2008 Kaena Hapa

2008 Kaena Hapa
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2011.07.02  Shared with friends in celebration of Barry & Mary’s 50th Anniversary and Renewal of Vows

An extraordinary wine for an extraordinary occasion — celebration of friends’ 50 years of marriage and renewal of their vows.  This wine is young and verile with layer upon layer of explosive aromas and flavors.  The Syrah and Grenache lead this wine with potent fruit and solid backbone — dark red cherry, blackberry, and ripe plum with deep earthiness.  The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to this blend adds dimension and structure — a long finish with solid tanins.  Like a long marriage, this wine will develop, soften, and become more nuanced with time.  It is certainly “rarin’ to go” right out of the bottle and was wothy of the celebration for which it was opened.

$37.00 / $29.60 (club price)   from Mikael Sigouin (winemaker) at Kaena Wine Company

Kaena Wine Company Website

Two Summer Rosés: Kaena & Tercero

While we didn’t slice any watermelon, we had the chance last evening to enjoy and compare two of my favorite Central Coast Rosés with some discerning friends. It was a warm summer evening here in NE Ohio and the wines were well-chilled. Both wines were a hit and the differences in the two wines was appreciated.  The wines were the perfect excuse to gather some friends and neighbors on our front porch, demonstrating once again the way the wine can help bring people together and generate conversations and experiences that begin with the wine itself and then propel into deeper parts of our lives.  Simple summer wine creating community!  Love it!

 Here are the wines:

Kaena Label 

2010 Kaena Grenache Rosé

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.07.03   Drank with friends on the front porch

Served well-chilled on a warm summer afternoon on the porch with friends. Gorgeous salmon color with ripe raspberry and watermelon fruit in the nose. Crisp, aromatic, and layers of flavors. Fruit hints in the nose carry through the palate with added complexity of dark, juicy blackberry or ripe plum. The sensation in the mouth is wonderful — fresh fruit flavors with bright, crisp acidity, followed by a surprising plunge into an almost rich flavor and texture sensation. The wine didn’t stay at the top of my palate — it went deeper than I expected with a bright, crisp rose. Everything about this wine is balanced, textured, refreshing, bright, and wonderful. It has risen quickly to be one of my favorite summer rosés!

$18.00  Kaena Wine Company

Kaena Wine Company Website

Tercero Rose 2009

2009 Tercero Grenache|Mourvèdre Rosé

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2011.07.03  Drank with friends on the front porch

This wine is consistently one of my favorite warm summer day sippers. It is bright and beautiful in color, aromas, and flavors. Strawberries and watermelon with crisp acidity and brightness. There is subtlety in the flavors of this wine that I almost hate to mute with food pairings — I enjoy drinking this one on its own, though it is a great match with cheeses, salads, and light fish. It remains a top choice for warm summer evenings on the back deck.

$15.00 Tercero Wines

Tercero Wines Website

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda Sta Rita Hills
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.06.24  Dinner at home – served with grilled grass-fed tri-tip, grilled artichoke
The wine is clean and vibrant, almost ascetic or austere. It’s a “pure” tasting Pinot Noir that reflects the wine making intentions of Peter and Rebecca Work. Gorgeous fruit and balanced acidity, subtle oak and hints of SRH terroir. While the wine is a medium-bodied Pinot, it went perfectly with food off the Big Green Egg, particularly the grilled artichokes. A lovely wine and a valuable study in the essence of Pinot Noir.

I visited Rebecca Work at Ampelos again a week and a half ago.  She and her husband Peter inspire a fresh look and taste of old world wines made in a sustainable, biodynamic, and organic manner.  Eschewing more popular or market-friendly (i.e. consumer- and market-oriented or “grocery store”) styles of viticulture and wine making, they have made a commitment to gentle technique that does no harm to the wine, the vine, or the world in which we live.  The respect they demonstrate to each environment — the vineyard, the winery, the bottle, as well as the earth — is captured in the wine itself.  The wine compels reflection and respect in return.  But it’s not just an expression or an experiment — this is terrific wine made by people whose mission and vision I am honored to support.

Peter and Rebecca were both very helpful in my doctoral research.  I raise my glass this evening in thanks and with great respect for the wine making passions at Ampelos!

