Napa/Central Coast California Wine Tasting Notes/Dec 2011
We again are using the same “Wine and Beer Tasting” rating scale denoted by the WB prefix. Note if the rating includes a ” ? “ that means that the wine seems to be in a state of change and it could (and usually does) go higher up the rating scale, but at the time of tasting, we were not sure.
2009 Zotovich Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills
Light golden yellow. Light- to medium-bodied, with easygoing apple notes and a hint of smoke. Good acidity, with considerable minerality that when coupled with the rather lean palate creates a sense of overall austerity. WB 89.
2008 Zotovich Pinot Noir Estate
Garnet. Aromatics of dark cherries, cranberries and smoke. Medium-bodied, with a red fruit character that eventually gives way to a 15-second finish of moderate intensity and duration. This bottling sees 35% new oak (medium+ toast), which is nearly completely integrated. WB 90.
2008 Zotovich Syrah
Ruby red. Rather reticent aromas of black olives and minerals transition to a peppery, dense mid-palate that is chock-full of minerals. Finishes with a whiplash of big tannins which will require a few years to tame. WB 90+.
2010 Moretti Bianchetto
Very light yellow. Clean aromas of white pears and acacia flowers. Medium-bodied in the mouth, with good acidity throughout. Finishes crisply with briefly lingering minerals. This pleasant, uncomplicated drink is best consumed over the next few years. WB 88.
2010 Moretti Rosso Mio
Light Red. A blend of 60% Dolcetto, 30% Barbera and 10% Nebbiolo, the Rosso Mio exhibits aromatics of rose petals, red berries and a whiff of minerals. Medium-bodied, with considerable oak masking red fruit flavors, but good acidity. This may improve with a year or two of cellaring, but the overall oakiness is troublesome. WB 87.
2009 Dolina Pinot Noir
Light Red. Raspberry, underbrush, and cranberries can all be found in this elegant Pinot Noir. Light bodied in the mouth, with raspberries and spices predominating throughout. Solid acidity and a deft touch complete this wine crafted by the winemaker for Rozak Estate. WB 91.
2009 Thorne Pinot Noir Rio Vista
Red ruby. Very ripe nose of red cherries and candied raspberries. Fruit-forward on the palate, with nearly cloying compote-like flavors. Low acidity makes this difficult to drink. Some may like this style better than I. WB 85.
2006 Kenneth Crawford Syrah Lafond Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Very dark red. Mostly closed aromatically, but with some swirling, aromas of black olives and minerals emerge from the glass. Rather dense in the mouth, with earth, tapenade, and vitamins that are complemented by a toasty note. This rather refined wine will benefit from some cellar time. WB 91+.
2007 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay
This deep golden Chardonnay spent 28 months in barrel. Distinguished by aromas of lemon and powdered stone, it is medium bodied in the mouth and exhibits serious cut. Finishes with a strong limestone aftertaste. WB 91.
2006 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay
Light gold. Aromas of lime, minerals and flowers. Nearly full-bodied in the mouth, with brisk granny smith-like acidity and a long finish. A considerable step up over the 2007 vintage, this will live and improve for a long time. WB 92+.
2008 Bratcher Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Light gold. Nose of white pears and freshly cut flowers. Medium- to full-bodied, with good acidity, with citrus fruits and a hint of nuts on the palate. A riper style than the preceding Arcadian Chardonnays. WB 91.
2007 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir
Cherry, nutmeg and spices on the nose. Middle weight, with minerals throughout and a hint of oak and some tannins. A seamless, cooler climate Pinot Noir built for aging. WB 91+.
2008 Bratcher Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
Ruby Red. Slightly reduced on the nose. Palate is dominated by red cherries, underbrush, minerals and brightness. Not much persistence on the simple finish. WB 88.
