VC Cellars – 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

June 26, 2011

The Facts:

The VC Cellars 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from Estate grown, hillside fruit. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; it was fermented in stainless steel and then aged in small Bulgarian oak barrels. A mere 186 cases of this offering were produced and it sells for $32.

The recent release of the 2006 wines represents the second vintage for VC Cellars. This boutique Dry Creek Valley producer is run by Victor and Cindy Trentadue. They have more than 30 years of experience managing vineyards. In addition to their own vines they run a company that farms more than 400 acres in Sonoma County. Additionally they’re both involved in the other family business, Trentadue Winery located in neighboring Alexander Valley. And while Victor makes the wines for VC Cellars he has the guiding hand of Trentadue winemaker Miro Tcholakov on hand to assist. Their 12 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.

Gabe’s Take:

Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc are the well known stars of Dry Creek Valley, but much of the Cabernet Sauvignon is underrated. When it’s planted in a spot that works and treated with care in the wine-making process, Cabernet Sauvignons from Dry Creek Valley can represent both excellent wines and tremendous values. Dollar for dollar, great Cabernet from Dry Creek blows away wines from more famous Cabernet regions on QPR.

Dark berry aromas are joined by eucalyptus, cedar and cigar box on the rich and inviting nose of this 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Dried dark berry fruit flavors are prominent through the plate with blackberry, blueberry and raspberry of particular note. These are joined by a core of spices as well as wisps of dry herbs. Earth, chicory, black pepper and dusty dark chocolate notes all emerge on the finish which has terrific length. This wine has tight gripping tannins and solid acidity.

This wine from VC Cellars is an excellent example of Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at its best. For $32 it represents a very nice value in its category. This wine is a bit tight out of the bottle now, so decanting it is strongly recommended. However if you’re patient, lay it down for 5-8 years and you’ll be well rewarded.

Kachina Vineyards – 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

February 27, 2011

The Facts:

The Kachina Vineyards2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit sourced in Dry Creek Valley, much of it from their estate. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (93%), some Syrah (7%) was also blended in. Barrel aging took place over a period of twenty four months in a combination of French (70%) and American (30%) oak; all of the barrels were new. This wine is available directly from the winery for $62. Their current release of Cabernet the 2006 sells for $42.

Kachina Vineyards is an artisan Dry Creek Valley Producer located at 4551 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They’re open for tasting by appointment. The largest portion of their portfolio is dedicated to red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Port. They also make a small Amount of Chardonnay. I understand Charbono is coming soon too and I for one can’t wait.

Gabe’s Take:

I really enjoyed this wine the first time I looked at it and was curious to see how it was tasting close to two years later. After re-tasting it a second look was in order. Kachina Vineyards is precisely the sort of mom and pop shop that has kept me coming back to Dry Creek Valley year after year. If you visit them (which I heartily encourage) the wines will likely be poured by the same hands that produced them. They’re a young producer but everything I’ve seen and tasted points to Kachina Vineyards becoming a winery you can count on for years to come.

Dark berry aromas such as cherry and raspberry play a prominent role in the nose of this 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. An undercurrent of blackberry and subtle plum also show up. Hints of cedar and vanilla are present also. Throughout the palate two characteristics are the star of the show; cherry and earth. Both black and red cherry, dry and fresh all make their presence felt. These flavors which are accompanied by an underlying layer of spice are really counterbalanced by copious amounts of earth which emerge ever more prominently on the lengthy finish. Cocoa, chicory, nutmeg and a touch of clove are all present as well. This wine has medium tannins that have softened a bit with time. Firm acidity keeps everything in balance.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is absolutely delicious. It’s a fine example of what can be achieved in Dry Creek Valley with this variety. While Dry Creek is of course most noted for Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, there is some great Cabernet to be had. Kachina Vineyards is stating their case as a go to producer for excellent boutique Cabernet Sauvignon with aging potential to boot. This wine is worth every penny.

deLorimer Winery – 2006 Warm Springs Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

January 30, 2011

The Facts:

The deLorimer Winery 2006 Warm Springs Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard effort; all of the fruit was sourced at the namesake site. The vineyard sits at an elevation of 1,600 feet and features vines planted in 1989 and 1995. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks, utilizing native yeasts. Barrel aging was accomplished over 36 months in French Oak. A mere 190 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $32.

Gabe’s Take:

deLorimer Winery is an Alexander Valley producer that sources fruit from some other appellations in addition to their home region. This wine of course was sourced at a Dry Creek Valley property. It’s always nice to see outside producers using Dry Creek Valley fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon is in my opinion one of the unsung heroes of Dry Creek, so I’m always eager to see how a release I haven’t sampled before stacks up.