$35.00 / $29.75 (club price)   from the Ampelos Filos Wine Club

Ampelos Cellars and Vineyard Website

2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie

2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.06.19  Dinner at home – served with grilled grass-fed steak
Loved this wine with dinner tonight — it is perfectly mature and opulent. Served with grass fed beef New York strip steaks from the farmer’s market, grilled artichokes, and farm fresh corn on the cob. The food was big flavors with tender elements in each — and the wine was a perfect match. It is big, bold, juicy, peppery, and dark while at the same time elegant, layered, and mysterious. This wine is gorgeous, silky, vibrant, and rich. So glad there are several more bottles in the cellar!

$28.00  purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard

 

2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2008.08.18 Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore – Julie’s Birthday Dinner
This wine immediately transports me to the Santa Ynez Valley. New World wines are not noted for their terroir, but this wine demonstrates that the ground from which the grapes grew CAN be captured even in the Santa Rita Hills. My nose was greeted by earthy aromas along with generous fruit and restrained oak. I couldn’t tarry long before sipping this wine — it beckoned to be tasted. The wine teased my mouth. Nothing was overblown or blatent. Everything about this wine is evocative. Cherries and ripe raspberries to be sure, but so much more — layer upon layer of fruit, loamy earth, spice, more fruit, and wet stones. Great balance and solid structure through the whole taste. Supple tannins with a lingering finish. The enchantment of “La Encantada” is evidenced in this bottle of wine.

$43.00 Alma Rosa Cellar Club

Alma Rosa Winery Website

2009 Tercero Gewürztraminer “The Outlier”

2009 Tercero Gewürztraminer “The Outlier”
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2010.08.27 Just sipping on the front porch
The Outlier has become one of my favorite summer wines. It is the perfect choice for easy sipping on the back deck or for pairing with a fresh salad or cheese tray. Aromatic on the nose, bountiful in the mouth. Perfectly dry with an amazing amount of ripe fruit flavors — a magical feat of extracting all of the flavors of the grape and leaving nearly no sweetness. Stone fruit, citrus, and pear with lots of minerality. Nothing but enjoyment in this bottle of wine.

$20.00 Tercero Wines

Tercero Wines Website

2006 Gainey Merlot

2006 Gainey Merlot
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2009.12.21 Sipped through the evening
Pretty tight in the nose and mouth when uncorked, but opened up very nicely over the evening. Deep ruby color. Fruity nose with black cherry and ripe plum, coffee, cigar, and pencil shavings. The fruit carried through into the mouth with concentrated, ripe cherry and plum. Herbal notes emerged late in the taste. Plenty of earthiness. Tannins will subdue a bit with another year or two in the bottle. Easy drinking wine.

$24.00 Gainey Cellar Club

Gainey Vineyard Website

2002 Zaca Mesa Syrah

2002 Zaca Mesa Syrah
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.12.04 Dinner at home – homemade pizza
Concentrated flavors and aromas with lots of subtleties. Dark red color with dark fruit, pepper, and a bit of smokiness on the nost. Nice fruit flavors in the mouth with plenty of earthiness. Blackberry, ripe cherry, and plum with ground pepper, red bell pepper, hints of smoke and toasted oak. Nicely balanced flavors throughout the palate, finishing with firm tannins. Nice drinking wine and excellent value.

$22.00 Zaca Mesa Wine Club

Zaca Mesa Winery Website

2006 Evan’s Ranch Pinot Noir Clone 114 Lone Oak Vineyard

Evan's Ranch Pinot Noir

2006 Evan’s Ranch Pinot Noir Clone 114 Lone Oak Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.11.26 Thanksgiving Dinner
This was a fine pairing with the Thanksgiving meal of roasted foods. Beautiful ruby color as it cascaded into the decanter. Cherry, cranberry and sawdust on the nose. Plenty of body, complexity and firmness to stand up to the meal. Surprisingly dark flavors in this wine with concentrated black cherry and dark raspberry. Tree bark, cloves and allspice flavors bring a spiciness to the wine. Bigger than I expected with an almost loamy-like soil undertone. Rounded tannins with a long finish. Noteworthy wine.

$52.00 Evan’s Ranch Cellar Club [Gainey Vineyard]

Gainey Vineyard Website

2006 Tercero Grenache/Mourvedre Rose

Tercero Rose 2006

2006 Tercero Grenache/Mourvedre Rose
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2009.09.11 Dinner on the Deck – served with grilled salmon & shrimp
I’ve been drinking several of the wines I discovered on my visit this summer in the Santa Ynez Valley. Some of the wines won’t find their way into these reviews for several years, but at least a case of the wine that came home with me is intended to be enjoyed in these final days of summer and early fall.