2007 Arcadian Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard
Crimson. Aromas of red cranberries and flowers lead to a medium-bodied, seamless wine containing a panoply of red fruits, earth and exotic spices. Finishes with very long, kaleidoscopic red fruits and minerals. A great wine in the making. WB 93+.
2002 Arcadian Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard
Light red. Flowers, red cherries, underbrush and vitamins dominate the flavors here. Medium-bodied, with no undue weight yet powerfully intense flavors. Finishes long with considerable late-arriving tannins. This impressive wine has years to go and will improve. WB 94+.
2007 Arcadian Syrah Sleepy Hollow Vineyard
Deep garnet. Aromas of green olives, bacon and smoke. Medium- to full-bodied on the palate,with black raspberries, earth, and minerals all present. Some tannins are apparent on the medium-length finish. 92.
2010 Paul Lato Chardonnay Sierra Madre Vineyard
Medium yellow. This very impressive Chardonnay is chock-full of yellow fruit, yet is almost steely in character, with bracing acidity and a hint of vanilla on the long finish. Medium-bodied and impeccably refined, this will be superb with a bit of bottle age. Well done! WB 93-95.
2010 Paul Lato Chardonnay Hilliard Bruce Vineyard “The Outlier”
As good as the Sierra Madre Chardonnay is, it is dwarfed by “The Outlier”. Soaring aromatics of white flowers, citrus and a trace of gunpowder characterize this exciting Chardonnay. It possesses a huge body, a mid-palate crammed with wet stones, powerful acidity and a seemingly endless finish. Too bad there are only three barrels of this stupendous juice. WB 95-97.
2010 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Sierra Madre
Dark cherries, earth and slightly medicinal notes characterize this silky-smooth, medium bodied Pinot Noir. Medium-bodied and utterly seamless, if a bit youthfully reserved at the moment, it finishes fairly long and linear. Will undoubtedly improve once in bottle. WB 92-94.
2010 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Hilliard Bruce Vineyard
Dark red. Red raspberry, spices and flowers can all be found in this medium-bodied, silky and elegant Pinot Noir. Impeccably balanced, with a solid core of red fruit that transitions to a long, complex finish. Demonstrates superior fruit purity and winemaking. WB 94-96.
2010 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard
Unlike the Hilliard Bruce bottling, the Solomon Hilliard Pinot Noir comes across as distinctively dark-fruited. A serious, brooding wine, with good density of black currents and a touch of spices. Silky smooth on the palate, where it glides effortlessly and saturates every nook and cranny of the palate. Delicious. WB 94-96.
2010 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard
Deep red in color, the 2010 Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir is heart-breakingly beautiful. Seemless on the entry, light on its feet yet powerful at the same time, it unleashes a wave upon wave of juicy red and black raspberries, flowers, minerals ,and aromatic herbs, all of which are accompanied by powerful, refreshing acidity. Somehow, it all comes together in just the right way, with balance and harmony that may cause one to shake their head in disbelief. This tour-de-force Pinot Noir has a long and promising life ahead of it, for those lucky enough to latch onto a bottle or two. WB 95-97.
2010 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Zotovich Vineyard
Red cherries, violets, and earth can all be discerned in the Zotovich Pinot Noir. Like the other wines in Paul Lato’s stable, the refinement and purity of the fruit come through to the forefront, all wrapped up in a cashmere-like texture that is all but irresistible. This may be better than the 2009, and that’s saying something. WB 94-96.
2010 Paul Lato Grenache Larner Vineyard
Light red. The inaugural vintage of the Larner Vineyard Grenache is all about red raspberries, sweet cherries, with hints of rhubarb and mineral. Medium-bodied and Pinot-like, this very seductive wine, made in the style of Chateau Rayas, is all about elegance. A promising debut. WB 91-93.
2010 Paul Lato Syrah Larner Vineyard
Very dark red. Aromas of flowers, fried bacon, garrigue and a whiff of green tobacco make up the complex and powerful aromatics. Full-bodied and dense in the mouth, with black olives, fatty meat and dark plums all coexisting with good acidity. Fantastically polished, with a slowly mounting long finish that really packs a punch. A very impressive Syrah that will be long lived, yet is already providing much pleasure! WB 95-97.
