2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery

This bottle of the Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah surprised me, as I didn’t realize when pulling the cork on this bad boy that it was completing a flight I had started several years ago. If you haven’t been paying attention (guilty here), Notes has actually hit on the 2015 vintage, the 2014, and the 2013 (my lord…tasted and noted but never pushed ‘live’ to the website) as well. That makes at least four of these in my book, people.

2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

I’m more than a little wistful that I have tasted these vintages over the years instead of having the discipline to save and savor the wines all at once. On the other hand, I’m grateful to have occasion and means to come back to the Karoly’s Selection year over year to drink in this goodness.

Like previous vintages, the 2016 is an experience. It is a crazy purple in your glass, and its notes are pretty heavenly. Whiff and you’ll smell dark berry flavors. It has a subtle edge to it, a blueberry(?) or blackberry scent that grabs your attention right off the pour. The 2016 Karoly’s Selection is aged 15 months in 100% French, American, and Hungarian oak, 15% new oak according to our friends at Buena Vista.

Here’s how the Buena Vista team described the vintage: “Big round tannins with a richly textured mouthfeel, this wine showcases flavors of raspberry and dark cocoa with a touch of strawberry.” I’m usually in lock step with the BV team but did not get much strawberry in this sampling. That said, for many reasons, I have been coming back to Buena Vista for an extended period–I’m never disappointed and hope you find similar enjoyment in their wines.

 

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2014 Veuve Clicquot Brut NV

Chapter Two started today, a notable milestone in many ways. Happy New Year, everyone! Notes doesn’t cover champagne all that often, but this was a special occasion and it just made sense to let the bubbly flow. I’ll remember this day for several reasons, this bottle of Veuve Clicquot among them.

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2014 Veuve Clicquot Brut NV, Champagne, France.

I managed the cork deftly, but still regretted the all-too-sudden geyser at the top of the bottle as the wine burst forth. Veuve Clicquot is good grapes, from the first fragrant rush in your glass to the last wisps on your lips. It’s nice and dry, scented of fresh crisp apples and a pleasure to sip whether you’re alone for the occasion or fortunate enough to have great company along to join you.

It’s late, and I’ve written about Veuve in the past on several prior New Year’s and similar celebrations. Like those events and cherished memories, this bottle and this day I hope to hold onto long in the future. May your own 2019 start with promise and thanks, as always, for your kind readership.

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars

Machete. The start of my spiral down into Orin Swift wines…the wine I still count as responsible for my descent into Dave Phinney’s genius, and still appreciate Jamie for sharing with me (indirectly) and George (directly) for my first sample. Um, my wallet says “thanks” fellas!

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

This is a shared wine, and that always makes for better grapes. This 2016 bottle of Machete came to me as part of a Milk Run, and I have high hopes for the next such release–now that we’ve hit the fall it must be coming soon, yes? Anyways, let’s talk about the here and now.

This 2016 Machete accompanied oven-broiled, pan-seared steaks (pulled just at the right time), roasted Brussel sprouts, and a baked potato. We thought the wine delicious, a shared experience of blackberry and dark fruits. The Machete is a compelling beverage, beckoning you on to more even if you’re not usually an aficionado of red wine.

And that was the case here. I love the Machete not only for its funky pop culture street cred, but also for its robust blackberry and minerality. It’s not mountain fruit, to be sure, but has hallmarks that you’ll appreciate if you gravitate in any way toward the Napa Mountains.

I’m thankful to have another 3 of these in the racks today. The 2016 Machete is a powerful, inky bomb that you’ll love. I know I do, and this one will stick with me for some time.

 

2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet, Laurel Glen Vineyard

A man, his dog, fire, and great grapes…no, not the start of some joke but rather a great way to spend a Saturday Happy Hour. In this case, the vino is the 2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet from Laurel Glen Vineyard. It’s a single-vineyard Cab harvested from Sonoma Mountain, and the Laurel Glen team produced just 250 cases of this “Proprietor’s Blend Special Cuvee.”

2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet, Laurel Glen Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain, California, USA.

2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet, Laurel Glen Vineyard, Glen Ellen, California, USA.

