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` !”

2005 Nevada City Zinfandel

Yet another post for a nice product from this winery in the Sierra Foothills.  Their Zin is a blend of 84% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 4% Syrah, and 2% Mourvedre.  The color is deep blackberry with legs that go on and on (14.7% alcohol).  The nose is blackberry, raspberry, black pepper, and a touch of clove. All that continues on to the palate with some medium heat.  The finish is medium and decent.  Not my most favorite Zin, but for the price point ($16 or so) it is worth a try.

2005 Nevada City Tempranillo

Actually 97% Temp and 3% Sangiovese, this one was awarded Double Gold and Best of Class at the 2008 New World International Wine Competition. Quite a feather in the cap of this small winery in the Sierra Foothills with limited distribution. The price point is around $19; I picked up a few on a recent visit to their tasting room.

The nose exudes black cherry and tobacco. The dark fruit and tobacco continue on the palate with the addition of leather and earthiness. The finish is medium with the tobacco lasting thru to the end. As with most Temps, this pairs well with meats off the BBQ yet even works well on its own.

Robert Young Scion Vertical Tasting

In the order tasted, we had a 2004 and 2005 Robert Young Chardonnay, then a 2003, 2002, and a 2001 Robert Young Scion. The 2002 and 2003 are Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2001 is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Merlot.  All of the wines are from Alexander Valley.

We didn’t think to rate the Chardonnays but the 2003 and 2001 Scions were the favorites with the 2003 taking first place by one vote over the 2001 and the 2002 getting only one first-place vote.

Here were some of the comments from tasting notes on the three Scions:

2003 – Appearance: Clear, medium-dark color, nice legs. Aroma: Dark cherry, touch of leather, tomato, pepper. Taste: Nice leather, dark fruit, tomato, salty, dry, earthy, chocolate.  Aftertaste: Smooth finish, heat, balanced. Overall impression: Good, okay, nice.

2002 – Appearance: Darker than 2003, “Tina Turner” (nice legs). Aroma: Ripe dark fruit, touch of leather, vegetive, smoke, no aroma. Taste: Ripe dark cherry, leather, slightly sweet, no tannins, less flavorful and dry (than the 2003). Aftertaste: Smokey, short finish. Overall impression: Very nice, smooth.

2001 – Appearance: Starting to show age. Aroma: Dark cherry, dark berries. Taste: Nice dark cherry, leather, touch of cedar, spicy humidor, some vinegar.  Aftertaste: Beautiful finish with nice pepper. Overall impression: Most balanced good with chocolate.

Nevada City, Rough & Ready Red, Cask 205

Where the Cask 204 (posted below) is predominantly Zin, this one is 41% Syrah, 31% Zin, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Cab Franc, 5% Cab, and 3% Sangiovese. The 205 had a production of 966 cases and stands at 14.5% alcohol. I found this one at the local Trader Joe’s for $10.

The descriptors on this one are similar to the 204, but I got a bit of coffee on the palate and finish. Overall I liked this one a bit more than the 204. Not a great one, but good with pizza and pasta or simply relaxing with a touch of dark chocolate. For the price, it is well worth a return visit but I wouldn’t cellar for an extended time frame. Enjoy….

2004 Nevada City Syrah

My second venture into regional wines from the Sierras, this Sierra Foothills Syrah proved to be quite nice. Blackberry, dark chocolate, and a touch of smoke on the nose leads to a more intense blackberry palate with hints of leather and spice. The smoky notes continue in the finish where the chocolate lingers for awhile with a touch of heat.

The 2004s seem to be getting short in supply with the 2005s soon to hit the store shelves in our area.  Nevada City is just a couple hours away, so a visit to the winery and tasting room may be in our near future. I am eager to try more of their offerings; their Tempranillo sounds promising.  Stay tuned…

2005 Rosenblum Rockpile Zinfandel

If you check out October 2006, you will see that Dave posted notes on the 2004 Rockpile. The 2005 can be summarized in much the same way. Deep raspberry in color; black cherry, vanilla, and mocha on the nose, cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, with a bit of spice and leather on the palate, and the dark fruit and leather on the finish. Dave’s comments then still hold true with this one… a very good Zin but about $10 over priced (I paid $35 for this one).

Nevada City, Rough & Ready Red, Cask 204

A recent transplant to Northern Nevada, I decided to try something from a regional winery. Nevada City is just a ways “over the hill” from here so their wines are plentiful in our area. This one is a blend of 40% Zin, 22% Petite Syrah, 15% Syrah, 10% Cab, 8% Sangiovese, and 5% Cab Franc. The wine is named after one of the early gold towns of the 1850s. Cask 204 appears to be their way of saying 2004.  With a lot of 1860 cases, this wine tops at 14.7%.

