2008 Gina Gallo Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Back to my roots in CA with the 2008 Gina Gallo Napa Cabernet Sauvignon  with round 5 of the speed dating tasting. This retails for $40, a very reasonable price point for a Napa Valley Cab. It also has 7% Petite Verdot blended in. Small production at only 110 cases. On the nose I’m getting vanilla bean, bright black fruits with plums, cherries, and blackberries. In the mouth I’m finding it to be very juicy with nice blackberry and earth and good tannins on the finish, suggesting it could age for quite some time.

Bring me some Stilton and a cigar.


2009 Paraduxx Z Blend Red Wine

In another exciting round of speed dating with wine, we have the 2009 Paraduxx Z Blend Red Wine. It’s a red blend from Napa made of Zin, Cab Sauv, and a touch of Merlot. Very aromatic and almost floral on the nose with spice, pepper and blackberry. In the mouth it’s spicy with more black fruit, black plum, and black cherry, pepper and tannins on the finish.

I’d serve this with BBQ pork ribs.  Also, this winery has a pretty interesting 2009 Zinfandel that was cofermented with Viognier that I tried earlier today.

Fanning the Titus Frost

On our last trip to Napa we encountered a classic piece of agriculture technology at Titus vineyards – a 50+ year old frost fan, claimed to be the oldest in the county.  The giant frost fans that tower over the occasional vineyard in the region are mostly used in the spring to prevent frost from destroy budding vines.  More popular in the mid-20th century, the large fans are relatively rarer these days.

These older diesel fans have at times created controversy, largely on account of the amount of noise they can produce. Typical noise is 70 to 80 decibels, but some have been reported at “an ear-splitting 97 decibels,” described as sounding like being in an air raid.

The Titus fan brooded silently for a while we enjoyed our morning sitting at a picnic table tasting Titus’ wines, which were excellent, before roaring to life and settling into a slow and steady purr.

Cubed Again

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Dcubed Cellars.

A couple weeks ago I told you about my first Zin from DCubed Cellars. I also told you a bit about the winery and the man behind it. I’m here now to confirm my initial suspicion: DCubed Cellars gets Zin. Just lovely, well thought through, balanced Zins seem to be emerging from this winery.  The 2008 DCubed Napa Valley Zinfandel retails for $27, has a real cork closure, and clocks in at 14.2% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Generally, when my first note for the palate is “delish” you know you have a good thing going on.

2.) When my second note is “yum” you are certainly in for a treat.

3.) Give Napa Valley Zin a chance! I fell in love with Zin in the Dry Creek Valley, but Napa has great Zins to offer as well.

4.) DCubed Cellars has an awesome lineup and it is well worth your time to check them out.

On the nose I got spice, blackberry, black cherry, cream, herbs, sage, mint, black currant, earth, sage, and a little funk that I’d like to call cigar-y.  In the mouth I found black cherry, tart berries, tart fresh fruit, good acid, spice, chocolate, espresso, and vanilla. Overall I found the fruit to be juicy and fresh.



A Trip to the Cornerstone

Cornerstone Cellars, that is! The other part of our scheduled day with Thea in Napa was of course to visit our old friend Craig at Cornerstone Cellars. I visited Cornerstone Cellars shortly after they first opened their tasting room in Yountville, but Matt had never been there before. Thea and I had to remedy that! Several things have changed since my last visit, among them, the tasting room is no longer under construction and if you wander about a block down from the tasting room, you find a demonstration vineyard row planted by Cornerstone Cellars just hanging out on the side of the sidewalk in Yountville!

We tasted through everything Cornerstone had available at the time, though the week after our visit they were bottling all the 2010s!

2010 Sauvignon Blanc: grassy, lemon, tart, lemon pith, tropical notes, acidity, lemon grass, peach.

2009 Stepping Stone Cabernet Franc: black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, herbs, mineral streak, nice lean fruit, good acidity, peppery, slight hint of extremely dark chocolate.

2009 Stepping Stone Cabernet Sauvignon: black currants, black fruit, spice, pepper, black cherry, black raspberry, tannins on the finish.

2009 Stepping Stone Syrah: very peppery, black plum, black fruit, charred meat, bacon fat, meat, pepper, spice.

2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: big fruit, raisins, big, bold, jam, dark fruit, in your face.

2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: herbs, spice, lavender, dark chocolate, anise, nice secondary notes, black cherry, chocolate milk, juicy.

2009 The Cornerstone: (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend) spice, pepper, chocolate, espresso, herbs, cardamom, nice acidity, cherry, blackberry, black raspberry.

2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: perfumey, violets, spice, pepper, tight, red fruit, raspberry, good acidity, deeper fruit on the palate, fresh spun caramel, strawberry, orange zest, tons of potential in this wine.

I love visiting with Craig. He’s a really great guy. If you haven’t had a chance to meet him, be sure to stop by the Cornerstone Cellars tasting room. They also have a fantastic line up of wine. My top three were the 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and the 2009 The Cornerstone. Though it was hard to pick my favorites!

