Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Nothing Petite About This Lodi Whopper

Petite Petit is a Michael David wine made from Lodi fruit, 85% Petite Sirah 15% Petit Verdot.  Those grapes are the pair of elephants under the big top circus tent on the label. "Step right up, come see the greatest duo in history."

The winery describes the 2015 Petite Petit as a "dense, full-bodied, whopper" of a wine, and that's right on the money. Speaking of dollars, this bottle only costs 18 of them. Alcohol is Lodi-like at 14.5% abv.

There’s nothing small about Petite Petit. Its dark color is big, its nose is huge and the palate is elephantine. Blackberries and plums adorn both the aroma and flavor profiles, with a hefty load of tannins to play lion tamer against any beef it encounters. Fire up the grill, bring on the rib eye.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Red Rhône Blend GSM

A vacation to Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood found us opening a bottle of French wine in the lobby of the Inn at Henderson's Wharf. I would have preferred to explore some local wines, but there was only one in the wine store down the street.

Domaine La Rocalière produced the Lirac Le Classique 2013. The vineyards from which this red Rhône blend grew are located in the towns of Lirac and Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres. The domaine also has vineyards in Tavel.

The vineyard boasts Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan vines for rosé and red wines - Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne for white. The 2013 Lirac le Classique is made from 34% Grenache, 33% Syrah and 33% Mourvèdre grapes. Alcohol sits at a robust 15% abv.

This medium-dark blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre has a gorgeous ripe nose, full of big red cherries and blue berries. It carries a rustic edge underneath, with pepper and bramble peeking through the fruit. The palate has savory notes on top of the dark berries.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Wine Country: Maryland

Black Ankle owners Sarah O'Herron and Ed Boyce credit - or blame - their entry into winemaking on "one taste-test too many." The winery is named after the road on which the vineyard sits in Frederick County, Maryland, in the North Central Piedmont region. It may have originated from the muddy boots walkers got when traversing the road that was a dirt trail long after other roads had been improved. It also may date back to Native American lore. They like the "wine stomping" images that spring to mind.

Sustainability is a watchword at Black Ankle. They even built their winery and tasting room from "straw, clay, stone and wood that we found on the farm." Sounds like a structure on which all three "little pigs" could have collaborated.

The 2015 Black Ankle Viognier was purchased at a local wine shop in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, where we stayed on a recent vacation. It blends 75% Viognier and 25% Grüner Veltliner in a mix that I don't think I've encountered before. The vines grown in what the winery calls "decomposing slate with quartzite veins." It retails for $32, although I got mine several dollars cheaper. Alcohol is at 13.5% abv.

Pale yellow in the glass, this Maryland Viognier has a delightful nose of peaches and lemons. The palate shows a savory sense with both wonderful acidity and a full mouthfeel. White wines are enjoyable enough when the weather is perfect, but when things are hot and humid there’s an even higher appreciation achieved.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

South African Wine: Red Blend

Lubanzi Wines is named for a wandering dog who led the winemakers on a six-day journey along South Africa's Wild Coast. Founders Walker Brown and Charles Brain have only two wines in the line at the moment. One is a red blend, made of Shiraz, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre and a white, which is 100% Chenin Blanc. Both South African creations retail at under $20.

Brown and Brain - not South African themselves - say they are working with two of the country's more noted winemakers. Trizanne Barnard and Bruce Jack were asked to be "forward-thinking, socially responsible and innovative" in making the Lubanzi wines. Brain says they're aiming at the millennial market, a demographic that he thinks has the buying power to lift South Africa's underrated status. He says they want to make a wine that "punches above its weight."

The owners are directing some of the proceeds back to those who helped make the product. Half of their profits will go towards The Pebbles Project, an NGO that works with low-income families on South Africa's wine farms. The back label claims "50% of the profits back to the hands that made it."

The Lubanzi red blend from South Africa’s Coastal Region features 46% Shiraz, 31% Cinsault, 20% Mourvèdre and 3% Grenache. The 13.5% abv is easy to take and the $18 price tag is almost shockingly low.

