When you taste 25 different wines in a week, it can be tough to narrow it down to your top wines of the week. I did my best to highlight a few from each tasting.
2010 Tantara ‘Evelyn’ Reserve
Pinot Noir | Santa Maria Valley
Wine Spectrum 95+: ‘Evelyn’s Reserve’ is the flagship Tantara cuvee of select barrels representing the pinnacle of each vintage. Named in memory of Evelyn Waldron, mother of owner Bill Cates, a beautiful, gracious woman whose generosity and faith helped make Tantara Winery a reality. It exhibits those characteristics that make a wine great – balance, suppleness, elegance and mystery. The primary vineyard site is a 2.5 acre subsection of the Bien Nacido Vineyard. Exceptionally aromatic with a richness of fruit supported by ripe tannins, it has density with finesse, and lingering finish. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, using 60% new oak. 50 cases made.
Producing some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on California’s Central Coast, Tantara has long been a Wine Spectrum favorite! Founded in 1997, the winery has grown slowly as new vineyard sites were discovered and added to their portfolio. Today, Tantara offers vineyard designate bottlings from the best Central Coast AVAs, including Pisoni, Gary’s and Dierberg vineyards as well as new sites such as the acclaimed Bentrock Vineyard.
Tantara’s consistent vision of focusing on the best expression of each vineyard results in beautiful wines of prominent flavor. These hard-to-find wines are not to be missed for any California wine lover.
2013 Stolpman ‘Angeli’
Syrah | Ballard Canyon
Wine Spectrum 94+: Winemaker Sashi Moorman does a fantastic job with this, the newest vintage of Stoplman’s Angeli Syrah. Named after the founder’s mother, the Angeli has a beautiful nose that gives of great floral and dark berry notes with a hint of pepper. Blackberry and dark cherry dominate the palate on this gorgeous Syrah. The finish lingers and entices you to pour yourself another glass.
Wine Enthusiast 94: Editors Choice – A signature bottling from the relatively new appellation, this Sashi Moorman wine shows fresh-pressed boysenberry, black raspberry, dried violets and lavender on the zesty nose. There is an extreme amount of vibrancy to the palate, with black and white pepper spicing up the tart elderberry and juniper fruits, with licorice and menthol playing supporting roles.
2012 Raymond ‘Generations’
Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum 94, Wine Spectator 93: Lavishly oaked, exhibiting a strong mix of mocha, espresso and smoke notes. The fruit holds its own, with dense blueberry, blackberry, black licorice, tobacco leaf and savory roasted herb flavors, ending with a long, full, sustained aftertaste. — J.L.
Robert Parker 92: The outstanding 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Generations is a cross-AVA blend from St. Helena, Oakville and East Napa. There are 2,300+ cases of this blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in 60% new French oak, it reveals a dense purple color as well as lots of licorice, blackcurrant, tobacco leaf and crème de cassis characteristics. Opulent, full-bodied, fleshy and succulent, it should drink well for 10-15 years. [Raymond is] One of the historic Napa wineries is being dramatically brought back to life by Frenchman Jean-Charles Boisset. Prior to selling this estate to Boisset, the Raymonds had established an estate in Rutherford that has grown to nearly 300 acres, including parcels in Rutherford and St. Helena. Boisset has been converting all the vineyards to either organic or biodynamic, and the wines reflect a much greater attention to detail.
2014 Stolpman ‘Estate’
Roussanne | Ballard Canyon
Wine Spectrum 94: A voluptuously rich, full bodied white white. The 2014 Roussanne remains bright and lively thanks to relatively high acid. Like our 2014 reds, the Roussanne is exceedingly approachable now or cellar it two to five years for an even more luxuriously rich profile. A creamy mouthfeel with a bouquet of white flower, lemon meringue and sweet cedar. 88% Roussanne, 12% Chardonnay
Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum 94: Plenty of ripe, wild berry and plum aromas and flavors, framed by vanilla, spice, and toasty oak. Lush mid-palate tannins flow into a lengthy finish accented by bright fruit. Aged for 18 months in 35% new American oak. Drink now through 2025. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with small percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Perhaps the best Napa Valley Cabernet that Honig has produced!
2013 Sonoma-Loeb ‘Envoy’
Chardonnay | Carneros
Wine Spectrum 94: Voluptuous, concentrated and complex, this alluring wine offers aromas of guava, orange peel, nectarine, melted butter and lemon curd, with hints of sweet oak and baking spices underscoring the fruit. On the palate, layers of apricot, melon and quince are accompanied by notes of crème fraîche, piecrust and hazelnut. While the flavors are rich and opulent, this vibrant wine’s cool-climate roots have contributed to its lovely poise, balance and long, intense finish.
Made by Phillip Corallo-Titus, ‘Envoy’ is a limited-production bottling made using grapes from the very best vineyard blocks of the acclaimed Sangiacomo Vineyard in the Sonoma-Carneros region. This wine focuses on the Wente, Hyde and Robert Young selections of Chardonnay. These low-yielding selections have a track record of producing some of the best Chardonnays in California. They deliver a rich and layered expression of Chardonnay, with intense tropical fruit and spice character. In the true Burgundian style, the wine was barrel fermented and underwent malolactic fermentation as it aged for eight months on the lees.