1178 Broadway -- Burlingame, California 94010
Telephone 650-343-0182



HOURS:
Monday 9-7 Tuesday-Saturday 9-7:30
Closed Sundays.



Inquire About A Wine--Gerald at Weimax.com


Please check our Home-Page for Shipping Info.


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Sporadic Emails

For Email Marketing you can trust

 

NICE LITTLE PINOT $9.99

STONY RIESLING

BLAYE ME!
$14.99

NEW MADIRAN
$14.99

DRY MUSCAT
FROM AOSTA

I'M OKAY
YOUR RUCHE

"TEXTBOOK" CHARDONNAY

RIOJA BARGAIN

PRETTY PETTY SARAH

FORAGING FOR PINOT NOIR

MARSELAN...A HYBRID OF CABERNET & GRENACHE

CLASSIC MACON $13.99

CRISP MOUNTAIN WHITE

BEST BUYS
Good Wines for $5-$15

CASTELÃO BARGAIN

CAMILLES SAVÉS
CHAMPAGNE

BIODYNAMIC ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE

STELLAR BLAUFRÄNKISCH ESTATE

GREAT YOUNG CABERNET

CAMPANIAN DELIGHTS

COLORFUL ZIN

23 TO BUY 25 REASONS

FIE, FY, FO, FUM

ROMORANTIN

DOURO DYNAMITE

BOUZY BENOIT'S ROSE

CHATEAU DE PHONE BILL

PORTUGUESE RED BARGAIN

SPIFFY HOWELL MOUNTAIN CAB

BARGAIN ZWEIGELT

GRAND SYRAH FROM AN UNUSUAL PLACE

SERIOUSLY FINE KIWI SAUVIGNON BLANC
$21.99

SPICY AGLIANICO

PURPLE DWARF--
BIG FRENCH RED

OLD "CURE" FOR SAUTERNES & POMEROL

WHITE BURGUNDIES OF NOTE

MARSANNE BARGAIN

CHERRYISH TUSCAN RED SALE $10.99

2012 TAVEL ROSE

WHAT'S A SAVUTO?

GOOD $20 BORDEAUX

DRY NEW YORK RIESLING

PROSECCO FOR ADULTS

UNUSUAL ROSSO FROM THE COLLINE NOVARESI

MIGHTY FINE
DOURO RED

BILLIONAIRE'S WINES UNDER $30!

BARGAIN WHITE BORDEAUX

PIERCINGLY GOOD
WHITE

TOP OF THE LINE
CREMANT

ANOTHER RULLY GOOD WHITE

UNIQUE BUBBLY DESSERT WINE

RESERVE QUALITY RIOJA

ODDBALL ITALIAN FIZZY WINE

LA INA SHERRY

BARBERA OF NOTE

FINE WEST COAST VIOGNIER

LETTUCE SHOW YOU A GOOD PINOT NOIR

NEW, ARTISAN PINOT NOIR

PALACIOS TERRASSES

UPHILL ECONOMY
DOWNHILL WINE

NAPA ZIN SALE

PINOT PILGRIMAGE

SUPER VERONESE SALE $12.99

PIEMONTE'S GRAND VIN BIANCO?

WHITE BURGUNDY OF NOTE

TASTES LIKE
SUMMER-IN-A-BOTTLE

GAMAY FROM THE FRENCH ALPS

A PAIR OF PORTUGUESE RED WINE VALUES

DELICIOUS, FRESH ROSÉS

GREAT GRUNER VELTLINER

TIMELY WINES,
SECOND TO NONE

GOOD ELEVEN-BUCK CHIANTI

NICE TEN-BUCK PINOT NOIR

FLOWERY, CURIOUS RED

OLD FAVORITE KIWI SAUVIGNON IS BACK

OLD PATCH RED
ZIN BLEND

MONCUIT'S GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE

HONEYED MUSCAT

SPICY 
GEWÜRZTRAMINER

Napa Valley Grape Info
2002

2010

Amazing FRENCH CIDERS

FIZZY LAMBRUSCO

 

 

HOME PAGE

AMERICAN WINES

CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS

RHONE WANNABEES

ZINFANDELS

SAUVIGNON BLANCS

MERLOTS

OREGON WINES

CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS

CALIFORNIA CABERNETS

RIESLING & GEWURZ

WASHINGTON STATE

CANADIAN WINES

Adventuresome  Wines

ROSÉS !!

FRENCH WINES
ALSACE
BEAUJOLAIS
RED BORDEAUX
WHITE BORDEAUX
RED BURGUNDY
WHITE BURGUNDY
RHÔNE VALLEY
THE FRENCH ALPS
SOUTH OF FRANCE

LOIRE


CHAMPAGNE

 

ITALIAN WINES
PIEMONTE

VALLE D'AOSTA

NORTHERN ITALY

CENTRAL ITALIA

TUSCANY

SOUTHERN ITALIA


SPANISH WINES
Spanish Sherry
& Other Delights


PORTUGUESE WINES

SWISS WINES

GERMAN WINES

AUSTRIAN WINES

ARGENTINA

CHILE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

SOUTH AFRICA

OBSCURE WINES

DESSERT WINES

CHAMPAGNES

HALF-BOTTLES

SPIRITS

CIDERS

BEER
Even Real "Bud"!

OTHER STUFF

WINE TASTING

WHAT'S OPEN


UPCOMING TASTINGS

TASTING RESULTS
  
NEWSLETTER

SHIPPING INFO

ETC.

 

TASTING REPORTS

HOW TO ORGANIZE A BLIND-TASTING

BLIND TASTING ARCHIVE

MY 2013 EURO WINE ADVENTURE BOOK

CHATEAU MONTELENA
VERTICAL


ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2007

ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2008

SCHRAMSBERG vs THE FAMOUS FRENCH

German Wine "Master Class" Tasting

S & M FOR WINETASTING GEEKS

TEAR-WAH
TASTING

2013 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2012 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2011 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2010 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2009 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2008 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
Periodically Amazing

2007 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
The Nose Knows!

2006 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION.
SPIT HAPPENS

2005 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION.