2010 Paul Lato Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard
Nearly impenetrable dark red. Powerful aromatics of olives and underbrush can be found in the 2010 Bien Nacido Syrah. On the palate, the wine is very dense and masculine, with beef blood, black olive and lurking minerality. Finishes very long, with lots of very fine grained tannins. This one should be buried in the cellar for at least a few years, but it has all the hallmarks of a great wine in the making. WB 94-96.
2009 Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc
Very light yellow. Melon, freshly cut grass and and peppery note characterize this full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc from Howell Mountain. Made in the style of Bordeaux Blanc, with big viscosity and a moderately long minerally finish, it really needs to be aged for several years prior to consumption. Note: a second bottle opened for two days displayed no peppery note and was a bit easier to drink. WB 92.
2008 Arkenstone Cabernet Sauvignon Coliseum Block
Deep red. Black raspberry, plums, vitamins and flowers comprise the aromatic profile of the 2008 Arkenstone Coliseum Block Cabernet Sauvignon. Vinous in the mouth, with licorice, cassis, oak, spices and powerful acidity. Finishes long with building tannins and a trace of wood. A great Cabernet that needs years in the cellar. WB 94.
2009 Arkenstone Construction Cuvee
Flowers, licorice and minerals can all be found in the 2009 Construction Cuvee (Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, with 8% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot). Medium-bodied, with a long berry aftertaste, it is an infant. WB 91+.
2006 Arkenstone Construction Cuvee
A dead ringer for a top-flight St. Emilion, the 2006 Construction Cuvee bursts forth with chocolate, red berries, asian spices and saddle leather. Now entering early maturity, this medium- to full-bodied, impeccably balanced blend glides seamlessly across the palate and finishes with lingering berry aftertaste. Excellent. WB 95.
2009 HDV Chardonnay De La Guerra
Pale yellow. Mostly made up from younger vines, the De La Guerra Chardonnay offers up Meyer lemons, quince, and a hint of orange rind. Medium-bodied on the palate, with citrus fruits and minerals that transition into a 20+ second finish. Dring this very good wine over the next 5 years. WB 92.
2008 HDV Chardonnay Estate
The estate sees 20% new oak for 12 months, and is the flagship Chardonnay bottling. Reticent aromas of roasted nuts, white flowers and a hint of reduction. In the mouth, the wine is full-bodied and powerful, with a glycerine-like mouthfeel. Really impressive on the very long, complex finish. This will benefit from some bottle aging. A real star. WB 94+.
2010 HDV Chardonnay Commendante
The pale yellow Commendante Chardonnay is predominantly Wente clone juice that sees 100% new oak aging. Yet, there is barely a trace of wood in the wine. Rather, this medium- to full-bodied Chardonnay is dominated by flowers, stony fruit and an ever-present minerally streak. Long and classy, with lots of acidity throughout. Very impressive. WB 93-95.
2007 HDV Californio Syrah
Deep red with purple highlights. Rather reserved aromas of olive and smoked beef that take require some coaxing to emerge. Smooth in the mouth, with lots of tannin and a certain coolness of fruit. This seems shut down, but there is no doubting that the components are all there for a very nice Syrah years down the road. WB 92 (+?).
2007 HDV Belle Cousine
Impenetrable dark red. The Belle Cousine is a Bordeaux-style blend comprised of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium-bodied, stuffed with red current, licorice and chocolate, it reveals some lingering tannin on the 20-second finish. Distinctively cool climate in personality, the Belle Cousine needs to be cellared for a few years, but will last for two decades. WB 92.
