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Monday, April 10, 2017

Pinot Report: Top Ten Santa Lucia Highlands [Part 2]

"Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day life more civilized." --- André Simon

So uh-yeah, you've been waiting for part two for sometime, I know, I know. But like your favorite new TV drama or sit-com, you have to wait, for what seems like an eternity for the next installment. So I hope the heightened anticipation, will be worth the price of admission. But if you happen to be new to this whole shebang, then you're in for a treat today. I have [7] seven new, fresh, and yes I'll say it, 'fabulous' Pinot Noir's sure to rock your wine-world. I know, this post is not all about the Sonoma, nor is it a collection of unobtainable unicorn wines; but if you just could pry your hand away from that 'cherished' Sonoma tasting room riedel for just a moment, you'll be glad you took the time to read about this amazing region, that's not Sonoma. 

4. Sequana SLH 2010 PN: This wine sells for right around $32 retail, but some places have for just under $30. So be smart and shop around. This beauty comes from the fine folks at the Hess Collection, who've decided to dip their collective fingers into the Pinot-Pie as it were and boy I'm glad they have. 

The nose grabs you right away, with a barnyard, wet earth funk. But as time goes by, each swirl unveils new, more inviting aromas. Baking spices, dark just-ripe fruit grabs your mid-palate, while sweet tobacco wraps around your tongue, laced with firm acidity to hold back the near berry-bramble collision. I was lucky enough to have scored a few [untested] bottles of this wine last year while visiting Hess, and I'm so glad my hunch paid off. My score 91 points.

5. Lucienne Estate SLH Single Vineyard 2010 PN: This wine is only available to be purchased in a 6-pack, but the silver lining is that each bottle retails for right about $35 each. I was told that very little of these 6 packs remained. So after seeing this, you better skedaddle over to the Hahn Estate site to score your own six-pack. This wine was barrel aged for 14 months in a combination of 35% new French oak barrels, which means unlike some wines I tasted, you get far more expression from the vineyard and far less barrel impression. A silky, rich mouth-watering new world PN in its purest form. The finish just sails on and on. My score 91 points. 

6.  2010 Testarossa "Fogstone Vineyard" Sta. Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir: This bottle is on the pricier side of the equation. At least it's in my book, selling in limit quantities for a hefty $56 each. Not an everyday-drinker for the average vino-sapien, but definitely a great bottle of wine to hold onto for a special occasion. This wine is a suave, thinking man's wine, which carries the ample fruit on a sea of well integrated tannins, with banners of fresh cola, earth, herbal notes and ripe strawberries. I scored this wine 93 points. 
 
7. Los Gatos Cuvee 2010: I've been impressed with this producer over-all for a long time, but I've always thought their prices have swung toward the higher end of the scale. For me, as an nearly every-day wine drinker, those prices are an unsustainable blow to my wine budget. Part of the reason why I was glad to see they came out with a second value label.

A wine they have dubbed the Los Gatos Cuvee, produced from the Monterey AVA. Produced under a screw-cap indicating, it's made in a drink now and drink often style. It's still has some heft, easy drinking flavors and $23 SRP. I score this wine 88 Points. 

8. Paraiso 2009 SLH Ranch Blend PN: Once more, this producer continues to amaze with the caliber of their wines, especially the Pinot Noir category. This is their entry level PN, it sells for less than $20 and I scored it 90 points. Baked cherry pie, white pepper, sweet tobacco, cola, nice length, well balanced. This wine is an easy every day drinker for the vino-sapiens who would like to dial up the quality, without emptying their bank accounts. Best Buy. 

9. Bernardus 2010 SLH Rosella's Vineyard: A dark garnet color in the glass, a funky barnyard thingy on the nose, nice round yet enticing red fruited berries, cola, herbal, leaving you with a long, yet sumptuous finish. A wine produced from the famed “Pisoni Clone” and Dijon clone 777. This wine is listed as a single vineyard designate and carries a price commensurate with that designation, SRP $65. My score 93 points, sings par excellence. 

