Sunday, December 26, 2010

2004 Andrew Murray Syrah Roasted Slope (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley)

Dark with tinged edges. The nose has warm blueberry pie, blackberries, spring flowers and cooled bacon fat. The palate shows a wonderful expression of California Syrah. There is great vibrancy of fruits with blueberry in the forefront. Included are black berries, black cassis liquor, sun warmed river stones, bacon fat, exotic spices and a hint of damp forest floor. Some vanilla shrouds this nicely and the tannins are well behaved. Balance it fantastic with acidity lying amongst the fruit as if it were kin. Mouth-feel keeping in the mid area with a touch of creaminess. I was surprised how well this showed tonight with some challenging foods of spicy fish sauces & vinegared salads. 92 pts

2005 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley)

This is super dark indeed. Purple edges. The nose is all black cherry and black cassis with a hint of cardamom. The palate shows an attack of pure Cabernet Sauvignon. You will not make a mistake on calling this if tasted blind. It's all black fruited and pure. There is the black currant, black cherry, blackberries and ripe black plum skin. Some exotic tea, some soy, some kirsch and some framboise. This is a mid-weight wine with chewy but not aggressive tannins and a lilty acidity. Somewhat two dimensional and exact in its approach, what I used to call Four-Square, this is all it could promise to be, and does not pretend to be anything other; Pure exact Napa Cabernet somewhere in the middle of both worlds, but tonight leaning to the more classic side. In this price-point it's tough to beat ($24), The finish is admirable. Yep, It's Cabernet!  91 pts

2006 Rockledge Cabernet Sauvignon The Rocks (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)

This has loads of stuffing; It just needs the patience to treat it right. 4 hour minimum decant on this. It is a tightly structured cab with tradition soaked into the molecules. Black cassis, black cherry, tar, soy, leather, cedar box, exotic tea. its all here; it just need coaxing. When it shows itself you will know what a classically cab is like if you never had one before. It's a medium to full bodied style with masculine tannins, nice balance, and it's all brawn. Not for the faint hearted. A long finish with all the black fruits remaining in play. If you are a Napa Cab lover you owe it to yourself to try this wine. It's everything many 2007 Napa cabs I have sampled are not. If you don't have the time to decant, don't bother. I can see this going for the long term. 93 pts

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2007 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

(from CLONYC 21)

Hold onto your seats. This one is the ride of a lifetime. Its pure cab explosiveness on the nose. When I opened it at about 3pm my kitchen filled with its fragrant beauty. When poured later on it gained weight. Probably the most mouth coating wine I have ever experienced. Dark and ominous with goby layers of lush exotic fruits. Black cassis, crème de kirsch, pomegranate, and more. Deep and expressive--long and luxurious. An incredible balance with multi-faceted tannins and a lilty acidity. Wow. 7 Wine of the flight votes. 96pts

2007 Virage Vineyards (USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros)

Simply put: What a beautiful wine. Pop and pour. This has pretty hue of purple tinged crimson. The nose showed some bing cherries, red raspberries and red plums. A multi-layered joy to behold that just kept giving, this was bright and lively on the palate. There was zero of the negative stuff CF can have. Perfectly balanced and lilty with a purity and focus that tip toes over bind-boggling, this was a lite to mid-weight wine initially but after about an hour this gained some weight as well as some black fruits of currants and black plum. A luscious and plush CF blend that has structure, breed and elegance. It crescendos into a long opulent finish. Fantastic. (94 pts.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

2006 Audelssa Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (12/12/2010)

100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 1 hour decant. Pretty ruby red with neon edges. Nose of black cherry, sassafras & red plums. Palate shows those fruits with an intensity that is pretty great. A very focused and vibrant Cabernet that shows a cool cab profile. Its floral and fragrant with cherries on top. There is a cherry Herring liquor quality that I find fascinating. It could be dangerous if over-done, but for the moment it stays pleasing. A medium weight mouth-feel with firm structure. Tannins are refined but ever-present. A near perfect balance. The dark fruits style on the tongue long after the wine has gone down. There is the ever so smallest hint of cool menthol on the tail end as well. What a great QPR. I might have to go back for more. (91 pts.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2007 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley (12/11/2010)

The single best Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve I have ever had, and I had many. Dark an ominous. A nose of all black cassis, lead pencil, black plum and cola. The palate shows a deep and focused Cab with gobs of layers that keep evolving. Cool licorice and black cassis with Kirsch & Framboise, plum, and tar. This is a serious wine that deserves 10 minutes of pure meditation, and then hours of continuous enjoyment. There is some complicated nuances of oak with some underbrush present; some cocoa, cedar box, and tea-leaf. The tannins keep the complication alive as they are omni-present and luxurious. there is a sweet underlying quality that I really like; there must be at least 5 layers to this wine. A medium to full-throttle leaning mouthfeel that has almost a 'sweet and cool' lushness to it. The finish just....goes. This is a show stopper; the schnizzle we all ever really wanted from GdL. (96 pts.)

Eating crow -or- tasting the 2000 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

A few months back these were available for deep discount at where-as I had placed foot in mouth when some friends asked my opinion and said that it was most definitely a pass due to vintage. Well, even at 49 I can learn a thing or two, and hope I am all the better for it. Within a half a day I received an email from Cathy Corison telling me I should taste this wine, that I would be surprised with it. I have and I am.

Hey Cathy, nice job!

2000 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (12/10/2010)
Pop and pour. Dark mature edges on a crimson base. Super bright nose of sweet cheery pie, sweet anise, red currants and red raspberries, all in a big bouquet of spring flowers. Very interesting and inviting. The palate is all cool red fruits with tons of structure and finesse; there are some red currants, red raspberries compote, bright bing cherries, a hint of tart plums, some tar, worn leather, and graphite. There is a wonderful mid-weight and somewhat lush & creamy feel to this one. The finish is long and exact. Interestingly, I have never really had a 2000 Napa Cab that I really really liked, or should say experienced any that did not exhibit at least some of the problems inherent of the vintage; they always seemed a bit manufactured, fake or cloying. This has broken the mold and is a revelation to me. It’s a very pretty and most certainly a Bordeaux-like Cabernet, something I always believed was Corison’s house style. Definitely a very different style than many being made these days and although not the style I usually seek, this is a winner. Drink now and enjoy. Should hold on for a few years. (92 pts.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2005 Summerland Syrah Single Vineyard Collection Bien Nacido Block X (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley)

Deep dark color, almost opaque. Purple red edges. Nose of cherry cola soda and black cherries. The palate is medium in weight slightly elevated in acidity, but all in all a very round a full Syrah with tons of class and pizzazzzzz. This screams California, and that's a good thing. There are some crushed stones, ripe black berries, clack currant, bacon fat, blueberry tart and more. A long finish closes it out nicely. A nice Syrah that drinks well above its station. If this pops back onto WTSO, I am jumping....... 91 pts

2007 Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)

Color is more red than black. Opaque. The nose has a sweet cherry and vanilla wrapped red currant quality. Palate has explosive reddish black fruits with cherry first and foremost, then some raspberry and sour cranberries. Oak is a bit elevated as is the alcohol in the form of dry finish. Very awkward and blowsy, this really fits what I had expected of it for the vintage. These are somewhat flamboyant in a classic year, in 07 this is 4 fold. I wish I could wrap my palate around it. Maybe 10 years might help, but I could also imagine it not. I could imagine it drying up and fading away. Too bad.

