Tasting Note: Ridge Vineyards 1992 Geyserville

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1. Introduction:
Ridge has made Geyserville as a single-site, Zinfandel-based vineyard blend every year since 1966.
Old Zinfandel vines grow side by side with their complementary varieties Carignane, Petite Sirah & Mourvedre on deep gravelly loam soils mixed with larger river rocks on the western edge of Alexander Valley.
It is the oldest vineyard Ridge cultivates with some vines more than 130 years old.
From a good Californian vintage, the 1992 Geyserville is a blend of 65% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane and 15% Petite Sirah.
Bottle and cork are flawless. 13,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep and dark-red. Garnet.
Brightened rim, but overall still dense and powerful.

3. Nose:
Rich, but soft nose of Ripe, Dark Berries and mostly Cherries.
Forest and Earthy characteristics. A lot of Dark Chocolate and Tobacco.
Herbal Spiciness comes with Eucalypt and Mint.
Warm, plush and inviting with decent freshness!

4. Taste:
More Cherries and Ripe, Dense Red Fruit.
Dried Herbs, Earthy characters and some Tobacco.
Little Sweetness, Dancing Acidity and Soft Tannin structure.
Finishes medium-long with Present Spiciness and Warm Fruit
Silky mouthfeel, nice complexity and perfect harmony!

5. Opinion:
Beautiful integrated mature Zinfandel. Started off a bit rugged, but after some time in the decanter the wine softened and found its great balance and harmony.
Elegant, fully integrated, but with a very alive structure.
What amazing soft and sweet aromatics!
Highly drinkable now and doesn´t get any better…probably 🙂

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Tasting Note: Laurel Glen Vineyard 1996 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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1. Introduction:
After changing hands in 2011, Laurel Glen Vineyard is striving for highest quality and top Cabernet Sauvignon from its iconic vineyard in the Sonoma Mountain Appellation in Northern California again.
Next to their Estate Cabernet and their 2nd wine “Counterpoint”, Laurel Glen recently added a third wine to their product range: A field blend Rosé from old vines, which is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and another 50% of a “mix of obscure red varietals”, most of which the winery can’t identify with any certainty!
But today we taste their flagship wine again. This time from 1996.
Perfect and flawless bottle and cork.

2. Appearance:
Deep dark velvet. Still very dense and vital!

3. Nose:
Inviting aromas of dark Berries. Intense and warm Cherries (mostly during the first hour).
Eucalypt and Vegetables come with herbal Spicyness of Thyme and Laurel, of course 🙂
Hints of Salt remind us of a fresh sea breeze.
Present Oak and beautiful Floral Characteristics and little Sweetness.
Multi-layered, intense and stimulating!

4. Taste:
Dark, ripe Cassis and Cherry paired with decent secondary characteristics- mostly Leather.
Freshly cut Herbs, as Basil, some Dark Chocolate.
Round tannins and vital acidity present the wine fresh and perfectly structured.
Very pleasant mouthfeel and softness.
Finishes long, warm, soft and sweet with beautiful fruit and little pepperiness.
Ideal balance and great complexity!

5. Opinion:
A fantastic wine! Still healthy structured with dense color, solid tannins and acidity, this wine shows hardly any faintness and is, thereby, good for another 5- 10 years in the bottle.
Beautiful fruit and nicely integrated alcohol give the wine a soft and round appearance with nice sweetness, but bright liveliness with tannins and acidity.
Good for you when you have more than one bottle of this wine in your cellar.
I´d suggest drinking one right now and to keep at least another bottle for the future!