2010 HDV Cabernet Sauvignon
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is dominated by powerful notes of lead pencil and incense. Liqueur-like and exotic in the mouth, with bitter chocolate, licorice and dried herbs all leading to very long, polished finish. This Napa-style bottling stands in sharp contrast to its more reserved stablemate the Belle Cousine, yet is an outstanding wine on its own. WB 94-96.
2010 Kapcsandy Rose
Bright pink. Fruity, with flowers sharing an equal billing with minerals. Quite flavorful and balanced for a rose. Good acidity. WB 88.
2003 Kapcsandy State Lane
This medium bodied wine displays dark chocolate, blackberries and minerals in its flavor profile. Decidedly easygoing, this will not get any better, and should be drunk up over the next 5-6 years. WB 89.
2008 Kapcsandy Endre
Aromatics of flowers, burning embers and licorice. Seamless and integrated in the mouth, with great acidity. Approachable now, but will be better in a few years. WB 91.
2009 Kapcsandy Endre
Verk dark red. Violets, boysenberries and black cherries are present in the 2009 Endre. In the mouth, it is considerably more powerful than the 2008, with excellent fruit sweetness and purity. Finishes very long, with gentle tannins coating the palate. WB 92+.
2009 Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee
Notes of dark berries and smoke dominate the aromatic profile of the Estate Cuvee. In the mouth, this very young wine is rather austere, with an almost medicinal-like quality. Nevertheless, one can sense the underlying components and the considerable fruit density lurking below the surface. This will need some serious time in the cellar, but is very impressive. WB 95.
2005 Kapcsandy Cabernet Sauvignon
A dark mass of fruit and a huge body distinguish this flagship wine from Kapcsandy. Cassis, currants and minerals are everywhere, including on the very long and linear finish. A hugely promising, though practically embryonic, Cabernet Sauvignon that must be cellared for at least 5 more years. WB 95+.
2009 Kapcsandy Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin
As good as the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is, the 2009 kicks it up another notch or two. A big, yet very refined blend of lead pencil, cassis, and spices. Unbelievably big in the mouth, with skyscraper-like texture and an unreal 60+ second finish. Already incredibly complex, this wine reminds me of a very ripe vintage of Latour (such as the 2003), and will require at least a decade in the cellar before reaching its apogee. Grand Vin indeed! WB 97+.
2009 Kapcsandy Roberta’s Reserve
Chocolate, incense, and sweet berries dominate this Right Bank-inspired blend. Super silky in the mouth, like drinking liquid nobility. Positively explodes on the finish, with a mélange of red and black fruit flavors effortlessly intermingling with very fine grained tannins. An inspiring wine that’s better than the vast majority of top-notch St. Emilion and Pomerol cuvees. WB 97.
2008 Kapcsandy Vino del Sol
This port-style wine is fortified by the addition of grape brandy. Drinking nicely already, with good acidity and no obvious cloying character, this would make for a nice apres-dinner quaffer. WB 91.
2009 Alpha Omega Sauvignon Blanc 1155
Very pale yellow. The Sauvignon Blanc 1155 offers up aromas of lanolin, wax and freshly-cut grass. Medium- to full-bodied, viscous and slightly oaky, it could use a touch more acidity. WB 89.
2009 Alpha Omega Chardonnay
This Chardonnay sees 100% new oak and suffers as a result. Aromas of melted butter and white flowers are followed by a medium-bodied, low acid, tropical fruit-infused palate that feels ponderous and imbalanced. No doubt fans of over-oaked and low acid Chardonnay will be all over this. WB 84.
2008 Alpha Omega Proprietary Red
Flowers, cassis and a hint of toast jump from the glass of the Proprietary Red, a Bordeaux-style blend composed of 36% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot and 12% Cabernet Franc. Rich and velvety in the mouth, but the opulence is balanced by good acidity. Finishes fairly long with some serious, late-arriving tannins. Cellar this baby version of the flagship ERA for a few years. WB 93.