2006 Drew Family Cellars Syrah Broken Leg Vineyard (USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley)

Dark color with purple-crimson edges and a nose of sweet red cassis/currant, cherries and raspberries. The palate shows some great breed. There is bacon fat, warm blueberry pie, cherry compote, crushed river rocks and more. Some violets show toward the mid palate and there is a real perfumey quality (eau de cologne) that pops in as you remove the glass from your mouth. Very intriguing. A extremely balanced wine that has its tannins in check and acidity fluttering right above the mid-palate. Something between new world and the best of the old world minus the funk. A long finish with the dark fruits in memory for more than a minute. I have had some Drew bottlings in the past and they always deliver the good. 92 pts

2002 Emilio's Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

20 minute decant. Crimson-black with carmine edges. The nose is all currant, black cherry & graphite. The palate reveals some expressive notes of cocoa, cassis, kirsch royal, black plum, & creamy plush stuff, all good. the tannins seem resolved and balance really tight. There is some good symmetry going on here, some goood structure in the middle weight fighting category. Class is evident. Some cola pops in Mid-palate and a hint of cedar & mint show themselves. A decent finish all in all. If I had to find fault (and why would I?) I would say somewhat 'typical', but maybe that's not a flaw at all. A pretty nice example of a 2002 Napa cab and I would expect no less when the word 'Reserve' is on the label (maybe that's why I went a-lookin'). A great deal from this past summers Winebid bonanza and pretty good qpr for $25 per. 91 pts

2006 Cloud View Pritchard Hill (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Purple tinged edges on crimson. Nose a bit subdued. There is some very evident pizazz here. Dark cherry cola, black currant, some pomegranate, some soy, some leather. A very plush wine with a medium bodied mouth-feel. Large formatted tannins on a silky acidity base that rides a bit high, but not too much so. There is a dryness from the middle out that really never lets up. A long finish for a few minutes closes this one. There is a certain classy element here. I can see what Mondavi see as far as potential for his Continuum label. Though not for the faint of heart, I might like to revisit in 2 years. It will be a stunner. 91 pts

2003 Double Diamond (Schrader) Cabernet Sauvignon Mayacamas Range (USA, California, Sonoma County)

Still vibrant. The nose is all sweet cherry-cola. Palate shows some pretty good cab qualities of black currant, black cherries, Kirsch, and smoke. Interesting. It is a wee-bit simple, but for the price paid, a home-run ($15). A medium weight wine with some plushy goodness. Pretty long finish with fully resolved tannins and a almost imperceptibly elevated acidity that worked pretty well with chicken Milanese with a lightly dressed white balsamic & olive oiled Boston lettuce salad. Great deal and qpr. This has held up well and I will seek more for the right price. 90 pts

1991 The Terraces Zinfandel (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Some browning on the edges as expected. The nose is sweet red cherries and Framboise. It is actually quite elegant and petite and light in its weight with some spring flowers and rubbed sassafras. The palate has the same cherries and Framboise, but add into the mix some red currant and macerated blackberry skins. There is some sun kissed warm river stones in there as well. Totally resolved with lots of good stuff for lovers of old wine to like, you know all those secondaries one seeks: tar, old leather, and cedar box. There is also a hint of some spiciness left. A long and focused finish really makes this enjoyable. A great deal on WB for $15. Love me some experiments.....90 pts

2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Some Days Are Diamonds (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Wow. This has shed some of its bulk and become more graceful and pretty. It has a very fragrant & floral note of violets and spring flowers. Its gotten a bit silky too. There is some creme de cassis, blackberry, black-cherry and black currant. In my last note I mentioned it would be great on the deck with my alongside the BBQ tools, now it can be moved inside to a nice rack of lamb. A super long finish really makes this enjoyable. If I put this into a CLONYC tasting blind, it will really catch attention. I think I just......might. 92 pts

2008 Congruence Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

From the pick up party earlier today:
This has really became the sum of all the parts I tasted a bit back as barrel components. Its dark and sexy with great backbone and some real Coombsville character, (a character I am learning more & more about all the time). This was a bit closed at first, but after about 30 minutes it opened nicely. There is a silkiness about it this that stems from the fruit, always showcasing its purity. Theres some black currant, black cherry and hints of cool cola, this had some power within the elegance that really catches and holds your attention. It has some great balance which displays the iron fist/velvet glove thing nicely. Did I say it was sexy? It was. Once this sheds its baby fat this will really be an amazing bottle. I am going to try and hold back opening my first bottle for a bit, but it will be tough.

2005 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Something amiss with this wine and I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'll try. There is an almost fabrication quality to it that I seen on many a 2000. I would never expect this in 2005, and certainly not from Etude. Theres some black fruits but I really can't get past a maderized/over-extracted/port like quality that really annoys me. The mid palate is high in acidity and the finish seems seems fake, and I just feel it in my nose! I hate that.. I had heard there was an issue with this one, but had to see for myself. I guess if you want to really appreciate great wine, you need a yardstick to measure it against from time to time, and I have met this years yardstick. Ouch!

2003 Beckmen Vineyards Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley)

The nose is ALL steamed meats with some black berry and cardamom. The palate has a nice purity with fantastic balance and structure. There is blueberries, blackberries, black cherry, smokey bacon, sun warmed river stones and more. A very nice and precise, albeit maybe a wee simple Syrah from Purisma mountain, never ever to be confused with a French wine. Tannins are resolves and acidity rides slightly high. This would be great with some grub. A longish finish with much vibrancy. Pretty nice for the price at auction ($15) and glad I have more. I will hold the rest of this for dinner, and btw, it needs at least a 30 minute decant. 90 pts

Friday, November 19, 2010

TN: 2006 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Farella Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” This Realm is dark as night. The nose is a pure precise focus of black and red fruits and of cassis driven earth with blackest cherry cola. Slightly holding back itself, but I see into it all too well. The palate is one of purity and class. Dark fruits once again with mutliple layer of Napa Cabernet goodness: there is the Creme de cassis that I really love; some lead pencil; a hint of pomegranate; and enough black cherry one could ever want. This has so much balance to bring smileth to thou face. No need to ask "When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning, or in rain?" for the time is now. Plush with class, this has a medium weighted mouthfeel; it's tannins are still working, and acidity of the lilty type. Long finish that goes on and on. Make no tragedy hereth, as one not be deserved. This Realm is the schnizzle, or as Bill said: "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this Napa."

Thou did not liketh the 06s when first released nearly as mucheth as I do-eth now. (93 pts.)

Stolen from Winebid for $50 per!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2004 Clark-Claudon Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Pure Cabernet. very classic balanced & elegant. Its dark. Its nose is black fruits at midnight. There is some black-cherry lingering. The palate is pure with the blackest cassis, blackest cherry and a hint of pomegranate. There is some macerated black plum pudding in here too. It's all focus and never show. There is some mushroom notes, some lead pencil shavings and some lite soy. The balance is incredible. Tannins are in check and super complicated. The acidity it high-wire act-like. Let me tell you of the finish: It's long and focused with those aforementioned black fruits. Elegance and structure with purity and precision. What else does a Cabernet lover ask for? Nothing.
Here would be a good test: take any highly rated 2007 and put it alongside this. No contest, because this is the real deal. 100% Cabernet from a great vintage with just a few years on it. Nice. Very nice. Think Karl Lawrence Reserve. (93 pts.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

