Weekend Vinopolpick 11-1

November 1, 2014
  Just Arrived  
Sanford Winery
Though now famous for its role in the wine-centric movie “Sideways”, Sanford Winery was famous for its Santa Barbara Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays long before filming began. In Santa Barbara wine country, it all started with Sanford Winery. It was 1971 when wine pioneer Richard Sanford discovered an overlooked, grape-growing treasure in the Santa Rita Hills. The Santa Rita Hills AVA is 100 square miles of heaven for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, owing its magic to an unusual east-west mountain valley that runs from the vineyards to the Pacific Ocean; ideal for cool-climate varietals.  Recognizing an ideal combination of climate and soil conditions much like those in Burgundy, Richard was one of the first to begin planting Pinot Noir grapes in Santa Barbara, a grape the area is now famous for. In 1981 Richard and his wife Thekla started Sanford Winery, and the resulting Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays have been the benchmark of the Santa Rita Hills AVA ever since. Differences in business philosophy with their partners (Terlato Wine Group) led to a separation from their namesake winery in 2005, but the wines from Sanford have remained the stellar value they have offered since the beginning. Sourced from the two estate vineyards Sanford&Benedict and La Rinconada, this Chardonnay offered below was aged in French oak and went through full malolactic fermentation, producing a full bodied wine with great structure and complex, rich flavors; a great food wine.

Just Arrived
Sanford Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2011 ($31.95) $14 special 3+ cases available
Winery Notes 
“Our 2011 “Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay is sourced exclusively from our two estate vineyards in the heart of this cool climate appellation. The 2011 vintage was marked by low yields due to spring frost. This resulted in intense flavors with bright acid. By gently whole cluster pressing and barrel fermentation in French oak, this Chardonnay has lovely texture to balance the vibrant palate. Our 2011 estate Chardonnay offers intriguing aromas of lemon peel, apricot and toasted hazelnut. In addition to the bright fruit, this wine has aromas of white flowers. On the palate the minerality and acidity give this wine great structure, which carries through its long finish. This full bodied wine has nice acidity to keep it in balance and makes a nice complement to most seafood, poultry and pasta with lighter sauces, and makes and excellent pairing with mushrooms (especially chanterelles and morels).”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The next best price is 28% higher at $17.99 / bottle

Rodney Strong
Voted 2013’s American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Rodney Strong is dedicated to crafting world-class wines, with a deep rooted history and involvement in Sonoma County. Best known for their estate-bottled and vineyard-designated wines, they have evolved over the years with a consistent focus on how they can best represent the individual characteristics, from some of the finest appellations in the county. Founded by wine industry pioneer, Rod Strong, in 1959, Rodney Strong Vineyards is now owned by the Kleins, a farming-based family that prides itself on land stewardship and a relentless push for superior wine quality from Sonoma County. Since the Klein family took over in 1989, the vineyards are sustainably farmed and the winery now has built in solar panels and was the first carbon-neutral winery in Sonoma County.
The Winemaking Team at Rodney Strong Vineyards pictured left to right:
Greg Morthole, Rick Sayre, Tom Klein, & Justin Seidenfeld 
In addition to taking giant leaps in reducing their carbon footprint, Rodney Strong continues to hold on to their dedication to providing some of the highest quality cuvees and single vineyard wines. Each Rodney Strong vineyard is carefully tended, and when harvested, each grape is nurtured and dutifully seen through the winemaking process to create the best wine possible. For the Reserve Cabernet offered today, select areas within each vineyard are hand harvested individually, fermented separately and aged in French oak barrels. After about six months, each lot is tasted and graded. Only the Cabernets that display depth, richness, intensity, and age worthiness are considered for Reserve Cabernet, which is then assembled, and the wine returned to barrels for 12 to 18 months to facilitate flavor integration, producing a wine that is full bodied and rich with complexity. The keynote 2011 Symmetry, offered below, is a beautifully balanced Meritage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Full of black opulent fruit, a hint of dried red fruit, black pepper, vanilla notes and baking spice, with beautifully balanced structure. The tannins today are still slightly gritty but have great potential into evolving softly and delicately.
Just Arrived

Rodney Strong Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2011 ($41.95) $31.90 special
Wine Enthusiast 91 points
“Lengthy and expansive, this wine offers cherry and herb on the nose, followed by a taste of chocolate and anise, with a jolt of spicy black pepper on the finish. Ready to drink now it’s also structured enough to age 2017-2019.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $39 a bottle

Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage Alexander Valley 2011 ($59.95) $36 special
Winery notes

