2000 Lokoya Diamond Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

I had two of these sitting in my cellar since they were released. I think that I paid about $120 for them. I remember at the time that I first tasted this wine that I thought it was about the best wine that I had ever tasted.

I decided to open the first one a couple of weeks ago, and I decanted it. It was wonderful, in fact I didn’t think it could get any better so I’ve now opened the second one.

The wine is dark purple and the aroma is of leather and cigar box and dark fruit.

The taste does not disappoint with nice dark cherry, a bit of coffee, a bit of chocolate and a lot of leather.



1999 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon

Oh my… I forgot that I had this.

I saw this in my wine cooler and noted that the wine level had dropped.

I thought it was gone, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The cork was good shape and pulled out easily.

I decanted the bottle and noted that the color was mostly dark purple, with just a hint of brown from the age.

The aroma was a very intense dark cherry and leather.

It tastes like it smells – very intense dark cherry and leather.

2012 Kuleto Estate Frog Prince

A nice and clear dark ruby-red color with a clear ring around the top showing it to be a young wine. Nice legs.

The aroma has a lot of blueberry, a little blackberry, a little dark cherry, a lot of alcohol and a bit of leather and tobacco.

The taste curve is mello to begin with, but intensifies in the middle and eases off smoothly at the end.

The flavors are similar to the aroma. Blueberry and other dark fruit with a bit of leather or tobacco.

I’ve been buying this one a lot lately, it is a good pizza or spaghetti wine.

$20 at Trader Joes.

2009 Red Knot Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

A recent find at Total Wine. Quite familiar with the Shiraz, but the first time seeing the Cab, so at $10 it was worth a try. After removing the Zork (a unique closure to say the least), I was immediately met with a rush of black cherry and a hint of clove. Intense black fruits on the palate, medium tannins, and a hint of spice and chocolate on the finish. Kept having to remind myself that it was only $10.

Is it a huge Cab? No, but very impressive for the price point. Went very well with my Capriotti’s cheesesteak yesterday and with chocolate chip cookies today. Would be amazing with a meaty chili (beans optional).

2007 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee

I thought that I had posted my notes on this one, but apparently not.

I sit outside in the 92° F shade munching on my favorite, Capriotti’s cheesesteak and sipping some pretty good wine, the 2007 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee, which I pick up on occasion from Costco.

This wine is very nice for the price.

The wine is clear but deep purple in color, with aromas of dark black cherry and a touch of cedar.

The flavors include… Oh wait, my glass is empty. Hang on… (sorry)

Ah yes, the afore-mentioned black cherry with a touch of cigar box, and a little pepper on a nice, long finish.

I wish I had some chocolate to go with this…

2007 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

I picked this one up at Costco based on the price and the shelf tag.

It has a very balanced taste curve. It is very food friendly. I have not paired it with a peppered steak, as it probably will not stand up to that, but it works very well with pizza, tomato bisque, a toasted cheese sandwich and am I allowed to admit this – even with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

Very nice dark red in color, aromas include tobacco, cedar, black raspberry.

The flavors are not overpowering, but rather nice, and as I said, balanced with a decent finish.

The wine maker touts that it will age well. It might, but why bother as it is quite drinkable now.

New Wine @ Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe NM

Emergence PasoRobles (14.5%; 33% GrenacheBlanc/29% Marsanne, 25% Viognier, 13% Roussanne) CentralCoastWineWarehouse/SantaMaria 2009[/b]: Med.yellow color; attractive fragrant fruity/spicy/floral/honeysuckle slight earthy/smokey/OscarMeyer rather perfumed nose; soft slight tangy/citric attractive floral/honeysuckle spicy/smokey slight earthy flavor; med.long soft slight citric/tangy floral/honeysuckle/spicy/smokey bit earthy finish; could use a bit more acid; lovely aromatics that speak mostly of GrenacheBlanc and Roussanne; a screaming deal at $7.00

If you see this at your local TJ give it a try, not bad for the $$$.

2005 Robert Biale “Zappa” Proprietary Red

Who knows why this is labeled as “Red Wine”; even their website admits that this could technically be labeled as a Zin – 76% Zin, 12% Syrah, and 12% Petite Sirah. As any Zin enthusiast might expect, Biale has another winner with this one.

The color is a deep blackberry and the nose exudes rich black fruits with a hint of licorice. Black cherry and plum dominate on the palate with a hint of spice and pepper. The spice and medium heat linger awhile on the finish; alchohol is 15.6%.

If you can’t find Black Chicken or Monterosso, this one will do just fine…. Votre Sante.

1982 Opus One – so sad

A friend of mine had me open his bottle of 1982 Opus One. He had it sitting in his living room wine rack for years.

