Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvee

Scot & Jake Bilbro – Marietta Cellars

There are a few wineries that have helped put Alexander Valley in northern Sonoma County on the world stage of wine growing and production. Wineries such as Robert Young, Jordan Vineyards, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Murphy Goode, Stuhlmuller Vineyards, White Oak, and others certainly played a large part in establishing the region as a premier AVA (American Viticultural Area).

But the conversation would not be complete without including Marietta Cellars. Read More


New Cabernet Sauvignon Releases From The Exclusive Pritchard Hill Region Puts MONTAGNA VINEYARDS Squarely In the Elite Napa Wine Category!

Montagna Vineyards

After Montagna’s 2007 ‘Tre Vigneti’ Cabernet Sauvignon release was met with resounding applause, we were eagerly anticipating the next release of this up and coming winery founded by Bob Long, co-founder of David Arthur Vineyards.

As it turns out, there were no wines made in 2008 by Montagna Vineyards, a decision not made lightly by a winery in its formative years.  But these are the tough decisions that have to be made to maintain the level of quality the proprietors want their wines to convey, and which will elevate the winery’s status into the upper echelons of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon producers.

The Wines

Montagna 2009 Cabernets

MONTAGNA 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
‘Tre Vigneti’ Estate

Montagna_Tre_Vigneti_labelComprised of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Syrah and 2% Malbec, there was a total of 843 cases produced of the 2009 ‘Tre Vigneti’ Cabernet.  The fruit was carefully selected from all three vineyards on the Montagna Estate on Pritchard Hill.

Tasting Notes:

A dark Ruby red color leads to aromas of ripe cherry, black currant, cedar, spice and vanilla.  On the palate the resolved, fine grain tannins frame flavors of dark plum and cassis, with hints of mocha on the finish. Drink now through 2020.  ($50)

MONTAGNA 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
‘La Presa – One South’ Estate

Montagna_La_Presa_labelWith the 2009 vintage, Montagna has included the inaugural release of the ‘La Presa – One South’ 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 288 case bottling of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the La Presa Vineyard, one of three vineyards on the Montagna Estate.

Tasting Notes:

A deep dark ruby color leads to profound aromas of blackberry-cassis followed by hints of floral-lavender and then spices of roasted coffee, fresh saddle leather, molasses and candied ginger.  On the palate the wine is rich and broad-shouldered with prominent tannins that are both firm and fleshy.  Nuances of anise, licorice and dark chocolate add to the layers and complexity as the wine continues to open up.  Hints of chocolate covered black cherries make an appearance on the finish.  Still a little closed, decanting is highly recommended for near term drinking, but the ‘La Presa – One South’ Cabernet should drink beautifully in about 3-5 years with another decade of cellaring potential.  ($125)

About MONTAGNA Estate Vineyards

Bob Long

Bob Long

Bob Long is the proprietor of Montagna Estate Vineyards located in the prestigious Pritchard Hill region of Napa Valley.  Long has a storied history in the wine industry beginning with the co-founding of David Arthur Vineyards in 1978 with his brother, David.  The first release of Montagna wines consisted of a small amount of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 2009 vintage marks the third release of Montagna wines as there were no 2008s produced.

The Montagna Estate rests at about 1400 feet elevation and consists of three distinct vineyards: La Presa (the “Pond”), Montagna (“Mountain”), and Casodores (the “Hunter”).

Nile Zacherle - Winemaker

Nile Zacherle

To help craft the wines, Long enlisted the help of wine-making veteran Nile Zacherle who has been making the David Arthur wines for several years.  Zacherle’s wine endeavors began at Navarro Vineyards. He went on to studied hands on, old school winemaking at Château d’Arsac in Bordeaux.  He returned to California in 2000 as winemaker for Chateau Montelena and Barnett Vineyards, before taking the reins at David Arthur.

 

About Pritchard Hill

Pritchard Hill is a rocky, rugged region located in the eastern hills of Napa Valley.  The soils are red rock, well drained and very suitable for Bordeaux varietals.  The problem is getting water.  Several of the wineries that planted vineyards in these eastern hills of Napa Valley have employed extreme measures including employing “water witches” to locate the best source of water.

However, the region has proven to grow phenomenal Bordeaux grape varietals and attracted some of the top “cult” wineries in Napa Valley, including such renowned wineries as Bryant Family, Colgin, Ovid, Chappellet, Continuum, and David Arthur.

Suffice to say… it’s a pretty good neighborhood!


The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine LabelThe New 2010 Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine – Consistently Delicious!

Once again Dave Phinney displays his talents as a master blender.  This is a genuine indicator of a talented winemaker, and it’s not just about blending different varietals.  First you have to find the grapes, be able to buy them, know the vineyard sites, the growers, and the growing season from all the different micro-climates.  Then it’s blending different barrels, picked at different times, from different vineyards.  It’s a monumental task, and Phinney has proven time and time again that he’s very good at it.

Orin Swift’s The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine is one of the most sought after domestic red wines that has developed a loyal following.  Year after year, legions of devout fans of The Prisoner increases, and the wine does not disappoint fans of explosive, sexy red wines.

One reason The Prisoner has such a loyal following may be due to it’s consistently rich structure and fruit forward character that fans of big red wines can rely on year after year. Wine critics seem to agree. Reviews of previous vintages consistently see The Prisoner rated between 90-93.

Right out of the gate, the 2003 “Prisoner” received a 92-point rating in the Wine Spectator. The 2005 Prisoner was selected No. 17 on the venerable Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2007 list, and has been a fixture on the list ever since.

The Prisoner Red Wine BottleOrin Swift 2010 The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine

Winemaker Notes:

“The 2009 has a deep ruby hue that is nearly opaque.The aromas elevate from the glass starting with black currant, dark blackberry, cherry, and cassis rounded out by subtle hints of seasoned French and American oak. The entry of the wine is massive and leads into a lush middle framed by bright acid and supple tannins. The finish is long, lingering and filled with soft velvety tannins lasting for nearly thirty seconds.” ($38)
—Dave Phinney, winemaker

The 2010 Prisoner Blend
44% Zinfandel,
26% Cabernet Sauvignon
18% Syrah
9% Petite Sirah
2% Charbono
1% Grenache

*these numbers are approximate

New from David Phinney and Orin Swift

ABSTRACT 2010 California Red Wine

Although I am more concerned with what is in the bottle, there is no doubt that Dave Phinney is not only a master blender of wine, he is also a master marketer. His innovative packaging designs leave unforgettable impressions: The Prisoner, Mercury Head Cab, Saldo, etc. With ABSTRACT Phinney has created another striking package that will become a controversial topic of conversations at wine parties. (The photo doesn’t do the opaque, black silhouettes justice. Trust me, it’s very cool looking!)

ABSTRACT came out of Dave’s love of Grenache and a desire to make a blend using that varietal as the focal point. The wine has an inky concentration rounded out with Petite Sirah and Syrah.

ABSTRACT is a blend of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah primarily from hillside vineyards. The aromas are laced with crushed black fruits and bing cherry. A mouth coating entry leads nicely into a mid palate with excellent structure and balanced acidity. Ripe cherry and strawberry dominate the finish which is clean and long.

Release: October 2011
Aged 10 months in new and seasoned French oak
15.7% Alc. by volume

 

About Dave Phinney

Dave Phinney of Orin SwiftWinemaker Dave Phinney has reached veritable stardom in wine circles with his Prisoner blend. His talents for blending has been proven year after year and has built this brand to a point where wine aficionados eagerly await each new release. The label features an etching by the artist Goya that Dave received from his parents as a teenager.

Phinney is a classic example of the new wave of creative winemakers with great vineyard connections that allow him to showcase his skill in blending wines. For The Prisoner, David secures fruit from some of Napa’s best vineyards.

When I first met Dave he told me the story of how he got on the waiting lists of top vineyards just to get enough for a barrel or two worth of grapes. Vineyards like Morisoli, Taplin, Duarte, and Tofanelli were on his “hit list”. Eventually he not only got some fruit from these vineyards, but now people come to him constantly offering him the best fruit from their vineyards. A true testament to the quality of wines Dave is making.

