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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.

2009 Cornerstone Cellars “The Cornerstone” Napa Valley

2009 is the inaugural bottling of The Cornerstone, a best barrels blend of Cornerstone Cellars Bordeaux varieties. The intent is to produce a top-quality, age-worthy wine that is also a clear expression of the vintage. Included varieties and their ratios will vary from year to year, as befits the vintage and vineyards.

This vintage is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, coming from the U.C. Davis Oakville Station Vineyard which lies within the much larger To Kalon Vineyard. It was blended with 2.5% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. After barrel aging and bottling, Cornerstone Cellars held the wine for an additional year to let it mature further.

I have tasted the wine twice, first on the release date and again yesterday. In August the wine was still quite tight coming out of the bottle but blossomed with 30 minutes of air. Now it seems even that amount of decanting isn’t entirely necessary.

2009 The Cornerstone is a powerful yet seductive wine with aromas of sweet dark flowers, black cherry and spice. I rarely use this term to describe wine but sexy is the word that came to mind when I took a sip. It’s the mouthfeel; full-bodied with a wealth of fine, powdery and fine-grained tannins. It would be fun to drink even if it had no flavor. But it does—delicious and long-lasting black cherry, tobacco spice and dark chocolate. Drink now through 2025. Very Highly Recommended.

2009 Cornerstone Cellars “The Cornerstone” Napa Valley
09 the cornerstone
Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2025
Release Date: August 2012

Closure: Cork
Production: 89 cases
Retail Price: $125.00

Winemaker: Jeff Keene
Blend: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, 2.5% Merlot
Origin: Oakville Station, Oakville AVA (Cabernet Sauvignon), Talcott Vineyard, St. Helena AVA (Cabernet Franc), Stewart Ranch, Los Carneros AVA (Merlot)
Aging: 22 months in once and twice used French oak barrels, 12 months of bottle aging
Alcohol: 14.9%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Maybe 30 minutes
Temperature: 58º - 64º F
Food Pairings: Who needs food?

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 adds off as personal recommendations or who getting 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 directly 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 breaking 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. Photo courtesy of Cornerstone Cellars. 

2009 Laetitia Pinot Noir Single Vineyard La Colline Arroyo Grande Valley

Laetitia Vineyard and Winery primarily produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wine from its estate vineyards in the Arroyo Grande Valley AVA. Their site is about 5 miles southeast of the town of Arroyo Grande and stretches from Highway 101 east up into the hills. From the higher vineyards you can easily see the Pacific Ocean just 3 miles away. Its tremendous cooling effect allows for very long growing seasons but excellent acidity in the grapes. Depending on where you stand, the soil is either alluvial, deep piles of volcanic rock or limestone.

The La Colline vineyard is at the forefront of the cooling. It’s among Laetitia’s closest to the ocean and situated at the end of a small canyon that funnels the cold air straight onto the vines. If not for the south facing of the sloping vineyard getting adequate ripeness could be an issue. This particular soil is a blend of volcanic and ancient sea floor washed down from the hill tops.

 resources-picture-inst87-b61f1309f3439b7a98a5c9c2ea01ac20

The 2009 Laetitia La Colline Pinot Noir has a classic nose of mixed red fruit, darker cherry, spice, sarsaparilla and dark floral notes. The body is on the generous side of medium with moderate talc-like tannins. In the mouth, the cherry and berry fruit is balanced by medium-plus acidity and enhanced with more spice and sarsaparilla. This is a very good wine, properly ripe but taut and disciplined. Drink now through 2017. Highly Recommended.

laetitia la colline2009 Laetitia Pinot Noir Single Vineyard La Colline Arroyo Grande Valley

Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2017
Closure: Cork
Production: 220 cases
Retail Price: $60.00

Winemaker: Eric Hickey
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir

Origin: La Colline Vineyard, Laetitia Estate,
Fermentation: Whole berry fermentation, open top
Aging: 12 months in French oak, 30% new
Alcohol: 13.3%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not required

Temperature: 56º - 60º F

Food Pairings: Pan-roasted quail with mushroom duxelle

 

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 adds off as personal recommendations or who getting 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 directly 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. Photos courtesy of Laetitia. All rights reserved.

2010 Lange Twins Chardonnay Estate Grown Clarksburg AVA

The Lange family has been growing grapes in Lodi since 1916. They have expanded their land holdings and areas of involvement within the wine business substantially over the years. In 2006 they established the Lange Twins Winery which produces wine under that label as well as Caricature and Green Hills. David Akiyoshi is the head winemaker. Prior to joining Lange Twins he was director of winemaking at Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi which is also in the Lodi area. (David is also proprietor of School Street Bistro in downtown Lodi. I've eaten there twice and recommend it.)

Lange has vineyards in both the Lodi and Clarksburg AVAs. This Chardonnay comes from Clarksburg, a growers’ region with 7,000 acres under vine but just 12 wineries. The area is capable of ripening high-yielding vines but cooling breezes coming off of the Sacramento River and its delta help to maintain acidity in the grapes.

The 2010 Lange Twins Estate Chardonnay offers pleasing aromas of green apple, pear, spice and yogurt. It is medium-plus in body with food-friendly acidity and a very light texture on the tongue with flavors of green apple, tart stone fruit, lemon and a touch of minerality. This is a solid effort, something I’d be happy to find in my glass at a backyard party. And at just $15 suggested retail and 13.9% alcohol it is a good choice for pool-side sipping, cookouts and weeknight dinners. Drink now through 2014. Recommended.

2010 Lange Twins Chardonnay Estate Grown Clarksburg AVA PRT LTCH10750 Mid 20110919 145559

Rating: Recommended

Drink: now through 2014
Closure: Screwtop
Retail Price: $15.00

Winemaker: David Akiyoshi
Origin: Estate vineyards, Clarksburg AVA
Alcohol: 13.9%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 50º - 54º F

Food Pairings: seafood, salads, chicken

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 adds off as personal recommendations or who getting 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 directly from wine producers. I’m a professional wine writer not a shill. 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. Photo courtesy of Lange Twins Winery.

2012 Borra Vineyards Artist Series Kerner Lodi AVA

Borra Vineyards is among the oldest and best wine producers in Lodi. Stephen Borra etablished the winery in 1975 on 30-acre Barbera and Carignane vineyard he purchased from his family in 1966. Borra acquired an additional 200 acres of vineyard in another location in 1992. The winery and tasting room remain at the original vineyard on E. Armstrong Road.

Markus Niggli, a native of the German-speaking part of Switzerland, has been the winemaker at Borra for 6 years. Most of the wines are made from varietals that you expect from Lodi: Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, Merlot, etc. Lately though, Niggli has been making some white blends that are unique in the U.S., let alone Lodi. They include the 2011 Intuition White Blend (Kerner, Rieslaner and Gewurtztraminer) and today’s wine of the day, made from Kerner and Riesling.

These German varieties come from the Koth family’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyard. They have specialized in German wine grapes and now have about 41 different varieties. Their Kerner is probably the only planting west of the Mississippi. Niggli is using them to make delicious blends that remind him of those from Switzerland.

The 2011 Artist Series Kerner was bottled relatively soon after fermentation to capture remaining traces of CO2, similar to some Vinho Verde. The wine is nearly water white and a scattering of tiny bubbles cling to the side of the glass. The nose offers crisp, but ripe, green apple, lemon-lime, wet stone and peach. There’s enough sweetness to make it “off-dry” but it’s hardly noticeable on the palate because of the wine’s brisk acidity. Because of that freshness, the wine is simultaneously mouthwatering and drying on the tongue. Flavors echo the nose with green apple, lime and a bit of stone fruit. The finish is long and juicy. This wine should pair well with just about any food you’d have with brut Champagne. It made me want to slurp some oysters. Drink now through 2014. Highly Recommended.

Artist Series labels result from design contests for graphic arts students at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Borra2012ArtistKernerLabel-2002012 Borra Vineyards Artist Series Kerner Lodi AVA

Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2014
Bottling Date: January 15, 2013

Closure: Screwcap
Production: less than 200 cases
Retail Price: $18.00

Winemaker: Markus Niggli
Blend: 85% Kerner, 15% Riesling
Origin: Mokelumne Glen Vineyard, Mokelumne River AVA, Lodi
Fermentation: Cold-fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts
Aging: 4 months in stainless steel
Residual sugar: 2.1 g/L
Alcohol: 13.5%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 46º - 50º F

Food Pairings: seafood, salads, chicken

The wine above was tasted with the winemaker.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking 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.