Breaking out of the slump

I know, I know…it’s been quiet. Too quiet. Life has been in the way too often over the last several weeks, and I appreciate anyone who has stayed with Notes over this gap. We’ll be back with a vengeance soon enough in 2017…here’s a glimpse of some of the goodness on tap for the coming year.


California Cab, of course, and several old-world wines lining up for the coming future.

Thank you for your readership and stay tuned!


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2012 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

The Alexander Valley I’ve “visited” on several previous occasions. Among the 30 or so vineyards of this Sonoma County AVA are Clos du Bois, Francis Ford Coppola, Rodney Strong, and Simi Winery–who produced this bold 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.

2012 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

2012 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Tonight this Cab accompanied black and blue bacon cheeseburgers, tossed beds of greens with mustard, and crispy crowns potatoes. The blackberry flavors, tinged with subtle inferences of spice, were a juicy accent to the burgers. The Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon smelled almost tart in the glass, but its actual finish was far gentler and more even than its nose suggested. My wife expressed this idea far more eloquently than I am here but, like this enjoyable bottle of red, her words were fleeting and I have lost them to time and space.

Here’s how the vineyard conveyed: “Balanced flavors of red and black fruits, smooth tannins, and soft spice give way to a velvety finish.” They used fruit from Los Amigos and Red Fan, and other Alexander Valley Vineyards (e.g., Encinos, Big River, Hoot Owl Creek, and Belle Terre) to develop the final flavors in this Cabernet, which is actually a red blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. (It’s the Malbec and Verdot that convey the spices, if you’re curious…)

Last couple things: the grapes fermented 32 days in stainless steel (on the skins) and ultimately aged 16 months in small oak barrels–releasing in June of 2014. It’s a good value for the price, and the 2012 Simi Cab should be readily available in your local wine store. I’d pick up another and recommend you do the same.



2012 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon

Silver Palm is a new Cabernet Sauvignon to this taster, and one I was glad to try this December weekend. It’s label is definitely an attention-grabber, its platinum inlay and metallic finish an inviting beacon on the shelf of our local wine store.

2012 Silver Palm, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA.

2012 Silver Palm, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA.

We know that 2012 was a favorable year for California Cab, and that’s evident here in this dark ruby red wine. It has a definite cherry taste to it, and it is substantive. There are spices on the nose, and I’m drinking it from a Reidel glass made specifically for Cab Sauv. I think that helps bring out some of the nuances here. The finish is soft and silky; the tannins even and firm.

Says the winemaker, “We select grapes from some of the finest coastal vineyards in Northern California and, with traditional and cutting-edge artisan winemaking techniques, craft a sumptuous, seamless Cabernet.

Enjoyed very much, both last evening with pan-seared steaks and broccoli, and again tonight with Mexican chicken soup. The 2012 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon will go great with your steaks, your ribs, and virtually any meal seasoned with pepper. Or with none–just grab a bottle and give it a try.

2012 Karoly’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista

September of 2014 the good folks at Buena Vista shipped us the Karoly’s Zinfandel, and you know for damn sure this Russian River red sat beckoning from our wine rack each and every day until this holiday weekend when it finally made its appearance at our dinner table. The July 4th weekend is the perfect time to break out grilled steaks and all the summer fixin’s–including fresh corn, tomato, and arugula salad and the Karoly.

2012 Karoly's Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2012 Karoly’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

We are drinking a bottle from one of just 504 cases of the Karoly’s Selection, and appreciating the complexity of what’s happening here. When you smell this deep red in the glass, you detect some acidity that seems to hint at a tannic finish–but that’s not how the drink actually tastes at all. It’s deceivingly smooth. When you taste this vintage of the Karoly, you actually get an entirely different vibe–it’s dark berry (plum? black cherry?) and kitchen spices that I called “peppery” and was unsurprised to read that I was in the right vicinity with that taste but not as detailed as you’ll hear from Buena Vista.

Here’s the vineyard’s summary: “The 2012 Karoly’s Zinfandel is a stunning ruby color in the glass with an aromatic bouquet of dark chocolate that evolves into notes of bramble berry and vanilla. Ripe dark cherries abound on the palate, where the rich flavor is rounded into hints of anise and cola and culminates in a lengthy finish that begs for another sip.

2012 Karoly's Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2012 Karoly’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Am I crazy or does that sound sort of like the description I would give a wine? It’s a mash up of technical information (granted, slightly more nuanced than I could offer) and tasting experience. It was also a very good pairing for the grilled London Broil and an instant summer classic. Brian Maloney and Eric Pooler have done a great job with the harvest here and we should continue to expect great things from their collaboration at Buena Vista in the future.