Other wines in the Orin Swift portfolio include Mercury Head Cabernet (Spring release), Papillon (a Bordeaux-style blend – 2007 is the current release and available), Saldo California Zinfandel (18 bottles of the 2008 is available – $28) and Valdora Sauvignon Blanc. Dave is also the winemaker for a few select wineries including Beau Vigne and Stanton.

Earlier this year, the Prisoner and Saldo labels were purchased by the Huneeus Vintners, owners of Quintessa. Phinney will remain on as the winemaker.

 

Focused, rich and ripe, showing aromas of black cherry and smoky pepper, with sleek but complex flavors of boysenberry, licorice and toasty oak that linger with balanced tannins. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache. Drink now through 2015. 55,000 cases made. –TF

Kirk Venge continues the family legacy with his Venge Vineyards Scouts Honor Napa Valley Red Wine

For almost a century, the Venge family has been an integral part of the California wine landscape beginning with the immigration of Knud Venge from Denmark.  Four generations later, Kirk Venge continues the family legacy, which his dad, Nils Venge, so firmly established as an icon within the Napa Valley wine community.

Nils Venge is one of the most colorful characters in Napa Valley.  He may be best known as the master winemaker throughout the 1980s responsible for the prestigious Groth wines, becoming the first American to make a wine that received a perfect 100 point score from Robert Parker with the 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon!

Nils continues to be one of the busiest winemakers in the business today, he is also winemaker for many prized boutique wineries such as Robert Keenan Winery, Del Dotto, Tudal, Moss Creek, and the much sought-after PlumpJack, not to mention his own label, Saddleback Cellars.

In 2008, Nils handed over Venge Vineyards to his son Kirk Venge, a well-respected UC Davis-trained viticulturist who grew up among the vines under his father’s watchful eye at some of Napa’s premier wineries.  Kirk has since established himself as a talented and skillful winemaker in his own right making wines for such top Napa Valley wineries as Igneous, Beau Vigne and B-Cellars.

Scouts Honor Napa Valley Red WineThe Venge Scout’s Honor is Kirk’s award-winning blend of 55% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 14% Charbono and 9% Syrah — all from 30 to 60 year-old vines.

This 2009 has LOADS of amazingly complex and intense fruit.  It’s just massive!  Deep and concentrated black cherry, briary raspberry, cinnamon, clove, pepper, spice, smoky dark chocolate and dried blueberry.

It’s lush and creamy and just totally sexy and self-indulgent.

The 2009 vintage was almost perfect throughout Napa Valley, with a summer of mild, steady weather, so fruit was picked at the optimal ripening levels.

The Scout’s Honor is Venge’s fastest-selling wine every year, so it will only be around for a very limited time.  ($38)


The Prisoner Napa Red Wine Label

Sorry, but the 2009 Prisoner Red Wine is Sold Out!  The 2010 will be released November 1, 2011. Click here to see the post for the 2010 Prisoner.

Once again David Phinney displays  his talents as a master blender.  To me this is a genuine indicator of a talented winemaker, and it’s not just about blending different varietals.  First you have to find the grapes, be able to buy them, know the vineyard sites, the growers, and the growing season from all the different micro-climates.  Then it’s blending different barrels, picked at different times, from different vineyards.  It’s a monumental task, and Phinney has proven time and time again that he’s very good at it.

Orin Swift’s The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine is one of the most sought after domestic red wines that has developed a loyal following.  Year after year, legions of devout fans of The Prisoner increases, and the wine does not disappoint fans of explosive, sexy red wines.

One reason The Prisoner has such a loyal following may be due to it’s consistently rich structure and fruit forward character that fans of big red wines can rely on year after year.  Wine critics seem to agree.  Reviews of previous vintages consistently see The Prisoner rated between 90-93.

2009 Vintage – Another Great Year!

There is every reason to expect the new 2009 Prisoner to be another huge success! 2009 was yet another exceptional vintage for California red wines.  An excellent growing season and early tastings of 2009 California wines have revealed some brilliant surprises.  As a preview of how 2oo9 is being received, the Wine Spectator rated the 2009 vintage for California Cabernet Sauvignon 94-97.

