2012 Pinot Noir, Ancient Oak Cellars

It’s National Wine Day and just taking a moment to commemorate. Here is the 2012 Pinot Noir of Ancient Oak Cellars–you’re always on solid footing with a Russian River Valley Pinot, and this is a refreshing, light beverage after all the big red I’ve sampled as of late. Hope you’re celebrating with a favorite and readying for the long holiday weekend…

2012 Pinot Noir, Ancient Oak Cellars, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

2012 Pinot Noir, Ancient Oak Cellars, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

…and excuse the brevity on this one. Notes will revisit this delicious wine again soon and share a full run-down. Enjoy the day and thanks for following!

2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery

I deserved this bottle. Yeah, I said it. I was bone weary last night, the final day in a work week that included late nights, crazy travel, and unyielding deliverables, but not too tired to take a moment to savor one of the finer things in life. Because that’s what a Buena Vista bottle is–it’s a “stop and smell the roses” event each and every time.

West Coast client deliverables meant I got a late start on this 2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, but it also meant I was ready to fully immerse myself in the experience by the time I got to pour and enjoy a glass. Made the deliverable, confirmed with the client, and here we go. I’ve had a couple Buena Vista Karolys before, and this one was equal to the previous.

2014 Karoly's Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The 2014 is delicious. It needs a moment or two to breathe, but when it does you can really pull on the black cherry or blackberry scent. There is a smoke of some kind here too…not quite earthy or a spice but an accent that I can’t quite isolate. It is full, it is robust, it has a great finish. If you drift toward Cabernet Sauvignon or other big reds in your wine tastes, you’ll dig the 2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah. If you prefer lighter Pinot Noirs this might not quite be your bottle–but you’ll be missing something fun!

Okay, a quick summary of the foodstuffs: What you see here is a seared chicken dinner and a creamy couscous with an olive and raisin sauce. The chicken came out great (for a change!)–pulled from the heat while cooked through but still juicy. The couscous was a blend of cool (that’s from the verjus blanc and creme fraiche plus celery) and hot, courtesy of red pepper flakes. I’m not sure a full-throated red was the right pairing for this dish, but I figured the best of both worlds was a suitable strategy regardless. Here’s how the Buena Vista folks describe the vino:

“Our 2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah offers seductive aromas of black cherry and dark chocolate with hints of anise. Upon the palate, flavors of blackberry pie, brambles, and a slight touch of granite are well-balanced with good density and a juicy structure.”

Can’t tell you what ‘brambles’ taste like, or if this 2014 Karoly has such flavor in it, but the black cherry I can very much confirm. This wine is aged 17 months in Hungarian Oak and I’m glad it escorted me into the weekend.

2012 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon

My first ever bottle of Silver Oak, one of Alexander Valley’s most well-recognized Cabernets. This one is of the 2012 vintage, and was part of a beautiful day and Easter celebration with my other family (you know who you are!). All afternoon we had great foodstuffs and sampled good grapes–none as delicious as this one.

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2012 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Thanks for allowing me to join you all and partake in so many good things: food, “Patrick TV”, deck fishing, family, and friendship. Notes on this one will have to come some other time–while the 2012 Silver Oak is exceptional, it pales in comparison to the day we just enjoyed. Looking forward to the next one already.

2014 Vintage of the 1448, Jeff Runquist Winery

This is the one they call the “kitchen sink” wine, the red blend conceived by Jeff Runquist.  The winemaker has been at it since 1982 and built his craft over time at the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery, J. Lohr, and others until he released 700 cases of zinfandel under his own label in 1997. In spring 2008 Runquist opened a tasting room in Amador County has been handling the majority of his production from that location since that time.

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The 2014 vintage of Jeff Runquist’s 1448; Sierra Nevada, California, USA.

And how does that production rate? Pretty well, in the opinion of this fan. My first exposure to the 1448 red blend was nearly two years ago, and in that tasting you’ll see some background on Amador County as well as the pairing (i.e., grilled chicken with orzo arugula salad and roasted red peppers). This time I had it with a garden salad (always with freshly ground black pepper), a grilled New York Strip, and roasted Yukon potatoes.

The 1448 pairs well with both the chicken and the steak; its inky red nearly looks like blood when you pour in the glass (see accompanying photo) and it is absolutely crammed with flavor. I note some similarities to other red blends such as the Michael David Petite Petit and the Conundrum Red (there are several tastings of both in Notes if you’re so inclined), and in the 1448 you get a whiff of gentle smoke or chocolate too. It’s really berry-rich, and very easy to drink. Less tannins than a Cabernet if that appeals to you.

This follows on the heels of a great 2015 Petite Syrah from Runquist that I experienced last week as part of a birthday celebration, and if you can have one of the vineyard’s bottles every weekend like this then the universe is being pretty kind to you. Enjoy…and thanks for reading.

2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir, Buena Vista Winery

This bottle arrived September 2015, and I’ve shown restraint by saving it these past 18 months. I am fond of Buena Vista wines for many reasons, some that I’m glad to share in these pages, and some are just for me. This evening I was searching for something more, some grander purpose, and, having not found elsewhere in my Saturday, decided to explore greatness (again!) through a glass of the 2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir.

2013 Bela's Selection Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2013 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA.

It’s a fascinating drink. This Pinot Noir is light on the tongue, yet shares dark fruits in ample supply to your nose and tongue. I decanted this Russian River Valley wine for an hour, and served in the right Riedel stemware. I’m not saying those steps make the difference, but they do eliminate some potential pitfalls and put you in position to experience the grapes like the winemakers envisioned.

My thoughts on the 2013 Bela’s Selection evolved over the evening. At first I noticed its little spice hints and blackberry flavors. It had many of the qualities I favor in a California Cabernet Sauvignon, but with less tannins and less velvet on your tongue. Over time I tasted red fruits (perhaps some cherry?), but none of the vanilla and strawberry that I like less in my Pinots. A better mouthfeel and better overall experience than the Masterpiece I had recently tried. The 2013 Bela gets all good marks from this taster!

Here the impression from Buena Vista: “Cranberry and cassis layered with blackberry contribute to this Pinot Noir’s rich, spreading finish.

So there you go. This is bottle number 546, one solid soldier from among 800 cases produced. Thanks for continuing to follow Notes and have a great evening.