Tag Archives: Beaulieu Vineyard

Premiere Napa Valley 2012

For the past several years, we have attended numerous winery tastings, some of the best ones are around Premiere Napa Valley. The all trade Auction was held this past week, the vast majority of winery tastings on Thursday and Friday. This years auction centered around the 2010 vintage. It is one of the best early opportunities to taste some of the finest examples of Napa Valley wines from the upcoming vintage.

Hundreds of wines were tasted this weekend. Pour sizes were minimal, and there was a limited opportunity to revisit each wine. No attempt is make to take serious detailed notes. To do so would be an injustice to the producer and reader. That said, as a taster, you do go away with impressions and educated guesses that are note worthy, a reference point to revisit in the future. What follows are the events we attended and some brief observations of wines that have potential for future enjoyment.

Yountville First Taste – An impressive tasting overall, the wines listed left the strongest impression. The top two wines at this tasting interesting enough both came from Grgich Hills, the 2011 Grgich Hills Paris Chardonnay and 2007 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon! Both were special wines. Blankiet, Dominus, Gemstone and Charles Krug all showed well across the board. Have tasted Casa Piena the last few years. It shows a consistent style, balanced, age worthy, and simply delightful. Several other producers were tasted, they did not show the balance, nuance or complexity expected.

2009 Blankiet Estate Rive Droite
2009 Blankiet Estate Proprietary Red
2009 Blankiet Estate Prince of Hearts Red
2008 Casa Piena Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Casa Piena Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Charles Krug X Clones Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Dominus
2009 Gemstone Estate Red Wine
2007 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Grgich Hills Paris Chardonnay

Cliff Lede Open that Bottle Night – One of our favorite events associated with Premiere Napa Valley, it is basically a wide open, bring a special bottle from your cellar event. Lots of nice wine was opened, and no notes were taken. The host, Cliff Lede opened their current releases, all excellent, and offered a generous 5 liter bottle of 1990 Chateau d’Yquem. Sadly, tasted a very disappointing wines. One of them was a 2006 Shafer Hillside Select 1.5L, just not developing well in the bottle. Then there was a 1983 Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon and 1983 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, both in 3 liter format, past maturity. Some very nice wines tasted follow.

1973 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
1990 Chateau d’Yquem
1990 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Dominus
1995 Peter Michael Les Pavot
2005 Pride Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo
2008 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay

Atelier Melka Portfolio Tasting – First time attending this particular event, was highly impressed with nearly all wines poured. Most of the 2010’s were auction lots, while the 2009’s were in bottle. In general, find barrel samples a hard taste, challenging to predict where they will go in the future. The diversity of style among the various wines was more apparent at this tasting than others. Appreciated the style of the wines as a whole, striking balance and structure. Lot of powerful fruit driven wines, higher alcohol levels, but many showed an element of age worthiness that left a positive impression. Met Philippe Melka for the first time, and thought he was a thoughtful, talented, and intelligent person who will hopefully continue to contribute to the success of Napa Valley wines for many years to come.

2009 Brand Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Cliff Lede Dream Hill
2010 Dana Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Gemstone Yountville Appelation Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Entre Nous Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Metisse
2010 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Vineyard 29 St Helena Special

St Helena Appellation Tasting – We spent a very short period of time at the St Helena Appellation tasting, and only tasted a handful of the wines at the event. Both Revana wines were the most memorable of the tasting, power without weight, at the same time floral and feminine. The host winery, Charles Krug did a wonderful job hosting the event, though sadly, they displayed an empty bottle of 1966 Charles Krug Cabernet, opened the night before, not sharing it with their good friends at Santa Rosa Fine Wine!

2009 Flora Springs Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Revana Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Revana Family Vineyard Premiere Cuvee Cabernet
2010 Raymond Vineyards Evolution Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Shafer Tasting – Shafer is arguably one of the better wineries in Napa Valley, they have a consistent track record of age worthy Cabernet over the span of several decades. It is always a pleasure to visit them at Premiere Napa Valley to see how older vintages are holding up. The 2001 was the best wine in the lineup, medium bodied, good structure, will easily last another decade plus. Both the 2005 and 2002 Shafer Hillside Select were riper, not as age worthy as the 2001. The 2005 was full bodied, however not heavy, and the 2002, a similar taste profile, but far more concentrated. Like 2001, the 2003 continues to age very well. Find 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet generally disappointing, however Shafer did a great job that year. Like the 2006 Shafer Hillside Select, unfortunately thought the 2008 Shafer Hillside Select was not to expectations. Did not find the wine particularly appealing, age worthy or characteristic of the Shafer Hillside Select style. Hopefully the wine will improve with more time in the bottle, right now, it did not show well.

