Every week is a surprise. To quote the immortal Forrest Gump:
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what ya gunna get” ~ Forrest Gump
That’s what it’s like here. We hold two to five staff tastings a week and the only constant is the quality. No matter what, we know that the wines will be amazing. Besides that one constant everything else changes. Some weeks we may taste all Napa Cab, other weeks it may be a trip around the globe with wines from Germany, France, Italy, Spain or a number of other tasty wine regions. So be sure to check in weekly. After all, you never know what ya gunna get.
2013 12C ‘G3 Georges III Beckstoffer Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum 96+: With the success of the 2012 12C G3 and the amazing quality of the 2013 vintage, we decided to once again to make a reserve style wine. We produced barrels of old vine clone 4 Cabernet Sauvignon from block B2A and combined them with a barrel of clone 7 Cabernet Sauvignon from block B1B to produce this wine and the results are nothing but staggering. Deep and dark to the core in color, aromas of blackberries, currants and barrel spice notes combine with a mid-palate that is awash with ripe fruit, exquisite balance and a powerful but fleshy feel in the mouth. The finish leans toward the structured side but also has a sense of balance and harmony which is a trademark of our natural winemaking style. Powerful, precise and purity is what defines this wine which flows into a finish that last seemingly forever. Age this wine for 3-5 years and look for it to hit maturity in 10-12 years. Only 70 cases produced.
2013 12C ‘Beckstoffer George III Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum 96: What an amazing and generous year 2013 was for the Beckstoffer Georges III vineyard. Perfect weather coupled with an extended hang time allowed us to pick at the optimum time and fashion another amazing Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark ruby purple to the rim, aromas of dark currant, anise and rock laced dark berry fruit combine with alluring mix of dense earth and fruit, cedar and savory notes that flow into a supple mid palate. While well-proportioned and extracted, the tannins are firm but forgiving and allow the complexities to flow effortlessly into a finish that can be described as rich and dense but also light on its feet. Make sure to give this beauty a long decant if you decide to drink it in the next few years or lay it down for 7-10 years to bring out the complexities that come with some bottle age. 170 cases produced.
2013 Ferren ‘Lancel Creek Vineyard’ Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Wine Spectrum 96: Ferren is a winery dedicated to tiny lots of artisanally made single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot noir wines from the far Sonoma Coast of California. Each of the vineyards in the portfolio is a jewel of the true Coast, has been hand picked based on its potential of producing profound, age-worthy wines, and is farmed to the highest standards of sustainability and wine quality.
The 2013 ‘Lancel Creek Vineyard” Chardonnay is farmed by Ulisses Valdez, and is a pale translucent gold color. Aromas of apples, green melons and flinty minerality lead to a rich, yet clean, palate. Flavors of green apples, nutmeg, and citrus fruits are beautifully balanced with wonderful acidity and a long, refreshing finish. Just 60 cases produced!
Winemaker Matt Courtney founded Ferren with old friend David Wherritt after an eight-year apprenticeship with Helen Turley at Marcassin Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. The wines are made using traditional Burgundian methods without fining or filtration, and fermentations are carried out exclusively by native flora that arrive on the grapes from the vineyards.
2013 Domaine Chavy-Chouet ‘Les Folatieres’ Puligny-Montracet 1er Cru, Burgundy
Wine Spectrum 95: The pale gold color of this 2013 Les Folatieres Puligy deceives its powerful aromas. Notes of honey, pineapple, bay leaf and crushed rock lead to vibrant flavors of lemon oil, quince and pomelo. This wine is rich, supple, and generous, with a fresh, beautifully balanced finish. From parcels at the bottom and middle of the hill next to Chevalier-Montrachet planted in rocky, soft clay soils. An exceptional wine from arguably the best of Puligny-Montrachet’s premier crus.
2012 CC Pachyderm ‘Hurst Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Wine Spectrum 94: The 2012 Hurst Vineyard Pinot Noir is a dark salmon color. Aromas of dark fruits and earthy minerality lead to a smooth entry with flavors of black cherries, black tea, rose petal, and red licorice. Great acidity and a vibrant very clean, fresh finish. Aged 15 months in 30% new French oak. Just 200 cases produced. Made by Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, Claypool Cellars is posed to become one of those iconic wineries from the Sonoma Coast.
2013 Banshee Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum 94: The 2013 vintage was like a sister to the previous year. A temperate spring led to a nice healthy set. Copious amounts of sunshine and a long, warm September and October led to optimal ripeness levels with little inclement weather driving the decision making process. The clusters were all very clean and of high integrity. In this vintage we jettisoned many of our blending components into the Mordecai blend and let the Cabernet speak more directly. The lone blending component was a parcel of Cabernet Franc from Howell Mountain that added both aroma and an herbal undercurrent. The resulting wine is like a bridge between the styles of yesterday’s Napa Valley and today. The aroma spectrum is one of dark blackberry, clove and mocha. The flavors are well delineated and comprised of dark cherry, plums, blackberry, sage, mineral and touch of cocoa. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc.
2013 Sandler ‘Keefer Ranch’ Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Wine Spectrum 94: The only vineyard in the world so far that has budded over a specific block of Pinot Noir for Sandler is the Keefer Ranch. After working with Keefer since 2004 at Freeman, I asked Marcy Keefer if I could purchase some fruit for Sandler in 2008. She knew I was a big fan of the clone 23 Pinot at her vineyard, so she asked if I would like to commit to an acre that she would bud from Dijon 777 to the Swiss clone 23, aka Mariafeld. The answer was yes in less than a second.
Sandler’s most consistent wine each year is the Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir. It doesn’t seem to matter what the growing conditions are for the season, the flavors at Keefer Ranch are always spot on perfect. 2013 was another in a string of excellent vintages at Keefer Ranch, dating back to 2009 for Sandler. The crop was the largest we’ve ever seen there, with perfect growing conditions, other than below normal rainfall. In spite of this large crop, the concentration of the fruit was incredible. The 2013 Sandler Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir requires the most aeration time if you’d like to try it soon. It won’t show much in the first few hours after being opened, so a 12 to 24 decanting is probably a good idea. Expect this Keefer to reach its peak in 2016 and last for 10 years plus. About 260 cases produced.
2013 August West Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Wine Spectrum 94: Our 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir comes from August West partner John Peterson’s vineyard as well as the Sierra Mar Vineyard. 2013 was a classic California vintage with little rainfall, plenty of spring, summer and fall sunshine, and it all resulted in an abundant crop of fairly ripe Pinot Noir. The clones that came from the Peterson Vineyard are 667, Pommard, 777 and 115. The lone clone from Sierra Mar is Mariafeld, or clone 23. Half of this clone 23 was fermented with whole cluster fermentation, so the resulting wine is 25% whole cluster. This fairly high percentage of whole cluster does add some tannin to the wine, so expect the 2013 August West SLH PN to take some time to open up. It should be at its best from late 2015 and continue drinking well through at least 2023. 800 cases produced.
2012 Maldonado Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum 94: A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 15% Syrah. Deep, dark red garnet. On the nose, aromatics of black cherries and earthy minerals give way to macerated blueberries. Rich on the palate, with velvety red plums, the wine is bright and richly layered. It finishes with a hint of barrel spice, and lingering medium tannins. 630 cases produced.
Forty-five years ago, the Maldonado Family arrived in Napa, and now, with four decades of grape growing experience, they produce less than 400 cases of several unique wines. With their Los Olivos Chardonnay breaking through 6 years ago, and leaving a memorable impression, they have expanded to release tiny amounts of other wines, both from their own estate in Jameson Canyon, as well as from a few select other vineyards they manage in the cooler micro climates of Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Hugo Maldonado and consulting winemaker, Jean Hoefilger, originally met at Newton, where the Maldonados still manage all of the vineyards.