Getting Cubed

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

I connected with DCubed Cellars quite some time ago on Twitter. To be honest, I didn’t know that much about them until recently, but I’m totally hooked after reading the materials they sent with the wine. DCubed is owned and operated by Duane D. Dappen (get it?), who comes to his own project via a storied history as a wine maker for many esteemed Napa Estates including Grgich Hills and Frank Family.  DCubed produces mostly Zinfandel, but also some Petite Sirah (swoon) and Primitivo. You can taste and purchase the wines at Vintner’s Collective in Napa. First up for tasting for me was the 2008 DCubed Cellars Korte Ranch Napa Valley Zinfandel which has a real cork closure, retails for $32, and clocks in at 15.2% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Whenever I have a Napa Valley Zinfandel I’m reminded again why I should drink more of them. The DCubed Korte Ranch is no exception.

2.) Don’t worry about the 15.2% alcohol content. You won’t even notice it, the wine is so well made. Wait, maybe you should worry because you would think it was much lower!

3.) BBQ season is here. This wine was made for BBQ.

4.) The Korte Ranch is drinking great now, but could easily take a couple years in your cellar as well

On the nose I got black fruit, bramble, dark berries, cedar, chocolate, spice, herbs, pepper, black cherry. I found the nose to be very perfumey and almost a little flowery. In the mouth I found black cherry, blackberry, raspberry, espresso, dark chocolate, and spice. The wine has great acidity and good tannins on the finish. The fruit is tart and fresh, with just hints of red fruit.

A Carneros Delight

A few weeks ago I took part in many Taste Live events surrounding the Napa Valley Film Fest.  Over the course of 4 days I tasted a ton of great wines from Napa helping to celebrate the Film Fest from afar.  I’ll always take a good excuse to drink in the middle of the day! One of my favorite wines from the event was the 2009 Saintsbury Carneros Lee Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The 2009 is not yet released, but will retail for $45, clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and has a real cork closure. I took this with me to our weekly neighborhood BBQ and it was a huge hit there as well.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I couldn’t ask for a better wine to drink mid-day on a Saturday. Or with my neighbor’s delicious seasoned pork on the bbq.

2.) Also consider this for your Christmas dinner celebration. Especially if you are serving a pork loin.

3.) The Pinot had all the herby, mushroom-y, and earthiness with bright red fruits that I love about Pinot.

4.) My neighbors adore when I have live tasting events, they totally benefit!

On the nose I found dried cherries, raspberries, herbs, spice, mushroom, and earth. This was a wine I definitely went back to after the tasting concluded because I really wanted to savor the aroma. The format of a TasteLive event doesn’t leave a lot of time for savoring, so a mid-day event is actually perfect for me, since it doesn’t leave me ending the event at 10 and looking desperately toward bed. In the mouth I got dried cherry, raspberry, herbs, earth, and pepper. The wine had great acidity and drank beautifully on its own and with food.

Sitting in the Corner

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars

We actually got some snow the other day/night in VA. In October.  That is pretty much unheard of for this area of the country.  The snow turned my thoughts to the big red wines that have been patiently waiting in my cellar all summer for me to drink them. I decided it was the perfect time to crack open the 2007 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $60.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It’s still a baby. But some time the decanter cures that easily.

2.) If you’re thinking about serving something along the lines of beef tenderloin for any of your holiday meals, this is the wine for you.

3.) Cornerstone Cabs have been among my favorites since I first tasted them…many moons ago now!

4.) If big, black fruit and hints of pepper are what you look for in a Cab, you will love this wine.

On the nose I got berries, chocolate, earth, pepper, herbs, and black cherry. In the mouth I found more black cherry, blackberry, chocolate, blueberry, and anise.  The wine was quite tight at first, with tannins to spare. I ran it through my Soiree which definitely helped open it up, but I think a few hours in the decanter before serving would really do the trick for this wine. I served it with NY Strip steaks on the grill, and as always, this Cab is plenty big and firm to marry nicely with the steak.


Spring in My Step(ping Stone)

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars.

Who wants it to be spring? ME! I’m entirely over the winter weather and I fear we are going to jump straight into the heat of summer without a stopover in my favorite season. For the spring, I usually except low 70s- mid-70s, warm breezes, and evenings that call for a chilled glass of white wine and rocking in the Adirondack chairs on our front stoop.  Alas, the weather is foiling me this year. Instead, I’m stuck inside pretending its spring by drinking some springy wine!  We decided on the 2009 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Napa Sauvingon Blanc.  It clocks in at 13.9% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $16.

On the nose I found pear, melon, sweet flowers, tropical notes, and peach. Overall, a pleasant nose that hit all the right notes. In the mouth I got melon, pear, lime, citrus, and yellow apple. The wine is aged sur lie, and I thought the palate really showed that influence. I also noted good acidity and crispness on the palate. The wine definitely put me in a spring frame of mind and I’d recommend it for anyone looking to get into the spring spirit!

Stepping Up

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars.

What better way to celebrate the winter than with a nice hearty red? I can’t really think of one. Especially when it’s Syrah. I love Syrah. And I really enjoy finding new ones to savor, which is exactly what I got in this bottle of 2008 Stepping Stone Syrah by Cornerstone Cellars. And the price can’t be beat for a good bottle of Syrah. At $20 a bottle, this is a steal. Hailing from Napa, the wine had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.9% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found violets, fresh plums, black cherries, cedar, flowers, and a spicy perfume aroma. Lucky for Matt I was just tasting and spitting at this point, or else this might have been one of those cases where I snapped at him for drinking more than his share while I was still lost in the nose of the wine.  In the mouth I got black cherry, black plums, earthy notes, red raspberries, and some spice.  The palate showed mostly juicy tart cherries for me though all the fruit tasted fresh picked.  A great little bottle of wine from a winery that continues to impress me.