I’m guessing you like the photo* but let’s hit some quick research before you get bored. Sonoma Mountain is an extinct volcano located about 20 miles from the Pacific, one of those amazing California spots were you get long periods of sunlight on the vines, and cooling winds as well. Always bears well for the fruit, and virtually every wine from the region. Feels like the very definition of terroir. The hand-picked grapes are fermented for 18 months in a combination of new and older oak barrels, and the result is this 2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet. The vineyard’s website does a nice job of describing their process and philosophy in equal measures.

I started the bottle last night after a long work week (I know, I know…they all are…) but really had a chance to think about its taste today while fireside. My wood pile was filled with branches downed from storms Florence and Michael, and that pile is much smaller today as I indulged in my inner pyromaniac and oenophile simultaneously. It’s a deep red wine, one that imparts notes of plum, black cherry, and spicy undertones upon tasting. The Red Hill Ranch is wonderfully fragrant and I found myself rolling it around in the glass just taking it in…

I snatched up a few of these bottles (thanks for the good value, winestore team!) and look forward to sampling another as the fall season makes great reds so enjoyable. Hoping you have an opportunity to do the same. Thanks for reading.

*The perfectionist in me hates the streak marring the label, yes, but hoping the rest of the composition resonates for you. 

2016 Machete, Orin Swift Wines

This 2016 Machete brings Notes back in spades. The blend of Petite Sirah and Grenache, developed by one of this site’s favorite winemakers, is a robust red combination that you’ll definitely appreciate. And not just from its funky label!

2016 Machete, Orin Swift Wines, California, USA.

2016 Machete, Orin Swift Wines, St. Helena, California, USA.

It has been forever (biggest gap to date?) since the last review on Notes, and I’m glad this wine allows us to re-engage. It’s a heavyweight, and I will always have fond memories of my first taste of Machete. That was well over a year ago, when I got to bogart a glass from a best friend who won the bottle as part of a football bet and treated me to a taste of his winnings. So special shout out to GDog and Eagan for putting me on this path…

…back in the present now: I opened the Machete last night after a long work week (rueful chuckle here) and allowed it to breathe in a decanter while I fired up the grill beneath the day’s fading sun. It is so purple on the pour…abundant whiffs of blackberry and black plum too. You don’t want to be too eager and sip before the wine opens up, because the finish is far smoother once you give it a few moments.

Is the seal a pain in the ass? Yes. Yes it is. You have to score the waxy plastic seal before you can get to the cork, but once you pass this test you’re sitting very pretty.

I had this 2016 with a New York Strip and a killer green salad (mixed, arugula, sliced green olives, bacon, cheese, fresh-ground black pepper and blue cheese dressing). The Machete lasted me through dessert too, a 72% cacao “intense dark” square of Ghiradelli that just finished things up perfectly.

I’m doing part of a Milk Run with this review, so expect another 2016 Machete from me in the near term. Enjoy the above for now, and more again soon. Kind regards to all.

2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve, Buena Vista Winery

This 2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve is a savory, fruit-forward red, one that served as an end-of-week reward for this fan of Buena Vista Winery. The wine is really outstanding, a burst of dark berries that pours dark and fragrant into your glass.

Only 450 cases of the 2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve have been produced by the winery, and you’re paying for that exclusivity and the “reserve” classification to some extent, but the wine is really excellent. It is filled with big scents of plum and dark cherry that open up nicely as the wine breathes. The wine accompanied steak and garlic-mashed potatoes last evening, and then cavatelli pasta and shrimp, with a medley of summer vegetables tonight. The zin is great with both, but in particular with the grilled steak and its robust flavors.

2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The grapes for this wine come from 30-year-old vines on properties adjacent to the winery and part of Count Haraszthy’s original winery (according to Buena Vista’s notes). The fruit is harvested by hand, with the best lots then fermented separately in open-top vats before being pressed off and aged in barrels of French oak. You can almost taste that care as you sip contentedly on the 2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve.

Though not the cabernet sauvignon for which I’d often reach with such meals, the 2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve still abounds in big, dark red flavor. Guidance from the vineyard includes: “[grapes] sourced from the warmer regions in Sonoma County, allowing for warm summer days to deepen the richness on the palate…Bright flavors of tart cherry, cranberry, and boysenberry are balanced with notes of cocoa and a touch of vanilla upon the finish.

As of the time this post goes up on Notes, the 2015 Zinfandel Private Reserve is available on the Buena Vista Winery website if you have been moved by this summary of its many favorable qualities. Great choice for weekend drinking!