Winery Tastings, October 2010

Mt. Veeder, Oakville, Spring Mountain, St. Helena, Calistoga, Napa
Tasted Friday, October 22, 2010 - Monday, October 25, 2010 by prettydeceextrap with 861 views

Flight 1 - Friday, 10/22/10 (18 Notes)

Started the morning atop Mt. Veeder with Mayacamas. Then drove down Oakville Grade to Detert. Then on to St. Helena to visit neighboring wineries: Lewelling, Anomaly, Chase Family.

  • 2007 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay 85 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder

    (10/22/2010)

    Very nice chardonnay. Crisp, though not complex. Some of the typical tropical fruits, a little grass.

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  • 2000 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder

    (10/22/2010)

    Wow. What a difference a few years makes. This 10 year old chard has a tiny bit of caramel in the background, that somehow seems to linger. Flowers and wheat up front. As this wine got no ML (I think), the butter and creaminess must have come from age. Excellent. The score should be higher.

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  • 2006 Mayacamas Vineyards Merlot 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder

    (10/22/2010)

    Mountain fruit. Not quite together yet. A bit acidic, but the structure and spice are all there. Red red fruits. Looking forward to putting a few years on this.

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  • 2005 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 91 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder

    (10/22/2010)

    Also Mountain fruit, also not quite together yet. Wonderful fruit and tons of structure, this wine will surely need at least 5 more years. Not quite as "big" as the Merlot somehow. High quality winemaking shows through.

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  • 2007 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

    (10/22/2010)

    A big wine, though not quite complex. Nice sweet wood and both red and dark fruits. Perhaps not quite worth the price, still well put together.

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  • 2007 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

    (10/22/2010)

    Drank alongside their 04 and 05 cab franc. This one was probably the best of the bunch. Big, bold fruit with smoke and graphite, along with black licorice and anise. Complex in the mid-palate.

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  • 2005 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

    (10/22/2010)

    A good wine, but overshadowed by their 04 and 07 cab franc which accompanied it. A bit sweeter, with a cherry and chocolate profile. Less overall structure.

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  • 2004 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

    (10/23/2010)

    Drank alongside their 05 and 07 cab franc. This one was just as good as the 07, though in a different way. More nuanced, with more back-palate. Fruit a little more integrated into the oaky, smokey background. Loved it.

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  • 2007 Anomaly Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Side by side with the 06 Anomaly. The 07 was smoother and had a certain pop that the 06 lacked. Plenty of dark fruit, and plenty of vanilla. But this isn't a one trick pony. A little charcoal is in there too, with a pleasant juniper and sweet anise cookie background. Most notable quality may have been the tongue coating velvety smooth mouthfeel.

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  • 2006 Anomaly Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 90 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Drank next to the 07 Anomaly. The 06 is very good, but gets outshined by it's 07 counterpart. A bit more vanilla, and a bit tarter fruit. Less of the complexities in the background. Also extremely smooth on the palate, something that both the 06 and 07 shared.

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  • 2008 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Very syrupy, full of alcohol but seemingly without the distracting heat. Lasted for minutes in the mouth, with tons of mid-palate. Not sure how it will age, as it drank well right out of the bottle. Lots of swirling helped blow off some of the alcohol. Fantastically floral with just enough white pepper to make it interesting.

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  • 2008 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wight 95 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    It's pretty much a more dense, bigger version of their regular cab. Even more fruity, more concentrated. And that unique spicy/floral characteristic absolutely sings. Everything is heightened without losing any balance. Drinks right along with any super-premium wine in the valley.

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  • 2009 Chase Zinfandel Rosé 84 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Interestingly sweet. Not much else going on.

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  • 2007 Chase Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    A thick, pretty dark zin with a lot of sweetness up front and some spice in back. Actually pretty well balanced. Not as deep as the reserve, but a real solid wine for a weeknight.

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  • 2006 Chase Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Better than the 07 to me, though my score don't reflect it. Not quite as thick, and just a little more pepper.