2004 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING

The 2003 SF WINE COMPETITION

2002 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING 

A Vertical Tasting of Nalle Zinfandels

 

ETC.

RANTINGS & RAVINGS

WINE ROADS of EUROPE

Food/Wine/Friends
A Photo Gallery

MASTER OF WINE ESSAY TOPICS

Old Bottles: A TASTE OF HISTORY

Bob's Venetian Diary

Bob's Paris Notes Updated Spring 2007

Wine Writer's Confession

NEW "CULT" WINERY

Some Restaurant Reviews

HOW TO SELL WINE.
Info For Brokers and
Wine Distributors.

HOW TO HOLD A TRADE TASTING

$100,000 WORTH OF WINE MARKETING ADVICE:  FREE!
Mainly for Foreign Vintners

MOLDY CORKS

Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!

OKANAGAN VALLEY WINE TOUR-2010

BRIAN'S 2005 SUMMER VACATION WITH UNCLE

Gerald's Tour de France 2006

GERALD'S TOUR DE FRANCE 2008

A TOUR OF PORTUGAL-2009

HOW TO SPEAK BETTER ITALIAN

PONZI'S 40th
ANNIVERSARY

ROOSEVELT'S 2005 CHILI COOK-OFF

ROOSEVELT'S 2007 CHILI COOK-OFF

Grape Goddess

Ross Bruce Birthday

ALESSIA DALL'U

CCIV

FAQs

BURLINGAME

Links

CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS

BLACK KITE
I'm sure some people will be confused by the name Black Kite associated with a logo depicting a bird instead of some fabric-covered frame flown in the wind.

But there's a majestic bird called a Black Shouldered Kite and you might see it if you're in the wilds of Mendocino County.

The enterprise was founded by Donald and Maureen Green.  He's a telecom engineer and ornithologist who purchased a 40 acre parcel in Mendocino near the Navarro river.  Since buying the place, they're replanted some vines and extended the vineyard.  Now their two daughters and a grandson are involved in this family business.  They hired Jeff Gaffner as their winemaker.  Jeff has his own brand, Saxon Brown, as well as consulting for a number of wineries.


The 2008 is very smoky and smells like a fireplace that had, one a recent cold evening, a hot, aromatic fire in it.  The wine, from a growing season where the skies were extremely smoky due to nearby forest fires, has a burnt, charred hickory smoke element that is extreme and extremely unusual.  But it's a feature we expect to find in many Anderson Valley Pinots and this is one of them.  We did not bring this into the shop.

The 2009 was back on the mark and so is the 2011...nice cherry fruit with some sweet wood notes...mildly tannic, so it's probably best in its youth rather than  being set aside for some years (okay for 3-5 anyway)...

Currently in stock:  2011 BLACK KITE Reserve Anderson Valley PINOT NOIR  SALE $39.99

 
 
 

CALERA  WINE COMPANY
wpe61.jpg (5027 bytes)Calera is the work of the flamboyant Josh Jensen and it specializes in Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay and Viognier.  The climate is rather warm in San Benito County, hotter than Burgundy, for example.  Jensen chose this site as the soil is similar to Burgundian soils.  They make a Central Coast bottling of Pinot Noir from purchased fruit and they offer several single, estate vineyards. 

We have found the wines to often display vegetal notes, rather than the ripe cherry or strawberry character of many Pinot Noir wines.   In any case, the wines reflect some of the flamboyant personality of proprietor Josh Jensen.  Whether or not they're to your taste, we cannot predict.  


Calera's wine has achieved "cult status" in Japan.  It seems a Japanese "adult comic book" (called a 'manga') features a crime-fighting sommelier.   In one episode, the hero is given a couple of wines to taste and has concluded that it must be a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wine, only to remember at the last second that there is only one other wine of similar character and quality:  Calera's "Jensen Vineyard" Pinot Noir from California!  Propelled by this little boost, Calera sells thousands of cases of wine annually in Japan!   I even noticed a Japanese web site, while spelling the Calera name correctly in their editorial text, had the web page named "Carela."  I don't make up this stuff.

We have found some of the Calera Pinots to often have a vegetal tone and some vintages combine that with a somewhat raisined note.  

But a new vintage of a blend of single vineyards called "Mount Harlan Cuvée" was a wonderfully balanced bottle of Pinot Noir.  It's got classic elements of tea, cola, cherry and plum with a hint of underbrush...quite drinkable now and it may last a few years.

We currently have their Jensen Vineyard Pinot in stock...2010.  Nice, ripe fruit...

There's also a relatively new vineyard called Ryan (Jim Ryan is the Calera vineyard manager)...vines planted in 1998 and 2001...rhubarb and hints of a woodsy note.  

Currently available:
2010 CALERA "Jensen" Pinot Noir $74.99
2008 CALERA "Ryan" PINOT NOIR $43.99






CARGASACCHI
The Cargasacchi name is one to be found on numerous labels from artisan Pinot Noir producers in California.   Wine grower Peter Cargasacchi is one of the leading sources of Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills district.  Winemakers regard him as a perfectionist and they are eager to be able to buy grapes from this fellow.

He makes wine under two labels...a modestly-priced brand is called Point Concepción and he has the premium-priced Cargasacchi label which, for me, requires a magnifying glass to be legible.  A wine glass also clarifies things nicely, too.

Probably some tasters will prefer wines made by other winemakers from Cargasacchi grapes than the grower's bottling.  Peter prefers to make wines with a bit more finesse and less power.  

His 2005 Pinot has lovely fruit...lots of ripe cherry notes with a hint of cranberry and raspberry.  Oak is restrained, so it's not prominent on the nose or palate.  The acidity in the wine is refreshing and will probably allow this to age handsomely for five to eight years, maybe more.  
 
Currently in stock:  2005 CARGASACCHI Pinot Noir $42.99







 

 

DAVID BRUCE WINERY
wpe8.jpg (4974 bytes)This small Santa Cruz Mountains winery was established in the mid-1960s by Dr. David Bruce, a former dermatologist.  I have not asked his position regarding "skin contact."  He offered wines which were certainly unusual....we remember Black Muscat, Grenache, high alcohol Zinfandels and other assorted curious bottlings.  We can't pinpoint the change precisely, but a decade, or so, ago this winery started turning out well-made wines as a matter of course.  Before that, they often had the most curious bottlings of really amazingly curious wines.  Maybe hiring a winemaker was a good idea!