Tasting Note: Silver Oak 1996 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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1. Introduction:
Silver Oak operates two wineries, one is located in Oakville (Napa Valley) and one in Geyserville (Alexander Valley).
Each winery produces one distinct Cabernet Sauvignon driven wine only.
While the Napa Valley Cabernet is made in the same style as the Alexander Valley wine, it is usually more tannic and, thereby, different in structure.
Silver Oak´s philosophy is to produce wines, which are to be enjoyed in their youth as well as after some years in bottle. The fruit for both wines is sourced from estate vineyards as well as from independent growers in Napa and Alexander Valley.
Our 1996 Napa Valley Cabernet has been cellared under perfect conditions and has a healthy cork closure. It is a classic Bordeaux blend with 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 1.5% Petit Verdot and 0.5% Merlot.
After opening and trying, we decided to decant the wine.

2. Appearance:
Velvet and Dark red. Dense, but a little dim.

3. Nose:
Eukalypt, Cedar and Dark Chocolate. Present Oak influence with Vanilla and hints of Sweetness. Later some Rum and Cassis Jam. As well as Floral characters. Leather.
Round and pleasant.

4. Taste:
Driven by secondary characters as Granite and Leather. No fruit, but bitter, due to present tannins , and leathery. Medium finish with Bitterness, which disappeared after some time.
Good mouthfeel, but a little weak on the palate. Faded.

5. Opinion:
The recommended drinking window for this wine is up to 2019, but this experience clearly showed, that this wine is past its peak.
It´s is round and soft, but has a bitter aftertaste. While the nose is pleasant and inviting, the wine lacks complexity and, mostly, flavor intensity and depth.

CellarTV in brief II.: About Old Vines

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Old Zinfandel vines in Ridge´s Lytton Springs Vineyard

The Magic of Old Vines

Ironically, most of the world´s oldest vines are growing in the New World, where the vineyards have not been destroyed by phylloxera. As vintners speak about old vines, they usually mean vines that are older than 20 or 30 years. That is around the time in the life of a vine, when yields are decreasing and their value is economically questioned.
But what is so special about old vines and, furthermore, so special about the ancient vines in some parts of the New World, where vines and vineyards are 100 or even 150+ years old, like some of the Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in South Australia, Argentina´s Malbec vines or California´s Zinfandel in Sonoma County or Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley?
It cannot be coincidence that mostly top producers have their hands on these specific vineyards.
There are two significant reasons that sum up the great value of old vines.

The first substantial argument for producing wine from old vines is measurable and closely connected to wine quality.
Old vines are low-yielding and, thereby, produce small, but highly concentrated berries. Their roots go deep – sometimes very deep with 15 (50) to 20 meters (65feet) or more -, their trunks and barks are thick. Due to this, these vines are able to soak up and store more minerals and nutrients than young vines; nutrients and minerals, which are also released into the berries. Thereby, these berries deliver complex, more complete and intensely flavor extracts. The result is harmonious wine, with great complexity, intensity and depth which expresses its specific vineyard site.

Secondly, old vines and their vineyards have a very distinct history and long tradition. Customers value these aspects of tradition and authenticity while, as a consequence, wineries bring their Old Vine– Wines to the market while underlining these emotional values.
Besides, along with this tradition often comes a lot of experience in how to get the best out of the old vineyard.
As multigenerational wineries have gained a deep knowledge about their vines and terroir over the years, they are, by that, able to raise the wine quality.

Well, isn´t it simply magical to drink a wine from ancient vines, while feeling and really tasting the terroir of decades?

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The about 150 year-old Shiraz Vines in Henschke´s Hill of Grace Vineyard

Tasting Notes: Laurel Glen Vineyard 1989 & 2009 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

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(picture by laurelglen.com)

1. Introduction:
Located in the Sonoma Mountain Appellation Laurel Glen´s vineyard has long been among the most iconic vineyard sites for Cabernet Sauvignon in California.
But, as founder and former winemaker Patrick Campbell shifted his focus on other wine projects, the quality level of Laurel Glen Vineyard dropped.
Now under new ownership and with a fresh winemaking team around consultant David Ramey and winemaker Randall Watkins Laurel Glen is back on track.
Today we sample the 1989 and the 2009 vintage of their flagship wine, the estate grown 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain.
Both bottles were stored perfectly as they were purchased directly from the winery. Perfect cork, no flaws.