“Our Symmetry meritage is created in our small lot winemaking facility, the artisan cellar. Under the direction of consulting winemaker David Ramey, we employ state of the art techniques such as cluster pre-sorting, berry sorting, and extended maceration. Only indigenous yeast and naturally occurring malo-lactic fermentation are allowed. With small tanks and equipment sized for the most discriminating vineyard selection process, this facility is truly state of the art and represents the Klein family commitment towards producing the finest wines possible. The 2011 Symmetry greets you with an opulent bouquet of blackberries, cassis, and sweet spices. It unfolds on the palate with layers of black fruits, dark chocolate and spice. This mouth-filling wine is rich and silky in texture with a long, lingering finish and the structure for several years in the cellar. Intended to be enjoyable on release, the 2011 Symmetry is destined for evolution in the bottle.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $48 a bottle
Quilceda Creek

Founded in 1979, Quilceda Creek has had an unbroken string of highly-rated vintages that has led Robert Parker, Jr. to name it Washington State’s premeir Cabernet Sauvignon producer. Celebrated every vintage, Quilceda Creek is a winery that needs no introduction. With that in mind, we offer up Winemaking Director (and son to owner Alex Golitzin) Paul Golitzin’s view on wine:”A great bottle of wine is one that keeps your interest from the first glass to the last, leaving you wanting more… We want to make wines with a wonderful core of fruit, a strong sense of place and a minerality, wines that will last.”

Quilceda Creek produces five wines: their signature Cabernet Sauvignon, a varietal Merlot, and a Columbia Valley AVA Red Blend, as well as the two single vineyard wines offered here today. The 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine vineyard (pictured above) was acquired in 2001, when the Golitzin Family partnered with Jim Holmes of Ciel du Cheval in the Red Mountain AVA, marking their first estate owned and operated vineyard. In 2006, Paul Golitzin and brother-in-law John Ware acquired a 5-acre vineyard located next to Champoux Vineyard on a south-facing slope. Renaming the vineyard Palengat in recognition of the French side of the family, this newest addition the Quilceda Creek vineyards , managed by Paul Champoux, produces the major Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

(Pictured from left to right: Marv (Winemaker), John (Gen. Manager), Paul (Director of Winemaking), Alex Golitzin (owner))

Just Arrived

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard Red Mountain 2011 ($199.95) $179 special limited: 4 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points
“The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard comes all from the Golitzin’s Red Mountain vineyard and is almost all Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the richest and most concentrated wines in the vintage, it offer fabulous creme de cassis, black raspberry, graphite, toast and licorice aromas and flavors to go with a full-bodied, seamless and beautifully balanced profile on the palate. As expected, it doesn’t have the sheer wealth of material that’s present in the prior vintages, yet everything is perfectly proportioned, it has excellent mid-palate depth and notable, sweet tannin. It benefits from a decant and will have upwards of two decades of longevity.”Quilceda Creek Palengat Vineyard Red Horse Heaven Hills 2011 ($179.95) $149 special limited:4 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points
“A blend of 61% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and the balance Petit Verdot, the 2011 Palengat Vineyard has a great bouquet of sweet plum liqueur, blackberry, graphite, lead pencil shavings and toast. This is followed by a full-bodied effort that has beautiful concentration (especially in the vintage), loads of texture and ripe underlying tannic structure. Reasonably approachable now, it will nevertheless evolve gracefully on its overall balance. Enjoy bottles over the coming 10-15 years.”

Also available here from Quilceda Creek

Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red 2011 ($79.95) $59 special 4 cases available
Wine Advocate 91 points
“The 2011 Columbia Valley Red Wine offers the classic creme de cassis, graphite, toasted spice and hints of licorice that seems to be present in all of the estate’s Cabernets. Medium to full-bodied, supple and already approachable, it nevertheless has the back-end stuffing to evolve gracefully for upwards of a decade.”Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red 2012 ($69.95) $59 special 2 cases available
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“The 2012 CVR Columbia Valley Red Wine is a declassified blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with splashes of Merlot and Malbec. It offers up plenty of classic Quilceda character with notions of blackberry liqueur, toasted spice, graphite and licorice as well as full-bodied richness and depth on the palate. Already supple and approachable, yet with notable tannin structure, it will deliver the goods on release, and over the following decade or more.”


That’s so Twentieth Century…

In the past decade, most Napa Valley producers have begun focusing their efforts on achieving “physiological” ripeness in grapes.  As the grapes hang on the vine, acids decrease, sugars increase, and tannins soften.  As hang time becomes excessive, the results are fat, fruity, high alcohol, and high extract wines potentially with, god forbid, residual sugar.  (How many more vintages until we’re discussing Trockenbeerenauslese Cab?)  However, a few wineries took a different path by staying right where they were.  Instead of pushing the limits of ripeness levels, they continue to produce classic Napa Valley wines.Cathy Corison has been making her Cabernet since 1987.  She appreciates Old World style wines, but understands that for California’s grape-growing climate, the push for ripeness doesn’t make sense.  Instead, the key is to moderate ripeness levels.  Her style is a balance of power and elegance: vineyard management techniques help keep grapes from receiving direct sunlight and the winemaking is hands-off with no additives.  The 2010 vintage was fairly cool and saw the return of much-needed rain to her well-draining and essentially dry-farmed vineyard sites.

