Cuvaison is best known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but in 2012 they launched a sparkling program. Comprised of mainly Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, this brut was made in the traditional Champagne method. Using Pinot Dijon clone 115 planted in 1998, winemaker Steve Rogstad says these 25-year-old vines bring a “precocious beauty” to the wine, and I have to agree. This is a delicate wine with minimal sweetness, using the grace of the Pinot and the acidity and light salinity of the Chardonnay to make a very balanced, almost shy wine.
The devil is in the details and with Cuviason’s Diablo Syrah, the details are key to an exceptional wine. Syrah often is mis-treated and most Syrahs on the market are fairly benign. But winemaker Steve Rogstad coaxes much out of these 21-year-old vines grown is less than optimal soils. A smooth viscosity leads to plum, huckleberry, black cherry, red currant, and light pomegranate notes, with back notes of young tobacco leaf and new leather. This is not a timid wine, but a sensuous one that is definitely meant to work with food, as it’s a little heavier on the alcohol.
Though Cuvaison is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they have an impressive overall portfolio of wine that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Case in point, their 2019 Merlot is nothing short of outstanding. This is a medium bodied wine that drinks like a full-bodied wine with lots of swagger. Black cherry notes dominate along with plum, blackberry, light blueberry, cocoa powder and fresh sawed cedar wood. This is 100% Merlot and shows that with excellent fruit, you can make a Merlot that doesn’t need the addition of other grapes to make it better.
This wine has always been one of the outstanding performers in the Cuvaison portfolio and year after year is a wine that never ceases to impress. It is also one of those Chardonnays that makes you rethink Chardonnay because it is so beautifully balanced, so definitely handled, that it surpasses what most of us know about Chardonnay. Yes you’ll find light lemon-lime, green apple, kiwi, guava notes, but also viscosity and minerality. It also possesses a slight resin and stone fruit quality and maturity of fruit. That these vines are just 20 years old suggests there are great vintages ahead.
A terrific acidity leads into subtle yet definable and lovely flavors of strawberry, guava, honeydew, slight lemon-lime, and a hint of papaya. Beautifully balanced, this is a wonderful expression of how fruit can transcend as a mere single grape – in this case pinot noir - and express itself in a myriad number of ways. The wine was mainly whole cluster pressed with just 15% saignée method, which involves the removal of a proportion of juice from a tank of crushed red grapes.
This is a really nice Pinot Noir from Carneros. Ruby in color, clear and bright. The nose is nice. Earthy with cherries and slight sandalwood. Medium bodied. Light tannins. Good acidity. On the palate, cherries with slight sour cherries over char and earthiness. Long finish with a touch of menthol. Some depth and complexity that will increase with cellar time. This drinks well now and should continue to for the next ten to twelve years. Very nice on it own, this will work well with roasted duck or chicken.
2019 The Vice Cabernet Sauvignon Los Carneros "The Ram", USA, California, Napa, Carneros, Wine Review
This was bottled and released to celebrate the Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl appearance (and victory). Los Carneros is Spanish for The Ram. This is a cooler climate than much of Napa and while the area is not know for Cabernet, this one is a very nice example of a cooler climate Cab. Unfiltered and unfined. Purple in color, opaque and bright. Ruby at the rim. The nose is dusty with black cherries, cassis, slight rhubarb and sandalwood. Medium to full bodied. Lovely sinewy texture. Medium tannins. On the palate, nice black cherries, plums with a chalky/chocolate note. Long finish.
This is a big, California Chardonnay in the best sense. It is a blend of four different vineyards of Chardonnay. Silvery gold in color, clear and bright. The nose is big and enticing with Lemons, vanilla and nutmeg. Full bodied with a creamy texture. Good acidity. Slightly oily. On the palate, this has lemons, slight lemon peel and an interesting note of mint on the finish. It is deep with tight complexity that unwinds in the glass. A very long finish. This may improve over the next year or two but either way should make great drinking for the next ten years. It drinks great on i
This is Chardonnay with some Roussanne, and Gewürztraminer added from California. Imagine if the Prisoner Wine Company made a Chard, this is just what you would expect. And they did and it is. Light yellow gold in color, clear and bright. The nose has vanilla, spice, baked apples and slight caramel. Full bodied. On the palate, this has plenty of apples with some vanilla and spice. This is a big and bold (as opposed to crisp and clean) style of Chardonnay and should be very popular among those who like that style (and there are many). Expect to see this popping up a lot at parties th
This is a classic California Chard in style and pedigree. Golden in color, clear and bright. The nose has butter, spice, lemons and slight white flowers. Full bodied. Rich, full bodied texture. On the palate, this is round and full of fruit and structure. Lemons, slight smoke and spice. A nice backbone of acidity counters the oak nicely. Long finish. This should continue to integrate over the next ten years with the oak taking a step back. Whether to wait or not really depends on how you like your Chardonnay. This drinks well on its own and will work well with sea food but also p