2007 Jones Family The Sisters - USA, California, Napa Valley

My theory of pop & pour for all (most?) 2007s has been debunked.
I did pop and pour this. It was dark and viscous. The nose had some hidden black cassis, black cherry, camphor and black plums. This was very fragrant with a hint of violets and spring flowers. The Cab Franc made itself known. The palate had shown some gracefulness & purity right out of the gate. A very nice start--but after about an hour this evolved into a plushy refined, elegant & interesting wine. The fruits come more 'forward' as well. It was full and round with well woven tannins and an acidity that worked well with some challenging foods over lunch. Some sassafras, lead pencil and fresh rubbed leather all made an appearance as well. Nothing big and brash about this one, it fell in step with what I have come to expect from Jones Sisters in the past, having recently had every vintage since 2001.
A very decent finish that kept the fruit alive. Very nice indeed. Still one of the best QPRS in the valley. Started by Heidi, finished by Thomas, where could you go wrong? (93 pts.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

2007 Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

Needs an hour decant time. Super dark and luxurious, the nose is all sweet black fruits and some soft oak. The palate has pure creme de cassis, Kirsh Royal, blackberry, black cherry, black raspberries with a hint of cedar box and tobacco. Some lead pencil and some soy but the big star here is the intensity and purity that seems almost converor-like delivered with elegance and focus one usually wishes for in a Napa Cab, and does not always get. Its tanins are intricate and complicated, and the mouth feel is medium weight, soft full & plushy. What really caught my attention was the finish; it was long and pure fruited, and I mean looooong. 5 minutes later I was still tasting this wine, and that ain't too bad.

One to keep your eye on. Thomas Rivers Brown is the consulting winemaker. (91 pts.)

2007 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Seventy Four - Forty One Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley

A light shaded red color with some crimson edges. Nose of sweet black cherry, cola, cardamom, and wild flowers. The palate unwinds with some fantastic red leaning black fruits. A very 'pretty' wine with an almost pinot noir sensibility?? It's a light weight wine with a classy elegant mouth-feel. There is some lead pencil, red cherry, red currant a hint of sassafras, some cedar with a hint of oak. This is a super balanced Cab with nothing gobby, nothing flashy, nothing that wants to command the room; a real welcome in a sea of big burly Napa Cabs. Very consistent with my last note with maybe just a little more cohesiveness. A real beauty, and one I am glad I have more of.
Well done Karen & John. (93 pts.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2007 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Charlie's Patch - USA, California, Napa Valley

Dark, viscous and very opaque, this is all pure black fruits on the nose. Framboise, cassis, Kirsch, blackberry, and more. This holds to the side of the glass upon swirl. Palate has all the same with a lilty balance, medium weighted mouth feel, big chewy tannins, that are well behaved, and just an amazing overall 'feel'. Today this takes on more weight (since I last had it a few months back). It is now more structure and less show. There is some leather, tar, lead pencil and cedar. Finish is long and beautiful. Finesse and brawn all wrapped up! 
Dark and glorious, one I can really be proud to call my house wine. 95 points, today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2002 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

Last one. 30 minutes decant. Red ruby and pretty transparent for a Cabernet. The nose is all intense red & black fruits with camphor, leather, cedar shavings, and Kirsch. Palate has all this with focus on the reddish fruits. Cherries and sweet plums with red-raspberries that linger on and on. The mouth-feel is somewhat light to medium with a cornucopia of all cabs red fruits. There is a lead pencil thing which reminds one of a good Paullliac, when I drank that sort of thing. (Think Les Forts de Latour, or a Pichon. Baron, not Lalande) . Some spice-box, some damp forest floor, I mean ground. The tannins have a slight edge to them. Nothing negative, just dictates more time needed. Acidity is Mondavi-high--It's a lot like Rocky Mountain High, but different. This is a foodies wine. Its floral, and very pretty with purity that carries most of its heft toward the finish which is long and goodie filled. Very nice showing tonight. I would not rush to this. It sure is better than it was 3 years ago though. (91 pts.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

2005 Domaine Georg Rafael Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder

Dark as expected. What was not expected was the glossiness and pureness this exhibited, remember, It's a 2005 Napa Cab. It is very dark fruited and tightly structured without any tannic edge whatsoever. Black cherry and black current rue the roost with some rhubarb pie, leather, exotic spices and ripe black plum rounding it out. Wonderful balance and silky mouth -feel, creamy texture and focus, this really pleases all the senses and hits all my right spots. Long finish with recent-reminiscent black fruits ending the show nicely. A classically styled Cabernet with elegance & grace. Drank alongside my favorite lobster and shrimp cakes, seaweed and vegetable salad with thai curry coconut sauce, this really carried it all well. No small feat & no surprise since it's a Tom Farella Cabernet made with estate fruit. One to watch. Tremendous QPR (93 pts.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eating through my youth.

It's no mystery that the people we are today is thanks to no small part of who we were yesterday. I was a skinny long haired street kid with an eye for the pretty girls and friends too numerous to count. Food played a big part in my 'growing up in Brooklyn' experience.

I had never even heard of Chef Boyardee's SpaghettiOs until I was about 15 after my brother had turned to them while my parents were away for a few days. Even early on, I could never bring myself to it; Jack's Grocery is where I could be found at such a time; homemade rare roast beef hero, piled about an inch thick, with yellow American cheese, mayo and black pepper. Manhattan Special was always the drink of choice. If I was extra hungry, I would order a 3/4 size hero or maybe some fresh potato salad in a cup--My size 28 army fatigues or chinos knew no limits.

My mother could always be found in the general area of the oven (remember, this is the day before the two income households became the norm), be it eggplant parm, tender veal & peppers in a red sauce, numerous chicken dishes , fried pork chops and rice, potato & egg sandwiches or meatballs & sausages in the Sunday gravy with home made raviolis or manicotti. (We had a tune we sang to the Village People's 'In The Navy': 'In the gravy, that's where you mother puts the meat'). One loaf of crusty Italian bread was relegated just for dipping while we waited picked on some cold antipasto. Earlier in my life, I have memories of ‘gravy sandwiches’ which is exactly what they sound like; only when I turned about 12 or 13 did I move onto meatball or sausage sandwiches. There was always a ton of food, just in case someone popped in, and pop-ins were numerous, especially our friends, who always called mom 'mom', just as we did theirs. If I made the run to the corner for the days Italian bread chances are that the breads 'asses' would be missing by time I got home, and I always got grief for it. It's a little habit my grandfather Frank taught me when I was about 4 while walking back from the bakery on Knickerbocker Ave. I can still hear my grandmother Carmella yelling at him in her broken English. If I say my mom is a great cook, my grandmother was an INCREDIBLE cook. People would go out of their way to stop in on Sundays just to be served something Carmella had on the stove. I have vivid memories of about 15 people sitting around the huge table. Early in her life she had and unfortunate accident when a bottle exploded in her hands and her palms had been sewn together in the emergency room since there was no extra household money to have them seen to correctly, resulting in nerve damage. Today I can still recall in my minds eye standing on that cold linoleum floor that so badly needed replacing, as she measured ingredients with her cupped hand.

Back in our house one night a week was for slumming', usually Mondays where we might have had Sabrett hotdogs (because that's what the ‘dirty water’ vendors sold in the city) and beans or maybe just Sunday's leftovers. I can tell you that no-one ever complained (remind me at a later date to tell you the story why my dad threw a fully loaded dog, 'kraut' and all at my head during a heated dinnertime 'discussion'; we still speak of it). Funny, because it was also a hot dog that I had choked on that made my dad proclaim he would never take me to another ballgame again. (Shea Stadium, circa 1965). He did anyway.

Some misnomers I have carried through my life; To this day I still believe shaken milk is colder; ripped Italian bread tastes better than cut.

