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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.

2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi

Lodi is well-known for old vine Zinfandel with many vines planted more than a century ago. Some of Lodi’s grape-growing families have participated in as many vintages themselves. The Schnaidt-Mettler family, which created Harney Lane Winery in 2006, started as growers and planted their first Lodi grapes in 1906. Winery founder George Mettler [1943–2013] resided adjacent to the family vineyard his entire life.

The Lizzy James Vineyard, which belongs to Harney Lane and has produced the winery’s most-celebrated wine from the beginning, dates back to 1904. It holds roughly 20-acres of gnarled, head-trained Zinfandel vines planted on Lodi’s unique Tokay sandy loam.

The 2011 Harney Lane Lizzy James is a hedonistic, yet balanced, Zinfandel: deeply-colored wine and full-bodied with medium+ chalky tannins. Its luscious aromas and flavors of sweet red and black cherries, spice, toffee and caramel are so generous that it's hard to put the glass down. The stated alcohol is high, but rich fruit and a touch of residual sugar ensure  there’s no heat on the palate. Enjoy over the next three to five years. Highly Recommended

2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi
2011 Harney Lane Lizzy JamesRating: Highly Recommended
Drink: now through 2018
Release Date: November 9, 2013
Closure: Cork
Production: 443 cases
Retail Price: $35.00

Winemaker: Chad Joseph
Blend: Zinfandel
Origin: Lizzy James Vineyard, eastern Mokelumne River AVA, Lodi
Aging: 22 months in French oak
Residual Sugar: 1.3 g/L Alcohol: 15.9%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not recommended
Temperature: 58º - 62º F
Food Pairings: Duck Breast with molé sauce (from Alebrijes Mexican Bistro)

Related Articles
Interpreting my wine ratings
Body Count - On Describing the Body of a Wine

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 wine 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.

2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa

Mumm Napa has been making sparkling wines in concert with Carlos Santana for several years now. 100% of Santana’s proceeds from the sales go to agencies helping to prevent and/or remedy youth substance abuse. One of the non-profits involved is his own Milagro Foundation which has given more than $5 million to benefit youth’s around the world since it’s founding in 1998.

The first wine he worked on with Mumm—Santana consults on the dosage—was the NV Santana Brut ($50), now an annual release. In May of this year, the 2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé was added. The good news, from a charitable standpoint, is that the wine has sold out. The bad news for you is that the wine has sold out. I say this because I just opened a bottle and it’s delicious.

supernatural-rose2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa is striking to look at with hundreds of tiny bubbles flying up through the pastel pink wine. Fresh, incisive notes of strawberry, raspberry and green apple on the nose are softened by toasted brioche and peach skin. The palate is clean and gently crisp with flavores of strawberry, raspberry, tangerine pith and green apple. The tangerine and apple aspects last throughout the lengthy, dry finish. This is a versatile sparkler, crisp enough for an aperitif and sufficiently flavorful to accompany a meal but also just soft enough to enjoy on it’s own. Drink now through 2016. Highly Recommended

If you didn’t manage to get a bottle for yourself there are other bubbles you can drink for the cause. This year’s release of Santana Brut is still available as is a brand new wine, the 2007 Santana Supernatural Brut ($60). The wines are available directly from Mumm Napa, in person and online.

2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa

Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2016
Release Date: May, 2013

Closure: Cork
Retail Price: $65.00

Winemaker: Ludovic Dervin
Blend: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay

Origin: Napa Valley
Alcohol: 12.5%

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.

2011 Jekel Riesling Monterey and 2011 Jekel Pinot Noir Santa Barbara

userfiles-file-Jekel-Riesling-2011Riesling is one of the wine world’s best values. Whether the bottle comes from Germany, Australia, Alsace, Washington State, New York or a cool region in California, you can consistently get more flavor and energy for your dollar with Riesling than any other grape. Given that Riesling is both moderate in alcohol and a tremendously versatile partner for food, it’s a wonder people aren’t more enamored with it. Why is it that, when many of us began to reject oaky, buttery Chardonnay, we turned to oft-boring and green, no-oak, no-ML California Chardonnay rather than make the jump to Riesling? Face palm.

As my diet has become less steak, steak, steak, I’m drinking more Riesling myself and I’m bringing it to dinners with friends. Their first sip is often a literal eye-opener. Bam! Flavor that sings. Acidity, and sometimes a touch of sweetness, that compliments sauerkraut or curry, steamed bass or braised pork, hot dogs or haute cuisine.