Cedar, black raspberry, and dark cherry aromas dominate the nose of this 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. A gentle wisp of vanilla wafts through as well and provides a nice counterpart. The wine is full-bodied with a rich, layered and intense palate that impresses with layer after layer of dark fruit flavor. These flavors echo the fruits that showed up in the nose and add in hints of plum and blackberry. Earth, chicory and pepper are all part of the finish which shows off good length. This wine has solid acidity and firm, gripping tannins that yield with some aeration.

For $32 this represents a nice value in Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s loaded with varietal character and also has an unmistakable sense of its Dry Creek Valley origins. Tasty now, particularly with some air you can lay this wine down for 7-8 years at minimum and end up with an even lovelier offering than you have today.

Michel-Schlumberger – 2007 La Cime Cabernet Sauvignon

December 29, 2010

The Facts:

The Michel-Schlumberger 2007 La Cime Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using only Estate fruit from their Dry Creek Valley Vineyard. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine spent 26 months aging in oak. 862 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $40.

Michel-Schlumberger is a Dry Creek Valley producer that totally kills it when it comes to Bordeaux varietals. Winemaker Mike Brunson and his staff are quite gifted with a range of varieties outside the Bordeaux classics as well. The absolute best way to get to know their wines is to pay them a visit. They’re open everyday and they offer a wide array of tasting and tour options. Check their website for specific details and contact information. The bottom line though, if you’re going to be in Dry Creek Valley, you want to stop at Michel-Schlumberger.

Gabe’s Take:

The last few times I stopped in to visit at Michel-Schlumberger they were pouring some library selections in addition to the normal lineup of wines. Those library wines happened to be Cabernet Sauvignon. I was pretty knocked out by some of the older vintages, and heartened as well, to see how they were holding up over 15 years from harvest. That made it particularly interesting for me to sample the current Cabernets and see how they stacked up today as well as what promise they hold for the future.

Toasty oak and dark berry aromas waft convincingly from the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Through the palate black fruit flavors win the day with hints of red fruit popping through as accents from time to time. Black cherry is of particular note and it’s accompanied by a generous component of spices. The finish brings out earth and black pepper as the parade of dark fruit flavors continue. This wine has firm, gripping tannins and excellent acidity.

The 2007 La Cime Cabernet Sauvignon is an ager to be sure. If you drink it over the next few years you’ll want to decant it for a couple of hours to allow it to show at its best. But if you have some patience, lay it down for the next decade or so and you’ll be rewarded with an even more outstanding wine. This release represents another in the line of outstanding Cabernets from Michel-Schlumberger. They do many things well, but when it comes to the Red Bordeaux varietals they outshine many of their peers.

Dutcher Crossing – 2007 Cooney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

November 30, 2010

The Facts:

Dutcher Crossing Winery has a flair for making small lot wines from select vineyards. Many of these are sourced in Dry Creek Valley; a few of them come from surrounding areas. The 2007 Dutcher Crossing Cooney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is such a single vineyard effort. The Cooney Vineyard (formerly Nevins Vineyard) is located in Alexander Valley. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and underwent open top tank punch down fermentation. It spent 24 months in French oak; 50% of the barrels were new. 361 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $43.

Dutcher Crossing Winery is located at 8533 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They’re open every day from 11 AM until 5 PM. They close on a handful of major holidays. Please check their website for those specifics, or call them at 866-431-2711. Tours and private tastings are also available by prior appointment.

Gabe’s Take:

The Dutcher Crossing portfolio is loaded with impressive, full flavored wines. The small lot offerings, made from specific sites however are the ones that put them over the top. In terms of overall excitement from vintage to vintage those wines are the ones that speak to me the most. I’m glad to see with the vineyard changing hands and names that Dutcher Crossing is still making a Cabernet from this fruit.

Aromas of dark plum, black raspberry and spice fill the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberry, cherry and toasty oak notes reverberate through the palate which is layered, intense and nicely proportionate. Hints of dust and smoke lead the finish which also features black tea, oodles of earth, and pencil lead. This wine has firm, grippy tannins and solid acidity.

If you’re going to drink this wine over the next couple of years I highly recommend decanting it for a couple of hours. However in a perfect world I’d lay it down for 3-4 years and drink it in the 5 years after that. After tasting through this wine I was stunned to learn that the alcohol clocks in well over 15%. That level isn’t betrayed on the palate which shows no signs of heat. As winemaker Kerry Damskey is prone to do, he’s taken a small lot of site specific wine and allowed it to shine. Cabernet Sauvignon is the variety that sparkles the most in Alexander Valley, and Kerry has made sure this one does just that. This is a terrific wine to lay down for a special occasion, Christmas 2015 perhaps?

