Wine Blog

07 Davis Family Riesling ($22) ☺☺☺

A brave decision to make a traditional 'old world' style riesling paid dividends for the winemaker of this wine. This riesling displays all the qualities associated with the classic dry riesling. The initial smell is bone dry mineral, almost petroleum flavors, but on the pallet it expands to reveal arid peaches, apples and honey.  This wine won't be to everyone's tastes but I can thoroughly recommend it for those who like the bone dry riesling typically found in Europe. 

06 J Russian River Pinot Noir ($35) ☺☺☺

The J series of Pinot Noir give Pinot lovers a great base wine to compare others against. The wine is always consistent, rarely have I had a poor vintage or bad bottle. This win sits firmly in the 90+ points area and it delivers a very good wine from what was not a particularly notable vintage. Cherries dominate the nose but there is also that wonderful mineral mushroom flavor which is so evocative of this style of pinot. On the palate there is a hint of cola and citrus, the finish is long and lingering giving pleasure to the last drop.  

10 Intipalka Malbec ($16) ☺☺

This is the very first Peruvian wine I have tasted. It is based on the Malbec grape which is clearly putting South America on the wine map again. You tend to think of Malbec as being a blending grape and one which, when on its own, has a strong tannins and a dark inky color. This Peruvian Malbec is much lighter in color and flavor, and has an almost floral nose.  The fruit on the nose is cherry with hints of damson and on the palate its tannins and acidity combine nicely although it needs to be drunk almost immediately on opening. Its the sort of wine which won't break the bank and will give you an affordable alternative to the heavier Malbecs on the market. 

09 James MacPhail Ferrington ($49) ☺☺☺☺☺

Its not often you come across the 5 smiley face wines at such a reasonable price point. I remember tasting this out of the barrel and my notes said that it was very closed but had the chances of being a good wine. I was wrong about it being a good wine, it is superb. The initial nose is dominated by earthy cherry and raspberry fruit. There is a definite mineral nose underlying this ripe fruit with rose petals, each sniff gave more and more complexity. On the palate its lush tannins are balanced by an almost citrus acidity but the fruit is deep and rounded. This will also keep for a long time and I am looking forward to the next bottle next year already !

07 Elizabeth Spencer Howell Mountain Cabernet ($75) ☺☺☺☺

When you combine a great vintage with a quality producer then the results are always going to be good. Elizabeth Spencer focuses on quality and their fruit from Howell Mountain is superb. The wine was drunk with a roast lamb and the wine gives us the classic cassis, cedar, leather and tobacco you would expect from a great cabernet. The taste was full of ripe cherries and back fruit with a beautiful mouth full of tennis which give it great balance. I will look forward to drinking this in10 years time, its a keeper.

98 Vérité La Joie ($200) ☺☺☺☺☺

Pierre Siellan, whom I have had the pleasrue of meeting, produces classic French style wines deep in the heart of California. He has gone toe to toe with his fellow countrymen and produced some stunning results. We first tasted the La Joie (06) at this tasting room in Napa and he then introduced us to his library wines, comprising of this 98 blockbuster. This was a real revelation, the 98 is still very enjoyable The blend of Cabernet and Merlot is the classic 70/30 as typified by the Bordelaise and this creates the great structure of tannins fruit and acidity famed throughout the world. It is an entirely different style to the more classic Napa wines such as Opus but one which is pleasing on the nose and palate. The initial nose is of strong leather and cigar boxes laced with plums and vanilla. the plums from the Merlot grapes are dominant on the first nose but underlying there is a great earthy style wine. The taste is complex revealing cherry and blackcurrant with a long long finish. Hint of canned orange peel in the lingering taste. Superb.

02 Opus One ($200) ☺☺☺☺☺

In some respects you would expect a $200 wine to be good but all too often the price in not an indicator or guarantee of excellence. In this case however the provenance is impeccable and the winemakers are renowned all over the world. Opus One is possibly the best know high end, yet readily available wine in California. This 02 Vintage is a classic which will continue maturing for years to come. We opened and drank this within and hour of decanting, the color is deep purple and it has a beautiful nose of ripe black cherries and plums. There is a slight hint of cocoa laced with vanilla. When you drink this wine it opens up beautifully to reveal beautifully structured tannins, not too harsh and yet firm enough to balance the wine. If you are lucky enough to have some of this in the cellar relax and watch it slowly mature, it will be worth the wait.

© John Holmes 2014