Saturday, January 12, 2019

**** $$ Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2016: Wine tasting, review & rating (Best Value!)

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon.

**** $$ Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2016: Wine tasting, review & rating (Best Value!)


Inspired by this wine: Mixing the fillings for a black cherry pie; but I want to eat the filling before the pie is even baked!



Specs: This is Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2016, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in January, 2019.

By way of background: The grapes for this wine are collected from dozens of vineyards in the Paso Robles region and blended for the final bottling.  I will point out that I just posted a tasting of a 1994 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon which enjoyed A FULL QUARTER CENTURY of aging.  It was quite nice - even better than it was at a mere 13 years of age!  But this time, I'll be tasting Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon at the modest three years of age, which is much closer to what would have been intended by the winemaker.  Still, I've got a couple of bottles to keep in the cellar - maybe we'll come back again in a decade and/or two!  You can get more information about this wine and the Hope Family Wine line at the Liberty School Wines website.  Review samples were provided by the winery.

In the glass: Deep, almost black, black cherry.  Opaque from a mere quarter inch of the edge.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows solid black cherry framed with light edges of oak, hints of eucalyptus and notes of ripe black currants.  From the aroma, seems like this may be deep, sweet and layered.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact much as suggested by the deep, aromatic nose.  Sweet black cherry layers across your tongue, but into your cheeks with just the right amounts of slightly brighter acids.  Once the sip moves to the edges of your mouth, the soft but present tannins tuck the sweet dark fruit right up into your cheeks.  There it ebbs out into a long, slow finish that draws you in for the next sip.

In summary: Overall, rates a solid four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, a spectacular showing at this price point, and earning a "Best Buy" designation against the specific Spirit of Wine criteria.  A very nice sipping wine at this early stage in its life, alone or with bold meats, cheeses or baked casseroles.  Will be so interesting to watch the impact of age on this pleasing

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon.

(c) Copyright 2019 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Review & Rating: *** 1994 Liberty School Coastal Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles CA


By way of background:  This is Liberty School Coastal Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, 1994, a value-priced cabernet from Paso Robles area.  I purchased several bottles since I liked my first tasting and the price point.  They've been cellared and I pull one out from time to time for fun.   They are finished at a mere 12.5% alcohol, so you wouldn't think they would be built to last.  But let's see how things are going...

Original Review, 12 years from vintage date, October, 2006: Ruby and brick, the color of dark cherries. Aroma of bright but slightly tired cabernet, prunes and berries, suggests a wine whose time may have passed. Touches the palate still with bright acids, fruity middle and perfectly pleasant, though slightly sweet and rapid finish. Not old. But not truly memorable. Not quite enough thanks for having spirited the new juice away for so long.

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Updated Review, another year later, now 13 years from vintage date, April, 2007: This is an archeological review... I just unearthed one more bottle of this Central Coast cabernet sauvignon from a deep corner of the cellar. No way was this designed for 13 years of aging, with it's round style and mild tannins. But let's see what has happened to it...

The color is as might be expected - deep, dark red in the middle running to brick and orange at the sides of the glass. The aroma is one of pretty stong oxidation coming through red, round fruit. On the palate, though, there is still gusto left. A full, deep, velvet middle wraps around some very clean acids to an even finish. All sorts of cherry fruit are still lingering in the middle.
I must admit to being surprised that this remains a pleasant, chewy, fruity wine at this stage.

If you have a Liberty School cabernet sauvignon this old, I wouldn't recommend waiting even another month to drink it. But drink it and you will still enjoy it.

So, at least this archeological dig worked out better than Geraldo's episode with Al Capone's vault.
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Yet another updated review, still 13 years from vintage date, November, 2007: Wow. This still hangs in there. Nose of carmel and light chocolate, oxidizes pretty rapidly with airing. Round, sweet cherry middle, good length with medium tannins and pleasant acids.
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OK, now I'm being crazy - another updated review, now a WHOPPING 25 years from vintage date, January, 2019:  There is NO way that ANYONE intended this wine for this kind of cellaring.   But let's "take one for the team" and see what happens... Deep mahogany/red in the glass, just the slightest evidence of bricking!  The aroma carries deep muddled blackberries with just a touch of oak and some red fruit - no evidence of oxidation!  On the palate, bright red berries unfold wrapped in a more flannel-y layer of robust ripe blackberries.  The sip comes together with a sense of integrated, bold fruit finishing with a clean wash of acids and tannins that open up to the next sip.  Remarkable three stars with a plus on the five-star spirit of wine scale.  That make this a no-brainer best value at its price point - but makes it simply incredible at a quarter-century of age!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

**** $$$$$ Pestoni Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Three Tears Vineyard, Howell Mountain, Napa, CA, 2013: Wine tasting, review & rating

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Pestoni Family Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain.

Pestoni Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Three Tears Vineyard, Howell Mountain, Napa, CA, 2013: Wine tasting, review & rating 


Inspired by this wine: Wrapped in a worthy-weight woolen blanket, waiting for the hearth's flames to come roaring to life. 

Specs: This is finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled five years from vintage date, in December, 2018.

In the glass: Deep magenta and purple, almost opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep black fruit, cedar and hints of tar and smoke.  From the aroma, seems like this will be full and possibly sleek. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate in fact start with big black inky fruit, wide-ranging acids and structuring tannins searing into your consciousness. Ripe red currants open up shortly thereafter, actually dripping UPWARD to lodge into your cheeks.  The finish rolls very, very slowly down from those tucked-away bright fruits to a softer, plusher wrap-up in your mid-palate.

