Tag Archives: Robert Mondavi

Macaroni California Wine Lunch

Being part of a good wine tasting group is one of the great pleasures of being a wine connoisseur. You share good wine, food, company and conversation with like minded folks regularly over a long afternoon or evening. As someone in the wine business, there is the additional benefit of developing wine data points over time. Sometimes these data points show a trend having revisited in the past, at other times, a first experience. In this particular case, it was a lot of first experiences. The theme was all California, a somewhat uncommon theme given this group, many of which frequent the Sonoma and Napa Valley but have decidely European palates. As with other tasting notes, wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. None of the wines were decanted, and none showed any flaws. Given a smaller group, there was plenty of opportunity to revisit wines over the span of the afternoon

Chardonnay Flight

2004 Walter Hanzel Cahill Lane Chardonnay – Not your typically California Chardonnay, have become increasingly more interested in Walter Hanzel wines the more we taste. Reminiscent of a Domaine Lefliave, noted a highly appealing flinty nose, rich but not over the top fruit, and a subtle citrus finish. Will benefit with additional age, but could easily be enjoyed now.

2009 Aubert Lauren Chardonnay – A wine that could not be more different than the Hanzel, big forward fruit, exotic tropical fruits, yeasty, but also one dimentional. Start of the bottle to end, maintained a consistent taste profile that was good and decidedly Californian. Think the Aubert suffered a bit next to the exceptional Hanzel, nonetheless, a well made easy drinking Chardonnay.

Pinot Intermission

2001 Rochioli West Block Pinot – At first, thought the wine was lean and charmless. With time in the glass, far more interesting and expressive. Think it was just shutdown and needed more time to come around. Tight and compact, would definitely benefit with more cellar aging. It was challenging to access after the Aubert.

California Cab Flight 1

1984 Stags Leap SLV Cabernet – The wine of the afternoon, the Stags Leap was nothing short of stunning. Perfectly mature with no signs of decline, full bodied without being a fruit bomb, structure that lightly presents itself in the background adding character without distracting. A refined, balanced and complex wine made in an old school Calfiornia style. Astute customers reading this blog might realize we have ten bottles left in stock, and from the same case as this bottle sampled.

1985 Joseph Phelps Eisele Cabernet – Another outstanding Cabernet, the Joseph Phelps showed far more youthful than the Stags Leap. This wine easily took an hour plus to even begin to show the slight beginning of its full character. Dark fruit, menthol, and highly balanced. It is a shame that Joseph Phelps let this vineyard get away, they did an exceptional job with Eisele. If opened in the near term, best to enjoy over a long evening as it will likely change considerably over time.

California Cab Flight 2

1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – A clean, textbook mid 90’s California Cabernet. There was nothing out of place with this wine. Have sampled quite a few 96 California Cabernet, and this was typical of the vintage, has been ready to drink for years and will remain so for many years to come. Very enjoyable.

NV Stags Leap Golden Rectangle – First time having tasted this wine, big fruit made in a modern California style, however, lacking the heat that sadly has become all to common. The wine did show a good bit of oak, a little more than I would typically appreciate, there was ample tannin to carry this wine on for many years. An age worthy wine that would benefit with additional cellaring.

A fun afternoon focused around the enjoyable wines of California!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Old School Wine Lunch

This weekend we hosted a wine lunch for a good friend visiting from Germany. The theme was loosely defined as old school California, but as luck would have it, evolved into old school wine from several regions. Five of us were in attendance with ample time to revisit the wines over the afternoon and early evening. Impressions of the wines follow, captured the day after the tasting and sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Starter Flight

2009 Wittmann Westhoven Morstein Trocken Riesling GG – Highly nuanced, yet rich tropical fruit with a dry age worthy backbone. This stunning Reisling was exceptional. Focused and a worthy addition to any cellar.

2007 Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut – A lovely dry starter wine as guests arrived. It was crip and clean. The low / no dosage sparkling wine was chalky in texture and precise. A good palate cleanser to start the lunch.

Pinot Noir Flight

1982 Chalone Pinot – Have had the pleasure of drinking this wine several times in the past, and this bottle did not disappoint. Showed far more youthful than the 90 Burgundy with good minerality and delightful blue and red fruits. Balanced and complex, preferred it strongly over the Burgundy.

1990 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Damodes – Found this wine ok, not particularly great. Was in tough company next to the Chalone. Picked up primarily wet saddle leather and stale plum qualities that did not show balanced or complex. A simple straight forward Burgundy.

