2005 L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley


2005_lecoleCrimson and purple color. The nose has the classic Washington Cabernet Sauvignon aromas of fruit jam, to go along with the pan grille and cedar flavors. The palate shows currant and dried plumb with well rounded tannins. Easy drinking and elegant. This wine is a blend of several premium Columbia Valley vineyards including: Bacchus & Dionysus, Klipsun, Willard, Portteus, Pepper Bridge, Stone Tree, Candy Mountain and their Estate Seven Hills Vineyard. L’Ecole No. 41 picks and ferments their Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with small lot fermentation, punched down by hand which controls tannin and phenolics. It is aged 22 months in French and American oak barrels. They claim aging potential of 10-15 years after bottling. I would not wait that long. This wine should be enjoyed over the next 2-4 years.



2006 Pillar Box Red (Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway)

pillar_box_redDark inky purple color. The aromas are mostly blackberry and dried mint. On the palate the Shiraz leads the way. It’s juicy with cherry and blackberry  flavors that are slightly tart. Restrained in a good way in that it is not the “Auzzie Fruit Bomb” you would expect for a wine in this price range. Although it’s fairly tannic they stay out of the way until the end of the finish for the most part. The majority of the fruit in this wine comes from their estate vineyard in Padthaway which is on the Limestone Coast Appellation in South Australia. The wine is a blend of Shiraz (50%) Cabernet Sauvignon (42%) and Merlot (8%). An excellent value at $9.

2006 D.R. Stephens Cabernet Sauvignon DR II Walther Vineyard (Napa Valley)

drii_2006The D.R Stephens D.R. II shows  aromas of  currant, toasty oak, and fresh blackberry. The ripe currant carries over across the palate and also picks up plumb, caramel, and vanilla. This wine is fruit forward,  complex and integrates fine grained tannins with a savory spice note on the long finish. The wine is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Cabernet Franc.  The team of Winemaker Celia Welch Masyczek, Vineyard Manager Jim Barbour and Managing Partner Justin Stephens continues to create a great and consistent wine from the Walther Vineyard which is on the valley floor in Rutherford. Still a bit young (decant at least an hour in the near term) but built to be enjoyed over the next 4-6 years. In the world of  premium Napa Valley Cabernets a solid value at $65.

2006 Qupé Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley

Typical deep purple Syrah color. The nose give earthy notes of white pepper and leather with a hint of wild-berry. Although alcohol levels are not excessive this wine seems hot and overpowers the fruit mid-palate. Spice dominates the finish with anise hanging in there the longest. The tannins are big and bold all the way through.  Qupe sourced fruit for this wine from the Bien Nacido Vineyard which is one of the most prestigious and best knoqupe_2006_syrah2wn vineyards in the Santa Maria appellation.  OK but not great.

2006 DuMOL Chardonnay Chloe (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley)

dumol_chardonnay_2006In the glass it’s a light  yellow-gold color. This Chardonnay shows aromas of peach, kiwi and a touch of mineral.  The flavors are a complex mix of  nectarine, pear, green apple, oak and flint. Sounds like a lot going on however it’s not a big jumble but a nicely layered unfolding of flavors. This is not a Chardonnay for the faint of heart nor for those who prefer unoaked versions. The 2006  Chloe from DuMol sources fruit from the Ritchie Vineyard which is situated  in the center of the Russian River appellation. Another outstanding effort from this producer.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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2006 David Bruce Petite Sirah Central Coast (USA, California, Central Coast)

bruce_2006_petiteDark purple in color. The nose is mostly oak and leather. On the palate, what fruit there is is muted and consists of blackberry and a touch of black pepper spice. The tannins are gripping and linger. Although not high in alcohol, because the fruit is so muted the alcohol gets in the way which is surprising for this producer. David Bruce usually produces very good Petite Sirah wines. This one disappoints.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 2:10 am  Comments (1)  
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2007 Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti Nivole (Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Moscato d’Asti)

nivoleThis is a sparkling dessert wine from Italy. Light golden ginger ale color. The flavors were honeydew melon and tangerine but light, clean and fresh. Not overly sweet as some dessert wines can be. Made of 100% Muscat which is cultivated not only to produce wine but also as table grapes. When vinified it produces wines that are light and crisp. This version pairs well with desserts that are not very sweet like a fruit tart. Perfect for summer.

2006 Four Vines Zinfandel Old Vine Cuvée (USA, California)

Medium purple in color. Blackberry, milk chocolate and spice on the nose. Across the palate jammy flavors of blackberry, cherry, and lingering pepper on the finish. Very fruit forward but without the over the top spice found in younger zinfandel cuvees. This wine carries a California AVA designation so, no doubt, the grapes have been sourced from many different vineyards across the state. Old Vine fruit tends to have greater depth and complexity. The wine was aged in French and American oak barrels so this adds another layer to the zin_oldvine_enlarge1complexity. Four Vines takes a slightly irreverent approach to wine making that is fun and refreshing.  Overall it’s a great wine for the money ($14) and realitivly easy to find.

2006 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley)

kosta-browne_rrvThe nose was cherry, raspberry and spice box. The flavors were bold and forward with ripe raspberry, cherry and vanilla leading the way with a hint of savory herbs andcola on the finish which is long and enjoyable. A very strong effort. This wine is at it’s peak now so drink up. Kosta Browne consistently produces some of the finest Pinot Noirs from Sonoma County. Dan Kosta and Michael Browne began their journey into wine from the restaurant industry. They produce small lots of high quality Pinot Noir and source grapes from the many different vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley AVA’s. As many as seven different vineyards contributed to the final blend of this RRV designated Pinot. It will be hard to find but worth the search.

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 1:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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2006 Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Alpha (Chile, Central Valley, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley)

Dark crimson in color. Very fruit forward and lush. The nose is full of black fruit and hints of licorice and smoke. Lots of pronounced black cherry, currant and smoky tobacco flavors that mix well with the sturdy tannins. The finish is medium length. Aged in French oak it’s built to drink now. Good QPR. Vina Montes consistently produces very good and affordable Cabernet Sauvignon’s year after year.  Colchagua Valley, in Chile’s alpha_cabernetsauvignon1Central Valley, has warm summer days and cooler nights which make for ideal conditions to produce ripe Cabernet grapes. Another great effort for the money ($18).

Learn more about this producer here http://www.monteswines.com/english/home.htm