Monday, April 29, 2013

2009 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

When visiting the Napa Valley a must drive is one up Highway 29 to soak in the beauty of the vineyards. Either side of the road offers multiple tasting rooms with so many varietals to please your palate. Towns stretching along this route include Napa, Yountville, St Helena, and Calistoga. Whether a farmers market, top rated restaurants, award winning hotels or beautiful art galleries, there is something to please everyone. Today we focus on a cute tasting room that invites you to taste wines and share conversation. Yes I'm talking about Cornerstone Cellars on Washington Street and their 2009 Howell Mountain Cabernet is my tonight's tasting (sample received).

Since crushing their first 5 ton of Howell Mountain Cabernet in 1991, the goal has remained the same..."make compelling, exciting wines that speak clearly of the vineyard, variety and vintage from which they are born". Howell Mountain is located in the Vaca Mountains on the northeast side of the Napa Valley overlooking St Helena. Vineyards are planted between 1400 and 2200 feet above sea level. The climate is much cooler than the valley floor with breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The 2009 grapes came from the Ink Grade Vineyard located 1800 feet above sea level. The soil is volcanic tufa which is excellent for drainage. Grapes tend to be small berries with intense flavors.

Beautiful intense fruit on the nose. Blackberry, plum, black raspberry with a bold cinnamon spice and hints of cocoa powder. As the wine opens, toasted oak, dried herbs with dark cherry notes. Love the rich ripe fruit and each swirl enhances the layers treating my nose.

Blackberry with juicy raspberry and plum followed by a splash of blueberry. The spice of cinnamon combined with a little touch of oak and chocolate impresses me. A ton going on in the mouth but when paired with fresh grilled burgers, the wine softened. More raspberry came to the front. I agree this will age nicely and in 5 years this will be even better! Great job Craig and friends.

Visit Yountville for it's great art, restaurants and the tasting room of Cornerstone Cellars. Open 7 days per week 11am to 7pm the staff will wecome you with open arms and wine glasses. Relax, taste and enjoy.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

2010 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County

Spring in the air today with temps hitting 60 so it was time to fire the grill up and perfect my skills on a few steaks. Cabernet is my favorite with Amana Beef and tonight I paired it with a sample from Rodney Strong, their 2010. Regardless of vintage or varietal, when you taste their wine you will drink quality juice at affordable prices.

On the nose raspberry, cherry and blackberry with a touch of smokey oak. Swirl more and cloves with fresh vanilla bean treat the senses.

Nice juicy cherry and blackberry with hints of clove and oak. When paired with the steak, a nice ripe raspberry comes to the front. This could be your everyday Cabernet.....mine too.

Next time your in Healdsburg stop by Rodney Strong Vineyards for a visit and taste. It's well worth the stop!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

2010 Jeff Runquist Wines Amador Barbera

I missed Jeff's visit to my friend Traci's tasting at First Avenue Wine House (make sure you check out her great selection of wines) due to a last minute fiasco but naturally I stopped the next day to get a report and to purchase some wine. The turn out was awesome and folks really like these wines. He has a huge following with the locals here and he just got another fan! I'm sad I missed him.

18 years of producing wines for others encouraged Jeff to launch his own label with the 1995 vintage "Z" Zinfandel from Mission Ranch in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley. Having stops at Montevina Wines in Amador County, Napa Valley Cooperative in St Helena, J Lohr in San Jose and Paso Robles and now at McManis Family Winery which by the way he helped design and construct. The fall of 2006 He purchased a 5 acre parcel in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley and constructed a small winery and tasting room in 2008.

What you will find in Jeff's wines are fresh vibrant flavors with each varietal. He meticulously selects grapes that provide rich full flavors without loads of tannins and are well balanced. He was honored last year with the prestigious Andre` Tchelistchef Winemaker Of The Year Award from the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Well done Jeff!

Really great nose on the Barbera with loads of rich red ripe fruit. Cherry and raspberry treat the senses with allspice, nutmeg and hints of vanilla. I close my eyes and picture cherry and raspberry turnovers.

I am now a huge fan of Barbera. The cherry and raspberry (my 2 favorite red berries) are so juicy from start to finish. Touch of oak and vanilla nutmeg in the middle with a soft berry finish. Smooth and silky....Jeff you have a gift for making great Barbera.

