Just Released: Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

After thirty years as Franciscan Estate’s head winemaker you could expect Janet Myers to know her stuff–and does she ever. Franciscan’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a exacting collage of 90% Cab, 4% Merlot, 3% Malbec 2% Petite Verdot, and 1% Syrah that spent twenty months in oak. Rich dark fruit, fine tannins and long mocha finish. 29.00

Magnificent New Vintage: Franciscan Estate Magnificat

Franciscan Estate Magnificat, 2013

Franciscan Estate Magnificat, 2013

Franciscan Estate 2013 Magnificat

Franciscan Estate 2013 Magnificat

Franciscan Estate Magnificat, 2013

Franciscan Estate Magnificat, 2013

Magnificat was one of the original Meritage blends from California–dating back over thirty years ago. During that time Magnificat has earned its place as one of the finest Bordeaux blends to come out of Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc come together seamlessly to produce a big, rich, beautifully structured wine. Twenty months in oak leaves Magnificat mellow and ready to enjoy.

Franciscan Magnificat, 2013

Franciscan Magnificat, 2013

Franciscan Magnificat, 2013

Franciscan Magnificat, 2013

NEW: Fontera After Dark Wines

p1030417 p1030418Just sampled two of the recently released After Dark wines from Fontera:value label from the venerable Concha Y Toro people.

Moonlight White is a slightly spritzy mouthful of fruit–in this case, a Moscato-based blend. Perfect for sipping on its own, Moonlight would also make a great match with Asian or Indian dishes.

Midnight Red brings Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah together with a bit of Merlot. Plenty of fruit here and a great way to ease into reds if you’ve been shy. If you are a fan of Menage a Trois or Apothic red, check this one out–at a fraction of the price.

Both the night-harvested After Dark wines come in at about 6.00.  Cheers!

New, After Dark wines from Fontera

New, After Dark wines from Fontera

Midnight Red and Moonlight White

Midnight Red and Moonlight White

RE:FIND: Handcrafted Spirits from Grapes and Ripe California Produce

RE:FIND is proof that you can do more with grapes than make wine. After years of successful wine making, distiller/proprietor Alex Villicana and his wife, Monica, decided to explore the possibilities of using excess free-run grapes juice to make spirits. And while making spirits from grapes is not exactly new, RE:FIND takes the craft to a new level using seasonally fresh California fruit to infuse the vodka.

The first thing to know about spirits made from grapes is that there is naturally occurring glycerol present which produces a rich mouth feel. No watery vodka here. The second thing I noticed right away was the authenticity of the flavors: the cucumber gin was all about the cucumber–aroma and flavor, the whiskey barrel finished vodka had distinct whiskey overtones, and the Kumquat (really??? kumquat?) Liqueur flavor is crazy-real–the kind of flavor that gets you thinking about all the amazing cocktails you could make.

And if the hand crafted quality of the spirits isn’t enough, the kicker is that repurposing the free run juice that would have been discarded in the 2014 harvest, “saved the equivalent of 50 farmed-acres of premium Paso Robles wine grapes from being discarded.” Now that’s green.

RE:FIND Vodka, Gin, Barrel Finished Vodka, Cucumber Flavored Vodka, Kumquat Liqueur

RE:FIND Vodka, Gin, Barrel Finished Vodka, Cucumber Flavored Vodka, Kumquat Liqueur

RE:FIND Hand Crafted Spirits, Distilled from Grapes

RE:FIND Hand Crafted Spirits, Distilled from Grapes

Kumquat Liqueur: authentic flavor

Kumquat Liqueur: authentic flavor

Little Bastards…

A couple of cheeky little bastards showed up last week via FedEx: Il Bastardo and La Bastarda.The cartoonish labels depicting Bastardo “Rubio” and Bastrada “Blanca” tell us straightaway that these wines are for fun–in fact, they would be great conversation pieces at a party. Such a deal for about nine bucks,

Bastardo is a 100% sangeovese from Tuscany’s Rufina district made by 3rd generation winemaker Paolo Masi. The wine is fresh, fruit-forward, and easy drinking. 9.00

Bastarda is 100% pinot grigio from Sicily. Bright and engaging, the grapes were harvested early enough to maintain nice crisp acidity. 9.00p1030403p1030402

Justin 2013 Isosceles

Justin’s Isosceles has been setting the standard for red blends on the Central Coast for almost thirty years. A Bordeaux style blend, Isosceles is a big boy–weighing in at 16% ABV. The fruit is Paso Robles: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 9% merlot.

