Darms Lane – 94 Point Cabernet Sauvignon

Darms Lane

This estate grown property was established as a Chardonnay vineyard about 30 years by the Crichton Hall winery. When the winery was sold, the new owners realized the Chardonnay in this part of Napa did not make any sense and replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon which made a lot more sense. The vines have gained a lot more maturity and have started showing of their true identity of this estate.

Darms Lane Darms Lane Cabernet 08 “Bon Passe” Napa Valley 94 Points
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 57.50 – FREE SHIPPING ON 6
Use coupon code Darms08CS6 when checking out.

This is the fourth release of this 100% estate grown, hand-crafted, small production Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is located in the southwestern bench lands of Napa Valley, in the Oak Knoll appellation. The vineyard is comprised of both hillsides and valley floor, with varying soil types. We focus heavily on our farming and believe that great wines begin in the vineyard. The 2008 Bon Passe Cabernet exhibits an expansive nose of blackberries and ripe cherries that follow through on the palate. In the mouth the wine is rich and velvety – the tannins are smooth. Layers of pure fruit, mocha and a subtle minerality keep unfolding to an elegant finish. This wine has the flavors and suppleness to be enjoyed on its own while maintaining an elegance that will complement many foods.

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A real Blue Chip wine from Oracle’s founder.

Oakville RanchRobert Miner was one of the original founders of Oracle some moons ago.  Robert was actually Larry Ellison’s manager at a previous company.  They jointly created Oracle, but he was the “key” engineer and a master of people skills!  I had the chance to meet him several times before his untimely passing at the age of 52, about 15 years ago. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us but his legacy lives on at Oakville Ranch, which he created with his wife Mary in 1989.  The “Grand Daddy” of the Estate is always the great Robert’s Blend, sourced from the very best parcels of the vineyard next door to Dalla Valle.

Oakville Ranch 2007 Robert's BlendOakville Ranch 2007 Robert’s Blend Robert Parker 93 Points
Retail 69.99 – GGWC 64.99 with FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use the discount code “oakvillerobert6” during checkout for free shipping.

Sourced 100% from the best parcels of the estate, this blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is the blue chip of the vineyard.  Only 132 cases were produced.  This wine throws a real punch right out of the glass.  Gobs of ripe blue and black berry flavors gush out of the glass followed by gorgeous aromas and flavors of figs, anise and a touch of espresso.  This full-bodied blend is rich, yet elegant – intense, yet smooth.  The aromas and flavors are nicely in-sync and lead into an amazingly long and silky finish.

“Given the reputation of the two vintages, there is not as much difference between the 2008 and 2007 Robert’s Blend as one might suspect. The 2007’s more youthful dense purple color is followed by notes of blueberries, graphite, burning embers and a hint of volcanic soils. Much like its younger sibling, it is a full-bodied, opulent effort with slightly lower alcohol. Rich and full, this is a super effort from an under-the-radar winery that merits more attention. Drink it over the next decade.”
Also check out these new releases from Oakville Ranch:

Oakville Ranch 2009 ChardonnayOakville Ranch 2009 Estate Chardonnay
Retail 40.00 – GGWC 36.99 with FREE SHIPPING on six or more!
Use the discount code “oakvillecab6” during checkout for free shipping.

This is a well-crafted masterpiece will please both collector and average wine lover alike, as this artwork is very well-priced!  Sourced from their prime block it offers pleasant aromas of pears, peaches, baked apples and fresh cream on the nose.  On the palate, this well-balanced, full-bodied Chardonnay showcases rich and supple fruit that is well-expressed and balanced alongside some lively acidity.   This is like a song in the glass!  Only 178 cases produced!

Oakville Ranch 2009 Estate Cabernet SauvignonOakville Ranch 09 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Retail 62.00 – GGWC  54.99 FREE SHIPPING on six or more!
Use the discount code “oakvillechar6” during checkout for free shipping.

Sourced from three prime areas on the estate (57% Plateau, 28% Summit and 15% Terrace), this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon will wow you immediately.  This youngster offers classic, rich black stone fruit, some typical Oakville “dust”.  This multi-layered densely concentrated mountainous wine is stacked with cassis and raspberries that are extremely bold, yet clean and silky on the mid-palate with a touch of fresh roses, cedar and freshly roasted coffee beans leading into an amazingly complex, long lasting finish.  300 cases produced.

The winemaker says: “This is wine worship at its most elemental, with no artifice between you and the glass.  This is red dust on your shoes, indescribable views, smoke and violets on the tongue, a glad heart.  Listen, savor and enjoy!”

92 Points Robert Parker: “The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon bursts from the glass with dark fruit, spices, new leather, licorice and grilled herbs. It shows terrific energy and focus all the way through to the powerful, incisive finish. Sweet flowers and spices add further nuances of complexity. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2024.”

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Scarecrow Winemaker turns heads with her latest gem

Keever Vineyards

Keever Vineyards When you put Celia Welch & Jim Barbour on one team, it is like seeing Joe Montana and Jerry Rice connect for some of the best plays (wines) ever. Celia’s portfolio is well-known as is Jim’s so it is not surprise that the latest Keever is probably the best one to date!