10. Bernardus 2010 SLH Gary's Vineyard: Okay folks, this is the last wine in the top-ten list, but certainly not least, by any stretch of the imagination. A huge wine, full of swagger and braggadocio, but you would never know it; by the way it carries itself. It's like they say it's not bragging if you can back it up and this wine certainly brings it. This was one of the very first wines I tasted that day, but my-oh-my it was nearly best of show. 

The nose grabs you right away, by the throat, and whispers in a Batman like voice, I'm Pinot Noir bitch, deal with it! Notes of vanilla, florals, toast, subtle spices, while dark plum and raspberry jam dominate the conversation. The palate is exceptionally full and complex, from the beginning to the last amazing drop. Having to spit really sucks sometimes, if you know what I mean. I scored this wine 95 points. It's a blockbuster, with a price to match SRP $65, ouch.

Perhaps you wondering about all the other wines, which I tasted and didn't make the top-ten list, feel free to shoot me an email and I will then send you a list of those who were left in the also-ran category. Until next folks, remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pinot Report: Top Ten Santa Lucia Highlands [Part 1]


"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."  ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

A sentiment I share and one which finds me in hearty agreement, but alas the world we live in today seems to be a bit more caught up in not only in the pursuit of gold, but also gain notoriety [aka, reality TV].  

Now that said, the tale I'm about to tell is simply about "cheer", indeed something we can all 'clink' our glasses together and rejoice. About what you may ask, well finding some superbly well made Pinot Noir, that you should be running out to purchase this very moment [what are you waiting for?].

As some you may know, I've been teasing this out over the last few days; that I would be coming to you with my top-ten SLH Pinot Noir report. So here it's, I just yesterday attended the Santa Lucia Highlands tasting, in Costa Mesa. There was something like fourteen different producers, not that I was keeping score. So I thought I may have a tough time coming up with a top-ten list, luckily that was not the case at all. 

When the average vino-sapien thinks of high-end Pinot Noir; the Santa Lucia Highlands is not the first thing that comes to mind right away. But I'm here to tell you that it should because there are some extraordinary wines being produced in this area, just south and east of Monterey, Big Sur is direct to the east and the vineyard sites look down into the Salinas Valley. You'll find many of the SLH wineries have a tasting room presence in the city of Monterey. 

As I had tweeted out earlier, some of you may find my top ten reports to have a few surprises in the line-up; as I don't always go in for only touting the usual suspects, nor do I want to only be a part of the hallelujah-PN-chorus. So with no further ado, here's the first part of my top picks from yesterday's tasting. 

1. 2009 Pessagno Central Avenue Vineyard PN, Monterey: The color was very unique, in direct comparison to the many others seen that day. A light colored burnt crumbled brick/strawberry. The nose was captivating, amazing florals, spice, strawberry/cherry. The first slurp, nice weight, structure and vivid acid carrying the fruit. At first slurp cola, near burnt-toast crusted with a strawberry jam. This wine sells for a mere SRP of $17.99, I scored it 92 Points. A best buy.

2. 2009 Pessagno SLH Pinot Noir: Another stunner, recently written up by WE, I could not believe what my mouth was experiencing. How could I've never heard of these folks before? Not sure, but I'm so glad I had a chance to get acquainted with their wines. We all know about yeasty-beasties and their role in the wine-making process. They use what has been described as a "Burgundian" yeast culture, known for producing bold flavors and aromas, right alongside natural yeast fermentation. Again the same color as above, a "sur lees" style that brings an invitation to flavor town. WOW, my score 92 points, the SRP is $28, what?

3. 2009 Four Boys Vineyard PN: This is their flagship bottle and my god it tastes like it, the fellas at WE oozed all over it with 94 points, I really could disagree too much. This wine was the best of the show, yesterday, a screaming fastball of flavor and finesse knocked cleanly out of the park. Folks this is SLH PN at its best. A PN rumored to be planted to the famous "La Tache" clone, as well as Dijon clones. The barrel-regimen is described as 75% new French Oak, over 11 months.

In the glass a burnt orange/strawberry color, nice barnyard funk in the nose, earthy, candied strawberry/plum and pie crust, nice acid carries the basket of summer fruit, lots of depth and polish. The SRP $55, and my score is 93 points.