2001 Shafer Hillside Select
2005 Shafer Hillside Select
2002 Shafer Hillside Select
2003 Shafer Hillside Select
2008 Shafer Hillside Select

Stags Leap District  Winegrowers Tasting – The last event we attended on Friday, tasted wines focused around the Stags Leap District. No notes were taken, but thought the following note worthy. The 2010 Shafer Sunspot Block Cabernet Sauvignon was the top wine, and a pleasure to revisit the 1997 SLV, which I fondly remember tasting on release. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars still makes wine in a more age worthy structured style that will hopefully continue long into the future.

2010 Shafer Sunspot Block Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Silverado Vineyards SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon

It is of tremendous value to the trade to get an early preview of the upcoming Napa Valley Vintage. Cheers to Premiere Napa Valley for putting on another fantastic event!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Jemrose and Agharta Wine Dinner

This past Friday, had dinner with a few local friends at Estate Restaurant in Sonoma. Estate’s executive chef, Chris Jones did an exceptional job creating a special six course meal to pair with our wines. Estate is located just off the Sonoma Square and is a highly recommended restaurant in the Northern California Wine Country.

For this dinner, we were joined by two special guests. First was Jim and Glora Mack of Jemrose. Have had the pleasure of tasting their lineup the last few years, and always impressed with the high quality of their wines. Second was Dan and Gloria Schaefer of Audelssa / Agharta. This was the first opportunity I have had to taste their wines, and after the dinner, was equally impressed with their wine.

In terms of the wine, the last one listed in each flight was served blind. It was a more informal dinner, so detailed notes were not taken at the time, however some brief observations follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay

Red Wine of the Night:
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle

Starter Wine – The first wine of the evening was a wonderful 2007 Viognier from Jemrose Wines. One of the best Viogniers I have tasted in California, it was medium bodied, floral, and creamy with good acidity and exceptional balance.

2007 Jemrose Egret Pond Viognier

Chardonnay – An awesome flight, each Chardonnay was quite distinct from the others. The white wine of the flight, and night was an awesome 2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay. Had more balance, complexity and nuanced components than the other wines. One of the few wines revisited, it remained consistent over the span of the evening. In contrast, the 2003 Aubert Quarry was more creme brulee, paraffin in style, with very firm acidity. Suggest aging this wine a few years before opening. The 2004 Walter Hansel had a petrol, flinty nose, and could have easily been mistaken for a White Burgundy, a very interesting wine.

2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay
2003 Aubert Quarry Chardonnay
2004 Walter Hansel Chardonnay

Aged Cabernet – The 1981 Joseph Phelps Insignia and 1986 Groth Reserve were surprisingly similar. Both lean and light, menthol and a green, but appealing nonetheless with a little spice and earthiness. In contrast, the 1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour, was a big full bodied ripe Cabernet. Youthful in appearance, noted stewed raspberry fruit in a gorgeous drinking leathery and smoky wine. Considered the 1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour the wine of the flight.

1981 Joseph Phelps Insignia
1986 Groth Reserve
1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour

Cabernet/Blends – The 2006 Agharta Exhibit B was an amazing wine of the flight! A full bodied wine, that was highly complex and balanced. Noted dark fruits, chocolate, coffee and cigar. The 2006 Audelssa Reserve Cabernet was a nice drinking wine, clean and pure, but in difficult company next to the Exhibit B. In contrast, the 2005 Chateau d’Angludet Margaux was impossibly shut down. Initially the lightest wine in the group, slowly put on weight over time. While at first, the french wine was the least favorite wine in the flight, after some air, thought it second best.

2006 Audelssa Reserve Cabernet
2006 Agharta Exhibit B
2005 Chateau d’Angludet Margaux

Syrah/Grenache – The 1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle was wine of the flight. It was more nuanced and subtle than the powerful 2004 Agharta Syrah and 2006 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah. The 1989 Hermitage showed more minerality and earthiness, while the 2004 Agharta and 2006 Jemrose had huge, ripe, soaring fruit! All three wines showed very well, no question, the only difference being stylistic preference.