So there have been several notes about Larry Schaffer’s Tercero Wines. I have to say, this is a winemaker to watch out for. He is working magic with the fruit of the Santa Ynez Valley (with is a treasure to begin with), bringing a purity and clarity to wine that is pretty unique. His wines are an extension of the vineyard — good fruit into the process, tending it carefully, and bringing to the glass a wonderful sip of the Valley itself. Seriously — I taste the Santa Ynez Valley in every sip of these wines. But it’s not old musty “terroir” — it is the freshness and life of the vineyards and valley. Combine that purity and place with a luxurious feel in the mouth, and you’ve got Larry’s wines.

This wine is one of the first two wines that Larry Schaffer made. If he weren’t so ernest and honest, I wouldn’t believe him. This wine tastes like it was made by an experienced master. Yet it is fresh in style and exudes accessibility. It’s no surprise, then, that this is the third or fourth wine from Tercero that I have written about in the past few weeks. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I REALLY like these wines! The only reason I’d tell you to not go buy every bottle you can find (mostly from the winemaker himself — they’re small production and not yet widely available), it would be because I’m selfish and want to drink it all myself. It’s also an amazing bargain. GO BUY THIS WINE. On with the tasting notes…

Soft in color. texture, and flavors. Not wimpy, but gentle with a good backbone. Very well balanced in the nose and mouth. Citrus, honey, and strawberry on the nose. Cashmere feeling in the mouth with fresh summer fruit flavors and firm acid that make for a wonderfully balanced, easy drinking, summer wine. Wonderful to drink on the deck on a warm afternooon. Went very well with grilled salmon and shrimp.

$12.00 (special pricing right now for like $10) purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

2006 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard

Tercero Grenache Blanc 2006

2006 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.09.06 Picnic at Blossom – Cleveland Orchestra
What a wonderful wine to enjoy on a summer evening, particularly at NE Ohio’s Blossom with the Cleveland Orchestra!

A bit softer than the 2008 we’ve already had, undoubtedly the result of more time in the bottle. The aromas were a bit muted, but still had plenty of citrus and honey with a refreshing smell of wet stones. Very round, almost velvety feel in the mouth. Plenty of fruit flavors, mostly sweet fruits, but without the accompanying sugar: apricot, honeydew, even slightly tart pineapple. Plenty of citrus and minerality with nicely balanced acid. Very enjoyable and easy to drink. Excellent QPR.

$18.00 retail Purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

Home

Dinner Toast Styled

Wine is a luxury of being home.

Sure, I have my cellar in my home and I am writing this sitting on the front porch of my home while sipping the remains of the 2008 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 that I opened yesterday (it has only gotten better!).  We share simple family meals with a glass of wine, or have extravagant dinner parties where wine and fellowship are shared in abundance.  But that’s not my point.

Wine is not the product of nomads.  It takes years for a newly planted grapevine to produce enough fruit to make wine.  The vines need tending, the fruit needs harvesting, and the juice needs a place to undergo its transformation into wine.  Fermentation, racking, aging, bottling, storing — these are all activities that require settlement.  One of the markers that researchers and archeologists use to determine when bands of people moved from wandering to being settled is the presence of viticulture and winemaking.

20090730-021 Vineyard

Certainly wine (of sorts) can be made by nomads who find fruit, pick it, crush it, and allow natural fermentation to happen as they continue along their journey.  But viticulture, growing grapes to produce wine, simply can’t be done on the move.

In the Biblical story of the flood (with Noah and the ark), one of the first things Noah was instructed to do when the water receded was to plant a vineyard.  Those vines were a strong symbol that Noah and his kin were no longer displaced; they were now home.

The implications of wine being a product of settlement, security, having a “place” and land, are many and rich.

While I will no doubt wax on profusely about all of this at another time, I want to end here by suggesting a connection between this concept and one of my newest favorite wineries:  Saarloos & Sons.  They are making some wonderful wines and serve them in this home built in 1886 which they call simply, “House.”

Saarloos & Sons House

Each of the wines that Keith Saarloos (son) makes is connected to stories of home — stories from the vineyards where the wines had their birth as well as stories of family and ancestors whose memories and legacies are captured and honored in the naming of their bottlings.  Their family creed says it all:  “We live to honor those that have come before us, and to prepare the way for those yet to come.”  An example of their somewhat odd wine naming is their “Purper Hart.”  Not a misspelling.  It’s the Dutch translation of “Purple Heart.”  The wine (an amazing Syrah) honors John Saarloos, a member of their family who received the Purple Heart for his service in WWII.