And then there was the 2 inch grasshopper in my sautéed spinach story...(how's that for 'fresh!). For a treat on some Saturdays , we would have 'steak sandwiches'; Fridays might be take-away Chinese food. We all had out own preferences, I preferred Szechuan, my parents, Cantonese. I liked that my place put thinly chopped lettuce into the 'Special' spicy fried rice. As I got older the discussion on where to order from always took place. In the end, he who paid, selected. My special fried rice would have to wait for my walk by. Pizza was 50 cent a slice and wonderful. My friends and myself could always be found in Pino’s on bath Avenue, or Lenny’s on 86th street. We were fans before Travolta stacked his slices. Who did that silly move anyhow? Nobody I knew (the producers must have missed that in their 'local color' research'.

Once I started working (13), I always had my own funds for food. On Fridays, I would always treat my 'non-working' friends to Carmines Hot Dog truck across from Jr. High 281; hot dog heroes for all! This was an amazing combo of 2 'water dogs' in a perfectly fitted piece of Italian bread with spicy mustard served off of a spinning wooden stick, all for a buck--- including drink. Carmine had great NY style pretzels as well, not that crap you see today. More mustard please!

Mom's creations on holidays were usually lasagna and..... Lasagna and turkey, Lasagna and ham, Lasagna and beef roast. Birthday’s were choice (3 brothers and a younger sister who did not need a holiday to get her way). I always chose raviolis; I once ate 24 at one sitting and I was very proud of myself. Christmas eve was all the fish. My favorite was steamed scugilli with a hot sauce and a hard Italian biscuit that had to be soaked in water before even attempting to bite into. We always had 3 types of shrimp but the fried never lasted very long. Lobster tails in marinara with linguine, fried lemon sole (which only my parents ever ate), and golden deep fried calamari rings with a perfectly seasoned marinara sauce. It was amazing just watching her ‘in her element’. Christmas day was everything and anything you might imagine; we would start at noon and would not leave the table until 6 pm. Mom made it all look so easy. I know I got my love for cooking from her. I remember visiting with aunts and uncles, there was always something that had to wait on the back burner for everything else to be completed, usually meaning it was cold, mushy, or something over-thickened because of the waiting. To this day that is still one of my cooking pet peeves, again because my moms timing was spot on! Today, when I say ‘dinner!’ you can be sure everyone shows up quickly, else I will hunt them down.

These days my mom says that I am a better cook than she; imagine how I must feel with such a glowing review. My dad does not agree--he actually did not eat my food, until just recently. I think he feels in a way he is 'cheating' on her, and god-forbid he likes it!

Simple times & great days indeed!

2006 Jones Family The Sisters (USA, California, Napa Valley)

45 minute decant. Dark and ominous with red crimson edges. The nose is ungiving today, (more after an hour) but the palate is spot on, as usual. There is cassis driven black fruits with Kirsch Royal, pomegranate, clove, blackberries, black cherry, black and red raspberries. Its deep and plush with a fantastic balance. Tannins in check, acidity doing the high-wire. Decent plus finish. It's pure and enjoyable with out being complicated an ponderous. As a matter of fact, I have finally figured this wine out: THAT is this wines strength; clean, uncomplicated pleasure with elegance and some tight structure, all wrapped in a fifty dollar package and doesn't want to be anything but.Indeed. (93 points)

Friday, August 20, 2010

2006 Audelssa Estate Winery Summit (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley)

Consistent. Ruby red-garnet. Nose: Both black and some reddish currants are here as well as some sharp black cherry and lead pencil. A very dignified and classy wine. The palate has mouth coating glycerin with a medium to light weight feel. There is the currants and black cherry, but also some blackberries, black ripe raspberries, as a matter of fc, he profile changes to all black toward the mid-palate. Very cool. Tannins are big and slightly bruiser-ish, never really getting a blow to your face, this has some wonderful lilty balance and a very lively acidity that work both with food, and nicely without. Th finish has very much 'gained weight' from my last showing. It's long, precise and pure. Minutes later you still sense the first moments of the taste. More Napa-ish this time around, this is deep and well structured. There is lots of character in this character.(94 points)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2000 Château Pavie - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

Opened 6 hours earlier. This was dark with crimson edges. The nose was black cherry and cassis driven. The palate showed some wonderful intertwined red and black fruits of cherries, cassis, pomegranate, and red plums. It had a super-pure and hint of a lush mouth-feel that was amazingly precise and focused. The tannins were clean and aligned with nary a hard edge showing, but I am sure there is more resolving to do. Velvety smooth hiding a hint of brawn. Wow, this really had it all: ground coffee, creme de cassis, Kirsch Royal, tar, worn leather, sun warmed stones, some dried herbs, some vanilla bean and more. A structure that was near mind boggling, this walked the tight rope of balance like a Wallenda brother at the height (pun intended) of his career. The finish went on for a minute and a half, and the fruit never let up. Ever. Sheer joy. (97 pts.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2006 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (USA, California, Napa Valley)

1 hour decant. Dense reddish color, light edges. Almost 'murky'. Almost.
Nose of sassafras, macerated black cherry, red raspberry and wild flowers highlighting violets. Very pretty indeedy. The palate displays some amazing soft reddish black fruits of bing cherry, red currant, ripe pomegranate, and a wee hint of tart gooseberries; very interesting. Mouth-feel is medium and plushy with some softness. Very elegant and floral, this is just shooting from the lass as I write. Wow. Tannins are big but under control and overall balance very precise and focused. A hint of Framboise lingers very long. This really is an incredible bottle of red wine. Hold or enjoy now. I am.

81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot & 1% Malbec

Thursday, July 22, 2010

2006 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley

45 minute double decant.The color is deep black with bright purple tinged edges. The nose is cardamom and black cherry/sassafras. The palate attacks, and I do mean attack with plushy black and blue fruits that are just gushing with flair. A very different road for Ric Forman indeed. There is much to pay attention to with this: black currants, black plum, forest floor, some menthol, some soy, some lead pencil, some creme de cassis, and a noticeable dollop of Kirsch Royal. A medium to heavy weight mouth feel, this has a real great sense of balance and structure, but some elegance is hiding amongst the rogue elements. Wonderful intertwined tannins with a lilty acidic base, this is a real stunner. Black and ominous, this is very Californian in its style. Grabbed a few on a deal last month. Well worth $35, hell, well worth $65. Glad I have a few more. Good to go for the next half dozen years or so-- but what the hell do I know? 92 points

Friday, July 16, 2010

2005 Realm Cellars The Tempest - USA, California, Napa Valley

Super dark and luxurious, this is pure and precise. Nose has all black-cherry and cassis with some cedar box and soy. Wonderful mouthfeel that is medium in body and plush, kirsch and black plum. Tannins are bulky but aligned and still in need of resolving. I have always been a fan of this one from the Realm 05 lineup, more so than any any merlot heavy vintage on either side of the vintage. As a matter of fact, this is the Tempest with the most (52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 18% Petit Verdot.) Cabernet Sauvignon in the history of the label (source: Coombsville). Some red cherries pop out toward the end of this. Very dimensional with tons of structure. Much more weight than my last time with it. Very nice indeed. 94 points

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just an average Saturday afternoon at the Pobegas.....


No formal notes taken. Just impressions, or 'snapshots' if you will.

2008 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Thieriot. Fragrant and showy, while being racy and precise. It really is all about the fruit with these. I enjoy the freshness and balance.

2007 (Blind) Scarecrow. Really needed to breath and be served a wee bit cooler (Started out a bit hot, and hot as in heat), but when treated right, this really blew everything else away. Pure, precise and just awesome. Deep and dark, this had creme de cassis, blackest berries, kirsch and cola. Just mind boggling in its plushy mouthfeel. Best showing of a Scarecow for me yet. Makes me wish I had some.

