Napa and Sonoma Tasting Recap…Again.

In case you missed it, my wife and I completely lost our minds and took a second trip of the year out to wine country only a week after returning from Mexico. After visiting another 20 wineries (most of them new) and sampling over 100 different wines, here is a brief recap of my favorite wines I tasted for each of many varietals and styles.



GOLD: Girard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Estate 2005, 93 Points, $75- Juicy blackberry and black cherry aromas, all dark fruit with a hint of chocolate. Elegant and structured, bursting with blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and eucalyptus, undertones of powdery chocolate. Mouth-coating tannins add complexity, this is a monster, with a finish that lingers for minutes. A colossal amount of dark fruit here with a long, cedary, spicy finish.

SILVER: Pride Cabernet Sauvignon Napa-Sonoma Counties 2006, 92 Points, $65- Dark raspberry, black cherry and vanilla on the nose. Soft-bodied cherry, raspberry and red currant fruit body, creamy and smooth, with cedar, cigar box and vanilla bean through the long, complex finish. Lush throughout with a chocolate-covered cherry nuance. Tobacco spice lingers, complex and delicious, incredibly smooth finish for such a young wine.

BRONZE: St. Clement Star Vineyard Cabernet Napa Valley 2004, 92 Points, $80- Juicy black cherry, cedar and a hint of oak on the nose. Soft-bodied but full of black cherry, dark raspberry, cedar and mint, subtle vanilla bean. Long finish of cedary spice and fruit, cola notes. Deep and intense, round tannins.


GOLD: Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 2005, 94 Points, $200- Bursting with blackberry fruit, chocolate and subtle cedar. Mouth-coating blackberry and blackcherry notes above soft perfume and dark godiva chocolate elements. Lightly cedary with a distinctive wet stone and gravel undertone, long length. Round tannins, chocolate and mineral linger, smooth, deep and elegant throughout.

SILVER: St. Clement Orropas Napa Valley 2005, 91 Points, $60- Lightly earthy aromas above black fruit, clovey spice and cocoa powder. Powdery, beautiful body with deep black cherry, blackberry, black tea and chocolate. Clove spice pulls together the finish, long length with cocoa powder nuances. Very light oak, earthier than usual, light notes of cola creep in.

BRONZE: Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages Sonoma Valley 2005, 90 Points, $90- Dusty black fruit complexities with cherry and chocolate nuances. Full-bodied and bursting with black cherry fruit on the palate, rich chocolate notes linger behind. Smooth, creamy finish with sweet oak perfectly intertwined, round tannins add subtle dryness.


GOLD: Pride Syrah Sonoma County 2006, 92 Points, $65- Subtle blackberry, licorice, dark red currants and light leathery character on the nose. Complex palate with red currant fruits, perfumey floral notes, orange peel, violet and dark berries. Soft, plush mouthfeel, with hints of pepper spice and exotic cooking spice running rampant. Long finish, delicious fruit flavors, pepper and hints of leather linger.

SILVER: Truchard Syrah Napa Valley Carneros 2004, 91 Points, $30- Classic profile, with lots of leather and licorice on the nose. Delicious body of velvety black licorice, black cherry, blackberry above smoke, leather and pepper spice through the long finish. Perfect by-the-fire wine, perfect representation of the grape.

BRONZE: Arrowood Syrah Sonoma Valley 2002, 90 Points, $40- Leathery aromas of black fruit, pepper and chocolate. Velvety and deep, with black licorice and blackberry above leather, black pepper and sweet spices. Long finish, with hints of smoke and earth understated.


GOLD: Mauritson Grower’s Reserve Zinfanel Sonoma Valley 2005, 89 Points, $35- Spicy red apple, cranberry and cherry notes on the nose. Medium-bodied with impressive texture, as spicy red cherry, raspberry and cranberry weave together above soft tannins and a hint of vanilla bean through the medium length.

SILVER: Girard Old Vine Zinfandel Napa Valley 2006, 89 Points, $25- Black cherry, raspberry and toast  aromas. Fairly deep black cherry flavors, dark wild berry fruit and a blast of pepper spice through the long length. Expressive dark fruits and very spicy, this is my type of Zin.

BRONZE: Truchard Zinfandel Napa Valley Carnernos 2005, 89 Points, $25- Cinnamon spice wrapped around cherry and raspberry fruit on the nose. Spicy body of red apple, cherry, raspberry, spiced cranapple, this one cries for food. Cinnamon apple flavors carry through the medium length, this is a mouthful of spicy red fruits with herbal hints creeping in. A good Thanksgiving dinner wine.