Ric Forman founded Forman Vineyard in 1983 to produce classical style wines.  His estate vineyard is composed of two parcels planted along the steep slope above the winery and another below with gravel, volcanic and pink gravel soils.  The wines are fermented in small batches and aged in new French oak barrels in caves dug deep beneath the winery.

Owner and winemaker John Williams founded Frog’s Leap Winery in 1981 with Larry Turley.  He converted to organic in 1988 and dry-farms the vineyards.  Williams’ classically-styled estate Cabernet is produced from grapes harvested early, with a high acidity and low pH.  It is aged in French oak for 18-20 months.

Classic Napa Cabs Available Here Now 

Corison Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010 ($89.95) $79 special 16 bottles available
Decanter 95 points
 “Seamless integration, with bright, juicy red and black fruit, ripe tannins, refreshing acidity and moderate alcohol. Layered and complex, unfolding with each sip. Drink 2013-2023.”Forman Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2004 ($89.95) $59 special 11 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
“Good bright ruby-red. Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, licorice and aromatic spices. Richer and seemingly riper than the young 2005, but with lovely definition to the flavors of redcurrant and sour cherry. This features a lusher, softer, sweeter middle followed by chewier and more obvious tannins that showed a firmer edge with aeration.” ST

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $69.55
The average price 32% higher at $78 / bottle

Forman Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2008 ($89.95) $59 special 11 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Tightly wound, firm, dense and concentrated, with a core of dark berry, plum, roasted herb, game meat, graphite, road tar and lead pencil, ending with chewy tannins. Should reward cellaring. Best from 2012 through 2022.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is over 25% higher at $74.99

Forman Chateau La Grande Roche Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2005 ($49.95) $33 special 12 bottles available

This is the second label wine from Forman.

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $42 / bottle

Frog’s Leap Cabernet Arriving Tuesday 

Frog’s Leap Rutherford, Napa Valley 2012 ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Frog’s Leap Rutherford, Napa Valley 2012 ($599.95) $519 pre-arrival special (that’s only $43.25 / bottle!)
Winery’s note:
“This Cabernet Sauvignon has all the hallmarks of the legendary Cabernets of Rutherford: the deep, cassis-currant aromas, the classic notes of ‘Rutherford Dust,’ and the earthen flavors of cedar and black olive. The mouthfeel is plush across the palate with velvety tannins, yet balanced by bright acidy and firm structure that hints at promising years to come. Pair it with rack of lamb, N.Y. Strip, or just another glass! This wine is destined to give decades of drinking pleasure.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Arriving Next Week

Cantina del Pino 2010 Barbaresco  

Though Cantina Del Pino has only been producing since 1997, the Vacca family has been a part of Piedmontese  winemaking for over 100 years. Domizio Cavazzo established the estate in 1894, becoming one of the first winemakers to produce Nebbiolo under the name Barbaresco. To celebrate the birth of his first son, he planted what became a large Mediterranean pine tree, and he eventually named his winery after the tree, Cantina del Pino (“Winery of the Pine”). When Cavazza passed away unexpectedly in 1912, Renato Vacca’s great grandfather purchased the vineyards, and the Vacca family has remained ever since. Until 1997, their grapes were entirely sold to the Produttori del Barbaresco cooperative, where Renatto’s cousin, Aldo Vacca, manages the cooperative winery. Today, Cantina del Pino is managed by fourth generation winemaker Renato Vacca, although his parents, aunts, uncles and friends all help with production, a truly family-run winery.All of the family’s vineyards are within the Barbaresco appellation. The oldest vines were planted by Renato Vacca’s great-grandfather, with ages ranging between 35 to 70 years old and averaging 40 years old. The Ovello Vineyard site, their most famous and one of the most revered vineyards in Piedmont, is almost 1,000 feet in altitude with limestone and sandy soil, producing wines that Renatto describes as elegant with balanced acidity. The Albesani Vineyard, to the North-East in Neive, produces richer wine due to its warmer sun exposure and denser clay soil; expect more intense fruit and floral flavors that are best with a longer cellaring. The family’s Barbaresco DOCG is sourced from Starderi and Gallina in addition to Ovello and Albesani. Wines are temperature controlled from maceration through the end of bottle aging and are bottled unfined and unfiltered, with the utmost goal to allow the wine’s natural terroir to shine.