Today they offer a range of Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and a Petite Syrah.  They've even been offering a Chalone Vineyard bottling of Pinot Noir, made from vineyards from which the cuttings came from David Bruce's Santa Cruz estate vines.
 


The wines are perfectly okay and each seems to be "fortified" with something other than Pinot Noir.  We suspect the wines are blended with something such as Petite Sirah, given their color and impact on the palate.

We currently have a 2010  Russian River Valley Pinot Noir in stock.  This is a nice, medium-bodied Pinot with hints of cherries and cranberries.  There's a touch of wood, but more brown spice notes than overt oak.  It's smooth enough to drink now and should remain in good condition for several years.

Currently available: 2010 DAVID BRUCE Russian River Valley PINOT NOIR (List $40) SALE  $35.99


The tasting room at the David Bruce Winery...

 



DEHLINGER

We first met Tom Dehlinger in the mid-1970s at his little winery in Sebastopol.  His father, a dentist (I think), had helped him get established.  

The vineyard consisted of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.  I can't recall if the Zinfandels Tom made were home-grown or made from purchased fruit.

Dehlinger always made good wines.  Friends in Italy were incensed when they learned Cabernet Sauvignon was no longer the focus at Dehlinger.  Tom, I suspect, was a fan of the wines of his legendary neighbor, an old codger named Joe Swan.  

Over the years, the Dehlinger wines slowly caught on.  But Tom is such a low key fellow, he never was one for the "show business" of the wine industry.  I know he preferred hanging out at home to attending "Meet The Geek" events.  As a result, it took a long time to become an "overnight success."  

Today the wines are sold, predominantly, to those on his mailing list.  We're fortunate to have a few bottles of Dehlinger Pinot and we remain fans of the wines.

I have found Dehlinger's Pinots to actually have a solid "center" and be capable of aging handsomely.  The wines are not made with the palates of various wine writers in mind and I don't think Dehlinger is bothered by the critics.  

In mid-2007 I brought a 12 year old bottle of Dehlinger Pinot to dinner with a friend who makes good wines in Alsace.  This winemaker is a fan of Pinot Noir and I think he was surprised (shocked, more likely) to find the wine still needed a bit of time to soften and blossom.  

Anyway, we like the Pinots from this estate.  They're really good examples of Russian River Valley fruit and they are made without the idea of providing instant gratification.  Chardonnay, by the way, is also made with great care here...

Currently in stock:  2008 DEHLINGER Russian River Valley PINOT NOIR    Sold Out




 

 
 
DUCKHORN'S "GOLDENEYE"
Our friends Paul and Sandy Obester started this estate in Mendocino's Anderson Valley, having decided to invest in vineyard property.  They had their original winery, of course, on Highway 92 along the road to Half Moon Bay.

The Anderson Valley is a cool climate region and Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer seem to be ideal for this location.  One of the Obester's two sons was wine-interested and graduated from U.C. Davis with a degree in enology.  But he soon realized winemaking is "work" and this soured him for assuming the reigns of one of their two cellars.

Eventually they sold the property to the Duckhorns, Merlot specialists from St. Helena.  Dan Duckhorn realized the Anderson Valley provides a potentially wonderful microclimate for Pinot Noir.  The original site is called "Confluence" and they've added several other small vineyards to the roster.  

The production remains relatively small and we're fortunate to see a few bottles of "Goldeneye" Pinot Noir each vintage.  

The 2010 regular bottling is in stock.  It's a medium-full bodied Pinot Noir with a classic Pinot fragrance of red fruits, cherries, berries and a hint of wood.



Currently in stock: 2010 GOLDENEYE PINOT NOIR SALE $49.99


 
 

EASKOOT
Ellen suggests they've named this Marin County Pinot Noir "Easkoot" because it sounds like someone saying "It's Good!"
 
But that's not quite right.  Easkoot is a family name and it's the name of the first land surveyor in Marin County.  Alfred Derby Easkoot was his name and he came from the East Coast in 1851.  He settled in the area of what is now Bolinas and Stinson Beach where he built a home for he and Mrs. Easkoot, though in them thar days it was known as Willows Camp.

The Easkoot brand, though, is the work of some wine lovers who've invested with a local couple who import wines from Europe.  The locals are Marinites, he being born in Austria and she being "local."

The grapes are grown by a fellow named Mark Pasternak...you might not know his name, but foodies will certainly have seen the "Devil's Gulch" name on many a local restaurant menu...you might find their products (pork, quail, rabbit or lamb) on your dinner table.

So this group, having a European sensibility towards wine, looks to make a Pinot Noir of modest alcohol and something capable of pairing well with food, without it being a "cocktail" or requiring one of the drinks umbrellas in the glass.
 
The grapes are transported to a custom crush facility in Santa Rosa about an hour from the vineyard.  

Winemaker Matt Duffy did a fine job in producing this wine.  It's not a dark-colored, big, robust red, fortified with some other grape variety to give color and body.  It's a pure expression of Pinot Noir and despite its youth (2012 vintage!), the wine is showing handsomely at present.

It ought to continue to grow a bit and develop in bottle, but don't feel guilty about opening one tonight!
It's a bright, cherryish Pinot...not much in the way of oak, either...they allow the grapes to take center stage.  Charming in its youth...
 
Currently in stock: 2012 EASKOOT Marin County PINOT NOIR $38.99




 
 


ETUDE WINES
The Etude label was started by winemaker Tony Soter after he left his full-time gig at Chappellet in 1981 and began his consulting business.

