2013 The Count’s Selection, Syrah, Buena Vista Winery

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to bottle number 3026 of The Count’s Selection Syrah, produced by Buena Vista Winery. Yes, another Syrah, loyal readers. You know I have a tendency to hold onto Buena Vista wines for special occasions, but this weekend (which also included the new Bond flick Spectre) I needed some TLC courtesy of these good Sonoma folks and fired up this 2013 to get my fix.

2013 Count's Selection, Syrah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma Valley, California, USA.

2013 The Count’s Selection, Syrah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma Valley, California, USA.

This Syrah is very easy drinking, a blackberry-flavored red with earthy undertones, a bottle that you’re so disappointed to see dwindling over the course of the evening. Savor every glass, my friends, because excellence is fleeting and impermanent.

Buena Vista says The Count has “…round, well-integrated tannins, flavors of dark fruits, and a touch of black pepper [that] lead to a velvety finish.

The Count’s Selection works well in both low-brow (i.e., grilled cheese sandwiches) and high-guard (e.g., grilled steaks) applications. Accompanying the cheese you get a sense of the contrast, the spicy pepper-tinged underpinnings of the Syrah. Eaten with the grilled meat, you experience more of the complimentary flavors, the way the seasoning of the steak parallels the leathery complexion of the Syrah. But hell, a drink this fine you could drink with just about anything and it’ll improve both the food and your mood.

That’s my prescription for you this evening–take one of these to cure what ails ya. I hope I remembered to order another in the November shipment that’s presently en route.

The Ones That Got Away – Spring 2015 Sampler

2013 Ida's Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA; Santa Margherita Prosecco, Italy; 2012 Avant Chardonnay, Kendall Jackson, California, USA; 2013 Avant Chardonnay, Kendall Jackson, California, USA; 2013 Vintner's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Kendall Jackson, California, USA; 2013 Ruffino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezia, Italy; 2013 Trivento Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina.

2013 Ida’s Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA; Santa Margherita Prosecco, Italy; 2012 Avant Chardonnay, Kendall Jackson, California, USA; 2013 Avant Chardonnay, Kendall Jackson, California, USA; 2013 Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Kendall Jackson, California, USA; 2013 Ruffino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezia, Italy; 2013 Trivento Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina.

2004 Merlot, Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series

This bottle has been along for quite the journey. It shipped eastward from our favorite Sonoma vineyard several years ago, originally landing in our NJ home, where it somehow escaped consumption for several years–perhaps as many as four or five? I’m not sure if I thought we should just have at LEAST one Buena Vista bottle on hand at all times, or perhaps I was caught up in a post-Sideways backlash against Merlot. Even good Merlot!

2004 Merlot, Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series

2004 Merlot, Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series, Sonoma, California, USA.

Regardless, this 2004 Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series Merlot eventually moved with us down south, surviving 18 unopened months in our rental before sliding to our new home just two months ago. And then the cork came off and we started pouring. Who’s ready for theirs?

I confess that I made little record of the tasting, and an Ida’s Selection Pinot Noir (also from Buena Vista) followed close on its heels so I have some recency bias toward the Pinot. Didn’t record our meal here either. Based on some research, I can tell you the grapes originate from the Carneros appellation, a slice of heaven right in the corner of Sonoma and Napa’s southern boundaries that produces some great adult beverages like this one.

Since finishing the 2004, I’ve done some searching of Wine Searcher and other other retailers without finding this particular vintage. I’m not sure it was a great year or bottle, at least to critics, but I can tell you this one went fast and engendered many warm smiles in our home. Happy hunting!



2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Buena Vista

This one burned a hole in our pocket.  This top-notch Chardonnay arrived just a week ago as part of an April shipment from our friends at the Buena Vista Wine Club and is already a part of Notes.  But with Spring well underway here in our home, whites are in greater demand and I can see a shift on the horizon as reds will have to accept whites on more equal footing.

2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay had a chance to refrigerate all weekend and was nice and chilled by the time we uncorked after work today.  In comparison to a Pinot Grigio, this white had a much richer, flavor-filled density to it.  Some Grigio is almost like water to this taster, the Coors Light of white wines; the Buena Vista Chardonnay (this one in particular) was the succulent alternative.  There are plentiful floral notes in the 2012 Private Reserve, and definitely some citrus too…without some of the “oak barrel” that we occasionally find less ingratiating. (By way of clarification: I want to taste the complexities that result from this aging process without having the barrel dropped on my tongue…I think my wife shares the same sentiments.)

This is how the Buena Vista team articulated their concept: “The 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay is sourced from vineyards throughout Sonoma County and displays fresh citrus notes that are accented by hits of baked apple and vanilla.

I don’t usually warm up too much to vanilla, but it’s not really the dominant scent or taste in the 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay.  Having enjoyed time in Sonoma, I like to picture the winemaker, in compiling the right grapes for this varietal, sampling many of the same vineyards that we too hit in wine country.  I know that is an unrealistic expectation but nice remembrance nevertheless.  Oh yeah–last but not least.  We had this white with a flavorful ham, reheated from our fabulous Easter brunch, broccoli, and a homemade macaroni and cheese (with real melted cheese!).  The food was good, but the Chardonnay was the star of the show.

