Winorama: A winter in Wineland III

Portland/Willamette, Eureka, Napa

Tasted January 4, 2019 - January 13, 2019 by MC2 Wines with 239 views

Introduction

The third year of our annual Napa trip in January. We've also taken to adding Portland/Willamette to the trip which I quite like given we got married in the wine country in Oregon and this area always has a special place in my heart. Love the offseason part of this trip which makes it easier to see and spend time with folks.

Flight 1 - FRI 01/04: Pre-dinner drink(s) @ Park Ave Wines (7 notes)

Friends of ours found this place when they visited back in the summer and since then it's been a favorite place of mine to drop by when in town. They have a great coravin list and also some off the beaten track wines (e.g. a flight from Canary Islands). Interesting and fun as always.

White
2016 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc La Crau France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Somehow I never realized this producer made a white and I certainly didn't know that it is similar to the Rayas blend with a lot of Clairette (40%) in addition to grenache blanc and a few other grapes. Probably not fair to have my comparison point be Rayas because this is not that. Much lower acidity. Much more like a standard white rhone where it's a bit thick and viscous. Lots of white flowers and white fleshy fruit. There's this weird sortof kick in the mid-palate which keeps it from feeling too overdone.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Antica Terra Pinot Noir Antikythera USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
We're visiting this winery on Saturday so entirely possible that we will have this wine twice in one trip, but it still seemed like a good idea to try just in case. I always like Maggie's wines. This is that wonderful balanced classy pinot with cherry fruits and lots of baking spices. It's very young right now, but something I'd keep an eye out for in the future. Beautiful.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2009 Château Lafleur-Gazin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Tried alongside an '02 Cos and it's interesting to see the right versus left bank comparison. This is very much what you'd expect from right bank. Kindof a plushy velvet texture to the wine. Lots of red fruits. Almost bordering on jammy (at least by Bordeaux standards). Approachable and fairly easy.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2002 Château Cos d'Estournel France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
Interesting comparison to a right bank wine ('09 Lafleur-Gazin). This is obviously a nicer wine and I'd also have said a bit younger in its drinking window although it was more approachable than I originally expected. Was from a Coravin pour where the bottle was almost kicked so it's possible that by this point air had been getting in. Darker black fruits. Some crushed gravel. Lots of blueberry. Bit of earth. Decent tannin. This was actually quite drinkable for me as is although agree that it probably wasn't drinking like a new bottle just uncorked.
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White
2017 Bodegas Los Bermejos Lanzarote Diego Sec Spain, Canary Islands, Lanzarote
First time with a Canary Islands wine. Served a bit on the cold side although I think that might have been on purpose. There's a certain almost underlying waxiness to it that seems to be kept in check with the chill. In that state it almost seems a bit light and refreshing. Lots of honey notes. Enjoyable and also a bit different although hard to exactly explain. Something in the texture of the wine although I think it worked.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Rosé
2017 Bodegas Los Bermejos Lanzarote Listan Rosado Spain, Canary Islands, Lanzarote
Can see why this one would be more readily available in the US. I'd say it's less different than the others in terms of the standard genre. This is a great rose. Lots of the fruit (mostly darker and red and not quite ripe) going on, but also a lot of more herbal and baking spice notes. It reminded me a bit of one of those au natural pies that you can get where there's no sugar added and they are careful to not have overly ripened the fruit. Great acidity and very easy to drink.
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Red
2017 Envinate Benje Spain, Canary Islands, Tenerife, Ycoden Daute Isora
Very much a wine of the earth. Pours a slightly lighter red color. Very fresh. There's a longer finish than I would have expected - it just goes on and on. Can almost taste the volcano but in a good way. Somehow it reminded me of the non sugar part of licorice (the red kind, not black).
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Flight 2 - FRI 01/04: Dinner @ HoldFast Dining (7 notes)

Recommendation from some foodie friends of ours who called it the best meal they had in Portland by far. Not the easiest place to find (the address takes you to a bar and you have to know to walk to the right to a little door that is not well lit with an 'HF' on the outside. Great set-up though with that fun counter seating where you get to watch all of the preparation and an interesting menu. Everything was very good, but I esp liked the madeleine course which was very different and interesting.

crab, habanada, kumquat
uni, ginger, seawee
paired with Gruner

albalone, egg, sourdough (supplemented with tsar nicoulai caviar)
cod, sunchoke, oyster
paired with Cremant

tartare, pine, elderberry
beef, truffle, greens
paired with FM

cornbread madeleine, lardo, parmesan, honeycomb,
honey, yogurt
paired with Cidre

chocolate, coffee, chamomile
paired with Port

White - Sparkling
N.V. Marc Hébrart Champagne Sélection Brut Premier Cru France, Champagne
From a 375 as kindof a background wine to enjoy throughout our dinner at HoldFast (which also had wine pairings). One of the pairings was a Cremant and as always you can tell that this is in a different league. There is something about champagne. 80% PN/20% Chard. I didn't get all of the weirdness that Pinot sometimes imparts (and that I like). Instead seemed like pretty classic bubbles. Enjoyable though and good for the price.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2016 Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
Interesting to see how poor the reviews on this were. I suppose I can understand in that this is different than a lot of Gruners I've tried before. It's completely missing some of those grassy and green notes. It does have a nice sharpness. But like other Gruners, it seems to go very well with food. In this case was a nice counterbalance to a spice in a crab dish and then to the creaminess of an uni dish. In both cases the food seemed to pull the wine into balance and vice versa. Enjoyable to see.
White - Sparkling
N.V. Domaine Pêcheur Crémant du Jura France, Jura, Crémant du Jura
I feel a little bit for this wine since in addition to doing the wine pairing we each had champagne from a 375 that we nursed throughout the meal. And while this is a reasonable set of bubbles, there is something about champagne that seems to take things to a different level (would be interested to understand... is it like the water when it comes to NY bagels?). This was more acidic. Nice and sharp. Well set up though for some seafood dishes that were a bit more intense with egg and a very well cooked cod in oyster sauce. This seemed to be a nice counterbalance.
Red
2014 Force Majeure Parabellum Rhone Varietal Blend USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
Split a taste of this alongside the 'big brother' Force Majeure Syrah. This was not at the same level of that. A bit lower acid. A bit more roundness to the fruit. I was optimistic for it given how much I like Mouvedre, but I'm not sure the Mouvedre really supported the Syrah as well in this case. To be fair, this was a completely drinkable wine and worked nicely with the meat courses, but I think big brother overshadowed.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Force Majeure Syrah Force Majeure Vineyard USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
This was actually quite nice despite what last note says. I believe it had had a fairly significant decant which I'm sure helped a lot. Washington wine can be a bit intense. Even with decant can still tell this is young, but there's a good structure to it. Nice darker fruits. A bit more elegant than the Parabellum that we tried alongside (mostly driven by higher acid). It's a good wine and went quite well with the steak especially.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Fruit/Vegetable Wine
2015 Jacques Perritaz Cidrerie du Vulcain Apple Cidre de Fer Switzerland
Really quite an enjoyable cider. I like these more artisanal ones that tend to be on the drier side and a bit interesting. It's pretty dry and tart. Some spice notes. Paired well with a more salty dessert dish that was one of my favorites of the dinner.
Red - Fortified
N.V. Ramos Pinto Porto 10 Year Old Tawny Quinta de Ervamoira Portugal, Douro, Porto
Nice easy drinking port. I like the ones that are a bit smoother (this was) and not quite so hot with the alcohol (this was nicely integrated and a bit more muted). Lots of the caramel and maybe a hint of raisin. Had to go with both chocolate but also more of a cream layer and this worked well with that dessert.