Soter, who had been associated Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Stonegate and Spring Mountain, took over for Joe Cafaro as winemaker at Chappellet and then launched his little Etude project in 1982.  He remains a famous consulting winemaker, having had his fingerprints on wines such as Araujo, Spottswoode, Dalla Valle, Viader and Niebaum Coppola.  The Etude wines, predominantly Pinot Noir, have long been popular and somewhat of a benchmark for Napa Pinot.  Of course, this is rather ironic, since most of Soter's winemaking experiences have been with Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties.  Yet he really has had a marvelous 'touch' with Pinot Noir, routinely make good wine.  

Having grown tired of all the demands of the consulting business and financing his own place, Soter sold the Etude brand to the Beringer Blass folks.  He's still quite involved and rather happy to have more time to pay attention to wine quality in the vineyards.  He has access to Pinot Noir from a Carneros property owned by Beringer called "Benoist" which comprises something like 600 acres.  

Though production numbers have escalated, Soter's access to top quality Pinot Noir grapes has increased at an even greater rate. 

Etude's Pinot Noirs tend to be from vineyards situated in the northwest part of the Carneros region...this locale has different terroir than most of Carneros.  The vineyards are more volcanic and well-drained, rocky soils. 

The 2010 is the current release.  It's a medium-bodied Pinot, a bit more "plump" than many from Carneros.  You'll find dark cherry notes and maybe a hint of a plummy note along with some sweet oak and brown spice tones.  It's lovely now....Charming...it's what Pinot Noir is all about.  If I were selecting a wine to illustrate in the glass precisely what to look for in Pinot Noirs, this would be a good choice.
It even has a bit of aging potential, too!


Currently in stock:  2010 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir SALE $39.99
2006 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir "Temblor" Sold Out





FAILLA
 
Winemaker Ehren Jordan found the initials E & J were taken by some other vintner and the Jordan name was being used by some little Alexander Valley enterprise, so he and Mrs. Jordan chose to use her family name, Failla.

 
 

The Original label...which got them sued by Jordan...
the winery, not the country.
Ehren Jordan, as a kid, had a job in a wine shop and from there was further exposed to wine with a restaurant job.  He eventually came to California and was affiliated with the Joseph Phelps winery before heading to France's Rhone Valley.  

When he came back to California, Jordan's old friend from Phelps, Bruce Neyers, enlisted Ehren to be winemaker at Neyers Vineyards.  One thing led to another and he was soon assisting winemaker Helen Turley at her little cellar...she introduced him to her brother (are you following this?), Larry Turley and soon Jordan was the winemaker for Dr. Turley.  

What's especially amazing is Jordan's ability to create such a broad spectrum of wine styles.

With Turley, the wines are big, "gobs of fruit bombs."  With Neyers, you'll find a tremendous range (Chardonnay, Cabernet, Syrahs and other assorted Rhone varietals along with Zinfandel).  And then we have the Failla wines.

We've tasted numerous vintages of Failla and if you had no clue about Turley and Failla, you couldn't possibly imagine the various, diverse bottlings actually have the same fingerprints on them.

And that's to Ehren Jordan's credit.

We have the 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot in stock.  It's from an impressive roster of vineyards:  Hirsch, Floodgate, Keefer Ranch, Sonoma Stage, Whistler and Failla's own estate vineyard.  Jordan does a five day cold soak, followed by a short, vigorous fermentation using indigenous yeasts.  The wine then goes into barrel (only 15% new oak) and it spends about 9 months in wood.  

The result is a bright, fruity Pinot Noir with lots of cherry notes.  It's dry, fairly smooth and ready to drink.  We like this served at cool cellar temp...roasted chicken, grilled lamb that's mildly seasoned, duck, pork, etc.
 

Currently in stock:  2012 FAILLA Sonoma Coast PINOT NOIR  $35.99

 



 


FLOWERS
Joan and Walt Flowers started this place, buying an amazing piece of Sonoma Coast property as a retreat from their east coast nursery business.  Now they've sold an interest in their winery enterprise to Augustin Huneeus, the Napa vintner who ran Franciscan for some years and who, today, owns the Quintessa property and a South American brand called Veramonte.

The couple had been kept busy, years ago,  with their Pennsylvania-based enterprise, but they had a hankerin' to see about growing grapes.  After searching, they bought a chunk of land near Cazadero. 

They've planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in rather rugged terrain.  One feature of their vineyards is they're above the fog line.  The sun shines for much of the day, but temperatures tend to be cooler than neighboring vineyards that are less than a mile farther inland!   As a result, Flowers' wines tend to be the product of grapes which have had a lot of "hang time."

We have a couple of Pinot Noir wines and an interesting Pinot Noir-based blend.

Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a blend of various vineyards, including some from their Sea View Ridge Vineyard. The wine matured exclusively in French oak, about one-sixth of the cooperage being new barrels (less than they used to have).  This is a supple, yet nicely structured wine.  It's got modest acidity, so I suspect it will cellar for a few years if you don't drink it tonight.

Their 2006 Cuvée Andreen-Gale is a sort of reserve designated Pinot Noir.  It's named after the mothers of Walt and Joan.  This vintage is a three vineyard blend.  Forty percent new French oak.  Nice wine...a shade deeper than the regular bottling of 2007 and more complex.

Also in the line-up is a proprietary red called Perennial.   This also has some Pinot Meunier, Syrah and a drop of Chardonnay.  We did not find the most recent offering to be of interest...

Currently in stock:  2010 FLOWERS Sonoma Coast PINOT NOIR  Sale $46.99
2006 FLOWERS "Cuvee Andreen-Gale" PINOT NOIR Sold Out
 
 
 

 


FOGGY VALLEY

We tasted the 2009 vintage of this nice little Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and found it to be rather nice.  That wine has sold out and now there's a similar quality bottling from the Russian River Valley.

It's some sort of negociant label affiliated with the Russian Hill Estate Winery in the town of Windsor (Sonoma).  

The wine is medium-bodied and easily identified as Pinot Noir...simple and 
 
Currently in stock:  2009 FOGGY VALLEY Russian River Valley PINOT NOIR $19.99


FOXEN

This Santa Barbara winery takes its name from a British sailor named William Benjamin Foxen who bought something like 9000 acres of land in what's today known as Foxen Canyon.

Bill's great-great-grandson is Dick Doré who worked in banking until he spent a year, or so, traveling around Europe and discovering wine.