Before opening it, I noticed that the wine level was well below the capsule. I suspected leakage, but the color of the top of the cork was good.

When I inserted the corkscrew, it seemed that cork was very soft, in fact, it offered no resistance.

I expected difficulty removing the cork, but it popped right out or should I say about the top-half did. The cork was well saturated with wine up to about one quarter of an inch from the top. So there was no apparent leakage.

After a couple of attempts, the rest of the cork came out.

I poured some in our glasses. The color was good. There was a nice smokey aroma, but there was absolutely no fruit aroma.

I tears were actually welling up in my eyes at this point. OK, not really but I figured that it was gone.

It tasted pretty much like it smelled. The fruit was long gone. There was alcohol and the flavors from the barrel. I could tell that it was once a great wine. I even drank a bit of it before giving up.

I give thanks to my friend for allowing me to share the experience, because even though the wine was well past it’s prime, I know that it cost a lot when it was purchased.

2005 Mathis Sonoma Valley Grenache

An offering from a previous head winemaker for Ravenswood, I picked up a couple bottles at — believe it or not — a small shop on the concourse of the Oakland International Airport. We were returning from a weekend trip to the Bay Area.  and I struck up a nice conversation with the clerk. Always a fan of Rhones, this one is a blend of Grenache (84%), Petite Sirah (11%), Carignane (4%), and Alicante Bouchet (1%).

The color is a deep raspberry and the nose is  black cherry and cranberry. The palate is a nice blend of strawberry and pomegranite with a hint of dark chocolate and black pepper. It paired well with pork loin chops off the “barbie” the first night and burgers the second. I gotta say it got better as time went on. When it comes time to open the second bottle, I will be sure to let it breathe a bit longer than this one.

2002 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon

Ok, so my first thought was “This thing is a bit over the top.” Now mind you, I’m going to drink it even if it is corked! It wasn’t corked. In fact the cork looked like it could go another 40 years or so.

But the wine is probably just past its peak. Of course, Jim picked this up at a smokin’ $20 at Smith’s, and I’d guess that they messed up. :o) They probably didn’t store it at a proper 55 degrees F. either, so I’m not worried about opening now.

I just picked up a Capriotti’s Cheesesteak with grilled onions and hot peppers. I checked my cellar. I had an Amarone and a Sangiovese. They would have worked, but a Cabernet Sauvignon is probably much better. I had a GSM sitting on the bottom shelf, but this one caught my eye.

It is freaking awesome !!!

I didn’t let it sit after I opened the bottle. The appearance is appropriate for its age. Very dark purple with no clear ring around the glass. Aromas are slightly sweet dark cherry, The flavor has very RIPE black fruit,which is also very ripe. But it is amazing none-the-less. The very worst thing that I can say about this wine is that I just poured my last glass, and once it is gone, there will be no more. It is so sad in a way.

Forgive me while I grieve just a little. OK, enough of that. There are other great wines in this world, and I will fully enjoy the last glass of this one.

2005 Robert Young Red Winery Road

I was looking for something to go with macaroni and cheese, and I’ve pretty much drank all of the stuff in my cellar that cost less than $35. I pulled out this bottle and realized that I never tried it before. As soon as I pulled the cork, I realized that it could sit in the cellar for many years to come as the wine had not edged its way up the cork one bit.

It has a nice dark ruby-red color. Not as dark as their Scion, but intense in color. the aroma, which hit my nose as soon as the cork was removed has lots of red raspberry, cherry, and a light floral aroma. I can also smell just a touch of leather or cedar.

A very interesting taste curve. It starts out very mellow and smooth, but it intensifies towards the middle and finish. It starts with the leather and then the raspberry flavor kicks in, and the finish seems to get hotter and hotter finishing with a nice pepper.

Robert Young Estate Winery produced only 20 barrels of this wine. It may be tough to find, but it’s worth tasting if you can find some.

2004 Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz

Picked this one up at our local Costco for about $20. Color is deep purple and the nose is rich in red fruits (blackberry and plum) with maybe a hint of leather. I got cherry, plum, and vanilla on the palate along with a touch of pepper. Finish was moderate; the cherry still there with the hints of leather and spice.

The tasting notes state this one received a 94 from James Halliday and an 87 from Wine Spectator. I think I tend to go along with WS; it’s decent but not outstanding.

2006 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville – Napa Valley

Charles Krug was my first favorite winery. I was in the area with my sister and her husband. They wanted to go wine tasting. I went along for the ride. My wine experiences up to that point were not so pleasant – mostly drinking Mad Dog 20-20 while in college. Charles Krug got me hooked and it the rest is history.

Saw this Cab at Costco and it brought back good memories so I bought it. Today I was making some beef stew and needed something to cook with. I added half to the pot and half to me!

