A few weeks ago I attended an open house wine event at Inspiration Vineyards in Santa Rosa, California. There were several winemakers at this event displaying their bottles. I was able to meet owner and winemaker Craig Colagrossi of Colagrossi Wines. His Cabernet Sauvignon blew me away that afternoon. It was perfect timing meeting Craig and discovering his Cabernet that day with “National Cabernet Day” just around the corner.
So on August 30th, “National Cabernet Day”, I opened a bottle of this 2009 Sonoma County “Gli Amici” Colagrossi Cabernet Sauvignon. We opened a few different Cabernets that night but Colagrossi’s dominated the evening.
Colagrossi’s Cabernet grapes come from the King Ridge Vineyard which is located on top of the ridge in Cazadero, California. This vineyard is very unique in it’s bowl like shaped property through which it is able to encompass it’s own little valley. The outer walls of this vineyard are lined with massive rocks that absorb the sun’s heat all day and keep the temperatures in the vineyard valley warmer at night compared to the neighboring vineyards. When harvested these Cabernet grapes are hand sorted and fermented for 13 days. Once fermented the remaining juice is placed in 50% new barrel and 50% two year old barrels for 16 months. Colagrossi 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is ready to drink now, which Craig had told me that afternoon was one of their goals in making this outstanding Cabernet. This wine is elegantly classy with aromas of bursting blackberries and clove. First tasting dark berries and slight dark cherries, then seducing the palate with it’s smooth vanilla, cinnamon finish. This Cabernet truly has it all, full of structure and extremely smooth, leaving you craving another sip. Another great Sonoma County Cabernet find. Cheers!
I recently found this special bottle that changed my whole opinion on Petite Sirahs. I have never really enjoyed Petite Sirahs because they always seemed just a bit too ferocious in style and extremely enormous to drink without food. I am a Cabernet lover and love big bold structured wines but also want to be able to enjoy the bottle on its own without food. Petite Sirahs always just seemed a little too much for my tastes. Shockingly a few weeks ago when I met owner and winemaker Charlie Dollbaum of Carica Wines his Petite Sirah blew me away. His Petite Sirah is Rich and intense yet enticingly elegant. So Vibrant with layers of flavors and ready to drink now with or without food.
While conversing with Charlie that afternoon I was excited to learn that these Petite Sirah grapes come from Sonoma County’s Kirk Ranch Vineyards located right in my backyard of Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa, California. Kirk Ranch Vineyard is located on the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain, on the most eastern side of Santa Rosa. Charlie has been making wine from small premium lots since 2005. Making single vineyard wines, Carica also produces Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah.
Carica’s Petite Sirah is deep sexy purple in color. This wine has aromas of seductive huge dark cherry, slight plum and bark. Tasting first a creamy candied black cherry and finishing with a flirtatious black pepper and lingering cinnamon stick. Carica’s Petite Sirah was definitely a “wow” wine for me. Ready to drink now unlike most 2008 Petite Sirahs. This wine is not tight and showing its fruit beautifully.
I finally had the privilege of meeting owner and winemaker Chris Taddei of Super Sonoman back in March at the Sonoma County Barrel Tasting Event. I had tasted Chris’s Super Sonoman before at another wine event and was over the top impressed with his Cabernet Sauvignon. It was “love at first sip”. Chris was very kind that afternoon during Barrel Tasting to let me try a vertical of these Cabernets. Honestly I loved them all but this 2008 had something a little more powerful about it. There were explosions of blackberries on the palate, yet extremely smooth. Chris made it very clear that day his desire was to produce the best Cabernet Sauvignon that Sonoma has to offer.
The Super Sonoman Cabernet grapes come from vineyards on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. These vineyards are 900 to 1500 feet above sea level, high above the Russian River Valley. This area proves to be an exceptional spot for Cabernet grapes to flourish. These Mayacamas slopes rest high enough to keep these Cabernet vineyards out of the fog and soak up the warmth of the sun. This 2008 Cabernet has aromas of blackberry, cedar, and leather. Tasting at first of velvety dark berries and spice which are delightfully sexy on the tongue, then finishing with cinnamon and light smoke. Super lush flavors with this wine. As the wine opened up that night it drastically became more complex with layers of flavors. This is definitely one of the best Cabernets I have ever had. Chris is a very talented winemaker and truly a Cabernet “Rockstar” which shows so immensely in this bottle.