Upon his return, Dick met a guy named Bill Wathen as the two were involved in the Tepusquet Mesa Vineyard before setting up their own grape growing and winemaking enterprise.

We've had their wine in the shop from time to time and the 2011 vintage is quite nice and showing well, so it's currently in store.

The 2011 comes from two vineyard sites.  One parcel is situated within the Bien Nacido vineyard and the other is from the Riverbench Vineyard.  The wine spent about 8 months in French oak and the wood is nicely integrated with the wine.  You'll find more bright cherry Pinot fruit on the nose and that character comes through nicely on the palate.

 

Currently in stock:  2011 FOXEN "Santa Maria Valley" PINOT NOIR $33.99

 


 
 
 

GARY FARRELL
Gary Farrell was a political science back in the 1970s at Sonoma State University.  With the Russian River Valley in the vicinity, Farrell got sidetracked thanks to fellows such as Tom Dehlinger, Davis Bynum and Robert Stemmler.  After a number of years of being a cellar rat, Gary took an official job as winemaker for the Davis Bynum winery.  In the ensuing years, he also launched his own label, trading winemaking work for grapes.

His Pinot Noirs were much sought-after and the wines were of good quality.  He made Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Chardonnay, but Pinot was the highlight of the range of Gary Farrell wines.

In the early 2000s, Farrell sold his name and winery to the Allied Domecq company.  Quality remained good, though.  The Allied-Domecq firm morphed into Fortune Brands.  The winery was under the roof of "Beam Wine Estates" (as in Jim Beam).  They recently sold off a number of their wineries, including Gary Farrell, to Constellation (the humungous firm that purchased Robert Mondavi's little winery a while ago).

The 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir comes from several vineyards including Rochioli and Hallberg being the most famed.  It's a nicely drinkable, medium-bodied Pinot.   It doesn't really need any further cellaring and we suspect it's probably at its best now and over the next year, or so.  It has the typical strawberry and cherry notes of Russian River Pinot Noir.  There's a light touch of wood to the wine.  
 
Currently in stock:  2010 GARY FARRELL Russian River Valley PINOT NOIR  Sale $38.99 (750ml)  



 
 
 


WALTER HANSEL
The Hansel name if well-known to Sonoma County residents, as the family owns a car dealership.  Walter Hansel invested some of his profits in vineyard land and his son Stephen was seriously bitten by the wine 'bug."

Vineyards are near Sebastopol.  The first wines were made in 1996 and these were truly "garage" wines.  We found early vintages to demonstrate Hansel had good vineyards, but the winemaking was a bit too "natural" and the wines had too much sediment early on.  

Over the past few years, there's been a good learning curve and the wines today are usually pretty damned good.  

They tend to displays lots of red fruit notes.  I find hints of pomegranate and red cherry to the wines.  They're easy to identify as Pinot Noir and show Russian River or Sonoma County terroir as well.

We have a delicious 2010, the Cuvee Alyce.  It's teeming with cherry fruit notes and an undertone of vanilla from the oak.  The fruit dominates, however.  There's a beautifully "sweet" aspect to this wine...I even thought it might have some residual sugar, but in running a sugar test, it came up 'negative.' 
Serving the wine a bit cool (or lightly chilled in hot weather) offsets this sweet element and it's a delight!

We suspect this is best in its youth...how can one resist?  

Currently in stock:  2010 WALTER HANSEL Russian River Valley  PINOT NOIR  $38.99






HITCHING POST
The Hitching Post is a famous steak place in the Central Coast.  The Ostini family actually has two restaurants, one near Santa Maria and the other near Buellton.

If you're visiting Santa Barbara wine country, you ought to be sure to have dinner at the Buellton place.  

Ostini and partner Gray Hartley have been making good Pinot Noirs for quite a number of years.  Frank used to have the wine made at the Qupe/Au Bon Climat facility, but has moved operations to Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria where he's got a bit more autonomy to do what needs doing when it needs doing.  This has helped improve wine quality.

They make a number of vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs and these are usually pretty nice.  They are not the Syrah-like, tannic monsters so many people seem to make in the Central Coast.

It's been a few years since we've had a Hitching Post Pinot in the store...recently tasted bottlings have been nice, but there's a lot of competition these days....


The restaurant, by the way, gets a nice bit of notoriety in the new film called "Sideways."  It features a couple of guys spending some days in wine country before one of them gets married.  Along the way they meet a couple of Santa Barbara women, one of whom is a waitress at...The Hitching Post!  Her character, Maya,  is played by actress Virginia Madsen.

 
 
That's Ms. Madsen with her hand on the derriere of chef/winemaker/bon vivant Frank Ostini.  





Currently in stock:  2005 Hitching Post Santa Barbara "Highliner" Pinot Noir Sold Out






KOKUMI

Just when you figured out the notion of "umami," someone springs a new one on you...this time it's "kokumi."

So...salt, sweet, sour and bitter...and umami, the fifth "taste."  

Kokumi might be considered the sixth, as it's a Japanese term for a "mouthful" or a hearty texture on the palate.

Great.

Well, it's also the name of a new brand we discovered recently and their second release is a mouthful of really "crowd-pleasing" Pinot Noir.

It's a 2010 vintage, Sonoma Coast appellation wine from a vineyard near the town of Occidental.  They made all of 100 cases of this lovely wine...so about 5 barrels' worth.  It shows lovely cherry fruit on the palate and a sweet oak note on the palate.  

It's not a wine for cellaring...this is beautifully ready-to-drink right now...

The Kokumi label is the work of a husband & wife team...they've both worked for a number of very prestigious wineries in the North Coast and since they still need their "day jobs," they prefer to not have it noted as to the various wineries on their résumés.   The couple have indicated they prefer to stay out of the limelight for the moment, anyway, not wanting to use the fame or reputation of others to promote their own juice.
 
Currently in stock:  2010 KOKUMI Sonoma Coast PINOT NOIR Sold Out
 
 





LORING WINE COMPANY
This little enterprise grew out of a fellow's appreciation for various Pinot Noirs from Burgundy and California.  Brian Loring was working in a Southern California wine shop and was exposed to the Pinot Noir "bug" thanks to some bosses who were Burgundy fans.

