The Sheriff of Buena Vista has become one of my favorite red blends, and it’s made annual appearances on Notes. Feedback on the 2016, 2015, and 2013 are all here for easy access but know now each is a bold, full-flavored powerhouse. This is big flavors that you sort of need to balance against something as weighty–or not.
This vintage runs back the formula that worked so effectively in the 2016. I’m betting the response from consumers was such that the team at Buena Vista decided, “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” Here is a mix of Petite Sirah (34%), Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Grenache (14%), Syrah (11%), Petite Verdot (5%), Mission (2%), and Cabernet Franc (1%), and it conveys big blackberry and plum from your glass. Darker notes of chocolate and spice are pretty evident too. See what I mean about the overall weight of this bad boy?
Here’s how the winemaker sourced this year’s Sheriff: “The varietals that compose 2017 vintage are harvested from vineyards throughout the county, including the Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Moon Mountain, Sonoma Mountain, Fountaingrove, Chalk Hill, Alexander Valley, and Rockpile. The individual varietals were aged separately for 10 months in a variety of new and neutral oak barrels before being blended prior to bottling.”
Hmm. No shout out to Dry Creek this year. This wine is aged in French, American, and Hungarian oak (15% new oak). I never see it on the shelves of my local wine stores but seems readily available through Buena Vista (I’m a tenured member and long-time fan). Tip of the cap to this good Sonoma County friend and enjoy.
Two of these bottles so far, and hoping for more in the future. This is the 2017 Saldo California Zinfandel, bottled in Oakville by The Prisoner Wine Company. Delicious stuff–Zinfandel primarily–but like many Phinney wines, it brings a few more threads into the braid. Let’s explore further…
For starters, it’s a combination of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Syrah grapes sourced from Dry Creek, Lodi, and Amador. Yes all favorites (the grapes and the AVAs) of this oenophile, and grounds well traveled here in Notes over the past seven years or so. Just check the filter to the left and you’ll see firsthand.
The 2017 vintage pours very dark in the glass, a red on the verge of purple, and shares with you a host of rich, earthy notes. The Petite Sirah and Syrah confer a bit of black pepper, and the Zin has plenty of cherry as you might expect. It’s fruit-forward and has soft tannins. There are some other subtleties in play but I cannot separate each of those for you here. Remember, the site tries to be unpretentious?
Having said that, research is part of the experience. A quick read on the Prisoner Wine Company website shows that Saldo means “here and there” in Latin (don’t remember any of that from my own rudimentary studies…) and it’s a tip of the cap to their red blend philosophy. The 2017 Saldo Zinfandel is aged in French and American oak barrels (25% new).
A refreshingly fruity red blend hiding as a Zinfandel. Enjoy!
How do you commemorate writing a @*%* tax check for Uncle Sam? You shake your head and reach for a bottle of good wine to cushion the landing. This guy opted for the 2016 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon from Orin Swift Cellars. (Yes, I’d have celebrated a better return the same way, those of you asking…)
Palermo has been on my radar for some time, as a gift for friends, from friends, and once on a memorable date that I enjoyed a ton. We didn’t even finish the bottle on that occasion – guess the company was the more intoxicating play. Said another way, this was the first time I was drinking this Bordeaux-style red with thoughts of how I would describe here in Notes. It’s rich purple in your glass (I went with Riedel stemware for this one) and waves blackberry scents to you right from the first pour. The 2016 vintage is very drinkable, dark berry fruits, and has an easy finish that is probably some of the blended fruit rounding off the harsher tannic corners of the Cabernet. Little spice notes that are far more subtle than the blackberry / dark cherry taste.
The Palermo is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes that the winemaker sources from across the ripe floors of Napa Valley. Calistoga, St. Helena, Coombsville, and Oak Knoll all contribute to this kitchen sink of a wine as does Pope Valley, Atlas Peak, and both Rutherford and Oakville. To what extent? Only the winery knows for sure, but you can bet their inclusion is for both taste and the overall marketability of the Palermo. They mature the Palermo in French Oak barrels for 10 months.
This evening, the 2016 accompanied a pork loin (just a tad overdone) and just a big ol’ salad of arugula, spinach, green olives, and a sweet onion that I shaved into little slivers of goodness. And yes, fresh ground pepper and bacon, with blue cheese dressing. Hey, if tax day doesn’t bring out your sense of carpe diem and good wine what does?!?
Sirah and Petite Sirah always have a special place in my heart, and the 2016 Stanton is one of the reasons why. Yes I’m unquestionably a fan of California Cab and big grapes in particular, and when I drift on the outskirts of this amazing territory it’s the Sirah or red blend that often grabs my attention. Only 286 cases of this wine were produced by the Stanton team, and if you’re able to put your hands on this wine, you’re pleased.
This bottle I opened after a redeye flight from San Diego to Raleigh (back-breaking stopover in ORD) when I was probably working on 1.5 to 2.0hrs of sleep. I was tired but trying to push on through…and I’m pleased to report this 2016 cushioned the landing. It’s a gem and packs a massive, nuanced wallop that is belied by the simple label / production notes. Dave Phinney was quietly involved in this production, and those of you reading Notes with any kind of regularity know my appreciation for his gifts. Phinney has produced not only the Prisoner but also the Locations wines that are often-noted within this blog.
Earlier this day I tried a Merlot but had to shed its taste lest it corrupt the (Stanton) wine I had ready for the rest of the evening. The Merlot I could not finish but the Stanton enticed me ever forward. Said Doug Stanton, winemaker, “There remains a small but dedicated group of growers and wineries who remain steadfast in their appreciation of Petite Sirah.”
Could not agree more. This wine of inky violet has a nose with spice and coffee, and it is CRAZY aromatic. The wine packs in dark fruit flavors (e.g., blackberry, blueberry) and I’m ready for more. But mostly trying to fend off massive fatigue. Miss you all, fans, and hope you’re sampling early and often.
A busy and productive Saturday gets capped off with one of my favorite wine bottles, the Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon. Dog swap? Check. Productive work around the house? Check. Lots of healthy walking? Check. Dallas Cowboys playoff football? Check!
I first sampled the Cuttings Cabernet over a year ago during a blind taste testing of Dave Phinney wines, and it’s been a go-to for me on special occasions–or even when it’s been time to make a special occasion. It’s bordeaux-style,* presenting not just king Cab but also some Syrah and Zin grapes that add nice layers that you taste while sipping contentedly. Yes this creates some spice undertones that you’ll appreciate! But mostly it’s big, jammy bomb of fruit flavor…
Here’s how the winemaker describes: “Deliciously smooth with flavors of blueberry, dark cherry, and cocoa. Aromas of fresh roasted coffee, black currant, vanilla bean, brown spice, and wild berries.”
I had the Cuttings with grilled chicken and a green salad that I pulled together; arugula and iceberg lettuce, yellow onion, green olives, and fresh ground black pepper sprinkled over blue cheese dressing. Great mix of tastes and textures between the hot and cold elements, and well-accompanied by the Cuttings. Importantly, the Cowboys played the ‘hawks tough and came away with a big home victory. I toasted their success more than once.
The Cuttings has been firmly entrenched in my Top 5 ever since I first sampled. Hoping you have the chance to do the same…it’ll make your Best Of list too. Thanks for reading and let’s go Big D!
*Cuttings is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and a 20% blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel.