Geyser Peak winery in Alexander Valley was founded in 1880, one of California’s oldest wineries. A Sonoma winery that is located atop a hillside across from Geyser Peak Mountain producing award winning wines. They produce a varietal line of wines including the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon we are sampling tonight, along with a Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc. Geyser Peak also offers reserve wines, a line of block wines from specific parcels or lots and also limited release wines. The winery offers a wide variety with something for all palates, even a Riesling for those who enjoy a sweeter wine. On first taste of the 2006 Cabernet it is all fruit, rich, ripe cherry, lots of dark cherry followed by hints of vanilla with a slightly toasted caramel after taste. This Cabernet can pair against any dish you throw at it and I would love to eat it with pizza night! Under $20, it is a must try wine widely available for purchase. To purchase follow the link below:
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Ah, the first full week of the New Year has come to a close and boy, am I ready to kick back from the work week and crack a nice bottle of red wine! A good bottle of red I do have, tonight we are sampling a 2005 Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This Napa wine is produced of 100% Cabernet grapes from an outstanding vintage. Heitz Cellars takes pride in producing consistent exceptional quality wines which is apparent in the first sip. A nicely balanced deep ruby cabernet aged for 3 years in oak offering lots of dark cherry and oak nuances. This wine is smooth enough to drink now, but certainly worthy of several years in the cellar continuing to improve with age. This Cabernet retails around $40, and well worth every penny. Check out Heitz Cellars full line of wines by visiting them in St Helena, California or online at Heitzcellar.com. Other wines in their line include three other Cabernets, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Grignolino, Zinfandel and of course finishing out with a Port. Heitz Cellar is a family owned and operated winery since 1961, with second generation Heitz children at the helm. If you enjoy quality Napa Valley wines, you will enjoy this Cabernet.
Murphy-Goode Winery was founded in 1985 by three friends, Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and David Ready, with a family tradition of wine making that continues today under the present owners the Jackson Family of Kendall-Jackson fame. In the early days Murphy-Goode was known for their Fume Blanc and Chardonnay harvested entirely from their own vineyards. As the popularity of the wines grew they found the need for more vineyard space. They were able to satisfy the need by creating partnerships with neighbors and local farmers all of whom shared the same vision as Murphy-Goode. One such neighbor was fellow winemaker Jess Jackson who had such a strong belief in the vision that he purchased Murphy-Goode in 2006. The family wine making tradition continues today, with a focus more towards the Bordeaux style and Murphy-Goode offers several very good reds. Murphy-Goode wines are fantastic for almost any budget with a variety of wines under $20, but also offering some higher end wines as well. Tonight we are having the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon one of the very reasonably priced wines under the $20 mark which is a dark bold Cab with cherry and blackberry flavors along with a hint of thyme. Blended with Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, the wine finishes with a rich deep and complex mouth feel. Pair this with your pizza, your steak or just about anything you choose. Also, when checking out the Murphy-Goode wines, be sure to try their Zinfandels…they know how to make them well too!
As club members of Envy wines, we took a bottle of the 2007 Envy Napa Valley Merlot to dinner this evening at a local Italian restaurant. This was our first sample of the 07 Merlot which we found to be full of fruit on the first sip, but quickly followed by chocolate notes with barely noticeable tannins. The wine was smooth, yet still able to stand up and not become lost among the bold flavors of the pancetta and tomato in the homemade pasta dishes we dined on. Envy wines have produced nothing but quality since I have first tasted them at the recommendation of a dear friend in the valley, Lin, from Venge Wines. Kirk Venge produces Venge Vineyard wines where we first met Lin, but Envy is another one of his father, Nils Venge’s many wine projects. Envy is the mastermind project of Mark Carter and Nils Venge. As a side note, Nils also owns and produces Saddleback Cellars wines…another nice place to visit with very good wines. Envy produces some white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, but as a red wine fan, I am most interested in their reds. They produce a wonderful blend called Beebee’s blend, described as sexy, full bodied, and elegant meant to be enjoyed for 15+ years as reviewed by Robert Parker who considered it a top value in 2009. A 2007 Cabernet currently being offered that Envy touts to be one of their best to date… another must try. In addition to the Merlot we enjoyed this evening there is also a Petite Sirah that is as big and bold as the mountain the fruit was grown on, almost ink like in color with flavor to match. As for Envy tasting room, it offers a very home like appeal that allows you to enjoy all of the wines in a relaxed environment where you can truly appreciate the wines for what they are.