Loring eventually was invited to spend a harvest season (in 1997) by a winery owner who was probably fatigued from answering so many questions about winemaking.  After an "apprenticeship" at the Cottonwood Canyon winery in the Santa Maria Valley.  Once he was up to his elbows in red wine 'stains,' Loring reached the stage of "incurable."

I've tasted his wines from time to time and felt he was trying to to the same sort of thing as Adam and Dianna Lee at Siduri.  For my tastes, I felt the Siduri wines, frankly, were better.  

So I'm happy to report we tasted a really good Pinot Noir from Loring and it's from a vineyard in Sonoma's Green Valley.  Graham Vineyard.  Loads of sweet cherry pie fragrances.  Plenty of fruit and you won't mistake it for a Cabernet or Syrah.  The wine is fairly silky on the palate and probably will be at its best over the next couple of years.  

Currently in stock:  LORING 2006 Green Valley "Graham Vineyard" PINOT NOIR  $49.99  (last bottles)




THE OJAI VINEYARD
Adam Tolmach used to be in partnership with "The Mind Behind" at Au Bon Climat.  Adam sold his share of the winery to Jim Clendenen and now concentrates on his own winery in the Ventura County town of Oakview near Ojai.  His wines have been in the realm of "very good" to "excellent" and we've featured Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir since the winery's inception. 

Adam is a real fanatic when it comes to making wines.  He pays attention to the quality of the fruit people are attempting to grow,  working diligently to create the world's best wines.  Since he's been making wine for so long, I suppose he's a graybeard alongside the furry-faced "kids" who seem to catch the attention of wine geeks.  People, of course, want to be amongst the first to "discover" new wines.  

I can tell you we've tasted a lot of these "new" producers who may be enthusiastic in making and marketing their wines, but whose products are not quite to the level of quality needed to compete in this fierce market.

Anyway, we have a really nice Pinot from the 2007 vintage...so now the wine has had a few years in bottle and it's showing a pretty cherry aroma with a nice bit of bottle bouquet.  The wine is medium-bodied and tastes like Santa Barbara Pinot Noir (which it should)...There's a faint "forest floor" sort of character here, too.

Adam, by the way, doesn't "augment" his Pinot Noirs with the addition of Syrah.  So many producers seem to beef up their Pinots with a bit of some stronger red variety...here you'll taste "Pinot Noir."

Currently available:  
2007 Santa Maria Valley "Bien Nacido" PINOT NOIR $39.99 (last bottles)
2008 Santa Maria Valley "Bien Nacido" PINOT NOIR $39.99
 

L'ANGEVIN
This label we know more for its wonderful Chardonnays than for red wine, but they've made a small lot of Pinot Noir.

The fruit comes from the Hyde family's "Stage Vineyard" which is at the southern part of the Sonoma Coast appellation.  The fruit is carefully sorted and winemaker Robbie Meyer cold soaks the Pinot Noir a few days before the fermentation starts.  They're careful in punching down the cap, not wanting to extract harsh tannins or bitter components.  

The wine displays a lovely berry note...raspberry.  There's a hint of underbrush or forest floor tones as well.  You might also find a floral element on the nose here.  It's a lovely Pinot, being a bit too subtle, we expect, for many people, especially those who prefer Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Russian River Valley bottling is very nice, too.  It's a bit more delicate than the Sonoma Coast bottling, but still captures the character of Pinot Noir.  The fruit is rather cherryish with a touch of orange peel to the nose and flavor.  
 
Currently in stock:  2005 L'ANGEVIN Russian River Valley PINOT NOIR $43.99
2005 L'ANGEVIN Sonoma Coast PINOT NOIR $57.99


MARK WEST


Back in the 1970s we had wines from the Mark West Winery.  A fellow who was an airline pilot and his winemaking wife ran the place and made some good Pinot Noirs and Gewürztraminers.   Flying a plane, though, was an easier task than selling wine and the couple eventually sold the place.  

Today the label is owned by Derek Benham and his "Purple Wine Company."  We have noticed an improvement in the quality of the wines of this winery and today the label has been a fixture here at the shop as it's been one of the few budget-priced Pinot Noirs worth fooling around with.  

The idea of the Mark West Pinot Noir is to have a wine that's identifiable as Pinot and to offer it at a price that's affordable.  While many vintners have told us the "sweet spot" for Pinot Noir sales is $40 a bottle, we're delighted to have some wines for less than $20 a bottle.  For us, that's a "sweet spot."

Winemaker Alex Cose (he spent part of a decade working at the Peter Michael Winery, a producer whose idea of "budget priced" is a Cabernet for $150 a bottle) seems to have a nice touch with Pinot Noir.  For casual, warm-weather wine drinking, this is a bargain.

We included an earlier vintage of this wine in a blind-tasting of Pinot Noirs.  It was the least costly wine in the tasting and finished second out of the set of 8 wines, ahead of more famous French Burgundies and California Pinots.  

The 2010 is the current vintage.  The wine displays a lovely cherry/strawberry fragrance of Pinot Noir and it's smooth and easily drinkable.  No, you won't mistake this for a bottle of Romanée-Conti, but then you didn't pay ten-thousand dollars for it, either.

Currently in stock:  2010 MARK WEST Pinot Noir (List $14) SALE $9.99
A few magnums are in stock for $19.99...
 
 



 

MOUNT EDEN VINEYARD
Mount Eden Vineyard remains a gem of an estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.  It's situated about 2000 feet above sea level within the zip code of Saratoga.

While so many people have the idea that California's wine history centers on the Napa Valley, in fact, there are many fascinating stories from other regions.  The Santa Cruz Mountains has a colorful history and names such as Paul Masson, Charles LeFranc and Martin Ray are early pioneers in this area.

Martin Ray was a real character.  He had been a stock-broker before turning to real estate.  As a budding wine geek, he purchased a winery from the  Paul Masson, a fellow of Burgundian heritage.  Masson had imported vine cuttings from his old buddy, Louis Latour in Burgundy.  Ray eventually sold the Paul Masson winery and brand to the whiskey company, the House of Seagram back in 1942.

