Tag Archives: Shafer

Premiere Napa Valley 2014

This past weekend we attended Premiere Napa Valley. It is an all trade wine event where wineries offer special auction lots showcasing some of the best the area has to offer. This year, the 2012 vintage was the focus from barrel. The vast majority of producers showed either their 2010 or 2011 in bottle. Our future purchases are highly influenced by PNV and similar trade tastings. Given small sample sizes and the number of wines tasted, observations have to be put into the right context, a quick impression based on an experienced wine palate. What follows are some of the events we attended and brief observations.

Premiere Napa Valley Barrel Tasting – A great opportunity to talk with winemakers and taste special lots of the 2012 vintage. It is an early preview of the upcoming vintage. For us, the top lot tasted was the exceptional 2012 Inglenook Cabernet. It is a modern wine made in an old school style. Balance, structure and complexity, this will be a great wine when it hits maturity. If this turns out to be the new house style of Inglenook, suspect the producer will rival the best you will find anywhere in the Napa Valley. While so many producers are have long since moved to a riper drink young style of wine, find it highly refreshing that Inglenook may be going back to its roots of age worth, highly complex and exciting wines. Will follow them with great interest. Our second favorite wine was the Volker Eisele. Also an age worthy complex wine, bigger fruit than I am use to with the producer, however, no question, an exceptional wine. While we tasted a lot more wines than those listed, the following is a list of the most memorable sorted in order of personal preference.

2012 Inglenook Cabernet
2012 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet
2012 Favia Red Wine
2012 Freemark Abbey York Creek Cabernet
2012 Shafer Vineyards Sunspot Cabernet
2012 Scarecrow Toto’s Opium Dream
2012 Joseph Phelps Backus Cabernet
2012 Keever Cabernet
2012 Barbour Wines Cabernet
2012 Jones Family Cabernet
2012 Ovid Cabernet
2012 Nickel and Nickel John C. Sullenger Cabernet
2013 Grgich Hills Old Vine Carneros Chardonnay
2012 Robert Mondavi To Kalon Cabernet
2012 Madrigal Family Winery Cabernet
2012 Chappellet Vineyard Red Wine
2012 Duckhorn Three Palms Cabernet
2012 Beringer VIneyards Howell Cabernet
2012 Louis M Martini Cabernet
2012 Foley Johnson Cabernet
2012 Paraduxx Red Wine
2012 Clos du Val Stags Leap Cabernet

Multi-Vintage Perspective and Retrospective Tasting – A fantastic event where numerous 1984, 1994 and 2004 wines were tasted double blind. At the same location was another double blind tasting of the same producer from 2009, 2010, 2011. Before reveal, the 1984 Shafer Hillside Select showed better than any wine in the entire tasting. Thought it was a 1984 Caymus Estate Cabernet, very similar. In a perfect place right now. Second was a 1984 Schramsberg Vineyards Reserve Sparking Wine and third, a 1994 Beringer Private Reserve. Interesting enough, the best 2009, 2010, 2011 flight was the Shafer Hillside Select.

1984 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet
1984 Schramsberg Vineyards Reserve Sparking Wine
1994 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet
1994 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet
1984 Sterling Reserve Merlot

Atelier Melka Portfolio Tasting – A well put together tasting at Meadowood, found the wines collectively some of the most enjoyable ones of all the tastings. As in previous years, thought the 2011 Entre Nous came out as the top Cabernet. 2011 Melka Metisse was also a great drinking wine, followed by the 2010 Brand. Blended wines generally showed superior to 100% Cabernet, a theme that repeated itself through out other tastings. No disappointments among any of the wines tasted.

2011 Entre Nous Cabernet
2011 Melka Metisse
2010 Brand Cabernet

Stags Leap District House of Cab – Have attended the Stags Leap District tasting the past few years. Unfortunately, it was a shorter than normal stay due to a tight tasting schedule. Did not get a chance to try the majority of wines we had wanted. Notable wines by Stags Leap, Regusci and Cliff Lede.

2010 Stags Leap Fay Cabernet
2005 Stags Leap Cabernet
2011 Cliff Lede Poetry

 Cliff Lede Open that Bottle Night – Always a fun event, guests bring special bottles from their cellar to share with attendees. We brought a 1973 Joseph Swan Pinot, 1985 Groth Cabernet and 1985 Duckhorn Merlot, all of which showed very well. Food provided by Rosso, enjoyed along side some enjoyable Pizza! The 1988 Mouton was gorgeous and 1998 Mouton the bigger wine. The 1990 and 1987 both also showed very well.