I was hoping I would finish the entire list today, but I, unfortunately, will have to break this into a part-one and a part-two. That said look for part two tomorrow, as I have seven more fantastic SLH Pinot Noir wines you won't want to miss. Until next time, sip long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

10 Napa Valley Wineries: Prestige Brands and Amazing Quality

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts,” Albert Einstein 

Writing a Story about the Napa Valley: Any Suggestions? I don't often get asked by other writers who [unlike me] get paid to write stories about the wine scene here in California for recommendations about the wineries, the places I know where some great stories can be found, but just two weeks ago, I did receive such a request. Of course it goes without saying; I was quite flattered to be asked in the first place. That said and being the nice little wine blogger, you know [and hopefully love] that I'm; I quickly whipped together a list and shot it over to the requester via email. 


"The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” ~Mark Twain

Honestly, no fiction here, I really don't mind giving recommendations and I'm always eager to help. When I do, I often attempt to send them to one of the many great folks I've met over the years and besides I can't cover the entire wine scene alone, even with the help of Andy McCallion my all-star contributor.

No writing about wine, wineries and the folks behind the label takes many different voices and the story lines and angles are as vast as the ocean. I hope she does get a chance to visit even one of the wineries I recommended. It was a bit of tough question to address, while some wineries say, "Prestige Brand" just from looking at their amazing curb appeal, still others without the fancy chateau-like facades produce wines of amazing luxury, but without the price tag that could make your wallet want to run for cover. So I tried to come up with a balanced list, something I thought would touch all the bases and below is that list I shared with her.



First, you must visit Carter Cellars, who is in my opinion making some of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon in the valley, hands down. Honestly, I can't afford too many of their wines, [sigh] which are available via allocation only, and while he has no fancy Chateau to gaze at, his wines will make your heart sing and your palate rejoice with the wine-gods. And Mark is about laid back as it gets, completely unassuming. If you do find yourself in Calistoga, please do pay them a visit, their tasting bar is shared with Envy Wines. Editors Note: I don't like vertical images, but it's the only one I have. 

Second: Now here's the place you can snap, video or what ever the money shot. Go to Spring Mountain. Where you will find Vineyard 7 & 8 I did a story on them a few years back. They're grape peeps, you'll love getting to know them, their wines and the tasting room is jaw droppingly scenic. As for their wines, the Chardonnay is off the hook amazing, it's not like any other Napa Valley property, this 100% Spring Mountain Chardonnay and their Cabernet Sauvignon is mind melting good, wines which say luxury all the way. 



Third: This is another money-shot place is Quintessa, believe me, no expense was spared building this place, with gigantic 40 foot doors that open into the vineyard from the crush pad, sweeping panoramas from the roof top. On top of that, the wine is very good as well, but it is a luxury brand. And their story is quite amazing, and for images, you'd be hard pressed to find a better locale.

Fourth: A visit to the Hess Collection. Yes, they do walk that fine line between value wines and wine luxury, but I'd have to say their wines represent a solid "value" to the consumer overall. They have a good selection of wines in many price points and deliver a very consistent product. For the visitor to their tasting, don't forget to check out the amazing art collection, it is quite impressive and changes often and again this money-shot territory for the luxury brand. A great place to see sustainability in action. 




Fifth, a visit to Inglenook is a great place to see a prestige brand up close and personal, with loads of great history. And a historic recent name change, that left a few folks puzzled. Considering the time and effort it takes to build a brand and the crazy effort to revive an old brand, which doesn't necessarily connote prestige at first blush.

Sixth: If you're going to write a story about the Napa Valley wine scene, then you have to visit up to Howell Mountain, to get above the fog. Take a trip to Red Cap Vineyards, the last time I had their wines, they were just stunning, textured and in a word delectable. A small family run operation, where the wine is bigger on the inside, than it appears from the outside.



Seventh: If you need another money shot, then take a drive up to Atlas Peak [also known as Blue Mountain to the locals] to visit the grape folks at Antica in the Atlas Peak AVA, if possible ask to do a tasting from the picnic spot, right outside the caves and overlooking a sweeping vine covered vista. Another prestige producer, luxury wines with price tags to match, but so worth the price of admission if you have the coin. 