Pedroncelli – 2008 Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

November 23, 2010

The Facts:

The Pedroncelli 2008 Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using fruit sourced at their estate vineyards as well as from a couple of other growers. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (84%), Cabernet Franc (15%), and Malbec (1%) are blended in as well. This wine was aged for 15 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels; 30% of them were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $16.

The Pedroncelli Family has been making wine in Dry Creek since 1927. Their current releases can be tasted daily from 10 AM to 4:30 PM at the Pedroncelli Tasting room located at 1220 Canyon Road in Geyserville. Many times when I’ve been in their tasting room they have something older from the library open to taste and purchase. As with their current releases they offer these library selections at very reasonable prices. So keep an eye out for them when you stop in.

Gabe’s Take:

Zinfandel gets the headlines and the attention, but there is also quite a bit of exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon in Dry Creek Valley. It’s one of the secrets frequent visitors come to learn. The other part of the secret is that the great Cabernets that do emerge from DCV are generally terrific bargains when compared to wines of similar quality from neighboring regions. The Cabernets from Pedroncelli have been cut from that very cloth over the years, so I was eager to see how the 2008 vintage of their Three Vineyards release stacked up.

Hints of rose petals emerge in those nose and they’re quickly followed by red fruit aromas such as cherry and raspberry. The cherry characteristics play a strong role through the palate as well. It’s also joined by lots of spice, hints of earth and other additional red fruit flavors. Espresso, black pepper and continued earth notes all play a role in the finish which has good length. This wine shows off firm but yielding tannins and racy acidity.

This Cabernet Sauvignon, like the rest of the Pedroncelli portfolio is built with food in mind. You could pair this with a host of dishes of varying style and intensity of flavor. It’s a well rounded Cabernet that will adapt. It’s delicious now and will drink well over the next 4-7 years. You’d be hard pressed to find another California Cabernet Sauvignon of this quality for $16.

Montemaggiore – 2006 Nobile

October 13, 2010

The Facts:

The 2006 Montemaggiore Nobile was produced from fruit soured at the winery’s own estate vineyard. This offering is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%) and Syrah (34%). Each varietal was picked and fermented separately. Blending occurred after approximately a year in barrel. After blending it spent several more months in barrel prior to bottling. In total it spent 17 months in French oak; 60% of the barrels were new. 150 cases of this estate wine were produced and it sells for $45.

Montemaggiore is a small family owned winery. Their production size varies from year to year but they tend to hover around 1,000 cases. Husband and wife team Lise and Vincent Ciolino each take the reins on winemaking and grape growing respectively. They’re located at 2355 West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Tours are available by prior appointment. Visit their website for specific details.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve long felt that Rhone varietals in general should get more play in Dry Creek Valley So I love the fact that Syrah stands at the core of the Montemaggiore wines. Even though this particular wine is only 1/3 Syrah, it still the heart and soul of this release.

The deep, dark hue of this 2006 Estate blend is the first thing I noticed, as the color is intensely dark. Aromas of dark fruit, cigar box and spice form an inviting nose. There’s an avalanche of black cherry which leads the way throughout the palate of this wine. It sets off layer after layer of appealing dark fruit flavors, loaded with brooding intensity. Towards the back of the palate blueberry characteristics take center stage leading to minerals, earth, and dark chocolate flavors in the persistent finish. Firm acidity frames this wine. Nobile is a natural partner for full flavored foods.

There are several things about the 2006 Nobile from Montemaggiore that impress me. In short this wine has impressive length, structure and depth of flavor, along with excellent balance. From the first whiff to the lingering flavors on the back of the throat and everywhere in between this is a very well constructed wine that’s delicious today, but with the ability to improve in the bottle.

Forth Vineyards – 2007 Histoire Chapter 1 Cabernet Sauvignon

October 11, 2010

The Facts:

Histoire Chapter 1 Cabernet Sauvignon from Forth Vineyards is made from fruit sourced primarily in Mendocino. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (89%), Syrah (7%) and Merlot (4%). Both the Syrah and Merlot come from Dry Creek Valley. The Syrah is from the Forth’s estate vineyards. This offering was aged over approximately 20 months in a combination of new French and American oak. 44 barrels of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.

Forth Vineyards wines can be tasted seven days a week at the Family Wineries Tasting Room located at 4791 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. You can also make an appointment to taste with the Forth’s at the winery. Forth Vineyards & Winery has been producing wine in Dry Creek Valley since 1998. Jann and Gerry Forth have 10 acres under vine; all organically farmed. In addition they source some fruit from friends and neighbors. All together they make approximately 2,400 cases of wine each year.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve found that the wines from Forth Vineyards generally give me a lot to like. They are usually balanced wines, showcasing good varietal character and tons of flavor. Many of them also represent excellent values. The 2006 Histoire Chapter 1 Cabernet was such a wine. So I was eager to taste the 2007 Vintage and see if it had similar qualities.

