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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2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery

It’s well established that Notes covers California Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends with recurring frequency. This is one of the latter, shipped from the vineyard’s Alexander Valley location via an online distributer in a bottle with some considerable heft. When the bottle itself is weighty, you sort of expect the same from the wine too, right? Sometimes that doesn’t bear out in the tasting, and others – like this occasion – it really does.

2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg, CA, USA.

2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg, CA, USA.

There’s a ton of flavor in White Oak’s 2012 Napa Reserve, a bordeaux-style blend that packs in dark fruit flavors that open up beautifully as you go through the wine. It has some tannic scents when you first pull the cork, but if you let it decanter or similarly open up, you’ll find it mellows out and lets other berries come through. Yes, there is definite black berry on the nose, and probably some other dark chocolate notes that you’ll detect too. There is some damp earthiness at stake too…

I ignored some unwritten rules with this wine choice, as I was having it with some pepper-rubbed salmon and rice instead of grilled meat. Call that a little nod to cut back on the cholesterol (at least for the night!). A white might have been the textbook choice, but toss that book out and just enjoy good wine when you can.

And that’s what I’m doing here. The 2012 Napa Reserve from White Oak Vineyards & Winery folds in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, and I’m betting its aged in oak for some time to instill the subtle notes you encounter through this rich, ruby red wine. I don’t think you can find it on the White Oaks website at present, but perhaps your favorite distributor can get you access?

It’ll be worth it. This is a nice wine for the price and I’m glad I got to sample a bottle.

Fall 2018 – The Ones That Got Away

2015 Eola Hills Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Reserve, Willamette Valley, OR; 2016 Abstract Red Wine Blend, Orin Swift Cellars, Saint Helena, CA; 2016 Machete, Orin Swift Cellars, Saint Helena, CA; 2015 Robert Storey Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Reserve, Napa Valley, CA; 2013 Edwards & Chaffey, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA.

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!

 

 

 

The Ones That Got Away – Summer 2018

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2015 Treana Red, Treana Winery, Paso Robles, California, USA.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Edwards & Chaffey, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2015 Cambridge Meritage, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2016 Domaine d’Andezon Cotes due Rhone, Red blend. Rhone, France.

2015 Mestizaje, Mustiguillo Vineyards & Winery, Red blend. Spain.

2011 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz Cabernet, Padthaway, Australia.

2015 Antal’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista Winery, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

2012 Acha Red, Mark Herold, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2002 Syrah, Miller Wine Cellars, Napa, California, USA.

2014 Claret, White Rock Vineyards, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2016 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee, Sonoma, California, USA.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Reserve, Robert Storey Cellars, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2014 Amarone la Giaretta della Valpolicella, Italy.