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Top 10 wines of the week


Some incredible wines this week. The predominance of Jackson Family brands is because I did a blind tasting of nearly 50 of their wines. As usual, you’ll find my complete scores and reviews in upcoming issues of Wine Enthusiast.

Stonestreet 2007 Rockfall Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley); $90, 212 cases, 14.5%. Also the winery’s Cougar Ridge, Monument and Christopher’s Cabs. All these vineyards are from Jackson’s extensive holdings in the high Mayacamas. It’s stupid to have to call them “Alexander Valley” but at this time the Feds have not recognized new appellations up there. The historic place name is Black Mountain; Jackson wants to call it Alexander Mountain; things are stalled.

Williams Selyem 2008 Litton Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $100. Case production not revealed, 14.2%. Last year’s bottling earned a perfect 100 points. Starting this year the wine will be known as Estate, not Litton, because Ridge sent Williams Selyem a cease-and-desist request based on their ownership of the Lytton Springs name for their Zinfandel blend.

Testarossa 2009 Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands); $56, 198 cases, 14.5%. Also their Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot, from the Santa Maria Valley. I wish Testarossa would hold their Pinots back a little longer before release, but there’s no question they’re at the top of their game, and they have access to some of the greatest vineyards in California.

Rodney Strong 2007 Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley); $75, 1,723 cases, 15.4%. Good for the winery, which has tried so hard with this bottling. Glad they’re not just sending it to bloggers anymore!

Benziger 2008 de Coelo Terra Neuma Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $69, 546 cases, 13.5%. I first visited Mike Benziger’s experimental Pinot Noir project when he was tearing up the land. It was a moonscape of white dust, Goldridge soil I believe. This is his third vintage and the wine shows a low-alcohol finesse.

La Crema 2009 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $40, 4,800 cases, 14.5%. Good buy, even at forty bucks. Elegant and classy.

Stephen Ross 2007 Stone Corral Vineyard Pinot Noir (Edna Valley); $50, 86 cases, 15.2%. The vineyard is in the heart of Edna Valley, co-owned, I understand, by the Talleys. The wine shows Edna Valley raciness but is very complex. See also Ross’s Bien Nacido Pinot.

Freemark Abbey 2007 Bosché Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $70, 689 cases, 14.5%. When I first visited Freemark Abbey, many years ago, as a novice wine lover, I was prepared to spend some money for a Cabernet to lay down. The lady in the tasting room urged me to buy the Bosché; the label then read Cabernet Bosché. I told her I wanted a Cabernet Sauvignon, not a Cabernet Bosché. I ended up buying their regular Cab, not the ageworthy Bosché. Oh well…

Matanzas Creek 2009 Chardonnay (Bennett Valley); $40, 7,379 cases, 14.4%. Excellent, crisp Chardonnay from this little-known cool region, at the base of Sonoma Mountain.

Thomas Fogarty 2007 Damiana Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains); $48, 93 cases, 14.1%. Solid Chardonnay, from 30-plus year old vines grown 1,900 feet up in the mountains south of San Francisco.

  1. Steve, you crack me up. Never “only” shipped Rockaway to just bloggers. Thought about just shipping to you, but that wouldn’t be fair either. Great line up!

  2. Robert, glad you liked. True, you didn’t ship “only” to bloggers but you shipped “first” to them. (And isn’t “shipped” a weird word to use!!!)

  3. Yes! How can Denver, for example, have a shipping address? And, on a personal note, I am working on my own wine. It’s a rose that I’m going to call Bloggers Blush. I’m only sending it to traditional print media, though. I’m curious to know what they’ll think about it…

  4. Robert, do we have to agree in advance to write about it?

  5. Hadn’t even entered my thought process.

  6. Funny Freemark Abbey story 🙂

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