Aromas of blackberry, bramble and currant are all present in the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Throughout the palate black cherry plays a persistent role. It’s joined by blueberry, raspberry and cocoa flavors. Black pepper spice emerges at the back of the palate and lingers through the above average finish which shows off copious minerals, lots of earth and hints of ground espresso. This wine has medium, gripping tannins and terrific acidity. It drinks quite well on its own and will pair beautifully with substantial, full flavored foods.

With this wine, Jann and Gerry Forth have done it again. At $19, this wine represents a brilliant value. It’s not a long term ager but it will drink well over the next 5 or so years. However with its fresh, appealing flavors and vigorous structure, that it shows off so nicely now, I’d be inclined to drink this particular release sooner rather than later. No worries though the Forth’s are bound to be making plenty more delicious wine to enjoy down the road.

Dutcher Crossing – 2007 Charles F. Mathy Tribute Cabernet Sauvignon

September 1, 2010

The Facts:

Debra Mathy spent a great deal of time looking for the right Winery before ultimately purchasing Dutcher Crossing. She made most of that journey across states and continents with her Dad. Unfortunately he passed away after battling a long illness before Debra found Dutcher Crossing. However his guiding principles and the road they had traversed together helped her find the Winery she would purchase in 2007. In tribute to her dad Charles F. Mathy, Dutcher Crossing produces a wine each year in his honor. The proceeds from this release benefit Cancer research. The Dutcher Crossing 2007 Charles F. Mathy Tribute is a Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon from Mountain Terraces Vineyard there is some Syrah from Atlas Peak and Merlot from Nelson Vineyard blended in as well. This wine was produced in limited quantities and sells for $39.

Gabe’s Take:

Aromas of deep, dark fruit such as plum, blackberry and currants are all present in the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Throughout the palate the theme of black fruits continues; layer after layer of dark, juicy flavors emerge. These are both intense and well proportioned, the hallmarks of great mountain fruit. Hints of pine and black pepper spice notes both play a role in the middle and carry forward. Pencil lead, bittersweet dark chocolate and earth in particular all emerge on the lengthy and impressively persistent finish. A host of mineral and spice notes play a throat tingling role on the close as well. This wine has firm, tightly wound tannins that yield with some air.

A few things stand out for me about this Cabernet Sauvignon. First and foremost is that it’s a distinct offering in the Dutcher Crossing Portfolio. More so than the other Cabernet’s they make this one is more classically styled with bigger, firmer, structure. This wine is pretty tasty now, particularly with some air and/or paired with something substantial. My recommendation would be to drink it with a nicely marbled steak right off of your grill. If you have the patience to lay it down this wine will improve in the bottle over the next decade and drink well for several years after that. So for a very reasonable $39 you can both get a terrific wine and help a worthwhile cause. You can’t ask for more than that. Order this through the Dutcher Crossing Website or buy it in their tasting room.

Forth Vineyards – 2006 Rebecca’s Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

August 20, 2010

The Facts:

Forth Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard effort. Fruit for this wine was sourced at Rebecca’s Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. This vineyard is named for their daughter. 205 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $38. Forth Vineyards & Winery has been producing wine in Dry Creek Valley since 1998. Jann and Gerry Forth have 10 acres under vine; all organically farmed. In addition they source some fruit from friends and neighbors. All together they make approximately 2,400 cases of wine each year. Forth Vineyards wines can be tasted seven days a week at the Family Wineries Tasting Room located at 4791 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. You can also make an appointment to taste with the Forth’s at the winery.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve found the wines from Forth Vineyards to be impressive in general; however it’s their estate offerings that stand out more than the others to me. The care they put into the vineyards comes out in the wines from their home ranch in a very real and vivid way. I’ve really enjoyed previous vintages of the Cabernet Sauvignon from Rebecca’s Vineyard and was excited to taste this latest release.

Dark, brambly fruit aromas underscored by a hint of thyme emerge from the nose of this wine, which is a little reticent at first. It needs some air to really shine and an hour in the decanter works wonders. When you take the first sip of this wine you’re hit with an immense wallop of red and black cherry flavors. More than anything else, cherry flavors are the star of the show here. Spice notes kick in as well and they lead to a lovely finish which includes graham cracker crust characteristics, mineral notes, lots of earth (which emerges as the wine opens) a hint of fennel, dusty baker’s chocolate and toasty oak notes. Good structure and solid acidity keeps things in check.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is another excellent effort from the Forth’s. This is a young wine which will improve in the bottle for a number of years so don’t hesitate to lay it down. More than anything else though, don’t think twice about buying any wine that has the Forth name on it.

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