Flight 3 - SAT 01/05: Domaine Serene (10 notes)

Always fun to come back. We've been list members since our first visit and while we've culled many lists over the years have continued to enjoy being connected here. Anne was a fabulous host. Was very interesting to do the combination of Oregon and Burgundy and see the differences across the different wines. I thought the Winery Hill (15) and the 11 Gold Eagle really stood out and I went back to both.

White
2015 Maison Evenstad Santenay 1er Cru Gravières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Santenay 1er Cru
I'm not a chard drinker so take the note with a grain of salt. There is oak here that you can taste. It's a bit rounder. And with a bit of a saline side. Still just not my grape.
White
2015 Château de la Crée Puligny-Montrachet France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet
As previous note mentions, I am not a chard drinker. For many they are just beyond my understanding. I will say that this was one of those wines where while it might not exactly be my cup of tea, I can see why it's compelling. Saline and minerals and leaner style. We paired it with some really excellent oysters and that was a nice combo. Still not my grape, but one of the better versions I've had.
Red
2015 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Jerusalem Hill USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
Very fun to try a few of these single vineyards back to back and get a better understanding of their general characteristics. This is from the Eola-Amity Hills area. Lots of darker fruits. Bolder style. There's plum and vanilla and spices and toast. And yet somehow also a slight softness to the wine. For most the Winery Hill completely overshadowed. I'd say I still liked this even if this year it wasn't quite like it's brother.
Red
2015 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Winery Hill Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
One of the wines of the tasting. This was great. Lots of floral and red fruits. Maybe a touch of frenette (but not overpowering as I usually hate that stuff). Woodspices. It's complex, aromatic, enticing. There's an elegance to it. Ended up getting a few more bottles. Very enjoyable.
Red
2015 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Mark Bradford USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Of all of the '15s we drank from the single vineyards this one was prob the most closed (although Jerusalem Hill was also a wine that needs a lot more time). This was more brooding. Darker. Felt like a bit more oak as well. Some time in the glass and the red fruits came up a bit more. I think will be quite nice, but give it time.
Red
2011 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Gold Eagle Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
From the beginning I was a bigger believer in the '11 vintage than most. A few years ago when the '12s were coming out we were still trying to buy the leftover '11s. This makes me feel a bit vindicated. It's still quite young, but it's really coming along quite nicely. There's a bit of a juiciness to the wine while still staying restrained. There's a darkness here. Lots of dried fruits and potpourri. Very interesting. Got a few more bottles for our collection. Looking forward to seeing it continue to evolve.
Red
2010 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
The cornerstone of Domaine Serene. I do tend to like this wine with some age. The '10 is nice. Slightly cooler vintage. It's well structured. Good acidity. Still more in its youth. Fun to try. I still think the single vineyards have a tendency to overshadow it.
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Red
2015 Maison Evenstad Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Didiers France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru
Nice wine in a good spot. My first word was fun. It's got some floral and darker fruits and a certain prettiness to it. Balanced with more truffle and mineral notes. It's drinking well and yet clearly early in it's drinking life. Look forward to seeing how it goes.
Red
2015 Maison Evenstad Corton Charlotte Dumay France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
Pre-release but fun to get to try. One of the first Grand Cru areas that Domaine Serene has procured grapes from in Burgundy. My first impression of the wine was handsoap. Very floral. A bit intense. Lots of potpourri. Also quite young in its life. Will be interesting to see how it evolves.
Rosé
N.V. Domaine Serene "R" USA, Oregon
A rose that I always find handles nicely. Refreshing. A good sipper towards the end of the tasting. Will keep our eye out for the 2019 release in Feb.

Flight 4 - SAT 01/05: Ayoub (7 notes)

We've been trying to meet up with Mo for years now and something has always come up (he's out of town, we can't make trip after all, bomb cyclones). This time it finally did come together. Fun set-up where you taste at the island in his kitchen. Some interesting stories and a life clearly with lots of adventures. Wines were well priced and some were quite interesting.

White
2017 Ayoub Chardonnay USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
I am not a Chardonnay person and I find when you tell someone that in a tasting situation their goal is almost always to convert you. This is still chardonnay. More in the stainless steel/cleaner style which I do find more palatable. Still very much chard though.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Ayoub Pinot Noir Memoirs USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
This was great for the price point. It's a very easy wine. A bit of red fruits, a bit of barnyard, a bit more woodsy. Not super complex or overdone. But a wine that will last for a few years as well. Good at the reasonable price point.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Ayoub Pinot Noir Anonimo Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
This wine reminded me of a spring morning. I guess maybe the lightness from the acid and the red fruits? It was overall pretty nice and certainly tasty. Very young. The 2016s were sold out at the tasting room so we were drinking all '17s.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Ayoub Pinot Noir Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Still tasted very much on the young side, but the '16s were sold out so '17s were getting poured. I thought this was quite nice. Lots of fruit. Good acid. Very fresh. A bit of a succulent side. Drinking much better than I would have thought for the age, but will likely let ours have a few years to settle in.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Ayoub Pinot Noir Estate Whole Cluster USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
One of my favorites of the tasting. Whole cluster really does add some more character to the wines. Again I get a bit of the spring notes. A hint of spice. Some red fruits. It drinks pretty well young, but will try to give it a bit more time.
Red
2017 Ayoub Mojo USA, Oregon
Very interesting and different wine perhaps because of the blend which is fairly non-traditional (Pinot, Cab Franc, some Syrah). I actually thought it worked pretty well. There's an elegance and a power to the wine coming from those different varietals. Well balanced. Enjoyable.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Ayoub Pinot Noir ??? USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
A wine that has traditionally been made from one of the major vineyards of another producer but given some differences of late shifted to another set of grapes that were purchased. This is very much bright fresh cherries. A style which I tend to like and a very reasonable price point so we got a few of these as well. Still prob a touch young, but a wine that seems to drink ok on the younger side.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 5 - SAT 01/05: Dinner @ Castanga (6 notes)

One of my favorite restaurants in Portland although I will say that Nomad.PDX gave it a run for the money this weekend. Always well executed with good service and great food. Also, their wine list is amazing and I'd happily spend much more time with it. Rare that you see that many different wines with age.

White - Off-dry
1971 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Off the wine list at Castanga's sister restaurant where we got a glass before our dinner. This was just wonderful. Very well aged. Sometimes at this point I feel like the riesling is all petrol and almost a bit offputting, but not at all the case here. Instead, there's that more root vegetable combined with a just hint of sweetness that was. Works.
White - Sparkling
2013 Analemma Wines Pinot Noir Blanc de Noir atavus USA, Oregon/Washington, Columbia Gorge
Interesting wine. Great acidity which really works well with food (we'd ordered off of the Castanga wine list). And for a new world bubbles it's good. I'm not sure it's quite at the same level as a champagne at the same price, but I think that's a theme for me. Was fun to get to try. We haven't had many of the Columbia Gorge ones.
White
2010 Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Vouvray Sec Clos de Venise France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
Another white before we got to the red for dinner. I have less memory of this wine than some of the others from dinner. I think pretty nice chenin. Definitely more in the very dry style. Almost a bit puckering, but then so great with a bit of food.
Red
1996 Roagna Barbaresco Crichët Pajé Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
flawed
Just off which was a super bummer since I was pretty excited to try this one. We ended up with Paje from same year which was good.
Red
1996 Roagna Barbaresco Pajé Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
When we were in Piedmont a few months ago this was one of my favorite producers and since then have been seeking out more chances to try the wines. I would say this was a good version although not quite at the same level as some of the others we've had. It's got that nice blend of acidity and slightly unripe red fruit (less cherry here, more red currant style). Some spices. A very good wine.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2006 Sárospatak Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Hungary, Tokaji
There is something really nice about just a touch of sweet at the end of a meal. This was definitely the 5 (and not the same level as say an essencia) so came across as a bit thinner. Totally fine, not something I'd seek out though.

Flight 6 - SUN 01/06: Archery Summit (7 notes)

We did the Past, Present, and Future tasting. I had confused it with a Retrospective we did a few years ago although to be fair the major difference was this came with a tour of the caves and some barrel tasting in addition to the new and an older release. First time barrel tasting Pinot. I am not a barrel expert so I always find it a bit tough to parse what will be great or not from trying the wine that early.
Also interesting since what we barrel tasted was the same vineyard/clones/year just with different toast levels and at different levels of malolactic fermentation. Surprised myself by preferring the Red Hills to the Summit in the main tasting. Appreciated the acidity level on these wines (esp since a lot of warm years lately).

White
2016 Archery Summit Chardonnay USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Intro glass of the tasting to tide you over while you learn a bit more on the history. This is chardonnay. A bit more of the oak style. Not really in my wheelhouse.
Red
2018 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Red Hills Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
From a barrel tasting at the winery. Actually tasted from 3 different barrels with different levels of toast and different levels of malolactic fermentation. First barrel was still almost fizzy. There's a lot of dark red fruits (mostly cranberry) underlying all of this. I'm not seeing the acidity that seems to be a hallmark of the finished product yet, but of course this is about as early as it gets (wines had been in the barrel for maybe 2 months).
Red
2016 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Red Hills Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Got to try this next to the 2012 from the same vineyard and earlier in the tasting the 2018 which was still in barrel. Found myself enjoying the vineyard. This bottling has tart cherry, some darker fruits, a good amount of acid, lots of white pepper. Nice freshness to it. It's a very young wine, but not entirely unapproachable either.
Red
2016 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Archery Summit Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Interesting to try this next to the Red Hills. This is much more dark fruit dominant. Lots of black currant. Lots of power. Really needs a bit more time to find itself. Feels a bit more brooding. Still good freshness and a nice acid to it.
Red
2010 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Archery Summit Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
flawed
First bottle we had was just total brett in the glass. Ended up trying another bottle and I'll say it was less pronounced (also because the bottle was starting a bit cooler), but still there's the barnyard and funk going on there. I think both were likely a bit off esp looking at other notes.
Red
2012 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Red Hills Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
2012s weren't my favorite of the Oregon vintages, but I did find this enjoyable. It's amazing how just a few years in a bottle can help a wine find it's feet a bit more. Clearly the winner of the tasting. More moderate acidity. Nicely structured red fruit. A bit of leather going on. Not even closer to the prime window I don't think, but a bit more settled.
Red
2016 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
I quite liked this and definitely fun to get to try. Lots of red currant and pepper right out of the gate. Seemed to settle into the glass and shift profile a bit. More blackberries. Bit darker. Overall a very young wine, but one that I'm interested to follow.

Flight 7 - SUN 01/06: Antica Terra (14 notes)

One of our favorite spots to taste. We missed Maggie, but had a great visit nonetheless. Her wines are always so precise and clean and well structured. Also fun to try through a few other 'wines that inspire'.

White - Sparkling
2008 Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Grand Cru Fleur de Passion Brut France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
To start with there's a certain bump that bubbles will traditionally get just from coming in the middle of a day of red wine tasting (esp when there was barrel tasting earlier). Also, this was paired with caviar and it's hard to argue with that combo. Still, I think this was a really nice champagne. Very crisp. That nice pepper and pear combo. Well-structured. I very much enjoyed.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2016 Veyder-Malberg Riesling 2B Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Very fresh and precise. This is clean and crisp. Soft. Lime. Just a background of petrol flavors but they are not intense and missing that sharpness that I find makes it more offputting. Nice and dry and well done.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Rosé
2016 Château Simone Palette Rosé France, Provence, Palette
An interesting rose. It's built with a bit more intensity to it. Not necessarily in a bad way. I'd still call it an easy wine. But maybe a hint more tannin? Very fruity. A bit more complex than your standard rose. Always fun to drink.
Red
2016 Antica Terra Pinot Noir Botanica USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Darker with more blackberry and boysenberry and some more heft to it. Some earthy notes. Some years there's a huge difference between this and the Ceras, but I'd say 2016 it was a bit more nuanced. Clear that this has a bit more body and darkness, but not as pronounced as it was in 2015.
Red
2016 Antica Terra Pinot Noir Ceras USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
I am always more of a Ceras person myself between this and the Botanica. I like trying them side by side to see the differences in the styles. I'd say 2016 was a year where the wines were prob more similar than they were different. Still, this is a bit more cherry, baking spices, and some elegance to it and it's not until you've been sniffing and playing with it in the glass that you recognize the darkness that more often comes with Botanica. Still a nice wine.
Red
2014 Antica Terra Pinot Noir Antikythera USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
Interesting to check in on this wine a year later. It's still qite enjoyable. Lots of red currants. A softer approach. Very pretty in style. I think perhaps starting to come together a bit more, but still quite young.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2013 Domaine du Jaugaret France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Cab+Merlot blend. The first thing that comes to mind is bubblegum and then I gotta tell you it was really hard for me to get much else. Very fruity. Some raspberry. But there's almost this sweet powder style to it (which isn't really true - this is indeed a dry wine). On the heels of the more precise pinots in the tasting this was a bit more intense.
Red
2007 Abreu Madrona Ranch USA, California, Napa Valley
2007 isn't my year for Napa, but it's hard to argue with what Brad does. We were tasting with a friend who generally prefers to avoid cab but I believe the exact words were 'I'd drink cab if it was like this'. Just a beautiful wine. Very much fresh for '07. Lots of plum and spice and maybe a bit of licorice. Really lovely and a treat to try.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Lillian Winery Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Really oh so young and coming on the heels of a wine that has had a few more years to come into itself that is clear. Still, there's a lot to like with the stuffing of this wine. Right off the bat it starts more with the leather notes, then the black fruits. Very crisp. Some spices. Maybe with time a bit more red. Very tasty.
Red
2013 Lillian Winery Syrah USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
Have been drinking a lot of Northern Rhone of late and I appreciated some of those notes here. There's some of that meatiness. Still kindof darker fruits. It's nice and well put together. Has a certain class to it. Very young so will be sitting on these for awhile.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2015 Sine Qua Non Entre Chien et Loup USA, California, Central Coast
Generally I think this is often a blend of many whites and for some reason with this bottle or this year the chard was just dominant. And I'm not a chard person. Also seems to be missing that mid-late palate acid that I really love that makes this a bit more structured and less over the top. Not my favorite of the SQN whites, but so it goes.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Rosé - Sparkling
2013 Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Spécial Club Rosé France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
Don't see a ton of special club rose so this was a fun treat. Plus of course the point that if you are spending a lot of time drinking a lot of red wines getting some bubbles is always a nice change up. It's very fresh. Red fruits. On the tarter side. Maybe a bit lean but there's ripeness here too. It's an easy and happy drinker.
White
1996 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Savennières-Coulée de Serrant
From a coravin pour. There's something like a spiced butter to this wine. Starfruit. Tasty and interesting and definitely in that different category that makes you think a bit. Enjoyable.
White - Sweet/Dessert
1973 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Quarts de Chaume
Great way to end the tasting with a bit of sweet and these are generally pretty lovely. You can taste the age here, but it's still nice and sweet and well put together. Some vanilla and oat flavors. Good.

