To celebrate their astonishing 325 years in the wine business, Taylor Fladgate has released a special Port in a unique bottle, reflecting their history and heritage. Made of traditional Portuguese varieties - Toiriga Nacional, Toiriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão, and Tinta Amarela, various blends were pulled from their 10, 20, 30 and 40 year old Tawnies to create this celebratory anniversary blend. You’ll find sweet plum, black cherry, fig, roasted nuts, notes of apricot, spicy hints of black pepper, and mocha. There are more subtle notes of licorice, nutmeg, prune and butterscotch. Dense and velvety on the palate, a solid acidity supports the viscosity, making this an ideal Port with food. The bottle itself, a squat bulbous dark glass bottle, is based on a design from 1692, and considered the first British shipment of Port to England in that particular bottle shape. Not only is this a superb Port but it offers superb and unique packaging.
Actor turned vintner Fess Parker formed his eponymous winery in Santa Barbara in 1989. Though Mr. Parker passed away in 2010 his family has continued his aspirations by adding to the winery’s offerings from outside of Santa Barbara. From Rutherford, one of Napa’s best Cabernet Sauvignon regions, their new venture, Addendum, fresh out of the gate shows immense promise. Addendum is a line of Napa Cabernet Sauvignons and their Skellenger Lane is a ripe opulent, rich and concentrated wine. Spending 28 months exclusively in new French oak there is an obviousness to that decision however the oak, while pronounced, is also well integrated into the structure of the wine, so as to allow the fruit to co-star. The nose is lush, rich, resonant with sweet berry and vanilla oak. There is a wonderful viscosity with this wine; a velvet liquidity. The 2014 offers notes of plum, black cherry, black berry, blue berry, slightly sweet menthol and camphor. It is big and bold but gracious and harmonious, much like Mr. Parker was.
Peachy Canyon is one of Paso Robles’ older wineries having started in 1988 by Doug and Nancy Beckett, whose focus has always been Zinfandel. Though they produce a strong line of Zinfandels, they also make other reds and notable for 2014, the Cirque du Vin. Made from 35% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petite Verdot and 8% Zinfandel, this wine has an amazing array of taste levels. On its face there are notes of black cherry, black berry, plum, boysenberry and blackberry, a solid acidity and a rustic judicious use of oak. As it spends time in the glass additional back notes of sage, fresh thyme and cranberry compote make themselves known. Fermented in stainless steel and then pressed directly into a combination of Hungarian, French and American oak for two years you’d rightfully assume this should cost more. It’s relatively easy to make an expensive wine, just add money. But to make an inexpensive wine and do it well, that takes talent and Peachy Canyon’s Cirque du Vin is a perfectly executed wine and at a price point that belies its structured components.
Cabernet Franc is a particular grape. It’s home is France’s Loire Valley and there are as many expressions of it throughout the 600 mile long valley as there are producers, ranging from earthy and rich, to light and fruit driven. In California, Cabernet Franc is often over treated with too much oak, it’s over ripe and has lost is delicate soul with reductive winemaking techniques.
In-N-Out Burger is pretty much an institution in California, actually starting in 1946, and they now have 300 locations. Oh yeah, and they are all family owned. But the beauty of their fresh ingredients is that there are many wines, globally, that can work within the narrow parameters of the food...
Based out of Yountville, Stewart Cellars has been producing under-the-radar wines since 2000. Sourced primarily from the Max Vineyard site in Yountville, this wine is fermented using whole berries after harvesting and aged for 22 months in mainly new French oak barrels. Many wineries, not unlike Stewart, suggest decanting their Cabernets, and while this is not always helpful, an hour or so helps harmonize this wine even more.
Martini has been making wine in Turin, Italy since 1862, but has not often made a declared vintage iteration of Prosecco. Less expensive than Champagne, Prosecco offers not only a great alternative, but in many ways a much different expression of a sparkling wine, usually with less yeast and biscuit notes.
Pinot Grigio has long had a reputation of being an afterthought wine; a second cousin twice removed from Chardonnay. It’s usually perceived as a mass-produced innocuous wine with little to no flavor. Certainly there are those examples out there on store shelves, but there are also Pinot Grigio wines that embody the subtle complexity that actually should be in Pinot Grigio, iterations that offer aromatics, minerality and understated flavors.
Adam LaZarre has been making wine a long time, but by his own admission, this Sauvignon Blanc, with grapes from the Santa Ynez Valley, is one of his most satisfying. Indeed stunningly sublime it offers a pure nose of honeysuckle, peach and pear, earthy resin, honeydew melon and sweet almond. This however is merely the beginning of the sensory intrigues of this wine.
Cabernet is king in Napa’s Stag’s Leap District and Shafer is certainly at the forefront of stellar wines in this AVA. Their One Point Five (which references the generation and a half between father and son) is comprised of 95% Cabernet with tiny amounts of Merlot, followed by Malbec and Petit Verdot. The wine rested for 20 months in all new French oak barrels of Allier and Troncais woods. The nose is classic Cabernet; dark berry fruit and sweet oak, a thrill to the senses.