2. Appearance:
1989: Dark red. A little dim, with transparent, light orange edges. Obviously aged.
2009: Deep purple. Fresh and vibrant. Beautiful!

3. Nose:
1989: Vegetables, as Dried Tomatoes; some Sour Cherries.
Traces of Tobacco and Leather. Sweet Vanilla and Forest characters.
2009: Concentrated Cassis Jam, with hints of Mint, Lavender and Apples.

4. Taste:
1989: Still some Fruit, as Cherry and Cassis; with secondary characters of Tobacco
and Leather. Some Clove in a medium long finish with traces of acidity (!).
Pleasant and complex play of different nuances! Nicely balanced and discreet.
Maybe a little thin.
2009: Intense Fruit with Cassis and Blackberries. Traces of Vanilla. Present tannins
and oak. Very alive with a long finish!
Even though, the wine is very rich, it is smooth and perfectly balanced. Great!

5. Opinion:
The 1989 vintage was a difficult one, but the 1989 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet has evolved nicely. Even though, it is also obvious that it has passed its best days and, thereby, should be consumed within the next years.
Still a very round and nice wine!
With the 2009 vintage as the metaphorical transition release – because it was harvested and put into barrel by the old team around Patrick Campbell and blended by Randall Watkins and David Ramey – Laurel Glen is absolutely back to rebuild its success story! The wine drinks beautiful right now and shows excellent future potential. Cheers!

Kistler Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, Sonoma Mountain

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1. Introduction:
The Kistler Vineyards Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay is sourced from mostly thirty year old vines, which grow dry farmed in a combination of fine chalky soils and deep red volcanic ash.
Thereby, the Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay is a wine with an intense sense of the mountain heritage and with delicate stone fruit characters.
Kistler´s success was founded on their exceptional Chardonnays and it took a while until the Pinot Noir wines caught up.
The 2010 vintage, as mentioned yesterday, brought challenging growing conditions with cooler weather, a longer than average growing season and lower yields with concentrated fruit.

2. Appearance:
Pale yellow and golden in the glass. Juicy.

3. Nose:
Fresh nose of Citrus and Lemon. Vibrant Peach, Chalk. Hints of Butter and Vanilla. Somewhat roasty.

4. Taste:
Round and full. Lemon, Grapefruit with some traces of Sweet Butter and Toast.
Present and nice acidity.
Medium-long finish of Lemon, Grapefruit and some Sweetness. A little bit of oak.

5. Opinion:
A precise, but young wine with great structure and balance.
Now vibrant and fresh, this wine will gain complexity over the years.
This is a fantastic wine! On the one hand concentrated and full, but on the other hand with nice acidity and mineral characters. Delicious indeed!

Tasting Note: Kistler Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

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1. Introduction:
Kistler Vineyards focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay only.
By very little intervention in the winery and traditional Burgundian production methods Kistler lets the vineyards speak for themselves.
With access to California´s finest sites, the wines are (hopefully) blessed with long, cool growing seasons which are perfect for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay- as long as nature plays its part.
The 2010 vintage was cooler and, thereby, more challenging than usually in Sonoma, with a late harvest and low yields.
Our 2010 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, looks good, had a perfect cork and went right into the decanter.
14,1% alc.

2. Appearance:
Vibrant, dark red. Very dark for a Pinot Noir! Beautiful.

3. Nose:
Intense, fresh nose of Cherries. Strawberries, Light Spices. Hints of Peppermint.

4. Taste:
Fresh with beautiful fruit of Strawberry, Cherries and even Gooseberries.
Traces of Spices and Herbs. Great mouth-feel!
Flavorful with a medium-long back palate. Present acidity. Really nice.

5. Opinion:
A young wine with great structure and balance. Nice acidity.
Now vibrant and fresh, this wine will gain complexity over years.
Still, as a young wine very pleasurable!