2009 Alpha Omega Proprietary Red
Even more promising the the ’08 version, the 2009 Proprietary Red (37% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot) smells like a blend of flower esters and incense. Silky-smooth, with plums and cherries galore, and a long, resonant finish, this is a very fine wine. WB 93+.
2009 Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon
The Cabernet Sauvignon opens up with aromas of leather, cassis and camphor. Sauve on entry, with a licorice-dominated mid-palate and a long finish, this impressive Cabernet could be consumed anytime over the next 10-15 years. WB 93+.
2009 Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard
Slightly closed, with lead pencil, raspberries, all wrapped up in a smooth, full-bodied package. A very promising wine that needs several years to come together. WB 94?.
2006 Alpha Omega ERA
The purple-tinged ERA, the flagship cuvee from Alpha Omega, offers up glorious aromas of incense, lavender and ripe raspberries. Medium- to full-bodied, this unabashedly hedonistic wine is ultra refined and very long in the mouth. Still needs years in the cellar, but it will be worth it in the end. WB 95+.
2009 Alpha Omega ERA
Liqueur-like aromatics dominate the latest vintage of the flagship ERA, a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. On the palate, a veritable cornucopia of red and black berries, aromatic herbs and minerals. All wrapped up in a seamless, powerful package. This opulently-styled wine can be drunk now for the fruit, but will handsomely repay a decade’s worth of cellaring. WB 96.
2010 Ladera Sauvignon Blanc Howell Mountain
Nearly clear, with pale yellow accents. A nose rich with grass, hay and lemon essence make it easy to identify the Ladera Sauvignon Blanc when tasted blind. Medium-bodied on the palate, with citrus, quince and some minerals. Drops off somewhat rapidly and abruptly on the finish. Drink now. WB 89.
2007 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which also contains small percentages of Cabernet Franc and Merlot (3% and 1%, respectively), exhibits aromas of cassis, violets, and smoke. On the palate, bitter wood dominates, overshadowing what little fruit there is. The heavy toast levels are a definite concern, and I doubt that the wine will ever absorb all of the oak it is saddled with at present. WB 86.
2007 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
Dark purple in color, the Howell Mountain bottling is much better than its Napa Valley sibling. Heavy on the cassis, with medium body and an easygoing personality (highly unusual for a Howell Mountain Cabernet), this wine can be drunk with pleasure now and over the next 10-15 years. WB 91.
2006 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Lone Canyon
Incense and black raspberry can be found in the aromatics of the 2006 Lone Canyon, which comes from a steep hillside vineyard on Mt Veeder. Dense in the mouth, with lots of black plums, minerals and a respectable, refined finish that lingers on the palate. WB 92.
2008 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon High Plateau
Comprised of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec, the High Plateau offers up notes of licorice, spices and black plums, all in a nearly opaque red, medium-bodied package. Finishes smooth, with lingering tannins that don’t take away from the current enjoyment. WB 92.
2008 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon “The Sisters”
A second label of the flagship Estate Cabernet, The Sisters possesses copious boysenberries, bluckcurrents and licorice in its repertoire. Medium-bodied and well-crafted, it is best suitable for enjoyment over the near term. WB 90.
2006 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon
A restrained, red-fruited Cabernet, which is clearly well-crafted, yet does not taste especially ripe. Medium-bodied on the palate, and marked with wood at the moment. Nonetheless, this has the stuffing to absorb the oak in due time. Patience is key here. WB 91.
2005 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon
Ruby-red. Smoke, raspberries and vanilla notes dominate the aromatic profile here. Medium-to full-bodied, harmonious, with red fruits and a long finish make for an impressive and eminently drinkable wine with no hard edges. WB 93.
2007 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon
Aromatically, the 2007 Jones Cabernet Sauvignon is comprised of raspberries, dark cherries and a hint of vanilla. Smooth on the entry, the mid-palate is heavy on the licorice and minerals. Needs a bit of time, but it’s all there. WB 92+.