Tonight we are enjoying a Rosenblum Cellars, Contra Costa County, Carla’s Reserve Zinfandel. The wine we are drinking is the 2006 vintage; however, the 2007 is the most current release being offered. As a side note, the 2007 wines; Zinfandel in particular are drinking very well. As a Zinfandel fan, I am not sure why I normally shy away from their wines when Rosenblum self describes as a winery dedicated to the production of Zinfandel and Rhone varietals. I also have never disliked any Rosenblum wine; I just think there are too many choices that I become a bit overwhelmed when trying to select. According to their website Rosenblum produces over 50 wines annually to select from so you can see where one may not know where to start. With the kudos being given to the latest vintage of Zinfandels, I felt now was the time to begin exploring some of Rosenblums extensive offerings. I must say Carla’s Reserve is a nice place to start, I know you are probably thinking sure, start with a reserve, but heck, you have to start somewhere. The vines used to produce this intense wine are over 100 years old and consistently produce fruit of exceptional quality, which is then blended with only a small amount of fruit sourced from other vineyards. At first look there is deep, dark, intense color, so rich that you have to look hard to find hints of ruby when holding the wine to the light. A first swirl of the wine gives off ripe black cherry notes, followed by olive and spice notes. With lots of spicy pepper on the taste the wine will stand up to any of your boldest dishes and will pair nicely right alongside of your favorite pizza as well. Rosenblum describes this wine as one of their most exotic Zinfandel offerings, although I have not tried too many yet, I have to agree this wine is extremely tasty. Under $25, this Zin is a must try if you are looking for a big, bold, spicy, Zinfandel. Be sure to check back for additional Rosenblum wine reviews.
As a self professed wine snob that really likes a good red wine, I have to step back once in a while, especially in these economic times and remind myself that all expensive wine is not necessarily good. Nor are the inexpensive wines necessarily bad. Yes, there are levels of complexity, smoother finishes and so on. Thus, the reason for the rating system that some rely so heavily on, but we all know special wines should be reserved for special occasions and drinking 90 point wines every night just doesn’t make sense. Therefore, back to my roots and my never ending quest to find the best value for your dollar wines. It seems as though the 2007 wines are coming out with a bang and one in particular recently caught my eye…The Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2007 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This Washington grown wine received 89 points and was noted in the Savvy Shopper-Spectator Selections Best Value wines. Blended from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remaining 5% comprised of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah and total alcohol at 13.6%, this vintage is described as supple and surprisingly complex. Notes of cherry, cassis and chocolate along with some spice round out this medium bodied, yet complex wine, all for under $15…yes, that is certainly a best value for your dollar price. Try it for yourself today and be sure to check out all of Columbia Crest wine offerings at columbiacrest.com.
As I sit here on an early Sunday evening the rain is stopping and I have finished making my famous red sauce or gravy as some call it, with meatballs and braciola. Of course the famous part is all in my own mind. I decided we would need a good red wine to drink, one that can stand up to the heavy richness of the sauce. Normally I would pick out a bold Cabernet, tonight however, I chose a Zinfandel. Zinfandel is quite strong and usually carries a nice peppery finish that stands up to most foods; including my red sauce. At the recommendation of a friend I recently tried Elyse Zinfandel A.K.A Napa Valley. Wow…did I tell you I love my friend? This wine is awesome!! I think of earthy berry notes along with layers of spice and pepper that all meld perfectly together in this 2007 Zinfandel. The wine is graceful while packing its punch of flavor, a blend of 86% Zinfandel and 14% Petite Sirah. It is also offers an aging life of 5-8 years in the cellar and as the Elyse Winery website tasting notes say, it is meant to be paired with rich, hearty dishes; like my sauce! Pick up a bottle today, just under the $30 price point; it is well worth every dollar. Also, check out the rest of the Elyse wine offerings at elysewinery.com. I can’t wait to sample some of Elyse wines and definitely plan to visit the winery on my next trip to the valley in October.