The Lubanzi red blend of South African Shiraz, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Grenache is a dark ruby wine with a nose and palate to match. Aromas of dark fruit are joined by a strong minerality, with a slightly smoky, savory, leathery whiff above the glass. The palate is fruity in the most savory sense possible. Big black cherry and cassis meet up with earthy herbs and spices. It's a lively wine, with acidity to refresh and tannins to make pairing it with meaty dishes a natural. The twist-off cork makes it super easy to open.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Virginia's Barboursville Vineyards

James Barbour initiated the vineyards that carry his name today. He was a Governor, a Senator and the Secretary of War, but he is best remembered for his contributions to Virginia's agrarian heritage. He, like his neighbor Thomas Jefferson, struggled to buck the tobacco trend and grow rotated crops that didn't use up the soil. An Italian bought the parcel in the 1970s, Gianni Zonin, whose name you have probably seen on bottles of Prosecco. Zonin, also bucking the tobacco advice, planted grapes and made wine. The Zonin family still owns the vineyards, and wines are produced by winemaker Luca Paschina.

Scheduling changes on my trip prevented me from trying the restaurant at the estate, Palladia, but it gets raves from all over. Next time. I was able to make the half hour or so drive out of Charlottesville for a tasting of the Barboursville wines. Here they are.

Pinot Grigio 2016 -A very refreshing wine, although the grape is not one of my favorites.

Vermentino Reserve 2015 - Lovely acidity and the mark of the earth on it.

Viognier Reserve 2015 - Very nice acidity, but the wine was not a favorite.

Chardonnay Reserve 2016 - It's the only white they make with oak, and it's Hungarian wood. Quite a show that oak makes, if you ask me. A little too much in the wood.

Vintage Rosé 2015 - Rich pink, made from Petite Sirah, Barbera and Merlot. The acidity is great and the palate brings beautiful, light fruit with herbal touches.

Barbour’s Reserve 2015 - Fantastic red fruit and mocha
are a real kick.

Sangiovese 2015 - Big, earthy, smoky. Love it.

Merlot 2015 - Another earthy red.

Cabernet Franc 2015 - This is really good, with great acidity, white and bell pepper notes.

Merlot Reserve 2013 - This is what I want from Merlot - big smoke, earth and a savory coffee

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2014 - Tons of earth that reminds me a bit of Paso
Robles Cab.

Cabernet Blanc - A sweetie, with 2% residual sugar.

Rosato - Even sweeter, with 4% residual sugar.

Phileo - Sweet Traminette, Vidal Blanc and Moscato blend, 10% residual sugar. This is a lovely dessert wine with floral notes, good with cheese.

Paxxito 2013 - The sweetest, with 12% residual sugar. It's simply beautiful, made in the passito process in which the grapes are air-dried over time. You get raisins and caramel, and since when it that not a great dessert?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tasting Wine at Jefferson Vineyards

There’s been much wine-related writing about Thomas Jefferson over the past decade or so. His love of fine wine, his travels through Europe to feed that love and his own desire to make a great American wine have been well documented. However, it’s hard for me as a modern-day person to overlook the obvious flaws that a man of his stature exhibited in those Colonial days. I'm talking about slaves.

The man for whom my high school was named, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the country's third president - he had issues that were pervasive at the time. He owned people, had them living in squalid rooms on his beautiful estate, had them do the work that the sprawling grounds required while he sat back and enjoyed life. They didn't spend a whole lot of time addressing that at Thomas Jefferson High School in southeast Texas. They didn't spend any time addressing it, as I recall. Perhaps it’s worth noting that the school no longer exists, that a predominantly African-American town still has a school named for Abraham Lincoln, but TJ bit the dust in favor of a more generic name, Memorial High.

So, when I recently visited Monticello in Virginia, I was rather surprised at how matter-of-factly the tour guides deal with the slavery issue, among other shortcomings of Jefferson the man. I was also surprised that his wine obsession wasn’t more thoroughly documented by the docents. I wouldn’t have heard a word about it had I not asked a question during the garden tour.