Flight 8 - SUN 01/06: Pre-dinner drinks @ Pix (1 note)

Perhaps the best champagne list I've ever seen. This was piled full of different growers and even growers with age which is hard to find. Mark-up was generally reasonable. There were a bunch of different restaurants I'd have happily

Rosé - Sparkling
2008 L. Aubry Fils Champagne Premier Cru Brut Sablé Rosé France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru
Interesting wine. This pours so incredibly lightly it really surprised me. Was hard to tell it was a rose. I like this producer for adding some more unique flavors to their champagne. Not always just the standard toast or more spicy notes. This was a bit oxidized, but I like that in a champagne so wouldn't necessarily call it close to end of life. Good and interesting.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 9 - SUN 1/06: Dinner @ Nomad.PDX (1 note)

Had actually planned to do Coquine for the second dinner with friends, but then we found out they were closed this weekend so had to look for another option. Really excited to have found this place. Food was interesting and inventive and service was friendly. We were pretty full after a weekend of Portland eating, but I even found myself wanting to finish the broccoli dish. One of the best spots we've been to in town and will be back.

White - Sparkling
2013 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Grand Cellier d'Or France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru
I'm always impressed the way champagne can pair with just about everything and we put it through the paces here. No detailed notes, but just a well done champagne. Very young. This has the structure to age. Enjoyable.

Flight 10 - MON 1/07: 301 Restaurant | Carter House (1 note)

Second time coming through here and while I'll say there's still some great wines on the list the mark-up has shifted some from the last time we were here. Good food and a fun place, but a bit off the beaten path so someplace I would return to if had another reason to head to Eureka but might not go out of our way to stop by.

Red
1994 Henschke Shiraz Hill of Grace Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
Off the wine list at 301 Restaurant in Eureka California. This was the only vintage they had on the list with some age that we hadn't tried I think. Compared to all other wines this is great. Still drinking pretty young. Opened with a Durant (I suspect if we hadn't the cork would have had issues). A bit tightly wound. Lots of fruit. Decanted. Drank over prob an hour and a half. Somehow it just never really jumped to that next level that I've seen from a lot of HoG bottles. It continued to be a very good wine. Nice and enjoyable but not sure it was worth the price.

Flight 11 - TUES 1/08: Lunch @ Bouchon Bistro (2 notes)

My first time to this spot and must say it exceeded expectations. Very much a standard French bistro menu, but everything was very well done. And there was a nice bonus of a great pasta with some white truffles.

Red
1969 Cantina Mascarello Barolo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Brought to enjoy with a fellow wine lover at Bouchon Bistro in Napa. Tail end of white truffle season so they had some on the menu which was like a match made in heaven for this. This is really almost all secondary at this point. For me this is just about the perfect spot or maybe slightly on the backslope. It's not getting better, but it does have a sortof interesting and layered evel to it that you don't see as much when wine is young.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2004 Clos Rougeard (Foucault) Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Saumur-Champigny
This wine is just straight up special. It's a shame they've gotten so expensive. Really one of the better made and more interesting wines. Very early in its life. There's a certain restraint to it that I appreciate. A lightness. Complex and interesting. A wine that paired well across most all of the food we had. Love these.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 12 - TUES 1/08: Mad Fritz tap room (0 notes)

First time to the tap room which just opened in the last year. Great spot. Tons of stuff on tap, lots of neat bottles around. Especially appreciated being able to try a beer which is heading off to a restaurant in Copenhagan, but I'd say the water experiment was also great and the gluten free was the best in that variety I've ever tried. We've been members of the club for awhile and always fun to get to check in. Unfortunately didn't write up notes, but prob tried across 6 or 7 different beers.

Flight 13 - WED 1/09: Spottswoode (3 notes)

A new visit for us. Met Lindy last year at Charleston Food and Wine and we liked the wines and decided to do the visit. Interesting to see the property tucked away right near St Helena. Basically in the middle of a neighborhood, but there's a real charm to the house and buildings that makes it stand out. Wines are all very well crafted. Classic in style. Enjoyable.

White
2017 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, North Coast
First time with the SB from here although I think Spottswoode was one of the early wineries to be making the wine. It's a mix of estate fruit but also quite a bit sourced (more than 50% is from Sonoma). I'd say perhaps a touch more in the cool climate style or at least a lot greener than some others in the valley. Very much the tart green apple and maybe some lime and a bit of the just straight green notes. I guess could have some unripe pineapple as well. There's almost a mid-palate crunch or crispness to it. Somehow not quite as big on the acidity as I might have thought given that background. It's a decent wine but I find it missing some of the white fruits and honey that I can like in an SB.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Lyndenhurst USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
This is a very nice version of what I consider to be a pretty prototypical Napa valley floor wine. Good red fruits. A lot of vanilla. A softer style a bit lower in tannin and easier to approach. Lower acidity. Made more for drinking sooner. In that style I'd say it's one of my favorites (mostly because the fruit is not overdone and the wine seems to have some balance). Compared in general I feel like it's lacking a certain oomph or interest factor. It is a second wine and the first wine certain has that next level.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
Clearly the star of the show. This is a whole other level over the Lyndenhurst. Black cherry, well structured, a wine that is only hinting at what might be there to come rather than giving everything up at once. It's clear it needs some more time, but I'd also say it's more accessible at this point right now (on the softer side). Just another level of oomph. Interesting wine.
5 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 14 - WED 1/09: Blankiet (3 notes)

Nice to do a trip back and check in on these. Some of the wines (e.g. the '14 Estate) we've had before, but some others were new. The '15 Rive Droite really was something special.

Red
2016 Blankiet Estate Prince of Hearts USA, California, Napa Valley
This was an interesting wine. It's like a mix between red fruits and orange peel. A certain level of tartness too it that helps with the balance and makes sure the fruit doesn't dominate. Boysenberry for sure. Some freshness and acid coming up. Touch of the tannic backbone, but not overdone. Just holds the pieces together. It's definitely more in the second label/drink younger style, but as a previous note mentioned this prob would be helped be a few more years in the bottle. Could tell there was a bit difference in terms of how it drank even over the course of the tasting.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Blankiet Estate Proprietary Red Wine Paradise Hills Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
Very soft and supple in nature. This is lots of darker red fruits. Cranberry and boysenberry again. Some almost cigar like notes. There's another flavor back there that is much more secondary, but balancing out the fruits. Reminds me a bit of a chicken broth - not something that stands out on its own, but can improve the flavor of that around it. And in some ways it is a bit almost more savory in nature.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Blankiet Estate Rive Droite USA, California, Napa Valley
For sure the wine of the tasting. This was just wonderful. All spices across the board (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, maybe a bit of pepper). Lots of good red fruits (currant and cranberry). There's a great balance to the wine and something that seems to keep it well pulled together. Very enjoyable.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 15 - WED 1/09: Smith Madrone (4 notes)

During one of our early visits to Napa we found Smith Madrone and really liked the wines. Since then it's never quite worked to make a visit again, but we've continued to buy the wine over the years. These are all very well done and very well crafted. Their Estate Cabernet especially really strikes me as one of the better and more classic style cabs in the valley but with a price tag that just doesn't match. Great tasting and always fun to hear stories of how the Valley used to be.

White
2015 Smith-Madrone Riesling USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Excellent. This is very crisp and refreshing. There's a slightly unripe or green opening to it which really more lends the wine interest. I get some lime, white flower as we continue to drink it. A well made riesling.
White
2016 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Ok - to the point of earlier notes on this trip - I am just not really a chard fan so take all of this with a grain of salt since to me the primary flavor is this tastes like this varietal. Seems to have a more muted oak style to it. A bit of tart.
Red
2014 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Great to revisit one of these after it's been awhile. This is just a fantastic wine and when you look at the price point it seems almost unreal. This is the fun type of cabernet where it's spicy and interesting and has all of the fruit character but all of those secondary pieces as well. Structured and powerful and built to last. It's a lovely wine. Young, but still just jumps out at you.
5 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2013 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Cook's Flat Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Much more mellow and restrained compared to the younger brother (Estate Cab '14). Similar to the vintage this perhaps wasn't giving as much up. It's still tight. Lots of blackberry and blueberry and some layers that were not really coming out. God a few. Will be interesting to see how it evolves.

Flight 16 - WED 1/09: Dinner @ Market (3 notes)

First time visiting this spot in St Helena. Very friendly corkage policy (first two bottles free, after that there's a $20 charge but it goes to charity). Always fun to catch up with Alex. The new MacDonald is really great as well. Very young, but lots of potential here.

White - Sparkling
1986 Champagne Le Mesnil Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Millésimé France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
This is a wine for ppl who like old champagne (we are in that crowd). It's already a bit oxidized. Lots of caramel notes. A bit of that almost buttered toast. Really tasty in that way. I very much enjoyed it.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1983 Pierre Barge Côte-Rôtie France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
A wine that was fully in secondary and maybe even tertiary flavors. This is straight up animal feral. There's a hint of the dark fruits that existed before, but they aren't what comes to mind when drinking the wine. Instead it's all bacon fat and more savory notes. To me very compelling and interesting. It's not a wine you can share with everyone, but we were lucky to have a fellow wine enthusiast at dinner so it worked.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Wow is this good. It's a total and complete baby. Alex mentioned he double decanted about 7 or 8 hours earlier and then left in decanter and then we also decanted for prob an hour at the restaurant before pouring. So net-net - this wine needs a lot of air since we're not really giving it the years that it needs. But still, it's just awesome. First reaction is all 'yum - I want more of this'. Great dark fruits. Lots of floral notes. Tons of violets. It actually starts a bit lighter and the body develops with time in the glass. Great wine. Looking forward to getting ours and also revisiting in 20+ years.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 17 - THURS 1/10: Continuum (2 notes)

What a beautiful spot and this year was fun to see it on a clear day where you can see it all the way across to the Mayacamus.

Red
2016 Continuum Novicium USA, California, Napa Valley
Very different from the last two vintages which had hefty amounts of cab franc. These are the new plantings (6 years old) and then a blend across all of them. Cab dominant, but CF and Merlot still there. I thought this was a very bright wine. The fruits jumped out of the glass. Mostly darker in style. Lots of black cherry which I also got on the 'main wine'. Touch of spice. It's certainly very drinkable and fairly easy to drink now although if it were me I'd by laying this down for at least a bit.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Continuum Proprietary Red USA, California, Napa Valley
Third trip in a row to the winery and third time with this wine. It's interesting to see how it changes each time. The last two years it's been mostly red fruits and very soft tannins and a wine that is more approachable. Now I'm getting black cherry and at least some structure form the tannin (even though the wine has stayed soft), There's a bit of an elegance that's starting to emerge with more time in the bottle. Some idea that this is entering drinking window but honestly for me it's got a lot more time to go.
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)

Flight 18 - THURS 1/10: Ovid (4 notes)

Always fun to see some old friends here. Wines were all drinking very well. I especially liked the '15 Syrah which was still quite young, but drinking great.

White
2016 Ovid Experiment W3.6 USA, California
This wine is funny. It's from all over the place and there is a bit of all of those different flavors coming in here. It's a very unique blend. I liked the white flowers and white fleshy fruit and just general differentness in the wine. I would have liked a touch more acidity to it, but I also know the varietals involved don't always lend themselves to that approach.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Ovid Red Wine USA, California, Napa Valley
First impression is more floral notes. Lots of red fruits. Generally moving away from the super young freshness into more of that mid-range where it just needs a bit more time. Will revisit ours with another 5-10 years of age. Still a very nice wine.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2013 Ovid Hexameter USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
Continues to be a very enjoyable wine. Definitely still on the young side. Also a bit lower on the acid side and yet something about this wine makes me think it's going to continue to improve with age. It's lots more in the darker fruit category. A bit brooding. But fun and interesting. For some the favorite of the tasting.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Ovid Syrah USA, California, Napa Valley
My favorite of the tasting and a real treat to get to try. We've been buying the Syrah but in smaller quantities and so just sitting on it and wiating so was fun to get a chance to sneak a peak at a bottle a bit early. I loved the freshness here. Very bright and a reasonable acidity. Lots of dark fruits. Tons of lilac in the glass. It's still quite young, but I'd like to see how it evolves with some more time.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 19 - THURS 1/10: Eisele (4 notes)

First time visit with this place. We met some of the folks at the Parker event in NYC earlier this year. Was fun to see the property. One of the few truly biodynamic wineries in the area. Also interesting to hear about the shift in ownership. Clear there was a lot of respect for what had been done in the past, but also an openness to see where there might be an opportunity to do better.

