Tour - Napa / Sonoma 2009

Napa / Sonoma, CA
Tasted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - Saturday, August 29, 2009 by Wine Gent with 476 views

Introduction

5 day self guided tasting tour through Napa & Sonoma of about 15 wineries and about 30 to 40 wines. A few of the tastings were with friends from Sonoma.

Flight 1 - Silver Oak Winery (3 Notes)

Nice large high end (swanky) bar area.

  • 2004 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 90 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Bouquet fruity, licorice, cinnamon. Taste plum, chocolate, rose petal. Good, but pretentious attitude at winery did not match the wine quality, and very overpriced at $100. 86% Cab, 7% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Description - earliest bud break in history, small harvest with light yields. Aged in American oak for 25 months and in bottle 20 months. Released 2/7/2009. Tasted at Silver Oak Winery on Napa trip. Tasting $20 for two wines.

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  • 2005 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 90 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Taste black cherry, licorice, seamless on palate, velvety tannins, excellent length. Good, but pretentious attitude at winery did not match the wine quality, and somewhat overpriced at $70. 100% Cab. Description - long moderate summer with perfect bloom and even ripening, with large harvest. Aged in American oak for 25 months and in bottle 15 months. Released 8/1/2009. Tasted at Silver Oak Winery on Napa trip. Tasting $20 for two wines.

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  • 2000 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 92 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Bouquet sweet, berry, plum, port-like. Taste velvety, strong plum, licorice finish that grew after several tastes, more complex and enjoyable than the 2004 and 2005 tasted. Very good, but pretentious attitude at winery did not match the wine quality, and somewhat overpriced at $70. Tasted at Silver Oak Winery on Napa trip. Host gave us this extra tasting.

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Flight 2 - Chateau Montelena Winery (5 Notes)

The Winery - built 1882, focused on Cabs. Beautiful building and grounds, with ivy covered main building, small scenic lake with an island, pagoda, and wildlife. Bocce ball courts add to the ambience.

Their 1973 Chardonnay won in the famous 1976 Paris Tasting contest, beating French wines for the first time for USA wines, and was the basis of the movie "Bottle Shock". That 1973 Chardonnay was actually produced by the vintners at Grgich Winery, which is part of the Grgich Winery story when you visit that winery.

www.montelena.com

  • 2008 Chateau Montelena Riesling 80 Points

    USA, California, North Coast, Potter Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Taste peach opening, strong floral, crisp, light, simple, wimpy, acidic, sharp. (Wife rated this 85.) There are much better Rieslings out there for this price point of at $24 - overpriced. Tasted at Chateau Montelena Winery on Napa trip. $20 for tastings. (See Tasting Story notes about this famous winery.)

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  • 2007 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet green apple, citrus, mineral. Taste soft texture, simple, vanilla, light butter finish. There are much better Chards out there for this price point of at $50 - overpriced. Tasted at Chateau Montelena Winery on Napa trip. $20 for tastings. (See Tasting Story notes about this famous winery.)

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  • 2006 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel The Montelena Estate 86 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Calistoga

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet black currant, tobacco. Taste dried cherry with spice notes, suede like tannins, spicy moderate finish. (Wife rated this 90-91.) There are much better Zins out there for this price point of at $30. Tasted at Chateau Montelena Winery on Napa trip. $20 for tastings. (See Tasting Story notes about this famous winery.)

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  • 2005 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    This is one of the best wines we tasted on this trip! Bouquet complex, licorice, cedar, among others. Taste complex, full bodied and balanced, with spice notes, nice acid balance and smooth finish with pleasant pepper notes. 86% Cab. Very good, and moderately priced at $45. Tasted at Chateau Montelena Winery on Napa trip. $20 for tastings. (See Tasting Story notes about this famous winery.)

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  • 2005 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate 96 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    This is one of the best wines we tasted on this trip! Bouquet complex, earthy, cinnamon, vanilla, violets, dark cherry, warm leather. Taste complex, rich and velvety, with black currant, building to mouth filling cherry, nice acid balance, nice smooth finish of dried fruits, apple, and hints of clove. Very good, but still overpriced at $135. Tasted at Chateau Montelena Winery on Napa trip. $20 for tastings. (See Tasting Story notes about this famous winery.)

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Flight 3 - Rutherford Hill Winery (8 Notes)

Terlato family vineyards.

www.rutherfordhill.com

www.terlatowines.com

NOTES
- We liked wines here that had substantial Cabernet Franc.

To research:
- 2007 Foxen - Rita Hills - Select Smoke - Sea Smoke Vineyards
- 2007 Chausseur - Russian River Valley Blank

  • 2006 Rutherford Hill Malbec 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Taste initially "wow" with big bold front end, berry, vanilla, soft velvety texture. (Wife rated it 90). Use local grapes only - no imported grapes (Argentina, etc.). There are much better Malbecs out there for this price point of $36 - overpriced. Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. $15 for tastings.

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  • 2005 Rutherford Hill Syrah 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Bouquet floral. Taste initially flat, became more pronounced as tasting progressed, cherry, honey, cloves, sage, vanilla, a little earthy. There are much better Syrahs out there for this price point of $32 - overpriced. Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. $15 for tastings.