Keever 2009 CabernetKeever 2009 Cabernet “Estate” Yountville, Napa Valley

Chocolate-covered cherries, blackberries, baked plums and a hint of sweet mocha waft from the glass of this lovely 100% Cabernet. A touch of vanilla and barrel toast adds complexity to the fruit-centered aromas. On the palate, the texture is broad and creamy at entry, with a fresh fruit character dominating the mid-palate and finish. The finish fades to a lasting impression of fresh berry and vanilla flavors wrapped around a creamy, polished texture.

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Screaming Eagle Winemaker pulls one out of his hat at 1/20th the price!

Dancing Hares

Andy Erickson Andy Erickson does not need an introduction, the man worked with John Kongsgaard, Paul Hobbs, Bob Levy at Harlan Estate, Staglin, etc.  He currently makes Arietta, Ovid, Dalla Valle and of course his own labels Leviathan and Favia.  The Dancing Hares wines have been on fire as of late and this latest release is yet another gem in the rough.

Dancing Hares 2009 Mad HatterDancing Hares 2009 Mad Hatter

The 2009 vintage was a long, mild growing season which delivered fruit with bright acidity, relatively low potential alcohol, dark color, and expressive aromatics.  As the year was relatively cool for Napa Valley standards, Merlot performed particularly well.  For the 2009 Mad Hatter, Andy blended (27% Cabernet, 59% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot to create a wine that is soft, rich and generous.  Cabernet Sauvignon adds a regal, classic quality to the wine, while smaller percentages of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot provide a depth and aromatic complexity that makes the wine even more compelling.  After a short decanting, the wine comes alive, with deep, ripe notes of blackberry, black tea, and forest floor.  On the palate, a solid tannic framework supports the rich fruit flavors, accompanied by subtle notes of gravel and minerals.  This wine will easily age for a decade or more, but should probably be consumed now, in its youth, to enjoy all of the bright, fresh fruit character it shows now.

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Rocket Scientist blasts wine into orbit!

Brian Loring Brian Loring is a rocket scientist turned winemaker, and he told me that he does not regret the move one bit!  He told me years ago, that one day (he was 40) he was called “pops” by the younger generation and that was his queue to leave and follow this true passion – winemaking!  He had been a home winemaker for years, and it was an easy transition.  The rest is history… As are some great scores from the various publications!
Loring’s wines are full-bodied, but very spicy, and sure to delight your palate.
On the nose this youngster greets you with sweet red cherries, hints of spring flower perfume and a touch of sweet vanilla.  On the palate this full bodied Pinot showcases gorgeous sweet red cherries and well-balanced acidity with a touch of sweet spice.  This wine’s finish lasts a good 20 seconds.  This wine could benefit from some time, although decanting for 90 minutes should offer complete satisfaction. This wine received a 94 Points from former Wine Spectator guru James Suckling.
Only 200 cases of this amazing Pinot were produced.  On the nose this wine reminds me a little of Syrah (bold and intense), but it showcases gorgeous plum and black cherry fruit with a touch of anise and minerality.  On the palate you’ll encounter gobs of black stone fruit with a touch of vanilla spice and a whiff or earthy minerality.  Well-balanced, this youngster shows great character and ageing potential.  I would suggest that you allow this wine to breathe a good 90 – 120 minutes for immediate enjoyment.
Small amounts of Loring 2010 Rosella (94 Points WS) and 2010 Garys (92 Points WS) are still in stock.
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Howell Mountain GEM does it again!

Cornerstone CellarsCornerstone seems to have turned another corner in its long history. Created some 20 years ago, this winery has had some amazing winemakers along the way, Bruce Scotland, Celia Welch (Scarecrow, Corra, etc.) and now Jeff Keene. The philosophy has not changed, continue to make first-rate, handcrafted wines! I can see that this latest release is just that, a first-rate, stunning wine!

Cornerstone 2007 Howell Mountain CabernetCornerstone 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was grown on the east-facing slopes of Ink Grade Block, Howell Mountain, a large peak on the Eastern edge of Napa Valley. At a high elevation (1800 to 2000 feet) where volcanic soils create great growing conditions for tiny berries full of flavor.

This classic from the great 2007 vintage really wowed me. A growing year so perfect it’s one of those vintages that, as they say, if you can’t make great wine in this year you never will.  On the nose this gem greets you with sweet black stone fruit, a touch of espresso and chocolate. On the palate, this powerful, yet silky smooth this wine offers more quality fruit and high-end chocolate flavors that are well-balanced. This will age into greatness, but can be enjoyed now with full flavored dishes like steaks and chops. Decanting for an hour or more will bring out the best in this great wine.

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32 Winds blows away some big-name Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in blind tasting.

32 Winds

This venture has quietly created some cult following among our clientele.  Last week I conducted a blind tasting of 10 high-end Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, and in both flights 32 Winds sailed away from the crowd.