 Older Wine Flight

1925 Marques de Murrieta Casilillo Ygay Logrono Reserva Especial – A surprise wine served blind by our generous guest. Caramel, some butterscotch, deep rich dark chocolate and no distracting oxidative notes. On reveal, turns out it was a Rioja! Was highly surprised how well this extremely old wine held up. It drank beautifully, a flashy wine with a lot of character.

1966 Louis Martini Mountain Cabernet – Second time tasting the 66 Martini in the past few years, found this wine as good as the first. Youthful, balanced and highly age worthy. It kept giving layer after layer of complexity the longer it sat in the glass. No rush to open, will improve with additional bottle aging.

1974 Mayacamas Cabernet – Did not spent a lot of time with the Mayacamas, it was opened the previous day so just a small sample. Given it showed so well on day two with no signs of oxidation and balanced fruit, suspect it was exceptional on day one.

1987 California Flight

1987 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – Have tasted this wine easily a dozen plus times over the years, and this was one of the best examples tasted to date! It remains a youthful, mind blowing wine. Pure fruit, highly structured, subtle menthol finish, textbook old school California Cabernet. Have long considered this one of the top California Cabernet made in the exceptional 1987 vintage.

1987 Philip Togni Cabernet – First time tasting the 1987 Togni, found it interesting. A very good wine that showed slightly on the leaner side, with a slight green streak. The wine did not show the depth of other 1987 vintage California Cabernet, went away thinking it was best to drink this particular wine sooner rather than later. Knowing the Togni style of wine, it is entirely possible the wine was simply shut down.

Finishing Wine

1958 Pontet Canet – An amazing old Bordeaux to end the evening. Not oxidized, fuller bodied than the two Cabernet, with an intoxicating mix of exotic spices, earth, game, and dark fruits. Noted light bricking, this well stored bottle was nothing short of delightful.

What was particularly notworthy about the evening was that none of the bottles were flawed! Given their age, might expect one or two off bottles. All showed at, or exceeded expectations for a well stored bottle. A delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon, good food, wine and company!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Taste of Oakville 2012

This week, we attended one of our favorite wine events of the year, a Taste of Oakville. The Oakville Winegrowers put on the event which includes a Master Class, Lunch, and Grand Tasting. This year, the theme was Vintage and Vision, with wines primarily poured from 2009.

Master Class – The master class was moderated by Paul Roberts of Bond, and panel members Dirk Hampson of Far Niente, Patrick Sullivan of Rudd, and Andy Erickson of Dalla Valle. In keeping with the theme of vintage and vision, the Master Class focused on wines separated by some age, growing conditions, and challenges wine makers faced in particular years. The wines that followed were discussed.

1998 Far Niente Cabernet – A hot year, where nearly half the harvest was lost, noted black tea, cognac, cherry. Light bricking, a wine that tasted old school. A very good drinking wine from a historically challenging vintage.

2008 Far Niente Cabernet – A small harvest, grapes were on the vine much longer than usual. Made in a more modern style, the wine was bright, yet had a dense and clean mouthfeel. A great drinking wine.

2000 Bond Vecina – A vintage that was not particularly hot or cold, no frost, no major climate challenges. Noted a vanilla quality immediately, soft tannins, with a more notable finish than mid palate. Beginning to show its age, showed better as it sat in the glass.

2005 Bond Vecina – A classic vintage, again noted some vanilla, clean, and like the 2000, got a lot better as it sat in the glass. A powerful wine, did not pickup any heat, and thought it had more notable oak than the previous wine. An excellent wine.

2002 Rudd Oakville Cabernet – A leaner, more tannic wine, thought it was more balanced and age worthy than the previous wines tasted. Subtle mint on the nose was appealing. One of the better 2002 California Cabernets tasted in some time.

2008 Rudd Oakville Cabernet – Initally, thought the wine was more one dimension, big ripe vanilla fruit, with a touch of funk. With time in the glass, got cleaner with a nice chalky finish. With firm acidity, and dry tannin, thought it was just an ok wine.

1991 Dalla Valle Cabernet – Grassy, tea, forest floor, exotic game, minerality, thought this was a great Cabernet. Tannin is still quite firm, with darker fruits. One of our favorite producers, the wine was excellent, and made in a more old school style.

2009 Dalla Valle Cabernet – Distinctly modern in style, ripe, big blue fruits, some vanilla creaminess. Not entirely sure this wine is built for the long term. Came across as a wine that would be best opened young. A good wine to revisit.

