Posts in California
Mi Sueño 2016 Chardonnay Los Carneros – A Different Dream or Vision?

Mi Sueño means “my dream” and reflects on the ambitions of founders/owners Rolando and Lorena Herrera. It was a Carneros Chardonnay that they first made together, marking the start of their Napa Valley adventure.

My proposed question in the title of a different dream or vision comes only from tasting recently two consecutive vintages of the Los Carneros Chardonnay. I was surprised but very interested in the evident differences.

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FEL: Tasting Firsts 

As an admirer of FEL for many years, I was curious to see what these different vineyards had to say. I must say that I was impressed by the differences in their voices! The two Pinot Noirs offer a surprising contrast of weight, texture and fruit aromas given how small Anderson Valley is – it’s barely longer than the island of Manhattan – and how relatively closely these vineyards sit!  

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The Gamble of Generations: Investing in a Napa Valley Vineyard & Winery

The French have a saying that it takes three generations to see the cycle of a family business: one to build it, one to grow it then one to destroy it. I don’t know what the rest of the Gamble family farming business looks like today, but I can say that the “Gamble” of generations has paid off on the wine front. It seems Tom has started a new cycle, without finishing the first one!

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385 Notes & 501 Scores on Sonoma Pinot Noir & Chardonnay

These Pinot Noir and Chardonnay tastings were primarily conducted in Sonoma over the course of two visits (one for ten days, one for three days). My ten-day visit was thorough, covering eight hundred and four miles (1,294 km) and 39 winery appointments.

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Faust 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon: Worth a Pact with Mephistopheles

Faust 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: This is quintessential Napa Cabernet – in taste and in sourcing. It has a tantalizing succulence corralled by vivacious structure. The tannins are hedonistically velvety and the refreshment is almost electric – perfect for harnessing the richness of the densely textured and generously full-bodied palate.

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Joel Gott: 20 Years Under $20

This was Joel Gott’s 20th vintage, after having started his business when he saw the demand for wines under $20 back in 1996. This is a blend not only of grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc), but also of regions (Lake County, Monterey and Lodi) with the aim of making a wine of harmony.

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Harmony, Grace & Thoughtfulness - Man & Bottle

I often think can find the winemaker in the wine, and yet again, that is the case with David Ramey’s 2016 Claret. On paper this bottling looks like a precise, acrobatic exercise in blending…. Yet from the first to the last drop, this fusion radiates harmony, grace and thoughtfulness, just like the man behind the juice. 

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A New Set of Gloria Ferrer Bubblies for the Holidays

Gloria Ferrer is one Sonoma’s most consistent producers of finessed bubbles. That’s not just due to its 35-plus years in California and steady application of know-how and TLC to its 340 acres of estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Ferrer family has been growing grapes in Catalonia for over 600 years and launched its first Cava under the Freixenet label in 1914!

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The Latest Releases of FEL and Cliff Lede

One of the most impressive attributes of the FEL wines is their consistency at a high quality level. The Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay are especially notable. I always appreciate the FEL wines’ terrific balance and clearly defined varietal character. Year over year, I am entirely confident of what I will get in a bottle of wine from FEL. So, I was excited to taste the Pinot Gris for the first time.

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A Surprise Arrival from Rodney Strong Vineyards

I was surprised and delighted to see a set of wines from Rodney Strong arrive the other day. I used to buy this family-owned winery’s juice in considerable volumes as the National Wine Director of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, and I have always felt the wines represented good value for the money.

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Joseph Wagner’s New Projects: Böen and Elouan

Joseph Wagner grew up in a Napa Valley family legend in-the-making, Caymus Vineyards. In establishing his own brands, he has impressively translated his understanding of “what the consumer wants” into a series of “must haves” that have largely been based on Pinot Noir rather than Caymus’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Staking out on his own, Joseph previously created the much-loved Belle Glos Pinot Noir line-up as well as Meiomi, the latter now under the ownership of Constellation Brands.)

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sidebar: David Ramey Navigates a New Course

David Ramey launched sidebar Cellars in 2014 to push boundaries. He and the next generation of Rameys, Claire and Alan, are exploring new grape varieties and wine styles. They are making not only Sauvignon Blanc but also Zinfandel, rosé and…Kerner! From the taste of things, sidebar will be much more than its diminuitive name suggests.

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