GOLD: Selby Pinot Noir Love Vineyard Russian River Valley 2005, 90 Points, $40- Very floral nose, with rose petal and violet above subtle strawberry and hints of smoke. Complex body of blueberry, cherry, violet and lavender notes. Sweet spice and smoke add to the the extremely long finish, floral fruit notes linger.

SILVER: Domaine Carneros Estate Pinot Noir Carneros 2006, 90 Points, $40- Subtle strawberry, watermelon and rose petal aromas. Light-bodied with soft minerality, beautiful floral notes above black cherry, watermelon and strawberry fruit. Soft yet spicy finish with white pepper tones, long length with a hint of chocolate.

BRONZE: Robert Hunter Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley 2005, 88 Points, $45- Jammy strawberry, raspberry and watermelon jolly rancher on the nose, hints of tobacco spice and cedar. Ripe and fruit forward, with well-structured watermelon, dark raspberry, strawberry and the slightest hint of blueberry. Firm presence of tobacco spice throughout, lightly floral and peppery, nice finesse.


GOLD: Pride Merlot Napa-Sonoma Counties 2006, 91 Points, $50- Baked plum, dates, perfume and vanilla bean on the nose. Soft mouthfeel of creamy black cherry, plum, fig and dates above a strong vanilla character throughout. Hints of caramel and cedar linger through the long finish, subtle clove spice lingers as well. Smooth, creamy and complex, soft, round tannins.

SILVER: Arrowood Cote de Lune Rouge Sonoma Valley 2005, 89 Points, $30- Very gamey and smokey, lightly floral with red currant fruit underneath. Red cherry and raspberry quickly evolve into strong smokiness with complex cinnamon spice, leather and floral layers with hints of vanilla lingering. Complex and innovative, long finish, round tannins add moderate dryness.

BRONZE: Selby Dolcetto Russian River Valley 2007, 89 Points, $35- Lifted aromas of red fruit, hung game and leather, almost like barolo. Gamey body of red fruit and smokey bacon above clovey spice. Light-bodied and elegant, love the texture on this, long finish.


GOLD: Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee Brut Carneros 2001, 91 Points, $35- Light citrus aromas of pear, melon and lime with hints of almond. Crisp but creamy body with complex layers of lemon, lime and grapefruit which evolve into almond, hazelnut and vanilla. This has sugary components throughout and a hint of mineral through the long finish, notes of ginger and cinnamon linger, complex.

SILVER: Domaine Carneros Le Reve Carneros 2002, 91 Points, $85- Intense nose of lemon, apple and yeast. A mouth-gripper, with lemon, almond and pear notes above exotic spice, very creamy and delicious through the long finish.

BRONZE: Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros 2005, 90 Points, $25 (see November Wine of the Month)


GOLD: Truchard Chardonnay Napa Valley Carneros 2006, 90 Points, $25- Crisp, clean pear and green apple notes above soft oak. A mouthful of spicy citrus fruit, pear, apple, melon, peach and lemon with well-balanced vanilla bean and oak lingering through the impressive finish. Creamy with crisp, balanced acidity, with fruit showing through the oak elements.

SILVER: Rombauer Chardonnay Napa Valley 2007, 89 Points, $40- Golden body with green apple citrus and deep, butterscotchy oak. Thick and creamy body of green apple, peach and kiwi fruit, nicely balanced oak tones. Long, slightly spicy finish, fruit shines here, creamy texture, lively acidity.

BRONZE: Robert Hunter Chardonnay Sonoma Valley 2006, 89 Points, $40- Creamy, golden body with lots of oak and butterscotch on the nose alongside tropical notes of mango and peach. Very creamy and smooth, with golden delicious apple, peach and pear fruit above soft vanilla, toffee and butterscotch nuances. Lively acidity through the long length. Great balance with complex fruit and oak elements.


GOLD: Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley St. Helena 2006, 88 Points, $30- Clean and fruity citrus aromas above hints of mineral. Soft pear, lemon and grapefruit citrus flavors, all fruit here, notes of honey and creamy oak linger behind. Lightly spicy, light minerality through the medium length. Very little grassiness here, crisp and refreshing.

SILVER: Groth Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2007, 88 Points, $20- Bursting tropical citrus flavors of peach, guava, mango, honey dew and grapefruit, a touch of hay but fruit shines. Crisp, acidic body with melon flavors leading into peach, guava, mango and a bit of grapefruit develops into a creamy texture with soft vanilla bean that cuts the tartness nicely. This is balanced and delicious, smooth and creamy.

BRONZE: Larkmead Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2007, 87 Points, $20- Crisp, grassy nose with lime and grapefruit citrus notes. Acidity pumping through the honey dew, lime and grapefruit notes, hints of grass, finishes with notes of minerality. A touch of tartness lingers, but very crisp and fruity overall.

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