Very nice dark cherry aroma with just a touch of toasted oak. At first, I thought there was a hint of leather, but I lost that somewhere. The bottle says that there should be current and roasted coffee with clove and licorice, but I don’t get any of those.

Very smooth taste curve, lots of dark fruit, even more toasted oak, and the leather that I couldn’t smell is easy to taste. I still don’t get any coffee, or licorice, but there is just a hint of cloves.

This is a pleasant wine. I’ll pick up some more and I would recommend it for people just moving to red wines.

about $20 at Costco

2005 Solune Barbera

I cannot believe I haven’t posted this one yet; I am on my third or fourth bottle and have two left. The vintage is from a small winery in the Sierra Foothills, if you are familiar with the Colfax and Grass Valley areas of California.  You will notice a few Sierra Foothills wines (Solune, Nevada City, and Indian Springs) posted below.

The 2005 Barbera from Solune is luscious & rich, with intense cherry/raspberry/plum notes, low tannin and a velvety lingering finish. This wine pairs well with grilled meats (just had it with a tasty sirloin and baked sweet potato) or even stands well on its own.  Sadly, this vintage is sold out (Solune is one of many small wineries in the area and their productions are low) but the 2006 was recently released — will post that one when the bottle is opened.

Nevada City Rough & Ready, Cask 206

This newest edition of Nevada City’s Rough & Ready Red (Casks 204 and 205 are posted below) is predominantly Merlot with, in decreasing percentages, Zin, Cab, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Sangiovese. The characteristics are that of plum, cherry, spice, and red licorice, with a hint of oak. The tannins are soft and alcholol is at 14.5%.  All in all quite acceptable for pizza and pasta although the Cask 205 remains my favorite of the three.

If you find yourself in the Sierra Foothills of California (Nevada City, Grass Valley, Colfax) just east of Sacramento off I-80, spend some time in the area and you will be quite surprised by the number and variety of wineries — check out  http://www.nswinecountry.com/. Offerings from a few of those are posted below; more will be added as the bottles are opened.  A Votre Sante.

2005 Vines on the Marycrest Satin Doll

A blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Syrah from Paso Robles.

This one was recommended to me because I mentioned that I liked the Herman Story wines. In fact, this one reminds me a lot of about wines from Herman Story. Very dark in color, very ripe, but retaining the aromas and flavors of dark fruit. There is less pepper in this one, but over all a very nice effort.

Their website: http://vinesonthemarycrest.com/ has a link to a video which is worth watching if you have a few minutes.

The posted notes for Satin Doll mention herbs and oak which I can’t seem to find, but the finish is long and smooth.

I’m going to say that my favorite wines from Paso Robles are from Garretson Wine Company and Linne Calodo but this one is right up there.

2005 Nevada City Contour

Actually labeled as Directors’ Reserve Contour, this is a Bordeaux blend consisting of 76% Cab, 7% each of Merlot, Cab Franc, and Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot.  With an alcohol level at 14.2% and a price point of $25 at the winery, a quite acceptable offering.

The color is a deep black raspberry with legs that go on and on. The nose is full of black fruit, clove-cinnamon, and a touch of leather. Black raspberry and black cherry are evident on the palate along with vanilla, clove, and (again) a touch of leather. Smooth tannins combined with vanilla and coffee linger on a lengthy finish. Enjoy….

2003 Indian Springs Barbera

Venturing into yet another corner of Nevada County and the Sierra Foothills, I came across Indian Springs Vineyards.  Again, another small producer with unknown (to me) distribution depth. Discovered them on a recent visit to Nevada City, California where they have a tasting room; their winery is a few miles to the west in Penn Valley.

I found this offering to be quite acceptable, showing many of the typical characteristics. The color leans toward a dusky strawberry; I remember reading somewhere that Barbera does brown slightly with age and this is an ’03. Strawberry, cherry, and currant come thru on the nose and continues to the palate with an additional touch of toast. The medium tannin finish brings lingering plum and slight smokiness. The alcohol is at 14.5% and the price point at the tasting room was $19.

2004 Solune Sierra Foothills Cabernet

Tucked away in the Sierra Foothills between Colfax and Grass Valley California you will discover a real gem, Solune Wine Growers (http://www.solunewinery.com/). There is truth behind the cliche “good things come from small packages”.

If you are a fan of those monster Cabs from Napa, save a few dollars and stop by Solune while this one is still available (going fast, small volume). At $21 this one is worth much more. The color is deep raspberry; the nose bursting with black currant, leather, earth, and a touch of mint. The palate is a wonderful collection of black fruits, leather, slight oak, and the bell pepper common to classic Cab. The finish is long with mild tannins, vanilla, leather, and smoke. As Jacques says, “A votre sante` !”