Lately I have been enjoying my wine listening to “Live” music albums. As it often happens, it became a thing for me to rank the best “Live” albums. Of course, this is just as controversial as ranking wines, but for me anyway, this is my list.
For 25 years Landmark Vineyards has produced what has become a signature wine, the Overlook Chardonnay, yet it is their entry level Chardonnay, not their higher end ones. That speaks well of the quality that Landmark produces. From Sonoma’s Russian River Valley this Chardonnay is pulled from 24...
Santa Barbara has earned a just reputation as a solid Pinot Noir producer. There are many notable well-known Pinot’s here, but what is happening under the radar in the County is also just as impressive. Millennial Wines, a very small producer based in Lompoc, has turned out a stellar Pinot Noir that can rival some of the bigger producers.
When mother/daughter duo Melinda Kearney and Michele Ouellet set out to craft a subtle yet sexy French-style Rosé using California grapes in 2008, they were nothing short of mavericks in an American wine landscape dominated by the big reds.
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.