Twenty one months in new French oak mellows the robust black fruit and spice, making Isosceles surprisingly approachable early on–though this beauty has excellent cellaring potential. SRP 72.00 memo0036

Sanford Rose of Pinot Noir

Sanford 2015 Rose of Pinot Noir

Sanford 2015 Rose of Pinot Noir

Sanford’s Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is such a gem–no surprise then that their rose of Pinot Noir should also rock. Cranberry and and blood orange emerge on the palate–along with clean, crisp acidity–thanks to Santa Rita’s cool climate. Serve with chicken or salmon.  SRP 23.00

Chimney Rock’s Rare Blend

Chimney Rock 2014 Elevage Blanc

Chimney Rock is justly famous for it’s big reds so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have created a big white–in the form of Elevage Blanc–a blend of 46% Sauvignon Blanc and 54% of the rarely planted Sauvingnon Gris.

Elevage Blanc calls to mind the great Bordeaux whites with its rich texture, aromas, and flavors–thanks to resting six months on the lees, This is a white worth cellaring. SRP 48.00

Acumen Napa Valley Mountainside 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Acumen 2013 Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon

Acumen 2013 Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon

Acumen 2013 Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon

Acumen 2013 Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon

“Acumen”: the ability to think clearly and make good decisions–especially in practical matters”. Employing that word to name your wine implies a sense of confidence and pride.As it happens, the sense of confidence in their product and their sense of pride are both well-founded.

Acumen Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the winery’s hundred-plus acres of volcanic soil in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa Valley. Organically grown, with full-time hands-on farming, the 2013 vintage saw excellent weather conditions–a long growing season, and ripening to maturity.

80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petite Verdot, 4%Malbec, and 1%Merlot with 18 months in 100% French oak. 14% ABV  Only 2,500 cases produced.

Acumen lives up to its name. Expect aromas and flavors of black fruit, coffee, and dark chocolate wrapped in lush tannins. Excellent cellaring potential–if you can keep your hands off it.

SRP 60.00

A Crazy Quilt of Recently Tasted Wines

 

 

Let me take you wine shopping today. We’ll splurge on some special bottles and put together what is known in the trade as a mixed case—a kind of crazy quilt of wines starting with some light whites, moving on to rich reds:

Luna Nuda pinot grigio is as clean and crisp as the mountain air in northeastern Italy’s Alto Adige region–ground zero for some of the world’s best pinot grigio. Dry, smooth, and elegant. $15.00

Torresella Prosecco Extra Dry, from Venezia, in northwestern Italy sounds really dry, but don’t let the term “Extra Dry” fool you. Counter intuitively, “Extra Dry” in the wine world is actually less dry than sparkling wines labeled “Dry.” Light and refreshing. $16.00

Scott Chardonnay comes from cool climate Estate vineyards inland from Big Sur. Extended ripening time there translates into grapes with intensely concentrated flavor and clean acidity. Lush mouthfeel, lingering finish. $25.00

Bouchaine Pinot Noir announces its presence with heady aromas of cherry and strawberry, following through on the palate with rich dark cherry and spice. All the fruit is Estate grown in Napa’s prestigious Carneros district. $35.00

Back in Italy: Tuscan Sassoregale Sangiovese perks up the senses with its ruby color, rich fruit aromas, dark flavors, and smooth body. A nice backbone of tannins makes it a good match for flavorful dishes. $18.00

Fuedo Zirtari Sicilian Red combines Sicily’s Nero d’Avola with Syrah to produce a full-bodied blend with a nicely balanced core and smooth dry finish. $14.00

Full disclosure: Franciscan Merlot and I have history. I remember being impressed by it years ago—and it still impresses. Think velvet plum. A reminder of how good a merlot can be. $23.00

Two Range is a collage of merlot, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah out of Napa. A rich and complex work of art by the winemaker. $25.00

Hahn Family Wines’ Smith & Hook Proprietary Red Blend is new their lineup, but wine maker Paul Clifford and his crew nailed it. The plush blend of merlot, malbec, petite sirah, and cabernet sauvignon is proof that the whole can sometimes be greater than the sum of its parts. $25.00

Predator Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi brings on tons of red and dark fruit, a little spice, and wraps it all in smooth tannins for easy drinking. $15.00

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon captures the deep flavors of first class Napa fruit. A mellow product of twelve months in French and American oak. $35.00

Leviathan Red Blend—and yes, it’s huge. A concoction of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and syrah, pretty much everything about this wine is outsize: aroma, texture, body, and flavor. $48.00

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