Down the road from Monticello, a little off the beaten path - or, with a beaten path of its own - lies Jefferson VIneyards. The estate is situated near Charlottesville on land that was given by Jefferson to an Italian viticulturist from Tuscany named Filippo Mazzei. He was reportedly drawn to the U.S. by no less than Ben Franklin and John Adams, and Jefferson wanted him as his neighbor. Jefferson even copped a line from Mazzei for a paper he was writing. I think it went something like, "all men are created equal."

The cozy, wood beamed tasting room at Jefferson Vineyards features a rack full of wines, some of which are estate grown, some of which are not. Here is what was on the tasting menu in June 2017 when I was there.

Chardonnay 2016 - Mostly stainless steel fermentation and aging, with only 5% done in oak. Tropical fruit and apples, with a slight effervescent quality.
Viognier 2016 - White flowers and summer fruit. Nice acidity, aged in oak and steel.
Rosé 2016 - Light salmon color, the result of only six hours of skin contact. An unusual mix of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc with some Merlot.
Vin Rouge 2015 - Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Very light - earthy, yet sweet, 0.9% residual sugar.  It has an almost tart, plum and pinot noir taste and weight. It sure takes a chill well.
Cabernet Franc 2015 - Nine months aging in 80% neutral oak. It's a little light, with the expected pepper notes somewhat diminished. I was surprised by how unimpressed I was by it..
Merlot 2014 - Very light in color, slight smokiness, nice light cherry palate. A pretty good summer red.
Petit Verdot 2015 - This is a heavier red, deeper in color and not as tannic or bold as usually found n the variety. Cherry notes are a hit with chocolate.
Meritage 2014 - Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dirty earth, nice savory angle. Rich, but would work with pork. 22 months in oak.
Vin Blanc - This dessert wine has only 4% residual sugar. It's a fairly earthy blend of Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng and other grapes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beat Heat With Lambrusco

Lambrusco is the perfect red wine for hot weather. Sure, your zippy whites and refreshing rosés are hard to resist when the triple digits come calling. But Lambrusco always takes me back to a summertime visit in New York City. I escaped the oppressive heat and humidity with a bottle of wine on a sidewalk table at a storefront in Little Italy. The red wine bottle - I don't really remember what it was, but I think it was Beaujolais - sweated profusely as it came right out of a refrigerated case. It may as well have been Lambrusco, because that's how I like it served, ice cold on a blistering hot evening.

Molo 8 Lambrusco is a full varietal wine that mixes 85% Lambrusco Maestri & Marani grapes with 15% Lambrusco Ancellotta. The grapes are grown in the Mantovano DOC, in vineyards that sit as high as 500 feet above sea level. They are vinified in stainless steel tanks, and the fruity freshness couldn’t hide itself if it wanted to. Winemaker Davide Terlizzi does a fine job of bringing this distinctly Italian wine to us. Alcohol is extremely low at 8.5% abv, and a bottle of Molo 8 costs about $12.

It’s a very purple wine that tastes a bit like grapes and black cherries, with that famous Lambrusco earthiness coming through. It’s muscular for the style, with noticeable tannins and a nice acidity. Put a chill on it and chase the heat away. If it comes back tomorrow, just pull out another bottle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wine For "Woodstock"

From the vaults, five years ago. The wine and movie pairing for "Woodstock." Thanks to "Blood Of The Vines" for hosting these originally.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Unique Spanish White Wine Blend

The Vivanco dream began, according to the website, 100 years ago when Pedro Vivanco González started a four-generation - and counting - business. Today Santiago Vivanco leads the business side and and Rafael Vivanco Sáenz makes the wine. The winery is where it has always been, in the La Rioja town of Briones.

This Rioja white wine is made from 50% Viura grapes, 35% Tempranillo Blanco and 15% Maturana Blanca, and they claim it's the first wine in the world made from those varieties. The grapes were grown in estate vineyards located "in different Rioja terroirs."

