June Round-Up: Spring and Summer Sample Standouts
In keeping with my pledge to improve the frequency of my sample posts, I am proud to say that I’m back on a quarterly schedule. This post focuses on 26 wines out of the 40 wines that I sampled.
Champagne Bruno Paillard – this is one of my favorite non-vintage champagnes and a great value for the money. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (33%) and Pinot Meunier (22%). Notes of citrus, currant, fig, raspberry, ripe cherry, almond and brioche. This is an elegant wine with great finish.
2017 Beronia Rosado – this 100 percent Tempranillo rosé was powerful and had notes of strawberry, cherry, spice, dried flowers and had an intensity that is often not found in rosés. I really enjoyed this wine.
2016 Adega Pazos de Lusco ‘Lusco’ Albarino – a great representation of this varietal. It had notes of pear, lemon, spice and herbal notes.
2016 Scheid Grenache Blanc – the tasting notes billed it as love as first sip and I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t get enough of this wine. It had notes of apples, citrus, honeydew melon and a great acidity.
2016 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc – this is the perfect Summer Sauvignon Blanc to go with your shellfish. I got notes of grapefruit, lime, apricot, stone fruit, fennel, stone, flowers and a great minerality.
2017 Lucas & Lewellen Sauvignon Blanc – this was a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Viognier from two estate vineyards. I tasted apple, pear, tropical fruit, stone fruit and citrus.
2016 Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc – this wine had depth and layers. I kept discovering new things in the glass as I tasted. There was grapefruit, pear, nectarine, honeydew melon, tropical fruit, floral notes, brown sugar and it brought me back to remembering what I loved about the Orange Julius drink of my childhood. Flora Springs is also on a mission of creating a white wine emoji and has launched a “Where is the #WhiteWineEmoji” campaign. Because that should be a given! Why should red wine have all the fun?
2016 Blass Reserve Release Chardonnay – notes of stone fruit, citrus and oak. Very drinkable and food friendly.
2016 Napa Valley Quilt Chardonnay – Notes of apple, oak, honeydew melon, tropical fruit and buttered popcorn.
2013 Josić Cuvée Superior — made from 35% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, 20% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Slavonia Vineyards located in the Danube region of Croatia. This was my first experience with Croatian wine and it was impressive. Very Old World in nature (which is completely expected from such a long-time producing wine region), but one that has employed modern wine making techniques. I tasted dark chocolate, earth, mocha, black fruit and licorice. Completely funky and fun. And because you can’t just walk into your traditional wine store and buy a bottle of Croatian wine, here’s a link.
2015 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon – this wine combines fruit from three estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford and Oakville. This was an elegant wine with notes of dessert — black fruit, almost blackberry pie in nature, vanilla, toasted almonds and caramel. There’s a hint of floral as well. Rich and delicious!
2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – elegant with notes of black cherry, cassis, blueberry, currants, earth, herbs, blueberry, leather, mocha and spice.
2014 Alta Vista Terroir Selection Malbec – a great representation of Malbec made from a blend of five vineyards in Lujan de Cujo and Valle de Uco in Argentina. This is born for BBQ with rich blackberry notes, chocolate, spice and herbs.
2016 Toad Hollow Merlot – it’s been a long time since I tried the Toad Hollow line-up and it was like being reacquainted with an old friend. Blueberry pie, cherry, mocha, cedar, spice and flowers make this a wine that is so drinkable.
2016 Troon Vineyard Montepulciano – I have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to Troon Vineyard. Today it was the Montepulciano that was swoon-worthy. Notes of red and black cherry, blackberry, forest floor, herbs and dried flowers.
2014 Resonance Pinot Noir – this is the second release from Maison Louis Jadot’s Oregon project. I tried the Willamette Valley cuvée, and wow it impressed. I tasted cherry, plum, blackberry, earth, dried flowers and spice. I couldn’t get enough of this wine and I was sad when we reached the bottom of the bottle.
2015 Scheid Santa Lucia Vineyard Pinot Noir – notes of cherry, earth, mushroom, spice and brown sugar. This was a Pinot Noir that kept evolving in the glass.
2015 Messina Hof Sangiovese – this wine had notes of black cherry, black currant, red currant, black pepper and spice. Very easy drinking.
Family Wines (more than 3 wines provided)
Chateau Montelena is a Napa Valley winery most famous for winning the white wine section of the historic “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay was in competition with nine other wines from France and California under the blind tasting.
The land was acquired in 1882 by Alfred L. Tubbs in Calistoga. He planted his vineyards, built a Chateau, and brought in a French-born winemaker. The winery, then known as A.L. Tubbs Winery, stopped making wine during Prohibition. Chapin Tubbs, the grandson, began growing grapes again upon repeal and later renamed the winery as Chateau Montelena. When he died, winemaking ceased and the property did not serve as a winery again until the early 70’s when Jim Barrett purchased it, cleared and replanted the vineyard and modernized the equipment. Today, Jim’s son, Bo leads the operation.
2015 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay – an iconic wine that remains that way for a reason. I tasted notes of pineapple, stone fruit, ripe melon, baking spices, cinnamon, citrus, ginger and creamy apple. It has a gorgeous texture and elegance.
2015 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon – notes of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mocha, vanilla, pepper, violets, hazelnut, tea and fig. It’s a rich cabernet that is drinkable today, but will sing with age in the bottle.
2015 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel – I had no idea that Chateau Montelena made a Zinfandel until I received this sample and is delicious. A blend of Primitivo and Old Vine Zinfandel pairings. I tasted notes of mocha, tobacco, dark cherry, cassis, cranberry, cinnamon, spice, earth and cigar.
The Lost Chapters are wines that are made from esteemed winemakers Paul Scotto and Mitch Cosentino. You all may remember that I had the opportunity to work with both of these winemakers on the blending of Masthead several years ago. The premise behind Lost Chapters is that they are small lots that must be found quickly because the quantity is limited. Very limited as you will see.
2014 Lost Chapters Carneros Pinot Noir—notes of rich red raspberries, cherries, earth, vanilla, spice, mint and vanilla. I really enjoyed this fruit-forward and juicy Pinot. Only 183 cases were produced.
2013 Lost Chapters Napa Valley Zinfandel— this was a neighborhood tasting favorite. Notes of blackberry, dried fig, cedar, spicy, smoke and a meaty flavor. A blend of 75% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah and 2% Merlot with only 194 cases produced.
2014 Lost Chapters Napa Valley Petite Sirah—I liked all the wines, but I gravitated toward this one because it was so easy to drink. It was fruit, earth and dust. I tasted baked plum, blueberry, spice, earth and vanilla. Only 143 were cases produced.
Tracy and me
I was invited to a special tasting at Tracy Rathbun’s house featuring the wines of Pulido~Walker. The winery was founded by Mark Pulido and Donna Walker, who grew up in pharmacy families. This scientific background gave them the passion, perseverance and attentiveness that translated into the collection of precise data on the estate’s microclimates and soil composition. This led them to plant on the best fifteen acres in July 2015 with 25% dedicated to Chardonnay and 75% to Cabernet Sauvignon.
We tried three wines that evening, all which showed diverse characteristics of the unique terroir, but shone brightly:
2016 Mending Wall, Stone on Stone — Mending Wall comes from the Robert Frost poem about two neighbors who meet once a year to restore the boundary that separates them, the boundary that brings them together. The winemaking philosophy is the same – it is about coming together to “explore and question the established boundaries in winemaking.” This blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc had notes of grapefruit, citrus, minerality, melon and honeydew melon. Nuanced and refreshing.
2014 Pulido Walker Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa – This was a great red wine. Notes of black and blue fruit, floral notes, earth, graphite, chocolate, spice and opulence.
2015 Pulido Walker Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain – This was also a great red wine, but it needed a little cellar time. Black, blue and red fruit with vanilla, Asian spice and coffee. It needed a food pairing or some decanting time, but delicious.