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  • 2005 Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

    (8/26/2009)

    Taste with a little bite, but still pleasant, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, cherry, fig, apple, pepper finish, velvety texture. 94% Cab, 6% Malbec & Petite Merlot. Very good, but there are as good Cabs out there for under this price point of $42 - overpriced. Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. $15 for tastings.

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  • 2006 Terlato Vineyards Devils' Peak 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Bouquet strong cloves. Taste berry, cherry. Somewhat simple. Merlot probably ruins this with muddy-ness and over simplification of flavors, just like their Cardinals Peak version of this series. 66% Cab Franc, 23% Merlot, 6% Cab, 5% Malbec. (Wife rated it 90.) At $48 - extremely overpriced. Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. $15 for tastings.

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  • 2006 Terlato Vineyards Cardinals' Peak

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Bouquet floral. Taste dry, simple, nothing really discernible. Merlot probably ruins this with muddy-ness and over simplification of flavors, just like their Devils Peak version of this series. 67% Cab, 17% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc, 8% Petit Verdot. At $48 - extremely overpriced. Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. $15 for tastings.

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  • 2000 Rutherford Hill Zinfandel Vintage Port 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Not a big Port fan. Taste moderate balanced sweetness. Good with chocolate covered blueberries. $30 for 375 ml - overpriced. Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. $15 for tastings.

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  • 2007 Paraiso Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 92 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands

    (8/26/2009)

    Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. Extra tasting after initial flight.

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  • 2007 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir Cuvée de Trois 93 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/26/2009)

    Tasted at Rutherford Hill Winery on Napa trip. Extra tasting, after initial flight.

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Flight 4 - Ferrari-Carano Winery (9 Notes)

The Winery - Beautiful scenic grounds, and large upscale tasting areas. Located in Healdsburg, CA.

The area - Scenic drive along the river valley area.

Uniqueness - Several Papapietro Perry wines presented under FC name.

Www.ferrari-carano.com

Phone: 800-831-0381

  • 2007 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir 88 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet strawberry, cedar, vanilla. Taste matches bouquet - strawberry, cedar, vanilla, with pepper middle, long velvety finish. Light to medium body. May be good with sweet pork, au gratin potatoes. 100% Pinot Noir. 9 months in French oak. $42 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $15 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2007 Ferrari-Carano Petit Verdot 90 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet blackberry. Taste dry, blackberry, vanilla, leather, clove, cola finish, sharp lingering finish that softened as tasting progressed. Full body. May be good with fatty meats. 100% Petit Verdot. 14 months in French and Hungarian oak. $38 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $15 for 4 tastings

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  • 2005 Ferrari-Carano Trésor 92 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County

    (8/28/2009)

    One of the better wines tasted at this winery. Bouquet earthy, blackberry. Taste a little dry, berries, chocolate middle and finish, sweet middle, pepper fish, moderate to long finish. Full body. Wife rated it much lower (85) and did not like it. Bordeaux Style blend. 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot. 20 months in French oak. $58 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $15 for 4 tastings

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  • 2005 Ferrari-Carano Prevail Back Forty 92 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet berry, caramel, chocolate, pepper. Taste sweet, caramel, vanilla, pepper back end, moderate to long finish. Full body. 100% Cab. Aged 22 months in French oak. At $85 - extremely overpriced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa trip. $15 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2007 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 88 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet light floral. Taste cherry, vanilla, chocolate, moderate to long finish. Light body. 100% Pinot Noir. At $45 - overpriced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa trip. $15 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2007 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Leras Family Vineyards

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet light floral, fruit. Taste pleasant, but nothing notable. Young, needs a lot more aging. Light body. 100% Pinot Noir. At $49 - very overpriced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa trip. $15 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2004 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Leras Family Vineyards 90 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet nice, balanced, roses, cloves, chocolate. Taste some match to bouquet, chocolate milk. Light body. Young, needs some more aging. Better than first two Pinots tasted from same winery - this one is 3 years older. (Next wine tasted was 2003, and not as good as this one, indicating a distinct difference in vintages of same wine.) 100% Pinot Noir. At $57 - very overpriced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa trip. $15 for 4 tastings - this was an extra to tasting.

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  • 2003 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Leras Family Vineyards 87 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Bouquet light, cola. Taste fruit, very light oak. Light body. Previous wine tasted was 2004, which was much better than this one, indicating a distinct difference in vintages of same wine. 100% Pinot Noir. At $54 - very overpriced. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa trip. $15 for 4 tastings - this was an extra to tasting.

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  • 2007 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Pommard Clones 92 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Best of Pinots tasted from same winery. Bouquet cherry, earthy. Taste back end complexity that will mature, sweet and long finish that builds. Light to medium body. Young, needs some more aging. 100% Pinot Noir. At $70 - somewhat overpriced, however if the claim to Pommard similarity holds true, the price may be worth it some day. Tasted at Ferrari-Carano winery on Napa trip. $15 for 4 tastings - this was an extra to tasting.

    POST NOTE - visited Pommard, Burgundy, France in 2013 - tasted similar quality wines there, so this "clone" claim seems to be correct. Good young Pinots there were in the $45 to $80 (ish) range, and assumed aging of 5 to 20 years for full maturity.

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Flight 5 - Papapietro Perry Winery (2 Notes)

Ferrari-Carano Winery told us about this wine and winery after tasting several of their wines at FC. FC winery had better PP wines in their tasting from, than the PP winery -ironically.

The Winery - small, obscure, not easy to find tasting room. Focus is Pinot Noir. Located in Healdsburg, CA.

The area - Scenic drive along the river valley area.

www.papapietro-Perry.com

Phone- 707-433-0422

Flight 6 - Rodney Strong Vineyards (10 Notes)

Napa Valley

2007 must not be a good year for their Chardonnays - tasted three that were not very good.

  • 2007 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Sonoma County 83 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County

    (8/28/2009)

    Not worth consideration. 2007 must not be a good year for their Chardonnays - tasted three that were not very good. Bouquet lemon, apple. Taste pear, pineapple, stainless steel, no butter - no complexity or depth. Stainless steel storage and only 5 months in French and American oak. $15 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2007 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hill 86 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Chalk Hill

    (8/28/2009)

    Average, not notable. 2007 must not be a good year for their Chardonnays - tasted three that were not very good. Bouquet toasty vanilla, mineral. Taste abundant fruit, minimal butter on finish - minimal complexity / depth. Only 9 months in 97% French oak. $20 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2007 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Reserve Russian River Valley 83 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Not worth consideration. 2007 must not be a good year for their Chardonnays - this is the third one tasted that was not very good. Taste no butter - no complexity or depth. 13 months in French oak. $40 / bottle - extremely over priced. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2008 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reserve 83 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Not notable, but is still very young. Bouquet red fruit. Taste hint of spice -light body, finish is acidic and sharp. Only 7 months in 100% French oak. 98% Pinot Noir, 2% Syrah. $22 / bottle - over priced at this point. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2007 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reserve 89 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Would still not buy yet, but much better than 2008 - most likely due to purity, longer aging, and more care in design. Bouquet earthy, red cherry, cola, caramel. Taste soft, rich, toasty vanilla - soft, long finish. 11 months in 100% French oak. 100% Pinot Noir. (52% clone 777, 46% clone 115, 1% Pommard, 1% clone 114). $50 / bottle - over priced at this point. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2006 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Vineyards Alexander Valley 87 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Not notable. Bouquet not notable. Taste no pepper, earthy, dry - a little sharp. 21 months in French and American oak. 92% Cab Sav, 6% Merlot, 2% Malbec. $25 / bottle - over priced - better Cabs out there. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2006 Rodney Strong Symmetry 87 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    An average attempt at a blend, but not good enough for the price point and may just need some aging since 2001 vintage is much better. Taste smokey, sharp, shallow, minimal finish. 21 months in 100% French oak. 79% Cabernet, 10% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Verdot. $60 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2001 Rodney Strong Symmetry 92 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    A good attempt at a blend, but not good enough for the price point - much better than the 2006 vintage. Bouquet and taste chocolate and spice. Texture silky, smooth, velvety. Moderate finish. 21 months in 100% French oak. 79% Cabernet, 10% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Verdot. $70 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2005 Rodney Strong Syrah Estate Vineyards 89 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    Almost like a Cab, with some pepper. If it improved slightly, would buy. Bouquet and taste black fruits, smokey, spicy, oak character, pepper. 24 months in oak - 45% American, 55 % French. 97% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot. $20 / bottle. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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  • 2005 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Rockaway 90 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley

    (8/28/2009)

    92% Cab, 4% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. $75 / bottle. Tasted at Rodney Strong winery on Napa / Sonoma trip. $5 for 4 tastings.

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Flight 7 - Darioush (3 Notes)

Napa Valley -4240 Silverado Trail
Www.darioush.com

A dramatic Persian architecture designed winery - worth visiting if one likes middle eastern architecture.

  • 2006 Darioush Duel 90 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/27/2009)

    All three wines tasted at this winery were enjoyable and similar in quality. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Shiraz. $45 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Darioush winery on Napa / Sonoma trip.

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  • 2006 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon 90 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/27/2009)

    All three wines tasted at this winery were enjoyable and similar in quality. Signature Cabernet Sauvignon. $80 / bottle - over priced. Tasted at Darioush winery on Napa / Sonoma trip.

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  • 2006 Darioush Cabernet Franc 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    (8/27/2009)

    All three wines tasted at this winery were enjoyable and similar in quality. This wine may still improve with some aging. Tasted at Darioush winery on Napa / Sonoma trip.

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Flight 8 - Castillo di Amorosa (16 Notes)

The Winery - Castle and vineyards fashioned after Italian style castles and wine. Fun and historical experience of European type castle environment. A little touristy, but still interesting.

4045 North St. Helena Highway
Calistoga, Ca
707-967-6274
Www.castillodiamorosa.com

Flight 9 - Cambria Estate Winery (10 Notes)

5475 Chardonnay Lane
Santa Maria, CA 93454
805-937-8091
Www.cambriawines.com

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