The line-up in the Chardonnay tasting included:

Peter Michael Mon Plaisir ($95.00), Kongsgaard The Judge (98 Pts Parker $200.00),  Aubert “Hyde” (95 Pts Parker, $175.00), Aubert “Ritchie (95 Pts Parker $125.00), Hanzell,  Lewis Reserve Chardonnay, Littorai “Heintz” (94 Pts Parker $75.00), Kongsgaard (94 Pts Parker $85.00), Paul Hobbs Cuvee Augustina (94 Pts Parker $115.00) and of course 32 Winds Hudson Ranch

The result:

  1. 32 Winds “Hudson Ranch”
  2. Kongsgaard “The Judge”
  3. Aubert “Hyde”

What was interesting is that the average estimated price point of these wines – My group of 26 tasters guessed that 32 Winds retailed for $56.00, Kongsgaard the Judge $55.00 and Aubert $50.00, while both are much more expensive.  32 Winds sells for $44.99!!

The line-up in the Pinot Noir tasting included:

Paul Hobbs “Hyde” (95 Pts Parker, $ 85.00), Aubert Reuling Vineyard (95 Pts Parker, $150.00),Mt Eden Estate (94 Pts Parker $60.00) Capiaux Garys (94 Pts Parker), Brewer Clifton Mt. Carmel (94 Pts Parker $65.00), Chasseur “Freestone” (94 Pts Parker $65.00)), DuMol Aidan (95 Pts Parker $90.00), Martinelli “Bondi” (95 Pts Parker, $75.00), Peter Michael “Ma Danseuse” (95 Pts Parker $125.00 & 32 Winds Hirsch.

The result:

  1. 32 Winds “Hirsch”
  2. Aubert “Reuling”
  3. DuMol “Aidan”

The average estimated price for 32 Winds was $75.00 (well above its actual cost!), Aubert $72.00 and DuMol $72.00.

I love these blind tastings, because they give me a great picture of what the crowd thinks about the wine and they give me a better understanding of the price points!

Tasting Notes:

32 Winds 2009 Pinot Noir “Hirsch” Sonoma Coast

The Hirsch vineyard is located on a rugged ridge close to the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1500 feet, in a zone above the marine fog. The high elevation vine- yard sees approximately 14 hours of sun versus 10 hours at below the fogline, thus allowing long hours of unmitigated sunlight late in the season when tannins are evolving.  This Pinot Noir breaths quality and value!  The wine is rich in flavor, full in texture,  and offers a lovely underlying minerality and excellent natural acidity, a very well-balanced gem!. The flavors of black cherries, black raspberries, and freshly grated nutmeg jump out of the glass.  Layer of layer this wine shows finesse and power.  On the mid palate one will experience a great mouth feel of more black cherries, cola, and a plum.   The wine finishes like a great Burgundy with subtle touches of vanilla on the finish.

32 Winds 2009 Chardonnay “Hudson Ranch” Carneros
The Hudson Vineyard is located in the rolling hills of the Carneros, adjacent to the San Pablo Bay. The proximity to the fog and breezes from the bay makes the climate in Los Carneros cooler than surrounding areas, the perfect environment in which to grow Chardonnay.  The wine is broad shouldered, with a great rich smooth texture and wonderful natural acidity on the finish. On the nose this little gem offers touches of Bosc pears, hazelnuts and vanilla.  Full in body, yet very elegant this wine reveals touches of flinty rock, tropical fruit, honeysuckle and peaches.  Lush, yet extremely well-balanced and not overpowering this wine has the right amount of acidity to stand up against the big boys, and will age nicely.

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Stunning 2007 Cabernet. A $100.00 value at $44.00!

Maldonado Wines

Lupe MaldonadoAlmost 50 years ago, Lupe Maldonado moved to California from Atacheo, a small farming community in Michoacan, Mexico. In 1971 Lupe was working for Sterling Vineyards when Peter Newton offered Lupe the opportunity to join him in the creation of a new winery in the Spring Mountain District of St. Helena. Lupe’s dedication and hard work were beginning to pay off; he was named vineyard manager for Newton Vineyard. With Newton, Lupe found a home where he proudly dedicated all his energy for over thirty years. His son Hugo succeeded him in 1999.  Lupe began devoting his three decades of viticulture wisdom to his own grapes. He bought a 10-acre piece of land in the Napa Valley.  Today Lupe lives in the midst of the vines that he planted and tends to.  Lupe and his son Hugo, a graduate in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California in Davis, and their families are partners in the project.

Maldonado 2007 Cabernet SauvignonMaldonado 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Retail $50.00 – GGWC $44.00

This is the first release of this wine. It has a dark, black cherry hue with touches of ruby and hints of purple on the rim.  Intense aromas of cassis with promises of blueberries, plumbs, violets, cocoa powder and geraniums are intermingled in this wonderful bouquet.  This full bodied wine has a soft but fresh entrance evolving on silky tannins.  You’ll encounter touches of blueberries and red cherries.  The wine is well-balanced with a backbone of subtle acidity (great aging potential) with hints of chocolate infused plumbs, raspberry liquor with some basil and lavender notes. A testament to the almost perfect growing conditions of this Vintage. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Limited production of 376 cases!

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