These wines, and all wines, are connected to the land, to the people who make them, and to those who delight in drinking them.

You see… it’s about home.

2008 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard

Tercero 2008 Grenache Blanc

2008 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2009.08.13 Warm afternoon sipper
Delicious and elegant. Pale straw color. When cold the nose was a bit tight with lemon, green apple, minerals, and hints of pepper. Opened up with riper aromas of honeydew and stone fruit. Youthful and vibrant in the mouth. Bright and crisp citrus flavors dominate followed by nice tartness. Finishes with nice acidity. Very well balanced flavors, particularly for a wine this young. It is luscious with depth and texture in the mouth, yet remains refreshingly crisp. I could drink this all summer long. Extraordinary QPR.

$18.00 From Larry Schaffer himself after private tasting

Tercero Wines Website

2008 Foley Estates Pinot Gris Courtney’s Vineyard

Foley 2007 Pinot Gris SRH

2008 Foley Estates Pinot Gris Courtney’s Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2009.08.09 Kerri enjoyed this wine on Joyce Davis’ patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean
Crisp in color, aroma, and flavors. Floral hints in the nose with definite citrus and minerals. Bright melon and citrus in the mouth with an interestingly round mouthfeel. Perfect wine for a warm afternoon.

$23.00 Foley Estates Winery

Foley Estates Website

2005 Fess Parker Syrah “The Big Easy”

Fess Parker 2005 Syrah Big Easy

2005 Fess Parker Syrah “The Big Easy”
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2009.08.02
Davis family patio – served with grilled tri-tip, sipped into the night

Improved after being open for an hour or so. Very big in the nose with dark fruit aromas, vanilla, and some earthiness. In the mouth it lives up to its name, “The Big Easy.” Big fruit, but not over-extracted. Juicy plum, cherry, and dark berry flavors with a bit of spice. Very well balanced flavors and mouth feel. Finishes with solid tanins, and the alcohol was subdued with some breathing time. I was pleasantly surprised that this came from the Fess Parker Winery — they’re producing some fine wines these days.

$40.00 Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker Winery Website

2008 Tercero Wines “The Outlier” Santa Barbara County

This is the first of many coming posts from an amazing three days in the Santa Ynez Valley.  I had the privilege to share wine and conversation with several amazing wine makers, including a few of whom I think are THE up-and-coming wine makers of the region.

It was a long drive home through LA traffic, but I’m now sitting on my Favorite Mother-in-Law’s back patio overlooking Long Beach and out over the Pacific Ocean.  It is night time, and the city lights twinkle right up to the coastline.  Next to me is my wonderful wife (who lovingly endured my endless conversations and wine passion of the last three days), and in my hand is an amazing glass of wine.  It, my friends, will be the first review from this extraordinary excursion…

 

Tercero 2008 The Outlier

2008 Tercero Wines “The Outlier” Santa Barbara County (Gewurztraminer)
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.08.01
Sitting on the Davis patio after a great wine tasting adventure

Unusual dry Gewurztraminer. On the nose there is a nice balance of tart fruit, minerals, and floral aromas. It is a surprise in the mouth — very bright and clean, crisp and tart fruit flavors, hints of spice, subtle floral notes, and lots of minerals and earthiness. The flavors open up in the middle of the mouth with a wash of opulence – almost suede-like in the feel. Much more body in the mouth than expected. The finish continues through the bright finish. Excellent acid and clean tanins. Balance and elegance are the words forthis surprisingly delicious wine. I didn’t expect this from a Gewurztraminer. Will easily become a summer favorite.

$18.00 from Larry Schaffer himself

Tercero Wines Website

2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir

Total Depravity Pinot Noir 2007

2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir
Produced and Cellared in Solon, OH – juice sourced from California

Rating: too biased to rate

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 3

I can’t say a whole lot about this wine since I made it myself. It was part of the 2007 vintage – my first. Not particularly good wine, but it was fun to make and certainly fun to share with friends. But I can honestly say, it’s much better than the wine that can be purchased commercially for around two dollars! But in honor of Jean Calvin’s 500th birthday later this week, we simply had to uncork a few bottles of Total Depravity this week.

$priceless available only from the winemaker

CTS Wine Ministry 2009 – Overview

Wine Ministry

It was a great week at CTS with a community of friends, some good theological thoughts, and plenty of wine flowing. Thanks to all who participated in the fellowship of the overflowing chalice!