2004 Agharta Syrah
2006 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle

Dessert Wine – Similar to the Syrah and Cabernet flight, there was a distinct difference between the California and French wines. The Jemrose was a gorgeous wine, huge peach and citrus fruits, likewise, pure and clean. In contrast, the Doisy Vedrines was more mineral, subtle fruit, good acidity and balance that will carry the wine for many more years of aging. While enjoying both wines for very different reasons, slightly preferred the 2001 Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes.

2008 Jemrose Egret Pond Late Harvest Viognier
2001 Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes

Websites:

Jemrose – http://www.jemrosewines.com/
Audelssa – http://www.audelssa.com/
Agharta – http://www.aghartawines.com/
Estate – http://www.estate-sonoma.com/

Cheers to our good friends at Jemrose, Audelssa, and Agharta! Cannot say enough good things about the quality of their wine, and highly recommend them to our customers!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Small Burgundy Tasting

This past Friday, attended a small Burgundy Tasting in Sonoma. It does not happen often, but the White Burgundy out shined the red! The 2007 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachets were both outstanding, and hopefully representative of what should prove to be an excellent vintage for White Burgundy.

As with other local Burgundy tastings in Sonoma, it is basically no format, bring what you would like to share, open and enjoy. Wines are rarely if ever decanted, and slowly enjoyed over a long evening. Sometimes curiosity wines are thrown into the mix. On this occasion, they were interesting, but none particularly inspiring. As with previous tastings, wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

White Wine of the Night:
2007 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachet

Red Wine of the Night:
2001 Denis Mugneret Clos de Vougeot

White Flight

2007 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachet – Initially, noted acidity and hard to discern fruit in a very young wine. In time, the nose became more floral and yeasty and the body, creme brulee and full bodied with awesome balance and length. A precise wine that should show extremely well with a few years of bottle aging.

2007 Blain Gagnard Croits Batard Montrachet – The bottle was pulled from the refrigerator of our always generous host, after being opened two days. Showed more citrus, asian spice, and firm acidity in a well balanced, excellent drinking wine than the other Batard Montrachet.

2004 M. Chapoutier Chante Alouette – The Chapoutier started out showing promise with sweet, honey, lemon oil notes. Overall was a fat wine with a predominate butterscotch component and smooth texture. Over time, thought it quickly lost what originally made it interesting. Did not care for this wine.

Red Flight

2001 Denis Mugneret Clos de Vougeot – The best wine of the flight, thought the Clos Vougeot was interesting, blue fruits and game meats, in time, picked up a touch of forest floor and spice. It was a clean and pure drinking wine, very enjoyable. Held a glass over to the next day, and it showed even better!

1999 Lucien le Moine Clos St Denis – Interesting nose that was reminiscent of Brandy and fresh cut grass. The wine was rich, balanced and enjoyable. Thought it was just slightly under the 2001 Denis Mugneret Clos de Vougeot as wine of the fight. Went back and forth between this wine and the Clos Vougeot as to personal preference.

1995 Georges Lignier Clos St Denis – Light, lean, some mineral and spice though thought the acidity was a little disjointed in relation to the rest of the wine. Had moments of being brighter and younger than the other wines, but out of balance overall. Not a great showing for the wine.

Curiosity Wines

1995 Beaucastel – Initially a light wine, noted wheat, and became more chewy and stewed rhubarb, barnyard, and other exotic components in time. Not sure anyone was particularly thrilled with the wine, an end of evening curiosity.

1963 Beaulieu Vineyard Beaumont Pinot Noir – A blind mystery wine, the group guessed it as 70’s / 80’s California, and one Burgundy. The wine was very light, and bricking in color. Initially mushroom, smokey, meaty, dry carmel, sherry and nice acidity. It very rapidly declined. Of note was one of the shortest corks I have seen in awhile, about an inch at best. A curiosity more than anything.

2001 Pride Cabernet – Normally, a big fan of Pride, this wine was one of the least favoriate showings I have had from the producer. Had boat loads of Vanilla that reminded me of a Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet. Not an exciting wine at all, and like the other two wines, opened at the end of the evening more as a curiosity.

Cheers to another interesting, however small tasting!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/