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  • 2006 Chase Zinfandel Reserve Hayne Vineyard 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Quite different from the non-reserves we tasted. This one was a bit more concetrated, and ventures down the prune-raisin path. More backbone and structure. Enjoyed, but couldn't help thinking that Turley seems to do a better job with the Hayne vineyard.

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  • 2006 Chase Cabernet Sauvignon 85 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Lacks identity, especially considering the wines being made by their neighbors. I would call it a dusty everyday cab.

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  • 2005 Chase Petite Sirah Hayne Vineyard 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/22/2010)

    Best wine of the lineup. Dark and tannic ... needs time, but seems huge.

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Flight 2 - Saturday, 10/23/10 (14 Notes)

Spring Mountain day. Morning started with Pete at Ritchie Creek. Then to Sherwin, followed by Relic, and finally finishing Spring Mountain at Andesite. Ended the day with Amy at Meander.

  • 2008 Ritchie Creek Pinot Noir 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District

    (10/23/2010)

    Spring Mountain grown pinot ... the only one other than School House I know. But totally different than the School House. This one is more floral, with delicate fruit. Slightly grape-y, yet aerates well. Tasted Sonoma-coast like, but a bit rougher on the edges.

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  • 2007 Ritchie Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 91 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District

    (10/23/2010)

    Really enjoyed this wine, even in its youth. Pete seems to be making lower alcohol, higher acid wine up there, and he really pulls it off. Light in color, it has raspberry and a bit of menthol and light cedar. The wine is smooth, but dries out the sides of the tongue. With air, it opened a slightly floral note.

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  • 2007 Ritchie Creek Blaufränkisch 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District

    (10/23/2010)

    Unique indeed. Not sure of it's geneology, but it seemed pinot-eque. But much bigger than his other pinot, this one had big cherry notes and what seemed like decent acid. Like his other wines, this one is floral too, but moreso than the other ones at Ritchie Creek. With air, it developed some darker fruit in the background, and a little bit of wet wood came through. Seems like a great food-wine.

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  • NV Sherwin Family Vineyards Cellar Scraps #4 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District

    (10/23/2010)

    This is pretty huge wine, like the rest of the Sherwin stable. Surely a similar wine-making strategy with his big boy cab. A fun wine, that definitely has more spice and kick than that beautifully balanced cab of theirs. Blue fruit and oak, with a bit too much alcohol. Coats the palate, and finishes strong.

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  • 2006 Sherwin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District

    (10/23/2010)

    Always fantastic. Fat, rich wine with plenty of alcohol, yet it needs time in the bottle. Big, bold vanilla and dark fruit. 2 minute finish. It's the real thing, but I think it needs a few years. Definitley asked for a second pour, and Steve kindly accomodated. Awesome stuff. Score sure to go up with time.

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  • 2006 Sherwin Family Vineyards Syrah Dry Creek Valley 80 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley

    (10/23/2010)

    It's just too big right now. Riidiculously concentrated, and is flirting with 16% alcohol. It pretty much blows out your taste buds, and gets a bit too close to the Parker-driven Australian style for my liking. Steve told us they are doing away with the Syrah (which is tough to sell) in order to sell Chardonnay (and what he described was oaky butter bomb = BOO). Still, I am hoping this integrates with time. I honestly couldn't really taste it past the heat.

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  • 2009 Relic Wines Pinot Noir Kashaya 90 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast

    (10/23/2010)

    This is my kind of pinot ... like most sonoma coasts but on steroids. Tons of spices in there to make it interesting, with just enough back palate to even things out. Smooth drinking and wonderfully complex.

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  • 2009 Relic Wines Ritual 95 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/23/2010)

    Awesome wine! Deep, almost inky color with a thick, rich fruit base and taste bud gripping spices. Balanced and evolving, I wish I had bought more.