Thé Vivanco family describes the two grapes in this mix with which you may not be familiar. The Tempranillo Blanco comes from "a natural genetic mutation found in a single cane of a red Tempranillo vine, discovered in an old vineyard in Murillo de Río Leza (La Rioja) in 1988. It does not exist anywhere else in the world." The Maturana Blanca "is the oldest grape variety to have a written record in Rioja, being mentioned in a text dating to 1622. It does not exist anywhere else in the world." So, you're getting a real treat here.

The wine is alcohol-restrained at 13% abv and sells for around ten bucks online. Looking for value? Right here.

The Vivanco Rioja Viura Blend 2016 is pale in the glass and offers up a nose of citrus and wet rock minerals. It's a gentle set of aromas, and the palate follows suit, with easy acidity - still quite fresh, though - and flavors of lemon pie with a spray of green apples. It should pair very well with white fish, risotto or pasta with butter and pepper.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Discovering Wine At The Garagiste Festival

The Garagiste Festival is coming to Paso Robles in November, so save the date. The event features boutique wineries, small producers, with some extremely great California wine to pour for you. The festival's "Urban Exposure" was held recently in Santa Monica, and I was delighted to accept their invitation to attend.

Garagiste, in case you are wondering, is a French term (gar-uh-zhee-stuh) which originated in Bordeaux.  It described mavericky small-lot winemakers who didn't care much for following the rules.  These passionate vintners often whipped up their wine in the garage, or whatever space they had available to them.

What was once just a pejorative is now a movement.  Not that California winemakers operate under the burden of the sort of rules found in France, but these folks are considered renegades simply for daring to make their wine their way.

Nearly four dozen wineries which produce less than 1200 cases per year poured wines that people may not get a chance to taste very often.  Most of these small producers don't have tasting rooms, and their distribution is often spotty, if not non-existent. I didn't get to taste from every table, by a long shot. Here are the wines I sampled.

Ann Albert Wines - Santa Barbara winemaker Eric Johnson poured two first-vintage 2015 Chardonnays that both spoke to their origins. The one from Zotovich Vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills had lemon-lime fruit aged in new French oak, $44. The one from Bien Nacido Vineyard showed the touch of earth and savory salinity I love so much from that farm, $44. He excitedly told me of the efforts of the Bien Nacido vineyard manager and crew that may have spared the vines from being damaged by a recent wildfire.

Brophy Clark Cellars - This Santa Barbara winery makes a 2014 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay with restrained alcohol and just the right touch of new French oak, $22.

Burning Bench Cellars - A Marin County boutique producer, winemaker David Mease poured a 2006 Pinot Noir from Moon Hill Vineyard that showed some lovely browning and savory tea notes. More recent vintages are big and fruity without knocking people down, $45.

Carucci Wines - Santa Barbara winemaker Eric Carucci's 2013 Viognier from the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard has a big floral nose and a savory/fruity palate, $30. His 2014 Grenache comes from a lovely warm-weather site, Murmur Vineyard, located between Santa Maria and Los Alamos, $38.

Chenoweth Wines - Sonoma producers Charlie and Amy Chenoweth concentrate on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that are big and fruity, $65.

Cholame Vineyard - This San Miguel winery has Andres Ibarra making the 2014 Summer Shade Grenache Blanc, a standout at this event. Super salinity, super savory, huge nose and brilliant acidity, $24.

Coruce Vineyards - The Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, is not the first place one thinks of when Southern California wine regions are bandied about.  Winemaker Bob Balentine works magic with warm-climate estate grapes like Semillon and Symphony, $21, and Viognier, $25.  Big florals mark these appealing whites.

D. Volk Wines - Dana Volk was quick to point out that she's no relation to Santa Barbara County winemaker Kenneth Volk. I think her actual words were "Yeah, I wish!" On her own, she has made some wines to be proud of. Her 2016 Camp 4 Vineyard Grenache Rosé is a savory beauty, $22. Her 2015 Duvarita Vineyard Pinot Noir is lovely and elegant, $42. Her 2014 Syrah from Hampton Family Vineyards is a great warm-climate version of the grape, $24.