Ray, though, had other extensive vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, cultivating about a hundred acres.  He enlisted the help of investors and, apparently, this was his undoing.  I gather he was not an especially easy-going character and he felt his were the only wines in California worth premium prices.  He apparently charged serious money for his wines and many were, in fact, highly regarded by experts back in the day.

Ray's conglomerate fell apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s and in 1972 "Mount Eden Vineyards" was born, splintering from the Martin Ray Winery.  Ray's step-son, Peter Martin Ray, made wine for a while, but eventually the brand was sold to Courtney Benham and the wines made using the Martin Ray label today are a far cry from those old time wines.

Mount Eden's winemaker was a young lady named Merry Edwards.  She made superb wines in tiny quantities starting with the 1972 vintage.  We purchased her wines back in those days and the quality was very fine.  Merry worked there until shortly before the 1978 vintage when she went to work at Matanzas Creek in Sonoma.  A fellow named Bill Anderson took over and in 1981, Jeffrey Patterson assumed the reins.

Patterson continues to make some exceptional wines at Mount Eden (not to be confused with Napa's "Villa Mt. Eden" winery).  

He cultivates about seven acres of Pinot Noir and the yield of these vines is quite low.  I believe they produce a mere one ton to a ton-and-a-half per acre.  Patterson does minimal cellar treatment on the wine, trying to guide as much character of Pinot Noir and terroir into the bottle as possible.  

The wines tend to age quite nicely, having higher acidity than most California Pinots.   We opened a 1990 and a 1994 at a dinner in the Fall of 2008.  The 1990 was a delightfully Burgundian-styled Pinot--loads of cherry fruit and a touch of forest floor...the 1994 was a more ripe, big wine.  It was difficult to imagine the two were related, but that illustrates how much the character of a wine can change based upon the growing season.

They recently purchased a neighbor's vineyard, a property about a mile away from Mount Eden's home base.  Unfortunately, there's not a direct road and you have to go out to Pierce Road and then along Highway 9 to access the new vineyard site. 

They call it Domaine Eden and the label, as you can see here, looks like a knock off of the Mount Eden Vineyard label.  And the wine tastes like a relative of the Mount Eden Pinot!

The 2010 vintage produced less than two tons per acre and the fruit was picked around the third week of September, so it had a nice, long 'hang time.'  This was matured in small French oak for close to a year with half the barrels being new.  It's showing well now and is a nicely cherryish Pinot with a touch of pomegranate...nice acidity, too, so it should age well.  

Currently in stock:  2010 DOMAINE EDEN Santa Cruz Mountains PINOT NOIR  $34.99

 

 

NAUGHTY BOY
The Naughty Boy label is from MJ & Jim Scott, a couple of old hippies who escaped The City for the sunnier climes of Mendocino's Potter Valley.

Here we've been selling this nice little "bad boy" for more than a year now and, despite the funny name for the wine, it's become one of our most popular Pinot Noirs.  Good fruit, organically-farmed, by the way, and a sensible price are proving to be a winning combination.
 
The wine comes from the Scott's 6 acre vineyard in the Potter Valley, northeast of Ukiah.  The valley floor is at an elevation of roughly 1000 feet.  Temperatures can be rather warm during the day, with a major drop in the thermometer at night.  This is ideal for Pinot Noir.

Naughty Boy Pinot is vinified under the watchful eye of winemaker Greg Graziano.  

The 2009 is a nice, light red, a fine follow-up to the challenging 2008 vintage (wildfires provided a sun barrier to haze during a vital part of the growing season and many wines from Mendocino and environs show a smoky element from the fires!).

Anyway, the 2009 here is a good example of Pinot Noir...unfussed with.  Not given a lavish oak treatment and they seem to have forgotten to blend in 15-20% Petite Sirah for color and body.    
 
We like this served at cool cellar temp.  It may age nicely, but we suspect most bottles are taken home and opened immediately rather than stashed in a wine rack to become dusty and old.
 
Currently in stock:  2009 NAUGHTY BOY Potter Valley PINOT NOIR $22.99
 




             

PAPAPIETRO PERRY
Here's a new winery started by a couple of home winemakers who made wines in their garages in San Francisco, as well as "volunteering" (this is a polite term for "cellar slaves") during the harvest at a little winery called Williams-Selyem in Sonoma.  

Both Ben Papapietro and Bruce Perry worked as slaves anyway, working for the San Francisco Newspaper Agency (SF Chronicle).  That's where they met winemaker Burt Williams, whom was a pressman for the newspaper.  "He's a real pioneer." proclaimed Ben Papapietro of the now-retired Williams.

Ben Papapietro told us they want to remain rather small in the quantity of production so they don't lose the quality.  "We've seen some producers get too big and that's when it's difficult to maintain the quality of the wines."

Currently in stock is a Pinot Noir from the Elsbree vineyard in Sonoma's Russian River Valley.  This site is located near the town of Windsor and it's a tad warmer than most of Papapietro's other fruit sources.  Elsbree is planted with a number of clones of Pinot Noir and add to the puzzle, numerous rootstocks.  

Papapietro matures the wine for nearly a year in barrels from the famous François Frères cooperage.  Half the barrels are brand new, the other half one or two year old wood.  This contributes the wonderfully sweet, vanillin note to the cherry-like Pinot fruit.  Minimal cellar treatment is employed, so the wine is not fined and not filtered.  

It's a delight right now, in its youth.  Limited production.  

Currently in stock:  2009 PAPAPIETRO PERRY Sonoma PINOT NOIR "Elsbree Vineyard"  SALE $49.99





 


Lettuce Make Pinot Noir!

POPPY

Some Monterey County lettuce farmers decided, some years ago, to put some grapevines into the ground to see what they could cultivate.  Neighbors all around Monterey, especially in the Santa Lucia Highlands, had been cultivating Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir and some of the wines were fetching ridiculously high prices.

So these fellers started growing grapes.

