some green and celery notes, but on the palate nice balance and sweet tannins, good mint as well.
6. David Arthur Elevation 1147 (flawed) (Tied 10th - but NOT LAST place)
7. Peter Michael "Les Pavots" ** (Tied 10th place) I have to admit, I was pulling for this wine. I pegged it as my #3 of the night - I was wrong. Still, this was very nice. A semi-translucent pale purple with some well hidden vanilla, some sweet cherry and cocoa, and developing buttery popcorn notes towards the end. Tight and elegant, but overshadowed tonight.
8. Sherwin Family Estate **** (My #2, Group Tied 6th place) Nice shine; violets, earth and minor vine leaf on this outstanding nose. Balanced, best so far. Sweet but robust mid palate tannins, with notable black olives and increasingly floral and elegant with aeration.
9. Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve *** (7th place - my guess was Bryant) Nice ripe red shine with ripe sweet fruit on the nose, sweet raspberry and some oak on the nose as well. Lots of cola, mindful of malbec. With some mint and olive; coffee and vanilla bean on the finish. Very near ****
10. Husic Vineyards ** (Tied 8th place) Low shine. Charcoal and graphite on the nose, with underlying tart strawberry. Some marajuana on the nose? Black cherry cola here, with good minerality and green olives - black olives - olive mix? Good sweet tannin on the close.
11. Hemlach Hills (flawed) (Tied 10th - but NOT LAST place - seriously people, what are you drinking?)
12. Merus *** (My #4 - Tied 6th place) Very elegant on the nose, with dried flowers and mellow cola and some soft wood, plus blackcurrant notes as this aired. Very elegant. Mellow fish oil; sweet tannin, almost overly sweet? Some salt water on the nose. All over the place; pretty amazing.
13. Harlan Estate ** (Tied 8th place) You could almost feel the collective "Ohhhh" of let down as this wine was revealed. Very high shine, "most complex nose of the night" thus far say my notes, but only very mellow round tannin on the palate, not at all viscous or overt, with mellow green and celery notes providing some intellectual stimulation.
14. Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard (Grand Cuvee) **** (My #3; Group 3rd place) Good shine, with a hot nose of mint, mellow barn, port and some fish oil - very complex nose that came together greatly. "Wow" smooth. Gorgeous in the mouth and elegant and very long.
15. Shafer Hillside Select **** (My Wine of the Night; Group 5th place) High shine; hot nose; high concentration mellow mint and spice. Wow. Uber smooth, mellow chalk, with oreo mint cookie ice cream on the finish.
16. Lewis Cellars Reserve *** (Group 2d place) Cola and celery and salt on the nose. Mellow mint evolves with air. Black pepper and prunes, with big concentration and very soft in the middle but not forever. An overall very impressive wine.
17. Bryant Family *** (My #5; Group Wine of the Night) High shine. Very floral nose; with lots of salt, celery and mint. Nice and full. Very Napa, with pepper and mild spices. Incredibly drinkable, and the first wine I gulped down.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
The night before Thanksgiving, as family was arriving from California rather late, we stayed up with a bottle of Ridge Vineyards Grenache Lytton Estate 2004 ** This improved by day two -- when I had a little sip of it with an apple and cheese for lunch as we were preparing the main event -- garnering a nicely loamy texture and concentration and dark berry fruits.
For din-din I opened a Domaine Drouhin Cuvee Laurène 2006 *** We had received this as a gift from our friends in Portland who praised it and despite its young age, I couldn't resist. From the website, "Laurène is our flagship wine, and is produced entirely from Pinot Noir grown on the family's estate in the Dundee Hills. All of the fruit is handpicked into small totes, destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and then placed into barrels (French oak, never more than 20% new)." A deep garnet or very dark red rose color, with red fruits and very mellow pine and wet earth on the nose. My notes trail off at this point, but it was nicely round on the palate without being sweet. And I almost enjoyed this more before dinner than during. Another Oregon wine lending credence to the greatness of the 2006 vintage?
For the white wine lovers we opened a Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay Sonoma County 2006 **** Let me admit now that I was surprised at the superamazingness of this wine. (Yes, that's one word.) I opened a second bottle last night to confirm just how superawesome it was. There is saying that "young" wine writers can't be objective about the wines they enjoy, and I guess this post proves their point. Screw objectivity in the face of great wine. This Hanzell is without question the single greatest Hanzell wine I have ever tasted. A pale gold color, with a bouquet of fresh wild flowers, taut minerality on the attack, with sumptuous tropical fruit notes in the middle and just un soupçon of black licorice and oak on the finish.