Tag Archives: La Jota

Howell Mountain Spring Wine Tasting

We recently attended a Howell Mountain trade tasting in San Francisco called Above the Fog. It was an enjoyable tasting hosted by the Howell Mountain Vintners and Growers Association at the Golden Gate Club. 2012 and 2013 wines were featured, some producers pouring 2010, 2011 and older. In general, 2012 Napa Valley Cabernets tend to be big full bodied wines that will show well young. In contrast, 2012 Howell Mountain are lighter bodied and more restrained. 2013 is looking to be an exceptional vintage for nearly all of the Napa Valley.

The standout producer of this tasting was KrisTodd. Their wines were fantastic and we highly recommend them. It is our first time tasting their wine, no track record, but the quality of what they poured was exceptional. The following are all wines tasted that best represent the three things we look for (Balance, Complexity, and Ageworthy).

Highly Recommended:

2012 Howell at the Moon Cabernet
2011 KrisTodd Vineyards Cabernet
2009 KrisTodd Vineyards Cabernet
2012 La Jota Vineyard W.S. Keyes Merlot
2012 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet
2011 Retro Cellars Petite Sirah
2012 W.H. Smith SOLO Blend

Recommended:

2012 Arkenstone Obsidian Cabernet Blend
2010 Bravante Vineyards Reserve
2013 Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet
2012 Cimarossa Rive di Cimarossa Cabernet
1992 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet
2010 Howell at the Moon Knoll Vineyard Cabernet
2012 La Jota Cabernet
2012 Prim Family Cabernet

We enjoyed Howell Mountain Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux style blends the most, Merlot showed less complexity. Cheers to the Howell Mountain Vintners and Growers Association for a very enjoyable tasting.

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

California Wine Trade Tastings

Living in Northern California, there are no shortage of wine trade tastings a person can attend. The most recent one was a fantastic event put on by the Rutherford Dust Society. For us, this tasting and others are important to get a sense of a particular wine region and evaluate vintage characteristics. Collectively, the tastings influence what we purchase as a merchant in fine and rare wines!

In formats where you taste a high volume of wine, our approach is to generally sample wines we “track” first, wines we are establishing or have already established a personal record of quality. After which, we usually followup with a round of tasting producers we have never visited before. Given the number of wines, and relatively small pour sizes, at best you get a quick educated impression. We feel rating wines at mass trade tastings with detailed tasting notes or assigning “points” is generally doing an injustice to the producer as well as the potential reader/buyer. That said, the following are wines that made an impression at varous wine trade tastings we attended since the beginning of the year. In all the tastings that follow, if a wine is not listed, either we did not find it particularly appealing or did not taste the wine.

In Pursuit of Balance 2012 – Our first time attending this tasting, the selection of wines is generally what we look for, producers known for making wine that is ageworthy, balanced, nuanced, where character and a sense of place is valued over wine power and intensity. The fast majority of wines poured were California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Top wines:
1995 Calera Mt. Harlan Chardonnay
2009 Hirsch Reserve Pinot
2009 Littorai Charles Heintz Chardonnay

Very good wines:
2010 Anthill Farms Tina Marie Pinot
2010 Arnot Roberts Watson Ranch Chardonnay
2009 Au Bon Climat Isabelle Pinot
2010 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay
2009 Calera Ryan Pinot
2010 Ceritas Porter Bass Chardonnay
2010 Ceritas Heintz Chardonnay
2010 Ceritas Escarpa Pinot
2010 Copain Brousseau Chardonnay
2009 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay
2009 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot
2009 Hirsch San Andres Fault Pinot
2010 Hirsch Estate Chardonnay
2009 Littorai Mays Canyon Chardonnay
2009 Littorai Savoy Pinot
2009 Littorai Cerise Pinot
2009 Littorai Haven Pinot
2010 Peay Pomarium Pinot
2009 Peay Scallop Shell Pinot
2009 Peay Estate Chardonnay
2009 Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot
2009 Wind Gap Woodruff Chardonnay
2010 Wind Gap Gaps Crown Pinot

Good wines:
2009 Alta Maria Vineyards Chardonnay
2010 Calera Mt. Harlan Chardonnay
2010 Ceritas Annabelle Pinot
2009 Copain Monument Tree Pinot
2010 Failla Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
2010 Failla Hudson Chardonnay
2009 Flowers Sea Ridge View Pinot
2010 Freeman Ryo-fu Chardonnay
2007 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay

Above the Fog Howell Mtn Spring Tasting 2012 – Another tasting we attended for the first time, went away impressed by several wines poured. Similar to the In Pursuit of Balance tasting, was struck by the age worthy quality of the wines overall, a quality we value over more ripe fruit forward wines.