Grand Tasting – The Grand Tasting was a walk around tasting of current release wines from various Oakville member producers. Pours were relatively small, so no effort is made to capture detailed tasting notes. Wines did leave an impression, and a brief list follows. If a wine is not listed, either we did not taste it or did not show well. Wines are not sorted in any particular order.

Top Wines

2009 Futo Estate Red Wine
2008 Groth Reserve Cabernet
2008 Harlan Maiden
2009 Maybach Materium
2010 O’ Shaughnessy Chardonnay
2008 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
2009 Screaming Eagle

Very Good Wines

2009 Ghost Block Estate Cabernet
2009 Harbison Estate
1993 Harlan Estate
2009 Miner Family Oakville Cabernet
2008 Opus One
2005 Paradigm Winery Cabernet

Wines to Revisit

2001 Bond Vecina
2006 Cosentino Oakville Cabernet
2009 Far Niente Estate Cabernet
2008 Kelleher Family Cabernet
2009 Nickel and Nickel John C Sullenger Cabernet
2008 Saddleback Cellars Cabernet
2005 Swanson Alexis Cabernet
2003 Tierra Roja Cabernet
2009 Vine Cliff Oakville Cabernet

Of the last three Napa Valley vintages and based on the wines we have sampled at this tasting and numberous others, have a preference toward the 2007, 2009, and 2008 vintage in that order. Think the 2007 and 2009 vintage wines tend to offer more structure and age worthiness, whereas, the 2008 wines are more big and ripe, ones that we think will tend to drink best on the younger side.

Thank you to the Oakville Winegrowers and Robert Mondavi Winery for hosting an outstanding event. Special thank you to Dirk Hampson who sat at our table at lunch offering numerous insights into wine making and sharing his rich history and experience in the wine industry!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Taste of Oakville 2011

The Oakville Winegrowers put on one of the better tastings of the year in Napa Valley when they hold their annual Taste of Oakville. We attended the tasting recently at Robert Mondavi Winery. It was a great opportunity to try current release Cabernets from the Oakville region, and in our case, heavily influences what we purchase in the coming years.

Overall, thought the 2008 vintage wines showed well based on the wines tasted. A vast majority were relatively easy to drink, and for the most part will be enjoyable young. Thought the wines had far more in common with the 2006 vintage, than 2007. When comparing 2007 and 2008 wines, continue to prefer the structure, balance and elegance of 2007 over the riper, more approachable 2008s.
The top wine of the tasting was a beautiful 1994 Dalla Valle Maya. An oustanding wine, it was elegant, earthy, lead pencil, tannic and dusty, with plenty of dark black fruits. Our second favorite wine was the 2007 Harlan Estate Cabernet. It had deep, dark cherry notes, bell pepper, an inky texture, and mint on finish. With some age, should be equally outstanding.
Group 1 – Top Wines

1994 Dalla Valle Maya
2008 Dalla Valle Cabernet
2007 Harlan Estate Cabernet
2008 Screaming Eagle
2007 Swanson Alexis Cabernet

Group 2 – Very Good Wines
2007 Bond Vecina
2006 Bond St. Eden
2008 Dalla Valle Collina
2008 Far Niente Estate Cabernet
2008 Futo Estate Cabernet
2008 Gargiulo Money Road Cabernet
2009 Harbison Estate Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Blending Iron Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Rock Cairn Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Kelham Cabernet
2007 Opus One
2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
2007 Saddleback Cellars Oakville Barrel Select Cabernet
2008 Textbook Mise en Place Cabernet
Group 3 – Enjoyable Wines
2008 Flora Springs Holy Smoke Vineyard Cabernet
2008 Gargiulo OVX Cabernet
2007 Gargiulo OVX Cabernet
2008 Ghost Block Estate Cabernet
2007 Groth Reserve Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel Tench Cabernet
2008 Nickel and Nickel John C. Sullenger Cabernet
2008 Oakville East Exposure Cabernet
2007 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet
If a wine was not listed, either we did not taste the wine, or in the case of 12 wines, did not find it particularly appealing. Most of the 12 will be revisited again in the future. In a few cases, they were newer producers to us. In other cases, ones we have tried in the past, had a favorable opinion, and did not find the wine appealing in this vintage. For wines Santa Rosa Fine Wine purchases, tend to establish a tasting track record over several years.
Cheers to Robert Mondavi Winery and the Oakville Winegrowers for putting on another very enjoyable tasting!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine