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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hansen/Grunner Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009

My old friend Gary Grunner has been in the wine business for a long time, and for whatever reason we lost touch over the past year… so I wasn't at all surprised when I ran into him recently and he gave me a bottle of his own label, the Hansen/Grunner Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. He always said he wanted to produce his own wine, but knowing Gary, he needed all his ducks in a row first. The wait was worth it. He and his partner Jeff Hansen have created a winner here.

Dark lush fruit and ripe strawberry on the nose, showing a mature yet fresh profile, while on the palate hints of chocolate, jammy dark cherry and spice. Also expressive waves of minerality, and overall crisp acidity and pretty, soft tannins. This is an unbelievable deal for under $20.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bargetto Winery

Earlier this month while in Monterey, California I had the pleasure of visiting the Bargetto Winery Tasting Room, right on Cannery Row. Billy Norton was my excellent wine guide and took me through the following 5 wines, 1 white and 4 reds.

Bargetto Viento Vineyard Monterey County Gewerztraminer 2011
Clear straw colors the glass, aromas of apricot, ripe grapefruit, mango and lychee, while the palate is an intense blend of green apple and citrus. Crisp acidity and long thoughtful finish.  $15

Bargetto Monterey County Sangiovese 2012
Aromas of spice, cinnamon, potpourri, vanilla and pine, flavors of dark fruit, licorice, cherries, black pepper and earthy finish.

Bargetto Tuxedo Red 2011
A really pretty blend of Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and Refosco, with additional contributions from their signature La Vita blend of Sirah, Zinfandel and Merlot. Named after Tuxedo, the Winery's mascot cat, this blend is aged in new & neutral French, American and Hungarian oak for 18-36 months. Aromas of violets, rosewater and barnyard, on the palate cassis, blue fruits and leather, beautiful bright acidity and soft tannins. Enjoyed this immensely, great as an everyday wine. This was one of my favorite bottles and a bargain at $18.

Bargetto Monterey County Petit Sirah 2012
Aged in 30% new and 70% neutral American and French oak for 24 months. Dark fruits, cherries, chocolate covered raisins, toasted oak. Nice balance of chewy tannins and acidity. $22

Bargetto Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Sourced from Peter Martin Ray vineyard, aged in oak for 18 months. Sweet ripe cherries, red and black ripe fruits, blackberry contrasting with a slight vegetal hint of red bell pepper and tobacco. Full bodied, complex and well balanced. $48

Friday, March 14, 2014

Claude Reaut Chateau Bujeau La Grave Bordeaux 2010

From the Bordeaux region of France this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc displays a deep ruby color in the glass, with aromas of violet and dried herbs, set against flavors of cherry, cola, cassis, plums and blueberry. Nicely structured, and good fruit intensity while tannins were soft and well balanced. Sampled this by the glass at Friend of a Farmer in NYC.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery

The Wine Cave

You are immediately assaulted by beautiful aromas as soon as the massive wine cave doors swing open. Completed in 2012, not more than six wine caves can be found in all of Carmel Valley. Nick Elliot (Guest Services/Manager/Owner) and Hunter Lowder (Marketing Manager/Owner) are partners in this family business and when they're not giving the grand tour, both can be found knee deep in grapes (they recently bottled their whites). The winery is sustainable, recently certified organic, maintaining a low carbon footprint, and Hunter and Nick both expressed their dedication to the stewardship of the land. They're also investigating the possibility of using solar energy.

From the Barrel

The first tasting was the 2013 Hunter's Cuvee, a high end Burgundian clone (115) from Dijon region and influenced by the European flavor profile. A very good vintage, aged in half new and half neutral barrels, aromas of ripe berries and fruit forward but at the same time dry with hints of dried herbs and leather.

The second barrel sampled was an interesting experiment, the Late Harvest Pinot Noir Port (working title Sueno), which was a cross section of grapes from favorite vineyards that the partners each picked from, fortified with Cognac. Dark and syrupy, black fruits, caramelized dates, nuts and dark chocolate.


All pressing, aging, bottling, etc is done in the cave. Entire bunches of white grapes are pressed gently and fermented in stainless steel tanks to give the wines a more astringent "pop". The red Pinot Noir grapes are destemmed for softness, put into hoppers and pumped into open top stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The Pinot Noirs are generally more old world style, with less fresh fruits and more oak, earth, mushroom and barnyard.


All French oak from producer Francois Freres "Mercurey" is used for 2 years for maximum affect before being switched over to a neutral phase duty.

Three Bottles

Holman Ranch Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Gris 2012
Fresh acidity, floral, green pepper, citrus and honey.

Holman Ranch Vineyards Estate Grown Chardonnay 2011
Dry, oaked, grass, floral blossom, melon and pear, more like a Sauvignon Blanc style.

Holman Ranch Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2010
Hearty, savory, dry with medium acidity, earthy, mild strawberry, cherry, old world style.

Holman Ranch is truly beautiful, but there's so much more... a perfect place for a wedding, a retreat away from everyday life, an equestrian center, even corporate events. There's a pool, spa, wine tastings, archery, golf, skeet shooting, olive groves, BBQs... and more.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beringer Estate Selections Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Ripe vibrant aromas of concentrated cherries with black fruits and cola, eucalyptus and menthol. Smooth leathery tannins and a juicy acidity weave though the palate of a heavy fruit statement with influences of vanilla, dried herbs, cocoa and cafe latte. Super long finish, SRP about $32.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gran Selezione!!!!

Chianti Classico DOCG, at Tuscany's epicenter, has added a new upper tier to its line up! Above and beyond the Annata (year's vintage) and Riserva, now comes Gran Selezione. The Chianti Classico Wine Consortium has worked for several years to add a new type of wine to the top of the denomination's quality pyramid. And these wines will be under strict guidelines: from using a winery's own best grapes, in its finest vineyards, to a minimum aging of 30 months and additional time in bottle.

Recently premiered in Florence, the Consorzio will launch Gran Selezione here in the US in May/June of 2014.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vinkara Kalecik Karasi 2011 Turkey

Kalecik is a small village in Central Anatolia Turkey, where Kalecik Karasi grapes (pronounced Kah-le-djic Kah-ra-ser) are used to produce this Pinot Noir like red wine. Ruby red colors in the glass, while vibrant floral and ripe fruity aromas appear with raspberry, vanilla and hints of sour cherries.  Dry on the palate but the ripeness of strawberries, waves of rosewater and strangely enough hints of banana (usually a white wine trait), make this a really interesting flavor profile. Soft tannins are  set against a fresh acidity and nice lingering finish. My first Turkish wine, I found it lively and fresh with a pleasant balance. SRP $15.