Sorry I missed all the fun but I do have a few other bottles to taste. I hope there is a return visit by Jeff Runquist Wines because I won't miss that tasting. Stop by their tasting room open Friday-Sunday 11-5 located at 10776 Shenandoah Road Plymouth California for a taste and to pick up a few bottles. Exceptional juice with a winelover price tag.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

2011 Holman Ranch Rose Of Pinot Estate Grown

Its warmed up here in the Midwest for a couple days so Rose was the choice. Wine 3 in my Holman Ranch shipment was the Rose of Pinot. Love the rose wines and for you novice wine lovers......rose is not white zinfandel. Some wonderful wines I have enjoyed from the rose family were Syrah, Cabernet, Pinot. Versatile, food friendly dry wines which love everything from burgers to spicy asian dishes.

On the nose strawberry and watermelon with hints of cherry. Cinnamon and cut roses as the wine warms. Spring time fresh fruit. Nice little nose.

Cranberry and strawberry with a nice cherry finish. The cranberry/strawberry is juicy from start to finish. Crisp little sipper with loads of ripe fruit. Nice wine your friends will enjoy!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

2010 Tendril Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Oregon

Small production Pinot Noir from the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon produced by Tony Rynders Owner/Winemaker at Tendril Wine Cellars is tonight's choice. Since 1989, Mr. Rynders has worked in the wine industry and obtained his Masters degree in Enology and Viticulture in 1992.

I enjoy researching and talking with winemakers on their journey and Mr Rynders is no exception. Mirassou Vineyards San Jose, Acacia in Napa, Friuli in Italy, Petaluma Winery in South Australia, Col d 'Orcia in Tuscany, Argyle, Hogue, Domaine Serene Winery/RockBlock Cellars. During his 10 year stay at Domaine Serene he obtained more 90+ scores from Wine Spectator than any other winemaker during this time. 5 time winery of the year, Tony elevated Domaine Serene to "elite" status. He now owns his own successful wine consulting business and in 2008 launched the Tendril label. Like many great winemakers, Tony feels the wines begin and end in the vineyard. Cheers to that! Did you know that "Tendril" is an integral part of the grapevine? I learned something tonight...the curly appendage is how the young shoots attach to the trellis and pull themselves up.

Beautiful nose on this pinot with rich dark cherry and raspberry. Dried herbs and fresh cut violets with hints of cola and allspice. As the wine warms I get a slight earthy aroma. So fragrant and inviting. Aged 15 months in french oak and only 404 cases produced.

Wow I really enjoyed this one. Cranberry with a nice allspice to balance the fruit. Juicy raspberry with hints of dark fruit and toasty oak on the finish. Rich flavor with the elegance of a lady... Tony I like your style! I can think of some pork and turkey dishes this beauty would pair with.

Limited production heaven in a bottle. If your interested in acquiring their wines please click the link Tendril Wine Cellars fill out the online form and one of the winery staff members will contact you. Trust me when I say you want this juice.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2011 Pinot Gris Holman Ranch

Pinot Gris a wine often overlooked in my opinion and it's time to stop. California juice is similar in style to the Italian juice and I really enjoy both. The wine has many different characters from floral to fruit forward to spicy, with each glass crisp and clean.

Tonight's 2011 Holman Ranch fills the nose with pear, lemon, peach, pineapple, nectarine with hints of fresh cut wildflowers and honey. Really like the nose on this one.

In the mouth a nice ripe apple/lemon combination with juicy cantaloupe and minerality on the finish. Refreshing and I love the layers of flavor as they flow from start to finish.

Visit Holman Ranch and taste for yourself. Quality juice that won't break the bank.Tell them the Iowa Wino sent you.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Holman Ranch 2011 Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc Carmel Valley

Spring time screams Sauvignon Blanc and tonight's selection courtesy of the folks at Holman Ranch Vineyards does as well. Holman Ranch has a long history of being a hideout to the stars, secluded and beautiful. Planning a wedding, the picturesque beauty serves as an awesome backdrop for brides and grooms on their special day. Awesome property and some tasty wines, spend the day spoiling yourself with a visit.

Tropical on the nose with lime and kiwi being very dominant. Green apple and melon with hints of lemon as the wine warms. Bright color and clean.

Lime dominates the taste with juicy granny smith apples and a splash of melon/lemon. Nice little minerality on the crisp finish. Some sweetness on the taste as well. Overall nice little Sauvignon Blanc. I paired this with pan fried tilapia drizzled with fresh lemon juice.