Thursday, April 21, 2011

Coterie Cellars offer on LivingSocial

For the uninitiated, LivingSocial is one of those sites that has daily offers at big discounts. Today's offer is from Coterie Cellars; $20 gets you a bottle of their Casatierra Vineyard Rosé of Syrah, a ticket to a 2 hour wine tasting and $20 off the purchase of any 3 bottles of Coterie's wines. Coterie is a small winery in south San Jose specialising in Pinot Noir and Syrah, as well as Rousanne and Viognier.

Buy the ticket on LivingSocial. Today (April 21st) only.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Downhill takes Flight

Frank Ashton, owner of Downhill Cellars, has opened a tasting room and wine bar in Cupertino. Flight Wine and Food is at 20333 Stevens Creek Boulevard, close to De Anza Boulevard.

The wine bar has a varied selection of local wines as well as some unusual imported Croatian and other European wines. Prices seem reasonable, and wines are available to-go. The wine bar is open midweek from 4-8, weekends 12-5 and will be open this weekend for Passport Day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tasting Notes from Pinot Paradise

Pinot Paradise is the annual showcase of Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Most of the local Pinot producers attend, pouring one or two of their current releases. Here are my brief notes from the event. As usual I wasn't able to get round all of them.

If you're confused, Remde Vineyard is another name for Veranda Vineyard. Similarly, Deer Park Vineyard and Lester Family Vineyard are the same.


2008 Veranda Vineyard
Fresh dug earth and dried currant. Rich glace cherry. Tart herbal, floral finish. Light tannins 89


2008 'A' Schultze Vineyard
Earthy, spicy. Rich cherry. Similar to the Windy Oaks Henry's Block 90
2007 Lindsay Paige Vineyard
Cherry, fresh bread. Rich tart cherry, raspberry, earth. Long finish. This is the best showing I've seen from any vintage of this wine; they generally seem tight and tough on release. 91+

Black Ridge

2008 Estate
Tart cherry, espresso. Smooth cherry, cranberry. Prickly tannins. Medium finish. 88

Burrell School

The vines were planted in 1991; there are 4 different clones, roughly evenly divided. Now well established, they are dry farmed.
2008 Estate
Darker colour than the 2007, with a slight funky nose, some alcohol/volatile, bright cranberry, tart earth, black cherry, dark raspberry. Firm tannins. 87
2007 Estate
Much earthier than the 2008 notes of iodine, mushroom, forest floor, with some black cherry. Firm, grippy tannins. 86


2008 Lester Family Vineyard
Lots of funky earth. Surprisingly light and bright; Earthy redcurrant. Medium finish 87
2007 Santa Cruz Mountains
50% Lester Family Vineyard, 50% Estate
Soft funky nose Lots of cherry and redcurrant Long tannic finish. 90

Clos LaChance

2007 Santa Cruz Mountains
Light smoky nose. Rich sweet redcurrant, coffee. Firm tannins. Long finish. 89
2007 Biagini Vineyard
Funky earthy Sweet red fruit, caramel, good finish 89


2007 Rafaelli Vineyard
Earthy, meaty. Fresh earth, sweet red fruit, wild strawberry. Lots of tannin on the finish. Needs time. 88

Dancing Creek

2008 Regan Vineyard
Much darker than any of the other wines on offer. I guessed that there was something else here and was told that it contains 15% Nebbiolo from Santa Barbara.
Strikingly different nose from all the other wines; lots of black fruit. Bramble, black cherry, cassis, dried fruit. Nice wine and good value, but if you're looking for an expression of the Pinot Noir grape, this isn't it. 89


Peter Martin Ray Vineyard was once part of Mount Eden. It's a separate small vineyard lower down the hill planted to the same clones; head trained and never replanted.
2006 Peter Martin Ray Vineyard
Earthy, spicy, candied peel. Rich cherry, cinnamon, citrus peel. Hint of Brett on the long finish. 90
2007 Peter Martin Ray Vineyard
Lighter nose than the 2006. Bigger and richer; more concentrated than the 2006, with a long finish. Excellent value. 92


2005 Terra Serena Vineyard
Smoky cinnamon. Sweet cherry, cranberry. Tart, tannic, earthy finish. 88
2006 terra Serena Vineyard
Odd (VA?) note on nose. Sweet cherry, redcurrant, dark fruit. The acidity seemed less evident than on the 2005, yet technically the 2006 has more. 87

Heart o' the Mountain

Pear, pepper. Sweet redcurrant, maraschino cherry, medium finish, soft tannins. 88
2008 Six Sixty Seven
Wild strawberry on the nose and palate. Sweet, spicy, peppery finish. 88

Kings Mountain

Earthy, iodine. Cherry, red fruit and mushroom. 85

MJA Vineyards

2007 DaVine Regan Vineyard
Savoury - almost cheesy - nose. Meaty umami, black fruit, tannic finish. 88
Rhonda Boos of The Mountain Winery

Mountain Winery

2008 Estate
Elegant, light nose. Asian spice. Complex rich cherry and savoury with firm tannins. Needs cellar time. 92

Mount Eden

Orange peel, herb, smoke. Rich spicy cherry, pomegranate, Long finish. 94+
2009 Domaine Eden
Mostly from the old Cinnabar vineyard, which Mount Eden purchased in 2008. The existing Cabernet vines were grafted over to Pinot Noir (Dijon clones, rather than Mount Eden); this is the first vintage since then. There's also some Pinot from Woodside and Santa Cruz in the blend.
Faint nose. Soft berry, cranberry flavours. Light weight. 87