In summary: Overall, rates an easy and strong four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with promise of years and years of life ahead.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Pestoni Family Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain.

(c) Copyright 2018 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Spectacular introduction to Yakima Valley wines

In autumn 2018, I and a number of fellow wine media writers had the good fortune to explore Yakima Valley with local winemakers, under a program prepared as part of Wine Bloggers Conference 2018 (WBC18). 


I had special good fortune as part of that program to be able to chat with a couple of these winemakers to better understand some of the key elements of the Yakima Valley experience.  (I also had the extra joy of trying their wines with dinner!)  Many thanks to Co Dinn of Co Dinn Cellars and Kerry Shiels of DuBrul Vineyard and Cote Bonneville for their engaging conversation and insights.

I am capturing the merest hints of the interesting insights I gained from Co and Kerry about the region.   Here are a few of my takeaways, not attributed to each individual:

The Yakima Valley altitude and weather conditions are somewhat comparable with Burgundy, France.   Also, like Burgundy, the grapes tend to grow along slopes, not in the valleys.  That is a factor of both soil and weather conditions.  Frost comes heavily into the valley areas, making the valleys generally inhospitable to wine grape growing. 

Red Willow has been a pioneering region in the region, and it encompasses some 300 wineries total.  This affected the trajectory of other growers, especially in syrah. Some 18 or so other wineries buy from Red Willow Vineyards.

At DuBrul, riesling takes root in the highest physical locations, merlot is in the somewhat downslope area.  In general, whites tend to be planted on the north slopes, reds on the south-facing slopes.

Red Mountain wines, particularly because of their structure and tannins, become a blending component of a number of the Washington State wines.  

(c) Copyright 2018 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Four "Women of Wine" from Walla Walla Valley!

Wine media professionals attending Wine Bloggers Conference 2018 (WBC18)  had an opportunity to get an introduction to the Walla Walla Valley area of Washington State from four experienced "women of wine":  

Annette Bergevin
General Manager & Founding PartnerBergevin Lane Winery

Nina ButyFounder/President, Buty Winery

Muriel Kenyon
General Manager, Otis Kenyon Wine

Ashley Trout
Owner/Winemaker, Vital Wines and Brook & Bull Cellars



Here are the key takeaways I garnered from the session, without attribution to any one of the panelists individually:

Since Walla Walla is four hours away from any major metropolitan area, when people take a trip out, they need to have a great experience.  

The remoteness of the community actually seems to drive a closer collaboration and interaction between the winemakers than I have seen in most regions.   

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah seem to define the characteristics of the region.   Over time, more specificity may be associated with microclimates as the region matures.   

There is a real commitment to better understanding the terroir, weather and types of grapes and their interplay, and continuing to tune the wines that result.  There also appears to be a small company type of commitment to sustainable practices and supporting the community.   

If there was a single takeaway from the session for me, it is that these women are truly committed to a constant process of learning, about winemaking, their Walla Walla region and the consumers of their wine.  

(c) Copyright 2018 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine and food pairing at Wine Bloggers Conference 2018

What a great opportunity for those of us at Wine Blogger Conference 2018 (WBC18):  a chance to explore  sparkling wine and food pairings using Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines as the base.   Through this program, we definitely became convinced that sparkling wines can achieve a spectacular pairing with a wide range of foods.  Let's dig into these sparkling wines a bit closer and see what we've got. FYI, our session was presented by sommelier Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life.  More information on these wines may be obtained at www.gloriaferrer.com.


On to the wines:

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut.

Original tasting and review : This is Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, non-vintage, sampled in October, 2018.

Inspired by this wineGathered around the big old cast iron stove, readying a fun meal.

In the glass: Clear with yellow tints.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature, shows ashy sweet notes.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact showing sweet and bright notes.  Clean and fast finish. 

In summary: Overall, rates two stars with a plus for food-friendliness on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  The food pairing emphasized an acid-based wine with acid-oriented food items.

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs.

Original tasting and review : This is Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Sonoma, CA, non-vintagenon-vintage, sampled in October, 2018.

Inspired by this wineIn the wardrobe, picking out some great clothes for the party.

In the glass: Light peachy elements.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature, shows soft, hidden lightly sandy fruit.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate have perky acids moving across your palate, holding for a solid finish.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars, almost touches a plus for its nice balance, on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  The food pairing emphasized a similarity in the flavor elements between the food and the sparkling wine.

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose.

Original tasting and review : This is Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose, Sonoma CA, non-vintage, sampled in
October, 2018.

Inspired by this wineWe're ready to start the workout, looking forward to the exercise, but knowing it will tax us.

In the glass: Light salmon.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature, shows salty, ashy fruit.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate bring a wash of bright acids, followed by a clean finish. 

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, demonstrating a nicely balanced sip.  The food pairing showed how a contrasting flavor and acid profile can work quite well also!

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvee.

Original tasting and review : This is Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvee Brut, Sonoma CA, 2010, first sampled eight years from vintage date, in October, 2018.

Inspired by this wineWe're exploring the basement and finding untold wonderful artifacts.

In the glass: Plenty of insistent small bubble streams, with a bright yellow golden glint.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature, shows light, damp, earthen basement notes.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate in fact show rich layers of soft, silky fruit.  Perfectly clean and long lasting. 

In summary: Overall, rates a rare four stars - for its layers and depth - on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

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(c) Copyright 2018 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.