I will post a bit more information and reviews of each of the wines we tasted, but for now here is a listing of the four tastings we shared. Leave a note on this or the other postings to let me know your favorite wines as well as your memories of the week we shared. Check back soon for the wine notes…

Monday, July 6, 2009
Theme: Warming Up the Palates

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2007 Clean Slate Riesling Shared by Stephen [Germany] $9.99
3 – 2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir [Ohio/California] $priceless
4 – 2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve [Canada] $32.99
5 – 2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage [Canada] $36.99

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Theme: Vertical Tasting of California Rhone Varietals

1 – 2005 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
2 – 2004 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
3 – 2006 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
4 – 2005 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
5 – 2004 Gainey Vineyard Syrah Limited Selection [California] $38.00
6 – 2002 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $22.00

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Theme: The Variety of White Wines – Find One for Your Palate

1 – 2008 Black Mountain Pinot Grigio Shared by Stephen [California] $5.99
2 – 2008 Greenhough Sauvignon Blanc [New Zealand] $15.99
3 – 2007 Shoo Fly Buzz Cut (white blend) Shared by Lisa [Australia] $10.99
4 – 2006 Sonoma Vineyards Chardonnay (unoaked) [California] $14.99
5 – 2007 Newton Chardonnay Napa/Sonoma Counties [California] $18.99
6 – 2007 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette [France] $14.99
7 – NV Botter Prosecco Vino Spumante [Italy] $14.99
8 – 2008 Ceretto I Vignaioli Santo Stefano Moscato d’Asti [Italy] $24.99

Bonus Wine:
9 – 2008 Project Happiness Chardonnay Shared by Bryan [California] $5.99

Preview of Thursday’s blending seminar:
10 – 2003 Clos du Bois Marlstone (Bordeaux style blend) [California] $39.99

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Theme: Bordeaux-Style Blending Seminar

Prelude
1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2008 Muga Rioja Rose [Spain] $12.99
3 – 2005 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donis Barrica Shared by ??? [Spain] $12.99
4 – 2006 Domaine “la Garrigue” Côtes du Rhône [France] $15.99
5 – 2007 Layer Cake Primitivo Zinfandel Shared by Lisa [Italy] $13.99
6 – 2006 Santa Rita Merlot Reserva Shared by ??? [Chile] $9.99

Samples of Bordeaux-Style Blends from Around the World
7 – 2001 Rosemount Traditional [Australia] $29.99
8 – 2001 Creekside Laura’s Blend Meritage [Canada] $18.99
9 – 2002 Chateau Peyre-Lebade (Rothchild) Bordeaux Haut-Medoc [France] $24.99
10 – 2006 Steltzner Claret [California] $16.99

Blending Wines (components of Bordeaux/Meritage):
11 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample) [California] $23.00 (prerelease)
12 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Merlot (barrel sample) [California] $19.00 (prerelease)
13 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Franc (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
14 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Malbec (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
15 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Petit Verdot (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail

Prize Wine & Finale Tasting:
16 – 2001 Le Sillage de Malartic Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan [France] $29.99

Extra – Just for Fun
17 – NV Riondo Prosecco (with a sliced strawberry in the glass!) [Italy] $12.99

2005 Greg Norman California Estates Petite Sirah

2005 Greg Norman California Estates Petite Sirah
California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

Wine Rating: 85

Uncorked: 2008.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Sunday, Wine No. 3
Shared by Barbara

The Grape & Its Wine
Petit Sirah should not be confused with Syrah – they are completely different grapes and wines. Originally created by crossing a little-known Rhone grape, Peloursin, with Rhone’s noble Syrah, the resulting grape is known as Durif – from which Petit Sirah is made. The grapes are “petit” – that is, they are smaller than the average vinifera grape. This results in a greater skin-to-juice ratio and leads to more tannin in the juice. Carefully made Petit Sirahs therefore have the potential for deep flavors and long shelf life.

The Wine Maker
Greg Norman’s wine industry extends beyond his native Australia. This Petit Sirah is made in Napa Valley from vineyards Norman owns in California’s Central Coast. Consider the geography of the wine – Australian roots, Central Coast grapes, Napa winemaking. The result is both multivalent and, one could surmise, somewhat generic. Enough prologue…

The Wine
This wine is medium-bodied and presents with sweet cherry and pepper in the nose. After the initial alcohol heat in the back of the mouth, flavors of red fruits (sweet cherry, raspberry), blueberry, and plum give way to a very mild, almost flat mid-palate. The flavors reemerge with toast, spice, vanilla, and cedar. The tannins are a bit overpowering on the medium-length finish. The wine is a decent value, but there are so many Petit Sirahs with more character and balance. This wine is easily accessible and would serve well with food off the grill.

