Top 10 best wines of the week
Six Pinot Noirs, four Cabernet Sauvignons/Bordeaux blends. Those were my ten top-scoring wines this week.
(I know I said I wouldn’t use “Bordeaux blend” anymore, but really, what’s the alternative? “Cabernet-based wine made with traditional Bordeaux varieties” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I refuse to say “Meritage-style.” And what do you say when the wine’s a blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc? So I’m stuck with “Bordeaux blend.”)
You’ll find my full reviews, with point scores, in upcoming issues of Wine Enthusiast.
Here are the Pinots:
Nine Barrel 2007. This is a Jackson Family Farms brand. It’s a blend of some of their top Russian River Valley vineyards, which tells me that a lot of it must come from around Forestville. Alcohol is fairly high, 15%, but the wine is smooth and balanced, IMHO. Only 200 cases were produced. Bottle price is $90. Awesome wine, tremendous, dark, and a great expression of this fabled vintage.
Foxen 2008 Julia’s Vineyard. From this esteemed vineyard in the hills of the northern Santa Maria Valley. Winemaker Bill Wathan, a true Pinot hero of Santa Barbara County, is at the top of his game. Juicy and fresh. 670 cases, 14.6%, $54.
Chalk Hill 2007 Estate. Tasted the day Fred Furth sold his winery to Bill Foley. It’s a Cabernet-based Bordeaux blend, and utterly delicious. Chalk Hill has been just soaring lately in all their wines. 5,000 cases, 15.1%, $90.
Lang & Reed 2005 Right Bank. L&R specializes in Cabernet Franc. The name “Right Bank” pays hommage to St. Emilion; this wine is a blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Sauvignon, in that order. Light and elegant. Bring on the steak! 248 cases, 14.5%, $60.
Silverado 2006 Solo Cabernet Sauvignon. Shows the iron fist of Stags Leap in the hard tannins. But this is a very noble wine, 100% Cab, with lots of new oak. A solid success for 2006. 2,800 cases, 14.7%, $90.
Marimar Estate 2007 La Masía Pinot Noir. From the estate Don Miguel Vineyard, in Green Valley. Marimar’s Pinots typically are dense and fairly tannic when young, and relatively low in alcohol, especially compared to the warmer, northern Russian River Valley. This bottling is enormously complex. I would give it 5-6 years in a good cellar. 3,658 cases, 14.1%, $49.
Marimar Estate 2007 Stony Block.
Marimar Estate 2007 Earthquake Block.
Both of these wines are also from Don Miguel Vineyard. The former is more minerally, the latter fatter and fruitier. All three bottlings are kissing cousins, as it were.
Dragonette 2008 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir. The Dragonettes are John and Steve. They get their hands on some of the best grapes in Santa Barbara, including, of course, Fiddlestix, Kathy Josephs’ love child in the Santa, oops I mean Sta. Rita Hills. 200 cases, 14.2%, $45.
Star Lane 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. One of a handful of Cabernets from the eastern part of Santa Ynez Valley (now officially Happy Canyon) I’ve ever drunk with pleasure. Drier and leaner than Napa. Call it Bordeaux-style. 6,000 cases, 15.1%, $42.
Have a great weekend!