2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista Winery

The dog days are here, baby, and you have to choose your beverages carefully to beat the heat. This weekend called for a treat–something memorable to the brain and taste buds alike–and standing out from some excellent options was the 2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir, produced by Buena Vista Winery.

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2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista Winery, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

If you’re new to Notes, understand that Buena Vista is one of the oldest wineries in all of California, and they make a helluva Pinot Noir. Sonoma’s Russian River Valley has a nearly perfect climate for these grapes, and the team at Buena Vista has had plenty of practice refining their approach. The 2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir accompanied grilled steak, accented with seasoning salt and fresh crushed black pepper, both in ample supply, and sides of mixed salad greens (also peppered) and fresh broccoli.

The wine is headsy stuff. Another Russian River Pinot has graced these pages in the recent past and, while good, it cannot measure up to the Buena Vista. This one is not thin, and it’s not weak. It has some substance to it, definitely more blackberry in the works here and less strawberry or vanilla. It pours dark…not Cabernet dark, mind you, but not transparent either. The 2013 Bela is lip-licking delicious, and it is so mild in its finish–an important requisite as the temperatures here have soured all day long.

Quotes the winemaker, “This Pinot Noir displays dark fruit and sandalwood in the glass while each sip delivers layer after layer of complex flavors. Cranberry and cassis layered with blackberry contribute to this penetrating Pinot Noir’s rich, spreading finish.

Buena Vista only produced 800 cases of this gem, and specifically I’m describing bottle #7074 this evening. It rocked, and I am very grateful to have had the pleasure. Hoping you do too sometime soon. Enjoy…


2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista

You should always cap off a day of wine tasting with a good wine–the 2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County is assuredly one of those. It’s a dark, spicy red blend from my favorite winery and culls grapes from AVAs throughout Sonoma County into one fantastic wine. This was a birthday gift and came out to play just this weekend.

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

This vintage is mix of Petite Sirah (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (29%), Syrah (18%), Grenache (12%), and Malbec (11%)–what I’ve heard termed a “kitchen sink” wine by more experienced tasters because of the mash-up. It’s hefty, and I do not mean just the special bottle. The glass, adorned with this badge thing, is the heaviest bottle I’ve ever tasted and almost instills some gravitas into the tasting experience. What I mean is the actual wine itself. The Sirah/Syrah is very much present in this wine, an undercurrent beneath a rich Cabernet/Merlot layer. It is really magnificent and a worthy successor to the Caymus that I sampled just hours beforehand.

Last night the Sheriff accompanied bacon-wrapped filet mignon steaks, sizzled to perfection on hot NC evening, and sides of potato and salad. Tonight the 2013 complemented mixed salad greens (including freshly chopped basil that is fighting hard against some hearty sun…and getting some good love along its journey), waxed beans, and a couple of pork chops grilled up to taste and also accented with crushed black pepper and basil.

Say the Buena Vista folks, “Inspiring dark red fruit aromatics arrest the senses while rich raspberry, blackberry, and semi-sweet chocolate flavors are deliciously unleashed on the palate.” Yup, good friends all, those flavors, and accurately described.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.16.22 PMThe winemaker explains they have sourced the grapes from Rockville, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley in the 2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County. I understand that it’s performed very well in competition and with reviewers, and this guy is no exception. It’s my second Sheriff of this year (neglected to post Notes on the first…story for another time…) and I’m truly appreciative of the gift and wish I had saved more to share. Fun beverage to write about, and even better to drink.


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.

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.