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2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The exotic-sounding Moone-Tsai is a collaboration of Napa Valley business veterans (Mike Moone, Mary Ann Tsai and Larry Tsai) and star winemaker Philippe Melka. The flagship wine is Cor-Leonis, a luxurious low-production, three-AVA Cabernet Sauvignon. They also offer a Howell Mountain blend of Merlot and Cabernet, two Chardonnay (one Napa and one Sonoma Coast), plus the Napa Valley Cabernet reviewed here.

Both Cor Leonis and the “Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon” use a good measure of Coombsville fruit. However, the balance of Cor Leonis comes from Pritchard Hill and Oakville (To Kalon) whereas the Napa Valley’s other AVAs are St. Helena and Howell Mountain. The 2010 Cor Leonis, which lists at $185, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

My only previous experience with Moone-Tsai was at Napa Valley Premiere in 2013. Their smooth, rich and flavorful, yet balanced, auction lot was among my favorites that year. So, when I saw this bottle of Moone-Tsai on a wine list the other day, I eagerly bought it to try.

It is a youthful wine with opaque ruby coloring and a nose of black currant and gently toasty oak. The nearly full-bodied palate is more expressive, cocoa and star anise complementing the black currant and oak. The fine-grained tannins need neither food nor decanting though, given a bite of steak, they become softer and chalky. The flavors are quite linear now, the finish warm and lengthy. I tasted this Cabernet again after giving it 18 hours of air and found it unchanged. This wine has the structure to age and few years in the cellar will bring even greater harmony and complexity. Best 2016 through 2022. Highly Recommended

2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
moone tsai cabernetRating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Best 2016 through 2022
Closure: Cork
Production: 1350 cases
Release Date: September 16, 2013
Retail Price: $85.00

Winemaker: Philippe Melka
Blend: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot
Origin: Coombsville, St. Helena and Howell Mountain
Aging: 26 months in French oak, 56% new
Alcohol: 15.1%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: not required

Temperature: 60º - 64º F

Food Pairing: Braised beef cheeks

Interpreting my wine ratings

 

Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook 

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2014 NorCal Wine. Photograph by Suzanne Becker Bronk. All rights reserved.

2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

The Hawk and Horse wines come from a sloping, 18-acre estate vineyard that reaches up to 2,200 feet in Lake County's Red Hills AVA. The deep red, volcanic soil is peppered with silicon-based crystals known as "Lake County Diamonds" or "moon tears" The vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. It's part of a much larger ranch that's also home to adorably shaggy Scottish Highland Cattle.

The Red Hills Lake County AVA was established in 2004. It's warm, sunny days lead to good ripeness in Bordeaux and Rhone varieties. The high altitude, breezes and cool nights maintain reasonable acidity levels and keep sugars from getting too high. In addition to the handful of locally based wineries, several large companies own extensive vineyards in Red Hills, including Beckstoffer, Beringer and Kendall-Jackson.

2009-hawk and horse cab bottleFresh out of the bottle, the 2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon is tight and firm with light-grained tannins. Extensive decanting allows the wine to blossom. Powerful aromas of tart black cherry, briary blackberry, dark spice and sweet oak emerge from the deep ruby wine. With decanting, body moves from medium+ to full and the tannins get pleasingly thick but softer. Flavors included salty mineral, black fruit, oak and moist cedar forest. For early consumption, decanting is essential. I was happiest after 18 hours. Drink now through 2025. Highly Recommended+

2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills Lake County AVA
Rating: Highly Recommended+

Drink: now through 2025
Closure: Cork
Production: 1350 cases
Retail Price: $65.00

Winemakers: Richard Peterson and Tracey Hawkins
Origin: Hawk & Horse Estate vineyard, Red Hills Lake County AVA
Aging: 23 months in French oak, 100% new
Alcohol: 14.8%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: 3 to 24 hours

Temperature: 60º - 64º F

Food Pairing: Well-marbled steak

Interpreting my wine ratings

 

Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook 

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2014 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

 

2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Holy cow, this a gorgeous wine. I tasted—no, I drank—it last night at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. [The restaurant is offering 50% off all bottles on their wine list this month, so now’s the time to explore their extensive list of excellent West Coast wines.]

Proprietor and winemaker Rosemary Cakebread founded Gallica in 2007. At that time, she transitioned to consulting winemaker from winemaker at Spottswoode, a role she’d held for a decade. She left Spottswoode entirely in 2012 to focus fully on her own label. Cakebread earned degree in viticulture and enology from U.C. Davis and has since worked 35 years in Napa Valley. Her husband, Bruce Cakebread, is president of Cakebread Cellars which his parents founded in 1972. Gallica offers Cabernet Sauvignon, a red Rhone-variety blend from Shake Ridge Ranch in Amador County and, soon, a wine from the Pisoni’s Soberanes Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands

The 2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon captures you immediately with beautiful aromas of savory black currant, dark flowers, cocoa and spice that rush from the dark ruby wine. Full-bodied and vivid, the palate is loaded with sensuous, velvety tannins. Scrumptious, long-lasting flavors of chewy black currant, mocha, five spice and subtle oak make the glass hard to put down. Drink now through 2025. Very Highly Recommended+

