Thursday, March 17, 2011

SCMWA Trade Tasting 2011

Here are some tasting notes from the SCMWA trade tasting last month. This is an annual event open to retailers, restaurateurs and media, which was held at Farallon restaurant in San Francisco.

Unfortunately my punishment for somehow angering the tech gods continues and I've been unable to find the iPod that I had used to record most of my comments. Thankfully I had sync'd it with my PC before it evolved legs, so the notes were safe, but somewhat inaccessible; Apple certainly doesn't believe in letting you have easy access to your own data and I was damned if I'd pay the necessary $25 for what seems to be the only available third party recovery application.

I finally got around to doing the necessary hackery myself to extract the data from its binary prison; it turned out to be a bit easier than I expected. And so, with apologies for the delay, here are my notes.

All wines carry the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation unless otherwise noted.


2007 Estate Chardonnay
This had a really smoky, oaky nose. Big, creamy and smoky with baked apple flavours. Good acidity. Long oaky finish, but despite all the wood I enjoyed it. 90
2007 Bald Mountain Chardonnay
This wasn't showing the oak anything like as much as the Estate Chardonnay, which is surprising given that it sees 100% new French oak and the Estate sees less. Nose shows creamy apples; notes of lime, salt and honeysuckle with a medium to long finish. Reminds me of Varner. 92
2007 Estate Pinot Noir
Light smoky, earthy nose. Earthy and austere with redcurrant and herbal notes. lightly tannic finish. 88
2008 Bald Mountain Pinot Noir
Smoke and maraschino aromas. Earthy but less austere than the estate with black cherry flavours and a medium finish. 90

Big Basin

2008 Homestead Syrah
Blend of 73% Monterey and 27% Santa Cruz Mountains
Nose has roast meat and blueberry. Rich and fruity with smoky berry flavours and a medium finish. 90
2007 Fairview Ranch Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands
Floral, berry nose. Fairly gentle tannins, smooth red berry flavors showing white pepper on the long finish. 91
2006 Rattlesnake Rock
The nose is very complex, showing smoke, meat, fruit and spice. Rich, smooth flavours of smoked meat, redcurrant and pomegranate, with a longish finish. 93
2007 Mandala
The nose suggests dusty old books, but on the palate it's sweet and spicy, with blueberry and blackberry notes and nice firm tannins on the finish. 92


2007 Chardonnay
Lemon and lime on the nose; flavours of citrus, oak and mineral notes. Oak seemed harsh on the finish; give it time. 87+
2007 Pinot Noir
Funky, earthy nose; spicy flavours of sweet cherry, cinnamon and cedar. Very good. 92
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dusty blackcurrant nose. A rather concentrated combination of rich fruit, smoky oak and chewy tannins. 89+

Clos LaChance

2007 Chardonnay
Vanilla and apple on the nose; sweet baked apple and vanilla cream on the palate. Seems low in acidity, with notes of sweet caramel on the finish. 88
2007 Pinot Noir
Inviting nose of cherry pie; sweet cherry and allspice flavours. Oak came across as a little harsh - needs time. 88
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dusty bramble nose; flavours of blackcurrant, oak and underbrush. Promising. 89

Kathryn Kennedy

2000 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Leather and black fruit on the nose. Complex flavours of cassis, earth, leather and cedar; a big wine with a long finish. 94
2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Softer nose than the 2000. Showing lots of primary blackcurrant fruit; good structure, just needs time. 93
2007 Small Lot Cabernet sauvignon
Rustic black fruit, balanced oak, plenty of tannin, good finish. Cellar this. 93