Tao Vineyards - Michael and Nikki McRory say they actually do have a few grape-growing neighbors in Agoura Hills, just over the crestline from the Malibu AVA. Winemaker B. Alan Geddes makes a 2016 Syrah Rosé that’s very good, $22; the 2015 Awakening Sangiovese that’s beefy, $26; and the amazing 2015 Mindful Merlot, that’s magic in a bottle, $38.

Theopolis Vineyards - Theodora Lee has to wake up feeling like the Maytag repairman sometimes. She's a female, African-American winemaker in the Anderson Valley, and she plays that role to the hilt. "Now, don't you walk away without tasting my Petite Sirah. That's my baby!" But, she's also proud of her 2014 Pinot Noir, unfiltered and elegant, $42, She calls her richly-colored 2014 Rosé of Petite Sirah a "summer red," and it's a great one, $24. Her 2014 Symphony makes one realize what a cool climate can do for that grape, $22.

Two Shepherds - Sonoma winemaker William Allen poured his 2014 Grenache Blanc from "down south," the Saarloos Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Graceful savory notes, $25. His 2016 Rosé of Grenache from Mendocino's Potter Valley is extremely pale and elegant, $25. The Two Shepherds 2014 Pastoral Melange Rhone Blend is an incredible North Coast mix of Mourvèdre, Carignane, Syrah and Roussanne. Unorthodox, but tasty. It’s light enough to take a chill well and would make a good BBQ wine, $24.

Vinemark Cellars - Thousand Oaks producer Mark Wasserman uses mostly eastside Paso Robles grapes for his remarkable wines. His 2016 Chardonnay is beautifully oakless, $24. Another great pink wine at this event, the Vinemark 2016 Grenache Rosé is awesome, full and earthy, $24. He does a nice Cal-Italian turn with the 2015 five-grape Buono Miscela, $35, and the light and breezy 2014 Mezzanotte of Primitivo and Syrah, $32. He says his 2014 Cab is his best ever, and it has the mark of Paso Robles all over it. $32.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wine For "From Russia With Love"

From the series of wine and movie pairings I did about five years back with Blood Of The Vines. This one's a bit more timely now.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I AM Drinking That @#$%& Merlot

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The place was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France, not to be a name-dropper. The estate was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently put Murrieta's Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.

Murrieta's Well Small Lot Livermore Valley Merlot

This estate wine is made from 90% Merlot grapes, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Sirah. The several varieties were vinified and aged separately, 18 months in French oak, 40% of which was new. It has alcohol at 14.1% abv and the 18 barrels produced have all been sold, according to the website.

This extremely dark wine has the sort of aromas that make me say, "I AM drinking some f%&@ing Merlot." Blackberry and plum dominate, but leather appears, with campfire smoke close behind. The palate is beautiful, sweet and juicy, with a firm tannic structure and mouth-watering acidity. Oak hints top it off nicely, with vanilla and spice. It will be great with your favorite steak, hot off the grill.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Spain's White Refresher

Spanish white wines are special, especially during summer. Their refreshing acidity, buoyant fruit and steely minerality just beg to be taken outside with you for a picnic or just to the porch.

Maetierra says they are the only winery in Rioja that makes only white wines. Located in Calahorra, they use grapes from all over the country. It’s hot over much of Spain, but there are cool-climate regions near the Atlantic Ocean, and those places are where the grapes are grown for the Atlantis line.

The bodega started as a college experiment in 2001, just yesterday as far as Spanish wine history goes. Under Raul Acha's guidance the wines just keep on coming.

These Albariño grapes come from Rias Biaxas, on Spain’s northwestern edge, just north of Portugal and splashed by the Atlantic. The wine’s alcohol content comes in at 12.5% abv and the price seems to run about 12 bucks.

The Maetierra Atlantic Albariño is a pretty, pale golden wine. I love the nose. It shows a serious savory side, with a soapy salinity. There's great fruit in there, too, a gentle note of limes and tangerines. The palate brings plenty of minerals to the forefront with a racy acidity that really refreshes. Pair it with crab, oysters or peel-and-eat shrimp for a delight.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Addendum: New From Fess Parker

Santa Barbara County's Fess Parker winery is branching out. In the spirit of their founder's pioneering ways, the heirs of the barrels are heading north, to the Napa Valley, to create a new label. It's not just a footnote, but an addition to the Parker legacy. Addendum is the company's arm for Bordeaux-style wines.