2008 Harris Estate Indulgence
Chambord-like aromatic essence leads to a liqueur-like mid-palate, with a medium-full body and a silky-smooth texture. A ripe style of wine, but with lots of acidity to keep the different components in balance. Drink over the next decade or so, as this is unlikely to be a marathon runner. WB 93.
2007 Harris Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Jake’s Creek Vineyard
A step up in intensity and complexity form the Indulgence, the Jake’s Creek bottling is distinguished by very ripe raspberry aromas, sweet tobacco and flowers. Full-bodied, with cherry compote-like mid-palate and a very long finish. Makes for a very satisfying wine in a distinctly ripe (but not overripe) style. WB 94.
2009 Beringer Chardonnay Private Reserve
Light gold. Vanilla, white flowers and a trace of reduction on the nose. Medium-bodied, with orange peel, pineapple and oak. Low acidity throws off the balance and makes it difficult to drink. WB 86.
2006 Beringer Merlot Howell Mountain
Ruby red. Fruitcake, chocolate and incense can all be found in the aromatics of the Howell Mountain Merlot. Dark cherries and oak predominate in the mouth, and the acidity is just barely adequate. WB 90.
2006 Beringer Cabernet Franc Steinhauer Ranch
Deep red. This Howell Mountain-sourced Cabernet Franc gives off notes of lavender, baking spices and a trace of vanilla. Medium bodied, with lots of oak on the rather spicy palate. Short finish of moderate intensity. WB 87.
2007 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Quarry Vineyard
Red raspberries and plums on the nose. Medium-bodied, with licorice, smoke and toasted oak. Finishes gently, with lingering wood tannins. WB 90.
2004 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Lampyridae
Very dark red. Flowers and cassis are ever-present on the aromatic nose, and a hint of vanilla can be discerned as well. Smooth, with licorice, dried herbs in the mouth, and gentle tannins that show some unresolved wood. Needs a couple more years in the cellar. WB 91.
2006 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve
Classy nose of violets, candied raspberries and dark plums. Sweet in the mouth, with a medium- to full-body, and a seamless texture and refinement that is head and shoulders above most other wines from this house. Long finish exudes class. WB 94.
2007 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve
Highly aromatic nose of sweet cherries, bay leaf and a hint of reduction. Shockingly sweet and rather fruit-forward in the mouth, with strawberry jam and a hint of minerals. Long finish with some gripping tannins. This can be drunk now with decanting or cellared for 10-20 years. Very Impressive. WB 95.
2008 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve
Macerated cherries on the nose, with a slightly youthful character. Then, very sweet in the mouth, yet vinous, seamless and plush. Finishes quite long with the tannins buried under the masses of fruit. A very promising Private Reserve vintage that really calls out for a few years of bottle aging. WB 94.
2007 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Rancho del Oso Vineyard
Smoke, black currants and licorice can all be found in the aromatics of the 2007 Rancho del Oso Cabernet. Silky sweet in the mouth, fruit-forward and gentle, with a medim-length finish. Suffers when tasted side by side with the Private Reserve, but a good wine in its own right. WB 92.
2006 Beringer Nightingale
This Sauternes-style dessert wine is dominated by aromatics of apricots, spices and a slight grassiness. Sweet in the mouth, with good acidity and complexity. Long finish with a tactile-like powder stone component. Excellent effort. WB 94.
1997 Beringer Nightingale
Darker in color, like a grade “A” maple syrup. Dried apricots, orange rind and a slightly oxidative note can all be found in the 1997 Nightingale. Medium-bodied, with a fairly long finish that reveals minerals and traces of vanilla. WB 92.
2004 Beringer Port of Cabernet Sauvignon
Aromatics of candied raspberries, with an occasional hint of a sherry-like element. Slightly rustic, with baking spices and a certain plumminess in the mid-palate. Good acidity prevents any sensation of cloying. WB 91+.