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  • 2008 Relic Wines Syrah Scarpa 94 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

    (10/23/2010)

    Another phenomenal wine from Mike Hirby. Incredibly dark and concentrated, yet with a lot of structure. The alcohol doesn't overpower, and this was a perfect style contrast to the huge heat-bomb syrah at Sherwin earlier in the day. The tightness gives the impression of hillside fruit, which is mostly dark fruits like blackberries. I get a hint of wood and fennel in the nose and at the very end of each sip. Again, I wish I had bought more.

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  • 2007 Relic Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Rockledge Vineyard 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

    (10/23/2010)

    Big, hillside cabernet, still needing lots of time to integrate. Structure is there. I get rich, dark fruits that can't quite express themselves yet. Lots of graphite and winter spices. Tannins need to resolve, but you can tell this one will be great. Keep it coming, Mr. Hirby!

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  • 2007 Andesite Vineyard Mervignon 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District

    (10/23/2010)

    A brand new label, with 2007 being the first commerical vintage. The property sits just below Paloma, and the style is unmistakably similar. Restrained, complex, and distinctly Spring Mountain. Drinking well now, surely to open a bit more over the upcoming 2-3 years. Will be interesting to follow this label!

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  • 2009 Conspire Sauvignon Blanc 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

    (10/23/2010)

    A fresh, clean sauvignon blanc. Plenty of tropical fruit and stone fruit, with a clean metallic finish.

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  • 2008 Conspire Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 87 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (10/23/2010)

    Seemed like a well crafted, yet typical pinot. I get sweet grape and raspberries, with just enough complexity of spices to make it worth drinking.

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  • 2006 Meander Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 90 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/23/2010)

    Still in it's youth, this wine needs time to express itself. I get a lot of rutherford dust, and ripe red fruits. Vanilla and a bit of licorice ... everything still needs to integrate. Lots of promise.

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Flight 3 - Sunday, 10/24/10 (16 Notes)

Started at White Rock near Stag's Leap. Then drove up to meet with Rollie Heitz at Midcellar Cellars. Had a formal tasting with Lin at Venge. Finished the day with an awesome visit to Mike Smith at the Carter/Envy facility. He poured his Quivet and Myriad releases.

Flight 4 - Monday, 10/25 (6 Notes)

Started at Laird Cellars with Bev from Hollywood and Vine. Then drove out to meet with George at Moss Creek.

  • 2009 Hollywood & Vine Cellars Chardonnay "2480" 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/25/2010)

    Another nice example of non-ML, oak aged chardonnay. Refreshing, yet some structure from the oak.

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  • 2008 Hollywood & Vine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Short Ends Napa Valley 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/25/2010)

    A really nicely put together wine. Much more structure, cream, and dust than you typically expect at this price. I wouldn't age it, as it's ready now.

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  • 2007 Hollywood & Vine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon "2480" Napa Valley 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/25/2010)

    It is definitely an 89+, and for whatever reason, the number I came up with doesn't really do it justice. No mistake, this is a premium wine. 5 vineyards come together beautifully, with red fruit, chocolate, licorice, figs, and a tiny bit of rose-water. Very complex and multi-dimensional.

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  • 2001 Moss Creek Zinfandel 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/25/2010)

    Not your typical Zin. This is thick, syrupy, and drinking wonderfully. Raisiny and pruney, in the good way. The spice isn't your typically zin pepper, but sweet spices, and only in the background.

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  • 2000 Moss Creek Merlot 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/25/2010)

    An amazing Merlot. Dense, almost crystalline color, with a nice Bordeaux nose. Lasted for minutes on the palate. Well crafted, and very very ready to drink.

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  • 1994 Moss Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 96 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (10/25/2010)

    Fantastic. George opened this for us on a tasting, which was much appreciated. Perfectly integrated. Blinded, you would guess this is an aged Bordeaux. All that ground, brick, and French stink. Even a litte wet cheese. The flavor is fully rounded, with strawberry, cherries, and even fine-liquor in the background. Rivals for wine of the trip. At least from an aged example, Moss Creek is making super premium, age-worthy wine to rival the rest of Napa.

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