The Addendum wines will be available in September, but I was able to snag a sample thanks to a Brandlive virtual tasting event put together by Charles Communication. There's history there, as Kimberly Charles worked closely with Fess Parker years ago. She helped the world realize that the man could not only rock a coonskin cap better than anyone, he made a damn great bottle of wine, too.

There's some nepotism there as well. Charles employee Greer Shull says she's a Parker family member, so this job hit pretty close to home for her. Parker's daughter Ashley Parker Snider, her husband and Parker President Tim Snider and winemaker Blair Fox all took part in the online session.

The virtual tasting is hosted here, if you’d like to take a look. 

Addendum Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah, Atlas Peak, Stagecoach Vineyard 2014

This wine is made from 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Syrah from Napa Valley's Stagecoach Vineyard in the Atlas Peak region.  Alcohol clocks in at 14.9% abv, but it drinks even hotter.  Aging took place in French oak barrels for 28 months.  22% of that wood was new. It retails for 90 bucks.

The dark wine is loaded with big, ripe fruit. The nose carries black and blue berries in spades, with a gorgeous, savory undercurrent. Coffee, smoked meat, olives and sage play into that understated accompaniment. Sweet oak spice is the bow on the package. The wine drinks a bit young, with vibrant tannins. The palate is just as lovely as the aromas led me to believe. Those dark berries mix with a touch of oak - actually more like a "whack." Everything plays together beautifully, though. Too much is sometimes just enough.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Addendum: New From Fess Parker

Santa Barbara County's Fess Parker winery is branching out. In the spirit of their founder's pioneering ways, the heirs of the barrels are heading north, to the Napa Valley, to create a new label. It's not just a footnote, but an addition to the Parker legacy. Addendum is the company's arm for Bordeaux-style wines.

The Addendum wines will be available in September, but I was able to snag a sample thanks to a Brandlive virtual tasting event put together by Charles Communication. There's history there, as Kimberly Charles worked closely with Fess Parker years ago. She helped the world realize that the man could not only rock a coonskin cap better than anyone, he made a damn great bottle of wine, too.

There's some nepotism there as well. Charles employee Greer Shull says she's a Parker family member, so this job hit pretty close to home for her. Parker's daughter Ashley Parker Snider, her husband and Parker President Tim Snider and winemaker Blair Fox all took part in the online session.
The virtual tasting is hosted here, if you’d like to take a look. 

The Fess Parker winemaking program began 30 years ago in Santa Barbara County, with Rhône and Burgundian styled wines. The second generation of the Parker family is forging the new label for single vineyard Napa Cabernets. They source some grapes from Stagecoach Vineyard, and another noted plot that we cannot mention due to contractual restrictions.

Tim Snider says they felt they had to explore the possibilities presented by their vineyard relationships in Napa. In true pioneer fashion, they are blazing a new trail for themselves. Snider says the family did not make the move to producing Napa Cabs cavalierly. He says the main emotion at this point is enthusiasm. Ashley pointed out that they didn’t start a Cab label just so they could charge more for the bottles. Production on all four of the Addendum wines together is less than 800 cases, she says, so it’s more of a learning experience.

Addendum Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak, Stagecoach Vineyard 2014

This wine is made of pure, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, the Stagecoach Vineyard in the Atlas Peak region.  Aging took place over 28 months in French oak barrels, 40% of which were new.  Alcohol at 14.9% abv is Napa-rich, and the wine sells for a similarly rich $95 per bottle.

This wine is medium dark and smells like expensive Napa Cab. The fruit is ripe and dark, but there is also a savory aspect that rolls up pencil shavings, sage, black olives and mocha into an aromatic ball. The palate is rather smooth, but with tannins that make themselves known on the back end. This will tame a steak and not work up a sweat.