Viluko Vineyards Cabernet | Unearthing a Sonoma Gem
I prefer not to play favorites, but if you were to ask me what my favorite winery was right now? For its uncompromising devotion to quality, value and relative obscurity, Viluko Vineyards boasts an unusually compelling combination of superlatives that’s begging to be discovered.
I first learned of the Viluko Vineyards when John Rimmerman of Garagiste compared the 2011 Viluko Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon to those produced by the revered Mayacamas Vineyards. Mayacamas is quietly very well-reputed for producing age-worthy, balanced and terroir-driven mountain Cabernet’s.
Seavey Caravina Cabernet | Second Wine, First Rate Quality
My adoration for the wines produced by Seavey Vineyard began years ago when I tasted their 2000 Estate Cabernet. Despite being considered a relatively weak vintage by Napa standards, Seavey managed to produce a distinctive wine that was still showing incredibly well at over 10 years old.
Their family-run, boutique winery emphasizes quality over quantity and the wines impress for their power, structure and refinement in their youth as well as their graceful evolution in the cellar. My fondness for Seavey Vineyard was cemented when I visited the estate in the fall of 2013.
Wren Hop Vineyards | Crafting Pinot for Cab Lovers
Google “Wren Hop” and amongst the results is Google’s own description as a ‘Place of Worship’. So you might understand my confusion after looking for directions to a winery that was the top recommendation of Nora Mahan, a well-connected travel concierge for American Express’ destination club Inspirato.
While Wren Hop Vineyards might not be a place of worship in the traditional sense, you might not find this to be such a gross mischaracterization after you visit and taste through their portfolio. To be frank… I’d be surprised if you didn’t find yourself worshiping their Pinot Noirs.
One night at a garden dinner party Houston businessman and wine-lover Terry Davis met veteran winemaker Wayne Donaldson and the two hit it off and became quick friends. A serendipitous meeting, the pair would soon be united by their mutual passion for Napa Valley and their love of wine.
After learning of Terry’s desire to make his own Napa Valley wine, Wayne contacted him shortly after their meeting with an opportunity to purchase three tons of Diamond Mountain fruit. For Terry, the moment was surely a ‘Frisson’ – the French description for a moment of intense excitement or thrill. With Wayne’s partnership and 25 years of wine-making expertise, Frisson Wines was born.
Chateau Cantenac Brown | Making It’s Mark in Margaux
A Grand Tasting in The Big Apple
Recently I had the incredible honor of being invited to attend the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2012 vintage release tasting at Cipriani’s in New York. The weather outside was frightful – they were calling for 3 feet of snow on that 26th day of January, and it was quickly accumulating outside.
But inside members of the wine media, restauranteurs and wine buyers from all over were warm with excitement. Why? Over 100 of the most prestigious Chateau in Bordeaux were on site to showcase their newly released 2012 vintage wines, either represented by their Chateau owners themselves or their representatives. Amongst the representatives in attendance was Mr. Jose Sanfins, the accomplished and passionate Technical Director of Chateau Cantenac Brown.
On my most recent trip to Napa and Sonoma in October I had the good pleasure of meeting up with fellow wine blogger Beth Smith, a.k.a Traveling Wine Chick. Beth and I had connected when she came across my previous review of the 2011 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Right Bank. It was an excellent wine and one of my favorites from the Conn Valley Vineyards portfolio from when I tasted there. It also happens to be one of the best values in the portfolio.
With the 2012 vintage being heralded as a hallmark vintage, Beth was excited and gracious enough to share this new release with me. As a big fan of the wines being produced at Conn Valley Vineyards, I couldn’t wait to try the 2012 Right Bank.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards’ former winemaker, Mac Sawyer, sadly passed away recently. Working together with founding winemaker Todd Anderson (Mac was brought on when Todd created the ultra-exclusive Ghost Horse Label) the estate produced world class wines which earned high scores and were widely recognized for their exceptional quality. His legacy lives on in the wines being produced today.
It was he who had interned at Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of the most famous wine producing estates in the world. Remember the wine Miles’ character coveted in the movie Sideways? It was a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc. The irony here is that despite his profound distaste for Merlot, Cheval Blanc’s annual composition is almost always at least a quarter Merlot.