Red
2015 Eisele Vineyard Syrah USA, California, Napa Valley
This was quite nice. Very dark and deep but not overdone. There's vanilla which sometimes I find offputting and in this case seemed to be a nice component of the overall wine. Lots of more exotic spices. It's definitely a fruit syrah (e.g. not the meaty-briney thing of northern rhones), but well done and well structured and most importantly not overdone so I found it quite enjoyable.
Red
2015 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Altagracia USA, California, Napa Valley
For me the surprise of the tasting. First time visiting the property and I feel like I understand it a lot better now. I had always thought of the Altagracia as the second wine and in fact I think it's better described as the blend versus the straight cab. From some different vineyards on the property. A place where both CF and PV are planted. This wine really had a nice elegance to it. It's both fruity and floral in nature. A bit darker in style. Very approach able now. The blend seems to soften the cab down some. I think though there's a lot to be said for waiting on this one.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
Interesting to learn that this is indeed 100% CS (the Altagracia has turned into the blend wine). It's a bit tight and not perhaps quite as expressive at the moment. Lots of dark dark fruits. It needed prob 30 minutes in the glass for that to convert to blackberries. Brooding. Intense. There's a power here. This is a wine meant for the long haul (which I consider a good thing). Fun to get to try.
2 people found this helpful Comment
White
2016 Eisele Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley
Ended the tasting with the white which was interesting. Many folks talk about their wine being a 'middle ground of SB' and here I did really see it. There's a nice honey and almost sweet note to it. Still also some of that lime and tart and slightly green. It's a nice wine.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 20 - THURS 1/10: Dinner @ Acacia House (4 notes)

Although we couldn't swing a visit to BOND this time around we did get to catch up with Scott and Niccole at dinner and that was perhaps even better. Also our first time eating in the main dining room at Acacia House. Some great stuff. I even found myself being a believer on the $60 pork schnitzel (which to be fair is iberico pork).

White - Sparkling
1985 Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Signature Brut France, Champagne
I was surprised at how well this was drinking. Often with the older champagnes you get more of the oxidized character which I don't mind, but this still seemed quite fresh. It's more darker caramel flavors. Still some toast. Very tasty.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1996 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
This was really just wonderful. I love the way that Napa will age. It's still actually fairly young - there's not rush to drink up if it's been well stored. Lots of darker fruits. Starting to get some more secondary notes as well (more cigar, tobacco, leather) although I would say they are muted compared to the fruit. It's really drinking well though. Just kindof jumps out of the glass.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1985 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Vigna Cicala Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
So there was a bit of a mixed view on this. To me it was a nice old barolo sitting next to a bunch of more intense wines (Napa and an Unico). I can see how the flavors in this in that context came through as a bit more acidic and muted. I think the bottle was good and it was just looking for more of the right pairing or combination (I had ordered pasta and it seemed to open up a bit more with that). Certainly it's a lot more secondary in nature. I appreciated it though.
Red
N.V. Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1960, 1965, 1972 (1988 Release) Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
Opened and decanted and poured and drank fairly quickly. This was quite lovely, but if I could do it all over again I'd probably would have given this a bit more time to open up. It was a touch tight. Oak well integrated now. Fruit still there. While I think it's in a good place to drink, there's really no rush. This was still almost young tasting. Special wine.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 21 - FRI 1/11: ACME Fine Wines (8 notes)

Had originally planned to take a morning off, but couldn't resist an offer to do a tasting @ ACME this morning. Nice cross-section of Napa including some mountain and valley fruit and some different styles of winemakers. This is a great store with a ton of the small production spots as well so a nice place to visit if you want to try the spots where the cases number in the hundreds rather than thousands.

Red
2012 Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Matthew's Block USA, California, Napa Valley
Drank as part of a mini vertical at Acme wines. Fruit comes from Pritchard Hill where we'd been tasting the day before. It's amazing how a few years can really help a wine settle in. Even compared to the '14 and '15 this had just a bit more going on. Lots of darker red fruits which came across as a bit tart but in that good way that makes the wine feel more in balance. Lots of spices. Some almost redwood or spruce notes. Still quite a young wine, but well done and interesting.
Red
2014 Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Matthew's Block USA, California, Napa Valley
Part of a mini vertical with '12 and '15. I'd say this was the most fruit dominant of the three. Lots of red. Cranberry and currant and similar. All kept fairly more balanced because the fruit hasn't been allowed to ripen too much so it still has a bit of tart. A bit less interesting to me than the other two, but I'm partial to '15s and the '12 was just drinking great.
Red
2015 Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Matthew's Block USA, California, Napa Valley
This is more about potential than it is about how the wine is drinking at specifically this moment. Unlike the '12 and '14 this is all about the darker fruits. More of a brooding profile. Tannins are there and come across as a touch dusty. There's a nice power and interest to the wine, but it needs a lot more time to come together.
Red
2015 Skipstone Oliver's Blend USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
Have thus far appreciated a lot of the wines I've seen coming from Alexander Valley. This is similar in style. Very floral on the nose. Darker fruits. Lots of black cherry. There's some restraint to this wine. Chewy tannins at the end. Give it time.
Red
2014 Depiction Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
Definitely a beautiful bottle and packaging and set up in a way that would encourage collectors (each label is a different part of a picture and so can collect the pieces you are interested in). To me it was a nice cab. Very fruity. Lots of berries - blueberry and raspberry and cranberry. There's some more almost mint-style notes as well and just a touch herbal. It does come across as 'fresh' although that could be because wine was served a bit on the cooler side which I find helps with that balance. Agree price seems a bit steep for the quality of the wine, but it is young and I'm sure will evolve some more.
Red
2015 Somnium Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
Celebrity wine which can go many different ways, but this one seems to be for real. Vineyard is up in Howell Mountain and I always do love the mountain fruit. This is still quite young. I'm surprised to see the short drinking window on it. Seems this is a wine that will need a bit of time to find itself. More gritty tannins. Very dark and brooding. Full strength of the mountain went into the wine. I like it.
Red
2015 Perliss Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon The Ravens USA, California, Napa Valley, Calistoga
Interesting to try back to back Aaron Pott wines. This from the valley floor. While the other was very intense and dark and brooding this is a bit more accessible right now. Softer and smoother in style. Bits of red fruit (mostly like a darker cherry). Still has the tannins standing out a bit. A young wine. Needs some more time.
Red
2015 Marston Family Vineyard Petite Sirah USA, California, Napa Valley
Interesting take on this grape. Much more ripe than I've seen it in the past. It's a fruit dominated wine. Not over the top because even with that extra ripeness it's still PS which doesn't get straight up jammy and so there's a bit of restraint. It's very easy to drink.