While walking through the Cabernet section of my local liquor store this weekend, I spotted a familiar name; Robert Craig. I say familiar as I recognize it based solely on the fact that I have treated myself in the past to some Robert Craig Howell Mountain Cabernet and fell in love. The Howell Mountain Cabernet sparked enough interest that I quickly purchased a few more bottles to store in the cellar as well as one as a gift for my sister’s wine cellar, but I still did not do my normal research to find out more about the winery. I have no problem paying for quality wine, but I do reserve any wines over $50 for special occasions, so when I happened upon a 2007 Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet under that price mark, I became quite excited. I was sure Robert Craig could not possibly make a bad wine based on my prior experience. Well, once I looked past the label and saw the advertising tag on the shelf, apparently Robert Parker does not think Robert Craig can make a bad wine either. Parker gave this new Napa Valley Cabernet a very generous 96 points. As I sit here swirling and sniffing and tasting, I realize I need to designate an area of my wine cellar for more Robert Craig wines…this Affinity is outstanding! This Cabernet is a real treat still within a range that fits into the tighter budgets of 2010 while the economy is still trying to recover. Not to say any of the Mt Veeder or Howell Mountain Cabs should be overlooked, just saying if you are watching your budget these days you can indulge in a fantastic Napa Valley Cabernet without guilt. Composed of 79% Cabernet, 10% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec. Aged 16 months in French oak, the wine offers lots of ripe berries and oak on the nose, with luscious fruit flavors mixed with cocoa and a very full, yet polished finish. In my opinion worth every bit of the accolades the wine has been given. In looking over the offerings from Robert Craig, I see there is also a Cuvee and a Zinfandel that I would love to try. I think my next trip to the Valley has to include a visit to Robert Craig.
Lush – A 2007 Napa Valley Red Wine…..eye catching from the first moment you lay eyes on the bottle with a label that stands out enough to make you pause for a second in order to interpret. The label reads much like an eye chart you would see at an eye doctor office, starting out with just one large letter at the top. In this case the top letter is L printed in red ink, followed by CB in black ink, followed by DUF with the U in red ink and all other letters in black ink. The next line provides PSTO with the S being the red ink letter and of course the font size getting progressively smaller as an eye chart would. The label continues with various letters stamped in black in all six rows of the “eye chart” except for the word LUSH set apart in red ink. See what I mean? Clever marketing, now that you have paused for a second to read the bottle you are already intrigued as to what this wine is all about. So, I turn it around to find it has been cellared and bottle by Underground Wine Co. Napa, CA. Ok, still gaining points in my book as I have tried some other wines by Underground Wine Co. They describe the wine as LUSH aromas of wild cherry and blackberry that create a complex red wine with depth and intensity unlike any other. A blend of 85% Merlot, 12% Syrah, and 3% Viognier, a fact I had a little difficulty finding as the wine is not outlined on the web, nor is it detailed on the label. This defined and well balanced red will pair with a variety of food making it an approachable wine for any type of occasion! Wow and price point under $20….I had to buy a bottle, sounded like it would be perfect for pizza night! We did sample the wine later that week and really enjoyed it… I will be picking up another bottle and you should too!
“YeeHaw” ….that’s right, Yeehaw! That is what you exclaim when you taste a bottle of Lamborn Family Vineryards Napa Valley Howell Mountain Zinfandel! The 2007 25th Vintage, Silver Anniversary is the wine I have sampled. I had never purchased Lamborn Family wines before this year, but I came across their website and being a lover of Howell Mountain wines and having a love of Zinfandel wine, I figured it had to be a win-win for me. I could not have been more right with rich ripe berries and the spicy white pepper flavor that you would come to expect from most Zinfandel wines. Hints of oak also accentuate the rich fruit flavors. An outstanding wine with only a little over 500 cases produced, overseen by winemaker, Heidi Peterson Barrett.
So, now that I have told you how good the wine is and you want to buy a bottle, I am sure your curiosity is getting the best of you about the “YeeHaw”. It is a Lamborn Family tradition; another thing I love about this wine…it is a family affair. It seems to me the whole family is active in the winery business and what more could you ask for, family and a passion for wine. The “Yeehaw” tradition was started by Bob (Papa) Lamborn during the 1980’s when he exclaimed “Yeehaw” to signify the beginning of Harvest. Each and every harvest since has begun the same way…a tradition that will continue along with the tradition of family and making great wine.
As previously mentioned, this is a limited production wine so be sure to order today, visit their website at: http://www.lamborn.com