2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista

You should always cap off a day of wine tasting with a good wine–the 2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County is assuredly one of those. It’s a dark, spicy red blend from my favorite winery and culls grapes from AVAs throughout Sonoma County into one fantastic wine. This was a birthday gift and came out to play just this weekend.

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

This vintage is mix of Petite Sirah (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (29%), Syrah (18%), Grenache (12%), and Malbec (11%)–what I’ve heard termed a “kitchen sink” wine by more experienced tasters because of the mash-up. It’s hefty, and I do not mean just the special bottle. The glass, adorned with this badge thing, is the heaviest bottle I’ve ever tasted and almost instills some gravitas into the tasting experience. What I mean is the actual wine itself. The Sirah/Syrah is very much present in this wine, an undercurrent beneath a rich Cabernet/Merlot layer. It is really magnificent and a worthy successor to the Caymus that I sampled just hours beforehand.

Last night the Sheriff accompanied bacon-wrapped filet mignon steaks, sizzled to perfection on hot NC evening, and sides of potato and salad. Tonight the 2013 complemented mixed salad greens (including freshly chopped basil that is fighting hard against some hearty sun…and getting some good love along its journey), waxed beans, and a couple of pork chops grilled up to taste and also accented with crushed black pepper and basil.

Say the Buena Vista folks, “Inspiring dark red fruit aromatics arrest the senses while rich raspberry, blackberry, and semi-sweet chocolate flavors are deliciously unleashed on the palate.” Yup, good friends all, those flavors, and accurately described.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.16.22 PMThe winemaker explains they have sourced the grapes from Rockville, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley in the 2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County. I understand that it’s performed very well in competition and with reviewers, and this guy is no exception. It’s my second Sheriff of this year (neglected to post Notes on the first…story for another time…) and I’m truly appreciative of the gift and wish I had saved more to share. Fun beverage to write about, and even better to drink.


2007 Virgen del Aguila Artigazo, Edicion Limitada

Excited for this big Spanish red blend from the moment I first ordered it, and it hit every quality mark I hold dear for red wine. Big, dark fruit evident right from the first pour? Check. Well-balanced finish? Yes. Good spice or earthy undertone? Yup. Great taste? Most importantly, yes.

2007 Artigazo, Edicion Limitada, Carinena, Spain. NotesOfNote.

2007 Artigazo, Edicion Limitada, Carinena, Spain.

I did conduct a brief advance screening of the 2007 Artigazo last evening just to see if it warranted consideration for a Friday night feature. As a result, I knew that by the time I revisited today after the long work week we were already in good hands. Tonight the Artigazo accompanied a pepperoni pizza with just a bit of red pepper flakes added to the slices as an accent. You can bet it would perfectly complement grilled steaks, or perhaps some excellent barbecued pork, and I’ll look forward to that in the future since we have a couple more of these still to go.

My wife and I both noted the fruit-forward notes of the Artigazo right in the glass; it hits your nose even before its juicy blueberry/plummy goodness reaches your lips. Really a mouth-watering taste, and one that seems to fold in some spices as just a subtle accent or two. The 2007 Limited Edition is a blend of Garnacha (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), and Syrah (30%), and I’m betting its the latter that throws the spice profile into the final product. Admittedly I’m a growing fan of the Syrah and that may bias me toward the 2007 Artigazo…but if you are too you really can’t go wrong with this excellent Spanish red.


Summer Reds

The summer is nearing its end, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share several reds that we sampled along the way. Some scored high marks (like the Atilla’s Selection from Buena Vista); others like the Toro or Navardia will probably fall into the “been there done that” camp. The real fun is in discovering which is which. Here’s a fly-by for your consideration:

2012 Lafage Cote Est Catalan

Originating from the Roussillon region of southwestern France (seemingly where the Pyrenees Mountains meet the Mediterranean) is the 2012 Cote Est Catalan from winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage. It packs quite a punch for a white, not in the alcoholic sense, but in the flavor. The 2012 Cote Est Catalan is a blend of 60% Granache, 30% Chardonnay, and 10% Marsanne, and we had it with grilled roasted garlic and butter tilapia fillets, brown rice (chives as an accent from our own garden), and steamed veggies on this evening.

It’s crisp, it’s fruity (notes of citrus and flower to be sure), and not too much in the way of sweetness. Affordable, too. A sliver of some earthy mineral? Perhaps it satisfies some calm midpoint between a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay? I read one review that shared these accolades: “the lovely aromatics are followed by a crisp, elegant, slightly more textured, medium-bodied white with wonderful purity, freshness, and length. It is long and flavorful on the finish.
I agree, and seeing how many nuances he could pick out reminds me–you too, readers–of how neophyte your reviewer is here in Notes. I will stay humble but diligent in the desire to learn and share more.

2012 Cinco Joses, Aragones Winery

The 5 Joses proclaims itself “one hard workin’ bottle” and this red earns a grin in both its aspirations as well as its execution.  This “Old Vines” Grenache hails from Spain (perhaps garnacha is thus more appropriate) and was part of an internationally flavored dinner for our humble table.  The Cinco Joses accompanied a great quinoa and kale salad, accented with onions, cucumbers, arugula, and tomato salad–fresh and with just the right amount of kick to it.

Unconventionally, the red also complemented a fish entre, a whitefish packing too just a hint of zest.  Not quite the way you might draw it up on the whiteboard but just fine for this family.  Throw in a side of portabello mushrooms and you’re ready for good eating.

Grenache seems to have one of those easy growing profiles (you can find it in Europe, Australia, and the U.S.) and it takes on a similar profile in this 2012 red.  It was a bit acidic right out of the bottle, but I seem to have this inherent flaw in that I never let a new bottle breathe enough, so you have to balance that into your own evaluation.  That’s how I regarded the tannins in the Cinco Joses, but it definitely packed in the fruit right from jump too.  I would say less strawberry or raspberries in your taste here, and more black berry.

If you’re a fan of Zinfandel I think you’d be happy with this affordable, rich red.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.