2001 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon. Great texture, wonderful black fruits. Really first class showing.

2004 Schrader To Kalon. Some greenness and a bit of heat which blew off. Beautiful mouth feel and structure, The greeny thing had me confused a bit though as I never have encountered it in a TRB wine before. Plush and dark. Interesting to watch this one over the last few years.

2005 Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon. A very four square cab style. All the elements I enjoy Shafer for save for maybe a bit of depth and structure. Very nice

2003 Rubicon. Soft, pretty and elegant and maybe just a slight manufactured thing of the vintage I encounter from some 03s and most 00s. Interesting to have on the table.

2001 Axios. Wow, this really had it all and was firing on all cylinders. I have always been a fan on the Egelhoff cab style. This was boisterous and flamboyant while still maintaining the class and structure I expect from the vintage. An early wotn until the second showing of the Scarecrow.

2005 Cliff Lede Cabernet Napa. What an amazing structured cabernet. Great black and red fruits with wonderful balance and style. One I will seek on QPR value alone.

2002 Blair Estate 50% Cab, 27% CF, 23% Merlot. An interesting blend for sure. Style class and bright red and black fruits is all I can remember.

Monday, July 5, 2010

2007 Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch - USA, California, Napa Valley

30 minute decant. Deep dark garnet color, almost opaque with the slightest crimson edges. Dark black cherry nose with some sarsaparilla, cardamom, creme de cassis, and clove. A very elegant, but somewhat reticent style of cab. I sensed that for as much was showing itself, another equal dose was hiding. Very plush mouth-feel with some 'almost' gobby black fruits of black currant, black cherry, and plums. A very iron fist/velvet glove cab that I really enjoy. A medium weight cab with some complicated chewy tannins and wonderful balance. The acidity is perfect, the finish commendable. Uncle Bob might have got this one right. Should drink well for the next 6 or so years. Glad I have 2 more. (93 pts.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

2004 Scholium Project Scythia Donati Vineyards

11:47 AM-Just poured it into my glass. It's still cool, but early indications are to WOW. Stay tuned!

12:05 PM-I don't know much, but what I do know is this is one incredible mother of a Syrah. Its almost alive with fresh creamy fruits, river rock, super balance, and just so much more.
Probably one of the best Cali Syrahs I have ever had in my life.
Note to follow....

1:49 PM-A pleaser as usual. This is dense and dark. The nose is all violets, blueberry cobbler, sun warmed river stones, sassafras, blackberry, pomegranate and more. Poised and almost perfect the delivery is lively and focused, but playful enough for burgers. Acidity somewhat elevated to really carry all forward conveyor belt like all the mentioned goodness. The tannins are structured and evolved, this really has it all. The finish is ultra smooth and pure, and it goes on and on for minutes. Wowser. (96 pts.)


Friday, June 18, 2010

2001 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark and ominous, this was tight out of the gate (as expected for pop and pour). Within minutes it started shedding its armore and black fruits started emerging. Wow, this is pure and precise with tones of refined black fruits of currant, blackberry and black plum. Some real nice cola notes amidst some tar, cardamom and soy. I kept this in my glass all night. It evolved, but in the super-flight at the end of the night, my new pour seemed a bit tired and fading. Still, all in all a very great Hillside from a classic vintage will always please in my book. 95

2002 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Ready for this? This is one of the most incredible cabernets that I have ever had. It had everything a Napa Cabernet drinker could, should ever want. Depth, elegance, structure, and reverence, all wrapped around some sweet black fruits of macerated currants and black cherries--Bing cherries—maybe maraschino cherries. Stellar and precise, this had lead pencil shavings, soy, worn leather, crème de cassis, kirsch, river stones, and more. Almost mystifying depth and purity that one can make cabernet dreams of. Made me want to find my pillow tout suite. 100 points!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jones Family Vineyards Retrospective

Last evening I had the pleasure of meeting with Daniel Bailey from Jones Family Vineyards & winery. He brought east with him 6 vintages of his flagship estate Cabernet, as well as 2 vintages of his second wine, The Sisters. Daniel Posner of grapes the Wine Company played host.

I have been a fan of Jones family for some time now, always capitalizing on locating older back vintages whenever possible. The Sisters is a perennial favorite of mine, one I buy by the case every year. It represents what I believe to be the single best deal in the whole valley, year in and out. Daniel Bailey was informative and friendly. Great wines, great time, wonderful people.

Jones Family Vineyards

2000 Jones Family Estate Cabernet: The first thing you notice upon bringing the glass to your face is vegetalness. The second thing upon entering the mouth—same. Disjointed, weedy, sweet, and undrinkable. Possibly an off bottle?

2001 Jones Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Deep blackish color with red edges. The nose is pure kirsch and framboise. Some great black currant. All carries to the palate with some amazing precision. There is some black cherry, crème de cassis, cola, tat, leather and cedar. Really shows off a classic styling. The tannins got a bit dusty/gritty as this sat in my glass, not distracting though. This is long and elegant. 93

2003 Jones Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: This had some admirable qualities for the vintage. It had a sweet fabricated red fruit profile with some red cherries and ripe red plum notes. Seemed a bit tired. Drink up! 89

2004 Jones Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Slightly fatter than the previous. Good structure. Deep red black fruit profile encroaching into the black zone. Soft tannins, nice balance. Some Kirsch and black raspberries in a creamy plush mouthfeel. Decent finish, this is very pretty and delicate. 92

2005 Jones Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Loud and boisterous, this is firmly structured with deep red & black fruits of macerated currant, blackberries, pomegranate, and black plum. More delineated than all that came before it, save for the 2001, this is pure and focused with some tightly knitted tannins. 93

2005 Jones Family The Sisters: This seemed a bit more restrained than all my past experiences with it. It still retains some great dark fruit, but the plush mouthfeel has quieted down some. It seems more in line with the 04 than the 05 estates. I always believed this to be one to enjoy young(er). A decent black fruit profile with black cherry reigning. I still have 6, and it will be interesting to see where this goes in the next few years. 91

2006 Jones Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Now we’re talking: sweet red fruits profile with a creamy texture, this has the purity and elegance I want, all supported by the structure and backbone, the strength of the 06 vintage in general, at least in my mind. Cardamom, framboise, kirsch, blackberry, black and red cassis, plums, and so much in here to mention, this is real joy. A hint of black pepper? Maybe. It has super-structured tannins with such a tight-rope act of acidity. A very long pure finish that goes minutes, its palatial omnipresence is just difficult to ignore, this is really a wonderful bottle of Napa Cab. Wow 95

2006 Jones Family The Sisters: Not unlike its older sibling, this really packs it in, save for maybe a bit of elegance and structure, but make no mistake, this is one schnizzle of a $50 cab. Pure, clean, and lively, this has much to offer, and all at $50. Black fruits, plush mouthfeel, elegance, purity, structure and more.The best Sisters I have had, continues to be so. 94

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2006 Holdredge Syrah - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

Great vibrant see-through color. The nose is a bit closed at first. After about an hour this really sings: There is warm bluberry pie, blood orange, wild flowers & black cherry. This really showed well/better with food. (Wild Boar sausages, wild mushroom couscous, black berry reduction). Fragrant and pretty beautiful, this belied its price-point by 2x. Palate has all the goodness and then some: Blueberry, white pepper, some bacon fat, soy and river stones. Great medium to light weight mouthfeel, it almost reminded me of Pinot early on, but by hour 1, there was no mistake. Great long finish. What really sellls this wine is the fragrance of the blood orange, blueberry & wild flowers. Very Northern Rhone-like indeed. What a great QPR. (91 pts.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

2006 Bacio Divino Cabernet Sauvignon Janzen Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley

Color is dark amber with purple tinged edges. he nose reveals very little. After 2 hours:A quiet but confident reddish black fruit profile of black cherry, cassis, and black berry. Some Cola comes through as well. The palate initially shows a slight hollowness and alcohol. After 2 hours: This really has come together nicely. The hole has been filled: Deep dark cassis driven. This has some sassafras, creme de kirsch, leather, pencil shavings, a hint of cocoa powder and cedar. Very medium weight with a plush silky mouthfeel. It's amazing how this has evolved in the glass. Its now balanced with some finely aligned tannins. Very pretty & very promising, I might open another in 2 years. Surely not before. The finish is long and elegant. Well worth the $29 I paid from WTSO, but I might not have thought so 2 hours ago, Miraculous recovery! (92 pts.)

