One word, EPIC.

That is the only word I can think of to describe this weeks of tasting. EPIC.

It started with a BANG as we tasted a lineup featuring Cardinale and Lokoya. WOW. What a great example of how a GREAT winemaker can make GREAT wine in vintages that many have considered challenging.

Tuesday we tasted a GORGEOUS lineup from one of our FAVORITE producers, Stolpman. They constantly craft OUT OF THIS WORLD Syrah and Roussanne from the Ballard Canyon. If you haven’t enjoyed one of their wines yet, CALL US. You will not regret it.

Wednesday we re-visited several of our favorite wines to re-familiarize us with them before the HOLIDAYS. We do a lot of gift packages for our clients (both personal and business) and we like to be on top of how the wines that we RECOMMEND are tasting before we put our stamp of APPROVAL on them.

Thursday we spent the afternoon enjoying the breathtaking wines of Burgundy. If you know and LOVE Burgundy then you know what I am talking about. If you aren’t familiar with Burgundy yet, YOU NEED TO BE. These wines are everything that is GREAT about wine.

Be sure to scroll down to check out all of this weeks top wines. It’s a long list, but well worth it.


“I was super-impressed with the four Cabernets I tasted from Lokoya and winemaker Chris Carpenter. Lokoya focuses on mountain sites, and there was no better place to be in 2011. Each of these wine is pure, distinctive and full of personality.” ~ Antonio Galloni

“Lokoya has long been one of the bright shining stars …. The fact that all four of their 2011 Cabernets were among the best wines I tasted in this vintage reflects many things, among them, (1) the exceptional commitment to quality, (2) the brilliance of the vineyards and winemaker Christopher Carpenter, (3) these mountain vineyards were less affected by the challenging weather conditions of rain and fog in early and mid-October, and (4) the winemaking team had the patience to wait for perfect ripeness before harvesting these limited production cuvees.” ~ Robert Parker

2011 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder

Robert Parker 98, Wine Spectrum 96: Flirting with perfection, which is almost unheard of in this vintage, is the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder. Along with Betty O-Shaughnessey, Lokoya appears to have produced one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons made from this underrated and diverse terroir. Seamlessly constructed, this opaque purple-colored 2011 offers up aromas of pen ink, acacia flowers, forest floor, blueberries, blackberries and cassis intermixed with hints of espresso, chocolate and subtle earthy notes. Wonderfully ripe and voluptuously textured, this beautiful, full-bodied wine should continue to drink well for another 15-20 years.

2011 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain

Antonio Galloni 96+, Wine Spectrum 96: The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain dazzles from start to finish. Iron, graphite, smoke, ash, crushed rocks, dark inky fruit, pencil shavings and tobacco emerge from a tightly-wound yet nuanced Cabernet Sauvignon loaded with character. The 2011 isn’t an overt wine, rather it is a Cabernet Sauvignon that impresses with its persistence, energy and sheer class. Chris Carpenters makes the Diamond Mountain Cabernet from a parcel of vines planted on AXR rootstock that is slowly succumbing to phylloxera.

2011 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Antonio Galloni 96, Wine Spectrum 95+: The 2011 Cardinale is another of the many exceptional wines I tasted with Chris Carpenter this year. The 2011 is beautiful and exceptionally polished, but at the same time, the flavors are beautifully defined, crystalline in their beauty and flat-out striking. In this vintage, Cardinale is all about finesse and persistence, with less volume than some previous versions, but a touch more aromatic refinement. Today the 2011 is a bit compact, but I expect it to gain texture with more time in bottle. The blend is 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot from vineyards on Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain, the St. Helena bench and a small parcel in Yountville adjacent to Blankiet.


2011 Stolpman ‘Hilltops Estate’ Syrah Santa Ynez Valley

Stephen Tanzer 94, Wine Spectrum 94+: Ripe Plum, sangre-iron, with hints of oak; this wine reminds me that I am a carnivore.  Despite being rich and lavish, there is energy in this wine that makes me want to tear into some flesh.   This wine is going to be a big hit.  Forget being a carnivore, this wine makes me happy to be alive.  Excitement bursts through the dense core and beams out, almost with revelatory radiance.

