Match Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Butterdragon Hill 2008
92 points | $63 | 314 cases made | Red
An engagingly complex wine that combines firmness with supple textural notes, this is full-bodied and centered on ripe plum, blackberry, tar, smoke and espresso. Gains depth and holds its focus. Drink now through 2022.—J.L. (Wine Spectator Magazine Insider 11/2/11)

Cool.

2006 Alban Vineyards Grenache Alban Estate Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley (7/22/2011)

Bold, mouthcoating, and heavy… cloying and of questionable enjoyment UNTIL the main coarse of citrus soy marinated pork tenderloin was served. It’s a tale of two wines: untempered, the unctuous cherry liqueur flavors overwhelm, but balanced with food, it held up well and complemented, revealing additional fresh turned earth, smokey grill, and raspberry. No rating as this is definitely an exceptionally well-made wine in a style that is not really my cup of tea but with the right meal, it’s the right choice.

Posted from CellarTracker

1992 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon Anniversary Release – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (6/16/2011)

Brooding and powerful with balanced and long lasting waves of flavor – dried cranberries, cherries, bitter-sweet chocolate, pencil lead, creosote. Exceptional wine at its peak and no sign of decline. 1992 Napa is a great vintage and this was a wonderful wine to celebrate my own 1992 vintage son, who graduated high school today. (95 points)

Posted from CellarTracker

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.

  • 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

Now this is a great idea!  I just heard about Napa Valley Designated Drivers.  They will provide you with a designated driver for your own or rental car so that your entire group can do a few hours of wine tasting safely.  It looks like they charge about $50 an hour which is less expensive than hiring a car and driver, taxi, and much less expensive than a DUI.

I’ve never used this service nor do I know anyone who has, but they have good feedback on Facebook and Yelp.

On Wednesday, Sasha and I headed up Spring Mountain for their second annual Spring Fling, a chance to taste some great wines from the Spring Mountain District as well as try some yummy nibbles from Napa Valley restaurants and caterers.

The wines were great.  As is my habit at this type of event, I didn’t do complete tasting notes, but I did jot down the names of wines that I feel are worth remembering — wines that are worth balancing a wine glass and an appetizer, and then trying to pull out a pen and scratch paper in order to remember the highlights.  While all the wines I list are recommended, the number of asterisks indicate the relative strength of my recommendation.

  • 2008 Fantesca Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ** – Sonoma Coast??  Not Spring Mountain, but a nicely done Chardonnay, exhibiting little oak and malo and a refreshing steely character.
  • 2007 Sherwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – big, bold, and layers of fruit.  It’s rich but perhaps a little too rich?
  • 2008 Paloma Merlot ** – I liked the restraint on this wine. While still offering enjoyment now, this is a Merlot that will age nicely
  • 2008 Pride Cabernet Franc * – Pride still does wine that is proud of its ripeness, but they kept their foot off the throttle enough on this one to bring out the charms of Cab Franc.  I tried a couple of other Cab Francs at this tasting and they were overdone.  Not so with Pride.
  • 2007 Andesite Mervignon **** – Holy Cow!  Where did this wine come from?  I’d never heard of this extremely small production blend of Merlot and Cab Sauv with a bit of Cab Franc thrown in but this was the wine of the tasting.  So subtle, so light on its feet, and yet so interesting.  The next day I ordered six bottles of this $48 wine.

Match Vineyards is not yet a member of Spring Mountain District association but I’m thinking we should join.  Baconbrook should fit right in.

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3060 White Sulphur Springs Rd
St Helena, CA 94574
t: (707) 200-3510
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