Eighth: If you want to visit an historic property, one of the 'old guard' iconic brands of the Napa Valley, than you owe to yourself to visit Beaulieu Vineyard, and inquire about the possibility of not just tasting current releases, I'd ask about doing a vintage retrospective. I had a bottle of theirs from 1994, not stored in ideal conditions and sold for $15 dollars back in the day, that was a stunner. Loads of great history, a great story line and a winery with real depth, delivering a Bordeaux like experience in the bottle, and price points from luxury to the everyday.

Ninth: The quiet and unassuming, often flying under the radar Elizabeth Spencer. A winery that will blow your doors off and they have a great story to tell as well. I've had their wines on many occasions and I'm always impressed with the quality, depth and complexity.

Tenth: Last, but certainly not the least is a great place, easily found along famous Highway 29 which intersects the valley, it is called St. Clement. S
pecifically, I've been a huge fan of their Oroppas and I know with one sip, you too will share my joy. As for pictures the old Victorian Mansion and tasting salon makes for great luxury imagery.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Washington County Highlight: Hawks View Cellars

"We are geographically agnostic, just because we can't grow it here, doesn't mean we shouldn't produce it" ~ AJ Kemp Hawks View Cellars.

Sometimes you never know what to expect when as a writer, walking into the doors of a winery. Because they know that you're there to get a story and they are there to put as pretty of a bow on it, as much as they possibly can. It's kind of like when you attempt to sell your car to a dealer, you may shine it up, vacuum it out and clean up all those fast-food wrappers that you may have forgotten about.

But none of that was the case walking into the professionally appointed and comfortable tasting room of Hawks View Cellars, I got the feeling immediately that it looked as nice for each and every thirsty vino-sapien walking through their doors, like it did when a bus-full of wine writers came tromping in from the Washington County excursion bus just a couple weeks ago. All visits to their tasting room are by appointment. Although the tasting room has a professional feel, our host General Manager and founding Partner Mr. AJ Kemp, felt rather comfortable wearing shorts, a flannel-shirt and flip-flops, what I call "California Casual". A style btw, which indelibly communicates to the consumer, "hey come as you are and spend a great afternoon with us."

But this was not going to be just another hum-drum, hallow, presentation, from a hired-gun known to some folks as PR-flacks; in fact, our welcoming intro was given by their GM AJ Kemp [a guy not afraid to get his hands dirty]. What I heard as he was speaking was good old fashion "passion" the kind that comes from the heart. As I said earlier, there was no teleprompter needed and you could sense the pride of their staff and the look of "yes this awesome to be here", on their face as they poured the wines for us.

Trust me folks; I'm just as jaded as the next guy, it's like "blah-blah okay, uh-huh, been there and seen that" but as I tasted their wines and listened to them speak about how they 'do-things' [technical term] at their winery. I was impressed by the overall quality and the dedication to doing things right. In fact looking up their Mission Statement just today, 


"At Hawks View, we don't define success in conventional terms. We define it on your terms."


I'd have to conclude from the small amount of time I spent with them that afternoon, that their success is not conventional, but is translated into each and every experience for the consumer. I'm saying this winery is going to make some folks heads turn, they are the right track in this wine-writers opinion for producing high-caliber wines at reasonable prices that deserve a place in your cellar and in your glass.

Because I'm now starting to sound like I'm on the payroll [which I'm not] and with no further ado, I present to you my tasting note on each wine I had the pleasure of swirling about in my glass, slurping and yes eventually spitting out. I know for many reading this the whole concept of "spitting" is at the very least odd. But for me to maintain my senses, it's essential wine writing etiquette.

2011 HV Pinot Gris: Weighing at 13% abv, grapes picked mid-November, I found abundant floral notes and the scent of nectar easily escaping from the glass. While on the palate, subtle white pepper, layers of honey, white flowers, and nectarines danced on my tongue. One of the better PG wines I experienced in while in Oregon. It sells for $26 and I scored it 89 points.


2011 HV White Pinot Noir: This style of PN is a relatively new trend on the Orgundian wine scene. This vintage is currently sold out. This wine was really multi-dimensional. Nerd Notes: Blended from two different blocks, rested a bit in a French-Oak [6 months], experiences no Mal, and the grapes are grown on the Wadenswil clone. In the glass you won't find the color as like the very light-hay colored PG, it throws off a bit of a light copper color. A wine fermented dry. Woody, honey and floral aromas dominate and easily find their way to the palate as well. This wine had nice weight and balance. It sells for $26 and I scored 89 points.