Top wines:
2005 Dunn Howell Mtn Cabernet
2009 La Jota Merlot
2008 Lamborn Family Cabernet

Very good wines:
2009 Cornerstone Cabernet
1994 Cornerstone Cabernet
2009 La Jota Cabernet
2008 Notre Vin Cabernet
2007 Red Cap Cabernet
2007 Retro Cellars Petite Sirah
2009 Robert Craig Cabernet

Good wines:
2008 Aloft Cabernet
2008 Cade Cabernet
2008 Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Cabernet
2007 Charles Krug Rocky Ridge Cabernet
2008 Cornerstone Cabernet
2008 O’ Shaughnessy Cabernet
2007 Roberts and Rogers Cabernet

Passport to Cabernet 2012 – Held at the Bentley Reserve in SF, tasted a wide range of Cabernet from the 2007, 2008 and 2009 vintage, as well as numerous 2011 barrel samples. The 2011 barrel samples were difficult to evaluate at this point in time and ultimately tried very few for that reason. Continue to be impressed with 2007 and 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet, far less so with 2008.

Top wines:
2009 Kristine Ashe Entre Nous
2007 Volker Eisele Napa Valley Cab

Very good wines:
2005 Ackerman Family Cab
2007 Guilliams Vineyard Cab
2008 Keenan Napa Valley Cab
2006 Kristine Ashe Entre Nous
2008 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cab
2008 Raymond Generations

Good wines:
2007 Ackerman Family Cab
2009 Bell Cab
2008 Bell Claret
2007 Cain Five
2009 Charles Krug Generations
2008 Charles Krug Vintage Selection
2008 Chimney Rock Tomahawk
2009 Cornerstone Howell Mtn Cab
2009 Diamond Creek RRT
2009 Faust Cab
2007 Hidden Ridge Cab
2007 Linked Knights Valley Cab
2009 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cab
2007 Merryvale Profile
2009 O’Shaughnessy Mt Veeder Cab
2007 Peju Napa Valley Cab

Santa Lucia Highlands Tasting 2012 – Year after year we have enjoyed the Chardonnays and Pinot Noir coming out of the Santa Lucia Highlands. It was very clear at this tasting, both the Rosella’s and Gary’s vineyards have established themselves among some of the best vineyards in the US. While we have disliked nearly every pre 2007 Kosta Browne, was impressed with the 2009 vintage wines.

Top wines:
2010 August West Rosella’s Pinot
2009 August West Rosella’s Syrah
2009 Kosta Browne Rosella’s Pinot
2009 Kosta Browne Garys Pinot

Very good wines:
2010 August West SLH Pinot
2009 Bernardus Rosella’s Pinot
2009 Bernardus Pisoni Pinot
2007 Hahn and Lucienne Doctors Pinot
2010 Mansfield Dunne Peterson Vineyard Pinot
2010 McIntyre Estate Chardonnay
2010 McIntyre Block K1 Chardonnay
2009 McIntyre Estate Pinot
2009 McIntyre Block 3 Pinot
2010 Morgan Double L Pinot
2010 Morgan Double L Chardonnay
2009 Morgan Garys Pinot
2010 Pisoni Lucia Soberanes Chardonnay

Good wines:
2009 Mer Soleil Chardonnay
2010 Mer Soleil Chardonnay
2008 La Rochelle SLH Pinot
2009 Miura Pisoni Pinot
2009 Miura Garys Pinot
2009 Sequana SLH Pinot
2009 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Pinot
2010 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay
2009 Testarossa Garys Pinot
2009 Testarossa Rosellas Pinot
2010 Testarossa SLH Pinot

Santa Cruz Mountains Tasting 2012 – We have attended this particular tasting a few years now. It is a smaller tasting, but a worth while visit. None of the wines really stood out as particularly strong, a lot of good wines, no question, but nothing great.

