Search Articles

Please Share

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditTechnoratiLinkedin

Sponsors

Search for Events

Wine of the Day via RSS

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Connect

  • Facebook: norcalwine
  • Linked In: FredSwan
  • Twitter: norcalwine
 

Sponsors

Wine of the Day

2009 Tudal Tractor Shed Red

Tudal Winery is an old-timer compared to most Napa Valley wineries. Its start came in 1974 when Arnold Tudal and his wife Alma Tudal in bought the land. With viticultural advice from Napa legend Louis P. Martini, they planted Cabernet Sauvignon and were off and running.

Tudal still produces two Cabernet Sauvignons. One is an estate wine and one comes from the Clift Vineyard in Oak Knoll. There’s also a Cuvee which includes Zinfandel, Merlot and Sangiovese, a Pinot Noir from the Bacigalupi Vineyard in the Russian River Valley and a Maldonado Vineyard Chardonnay from Napa Valley.

Tudal has another brand, Cerruti Cellars, which produces five wines. They are the Honker Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, MerBlanc rosé of Merlot, Tractor Shed Red blend, Flat Bed Red Zinfandel, and another blend called Rag Top Red. Cerruti Cellars has a tasting room in Oakland’s Jack London Square. [Correction: This article initially implied that the winemaker for these wines was Kirk Venge. Venge had no involvement with the Cerruti blends. They were created by Ron Vuylsteke and Tom Eddy.]

As you might expect from the name, neither the Honker Blanc nor the Tractor Shed Red are pretentious wines. Tudal describes the latter as “a fun and enjoyable everyday wine from the Napa Valley.” I received both wines as review samples and found them to be well made and good values.

The 2009 Tractor Shed Red is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Zinfandel. The aromas are friendly and attractive, principally coconut, black cherry, blackberry, oak and and drying leaves. The wine has medium-plus body, juicy acidity and drying but ripe tannins. Flavors echo the nose with cherry, oak, and blackberry as well as caramel and dark chocolate. The finish is satisfyingly long. Recommended.

My wine ratings are independent of price. I recommend based on quality, not value. That said, at $15, the Tractor Shed Red is a very good value and I’ve been intending to publish this review for a while. What brought me to do it today was a visit I made to the Novato Costco on Sunday. I noticed that they are selling this wine for $6.99. If $15 is a very good value...

If you haven’t already grabbed the car keys and headed to Novato, let me take a moment to recommend the 2010 Honker Blanc. It’s a clean and fresh Sauvignon Blanc with flavors driven by citrus and tropical fruits without the aggressive pungency and green notes of some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It retails for $14.

2009 Tudal Tractor Shed Red
tractorshedred-cropRating: Recommended

Drink: Now through 2015
Closure: Cork
Production: 5,000 cases
Retail Price: $15.00

Blend: 60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 20% Zinfandel
Origin: California
Alcohol: 14.5%

 

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Lasseter Family Winery Rhone Red Blend, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Valley

On a recent trip to Napa Valley, I found myself with a few minutes to kill and wandered into the wine shop at Dean & DeLuca. After tasting a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, I was in the mood for something different. I decided to see what they had in the way of Rhone blends from Northern California for $35 or less. I found five wines that qualified and put them through a blind tasting later that week. One of the wines was corked. Of the remaining four, this Lasseter Family Winery offering was easily the best.

Lasseter Family Winery is located west of Highway 12, just north of “downtown” Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley. The winery isn’t open to the public at all right now though. There is a lot of restoration and construction happening on the property. The wines are made from the Lasseter's 27-acre estate vineyard, Justi Creek, which is planted with seven red varietals. The Lasseter family purchased the winery and vineyard in 2002.

John Lasseter and his wife Nancy started dabbling with amateur winemaking in the early 90’s and have been making their own wine for some time. However, now that they have started a commercial winery, they have turned to Sonoma wine veteran Julia Iantosca to lead the winemaking efforts and guide vineyard enhancements. John Lasseter’s day job is Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation. He was the director of Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Cars has been the executive producer for many other Pixar hits. He also co-wrote Toy Story.

The 2008 Lasseter Family Winery Rhone Red Blend is true to type with opaque ruby color, thick tears on the glass and a pronounced nose of black cherry, crushed blackberry, dark spice, black pepper and game. The palate is full-bodied with rich yet gentle tannins. Flavors include Moroccan spice, black cherry, black pepper and burnished leather. The wine will go well with lean and moderately marbled meat but is soft enough to not overwhelm hearty vegetarian dishes. Echo the flavors by accenting pan-seared quail or lamb tagine with Moroccan spices. Or let the wine provide the accent to ratatouille (no Pixar-allusion intended, though the wine would probably go well with the movie as well). Drink now through 2014. Recommended.

Lasseter-Rhone-Red

2008 Lasseter Family Winery Rhone Red Blend, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
Rating: Recommended
Drink: Now through 2014
Retail Price: $35

Blend: 68% Syrah, 16% Grenache, 16% Mourvedre
Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork
Production: 135 cases

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Tor Rock Grenache-Syrah Hommage Allan

I recently received a new-release offer email from Tor Kenward Family Wines. I found the description of their 2008 Tor Rock Grenache-Syrah Hommage Allan hard to resist. So I didn’t. The blend is 52% Grenache from the Judge Family Vineyard in Bennett Valley and 48% Syrah from Hudson Vineyards (in the Napa part of Carneros). Less well-known than Carneros, the Bennett Valley AVA is just southeast of downtown Santa Rosa. Other well-known vineyards there include Matanzas Creek and Jemrose. The area can be thought of as cool-climate with oceanic breezes, funnelled through a wind gap, and substantial morning fog providing the air conditioning.

The sugars, and thus alcohol levels, of Grenache can get quite high if the grape gets too much sun and heat. TOR’s use of cool-climate vineyards for it, and the Syrah, in this wine have allowed them to keep the alcohol at just 14.1%. I think that’s fairly reasonable for these varieties in California, yet TOR seems to be looking to win a prize for “least legible wine-label alcohol disclosure still approvable by the TTB.” If you can read it, you may be too young to drink the wine.

Due to a very dry year and ill-timed frost, both the grapes and the overall crop volume were very small. As a result, just 150 cases of this wine were made. Fortunately, the small berry size and special attention given to the vineyard seem to have paid off in the character of the grapes. The wine is rich and full of personality. Adding further complexity was partial whole cluster fermentation with dry, brown stems and fermentation with “wild” yeast.

The wine is deep ruby in color with aromas of black pepper, earth and crushed black fruit that reach out of the glass to pull you in. On the palate, it is full-bodied and creamy with very fine, grippy tannins making for an interesting mouthfeel. The flavors are bold, yet complex, and include white and black pepper, spiced game, leather, blackberry and dry herb. The wine is smooth and rich enough to drink by itself, but would be great with wild boar sausage hot off the grill. Drink now through 2014. Highly Recommended.

2008-Tor-Rock-Grenache-Syrah-Hommage-Allan-copy

2008 Tor Rock Grenache-Syrah Hommage Allan
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2014

Retail Price: $40
Blend: 52% Grenache, 48% Syrah
Aging: 100% French oak

Alcohol: 14.1%

Closure: Cork

This wine was purchased for review. It was not tasted blind.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2006 Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvee Napa Valley

It’s interesting how some grapes, or their particular attributes, can make themselves evident in a wine even if only a small percentage of the blend. I first sampled this wine as part of a blind tasting of California Cabernet Sauvignon. When I smelled the wine, my immediate thought was, “how did a Syrah wind up in my blind Cabernet tasting?” The first aroma I got was black pepper. A couple of days later, I poured some of the remaining wine blind for a couple of friends. Their reaction was the same as mine had been. Black pepper is a hallmark of  Syrah. Yet, Syrah only makes up 10% of this wine.

I don’t want you to get the impression that this is a one-note wine though, or that it’s dominated by Syrah overall. It is isn’t. It’s a very good wine that echoes the complexity of its blend and I encourage you to try it.

The 2006 Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvee Napa Valley looks dark in your glass and the fruit is dark too. Brambly black fruit, black pepper, smoke, leather and cocoa rise out of the glass to greet you. Swirl. Inhale. Now you also get orange rind and clove. The flavors are a bit more straightforward – a lot of dark fruit with cocoa and vanilla – but very attractive.

There is nothing shy about the 2006 Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvee Napa Valley. Whatever the blend of grapes, it’s 100% masculine. The tannins are robust and grippy, the aromas dark, complex, and well-delineated. Fans of Napa Valley “mountain fruit” will feel at home.

You might want to decant the wine, though the tannins won’t get too much softer. That’s going to take some bottle age which this wine can certainly handle. That said, it’s very drinkable now if paired with a robust meat dish with some fat in it. Grilled rib-eye steak or short ribs slow-braised in red wine would be good choices.

The Hess Collection website is providing information on the 2007 vintage now. However, the 2006 Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvee Napa Valley is still available in their online store at the retail price listed below. The bottle I reviewed was purchased at a local retailer a couple of days ago for less. Drink now through 2015. Highly recommended.

Hess-Block-19


Rating: Highly Recommended
Retail Price: $36.00
Blend: 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Malbec, 10% Syrah, 5% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new
Closure: Cork
Alcohol: 14.4%

This wine was purchased for review.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are located above and below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.