Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for September, 2012

Rodney Strong Vineyards – 2009 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on September 18, 2012

Rodney Strong Vineyards has long had a portfolio loaded with varied releases at a number of tiers and in a multitude of styles. The hallmark of their wines in my view has been consistently well made product that is widely available at a fair price. To that already diverse portfolio they have added a trio of higher end, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. These smaller production wines have been launched over the last few years and they are each distinct expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today I’ll take a look at the current release of Alexander’s Crown.

The Rodney Strong 2009 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard wine produced from site specific fruit sourced in Alexander Valley. Not only is all of the fruit from one vineyard but it’s from a single block located at the very peak of the vineyard which sits 250-350 feet above sea level. This particular vineyard was established in 1971 and from it came the very first single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in all of Sonoma County. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging was accomplished over 23 months in entirely French oak; 40% of the barrels were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $75.

Blackberry aromas burst forth from the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Accompanying aromas of toast, vanilla and hints of pine resin are present as well. Oodles of deep, dark, ripe berry fruit flavors emerge on the palate which is studded with depth, complexity and graceful power. Black pepper spice plays a role as well and leads into the persistent finish which is marked by chocolate dipped cherry characteristics and wisps of chicory as well as a bit of clove. This is a terrifically structured wine with firm acidity and tannins. It’s delicious now, particularly after an hour or so in the decanter but will be even lovelier if you give it a few years of proper storage. This is another winner from the folks at Rodney Strong Vineyards.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Hawk & Horse Vineyards – 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on September 17, 2012

I first tasted some offerings from Hawk and Horse Vineyards about a year ago and was impressed with what they’re doing. I have a penchant for boutique wineries and they fit the bill nicely with their well made, hand crafted estate offerings.  Lake County has been on the upswing in a number of ways. More fruit is sourced there, additional wineries are based there and the wine drinking public is more aware of it as a region than even a couple of years ago. These are good things for consumers. I was eager to taste the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from these folks and experience their latest vintage.

The Hawk & Horse Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is an Estate wine. All of the fruit for this offering comes from their Lake County mountain vineyard which is CCOF Organic and Demeter Biodynamic certified. This wine is almost all Cabernet Sauvignon (98%), with a small dollop of Merlot (2%) blended in. The aging of this wine was accomplished over 18 months in French oak; the barrels utilized were a 50/50 split of new and 2 years old. Bottle aging followed prior to releases. 1,150 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $65.

Red floral notes lead the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Hints of cherry, cedar and a touch of spice join in as well. The cherry characteristics continue on the plate where they dominate the show along with additional spice notes and lots of minerals. Earth, espresso and bits of chicory emerge on the finish along bits of leather and wisps of green herbs. This is lovely, dry Mountain Cabernet with terrific structure, firm tannins and length to spare. It’s quite nice now and quite accessible after an hour or so in the decanter. However, if you have the patience to lay this wine down for 5 or more years you’ll be rewarded for your time. Fans of boutique Cabernets from Napa and Sonoma would be well advised to look at the great wines like this one that are emerging from Lake County.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine | 1 Comment »

Franciscan Estate – 2007 Magnificat

Posted by Gabe on September 10, 2012

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the wines I first became familiar with in the Franciscan Estate portfolio back in the 90’s. Soon after enjoying those I looked towards their other releases to see what else they were up to. Eventually that led me to their red blend Magnificat, which is their flagship offering. When I’ve gone back to it from time to time over the years I’ve found it to be a consistently well made wine that represents the best of what the folks at Franciscan are up to. Today I’ll look at the 2007 vintage of this wine.

The Franciscan Estate 2007 Magnificat is a Bordeaux inspired blend. This wine was produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Napa Valley. The blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (71%), Merlot (26%), Petit Verdot (2%) and Malbec (1%). Fermentation and maceration took place over 22 days. Magnificat was aged over 20 months in oak; 89% of the barrels utilized were new and 82% were French. Just fewer than 22,000 cases of this wine were produced in the 2007 vintage. It has a suggested retail price of $50.

Cherry, and Black Raspberry aromas are the most prominent components on the nose of this 2007 Blend. Hints of Eucalyptus chip in as well. Black cherry characteristics carry through the palate along with bits of blackberry, dusty cocoa and copious quantities of spice as well as a gentle kiss of anise. Dark, dusty chocolate notes emerge on the finish along with minerals and continued spice. This is a well structured wine marked by firm acidity and chewy tannins. It’s a bit on the younger side now so I recommend decanting for drinking over the next couple of years. Otherwise hold it for the next decade or so and be prepared to be rewarded for your patience. The bottom line for me is that the 2007 Magnificat is a particularly fine vintage of a wine that is almost always a winner to begin with. It’s well priced for its category and a very solid choice for a special occasion meal.

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Wine | 1 Comment »

Benessere Vineyards – 2007 Phenomenon

Posted by Gabe on September 5, 2012

Benessere Vineyards is a boutique sized winery in Napa Valley that’s also a treasure to those lucky enough to discover it. They produce varietally correct wines sourced from their estate vineyards. The fact that they lean towards Italian varietals such as Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio makes them somewhat unique in the valley. Their property is beautiful and the wines are by and large delicious and fairly priced. Today I’ll look at the current release of Phenomenon, their red Super Tuscan inspired blend.

The Benessere Vineyards 2007 Phenomenon is a proprietary blend. This Napa Valley wine was made entirely from fruit sourced at their Estate Vineyard in St. Helena. Cabernet Sauvignon (49%), Sangiovese (38%), Merlot (11%), and Syrah (2%) were fermented and barrel aged separately. They were then assembled and barrel aged for two additional years prior to release. Just fewer than 500 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $50.

The nose of this 2007 blend is loaded with dark fruit aromas and spice. Plum and blueberry characteristics lead the way and they’re accompanied by cardamom, clove, cinnamon, and a hint of eucalyptus. The plate of this wine is impressively loaded with a terrific array of expressive flavors that are lead by deep, dark fruit flavors such as black cherry, and plum. Earth, chicory, black tea and continued waves of spice reverberate on the finish which has terrific length. The 2007 Phenomenon is a great example of what a blend should be; each of the varietals comes together seamlessly to form a cohesive unit. This wine is delicious on its own, but really shines when paired with food. Roasted meats and dishes with red sauce will work well as will medium strength cheeses and charcuterie.

Benessere Vineyards did well to release to release this wine when they did. It’s inviting, engaging and ready to drink now. While it’ll certainly continue to improve for a few years and drink well over the next 6-8, it’s delicious and hard to resist right now. So I vote to pop that cork sooner rather than later. And when your travels take you to Napa Valley, be sure to visit this terrific winery.

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah/Shiraz, Uncategorized, Wine | Leave a Comment »


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