2007 Cabot Vineyards Confluence – USA, California, North Coast, Humboldt County (6/9/2011)

Really opened up with aggressive decanting and swirling to give raspberry and bacon aromas. The red fruit flavors dominate the flavor with a medium finish. Cellar for 2-3 more years and I think it will flesh out even more. (90 points)

Posted from CellarTracker

This sounds really cool: touring Italian vineyards on a Vespa.  Sasha, are you listening?  My B-Day is in September. Link to New York Time’s travel article

We took a bottle of this to Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen (St Helena) over the weekend. Great stuff if I do say so myself. If you passed on the 03 vintage in Napa, you owe yourself another look. This and other wines of the vintage have really hit their stride and are drinking incredibly well right now.

Mary Baker is a writer and marketer whom I know from wine blogs.  Last year she and her family needed to provide end-of-life care for her mother.  According to Mary, “It was a beautiful and empowering time.  It was also physically tiring, emotionally draining, and confusing.”  Mary recognized a need for an online forum where families can share information and resources with others who are facing (or have faced) similar situations.

She has applied for a Pepsi Refresh Project grant of $5000 to pay for site development and get it off the ground.  Please go to the Pepsi Refresh Project site and vote for her idea so she will be able to compete this important resource for families. You can vote once each day, every day in June.

Bring Your Loved One Home – Providing information and practical assistance for home hospice and palliative care.


You’d be hard pressed to find better meats than those offered by Bryan Flannery of Bryan’s Fine Foods in Corte Madera and San Francisco.  He’s a great guy too, well in-tune with food, wine, and the joys that go with sharing them with other fun loving folks.

Read what happens when a big corporation and their legal team starts going after the little guy in this hilarious account of David sparring with Goliath.

Greetings from the LA Wine Festival where I’m pouring our 2007 Butterdragon Hill and 2007 Baconbrook.  We’ve participated for years to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  I usually send the wine down and volunteers from CTF pour while spreading information about the fight against these genetic disorders that affect so many children.  This time, I get to work alongside the CTF crew.

It seems like a great time to share the video below of our niece, Rose Match Suna.  She was the 2010 Ambassador for CTF and we’re very proud of her.

  • 2010 Blue Plate Wines Chenin Blanc – USA, California, Central Valley, Clarksburg (6/3/2011)
    Honey suckle and melon aromas. Light and easy drinking with charming lychee fruit and ripe honeydew melon fruit. Ordered a glass at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St Helena and after enjoying it, made a note to research this wine some more. After discovering it direct from the Blue Plate winery for $10 a bottle with a 10% case discount, I ordered a case. Excellent summer white, especially for this price. (87 points)
  • 2006 Cargasacchi Pinot Noir Estate – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills – Sta. Rita Hills (2/15/2011) Delicious. Laser like acidity lifts up cherry fruit, cola, and just a titch of tomato leaf. (90 points)
  • 2006 Robert Foley Claret – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (10/25/2010) One of the better bottles of Foley Claret I’ve had. This wine, while extremely big, was balanced with ripe black plum, pine tar, toasty sweet oak, and a full mouthfeel that stayed with you for a long time. (90 points)
  • 1999 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Red Hills Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills (12/6/2010) Cherry cola, eucalyptus, and sweet balsamic vinegar flavor with very bright gripping acidity. Big mouthfeel and long, medium weight finish of red fruit and pine. (92 points)
  • 2006 Beck-Hartweg Gewurztraminer Frankstein – France, Alsace, Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace Grand Cru AOC (3/31/2011) simple sweet wine with a touch of petrol

Posted from CellarTracker

Today was the Barrel Auction portion of Auction Napa Valley, the Napa Vintners’ humungous fund raiser for Napa Valley charities.  For those who don’t know how it works, 100 vintners bring in barrels of future releases and offer samples to attendees.  Bidders place bids for a case of the future release.  The top 10 bids win.  Bids for cases of the big names rise up to the stratosphere but one can pick up some great deals on under-the-radar wines.  For example, bidder #10 on our wine picked up a case of our 2009 Butterdragon Hill for just $275!

Our winemaker, Cary Gott, was on hand to give me a break so I could try some other wines.  My overall impression was that the (mostly 2009 vintage) Cabs on display were more tannic and exhibited more structure than the 2008s we tried last year.  However, the tannins were smooth and elegant.  At least for some wines, it could be a long lived vintage.  It seems to be a year in which conservatism was rewarded with more sophisticated, structured wines while those that went for a more modern, ripe style tended to end up with more nondescript wines.  The complexity in their power that they were shooting for never materialized.  In particular, I tried several wines from the famed ToKalon vineyard.  While ripe, these wines in general exhibited a lot of fruit and little structure.  Not to say that one won’t enjoy them.  You might.  But cellar aging and food pairing might be a challenge.

As is my custom, the wines I mention are wines that are recommended to at least some degree.  The number of asterisks indicates the strength of my recommendation.

2009 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Sauvignon – **** a pleasurable balancing act between a more classically styled Cabernet and modern.

2010 Madonna Pinot Noir – ** a non Cabernet based wine is a rarity at the Napa Auction. This wine shows a lot more richness than their 2009 with a lovely, “cute” nose of fresh berries still in the berry patch.  California style, but not over-the-top from this Los Carneros producer.

2009 Meander Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard – *** enticing mint aromas with flavors of plum, tea leaves, and notes of dill.  If she can keep vineyard sources as good as this, Amy Aiken (daughter of Joel Aiken of BV fame) is one to watch with this winery.

2009 Merryvale Profile – *** Excellent with round, sweet mouthfeel, char grill, wood smoke, cassis

2009 Merus – * Rich, bold attack but thins in middle and finish.  Less tannins than some of the peers tasted today.

2009 Mi Sueno Cabernet Sauvignon – **** Sweet candy nose but sophisticated and elegant in the mouth.  Smooth, well integrated tanins and a surprising mint finish.  I’m a big fan of this winery.

2009 Napa Smith Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon Branding Iron Vineyard – * firm, smooth, but significant tannins frame a bright cherry wine

2009 Oakville Ranch Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Oakville Terraces Cabernet Sauvignon – **** Perhaps the most exotic wine of the day.  They’re cheating a bit showing something fromt the awesome 2010 vintage.  Fresh and young as expected but has alluring undertones of licorice, eucalyptus, and road tar.  My surprise discovery.

2009 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Reserve, Three Elevations – ** Backward, but balanced.  Dry, dusty finish.  The jury is out on this one.

2009 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon – nice enough, but their 2008 which was my highlight from last year was much better.

2009 Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Paraduxx Blend Coferment– I got a long spiel on how they ferment some Viognier with this wine.  The wine was okay, but I didn’t perceive any special element.

2008 Promise Cabernet Sauvignon – ** Nicely integrated but shows its 3 years in new oak.  Necessary?  Probably not.

2009 Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon – *** a special blend of the auction but basically their Generations blend, I liked this wine a lot.

2009 Realm Bordeaux Blend – ** Fans of big, bold, rich Napa Cab will be pleased with this wine

Here’s a video of our sister-in-law, the beekeeper, providing the secret ingredient for great pizza crust.  If I had her job, I would only be slightly less scared than if I were a rattlesnake herder.

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