Virginia Wines With The Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell & First Lady Maureen McDonnell
Last Tuesday I was honored to have been invited to the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell’s wine reception in San Francisco, California. This event was showcasing Virginia wines, tourism and film. The Governor’s reception took place at the Westin St. Francis, Victor’s Palace room on the thirty second floor. This room was amazing with panoramic views of San Francisco.
Once up the elevator to the very top floor, we were welcomed with some Virginia Sparkling from Trump Winery. Their 2008 Kluge SP Blanc de Blanc which was a 2012 Governor’s Cup Case Wine, gold medalist recipient. This Sparkling is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. A Sparkling I really enjoyed. Very nice floral aromas, bright flavors of citrus and grapefruit.
I tasted a lot of good Virginia wines that night at the event but a few bottles stood out among the rest. I have had the chance to taste some Virginia wines in the past and really enjoyed many of their Viogniers. One Viognier I found that night that I did enjoy was the 2010 Barboursville Vineyards Viognier, 100% Viognier from the Monticello AVA. This wine has very appealing aromas that were both floral and tropical. A very elegant wine that tasted first of nectarines, apricots and finishing with slight white pepper and floral notes. Definitely a crisp well structured Viognier. Another Virginia white I really enjoyed was Tarara Wineries 2010 Honah Lee.
This Cabernet Franc is a blend of 95% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot coming from the Monticello AVA. What I liked so much about this Cabernet Franc was the softness this wine had yet was super intense with flavors of berries, cherries, and plum. Then finishing with a hint of toasted oak and pepper.
It really was a privilege for me that night to be able to taste all of these Virginia wines and meet the Virginia Governor and his wife. I want to send a special thanks to Frank Morgan @DrinkWhatULike and Kristen Green @KGreenPR and all the Virginia wineries that ventured out west that night for us, “California wine enthusiasts” to sip and enjoy some of your best Virginia bottles. The event definitely was a great night in San Francisco with Virginia wines, which I am so thankful to have been part of.
Santa Ynez Valley
This is my very first blog on a Grenache bottle. This is ultimately the bottle that turned me into a Grenache fan. I had tasted many bottles in the past but really none of them knocked me away, but this Sheldon Wine 2008 Vinolocity did just that. Sheldon Wines is located in downtown Santa Rosa, California in Vintners Square. Owned and operated by Dylan and Tobe Sheldon. Dylan and Tobe produced their first wine back in 2003. They opened the Santa Rosa winery tasting room in 2010. Sheldon Wines is a micro-winery that produces wines from single vineyards that are sustainably farmed, hand-harvest, foot-stomped, and basket pressed. I was lucky enough to meet Tobe at one of our local wine industry meet ups. After meeting Tobe and making a few trips out to the winery tasting room and revisiting this wine and tasting the newly released 2008, I decided it was long overdue for a blog.
2008 Sonoma Valley
$30.00 a bottle
Last weekend I was able to meet and taste with owner and winemaker Chris Loxton of Loxton Cellars in the heart of Sonoma Valley, California. It was such a pleasure to be able to meet him and discover his awesome Syrah. Chris is the fourth generation in his family involved with grape growing and wine making. The three generations before him have all owned the family vineyard near Moorook in the Riverland of South Australia. With Chris’s post-doctoral research in the states and starting Loxton Cellars, he now calls Sonoma Valley his home. Loxton Cellars primary focus is on Syrah and Zinfandel. I was extremely impressed with the taste and quality of his Syrah that day and knew this would be my next bottle to blog.
This 2008 Syrah comes from the Parmelee-Hill Vineyard. Parmelee Vineyard lies on an old river bed in the Sonoma Valley. When Chris started this vineyard it consisted of all river stones mixed with just a bit of soil. This gives the vines great drainage and vine growth with an early start to Spring. Chris felt this vineyard was ideal for Syrah and definitely has proven to be. This is a very intense Syrah full of huge fruit but still finishing with that classic Syrah smoke taste. The flavors were extremely bold on the palate, tasting the most fruit I have experienced ever in a Syrah. This 2008 Loxton Syrah has aromas of cherry, blackberry, wood, and must. Tasting first loads of dark berries and cherry and a long lingering finish of smoke and forest floor. A huge structured Syrah that is perfectly balanced. Not only is the beginning of this Syrah huge but also the finish, making me an instant lover of this wine. If in the Sonoma Valley area and you enjoy a great Syrah this is a must stop! Chris was also awarded the “Best Port” in Sonoma County.