1988 Mouton
1998 Mouton
1990 Mouton
1987 Mouton
1989 Mouton
1977 Joseph Swan Pinot
1990 Rostaing Cote Rotie
1985 Groth Cabernet
1985 Duckhorn Merlot

First Taste Yountville – A smaller trade and attendee turnout than normal, found a few nice wines. Our top tasting wine was the 2009 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet. Also memorable was the 2011 Dominus, Napanook and Casa Piena Cabernets.

2009 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet
2011 Dominus
2011 Napanook
2010 Casa Piena Cabernet

Chateau Boswell Annual Premiere Party – First time attending this tasting, a very nice collection of good drinking wines. Across the board, Bevan Cellars had the more terrific wines, especially the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Since tasting their 2007 Bevan Cellars Cabernet, have considered this a producer / winemaker to keep an eye on. True to form, they have consistently produced high quality wine since, and likely will long into the future. The second most memorable wine was the 2011 Hudson Chardonnay, nothing short of stunning.

2012 Bevan Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
2011 Hudson Chardonnay
2011 Barbour Cabernet
2011 Corra Cabernet

Shafer Tasting – Attended this tasting several times over the last few years, and it is a great opportunity to taste past and current release Shafer Hillside Select. One of our favorite California Cabernet Producers, in order of personal preference, enjoyed the 07, 04, 05, 10 and 06. Have tasted these wines many times (with the exception of 2010). All showed consistent. The only wine that continues to show itself in an awkward state is the 2006. Despite 2010 being a challenging year, the  2010 Shafer Hillside Select was exceptional.

2007 Shafer Hillside Select
2004 Shafer Hillside Select
2005 Shafer Hillside Select
2010 Shafer Hillside Select
2006 Shafer Hillside Select

Overall Impressions:

* The 2012 vintage is a big improvement over the more challenging 2011 and 2010 vintage. For Napa Valley California Cabernet, loosely rank vintage preference from best to least favorite: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2008, 2011, and 2006.

* 2012 appears to show a lot in common with the 2008 vintage. Generally the fruit was on the ripe and fresh side. Think they will generally be drink young wines, flashy in their youth, and have shorter than normal drinking windows.

* Among bottled wines, found blends consistently showing superior to straight 100% Cabernets. Of course, many 100% Cabernets were fine, but given tough growing conditions, the addition of Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot helped round out and balance wines.

* For those who appreciate old school age worthy Cabernet, our conversation and tasting of the Inglenook barrel sampling was an eye opener. One of the most unique and standout wines of the tastings. A producer that appears to be taking serious steps in a new direction to the delight of those that value what California once was. We are thrilled and excited to see how their wines develop over time.

Cheers to the Napa Valley Vintners Association and all the contributing Napa Valley Wineries for putting on a great event!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

San Francisco Trade Tasting

Attended a trade tasting in San Francisco recently where several nice wines were poured. Having tasted many of them in the past, was a good opportunity to revisit how the wines were aging. In a few cases, was surprised by a high quality wine we have never had before. In particular, referring to an awesome 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico and 1989 Penfolds Grange!

Pours at this particular tasting were relatively small, and only revisited a few of the wines later in the tasting. As a result, no attempt is made at detailed notes, nor ranking the wines in order of personal preference. Nearly all wines showed well, with special mention to the 1995 Krug, 1990 Latour, 1989 Penfolds Grange, and 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico! Brief observations follow.
Champagne

1995 Krug– Crisp, nutty, butterscotch and hazelnut, this was a gorgeous complex and youthful Krug that should be exceptional with a decade or more age.

White Wines

1991 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree – Some diesel notes, a flat mouthfeel, and relatively fat on the palate. A fully mature good drinking wine.
2002 Leroy Meursault – Light bodied, some pleasant sweetness, little bit of flint, thought the wine was just ok, expected a little more from this solid producer.
2004 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay – Silky, intense citrus, moving toward a more creamy texture in time. A powerful and well put together Chardonnay.
Red Wines
1990 Chateau Latour – Initially orange rind, sweet, well rounded fruits, revisited later, and shutdown, showed far more tannin. A wine that will continue to improve with age.
1996 Chateau Margaux – More open knit and approachable than the Latour, black cherry fruit, floral, put on weight later in the tasting.
2005 Clos de Papes Chateauneuf de Pape – A very nice wine, big concentrated raspberry fruit, was drinking very well. Far more enjoyable than the Pagau.
2003 Pegau Chateauneuf de Pape Reserve – Have had this wine at least three or four times, have never found it enjoyable. Ripe concentrated plum and prune.
1997 Lisini Brunello di Montelcino Ugolaia – A disappointing wine, grassy, not a lot going on. Did not leave a positive impression.
1989 Vega Sicilia Unico – A young perfectly balanced wine, did not revisit later but suspect it could have easily rivaled any other wine in the tasting in time.
1990 Dominus – Soft, resolved, slightly green, but focused with pleasant mineral and dark fruits. A highly enjoyable well made wine.
1990 Opus One – Have had this wine 5 or 6 times, and this was one of the best showings, thick, ripe, cherry and raspberry fruits, showed far more open than on previous ocassions.
1998 Shafer Hillside Select – Huge wine, mint, black cherry, excellent balance, nice structure and continuing to age beautifully.
2000 Joseph Phelps Insignia – Big wine, similar to the Shafer Hillside, though not as complex. A nice wine with a strong mid palate presence.
1989 Penfolds Grange – Interesting transition on this wine, initially grassy, wheat, cherry and mint, not a thrilling wine, in time, big blue fruits and became exceptional.
2004 Sine Qua Non Covert Fingers – Candied bright red fruits, concentrated, thick full bodied Pinot, showed better on this occasion than other times tasted.
Sauternes
1990 Chateau d’Yquem – Peach, orange, and honey, this sweet, but nuanced wine showed very well, better than the 1986 in the same tasting, but not quite up to the 1988.
1986 Chateau d’Yquem – Orange rind, concentrated and age worthy, the 1986 tasted far younger than the 1990. Continue to age this wine.
Cheers to a very nice wine lineup!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