2006 Louis Jadot Chambolle-Musigny (France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny)

Not one to ever be pigeon holed as a cab only guy, I like to venture out of my comfort zone from time to time, and yes, although those times are far and few, I can live with that.
This has wonderful powdery red color with the almost imperceptible brick edges. The nose gives very little, but what little there is is joyous. Pretty spring flowers amidst some wonderful huckleberry, sassafras and sun warmed river rocks. Some red cherry, some black cherry, and a hint of soy that really never lets up. Gorgeous and elegant, this is really a 90 degree turn or my regular drink, but I can appreciate the change-up. It's balanced with such a lilthy acidic bounce, the tannins are meshed and complicated well beyond what I would have expected. A super long finish that last minutes, this really is a pretty wine. For $29, I can see how well it fits into my repertoire for summer enjoyment. (91 pts.)

Monday, May 31, 2010

2004 Jones Family The Sisters - USA, California, Napa Valley (5/30/2010)

45 minute decant. Immediate impression: Just Beautiful.
Vibrant crimson red with a black core, almost opaque. The nose is all pure cassis driven black fruits, black cherry, flowers and cardamom. The palate continues the theme. Creme di cassis, kirsch, black cherry, Cola, black currant, black plum, wow. Pure, elegant and regal, this is just really showing so nice. Deftly balanced with gobs of plushy stuffing. A medium weight wine that flows across the tongue with such ease, it will be hard not to finish this bottle within an hour. It is intense and focused. Tannins are in check. The finish goes on and on 'and don't stop 'until the break of dawn'. A super QPR indeed, the peicepoint of this wine defies its showing--2 to 3 fold.

I .......out....... of ..............things say. (94 pts.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

1998 Peter Lehmann Mentor (Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley)

Tasted blind. Brick color, browned edges of wine its age or older. The nose has some black cherry and black olives. The palate has some lushness that is very comforting. As this sits it builds its red fruit profile quickly: some currant, some black cherries, and some sassafras. Some soy, leather, and a hint of vanilla are in there too, as is just the hint of faded vegetalness. There is a hint of elegance proving these can really benefit from some bottle age. The tannins are fully resolved (last had this about 2 years back) and shows an overall deft balance. A clean and smooth finish that goes on for more than a minute. What a nice drop from down-unda'.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2001 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Morisoli Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley (5/22/2010)

Tasted blind. A beautiful dark crimson color. A nose of black cherry, sassafras, and creme de cassis. An incredible purity and balance, this wine really showed its breed early, and evolved into something almost other-worldly in the 2 and and a half hours I sat with it. A black fruited medley led with the black cherry. There was some kirsch, leather, & graphite. The tannins are fully resolved, but a long life remains, this had a coy almost inperceptable acidity, again emphasizing the balance and structure--but then, that's what you signed up for with these, and this did not disappoint. One of the single best Cabernets I have come across. Phenomenal. (98 pts.)

2002 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (5/22/2010)

A carmine brickish color. This was much showier and blowsier than anything else on the table. A very intense nose of flowers and red fruits, the palate continued the theme, which was strange to me as it seemed much 'darker' profiled last time I had it. The tannins were somewhat raw and not lined up as I remember either. The acidity seemed elevated and the overall feel was somewhat 'fat' for a Forman, which I always expect elegance from-- it really showed the vintage characteristics like a big red letter. Others liked it better than I on this showing. (91 pts.)

1997 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (5/22/2010)

Tasted blind. Some sediment afoat, but did not detract. A darkish purple edged wine with tons of cassis and cherries flowing out into the nose. A black and red fruit wine of red & black currants, plums, bing cherries and some chinese apple. There was a streak of vanilla with a hint of cardamom, this was fully resolved and nicely balanced. A good start on an evening that just never let up. A meium body wine with a long balanced finish rthat kept some soy and leather on the line. Interesting (92 pts.)

2005 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Select Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley (5/22/2010)

After the '01 Morisoli, this sure had to hold up. It did. It was super dark almost opaque. A somewhat blackish red fruit profile with cassis, pomegranate, plums, and black cherry, this did not show quite the balance and intensity, but the mark had been set early, so fairness may not be on its side. It was intense with a plush mouthfeel. A bit showy, this showed its To-Kalon lineage. A finish that was long and clean, with the black fruit lingering. Very nice indeed. (93 pts.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No notes, no photographs, yes a good time.

Sometimes its more than the tasting note. Sometimes it’s just a few (or more) glasses of wine with some friends over some good grub. That’s the 'sometimes' it was this past Saturday when a few friends converged on my home for homemade pizzas and wine. While the wines were great, I did not take detailed notes. Heck, I took no notes at all! But I can tell you what I enjoyed--with friends--sans notes.

2001 Justin Vineyard Isosceles was amazing. Precise and focused with very dark and character filled black fruit profile. 93
2004 Schrader
TKL Cabernet Sauvignon. A very blowsy type of cab with tons of cocoa powder, crème di cassis, and vanilla. Pretty much in line for how I remember it to be. Not for everyone, but sure for me. 91
2004 Beringer
Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Bright and very fruit forward this was beautiful and focused. More so than the Schrader. Black and red fruit profile with some wonderful depth and purity. 92
2002 Quintessa
. About my 6th time with this and probably the best showing yet. Glad I have 3 more; sad my other 9 are behind me. Blackish fruits with kirsch and leather. Some pretty floral notes. Wow. 93

The pizzas were pretty good as well. I did my usual traditional round cheese and San Marzano tomato pie (almost Neapolitan), the Grandma’s pie with flat dense crust, 3 cheese combo of mozzarella, Scamorza and provolone, all with some red wines vinegar marinara sauce and basil infused olive oil drizzle. Thirdly was the Palermo pie, my newest creation of thick square dough (almost 1.5 inches thick!) with fresh mozzarella, sautéed sweet Vidalia onions and the San Marzano sauce. (My favorite on the night), and lastly the Great Kills pie: round crust with provolone cheese, cooked until slightly charred and then topped with prosciutto, Arugula, and sweet aged thickened balsamic vinegar.

Between the pizza and the appetizers, it was a tough day for my Lipitor, which sure worked overtime.

All in all a nice evening.

Monday, April 26, 2010

2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Some Days Are Diamonds - USA, California, Napa Valley (4/23/2010)

Having had all three available Two Hands Charlie's Patch Cabernets withing the last 6 weeks or so, I was very curious to try this which is ostensibly the 'second wine' of the Charlie's patch. Vinified and cellared/bottled at Outpost winery under the umbrella of Thomas Rivers Brown, how could I not be interested? Especially when I was offered it for $17.91 earlier this week.