They built a custom-crush winery facility and soon they were making their own wine.  Nothing fancy, just good, solid table wines.  Someone came up with the Poppy label and from their humble beginnings of making 500 cases, they've grown the brand considerably and make a rather modest amount of wine.  

I think the 2010 is probably the fifth or sixth we've had in the shop.  It's a really nice example of Pinot Noir, but you won't find the heavily toasted French oak of some big "points" wines here.  It also doesn't have the fortification of Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet or Mega-Purple grape concentrate to deepen the color, add body and tannin so it will appeal to a fan of high numerically-scoring wines, either.

Instead the wine tastes like good, straightforward Monterey County Pinot Noir.  There's a nice cherry/pomegranate red fruit fragrance and maybe a whiff of cassis as an herbal tone.  It's light on the palate and not tannic or harsh, but it's not sweet or flat, either.  

If you're looking for an uncomplicated, food-friendly Pinot Noir, you ought to consider trying a bottle of 2010 Poppy.  It's inexpensive (and we offer case discounts) and eminently drinkable.

Currently in stock: POPPY 2010 Monterey County PINOT NOIR $12.99  
 
 
 







SAINTSBURY
wpe1.jpg (7824 bytes)David Graves and Dick Ward started this adventure (or venture, take your pick) in the early 1980s.  They feature Carneros-grown Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, always of great interest to those of us serious about these varietals.   I was amused to see Saintsbury is often, today, overlooked by some of the critics and, as a result, "wine geeks."  This is a source of good wine.

We were treated to a fabulous tasting a few years ago, having stopped by with Mario Pojer and Fiorentino & Elisa Sandri, producers of all sorts of wonderful wines (including Pinot Noir) in Italy's Trentino area.  What we've seen is a wonderful evolution in production techniques and perhaps a bit less cellar treatment to create really wonderful Pinot Noirs (and Chardonnays).  The current line-up features splendid wines and those which offer both good quality and value.  

The Saintsbury Brothers seem intent upon featuring a number of single vineyard bottlings, along with their main Carneros Pinot.


"Garnet" was their lighter-styled Pinot Noir, deeper than Beaujolais, for example. For some curious reason, they sold the "brand" to, we're told, the grape growing business which provided the Carneros fruit for the wine.  
The sale of a brand of wine which was a bit of a calling card struck many observers as quite odd.


The Carneros Pinot is a medium-bodied, rather elegant rendition.  It's a far cry from the over-the-top, hugely-alcoholic, Pinot-on-Steroids wines which garner huge numerical scores from various critics.  To their credit (in our opinion), Saintsbury continues to make the sort of Pinot Noir they started making a couple of decades ago.  It's bright, shows hints of raspberry and just a touch of wood (if you look deeply enough).  

 
Currently available:  2009 "Garnet"  (List $20)  Sold Out
2008 Carneros Pinot Noir Sold Out
 







 

TALLEY VINEYARDS
The Talley's have been growing terrific produce in California's Central Coast since the late 1940s.  The family took note of new vineyards being planted in nearby Santa Barbara and Edna Valley regions and decided to test the waters with some of their own vineyards.  The results were, to put it mildly, rather positive and now things are really out of hand!

We first met Brian Talley, if memory serves, in the late 1980s or early 1990s.  It's been quite a few years that we've had his Chardonnay featured in the shop.  Some of our Santa Barbara area pals buy fruit from the Talley's, one remarking "You know, it's one of the few vineyards I get fruit from that I don't have to tell them how to grow the grapes so I can make a high quality wine."  

Pinot Noirs from this estate can be quite good.  The Talley's seem to prefer showcasing the "fruit" character of their Pinot Noir, rather than the artistry of the barrel builder.  As a result you'll find more the "beet root" and black cherry than wood, though they do use a bit of new French oak.  I find the wood tends to be more in the background with Talley's Pinot Noirs.  

The 2010 Estate is a blend of fruit from their Rosemary's and Rincon vineyards.  This vintage is superb...a really stellar example of Talley Pinot Noir!  It's drinkable now and it ought to cellar well for another three to six years, maybe longer.  Remarkably intense fruit and the wine is beautifully balanced.

We sometimes have their single vineyard wines.   A few bottles periodically make it to the shop...Rosemary's Pinot is available presently...
 
Currently in stock: TALLEY 2010 Estate PINOT NOIR SALE $33.99






SEAN THACKREY

The scholarly winemaker Sean Thackrey has been making his famous "Orion," a wine thought to be Syrah, for many years.  He's recently bottled a Pinot Noir which comes from Marin County fruit.

Thackrey is a legendary winemaker, practicing his artistry in Marin County's little village of Bolinas.  Sean's wines are the work of someone who makes wine by feel and by taste, not so much by science or technology.  He studied art history in college and opened a gallery in San Francisco in the 1980s.  Needless to say, he's not your average "Joe Winemaker."

The fruit for his Pinot Noir comes from the Devil's Gulch Ranch, a property near the Point Reyes "peninsula" in Western Marin County.  

While this is not a wine one might mistake for a top appellation of French Burgundy, it is a wine which has the fingerprints of the winemaker.  Those familiar with Thackrey's other wines will probably notice his imprint on this.

We find the 2003 vintage to be a shade more intense than many Pinots.  There's a sense of forest-floor and underbrush to this wine more than huge fruit and sweet oak.  It, like most Thackrey wines, is one to savor and appreciate over the course of a meal.  You can almost witness the wine "blossoming" in the glass as it continues to air and open.  

The 2007 is a wine which displays more character of the winemaker, perhaps, than of the Pinot Noir grape. Still, it's quite a nice red wine, even if it's not especially reminiscent of a red Burgundy.

Limited availability, of course.

Currently in stock:  2003 Thackrey "Andromeda" Pinot Noir $55.99
2007 THACKREY "Andromeda" PINOT NOIR $44.99
 
 

 
 



 




 
 

 

More Pinot Noirs

 

winepour.gif (12696 bytes)Wine Tasting Today

TO INQUIRE ABOUT A WINEgerald@weimax.com
Copyright © 1999 WEIMAX April 19,  2014