Flight 22 - FRI 1/11: Lokoya (4 notes)

One of my favorite tastings always. As someone who is drawn to mountain fruit a winery who's entire raison d'etre being the different mountains and expressing those places obviously resonates. I tend to be a Veeder proponent so esp fun to do the mini Veeder vertical.

Red
2015 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
For some reason this is the wine I tend to order the least of from Lokoya and I'm not sure I totally know why since I always enjoy the wine when I try it. It's also a wine that's good to get to know now since some of the vineyards could change over which could shift the way this wine is made in the future. Like many of the '15s it's an intense wine. Darker and more brooding. Some chewiness in the tannin. Powerful. Dark flowers (almost like the bouquet you'd see at a funeral). It's a really beautiful wine if much too young.
Red
2006 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
Part of a vertical of Veeder that we had at the estate. One of my favorites of the tasting. Interesting, but I think this wine might be even a bit more intense and younger than the last time we had it two years ago. For me it was lots of the right stuffing, but still just came across as very young despite the 13 years. Reminds me a bit of blackberries on a warm summer day but with the right structure and acidity to keep it from being an overdone wine. Still has some prettiness to it. Very tasty.
Red
2007 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
Part of a mini-vertical of the Veeder done at the winery. For some this was the wine of the tasting. For me it's certainly a great wine and somehow missing a bit of the je ne sais quoi that I found in some of the other years. This is also big and bright. Lots of black raspberry. Very young. Would love to see it again in 10+ years. While 2007 isn't always my favorite year, I will say this was one of my favorite '07s that I've had.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
Part of a vertical of '06/'07/'08. I've always been partial to the '08s which I find are often a bit more herbal than some other wines. Not entirely sure why that is. As part of this tasting we looked at temp charts from the three years and it was clear that '08 had one of the broadest ranges (hottest temps and also some of the coolest esp at night). This again brought forward more of the non-fruit notes like herbs and a hint of green and maybe some mossy gravel style. I quite liked it. There was an opinion it wasn't quite what it should be (from a bottle that had been coravined before and it's possible that some of the evolution was from that).

Flight 23 - Fri 1/11: Progeny (4 notes)

We've been following this winery almost since the beginning and it's been amazing to see how it changes. Always one of our most favorite visits (Fri was a good day). Now there's a full scale tasting room complete with food pairings so of course we had to go with that. I am still partial to the rhone varietals although the Veeder cab is good too.

White
2015 Progeny Winery Trinity Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
Always like the white rhone blends. This is a nice balance in them. At times can find them a bit overdone with lower acidity or more of a waxy texture. This instead was quite fresh. Served a bit on the cool side to highlight that (esp with the food). Lots of white fleshy fruit and white flowers and all of that good stuff.
Red
2014 Progeny Winery Trinity Rouge USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
This wine is usually a favorite for me with the tastings although I find that it often needs quite a bit of time to wake up and show full potential. I'm not sure I gave it all of that. Swirled some in the glass, but esp with the food it was a nice combination. Still good. Kindof a blend between more dark fruits and woodsy notes.
Red
2014 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
Part of the tasting flight at the winery with the food pairings. This was nice and approachable now, but not quite as expressive as the 12 next to it. I suspect it's just a time thing. Wine is a bit muted. Still has some nice blackberries and it's nicely. '12 just drinking a bit better.
Red
2012 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
This is also a very young wine, but it's drinking quite nicely. Fun to see what even a few more years of bottle age can do. This has the blackberry as well, a bit more fruit forward. Interesting and tasty. Would hold on ours at least 5 more years though.

Flight 24 - FRI 1/11: Dinner @ Brasswood (4 notes)

First time at this restaurant. Highly recommend the smoked mozzarella appetizer that was off menu as well as the duck bolognese. Always fun to connect with Paul and Betty and so I'd say the company was at least as good if not better than the wine.

White - Sparkling
1982 Taittinger Champagne Brut Millésimé France, Champagne
Perhaps my favorite of the old champagnes we got at Rare Wine Co. for this trip. This one was really quite fresh and vibrant. I think I am reacting to the level of acidity that existed with the wine. Still more carmelized notes but a bit light and refreshing as well. Very easy drinking. A nice counterbalance to a smoked mozzarella appetizer.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1995 Cappellano Barolo Piè Franco Otin Fiorin (Gabutti) Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
I wish I had taken more detailed notes on this but we drank over dinner with friends so it's more a note on general impressions. This was really wonderful though. Has a great balance between a certain lightness in the mouth and a softer wine and more of a depth of flavor. Lots of fruit still here. A wine that felt a bit versatile although I should note I ordered the duck bolognese so this was very well suited to that. Lots of spice notes. Interesting and very enjoyable.
Red
1998 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
Prob the wine I was looking forward to trying the most from the ones that we got. I've loved their normal bottlings, but never had the Cote Brun before. It's exactly what you would expect from the wine. Lots of bacon fat and meat and bring. Intense. It's almost a wine that would be better on its own or maybe with a big hunk of meat. Somewhat overpowered my duck bolognese, but it was worth it. Very enjoyable.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
N.V. Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1974, 1975, 1980 (1986 Release) Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
Second time with an Especial in just a few days. These are straight up great wines. Didn't take very detailed notes, but found this quite enjoyable. Similar to the Jamet not quite made for the dish I was having (Duck Bolognese), but the quality shone through regardless. We opened and decanted and then drank over the course of maybe 3 hours. I think probably it's a wine that could use a longer decant at this point. Still a bit tight. Gives the impression of a wound up animal waiting to spring and I don't think it hit peak before the last sip. Will continue to keep an eye out.

Flight 25 - SAT 1/12: Cardinale (6 notes)

Last year was Cardinale's 25th year of existence and in celebration of that they were offering a retrospective tasting. Given that was around the time that I was doing bookings and we always like old wine I signed us up. I'd say it's not quite as far back as you could imagine, but it is always fun to try wines side by side and learn a bit more about the years and timing and vintages.