La Honda Winery

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma
Smooth gooseberry and grapefruit flavours; creamy, clean finish. 87
2008 "Sequence" Pinot Noir
Interesting nose - sandalwood? On the palate it's got lovely spicy redcurrant notes with silky tannins and a longish finish. 91+
2009 Exponent
Blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 18% Grenache and 14% Sangiovese
As the blend suggests it's an easy drinking red table wine; light fruity nose and soft brambly fruit. Only $15 at Beltramos; a good value midweek red. 88
2008 Salinian Block Cabernet Sauvignon
5 vineyard blend from small vineyards around the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Nose shows smoke, cassis and brambles. Bold black fruit, lot of tannin, dusty oak on the finish. 90+
2007 Naylor's Dry Hole Vineyard, Chalone AVA
Lots of cassis on the nose. Spicy blackberry, blackcurrant fruit, lovely smooth tannins, a rather elegant wine. 92

Martin Ranch

JD Hurley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Rustic, with notes of blackcurrant and allspice. Tannins are silky and the oak is nicely balanced. 89
JD Hurley 2008 Zinfandel, Santa Clara Valley
Some nice tart raspberry flavours, but perhaps a little oxidized? 86

MJA Vineyards

Marin Artukovich recently relocated his winery from St Helena to Los Gatos. The winery has a tasting room on Ingalls St. in Santa Cruz and a Pinot Noir vineyard on Highland Way (the continuation of Summit Road) in Los Gatos. A second tasting room at the vineyard is scheduled to open next month. The winery has two labels; Serene Cellars and Davine Cellars (not to be confused with nearby DeVine Consultants). The winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from Napa and a Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir.
2007 Serene Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
An oaked Sauvignon Blanc. Creamy and low in acidity, with some gooseberry notes. 85


2008 Chardonnay
Lots of butterscotch on the nose. Flavours of creamy apple, with mineral and brine; clean finish. 88
2006 Merlot
Bright plum aromas, some smoke. Berry and plum fruit, oak seems nicely integrated. 88
2007 Merlot
Earthy nose, which comes across on the palate too. Sweet fruit, some spice and smoke. Tannic finish. 89


2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
The new name for the Santa Cruz Mountains blend; with more of the younger Cabernet vines now producing the balance of the blend has shifted and it can be called a Cab. The blend is 75% cabernet and 20% Merlot, with 3% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Nose is brambly with a little smoke; rich flavours of cassis and spice. Terrific value. 93
2007 Monte Bello
Did not disappoint. I'm a big fan of this vintage, as you probably know. 95

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

2009 Verdelho, Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa AVA
Impressive floral nose, kind of a cross between Sauvignon Blan and Viognier. Light bodied; floral and crisp gooseberry notes with caramel on the finish. 89


(Edited. Zinfandel vines aren't the oldest of their kind in the state but Cabernet Franc vines probably are. Thanks to Tony Craig for the correction.)
2007 Cabernet Franc
From vines planted in the 1920s; believed to be the oldest Cabernet Franc vines in the new world. Smoky blueberry nose. Concentrated fruit - blueberry, redcurrant and cranberry. Chewy, tart finish. Hint of cigar. 91
2007 Zinfandel
Sourced from hundred year old vines. Dark blackberry/raspberry nose. Good concentration. Lots of tart raspberry syrup, backed by great acidity. Rich intense flavour and a long finish. I really liked this. 93
2007 Montmartre
Blend of roughly equal parts Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Carignane, with a little Syrah. Light meaty, smoky nose. Most tannic of the three wines. A chewy, spicy fruit medley that will need time to show well. 90


2008 Chardonnay
Big, ripe nose with lots of vanilla. Rich and creamy with good acidity and flavours of red apple, lemon and lime. 88
2008 Chardonnay, Christie Vineyard
Rather shy nose, showing a little apple. Crisp apple and pear flavours, with the oak far less evident. 88

Thomas Fogarty

2007 Chardonnay
Nose of caramel and apple. Crisp apple, lime and brine. Mineral on the medium finish. 87
2008 Gewurztraminer, Scheid Vineyard, Monterey County
Consistently a great value wine and my favourite domestic Gewurztraminer.
Lovely spicy, floral nose. There's a hint of sweetness, nice citrus flavours, low acidity with a long, floral finish. 90


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