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. 
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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!

 

 

 

2015 The Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, the Prisoner Wine Company

This review of the 2015 The Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon will be short and sweet. It is very similar to the 2014 vintage covered by Notes previously, and puts this grateful fan one step closer to a vertical flight of the Cuttings. The 2014 was immediately ranked inside Notes‘ Top Ten (#5) all time, and this one paces that result favorably. Already I’m wondering what will be in store for this amazing wine in the future bottling.

2014 Cuttings, Prisoner Wine Company, Oakville, California, USA.

Pictured here is the 2014 The Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, Prisoner Wine Company, Oakville, California, USA.

This one is a birthday present, and one I really appreciated. It definitely “fits”! Mom and I enjoyed this bottle on a lazy Sunday afternoon, sipping contentedly while watching The History of the Eagles. Great music, and even better vino.

It’s so rich and decadent on the nose, and a massive fruit bomb on the tongue. In the 2015 The Cuttings, there is black cherry in spades, and a leathery spice undertone as well. Others have used the terms “baking spice”, “cigar box”, and “freshly roasted coffee” and I nod in agreement to each even though I wouldn’t have detected those notes specifically myself. I just love its massive red layers.

This is great birthday beverage, a treat that makes you smile and feel glad to be alive. I’m appreciative of all and thank my mother for the thoughtful gift of her visit and this amazing 2015 The Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon too.

2014 Count’s Selection Sangiovese, Buena Vista Winery

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am thankful for many things this year (you know who you are) and Buena Vista wines are one of ’em. This bottle is from the vineyard’s first-ever vintage of Sangiovese and is a harbinger of promising horizons for Buena Vista. Founded in Sonoma in 1857, Buena Vista is California’s oldest premium winery (also my favorite) and this tempting red shows the winery not content to rest on its laurels but rather the winemaker’s ongoing commitment to excellence and experimentation.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-4-35-18-pmWe pulled the cork on a gorgeous November afternoon; with the sun shining brightly and temperatures in the high 60s, all of us gathered for dinner were relaxing outside instead of watching football on a day I often call “Dallas Thursday” to the ire of all non-Cowboys fans. Tailgating games were in full swing, and beverages flowing–including this Sangiovese. Only a few entries of Sangiovese (see the Puglia, Amantis, or Biltmore) exist on Notes, but they do seem to coincide with family and holiday gatherings so this bottle is coincidentally relevant to this trend.

Our host and hostess provided an AMAZING spread (thank you so much, Brandon and Jackie), one that was bountiful and full of delicious treats. There were two turkeys, a spiral-cut ham, all kinds of vegetables, stuffing, cranberries, mac-n-cheese, rolls, and yes, 15 pounds of potatoes, too. So that’s the backdrop against which this 2014 Sangiovese made its (brief!) appearance.

The wine is really good, and it held up well on an occasion that calls for indulgences of all kinds. It’s got red berry scents too it, mixed with earthy spices. The 2014 Count’s Selection Sangiovese isn’t quite as tannic or peppery as, say, a Syrah or a Buena Vista Charbono, but it has a nice red/black fruit taste that is plenty inviting. It’s a nice, full finish like a Cab but a little less tannic. Since I had car tripping pending for the end of the day, I had to be restrained in my ‘tasting’ of the Sangiovese but would have gladly pushed for more if not a driver on this holiday.screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-4-32-58-pm

Here’s how the Buena Vista people describe the wine: “Our inaugural vintage of Sangiovese opens with complex aromas of Bing cherry, rose petals, and a touch of leather. Tempting flavors of cherries and orange marmalade, with a touch of anise, caress the palate.

I know my friends enjoyed it too and were asking about the bottle, so here it is guys and gals in case you’re looking to order for yourself. Glad to share the day and its celebrations with you all, and looking forward to the next occasion. Miss you all already!

2013 Geza’s Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista

It’s New Year’s Eve, right on the verge of 2016, and a perfect time for a double dose of great beverages–we’re celebrating here with the 2013  Geza’s Selection Pinot Noir, and with my wife’s favorite champagne. That‘s how you ring in the new year!

2013 Geza's Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2013 Geza’s Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Friends and long-time readers of Notes of Note may recall that Buena Vista wines and Veuve Cliquot have both made prior appearances for such occasions. They are fantastic examples of the craft, grapes that cost more than the norm (at least for our modest household) and taste better too. We are pouring amply and with big smiles; we hope to make it to midnight.

The staff at Buena Vista describes this offering from their cellar as follows: “A beautiful ruby color in the glass, this Pinot Noir opens with floral aromas and hits of raspberries and dusty herbs. Flavors of wild plum and brambleberries are accented by hints of pepper and rich chocolate.” If you’re one of those people who says you can’t tell the difference between a $10 wine and a $40 bottle, the 2013 Geza’s Selection is your proof. Numbered bottle or not, you know the quality in this Pinot Noir as soon as you smell and sip this bad boy.

And what of the food? It’s about new experiences for us…including potato pinwheels topped with sour cream, bacon, and green onions (pictured), and a delicious tuna nacho dish. This my bride adapted from a recent meal she’d had out in the city (before the Amy Schumer show) and featured fresh seared tuna and a wasabi mustard mix. It sort of has an aioli bite to it, and we enjoyed both dishes thoroughly. Hopefully both are indicative of good things for us in the year ahead.

Happy New Year everyone!

2013 The Count’s Selection Carignane, Buena Vista Winery

After a few recent blue-collar bottles it was time for a palate cleanser–a nice, medium-bodied red with a lasting finish. Something closer to a Cabernet than a Zinfandel or a Pinot, and once again it was a Buena Vista wine that rang the bell.

The 2013 Count’s Selection Carignane is a member of the Boisset Collection (look that up) and worth the effort to put your hands on one. It’s 100% Carignane, a grape traditionally available in the western Mediterranean and also in California’s Central Valley, and here courtesy of Mendocino County. Buena Vista Winery only produced 175 cases of this 2013 vintage, so do the math on the possible availability of a bottle.

If you find the 2013 Count’s Selection Carignane, you should expect some flavors of blueberry and black raspberry. I’m not exactly sure what currant tastes like in a wine, but I mention it because there is a lot dark fruits in play here that I can’t quite nail down; just a bit of spice or earthiness too. And the wine wasn’t the night’s only treat, as we had this 2013 with cole slaw and baby back ribs. Those we set up with an ancho chile-based dry rub and finished after nearly six hours of low heat with a “Whammy” all-purpose barbeque sauce, picked up from a Charlotte BBQ festival.

A couple important facts regarding the wine:

1) Its grapes were harvested October 19th, 2013. I’m not sure why but I love the specificity.
2) The grapes were aged 10 months in seasoned French and Hungarian barrels.
3) Of the outcome, the winemaker remarked, “Our 2013 Carignane exudes a classically decadent nose of rich, darker fruits…

I apologize for including no photo with this first recap, but if you check back in the next day or two I’ll be sure to share a glimpse of this delicious 2013. Thanks for reading and have a Happy Thanksgiving.