The Kings of California Winemaking Shine this Week.

I know you may get sick of hearing this from us, but…Wow! What a phenomenal week of tastings. This week saw wines from:

  • Vineyard Manager great Jim Barbour (Hundred Acre, Grace Family, Revana, Harbison Estate, The Vineyardist, Gandona Estate, DR Stephens, Blankiet, Pride, and Checkerboard)
  • Winemaker Phillipe Melka (Dana Estates, Hundred Acre, Lail, Vineyard 29, Bryant Family, Dalla Valle, Quintessa)
  • Winemaker Andy Erickson (Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Spottwood)
  • Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown (Schrader, Maybach, Rivers-Marie)
  • Winemaker Celia Welch (Corra, Bucella, Staglin, Scarecrow, Keever)
  • Winemaker Julien Fayard (Lafite Rothschild, Melka Consulting, Le Pich, Purlieu)
  • Winemaker Benoit Touquette (Realm, Hartwell & Teeter Totter)
  • Winemaker Aaron Pott (Trained under Michel Rolland and John Kongsgaard at Newton, and former winemaker for Chateau Troplong Mondot and Chateau La Tour Figeac in Bordeaux, and Quintessa in Napa Valley)
  • And so much more!!!

Here are 10 of our favorites from the week

2013 Barbour ‘Estate’ Vineyards

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley

B437Wine Spectrum 97+: 2013 Barbour Cabernet Sauvignon displays intense and concentrated aromas resulting from an outstanding vintage for this dry-farmed and meticulously maintained vineyard. Blue and purple-toned fruits dominate the nose with just a touch of sweet sage and dark tobacco providing the foundation for more lifted notes. Starting with the 2009 vintage, Celia Welch has handmade this wine. 

Harvested by hand on September 16 and 20, 2013, this wine hails from Jim Barbour’s estate vineyard on the western benchlands of St. Helena. Cluster selection both in the vineyard and winery was exacting. The fruit was destemmed and sorted, then fermented on its skins for approximately three weeks prior to gently pressing. Aged in French Oak barrels for 22 months, the wine shows the body, breadth of palate, and clarity of fruit expression at finish to ensure age-worthiness, yet an elegant, congenial tannin structure to enjoy at release. 340 cases produced

Jim Barbour has become famous for his impeccably managed vineyards throughout the Napa Valley, including Hundred Acre, Grace Family, Revana, Harbison Estate, The Vineyardist, Gandona Estate, DR Stephens, Blankiet, Pride, and Checkerboard to name a few. He planted is own vineyard in 1992 southwest of St. Helena, using the Clone 7 bud wood from Grace Family Vineyards.

2013 Matthew Wallace

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley

imgresWine Spectrum 97:  The 2013 vintage of Matthew Wallace is handcrafted by winemaker Julien Fayard (Lafite Rothschild, Melka Consulting, Le Pich, Purlieu…..) from grapes grown in two vineyards located in Stags Leap District and on Howell Mountain by Matt Hardin (of Barbour Vineyards.)  The blend is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, classically-styled and fermented in small lots with the intent to choose only those that reflect the best of their site and vintage.

Matthew Wallace Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is grown in the coveted Stag’s Leap District accompanied by grapes from Howell Mountain. In Stags Leap, we isolated the steepest part of the hillside vineyard and fermented it separately in small batches. The wine is rich and dense with a beautiful tannin structure coming from the steep terrain. This West-facing slope brings dark, black fruits which are elegantly ripe and combined with lively spice notes from the barrel. The mouth is balanced with minerality and soil flavors typical of Stag’s Leap. The wine benefits from decanting in its youth. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

2013 Perfect Season

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Knights Valley  |  Order Online

Perfect Season P2920Wine Spectrum 97: The 2013 vintage of Perfect Season Cabernet Sauvignon was handcrafted by winemaker Philippe Melka from grapes farmed by viticulturist Jim Barbour.  In its youth, it benefits from 3 hours of decanting.

Robert Parker 95: The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bidwell Creek Vineyard is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot aged 18 months in 75% new French oak.  It’s a beauty, with lots of blackberry and cassis fruit, licorice, incense and camphor. It is ripe, full-bodied, opulent and already showing exceptionally well.

2008 André Robert ‘Blanc des Blanc’, Grand Cru

Champagne  |  Le Mesnil  |  Available Online

Andre Robert Champagne Le Mesnil 2008 Wine Spectrum 96: The wine shows a complex range of aromas from white flower to fresh fruit. The wine is long and refreshing in the mouth, balanced with underlying minerality. A vintage with a great ageing potential. Very limited availability in the U.S.

A stunning Grand Cru GROWER CHAMPAGNE located in the revered hill slopes of Mesnil sur Oger, the Robert Champagne Estate is above all a family business. The Robert family has been cultivating vines for several generations. Henri Robert (1881-1948) began working on vineyards after the 1st World War when vines were planted “en foule”. In the 1930s he established the first group of ‘growers’ to share equipment needed for pressing and wine-making.  At the start of the second World War, André Robert (born in 1925) began to work in the vineyard with the use of a horse.  In 1960 he bought the Estate (dating back to the 19th century) as it is today with its amazing chalk-stone cellars for ageing.  He began to sell his own bottled champagne in 1962. Bathed in the world of champagne throughout his childhood, Bertrand Robert took over the estate in 1961, with his wife Colette joining him in 1990.  Bertrand’s daughter, Claire joined her father in 2013 and now works beside him in the vineyards and cellar.  These are absolutely stunning champagne offerings …. pure and all Grand Cru.

2013 Post Parade

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley

13PPCSX3-1056Wine Spectrum 96: 2013 encapsulated all the good points of the previous growing season and then took it up a notch. The transition from budbreak to bloom to veraison to harvest was extremely well spaced out.  Temperatures stayed mild, with only one heat spike above 100 degrees in late June, and there was zero rain until November once all the fruit had been brought into the winery.  There’s always an element of mystery when it comes to how a wine will turn out in the end, but right from the beginning, the 2013 vintage wines showed so well.  Undoubtedly the best vintage since 2007, this wine resonates with light airy aromatic notes, a complex and intricate fruit core, mouth coating concentration and a finish that lingers and leaves you wanting more before it’s gone away. Sourced from the Red Head Vineyard in Soda Canyon & the Tench Vineyard in Oakville, adjacent to Screaming Eagle.

2013 Familiar Air

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

Familiar Air Cabernet 2013Wine Spectrum 95+:  The inaugural release of this new label, a collaboration between Benoit Touquette (of Realm, Hartwell & Teeter Totter) and Kimberly Jones.  This deep fully extracted Cabernet bursts from the glass with blackberries and cassis dominating the palate with a hint of chocolate. Adding 16% Cab Franc and 4% Petit Verdot gives this Cabernet Sauvignon fantastic structure. The fruit comes from many of the best vineyards in Oakville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. A wonderfully integrated wine that coats the palate.  Only 168 cases made.


2013 QTR (Quality Time Remaining)

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Order Online

11QTRLabelWine Spectrum 95+:  QTR (Quality Time Remaining) is a small, 400 case production of Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard located at the base of Howell Mountain. This is just the third vintage (second commercial release) crafted by the well-known Phillipe Melka, with Jim Barbour at the vineyard helm. The 2013 vintage offers sweet floral aromas and approachable tannins that speak to the lower elevation of Howell Mountain. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  375 cases produced.



2012 Wren Hop ‘Daughters of Earth’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast

page1image11576Wine Spectrum 95:  Aromatics of fresh earth, rich strawberry and floral oil. The palate shows stewed black cherry, freshly crushed raspberry, toasted spice, licorice and herbal notes along with traces of blood orange. Juicy acidity, silky tannin and a Jimi Hendrix crescendo style reverb finish. The sibling to our 2009 Siren’s Lure Pinot Noir, this wine will once again demand the spotlight. Tame with 4-hour braised short ribs topped with fennel-orange gremolara. 

Goldrock Ridge is situated in the northwest corner of Sonoma County, only a few miles from the cold Pacific Ocean in what is often referred to as the “True” Sonoma Coast AVA. The vineyard is heavily influenced by the maritime climate and is on the extreme edge of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay viticulture. Elevation reaches 600’ above sea level. 208 cases produced.

2012 Janzen ‘Beckstoffer To Kalon’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley

Janzen Cab To KalonWine Spectrum 94+, Robert Parker 95: I thought the Jenzen Cabernet Sauvignons showed brilliantly. The 2012 Janzen Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has a dense purple color followed by notes of creosote, burning embers, wood spice, forest floor, blackberry and cassis. It is full-bodied with great intensity and a long, rich, concentrated finish.



2014 Lloyd Cellars

Chardonnay  |  Carneros  |  Available Online

2014-ChardonnayWine Spectrum 94+: Lloyd Chardonnay is an unabashed California Chardonnay! Sourced from the Home and Green Acres Blocks from Sangiacomo Vineyard, as well as a small amount fruit from the Truchard Vineyard, this is a fantastic expression of California Chardonnay.  Picked at the peak of ripeness, this Chardonnay is then barrel fermented and left on the lees until we get ready to bottle. Flavors of tropical fruits, pear and apple are supported by rich notes of vanillin, leading into a powerful and succulent finish.

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