2010 SLH Syrah: I really didn't expect to see a Syrah at Oregon producers, but when I later learned the grapes came up from the Santa Lucia Highlands, I was excited to give it a swirl. Loads of white and dark pepper, like taking a whiff pepper corns that were infused with, tar, black cherries, and blackberries, that had been freshly dug out from a pit in the vineyard. The tannins were well integrated and the mouth feel was plush. This wine rested in a combo of French and Hungarian oak before being bottled and only 80% of the stems were removed before fermentation. This wine sells for $40, I scored it an immediate on the spot 92 points and took home a bottle to enjoy at a later time. Nicely done.

2010 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon: The grapes were harvested from the Double Canyon vineyard just across the Oregon border. Which is an 88-acre site located in Alderdale Washington, that falls within the Horse Heaven Hills American Viticulture Area and the vine rows are two miles longs, just above the Columbia Gorge. This wine has not been released at the moment, but they were generous enough to sell me a bottle at the tasting room price of $40. At the time I tasted this wine it had only been in the bottle for just 75 days. The wine is big bold and brooding in the glass leaning toward a PS in color. You'll find loads of blackberry, dark rich ripe plum, pulsates on the palate, plush integrated tannins, and a silky long finish. Folks this wine is a bit more Washington State Merlot for me in style, but if you like this style of burly,           meaty, wine than this beauty is built to please. Grab some for yourself, once it's released, I scored it 92 points. Again, well done.

2009 Hawks View Pinot Noir: Hello Chehalem Mountains AVA. A wine weighing in at %15.57, it's a big 09 style of Pinot, most of the PN which I tasted while recently in Oregon fell into this category. [Editors Note: It's the kind of PN that folks in the anti-flavor league [you know who I mean] will not like or appreciate.] For me the fact that this wine is produced from Pommard and Dijon clone 777 and 667 really brings home for me this wines elegance, which balances its opulent fruit. In a word, this wine is plush. Asked by one of the bloggers in the groups, "uh, does it have Syrah blended in?" an emphatic, but polite "no". This wine has a long lingering finish, plumbed with baking spices and rich dark and red fruits. It's a steal at $35, I scored this wine 93 points. So grab some for yourself before they disappear.
Until next time folks sip long and prosper cheers!



Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Uncorked: My Top 10 Wines for the Holiday


"Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car." ~ Stephen Colbert

Another wonderful year nearly ready to put in the can and stored away for posterity. But every year at this time we collectively take time-out to give a "thanks" for our many blessings. I'm especially thankful this year, for the first in many years I'm working full-time in the wine business, and yes this new position will involve making buying decisions as well. Pretty exciting and at the same time a bit sad, because most of my free-time will be swallowed-up commuting back and forth, while I build this new career path, leaving a lot less time for writing.

I know there are a few folks in my age bracket, and I'm mostly speaking to the guys who may be reading this article. It's far too easy to become the grumpy old men, we swore we would never be, yelling and gesturing for the "kid" to get off our collective lawns, even if we haven't kept it up and has now turned a dull shade of brown.

Many of the grumpiest among us, even start to resent holidays, like the one right around the corner, for many it has become far too clichéd, football, pumpkin pies, turkeys and hot sweaters and homes so hot you can get "meat" sweats. Ugh, we let out that collective sigh, speaking for me personally, I do totally 'get' that attitude.

But [yep here it comes] I think many of those "grumps" may just need a couple glasses of decent vino, to help them get over their anti-holiday feelings. So this year when you gather with your families or choose to serve others, use it to embrace them and thank each one of them for being a part of your life, whether you like them or not. I think if we all do that [myself included] we will be better off in the long run. I’m now stepping away from the soap box and returning you to your normally scheduled holiday wine review.

Every year at this time, I give my Top Ten Thanksgiving Holiday Wine "picks" and this year is no exception. I know my post is a bit "danger" close for those wanting to stock up for the holiday, but chalk-up these recommendations for the procrastinators in the audience who've waited for the last minute; to hear about ten tasty selections to brighten up their holiday menus this week. Yes most, but not all of them will be Pinot Noirs. Sorry no white wines to recommend this time around, perhaps next year. 


