2017 Salman Vineyard Petite Sirah, Jeff Runquist Wines

Held back this Jeff Runquist gem for as long as possible but finally uncorked it after emerging largely unscathed from the week’s challenges. Notes has covered the vineyard often (most often for its 1448), including this Petite Syrah on multiple occasions. This is more of the same goodness and you’re encouraged to chase down the 2017 Salman Vineyard Petite Sirah. 

2017 Salman Vineyard Petite Sirah, Jeff Runquist Wines, Plymouth,California, USA.

2017 Z R. Salman Vineyard Petite Sirah, Jeff Runquist Wines

Notes has covered Jeff Runquist wines on several occasions since first meeting the winery, and it’s a staple on my dinner table even when not covered in these pages. The 1448 in particular, and the Runquist Petite Sirah first on my birthday back a few years ago. On that happy occasion I sampled the Sirah first on a winestore tasting machine and, having enjoyed that experience so much, had it for dinner that night at Del Frisco’s in Charlotte. Good memories of all that…

2017 Z R. Salman Vineyard Petite Sirah, Jeff Runquist

2017 Z R. Salman Vineyard Petite Sirah, Jeff Runquist Wines, Plymouth, CA.

Let’s be clear. This is great juice; big and full mouthfeel that hurls the dark fruits at your palate. It pours—like all my favorite Sirah—so purple in your glass that it’s nearly black. You smell blackberry and plum and try to think of other dark berries as the notes waft up at you from the glass. This 2017 finishes so smooth that you come back for another glass, and then another refill without even noticing the bottle has quietly slipped out the back door.

I’m not yet sure of the significance of the Z. R. Salman Vineyard and will research that and share here on another day. Know that this 2017 accompanied first a fiercely contested game of rummy 500 and then a “make it up as you go” dinner. Mine consisted of kale, sausage, garlic, leeks, and green onion over quinoa (sambal oelek as an accent)—an interesting mashup of spices to which the Z. R. Salman Petite Sirah held up very well.

Here are notes from a gent (Jim Gordon) more polished than me: “Big, spicy and almost sweet, this showy and full-bodied wine overflows with chocolate, baking-spice and blackberry syrup flavors. It’s tannic, but the richness of the fruit and the sweet-seeming oak component soften it nicely.”

Always enjoy a day that includes a little Runquist and know you will too. Thanks for reading and enjoy your holiday weekend.

2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael Possan Wines

Napa Valley Cab–such a favorite of mine and even more so when it’s shared with interesting company. In my mind, great grapes are always paired best with great conversation. (Okay, okay…a perfectly grilled NY strip makes a strong argument too, I’ll grant you that…) And with that said, here’s the 2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon.

2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael Possan Wines, Napa Valley, California, USA.

This vintage gets its backbone from Cabernet Sauvignon (76%) but also mixes in the Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (2%), and Petite Verdot (2%). I couldn’t recognize the Verdot in the equation, as the fullness of the Cab and Merlot really drive this red. It’s rich, and there are definite blackberry and black cherry flavors in the 2016 Sailor’s Grave. It’s more red, less inky, and less purple overall than the Buena Vista Sheriff that was recently profiled here in Notes. Little whiff of something else too that I can’t quite place…is it spice box? Leather? I am not sure but that’s okay…my mind is on other things even as I sample.

The first vintage of Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2010, and glad to taste that steady process of evolution and refinement here in the ’16. Really fun to get lost in a world of great ambiance, wine, and company. This time matters.

2013 The Vault Red Blend, Banknote Wine Company

Birthday wine – this year’s answer is 2013 The Vault Red Blend, from the Banknote Wine Company of Napa, California. It didn’t quite go with dinner so I just sampled a glass or two before holding it over for today. Love the numbered bottles each and every time I sample one! Great gimmick…and the second I’ve tasted from Banknote specifically.

2013 The Vault Red Blend, Banknote Wine Company, Nap Valley, California, USA.

2013 The Vault Red Blend, Banknote Wine Company, Napa Valley, California, USA.

Yes I have a soft spot in my heart for red blends, and this one was pretty enjoyable. Easy, grooved-down-the-heart-of-the-plate cherry and blackberry mix here. Softer than a Cabernet, and reminiscent of the Michael David blends that Notes has covered with some recurring frequency throughout the years. Or even the Sheriff produced by my favorite winery. Just a little spice to it that I presume comes from a Syrah or Petite Sirah? Bottle #2501 accompanied pork chops seasoned with garlic salt and pepper, white rice, and a green side salad. Oh yeah, a chocolate bundt cake with chocolate chips too!

Says the winemaker, “The rich, smooth palate follows with a dense core of rip blackberry, cherry preserves, vanilla, and espresso. The long, persistent finish and mellow tannins make this wine extremely versatile in food.” 

Thanks for all the birthday wishes; I raised a glass of thanks to each of you who made for the special day.

2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery

It’s well established that Notes covers California Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends with recurring frequency. This is one of the latter, shipped from the vineyard’s Alexander Valley location via an online distributer in a bottle with some considerable heft. When the bottle itself is weighty, you sort of expect the same from the wine too, right? Sometimes that doesn’t bear out in the tasting, and others – like this occasion – it really does.

2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg, CA, USA.

2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg, CA, USA.

There’s a ton of flavor in White Oak’s 2012 Napa Reserve, a bordeaux-style blend that packs in dark fruit flavors that open up beautifully as you go through the wine. It has some tannic scents when you first pull the cork, but if you let it decanter or similarly open up, you’ll find it mellows out and lets other berries come through. Yes, there is definite black berry on the nose, and probably some other dark chocolate notes that you’ll detect too. There is some damp earthiness at stake too…

I ignored some unwritten rules with this wine choice, as I was having it with some pepper-rubbed salmon and rice instead of grilled meat. Call that a little nod to cut back on the cholesterol (at least for the night!). A white might have been the textbook choice, but toss that book out and just enjoy good wine when you can.

And that’s what I’m doing here. The 2012 Napa Reserve from White Oak Vineyards & Winery folds in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, and I’m betting its aged in oak for some time to instill the subtle notes you encounter through this rich, ruby red wine. I don’t think you can find it on the White Oaks website at present, but perhaps your favorite distributor can get you access?

It’ll be worth it. This is a nice wine for the price and I’m glad I got to sample a bottle.