$11.99 widely available

2004 Lucas & Lewellen Viognier

L&L Viognier

2004 Lucas & Lewellen Viognier
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating:  88

Uncorked: 2007.08.31  Dinner on the Deck – served with shellfish feast

This versitile wine has an effusive nose — aromas of honeysuckle, apricot, and grapefruit. Slightly golden hues made it a pretty wine in the glass, too. In the mouth it carried the citrus flavors nicely along with a hint of slightly sweet apricot or honey. A bit of herbal spice and grassiness, particularly on the moderate finish. I served it with a shellfish feast — a bowl full of king crab legs, mussels, shrimp and scallops in a white wine-butter-garlic sauce (with some good cayenne thrown in for interest!). The wine was a perfect match offering enough tartness and acid to stand up to the buttery richness of the food. It was an excellent light meal on the back deck, and the wine was a great addition to the feast.

$19.99

2002 Gainey Cabernet Franc Limited Selection

Gainey 2002 Cab Franc

2002 Gainey Cabernet Franc Limited Selection
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating:  92

Uncorked: 2007.08.22  Jeff’s Birthday Dinner – served with grilled steak
It wasn’t until I started drinking Gainey’s Cab Franc that I thought this grape could stand up on its own.  Usually used as a blending grape to make big Cabernet Sauvignons, there are only a handful of wineries making excellent wines with the Franc as the star.  Gainey is one of those wineries that has done something nearly spectacular with this grape.

Deep ruby in color, the wine simply looks inviting.  The nose is rich and complex with fresh blackberries, herbs, and smoke.  As it opened up more in the glass, the nose became lucious.  This is a seductive wine.  While I could easily linger at the nose, as I taste the wine it envelopes my mouth.  I don’t know how better to describe it than the flavors wash over my whole mouth.  It is smooth and silky.  The berries and juicy fruit flavors are balanced by a subtle spiciness and herbal flavors.  The wine is dark in almost every way, but it isn’t fierce — it is subtle, rich, balanced.  The finish is long and soft.

I’m sorry that there are only three bottles left in the cellar.  While they could probably last another 3 or 4 years, I think the 2002 is at its prime now.  It was a great value back in 2004 when it was $25 per bottle.  Unfortunately the 2002 is no longer available, but certainly check the winery for the current release.

$25.00  Gainey Cellar Club

Gainey Vineyard Website

2005 Bridlewood Winery Viognier Reserve

Bridlewood Viognier 3

2005 Bridlewood Winery Viognier Reserve Central Coast
USA, California, Central Coast

Wine Rating:  88

Uncorked: 2007.08.21
Citrus and flower aromas including honeysuckle. Bright in the mouth with gentle tartness. Slightly sweet flavors of peach, pineapple, and tangerine. Big enough to serve with food, but perfect for cheese and fruit. I like viognier as an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, and this is a decent one.

$17.99  Heinens Fine Foods

2002 Gainey Merlot Limited Selection

Gainey Merlot LS

2002 Gainey Merlot Limited Selection – California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2007.08.19 – The Special Occasion of “Today”

See the note below about why I’m drinking this wine today. It’s a non-occasion special occasion!

I have to admit, Merlot is not my favorite varietal. Too often it is unexceptional and has become the “new pinot noir” for the masses. Gainey’s Merlot and Merlot Limited Selection defy that definition. This tastes like a wine that is “crafted” rather than “produced.” The color is stunning — ruby, almost garnet. The nose is interesting with intense dark berries, charred oak, and worn leather. In the mouth it is velvety with dark berries, licorace, and a slight minerality. It has a long, balanced finish with soft tanins and supple fruit. A very nice “special occasion” wine!

$35.00 Gainey Cellar Club

2004 Gainey Triada

Gainey Triada

2004 Gainey TriadaCalifornia, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating:  92 points

Uncorked: 2007.01.01

I don’t know if it was the fact that I was sipping this wine while I cooked and had it with the main course, or whether it’s just a really good wine this time, but this is exactly what Triada ought to be! Nicely balanced with ample blackberry and pomegranite flavors. Medium-bodied with a soft finish. Was perfect compliment to the apple-cranberry-walnut stuffed pork tenderloin that I cooked…

$26.00  Gainey Wine Club