White
2017 Cardinale Sauvignon Blanc Intrada USA, California, Napa Valley
SB seems to be on its way to being the white of the valley. I suppose that makes sense as the chardonnay versions tend to be a bit over the top and really quite different than their burgundy cousins. This is very much the honey and sweet and fruity version of SB. More of a mouthful in style. Lots of peach. There is a touch of crispness in the middle so the acidity isn't totally missing, but it's a wine that's built to be a touch heavier.
Red
2014 Cardinale USA, California, Napa Valley
The young wine in the Cardinale vertical. This has just a touch of alc and some vanilla notes and lots of dark fruit. Drying tannin. It's very young right now. Found that it pulled together a lot more when paired with food. Even just a bite of cheese seemed to support the wine a bit more and bring out more of the secondary notes.
Red
2012 Cardinale USA, California, Napa Valley
There's this rule of 7 that I've heard on Napa cabs. Generally speaking it means drink the wine from 7 vintages before and it will be in a good spot. Could explain why last year lots of ppl were pulling 2011s and they were drinking well. This year seems to be the year of the '12 and I will say that this one was in a really nice spot. It's got plenty of life beyond this, but it's possible that it's going through one of those peaks along the way. There's a nice vibrancy. Lots of darker fruit that come across almost as sweet (it's a dry wine, it's just the fruit is more intense). Also some more earthy and forest floor. Drinking quite nicely now although I'm sure will also be good for the future.
Red
2011 Cardinale USA, California, Napa Valley
I've found myself gravitating back towards the '11s at least from the top producers. In general this was a cooler vintage and so not quite as fruit dominated as some of the others. In this case, I'd say the fruit was taking a very back seat to the spices. Mostly asian in style. Interesting and different. This or the '10 would be my favorite of the tasting. Very good wine.
Red
2010 Cardinale USA, California, Napa Valley
This wine is starting to settle down some and come into its own. As opposed to the prior note I'd say it's still fairly young and for me too early to be drinking (but I like my wines on the older side - often 20+ years is a sweet spot for well-made Napa cabs). Still, can see the maturity as well. The fruit more balanced with some floral notes. There's a certain prettiness here. I enjoyed it quite a lot. Probably my wine of the tasting although I was very intrigued by the '11 as well.
Red
2014 La Jota Merlot W.S. Keyes Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Fans of Chris Carpenter know that he has long been a proponent of Merlot which to be fair does make some of the best wine in the world and probably did not deserve the trouncing it got from a certain film however many years ago (then again, poorly made Merlot can be really awful and I imagine that is where the film was going). This is darker and richer and lots of red currant. Still balanced, but playing on the parts of Merlot that can make it almost of a more hedonistic varietal as well. I enjoyed it.
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Flight 26 - SAT 1/12: Lunch @ Auberge (1 note)

First time eating at the property. I have this memory of passing in for the few during one of the first years we started coming to Napa. It's certainly a nice one and with perfect Saturday weather it was almost a bit too warm for good red wine drinking.

Red
2009 Colgin IX Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Drank throughout a lunch at Auberge du Soleil. Not sure the brunch was totally paired for it (I got a 'sonoma chicken'), but that's ok. First time with the 2009 vintage with Colgin. These wines are prob on the darker and slightly riper side compared to some others that we drink (even this year seems a bit more intense than other years), but I still find myself quite enjoying them. There is an acid and balance to the wine even if it is a bit more hedonistic. We opened and poured. Prob could have used a decant. Did feel like it never quite fully opened up. Still quite enjoyable though.
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Flight 27 - SAT 1/12: Arkenstone (3 notes)

Another old time favorite for us. I'd say my palate was a bit fatigued by this point in the trip, but enjoyed the wines and esp the Estate cab and SB.

Red
2016 Arkenstone Cabernet Sauvignon NVD USA, California, Napa Valley
Tasted at the winery. This is pre-release but as the 2015 sold out they were pouring in the tasting room. Lots of darker fruits, some boysenberry, some vanilla notes. Almost a sweetness quality to it. Came across as a bit intense. I enjoy the Estate Cab a bit more although I will say this seemed likely to be ready to drink earlier than that will be.
Red
2015 Arkenstone Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
This wine was a bit more muted esp coming on the heels of the NVD. It's a good one, just perhaps a bit quiet on this day. Lots of red and black fruits. Good spices. A bit of tartness to it. Needs more time.
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White
2016 Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
This is a lovely and well balanced SB. Prob skews a bit closer to the honey and white fruits side of the spectrum than the green and grassy although there is just a suggestion of that note in the wine. Lots of pear and more fruity notes. Reminds me I guess of like a ripe granny smith apple with some honey so that you get the sweet and the tart. Always enjoyable. Also a pre-release, but coming out in March.
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Flight 28 - SAT 1/12: Dinner from Acacia House (1 note)

Last night of the trip and opted to take advantage of our outdoor patio with fire pit. Ordered in some food from the Acacia House which was all quite nice. Had gotten a bottle of champagne off their list as more of a palate cleanser but unfortunately can't remember the name. Nice evening and another good way to close out Napa.

Red
2014 Alberto Voerzio Barolo La Serra Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Had a bunch of the uncle's wines but this is our first experience with the nephew. Even from the bottle can see the influence in how the wine is portrayed. This is a nice young barolo. For me that means that there's a good structure to the wine and a certain lightness combined with power. Some more dusty red fruits. Easy and a good pairing with food.
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Flight 29 - SUN 1/13: Last bit of Napa (1 note)

Flew back in the morning and popped this bottle over some NFL playoff action as a final tribute to the trip.

Red
2002 Bond St. Eden USA, California, Napa Valley
Hard to imagine a much better way to close out our Napa trip. In hindsight not the absolute best idea to take it back in the plane and pop that night since there is some sediment here, but really it's still a wonderful wine. Lots of reddish fruits. Still some of those more spicy and herbal flavors. I tend to get cinnamon in this wine and here too. It was mouth-wateringly delicious.
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Closing

Another very successful trip. One of the things I like about this vacation is one's always 'satisfied' at the end (and even in some ways ready to head home). It's a great time, but there are only so many days of wine and dinners and all of that that you can do in a row.

Napa has been lucky with a lot of wonderful vintages and even the vintage that they all still like to dislike (2011) is one that is pretty popular with a certain segment of the world (I'm in that segment).

2015 was our wedding year so we've been going long there and most would agree it was a strong vintage even if a lot smaller in nature (which comes through from the fact that very few ppl are choosing to pour their '15s or if they are they are pouring a '15 they are surrounding with others). From what I can tell of the ones poured, it's a powerful vintage with good aging potential that is really not so ready to go young.

2018 however is in many ppl's mind the 'next great vintage' with a bumper crop. Will be interesting to see how that comes out.

The Coravin is for real now in Napa. I think almost everywhere we tasted that is how they were getting the pours. I'm sure helps winery economics especially in the places where you don't have as many visits a day and they were popping corks on full bottles. If not used correctly though can leave some wines feeling a bit more tired or advanced than you'd expect.

A year later after the fires and they are not longer the most popular topic of discussion. Mostly folks are reporting their wines are ok, but they are also saying that smoke taint was a thing in the valley so waiting to see where that really hit.

There's also this floral character that is starting to come through in a lot of the wines. I am trying to parse if it's the wines giving it or if everyone is using a certain soup for their glasses that maybe lingers a bit more. I don't remember it as much from previous times, but it very much has the handsoap thing going.

Sauvignon Blanc appears to be the white wine of choice for most of the producers. Interesting to see the range of styles there. I tend towards more of the honey ones, but there are some folks getting the more grassy side (not quite as intense as NZ or Chile though).

Probably some other pieces I'm missing. Overall it was a great trip and fun to reconnect with some old friends and meet some new ones. Can't wait for next year!

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