Super deep and dark brooding color. The nose has much black cherry, currant, and creme de kirsch. The palate is all black fruits clumsily arranged in the cornucopia. Its somewhat reminiscent of its older brother, but lacks the class and elegance. Keeping in mind the price point: this is burly and big boned with some back end oak and a hint of heat, but with a grilled steak, it sang. It was round and full bodied with much 'oomph'. So there you go: save the 'Charlies Patch' for company but open that 'Some Days' before you hit the deck with your grilling tools, and for $18 per, its gonna be a good summer. Warning: Not for the faint of heart-- or the 'haters' :) (90 pts.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2005 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Marjorie’s - Premiere Napa Valley

Wholly crap! This was super fragrant of all things good: blackest cassis, chocolate covered cherries, spring wild flowers, leather, some pomegranate and more. It was deep and elegant with layers upon layers of cabernet goodness. The tannins were brawn hidden by flash, but never did it out flash itself. Phenomenal. 95

2005 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red

I was interested in trying this just having the 06 a week previous. Wow. Super dark in color with brooding viscosity, this had such a medley of mixed fruits. Currant, black and red cherry, kirsch, fresh ground coffee, camphor, leather, and more. All nicely balanced within a super structure of tannins, true to the vintage. Long and elegant with food, pure and precise. 94

2001 Pride Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Wow, pure and elegant with some wonderful lush blackish-red fruits. There were some hints of creamy vanilla, soy, and leather. A finely meshed tannin base with perfectly balanced acidity. Wonderful medium weighted mouthfeel, super long finish. What a treat. 94

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2007 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Seventy Four - Forty One Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley (4/17/2010)

This has a bright red/carmine color. A fantastic nose of sweet style-darkish red fruits and cola, a combo I really love. Somewhat bright and lively, there is a pure elegance that shows on the nose alone. On the palate there is the red leaning fruit profile: black cherries, some dark currant, some red plums and a hint of Chinese apple. A super expressive wine that has tons of life ahead. A hint of vanilla and cherry cola. There is a touch of kirsch as well! The tannins are just a wee edgy but the balance of the whole package is so satisfying and pure. A medium to medium-light weight which is a welcome from a Napa cab. Structured and pure, this has life and vitality. A long finish that keeps the fruits going straight on through to the other side....
I am thrilled with this. Can you tell? (93 pts.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

2006 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red - USA, California, Napa Valley (4/16/2010)

Intense Reddish ruby color, almost opaque. The nose is all camphor and sassafras with cola and black cherry. The palate shows an intensity and plushness I truly enjoy. A red and black fruit medley of red and black currants, plums, black cherries, and more. Pure and clean , this is a showy and juicy wine with a medium weight mouthfeel and a deft structure. A multi-layered and expressive wine that has so much joy to give. The tannins are elegantly aligned and the acidic perfectly balanced as if on a high wire. The finish is super long as in minutes, not just seconds. A very complete and enjoyable '06 -- a vintage I have been very in love with in the last bunch of months to a year.

Grabbed a half dozen 375s from the RueLaLa sale last month. $38 per and I am very glad for it. (94 pts.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2007 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Charlie's Patch (USA, California, Napa Valley)

pop & pour- Intense color of super garnet, almost opaque, almost black. The nose is pure clean cassis driven with subtle black cherry. The palate has a super silky texture with gobs of black fruit. The currants are there, as is the black cherries. A hint of pomegranate and creme de cassis. More approachable than the '06 at this moment, but twice as elegant and pure. Does not have the viscousness of the '06 either. Beautiful medium to heavy weight plushy mouth feel with linear and coordinated tannins, behaving themselves. A hint of oak, just a hint. Perfect balance and a pretty good finish to boot. When a wine taste this good, what is the upside for the 5-10 year sleep? Its pure hedonistic indulgence brings a smile this birthday weekend.

94 points

Saturday, March 27, 2010

2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Charlie's Patch (USA, California, Napa Valley)

Deep dark and ominous. On swirl the wine holds the side of the glass like nobodies business. Some pure black fruits on the nose. The palate has some great blackberries, currant, cassis and a hint of pomegranate. Very nice lush medium to heavy weight wine that had just a hint of a green-streak out of the gate, and ended just a wee bit dry. After about an hour (50% of this was decanted 4 hours earlier) this really fleshed out to a wonderfully balanced and elegant classic cabernet, sans green, sans dry, one that shows breed and class. Tons of potential and clearly true to the vintage. Although reminiscent of the 05, I certainly like the '06 a bit better at this juncture. Now onto the '07...

92 points

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2005 Go Figure Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 3 (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)

The slumping economical environment can sure be felt in all corners of life, and wineries are not immune. Combined with yet 'another' vintage of the century, many California wineries still sit with stockpiles of great wines from recent vintages such as 2005 & 2006 in their cellars, much of which have no labels affixed -- yet. The purchasers of said wines can then place their own name on the bottles, and the term 'shiner; is born. Good for us. For the savvy buyer there are some good deals to be had. This is one such from Gary's Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey. In the case of the GF Lot 3, I have, and still do maintain that it is Rudd Estate, a wine 3 times the $35 price tag I paid. Since there is a no-disclose agreement between retailer and winery, there is no way to know for sure. These shiner programs are popping up all over the place. Where else would you be able to get top name Napa wines for a fraction of their cost from their source? Don't blink...

Dark and deep, the nose has some pure cassis and cardamom. The palate exhibits the clean precise cassis driven black fruits with blackcherry, plum, and kirsch. A very regal showing indeed. A medium to heavy weighted wine, this has nice balance and structure without ever really going wayward-- I say so because the bottle I shared a few weeks back with the CLONYC clan was a bit messy and awkward, but the company it shared on the table was wines 3-5 times its price-point, so there you go. A long finish and just a wee bit of dryness on the end is the only flaw I detected last night. Now I am really glad I have 5 more in the cellar. Rumors to be Rudd Estate, some say Oakville Ranch, and the back label says Gerard? I believe it could be the Rudd, as I have had both quite often.

Here is the link to the Gary's Wine Go Figureline-up. No affiliation.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

2006 Rockledge Cabernet Sauvignon The Rocks

1.5 hour decant. This is a serious wine. Its medium amber with carmine tinged edges. Very pretty indeed. The nose shows some red and black cherries, red plums, some sweet pomegranate, and a hint...just a hint of very elegant and regal kirsch. Nice. Needs coaxing, because it's all such a tightly wound package, but nice. The palate has much of the same, with some added Creme de Cassis, dark ripe currants, some chewy but controlled tannins, rubbed leather, soy, and lead pencil. A decent acidity and just about perfect balance. This is pretty muchin line with many of the Rockledges I have sampled before: Firm structure, long, very long finish that just does not quit, medium weight mouthfeel and a fruit medley sure to please. Not showy, but commands attention, this is a winner. Mike Hirby who now gets the fruit going from 2007 on, is an incredible artisan who really knows how to let the fruit speak for him. Outstanding classic cabernet sauvignon. 93 points

Monday, March 8, 2010

1999 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

Matured edges. Sweet nose that starts slightly green, but dissipates as the wine reaches serve temperature and sits for about 1 hour in decanter. Nice cassis driven profile of a medium weight, always keeping the sweet cassis/black cherry quality. Very pure. Some leather and lead pencil. A very great showing indeed. Very balanced and very 'yesteryear' in its style. 90pts

2002 Kuleto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

1 Hour decant- A pretty garnet-amber-reddish-brick color. The nose is has a sweet and tart cherry/currant pie component that I find ultra interesting and I am truly in love with, and its ability to really balance itself so deftly. The palate shows structure, grace and elegance all wrapped in the plushest reddish black profile I have encountered in a while. I get dark cherry cola, reddish currants, spring flowers, some lead pencil, worn leather, and a hint of soft mocha. Again, that sweet-tart thing really is working for me. The tannins are fully evolved and the overall balance is exquisite! As I am writing this, I still sense the wine on my tongue, almost 3 minutes later, it just does not want to end, nor do I want it to. Class and charisma with breed and structure, all while being fun, giddy and playful. Incredible. 95pts

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dinner with friends---and Spottswoode

1986 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate: Sweet cassis nose with old wine, some dirt, some funk. The palate shows beautiful red/black fruited profile with some creme de cassis, blackberry, tar, and worn leather. The mouth feel was lively and focused with the sweet fruit always keeping control. What a great old wine still wearing its own flesh nicely. Great balance with fully inter-twined texture and a long finish completes completely. 91

1987 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate: Weird nose with a reduction quality and almost being port-like. Some fruit still evident but awkward balance and mouth feel kept this from really showing itself at all. n/a

1988 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate: Similar to the 86. A bit darker and a bit lusher, this had all the components with a little less sweetness in its profile, which make me the contrarian of liking it more amongst the group. I live the contrarian lifestyle comfortably. 92

1989 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate: First bottle was tainted with something, the second, although better, still reminded me of the 87, just a bit more drinkable overall. 88

2002 Lewelling Wight Cabernet Sauvignon: This was super dark and concentrated with a pure overlaying vanilla-oak layer that you either love or hate. I am in the love camp.It had some very lush reddish black fruits of currant, blackberries,plums, and a touch of blueberry. Some elegance with really intricate tannins, I can see this really being a prize in about 3 to 4 more years. Interesting contrast on the night. 92

2003 St. Helena Winery "Sympa" Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Mark Herold, Winemaker): The nose on this was simply amazing. Very concise and precise as being a Mark Herold wine in the vein of similar vintage Merus and Kobalt. As a matter of fact, this was reminiscent of the 2003 Kobalt I had a few years back. All black fruits with some dark cola, black as night currant, a hint of kirsch, some lead pencil, some leather and a hint of cedar. A very admirable mouth feel just coming in a bit short.Overall an almost stunning wine. Near perfect on the nose, and almost the same save the length. 93

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2007 K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt Vineyard

USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope (2/15/2010)
Lets jump right into it: The nose: pure and bright nose with tons of bounce and shine. Red cherry, blackberry, black currant, some warm blueberry, pomegranate, earth, sun, and skill is what I get. The palate has a very intense and pure attack of same, but magnified. All precise. All pure. All in tune with what Syrah should be within these shores. There is a very intense acid level that tells you its awake and ready for business. The tannins, although slightly chewy are aligned and refined. I get some river rock, and some earthiness, with some pine, menthol, lead pencil shavings and spring flowers.The finish is in tune with what came before. This is the single best Milbrandt I have had in 3/4 vintages. Period. QPR contender for sure. (92 pts.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2007 Hardin Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley

Sweet black fruit nose. Very pretty indeed. The palate has a super refined and semi plush mouthfeel with a creamy edge. Some wonderful black currant with black raspberries and camphor. Some creme de cassis, cherry cola, hints of vanilla and violets. This is long on finish. More than two minutes long. A wonderful acidity that keeps it alive and a tannin base that is pure and elegant. Super refined and expressive to the level of defying its own price-point. This has always been a favorite of mine, and this is the best yet. Wow.
$22 dollars never tasted so good. (92 pts.)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

2005 Arnot-Roberts Syrah Hudson Vineyards

USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (2/6/2010)
Ultra dark with pretty red brick edges. The nose is super expressive of pure blueberry pie, with black berries, crushed pebbles, and smoke. The palate has all the explosive qualities I love in cali syrah, without being over bearing or ponderous. It has blueberries, blackberries, and red currant. A wonderful acidic bounce really keeps this alive and fresh. Some great notes of graphite and river rocks, with black and white crushed peppercorns. Great resolving tannins are all in a row, nice and neat. A precise and focused mid-weight mouth feel, this now has some elegance and structure-- To repeat, this is one expressive syrah. A berry blast if you will.(93 pts.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"I drank Bordeaux and I liked it" - 2006 Château Jean-Faure St. Émilion Grand Cru

The surprise of the night. A nose of all flowers and fruit, this shot from the glass and the non-wine drinkers at the table became curious for a sniff. This was seductive and fragrant. Deep darkish red and black fruts of cherries, plums and currants. There is as seemless medium weighted mouthfeel and a texture that really catches my attention. Plush and elegant. An admirable long finish. The fruit never ends. The first Bord-oh I have enjoyed since....I can't recall. 90

Monday, January 11, 2010

2004 Scholium Project Syrah - Scythia Donati Vineyards

Abe Schoener

USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County.
From my first sip of this back in August, 2006, I can say this has sure evolved from a very being tightly wound and un-giving, to giving its all, and then some. It has been nice watching it over a three and a half year period.

Holy Moly! This is amazing. Pop & pour. Velvety red/black and glass coating like no ones business. The nose is all black cherry, blueberry pie, summer morning fresh river rocks, tar, coffee, plums, and some notes of creme de kirsch! After about a half dozen times tasted, THIS is the single best showing of a perennial pobega favorite. All elegance and structure with nada, zilch nothing flawed whatsoever. Perfect balance and harmony of red and black fruits: blackcherries, blackberries, blueberries, cardamom, red plums, & boysenberries. Violets, warm caramel, a hint of graphite, leather, and river rocks-- Wow. This is truly mind boggling in its precision, delivery and focus. Pure, elegant, classy, and just damn tasty. The tannins are resolved, the acid is balanced, the fruits are alive, the mouthfeel is grandiose, and the finish is ultra long. Have you figured that I like this one a lot? I don't. I LOVE it. (96 pts.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

1992 Penfolds Grange

Australia, South Australia

The nose on this is amazing. Cassis, violets, cocoa, Bing cherry, blackberry, and a light note of blueberry. This change d as the night progressed, and actually fell apart in hour 3. It’s elegant and structured with class and grace. I loved to sniffy sniff this all night. Almost as good as last showing, where I said something along the lines of “This is what a first growth like Lafite can only hope to be”, and I stand by that…..
92 points

2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard

USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

One sniff and you know you have arrived in the The Golden State. Big and chewy with a deft balance of oak, blueberry pie and a white and black pepper medley and some bacon fat. A gorgeous wine that evolved on and on as the night wore on. Never faltering, but not too food friendly either, at least not this elegant grub of pan fried loin of veal with ricotta gnocchi. A baby for sure, I would not mind following this one for the next 3 or 4 years. Intricate tannins and a generous, but slightly masked acid level. Nice. 93 points

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2000 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

What a beauty this has turned into. The color is dark burnt amber and transparent. The nose has a wonderful sasparilla, cassis, kirsch, blackberry, some lead pencil and more. Beautiful fully integrated with no sign of the cliff just yet. The green streak is still in place, but the overall package is so much more complex, I can even look past it. The palate has the black & red fruit medley so elusive by many. Black & red plums, red and black cherries, a faint note of cassis, some graphite, some leather, some cherry cola, and a touch of damp forest floor. A light to mid-weight wine, this is graceful and elegant. A bit short on the take-up, but again, not too shabby for such a shabby vintage. Got to be one of the best 2000s I have had.