San Diego Blind California Dinner

During our recent visit to San Diego, enjoyed attending a California Wine Dinner at Quarter Kitchen. The restaurant was excellent and a great venue for a wine dinner. On this occassion, it was decided to taste all wines blind. The group tasted three flights of four wines, and ranked each wine per flight. It was a larger than normal group, so pours were relatively small not allowing an opportunity to revisit in time and see how they develop.

As often happens at wine dinners, a wine shows up that is not to theme, in this case a few Bordeaux. As luck would have it, a 2000 Cheval Blanc was brought, and turned out to be the wine of the night by a long shot! All wines opened are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Opener

2004 Taittinger Champagne – Honey, medium bodied, crisp, nice acid balance, touch of creaminess, an easy drinking start to the evening.

Chardonnay Flight

2006 Kongsgaard Judge Chardonnay – Initially very simple, no nose, in time more lemon and lime citrus, a tight young wine that leaned to the white burgundy end of the wine spectrum.

2008 Aubert Hyde and Sons Chardonnay – A close second place, far sweeter, cotton candy, balanced and oily. More creamy and balanced than the Kongsgaard, enjoyable young.

2008 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay – Similar to the Hyde and Sons, sweeter, but with a little more spice. Some unexpected funk on the finish that never quite went away.

2004 Kistler Vine Hill Chardonnay – Deeper yellow color, full bodied, yeast, hazel nut and mildly floral. Did not find this wine particularly appealing.

Cabernet Flight

2002 Kuleto Reserve Cabernet- Dark berry, minty, spice, soy and chocolate, a very nice drinking wine that had Bordeaux leanings, a restrained and elegant wine.

2006 Ghost Horse Shadow – Tannic, black licorice, bitter coffee, an interesting wine that was quite enjoyable, and not far separated from either the Kuleto or Shafer Hillside Select.

2003 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet – Rich, good tannin and menthol. A very nice drinking wine that was close, but not quite to the level of the Ghost Horse or Kuleto.

2008 12C Georges III Cabernet – Very ripe style of wine, vanilla, full bodied, bright red fruit, a solid representation of the Georges III vineyard. Should improve considerably with age.

Syrah Flight

2006 Myriad Las Madres Syrah – A lovely cold climate Syrah. Clean, pure, stemy, awesome floral aromatics, think Myriad consistently over performs on their Las Madres Syrah.

2005 Grand Reve Reserve Syrah – Far more flashy than the 2006 Myriad, more powerful, exotic, sweet, pure and muscular. Like the Myriad, a gorgeous wine, but for very different reasons.

2008 Myriad 100% Whole Cluster Las Madres Syrah – Similar to the 2006 Myriad, stemy, blue fruits, a little bigger style and more course. A solid showing.

2006 Samsara Alder Springs Syrah – Disjointed, simple, lacking character, one of the few wines I struggled to think of something nice to say.

Bordeaux Finish

2000 Cheval Blanc – Wine of the night by a long shot! Expected it to be way too young, but with a quick decant, and a little time in the glass, improved considerably. The definition of a perfect Bordeaux, perfectly balanced, highly complex, chewy, mineral, leather, meat, exotic. A wow wine!

2000 Pape Clement – Did not particularly enjoy the Pape Clement, just an ok wine. Some animal and game, which is typically a nice thing, but not well put together in this wine. Overshadowed and dominated by the Cheval Blanc.

Cheers to a wonderful tasting with a generous group of friends in San Diego!

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