2012 Stolpman ‘La Croce’ Red Blend Ballard Canyon

Wine Spectrum 94+ For such a massive wine, the nose gives off a whimsical red berry fruit aroma atop a core of new leather and lush forest floor.  As the young, primary wine opens, attractive cocoa appears and the wine becomes more inviting. In the mouth, pulsating red fruit on top of Right Bank earthiness wows the unindoctrinated – this is serious wine.  The red fruit seems alive, as if still hanging on the vine.  Well integrated with soft tannin bonded to a long fruit finish, and just when the wine seems over, one more intense pop of fruit resurges. Tasting library vintages of La Croce, I note an anise component that I only pick up in top notch Bordeaux-varietal wines.  This dark bordelaise character signifies the uniqueness of this co-fermented field blend. 50% Syrah, 50% Sangiovese.


Remoissenet Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Burgundy

Wine Spectrum 96: With aromas of vanilla, wintergreen and freshly grown strawberries, this might be the finest Clos de la Roche we have tasted from this vintage. Bright red berry fruits on the palate intermingle with hints of earthiness and mushrooms. Beautifully nuanced oak and soft, supple tannins give way to a long, mouth watering finish. This is a young wine that, although very expressive upon release, will surely have more to show as it gracefully ages. Just stunning!

2012 Domaine Arlaud Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Burgundy

Wine Spectrum 95, Wine Advocate 94-96: The 2012 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru comes from located on the Mazoyeres side toward Latricieres by the “Route de Grand Cru”. It has a rounded nose that envelops the senses: strawberry and mulberry at first, flint and smoke following after. The palate is very fine on the entry, exuding weightless intensity with immense precision. Apart from Denis Bachelet, this is probably one of the finest examples that I have encountered.

NV Egly Ouriet ‘Les Crayeres’ Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, Champagne

Wine Spectrum 95+, Antonio Galloni 95: This single-vineyard, 100% Pinot Noir Champagne from the noblest of terroirs in Ambonnay hails from some of Egly’s oldest vines (planted in 1947). “Les Crayeres” means chalk, and it’s what this incredible vineyard has in spades—with just a few inches of top soil, at its heart “Crayeres” is pure, solid chalk, which gives this peerless Champagne its definition and fathomless complexity.  Egly says that “Crayeres” is the essence of what Champagne used to be, before Chardonnay was involved—to savor this wine is to experience Champagne history. 100% fermented in barrel; not filtered or fined. The nose is tantalizingly complex, with mixed notes of jelled red fruits, Mirabelle plums, pepper and chalk dust.  Incredibly vinous and long, the mouth captures a bit of Puligny white Burgundy in its precision and peppery power; delicate vanilla and honey round it out.


2008 Stormy Weather Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum 96, Antonio Galloni 94: Woodbridge did a great job with the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, his best effort to date. Not a wine for the timid, the 2008 explodes from the glass with a rush of dark fruit, chocolate, mocha and sweet spices. Unapologetically ripe, full-bodied and opulent, the 2008 boasts stunning depth and plenty of intrigue. The equally huge, seamless finish is striking in its beauty and sheer personality. There is an awful lot to like here. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2023.”

Stormy Weather is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made from low yield hillside fruit from Sugarloaf Mountain and Howell Mountain. Fermentation was done partially in stainless steel and partially in French oak puncheons. Aged 2 years in 100% new French oak. Bottle aged 2+ years. This wine is small production and of uncompromising quality.

2009 Noemi Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum  95+: Silky smooth texture with flavors of blackberry, plum, toffee and a hint of sweet tobacco. The tannin structure and balance are seamless and promise plenty of age-worthiness. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 20 months in French oak. About 800 cases produced. Made by Rolando Hererra.

2006 Parador ‘Reserva’ Red Blend, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum  95+: Reserva cuvèes are barrel-selected and aged at least an additional year in barrel. The total barrel aging is minimum 3 years prior to bottling. It is then aged in bottle, totaling a minimum of 8 years of aging from the time of harvest. The 2006 Reserva is a blend of 45% Tempranillo and 55% Cabernet Sauvignon. This Reserva displays beautiful floral aromas of rose petals and candied fruit on the nose, while the palate shows lean red fruits, earth and a touch of aged leathery spice, white pepper and citrus orange peel. Drinking well now, but can be laid down for another 5-10 years. 128 cases produced.

2011 Coho ‘Michael Black Vineyard’ Merlot, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum 95: Dusty oak with aromas of blackberry pie and black raspberry fruit interplays with cocoa and vanilla to lead to a warm, cedary spice bouquet. In the mouth, rich black fruit is the theme, with layers of fruit complexity and silky tannins to give an incredibly lush and succulent texture on the palate. The fruity finish inspires another sip…, and another. This unique wine gives the overall impression of suppleness and intense fruit and lingering polished flavors. 100% Merlot.

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