The color is a deep plum with a slightly clear rim – it is a 2004 afterall. The nose is vibrant with plum, cherry, and clove. On the palate the cherry and plum grow, the spice is joined with a bit of pepper with a hint of red licorice. The finish is nice and spicy with soft tannins.

My first venture into regional wines and I would have to say this one is a winner.  At only $12 this one begs for repeat purchase.  There is also a Cask 205 (you guessed it, 2005) with a different blend that sounds promising; haven’t located that one yet.  When I got this one, I also picked up a Syrah of theirs so stand by for a future post on that one.

2004 Yalumba M/G/S, Barossa Valley

The oldest family owned vineyard in Australia comes thru again. This wine is one of their Hand Picked series and is a winner. A blend of 60% Mourvedre, 22% Grenache, and 18% Shiraz, this Rhone from “Down Under” deserves your attention.

The color is a rich, deep purple. The nose exudes white pepper, black cherry, and a hint of herbs and spice. Dark fruit, leather, creamy milk chocolate, and a hint of coffee combine on the palate. The finish is long with more leather, fruit, and spice.

This definitely deserves repeat purchase. Although quite enjoyable now, 3-5 years in the cellar are not out of the question. Enjoy….

Garretson 2004 Mon Amie Syrah, San Luis Obispo County

Just as I was losing faith in screw caps, along comes a wine that makes me hesitate on totally giving up on them…

Actually a blend of 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier, this selection boasts 14.5% alchohol and is a limited production of only 250 cases. Named for and dedicated to the winemaker’s wife, this wine also boasts a 94 rating from Robert Parker.

The color is a deep, dark, inky blue-black. The nose is rich with dark fruits, cassis, graphite, smoke, and a hint of pepper. Those dark fruits (blackberry, plum, currant), smoke, and yes the pepper too, continue thru the palate with a hint of leather. The finish is long; the smoke and leather diminishing as the pepper takes over.

Do I have any regrets at all?  Yep, it could have cellared another couple years.  To be honest, I just didn’t trust the screw cap… been burned too many times. This is a winner.

Garretson Wine Company “The Decurion”

This showed up at my door the other day. I was quite intrigued as the label gives no information about the wine other than the 14.8% alcohol content.

My first taste told me that I opened this one many years too soon. So I let it sit for a bit and I was well rewarded.

This wine is awesome!

It is very dark in color, and it smells a lot like the grilled steak with freshly ground pepper that I served it with. There is a bit of plum and black cherry in there also.

It the mouth, it is very intense. The flavors include minerals, blueberry and a tinge of cherry-cola.

I really liked this one, but I’m sure that I’ve probably missed any opportunity to acquire more as they only produced 590 bottles…

1993 Stonestreet Legacy

I paid about $60 for this one a couple of years ago. I was cooking up a nice steak, home-made mashed potatoes and green beans and was looking for something to drink with the meal. I saw the “S” and thought to myself that it was one of the $23 current vintages so I pulled it out. I saw what it was and almost put it back. Then I said “What the heck. It is time.”

Boy did I get that right, as I don’t think this one could sit any longer. When I pulled the cork, it broke into three major chunks. I figured that the wine was probably toast, but the cork pieces all felt soft and the wine stain did not venture up the side of the cork more than about a quarter-inch.

The color is intense dark red with nice legs and the aromas are of toasted oak, ripe dark fruit – mostly dark cherry and a bit of dark chocolate.

It is very smooth with quite a bit of pepper (which went nice with the freshly ground pepper on my grilled steak…). There is a bit of cedar in amongst the dark fruit but the wine changes as it sits in the glass. At first the cedar flavor is a bit too intense, but after a few minutes, that burns off and the dark fruit takes over, as it should.

The finish builds with a bit of heat but then tapers off quite nicely with a touch of mocha at the end.

I’m glad that I opened this one. I would have been sad if I would have waited any longer.

2004 Linne Calodo Outsider

This is an awesome blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Mourvedre.

I  must say upfront that I think that I opened it much too early. This is a huge wine with a lot of alcohol, but I think it sit another year or two. It is very fruity, but has a great mouth-feel, the taste curve is well-balanced and it matched up with my Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese pizza quite nicely.

Color is dark purple and the wine has nice legs.

Aromas include blackberry, leather, a touch of blueberry, some cedar, and a touch of vanilla. I would like to say it smells like a late harvest Zinfandel, but that doesn’t quite explain the rich and ripe aroma.

In the mouth, it has a great balance.  Flavors include blackberry, blueberry, and a horse saddle. (Ok, there’s a bit of leather in there.)

The finish is hot with tons of dark fruit and perhaps a touch of eucalyptus on the very end.

I like it a lot!