2008 Sonoma Coast
$55.00 a bottle
I felt it was time to blog another great Sonoma County Pinot Noir. We are so lucky to have so many great ones to choose from here. My favorite and first choice for Pinot Noir is the Russian River Valley with their complexity, huge structures and earthiness. So I was surprised that I really enjoyed this 2008 Freestone Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. This wine is definitely at the top of my list for great Sonoma County Pinot. Last year I attended an event called “Pinot Smack Down” which numerous North Coast Pinot Noirs were all under one roof for us to taste and judge. There were many good wines I tasted that day but this 2008 Freestone Pinot Noir really stood out among the rest, and was an easy first place vote for me. Freestone Winery and Vineyards is located just 5-8 miles from the Pacific Ocean just west of Bodega Bay in the small town of Freestone. This location provides a long and cool growing season just perfect for Pinot Noir. Freestone Winery is owned by the Phelp’s family of Joseph Phelps Vineyard. In 1999 they began developing 100 acres of vineyards near Freestone and in 2007 produced their first harvest of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Freestone Winery practices bio-dynamic farming, enhancing the natural vineyard under the guidance of winemaker Theresa Heredia. I was finally able to visit and taste at Freestone Winery this week for the first time. I was also able to meet and taste with Freestone’s, extremely knowledgeable tasting room manager, Brad Schneider. Brad insisted that I try all their wines that day even though I was just there for the Pinot Noir. After revisiting their Pinot Noir I remembered why I enjoyed this wine so much. This 2008 Pinot Noir has enhancing aromas of black cherry and cedar box. First tasting vibrant cherry and tea that lingers, infusing into spices and a light earthiness. This Pinot’s finish is creamy and extremely smooth on the palate leaving you craving another sip. Freestone’s 2008 has great acidity, great structure, rich with flavors but yet very elegant. Wine Enthusiast gave this bottle a 90 point rating. If heading out to the Sonoma Coast a definite must stop!
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dry Creek Valley
$48.00 a bottle
Over the last year and a half I have met some very incredible people in the wine industry through twitter and blogging. When I find that memorable bottle to blog it’s always important for me to meet up with the winemaker and or owner to hear their story and what goes into creating that great bottle. I wanted to start off my blog this 2012 with a winery owner and winemaker that left everything behind to follow his dream of owning a winery and making his own wine. Jon Phillips and his wife Barbara left everything behind in the bay area and headed up to the wine country to pursue a dream. Jon Phillips of Inspiration Vineyards has such a passion for wine that radiates off him, there is definitely no denying that he loves what he does. I had the pleasure through twitter to meet up with both him and his wife, whom turned out to be two amazing people that I’m so lucky to have had the chance to meet. Back when this 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was still in the barrel I was able to meet up with Jon to taste a barrel sample. After sampling that day I knew then this was going to be a great wine and future blog.
Knowing my love for the Rock Pile appellation and wine, Jon was very excited to have me sample this Cabernet Sauvignon. Jon was able to purchase a small amount of the Rock Pile to add to this Cabernet. His 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 80% Cabernet from Dry Creek Valley, 10% Merlot from Rock Pile, 5% Cabernet from Sonoma Valley, 5% Cabernet Franc from Sonoma Valley. This Cabernet is aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 33 months, 30% which are new. With this combination of vineyards I feel that Jon has really perfected his Cabernet Sauvignon. A super smooth Cabernet that is complex with flavors yet has a nice softness on the palette. Aroma’s of this wine are of huge fruit, dark berries, black currant, dried fruit and spices. Tasting first blackberry then other dark berries, plum, and extremely rich spices. This 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon finishes with mocha and light cigar box. Definitely ready to drink and enjoy now but I think wine will be at it’s prime in two years. Inspiration Vineyards is a small winery located in the Russian River Valley and makes several varietals of wine that include Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah.