Winery Tastings, October 2010

Mt. Veeder, Oakville, Spring Mountain, St. Helena, Calistoga, Napa

Tasted October 22, 2010 - October 25, 2010 by prettydeceextrap with 1,142 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.

White
2007 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
85 points
Very nice chardonnay. Crisp, though not complex. Some of the typical tropical fruits, a little grass.
White
2000 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
89 points
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.
Red
2006 Mayacamas Vineyards Merlot USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
92 points
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.
Red
2005 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
91 points
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.
Red
2007 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
88 points
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.
Red
2007 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
93 points
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.
Red
2005 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
87 points
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.
Red
2004 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
93 points
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.
Red
2007 Anomaly Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
93 points
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.
Red
2006 Anomaly Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
90 points
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.
Red
2008 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
92 points
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.
Red
2008 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wight USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
95 points
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.
Rosé
2009 Chase Zinfandel Rosé USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
84 points
Interestingly sweet. Not much else going on.
Red
2007 Chase Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
87 points
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.
Red
2006 Chase Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
88 points
Better than the 07 to me, though my score don't reflect it. Not quite as thick, and just a little more pepper.
Red
2006 Chase Zinfandel Reserve Hayne Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
87 points
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.
Red
2006 Chase Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
85 points
Lacks identity, especially considering the wines being made by their neighbors. I would call it a dusty everyday cab.
Red
2005 Chase Petite Sirah Hayne Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
89 points
Best wine of the lineup. Dark and tannic ... needs time, but seems huge.

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.

Red
2008 Ritchie Creek Pinot Noir USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
88 points
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.
Red
2007 Ritchie Creek Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
91 points
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.
Red
2007 Ritchie Creek Blaufränkisch USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
92 points
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.
Red
N.V. Sherwin Family Vineyards Cellar Scraps #4 USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
88 points
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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Red
2006 Sherwin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
93 points
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.
Red
2006 Sherwin Family Vineyards Syrah Dry Creek Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
80 points
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.
Red
2009 Relic Wines Pinot Noir Kashaya USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
90 points
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.
Red
2009 Relic Wines Ritual USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
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.
Red
2008 Relic Wines Syrah Scarpa USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
94 points
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.
Red
2007 Relic Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Rockledge Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
93 points
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!
Red
2007 Andesite Vineyard Mervignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
89 points
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!
White
2009 Conspire Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
87 points
A fresh, clean sauvignon blanc. Plenty of tropical fruit and stone fruit, with a clean metallic finish.
Red
2008 Conspire Pinot Noir Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
87 points
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.
Red
2006 Meander Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
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.

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.

Red
2008 Venge Vineyards Sangiovese Penny Lane Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
90 points
An intriguing wine. Blinded, I would have thought this was a Dijon clone pinot, of all things. Mellow, wonderful sweetness with a complex spicy background. Yellow flowers, cherries, and cranberries. Really a nice wine once it comes around, and once you accept it is Sangiovese.
Red
2008 Venge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Silencieux USA, California, Napa Valley
88 points
A nice little cab, capable of drinking now. Priced fairly. Red, sweet fruit witha bit of spice.
Red
2008 Venge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Bone Ash Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Calistoga
90 points
A bit acidic still, needs time in the bottle. Seems to be well constructed, with tart blackberry coming out. Licorice and chocolate.
Red
2008 Venge Vineyards Syrah Clone 877 Muhlner Steps USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
A well integrated Syrah. Perhaps meant to age, I think it is drinking well now. Big dark fruit, with enough "fatty" mouthfeel to stand up to big food. Still distinctly Syrah.
White
2007 White Rock Vineyards Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
The best chardonnay of the trip. They really highlight the fruit, and a nice bit of oak peeks through without overpowering. Layered and complex.
Red
2006 White Rock Vineyards Claret USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Priced really well. I think this wine is a bit more integrated right now than the Laureate cab. Nicely blended, the wine layers the palate sequentially from front to back.
Red
2005 White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Laureate USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
Still full of acid, capable of years more in the bottle. Very tight, some air helps it along. Hillside characteristics with tons of backbone, and hint that the fruit will be rearing it's head shortly.
Red
2007 Midsummer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Fowler's Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
90 points
Perhaps because it is technically Knight's Valley (I think), the QRP is sky-high. At $25, you simply won't find better wine. Perfectly oaked, I would drink this wine with anything from duck to steak, and would be perfectly content to drink it by itself. Buy them up.
Red
2007 Midsummer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Tomasson Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
For me, not quite as complex as the Canon Creek, but still a great example of well-constructed 100% cabernet.
Red
2007 Midsummer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cañon Creek USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
Drinking pretty welll now, with plenty of back palate. The best of the three wines in my opinion, this one really starts to hit once you give it a bit of air. Very nicely highlights the fruit.
Red
2008 Quivet Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Kenefick Ranch USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Compared to the 07 we drank recently, the 08 isn't quite together yet. Red fruit and oak up front. Would wait on it a little bit.
Red
2008 Quivet Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
94 points
HUGE. Distinctly different from the Myriad Spring Mountain, I found this have just a bit more of everything. Blue and red fruit, oak and a touch of vanilla. Very smooth and cremy finish.
Red
2008 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
95 points
Fantastic Spring Mountain wine. Takes all the red fruit and mountain structure, and just elevates it 5-10 steps. Drinking well now, this one I think could use some time in the bottle.
Red
2008 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
94 points
Lots of red fruit and a bit of vanilla. I got some mocha too. A full palate wine that is drinking really well right now. You simply won't find a better made wine at this price.
Red
2008 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
98 points
Beautifully giant. My favorite of the lineup, this one is singing in it's youth. It will undoubtedly change with a bit of time in the bottle, but I'm not sure it will get any better. Cassis, cherries, perfect wood.
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Red
2008 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
97 points
Incredible. In terms of overall complexity and integration, this is sure to be the best of the bunch. Drinking surprisingly smoothly for a wine this young, with all the fruit, backbone, and size you expect from Mike Smith.

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.

White
2009 Hollywood & Vine Cellars Chardonnay "2480" USA, California, Napa Valley
87 points
Another nice example of non-ML, oak aged chardonnay. Refreshing, yet some structure from the oak.
Red
2008 Hollywood & Vine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Short Ends Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
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.
Red
2007 Hollywood & Vine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon "2480" Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
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.
Red
2001 Moss Creek Zinfandel USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
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.
Red
2000 Moss Creek Merlot USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
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.
Red
1994 Moss Creek Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
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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