2010 gallica label-small2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Rating: Very Highly Recommended+

Drink: now through 2025
Release Date: Fall, 2013

Closure: Cork
Production: 217 cases and 32 magnums
Retail Price: $150.00

Winemaker: Rosemary Cakebread
Blend: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petite Verdot

Origin: Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville Ranch & St. Helena-Vallejo Street, Cabernet Franc from Oakville and Petit Verdot from Coombsville, Napa Valley
Aging: 19 months in French oak, 78% new
Alcohol: 14.4%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 60º - 64º F

Food Pairing: Most anything with beef or lamb

Interpreting my wine ratings

 

Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook 

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2014 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

Review: 2009 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Buccella is a small-production, luxury wine label founded by Bill and Alicia Deem in 2002. They offer two Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wines and one Merlot, all from vineyards in Napa Valley. “Buccella” is Latin for “mouthful,” which reflects the style of wines the Deem’s say they strive for: “big, bold, concentrated.”

Buccella’s first winemaker was Mark Herold. Assistant winemaker Chris Justin took over in 2007, followed by Celia Welch in 2008. She continues there along with winemaker Rebekah Wineburg who joined in 2009.

The '09 Cabernet is dark purple in my glass. The nose is outgoing, but focused, with a core of blackberry and black cherry fruit accented by oak and mocha. It’s nearly full-bodied in the mouth with medium-plus tannins of light chalk and fine powder. Flavors include black cherry, chocolate, blackberry and spice.

The 2009 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful wine, ripe but not overly so. At first sip, and second and third, it’s very primary and the tannins are prominent. But those tannins moderate sensuously when I sip the wine after a bite of steak. After two hours in a decanter, the forward fruit recedes and savory notes of meat and spice dominate with a background of mocha. Big, bold, concentrated. Drink now through 2020+. Highly Recommended+.

09 Buccella Cab

2009 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Rating: Highly Recommended+

Drink: now through 2020+
Closure: Cork
Production: 1,238 cases
Retail Price: $145.00

Winemakers: Rebekah Wineburg and Celia Welch
Blend: 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc

Origin: Rutherford, Oakville, Stag’s Leap, Yountville and Coombsville AVAs
Fermentation: Whole berry fermentation
Aging: 22 months in French oak, 100% new
Alcohol: 14.7%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Optional

Temperature: 60º - 64º F

Food Pairings: steak, braised short ribs or lamb shanks


Interpreting my wine ratings

 

Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook 

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Vin Roc Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak Napa Valley

Vin Roc winery sits on, and is tunneled into, Atlas Peak at an altitude of 1,600 feet. The vineyard slopes toward the Foss Valley floor below. The surroundings are almost startlingly rocky, all volcanic. In some areas the ground is littered with black rocks. Some are the size of golf balls, many are small boulders. Others spots have deep layers of volcanic tuff, a pale ash [tuff] compacted over time so that it resembles calcareous rock. Between the large stones grow wild grasses and a variety of trees. [Grass on the valley floor is kept low by grazing cattle.]

vinroc-cave
The barrel-aging cave was bored out of solid volcanic rock.

vinroc-vineyard
Looking down on the Vin Roc estate vineyard and across Foss Valley.

vinroc-tuff
The tuff fractures, allowing roots to penetrate deeply for groundwater.

 Rocky-Slope
A rock-strewn hillside at Vin Roc on Atlas Peak.

Like most mountain AVAs in the area, the vines see long, sunny days during the growing season. However, Atlas Peak is quite close to San Pablo Bay. Cool winds off coming off the water combine with the high altitude to keep temperatures as much as 10 degrees cooler than on the valley floor.

michael-parmenter
Proprietor/winemaker Michael Parmenter's hair testifies to the cool San Pablo Bay winds as we look over the valley.

The 2008 Vin Roc Cabernet Sauvignon is a deeply colored and aromatic wine with a distinctly savory personality. The nose in particular echoes the vineyard’s sylvan surroundings with notes of cedar, dry brush, spice and tobacco surrounding ripe, slightly dried black currant. There’s an elegance to the nose that follows through on the palate. Medium-plus body and matching tannins of fine powder are balanced by that chewy black currant on one hand and moderate acidity on the other. Spice and black cherry add interest. The finish is lengthy but leaves you wanting another sip. Drink now through 2020. Highly Recommended+

2008 Vin Roc Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak Napa Valley

Rating: Highly Recommended+

Drink: Now through 2020
Closure: Cork
Production: 350 cases
Retail Price: $98.00

Winemaker: Michael Parmenter
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: Vin Roc estate vineyard, Atlas Peak
Aging: 24 months in French oak, 12 months in bottle at the winery
Alcohol: 14.5%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not essential

Temperature: 58º - 64º F

Food Pairings: Lamb chops from a wood-fired grill with black olive couscous.

Interpreting my wine ratings

 

Photo Credit: Fred Swan

Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook 

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.