Top wines:
2006 Ridge Monte Bello

Very good wines:
2008 Clos LaChance Pinot
2007 Clos LaChance Meritage
2009 Mount Eden Wolff Chardonnay
2009 Mount Eden Estate Pinot
2008 Mount Eden Estate Cab
2009 Odonata Zayante Syrah
2009 Ridge Estate Merlot
2009 Sonnet Tondres Pinot
2009 Sonnet Nums Pinot
2006 Thomas Forgarty Merlot

Good wines:
2008 Kathryn Kennedy Small Lot Cab
2008 Kathryn Kennedy Contra La Marea Blend
2005 Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cab
2008 Michael Martella Hammer Syrah
2008 Michael Martella Heart Arrow Petite Sirah
2009 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay
2009 Ridge Estate Cab
2010 Storrs Chardonnay

Rhone Rangers 2012 – Similar to Pinot Days, this is a very large tasting held at Fort Mason in San Francisco focused on Rhone wines. Jemrose and Tablas Creek consistly show well after many years of tasting their respective wines. Additionally, both are reasonably priced. A good venue to taste Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier.

Top wines:
2009 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah
2009 Miner Family La Diligence Syrah
1999 Ridge Lytton Estate Syrah
2009 Tablas Creek Espirit de Beaucastel 

Very good wines:
2009 Beckman Purisima Syrah
2009 Cosa Obra Proprietors Blend
2009 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Syrah
2009 JC Cellars Rockpile Syrah
2010 Jemrose Egret Pond Viognier
2009 Jemrose Foggy Knoll Grenache
2009 Krutz Stage Coach Syrah
2009 Project 772 Brawler Syrah
2009 Project 772 Instigator Syrah
2009 Sanglier Boars Camp Red Blend
2007 Sheldon Deviant Velocity Petite Sirah
2009 Stephan Vineyards Cote a Cote Red Blend
2009 Stephan Vineyards Estate Cuvee Red Blend
2009 Thomas George Estates Timbervine Syrah
2009 Thomas George Bei Ranch Syrah
2009 Truchard Carneros Syrah

Good wines:
2008 Folin Cellars Rogue Valley Syrah
2006 Kaleidos Reserve Syrah
2008 Martinelli Vellutini Ranch Syrah
2009 Quivira Wine Creek Mourvedre
2008 Skylark Rodgers Creek Syrah
2009 Stolpman Vineyards Hilltops Syrah

A Day in the Dust 2012 – The most recent trade tasting attended, an all Rutherford Cabernet tasting of the 2009 vineyard. Overall, we continue to be a big fan of the 2009 Napa Valley vintage and the Rutherford based wines did not disappoint. Surprisingly, the top wine of the tasting was a 2008! The 2008 Staglin Rutherford Cabernet was outstanding, had all the elements of a great wine, tremendous structure, balance and complexity. Sadly, one of the very few wines not tasted was a 2009 BV Georges de Latour.

Top wines:
2009 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 6
2009 Freemark Abby Bosche
2009 Quintessa Red Blend
2008 Staglin Rutherford

Very good wines:
2010 12C Georges III
2009 Conn Creek Hozhoni
2001 Heitz Trailside
2006 Heitz Trailside
2009 Martin Reserve
2009 Monticello Tietjen
2008 Sequoia Grove Morisoli
2009 Staglin Rutherford

Good wines:
2009 D.R. Stephens Walther River Block
2009 Flora Springs Rutherford
2009 Frank Family Reserve
2009 Frank Family Winston Hill
2009 Freemark Abbey Sycamore
2009 Hewitt Estate
2009 Honig Campbell Vineyard
2009 Hunnicutt Rutherford
2009 Meander Morisoli Vineyard
2009 Monticello Corley Reserve
2009 Peju Rutherford
2008 Provenance Rutherford
2006 Quintessa Red Blend
2008 Rutherford Grove Once Acre
2009 Trinchero Chicken Ranch

When at various trade tastings, it is hard to not ask the question of producers, what is your impression of the current vintage? As you might expect, especially in challenging vintages, some are very honest, some use carefully chosen words, and others will communicate it is the greatest vintage ever! We typically expect to hear the first two, but in the case of 2008, surprisingly heard the last view more often than not. Begs the question, do California producers say this because they truly value ripe drink young wines or simply a statement to move wine?

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com