I’ll admit that most of the Riesling I drink comes from either Germany or Australia. However, I recently received a Monterey County Riesling from Jekel Vineyards as a sample and found it both well-made and a good value ($15.99). The nose is a charming mix of apricot, lime and white flowers. The palate is off-dry yet retains juiciness while a very finely textured mouthfeel adds interest. The attractive flavors of apricot, peach, lime and grapefruit pith were fresh and nicely balanced with the sweetness and acid. The 2011 Jekel Vineyards Riesling Monterey—just 12.5% alcohol—goes down very easily with our without food. Tasting it though, I was struck by how nicely a well-chilled bottle would go with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Drink through 2014. Recommended.

Pinot Noir is usually the opposite of Riesling with respect to value. Pinot Noir is finicky, doesn’t take well to large crop loads and usually benefits from some time in oak. Oak aging is one cost that Riesling producers don’t face. I usually find inexpensive Pinot to be unexciting at best and sometimes flat-out unpalatable. Sometimes there are heavy-handed oak flavors that come from using wood staves in a steel tank rather than actual barrels. Sometimes the fruit is confected or tastes artificial. Sometimes the fruit isn’t ripe, or it’s way too ripe. Nuance? Hah!

However, in the same shipment from Jekel, I received the affordable 2011 Jekel Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County (14.1% alcohol) which I’d be happy to drink. I was surprised by its complexity, impressed by it’s restraint and refreshed by it’s dry, juicy palate. The nose offers dusty black cherry, cola spice, charcoal and dark berries. The medium-bodied palate serves up even more than the nose: black cherry, cola, berry fruit leather, day-old campfire, dry herb and cracked pepper—all held in check by moderate, drying tannins. That’s a lot of Pinot Noir for $17.99. Recommended.

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.

2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley

My first experience with Matthiasson wines was six or seven years ago. Jill and Steve Matthiasson hosted a crowd of wine bloggers/writers/tweeters to an al fresco buffet and tasting at their home/orchard/vineyard in southwestern Napa Valley. I was just getting settled in—finding a glass—when William Tisherman grabs me by the elbow and leads me to a chilled bottle of white wine. “You have to try this,” he insisted. “And tell me what it is.”

Talk about being set up to fail. The wine was every bit of delicious but there was no way in... Napa I was going to guess the blend. It was Matthiasson’s now famous mélange of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ribolla Gialla and Tocai Friuliano. Today the cool wine people talk about that wine like it’s a normal thing. And it still isn’t. But back then, many California wine folks, myself included, could have been easily convinced Ribolla Gialla was either an Italian chef or something the World Health Organization works to eradicate.

Matthiasson wines in general were under the radar back then. That didn’t last long though and today they’re getting reams of complimentary coverage from wine cognoscenti such as Jon Bonné and Alder Yarrow. Food and Wine Magazine named Steve Matthiasson one of their “2012 Winemakers of the Year.” Yet the wines are still reasonably priced for Napa Valley.

The 2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard is perhaps the primest of examples. It sells for $25. In my view, it’s a case buy. It’s... wait a minute. I’m going to buy a case myself right now! Okay, I got mine. Now I’ll describe it.

Gorgeous aromas of pear, baking spice and Meyer lemon pith waft from the glass of lemon-green wine. The palate is lithe and medium+ in body with flavors that keep coming in acidity-driven waves. There’s crisp pear and green apple, pineapple, peach and spice. The finish is long and clean and demands you take another sip.

After my evaluation and note writing, I enjoyed the wine, which I had purchased at retail, with my dinner of grilled giant squid dipped in Kewpie mayo and Shichimi togarashi. It was an ideal combo but the wine will go well with most any light seafood or chicken dish. But it doesn’t necessarily need food. Nor does it need more time in the bottle, but I suspect it will age delightfully. I’m looking forward to letting a couple of bottles from my case cellar for a while. I’ll get back to you in seven-plus years to let you know how that's going. I suspect the other ten bottles won’t see 2014. Drink now through 2020. Very Highly Recommended.

2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley
2012-Matthiasson-Chardonnay-Linda-Vista
Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2020
Release Date: July, 2013

Closure: Cork
Production: 1,024 cases
Retail Price: $25.00

Winemaker: Steve Matthiasson
Blend: Chardonnay

Origin: Linda Vista Vineyard, Oak Knoll District AVA, Napa Valley
Fermentation: 2nd & 3rd use oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation, half of the barrels unstirred
Aging: 9 months in barrel
Alcohol: 13.5%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 50º - 52º F

Food Pairing: Grilled ika with Kewpie mayonnaise and Shichimi togarashi

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.