Bright nose. Meaty, rich dark fruit, mocha, black cherry. Plenty of tannin. 88
Fainter nose. Similar to the 2006, but with a slight oxidised/pruney note. 87


2006 Vineyard
Smoky, rich bold, cherry. Coming together well; some interesting green herbal notes. 89
2007 Vineyard
Tangy cherry, smoke. Chocolate cherry, subtle earthy notes, lots of tannin. 89


2008 Estate Brookes' block
Interesting caramel and cherry. Nice complex cherry, earth, herb, meat. Medium finish, fine tannins. 89+
2008 Estate Reserve
Light, smoky cherry. More intense oak, good cherry flavour, more structure, needs time. 89+


I was particularly impressed by both of Denis Hoey's offerings; the guy is an extremely talented winemaker. You should get on his mailing list while you still can.
2009 Domani
Black cherry, fig. Good dark fruit, bright acid, smooth tannins. Needs 3-5 years minimum. 91+
2009 Woody & Jenny's Top Block
Tangy and spicy. Lots of spice and bold red cherry flavours. Unbelievably this was aged in neutral oak; all that spice is coming from the vineyard, not the barrel. 94+

Pelican Ranch

2007 Deer Park Vineyard
Smoky, savoury. Rich, sweet cherry. Bitter tannins on finish. 86
2007 Remde Vineyard
Smoky raspberry. Sour cherry, raspberry, red fruit. Dry, tart finish. 86

Pleasant Valley

2006 Dylan David
Smoke, cinnamon, clove. Sweet red cherry, nutmeg. Soft tannin. 88+
2008 Lester Family Vineyard, Clone 667
Earthy, musty, bubblegum. Sweet earthy, strawberry. Fine tannins. 88
2008 Lester Family Vineyard, Clone 115
Less earth, more red fruit. Sweet redcurrant, cinnamon. Long finish. 89

Poetic Cellars

2008 Regan Vineyard
Light savoury Smooth redcurrant light acid Dr pepper light oak 88


2008 Estate
Rose petal, earth, cherry Sweet concentrated black cherry lots of tannin. Needs cellaring, though the acid is a little light. Give it 2-3 years 90+

Roudon Smith

2008 Private Reserve
Corralitos (partly Regan) Light perfumed nose Soft red fruits - cherry redcurrant a little spice Soft tannins 88
2009 Armitage
Corralitos (Rembe) Bright cherry and berry Smooth fruit, some earth chewy tannins. 89+


2009 Santa Cruz Mountains
2 corralitos Vineyards Bright red and black fruit notes Concentrated fruit, earth and tannin. Needs time. 89+
2007 Rebhahn Vineyard
Black fruit, earth Rich sweet intense black fruit Firm tannins. Long finish. Come together nicely 90+
2007 Veranda Vineyard
Smoky Cherry Tart black cherry earthy tannic finish. 90+

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

2001 Estate Reserve
(new release), 22.5 brix 3.20 pH finished 12.5% 1200'
spicy nutmeg a little fresh earth,
tangy acidity - raspberry, red fruit
nice finish plenty of structure still very ageworthy 90+
Needs food
2004 Bailey's Branciforte Ridge "Bella's Reserve"
14.2% 3.48pH 800'
French and hungarian oak. Inoculated
earthy, cherry
bright cherry fruit
long finish, good structure, 90+
2008 Branciforte Vineyard
Earthy funk Sweet cherry herb earth loads of structure 91+

Savannah Chanelle

2007 Estate
Interesting funky nose, earth and spice Rich intense red fruits, black cherry, spice. Good structure. 91+
2009 Muns Vineyard
Barrel sample Nose is bright smoky cherry Intense red and black fruit lots of structure 90-93

Silver Mountain

2006 Miller Hill Vineyard
Smoky funk hint of acetyl? Structured red fruit, bold tannins Earthy finish 88+
2007 Muns Vineyard
Lighter floral nose Lots of structure. Fruit in the background. Needs more air. 88++
Annette Hunt of Skov Winery


light cherry cinnamon nose Soft cherry fruit Smooth tannins 87


2008 Muns Vineyard
Earthy black cherry Assertive sweet fruit - cherry redcurrant earth spice lots of tannin 90

Thomas Fogarty

2008 Windy Hill
- highest elevation, just under 2000' 2.5 acres 8x10 Martini clone on AXR1, some variation, last to be picked, exposed to weather
Vigorous rootstock, no phylloxera issues, all cane pruned
1/3 whole cluster, always native yeasts, no SO2 at crush 100% french 50% new

Medium colour
Fragrant, floral
light sweet fruit redcurrant/raspberry
oaky tannin on finish 89

2008 Rapley Trail
fainter nose, less floral, some smoke
Tarter redcurrant, cranberry, less tannic 88

Villa del Monte

2009 Regan Vineyard
Savoury dried herb roast meat Sweet redcurrant, spice Smooth tannins. Balanced. 88

Vine Hill

Cherry vanilla Soft red cherry Fairly simple Light tannins 85

Vino Tabi

2008 Lester Vineyard
Bright cherry syrup nose and palate. Some pepper. Prickling tannins on finish 86
2008 Regan Vineyard
Smoky oak, coffee Rich redcurrant, blue cheese Medium finish 86

Windy Oaks

2008 Henry's Block
spicy cinnamon/clove, cherry rich spicy black cherry, parma violets, red vines long finish early drinking 90
2008 Wild Yeast
Lovely nose elegant floral Intense red fruit up front, fresh earth on finish 92