1. 2010 Chateau Le Thil, Comte Clary: Another very good 2010, but a bit more of a modern style Bordeaux. Still it has a lovely vein of acid, which keeps the abundant red and dark fruit in check. Medium tannins and finish. Drinks like an mid to high priced Napa Valley Cab, which sells for half that price $29.99. With this kind of stellar QPR, you could easily buy 6 or [I know I have] more, and enjoy for many years to come. 


2: 2011 Thomas Fogarty, Santa Cruz Mountains, Pinot Noir: On the nose a wonderful perfume [elegant] of dried strawberries, rich earth, raspberry and pronounced cola aromas. After the first splash down, I found this immediately appealing and approachable wine. You’ll find very generous, round tannins, nicely woven into the wines fabric. A real Pinot Noir lovers wine; soft but lush, presenting a raft of baking spices, cinnamon and sandalwood flavors, with a healthy splash of raspberry cola and strawberry pie filling leading to the plush finish. I found the acidity to be bright and crisp, and refreshing gently carrying abundant but nicely textured fruit. A complex wine, which I believe over delivers for the the price point. If this wine will be your first [as it was for me] experience with Thomas Fogarty or the wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a bottle of their Pinot Noir will indeed be a great introduction.

This wine clocked in with a reasonable 12.9% ABV, grown at [various] elevations of 400-2400 feet in Shale and Sandstone soils and aged just 10 months in 3rd year French oak barrels. When you see the bottle, [see above] you may be a bit surprised to find it's sporting its throwback label from 1981 to celebrate their 30th anniversary. This vintage is reportedly going to sell for $36 in the tasting room and, of course wine club members will have first dibs.  As for my score, that is if you keep score? I gave this wine 93 points. This is a wine which has earned my highly coveted, "drink now and drink often" designation. So to the entire team at Thomas Fogarty, I say to you all "bravo-bravo" this wine is a real winner and perhaps one of thee best 2011 wines I've encountered. 



3. Garnet 2012 Sonoma Coast Rodgers Creek Vineyard, Pinot Noir: Another wonderful wine from a single vineyard source, which can be found on a high ridge somewhere near Petaluma and Sonoma. I discovered this wine earlier this year, when I met up with Alison Crowe at her deluxe winemaking sanctuary in 2013.  at In the glass you'll find a wonderful cranberry colored core, floral and baking spice aromas swirling about, leaning toward the strawberry end of the flavor spectrum. On the plate a well-balanced attack of baking spices, red berry fruits and finish is plush. I scored this wine 91 points. Just a fantastic wine from the SBC region. Garnet wines really deliver a consistent wine tasting experience and selling for under $30, it's quite the steal!

4. 2013 Rodney Strong RRV Estate Pinot Noir: This wine is a fantastic bargain at just under $20. I found this wine to have a garnet colored core. The first whiff, reminded me sweet baking spices, rose petals and fragrant strawberries. On palate a nice attack of dusty-spices, sweet vanilla, sandalwood, a silky mouth-feel, and baked strawberries, mouth watering acidity, leading to the plush finish. Adds the perfect score to your holiday menu, I gave this wine a score of 89 points and a hearty buy recommendation. 


5. 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru: The wine you see above is nothing but classic Burgundy, it's a wine I purchased to celebrate finding a new career path in the wine industry. It's another small step forward in the pursuit of goals to not only talk about wine here, but to expand those skills to the workplace where financial and professional rewards are both realized. Now that said, this wine is complex, textured, sporting that famous 2011 acidity [cool year] and still very taught tannins. 

I say classic, because there is abundant forest floor, think of licking wet mushrooms, or smelling a fallen tree branch that has been on the ground for weeks. Freshly cracked peppercorns and fresh summer bing-cherries jamming on bass and did I say minerality? No, well there's plenty of that to go around as well. You could easily cellar this puppy for years to come, but it's enjoyable now. A word to the wise, decant is the word, sorry to disagree with the author of the wine bible, Karen McNeil who does not like to decant PN, instead she likes to see it evolve in the glass. Trust me, decant this puppy for a full flavored thrill ride. This wine is $54 and I scored it, 93 points. 