Right out of the gate, the 2003 “Prisoner” received a 92-point rating in the Wine Spectator.  The 2005 Prisoner was selected No. 17 on the venerable Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2007 list, and has been a fixture on the list ever since.

The Prisoner Red Wine BottleOrin Swift 2009  The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine

Winemaker Notes:

“The 2009 has a deep ruby hue that is nearly opaque.The aromas elevate from the glass starting with black currant, dark blackberry, cherry, and cassis rounded out by subtle hints of seasoned French and American oak.  The entry of the wine is massive and leads into a lush middle framed by bright acid and supple tannins.  The finish is long, lingering and filled with soft velvety tannins lasting for nearly thirty seconds.” ($35)
—Dave Phinney, winemaker

T h e  P r i s o n e r  B l e n d
49% Zinfandel,
19% Cabernet Sauvignon
18% Syrah
7% Petite Sirah
3% Charbono
1% Grenache

*these numbers are approximate

(Order Your 2009 Prisoner Below)

About Dave Phinney

Dave Phinney of Orin SwiftWinemaker Dave Phinney has reached veritable stardom in wine circles with his Prisoner blend.  His talents for blending has been proven year after year and has built this brand to a point where wine aficionados eagerly await each new release.  The label features an etching by the artist Goya that Dave received from his parents as a teenager.

Phinney is a classic example of the new wave of creative winemakers with great vineyard connections that allow him to showcase his skill in blending wines.  For The Prisoner, David secures fruit from some of Napa’s best vineyards.

When I first met Dave he told me the story of how he got on the waiting lists of top vineyards just to get enough for a barrel or two worth of grapes.  Vineyards like Morisoli, Taplin, Duarte, and Tofanelli were on his “hit list”.  Eventually he not only got some fruit from these vineyards, but now people come to him constantly offering him the best fruit from their vineyards.  A true testament to the quality of wines Dave is making.

Other wines in the Orin Swift portfolio include Mercury Head Cabernet (Spring release), Papillon (a Bordeaux-style blend – 2007 is the current release and available), Saldo California Zinfandel (18 bottles of the 2008 is available – $28) and Valdora Sauvignon Blanc.  Dave is also the winemaker for a few select wineries including Beau Vigne and Stanton.

Earlier this year, the Prisoner and Saldo labels were purchased by the Huneeus Vintners, owners of Quintessa.  Phinney will remain on as the winemaker.

The Prisoner 2009 Napa Valley Red Wine

$35 per bottle, $420 per case

Focused, rich and ripe, showing aromas of black cherry and smoky pepper, with sleek but complex flavors of boysenberry, licorice and toasty oak that linger with balanced tannins. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache. Drink now through 2015. 55,000 cases made. –TF

Andy Erickson started his winemaking career at Harlan. He then became winemaker at Staglin in 2001 before founding his own winery (Favia) with his viticulturalist wife, Annie Favia.

Erickson assumed the reins as winemaker for Screaming Eagle when Jean Phillips sold the winery in 2006.  Quite a challenging task to follow in the shoes of Napa Valley winemaking legend, Heidi Barrett, and maintain the status of the winery as one of the top “cult” wines from Napa Valley.  So far, Erickson appears to be up to the task.

In addition to making wine for SE and Favia, Andy is also currently the winemaker for some of the top wineries in Napa Valley including Dalla Valle, Arietta, Dancing Hares, and Ovid.

LEVIATHAN 2007 Napa Valley Red Wine

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

Leviathan is Erickson’s pet project where he can express his creativity and talents through blending different lots of finished wines he has made from various sources.  I’m only guessing here because he refuses to divulge the sources for this wine, but I’m guessing he has some pretty good sources!

This is an impressive wine at a bargain price for the quality.  Rich, juicy and complex with black cherry, plum, mocha, cedar and earthy notes.  Well balanced with layers that keep evolving as the wine opens up.  Supple tannins lead to a smooth, long finish.

The wine is not meant to be aged for 10+ years, but rather to be enjoyed now and over the next 3-5 years.  Decant this wine for about an hour is still recommended. ($48)