2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista

Any week that has Buena Vista in it is better than one without.  I’m much less a fan of white wines than I am reds, but when you’re going with a Chardonnay produced by one of the country’s most storied vineyards you’re in good hands throughout your tasting experience.  Our bottle was #1259, and she was drawn from one of 348 cases produced.  Here’s the playbook from the folks at Buena Vista:

2009 Elenora's Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The 2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay displays a spicy bouquet of citrus and ripe pear while bright fruit flavors and great acidity give the wine depth and balance.  A creamy texture and rich flavors of Golden Delicious apples and peaches are brilliantly showcased in this distinctive wine.

Elenora was with us for meals both divine (i.e., salmon with a dijon mustard and oregano sauce) and homespun (i.e., PB&J with chicken noodle soup), and acquitted herself with grace and dignity in each.  The 2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay from Buena Vista is rich in color, more like apple juice than the glassy spring color of a Pinot Gris, and definitely packs in the pear/citrus combination in equal measures.  It’s easy to drink and easier to appreciate.

Buena Vista 2010 Pinot Noir, Otelia’s Selection

Almost a month ago, Notes covered the 2008 Otelia and it’s a pleasure to taste today the 2010 vintage.  I have a tendency to save Buena Vista offerings for big occasions, but this one fell into “grip it and rip territory” and figured it was a much better option than the French Pinot Noir I had (briefly) considered as an alternative.  Live for today, right?

OteliaThe 2010 Otelia arrived as part of our February 2013 shipment (interesting comparison to the 2008, which arrived as part of our February 2012 shipment) and was pretty notable itself.  Our tasting notes from the winery read, “The 2010 Otelia’s Selection Pinot Noir offers alluring aromas of cherry, black cardamom [note: this always reminds me of classic Cheers bar wars], plum, and Mandarin orange peel.  Cranberry and dark chocolate truffle mingle seamlessly with a delicious carmelized toastiness on the palate, while the wine’s balanced acidity and structure lead to a long, lasting finish.

This Otelia first kept company with a simple meal of ground beef and pasta, its red-berried goodness working as an effective complement to the salt and spice of the dinner.  The darker berries were evident on the nose, but I cannot say either my wife or I detected the orange referenced by the Buena Vista team.  It is indeed smooth, however, and definitely finds an easy finish in your palate.  Tonight the 2010 Otelia Pinot Noir will be served with barbecued chicken breast, crispy crown potatoes, and fresh corn off the cob.  I’m confident it will play well with the carbs and spices, engendering not heartburn but a fruity mouthfeel that results in smiles all around.  It has less of the earthy tone that I admire in Cabernets, but has the underpinnings of “velvet berries” that I often prefer in domestic Pinot Noirs.

We’re finishing bottle number 0367 of only 280 cases, and that exclusivity helps me–whether artificial or actual–feel like we’re onto something special.  Thanks to Buena Vista, you’re in good hands either way.  Be sure to enjoy one of these for yourself.

Buena Vista 2008 Pinot Noir, Otelia’s Selection

Buena Vista 2008 Pinot Noir, Otelia's Selection, Sonoma, California, USA.

Buena Vista 2008 Pinot Noir, Otelia’s Selection, Sonoma, California, USA.

The good folks at Buena Vista had sent the 2008 Otelia as our February 2012 club shipment, and we finally pulled it this hot and uncomfortable July weekend.  Here’s their thinking on its composition: “Named for the Count’s youngest daughter, the 2008 Otelia’s Selection Pinot Noir is plum in color, with wonderful aromas of dark fruits, black raspberry, chocolate, and white peppercorn that delights the nose.  On the palate, rich grilled flavors emerge with a core of currant, raspberry, and hints of coco [sic] bean.  The wine shows excellent balance with a nice tannin structure and smooth texture.

Part of the reason the Buena Vista Pinots strike such a chord in our house is because they are more dark fruits (e.g., black raspberry, currant) and earthy spices (e.g., peppercorn) as opposed to strawberry and vanillas that I find a bit too cloying.  The 2008 Otelia hits a whole of lot of marks for us and will for you too, if you can find it.  The winery seems to have moved on to the 2010, which too sounds fantastic but we have yet to taste it.

I’m savoring the last glass of the bottle just now as we usher in Sunday evening, but it was a key to a great Friday night meal of grilled steak (seasoned with pepper and salt if memory serves), fresh corn from the cob, and some potato salad.  Even though it was probably still 90+ degrees by dinner time, the Pinot Noir was enjoyable and worked well with the flavors of the grilled steak.  Definitely smooth and probably even better for you if you are pulling it from some place with better temperature control than we have in our basement.

Buena Vista 2010 Carneros Merlot

Buena Vista 2010 Carneros Merlot, Sonoma, California, USA.

Buena Vista 2010 Carneros Merlot, Sonoma, California, USA.

Over the last several nights, this bottle accompanied many a fine meal–including a home-made chicken scarpiello and a light, summer chicken salad.  This Buena Vista Carneros Merlot was possibly best, however, accompanying just a pizza from our favorite local joint.  Half pepperoni and half pepperoni – black olive, the pie seemed to work well with the cherry and peppery vibe of this 2010 red.  It really looks and smells the part too:  it’s unmistakably Merlot, a deep purple color that wafts dark fruits up at you even as you pour your first glass.

For more informative notes by ‘real’ tasters or even the winemaker you can click here any time.  The description of how this varietal came to bear is worth the read.  Someone with more expertise (or perhaps promotional inkling) gave this a 91 and I think that seems about right in comparison to other reds I’ve had occasion to enjoy.  Always love a Buena Vista and look forward to the next!