6. 2010 Chateau Teyssier, Saint Emilion Grand Cru : Woo-hoo, this wine hit it out of the freaking park, seriously great juice for the price. Jumping from Burgundy to Bordeaux, let's take a trip to tasty town via Chateau Teyssier, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru. This wine, of which I just ordered four more, is mind blowing good for the tiny $29 price tag. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, taunt tannins stretched out over a canvas of rich black fruit, blackberry, dark plums, cassis, some rustic minerality, beautifully textured, coupled with a long finish bringing it all home. It could definitely age for much longer, 2010 was one thee very best recent vintages in Bordeaux and in this bottle, you find out why that is true. My score 91 points. This is case purchase territory.

7. Hahn 2014 SLH PN: In the glass a rich looking strawberry colored core. On the first whiff, wow, a wonderful perfume of dried strawberries, rich earth and raspberry. After the first splash down, this immediately appealing Pinot is soft but lush, presenting a raft of vanilla, cinnamon and sandalwood flavors, with a healthy splash of raspberry and strawberry pie filling leading to the silky plush finish. A great performer from our friends at Hahn whose tasting room is found just 40 minutes from the center of town in Monterey, it has a SRP of $25 and is one of my top pick for this weeks festivities.

8. 2011 Red Mountain, Bel Villa Vineyard, Goedhart Family Syrah: This "Terroir Hunter" wine hails from Red Mountain in Washington State. In the glass you'll find the core leaning toward very dark garnet. On the nose compact ripe blueberry and black-berry fruit, with just a touch of olive aromas leaps from the glass. Really nice mouth-feel, plush and giving, balanced acidity, polished blueberry and blackberry and floral flavors are drawn from the nose, leading to a nicely penetrating finish, with touches of chocolate and espresso rounding out the experience. No score offered, just my hearty recommendation. An extremely well done wine, with plenty to offer for the $25 price of admission




9. 2012 Pinot Gris Orange, Regan Vineyard: This wine represents the perfect last review of the month of August, while it's hot and steamy outside, my insides were treated to the summertime sipping delights of the Regan Vineyard, Pinot Gris Orange. The nose itself I thought was quite captivating, it again reminded me of another Chanel quote.
"Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.
The nose is pretty unique, burnt dried orange-peels, new baseball mitt [freshly oiled] but not off putting, a funky-monkey that will captivate and compel sip after sip and perhaps even the occasional slurp. It's a wine best served chilled, but not too cold. On the palate, bone-dry, high-acid, more citrus and a distinctive dried orange skins, textured tannins and a fine ground minerality. On the long lasting finish, a very compelling blood orange thang.

For those who like to keep scores, I gave this wine a crisp 88 points. I've not had enough wines of this style to form much of an opinion, but this wine was extremely well executed, firing on every cylinder. If you'd like to grab a bottle of this wine, it can be purchased directly from the winery for $33.

The first sip is a head-back wow, you'll find this wine located on the drink now and drink often aisle, nice heft and the tannins are polished, leading to a lengthy finish. Gamey, herbal and earthy complexity help you get your head around the blueberry and black berry fruit that dominates the mid-palate, while the striking acidity keeps the wine in complete balance for the total package. Selling for a SRP of $29, it's great juice for this price point, it really over delivers and came dressed to impress.

10. 
Graham's Six Grapes Old Vines Port: You always need to save room for dessert and what would my blog be without a recommendation on one the tastier options for after dinner than this Fonseca Ruby style port, ready to dress up that pumpkin pie. A wine produced using advanced piston fermentation called, "port toes" and aged four years in neutral wood before being bottled. 

You can find this wine selling for about $20 or less most places. In the glass you can expect an opaque purple leaning toward a deep red colored edge. Sticking you nose the glass expect a raft of compact, intense, blackcurrant and cherry aromas. After the first slurp, wow nice, a fully expressive but firm, plump fruit flavors stretched over mellow tannin structure and a lasting finish.

From my house to yours this holiday season, here's to a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving:; and whatever you do, I hope you uncork some great holiday memories, until next time sip long and prospers cheers!

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