Arriving Next Week

Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG Ovello 2010 ($69.95) $59  pre-arrival special 12+ bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points
 “Showing great persistency and length, the 2010 Barbaresco Ovello is an extremely elegant and refined expression with crushed flowers, forest fruit and strong mineral definition. The Ovello cru (at 300 meters above sea level) overlooks the Tanaro River valley where early morning fog banks appear and temperature shifts are very pronounced thus helping aromatic development of the wine. The results are ethereal and finessed. Drink: 2017-2035.”Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG Albesani 2010 ($59.95) $51.90  pre-arrival special 19 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points 
“Cantina del Pino’s 2010 Barbaresco Albesani is another huge, powerful wine. Black cherries, smoke, licorice and asphalt hit the palate in a powerful, structured Barbaresco that is going to require some time. As always, the richness and depth of Albesani comes through, but in this vintage, there is also plenty of underlying structure to allow the 2010 to age gracefully for years.”

Available Here Now from Cantina del Pino

Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG 2008 ($39.95) $33 special 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 92 points
 “The 2008 Barbaresco comes across as quite elegant and Burgundian in this vintage. Sweet dark cherries, spices, mint and crushed flowers are some of the notes that take shape in the glass in this, bright, focused Barbaresco. The 2008 possesses terrific energy and polish from start to finish. This is a beautifully balanced wine from Cantina del Pino. The 2008 was made 50% from an east facing parcel of Ovello in the Morassino district. The other 50% of the fruit was sourced from the west-facing part of Ovello, plus Vacca’s smaller holdings in Starderi, Gallina and Albesani. How’s that for a superb quartet of vineyards? Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028.”Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG 2009 ($39.95) $33 special 2+ cases available
Antonio Galloni 91 points
 “The 2009 Barbaresco wraps around the palate with soft, caressing fruit. This juicy, up-front Barbaresco is an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years. Renato Vacca has succeeded in giving his Barbaresco considerable finesse without losing the essential Nebbiolo tannins and overall structure. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024. Proprietor Renato Vacca continues to show he has the magic touch. I would be thrilled to drink any of these magnificent wines. Vacca has decided to release his 2009 single-vineyard Barbareschi before the 2008s, as he feels those wines need another year in bottle. I hope readers take the time to check out these fabulous wines. Along with Sottimano, Gaja, Pelissero and a handful of others, Cantina del Pino is one of the very few estates in Barbaresco where every single wine is fabulous”

Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG 2010 ($41.95) $33 special 18 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points 
“The 2010 Barbaresco is anything but a -base- Barbaresco says Renato Vacca. It is assembled from fruit sourced in Barbaresco and Neive but grapes are specially selected to make this wine. It opens to a light garnet color and Burgundian aromas of small berries, blue flowers and light spice. There-s a delicate touch of toasted pine nut at the back. Fruit from Nieve contributes more power, heft and color. Fruit from the Barbaresco township renders a sense of elegance and finesse. These wines are not clarified or filtered. Drink: 2017-2028. Renato Vacca releases his Barbaresco one year later than most and is extremely excited about 2010. I visited him on a beautiful spring day as his elderly father fumbled with a ladder to pick fruit off a cherry tree in the background. Renato and his family once sold fruit to Produttori del Barbaresco before Cantina del Pino was founded in 1997. The winery was built in 2000 and Renato introduced the Albesani cru in 2005 to offer contrast to the wine he is best known for, the Barbaresco Ovello. Together he farms five single vineyards in Neive and Barbaresco (Starderi, Albesani, Gallina and Ovello) and makes three expressions of Barbaresco.”

Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG Albesani 2008 ($59.95) $49 special 17 bottles available
Antonio Galloni & Wine Spectator 94+ points 
“Cantina del Pino’s 2008 Barbaresco Albesani shows the heights of pure elegance Nebbiolo is capable of. An exotic array of plums, black cherries, menthol and violets come to life as the Albesani shows off its pedigree. Silky, refined and polished, the Albesani is simply magnificent from the very first taste. The deep, resonant finish stayed with me for hours. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028.”

Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG Albesani 2009 ($59.95) $49 special 18 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “The picture of harmony, this red exudes cherry and floral aromas, with plenty of berry, tobacco and balsamic flavors. Balanced and firm, with a lingering aftertaste of spice and mineral. Accessible now, yet will improve. Best from 2014 through 2025”

Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG Ovello 2008 ($59.95) $49 special 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points
 “Layers of sweet, Pinot-like fruit emerge effortlessly from the 2008 Barbaresco Ovello. Incredibly refined from the very first taste, the Ovello impresses for its overall balance and sense of harmony. Expressive floral notes reappear on the finish in a Barbaresco that is unusually refined for this site, where the wines are typically a bit more taut.”