Highlights from Napa and Sonoma Trip

Over the course of four days, I was able to taste at several wineries in Napa and Sonoma. I was only able to take very general notes during the tastings but they give you a good idea of my thoughts towards the wines.

Thursday August 17th

Ramey Wine Cellars

Ramey Wine Cellars Tasting

I started off in Sonoma on Day 1 and bounced in and out of the Russian River Valley. The day started off with a 10AM tasting at Ramey Wine Cellars. We here at Oxford Liquor Shoppe have been carrying the Ramey wines for years, big fans of the Chardonnays, the Caret and Cabernet Sauvignon. David Ramey tries to achieve a very balanced style and is not trying for a heavy handed wines. It proved to be a very enjoyable tasting.

2014 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast **2010 is in stock $33.99

This wine was light and crisp with a nice acidity. A good introduction to the house style for the white wines. 91 points

2014 Chardonnay Russian River Valley *available

This was a touch fatter but still done in a very restrained style that Ramey is famous for. Got some tropical fruit on this. 92 points

2014 Chardonnay Woolsey Road *available

From a vineyard specifically allocated for Ramey by Martinelli, this was bigger than the regional blends and ended with a longer finish. 93 points

2014 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard *available

My favorite of the four Chardonnay’s. Was the biggest but provided great depth of flavor and still not overpowering. Excellent. 94 points

2014 Syrah Sonoma Coast *available

This wine was dark with notes of coffee and dark berry. 91 points.

2015 Claret Napa Valley *2014 available

Always well done, this had notes of blackberry, currant and a long finish with a touch of iron. 93 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley **2012 in stock for $77.99

This Cab was quite silky compared to the other cabs I tasted on the trip with soft tannins. Ended with a nice dark berry finish. 92 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Annum *available

Big but nuanced. Provided the longest finish of the four reds. Can probably use a little more time in bottle. 94 points

Hartford Family Winery

I then headed over to Hartford Family and it was the first time I have ever had their wines. I came away very impressed. They make Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel and were strong across the board!

2015 Chardonnay Four Hearts Vineyard *available

This was bigger than the Ramey but was beautiful and not overpowering. More traditional in style but had some finesse to it. 93 points

2014 Chardonnay Stone Cote

This was even bigger than the Four Hearts and very buttery. But for all it’s size, it’s style was quite refined for a bigger wine. 94 Points

2015 Chardonnay Russian River Valley *available

A step down from the first two wines but also a lower price point. Solid and delicious. A nice introduction to their style. 92 points

2014 Pinot Noir Land’s Edge *available

This is beautiful with a lot of Pinot character. Again, a bigger style but balanced and not overpowering. 94 points

2014 Pinot Noir Velvet Sisters *available

More similar than different compared to the first two Chardonnays but very awesome wine with a long finish. 94 points

2014 Pinot Noir Warrior Princess Block *available

From Oregon, there was a clear difference here compared to the first two Pinot Noir’s. It definitely showed that Oregon terrior. 94 points

2015 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Some bing cherry on this and actually got some tannins. A clear step down but again a lower price point wine. 91 points

2015 Zinfandel Russian River Valley *available

This was extremely impressive. Made like a Pinot, has that silkiness to it. Not your typical Zin fruit bomb. 94 points

2014 Zinfandel Dina’s

This was just awesome. Lots of fruit but refined like their Pinot’s. Shocked to see over 15% alcohol on here because it felt much lower. 96 points.

2014 Zinfandel Hartford

Another excellent bottle but bigger and heavier than the others. More fruit explosion on this. 95 points.

2012 Syrah Outer Limits

A nice effort. Not heavy and dark like a typical Syrah that can be a little too much sometimes. 93 points

2014 Zinfandel Port

I usually don’t go for “ports” outside of Portugal but this was quite nice. Not very heavy for a port style wine. Silky. 93

Stonestreet

Have come onto my radar the last few years for their entry level Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are really good values for the money. They also do several higher end bottlings that are right up there with the tops wines in California.

Stonestreet Winery

This is a photo in the front of the winery looking at their mountain vineyards way off in the distance.

2015 Sauvignon Blanc Estate Cuvee

This Sauvignon Blanc had lots of grapefruit on the nose along with kiwi and grapefruit on palate. Ended with a nice finish. No oak on this. 90 points

2014 Sauvignon Blanc Aurora Point

The oak influence shows on the nose of this but the palate has flavors of kiwi and lime. 90 points

2014 Chardonnay Estate Cuvee *available

This is a very nice Chardonnay for the money with notes of lemon meringue and done more in a classic California style. 91 points

2014 Chardonnay Upper Barn *available

This proved to be more elegant than the estate. Where the estate could be a little raw around the edges, this provided a more refined option with greater depth of flavor. Nice long finish. 95 points

2014 Chardonnay Gravel Bench

The biggest of the three Chardonnays. Lots of toast and butter on this one. Probably could use some short term cellaring. 95 points

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Cuvee *available

Like the 2012, just a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon for the money. This has big berry aromas with some dark fruit on the palate. A fine introduction to the Stonestreet style. 93 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Rockfall *available

The Rockfall was a real crowd pleaser with some bigger tannins but a longer finish than the estate. 95 points

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Christopher

The oak on the nose of this wine was very noticeable but provided wonderful notes of blackberry, currant and chocolate. A bit of a style change from the Rockfall but a nice contrast. 95 points

Alpha Omega

Visited here the last time I was in Napa and they really have top notch wine. The winery is beautiful and was shocked to see they now offer valet parking. Pretty fancy! That aside, the wines were just as good as I remember them.

Alpha Omega Chardonnay

2014 Chardonnay Reserve **2012 Regular Chardonnay in stock $65.99

A fine Chardonnay with notes of pineapple, mango and citrus. Honestly don’t recall a big difference between this and the regular bottling. 93 points

2015 Chardonnay Toyon

Very similar in style and quality to the Reserve but just a hair behind in my opinion. 92 points

Alpha Omega Red Wines

2012 Proprietary Red

This was a big tannic wine still with notes of cassis, chocolate and plum. 94 points

2013 Proprietary Red *available

The most backward of all the red wines with very drying tannins. Notes of currant, blackberry and cherry. 93

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon *available

Again, very tannic but fruit was open for business for a 2014. Notes of herb, cherry blackberry and plum. 94 points

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Barrel Sample

Drinking pretty awesome right now for such a young wine. Note even as tannic as the other red wines but could have seen more air. A clear step up from the other 3. 96-98 points

2011 Late Harvest

Notes a honey, peach and apricot. Close to the Honig Late Harvest. 93 points

Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi Winery Statue in Front

First time visiting even though I’ve been to Napa twice before. Went mainly to try the I Block, which is only available at the winery. Beautiful winery and by far the biggest tourist attraction as far as wineries are concerned.

Robert Mondavi Winery

2014 Fume Blanc To Kalon I Block

From the oldest Sauvignon Blanc grapes planted in North America. This is beautiful with no sight of grapefruit. So balanced and refreshing. Think this will improve with age. History says it will. 94 points

2015 Sauvignon Blanc Stag’s Leap District

Tons of grapefruit on this. Not nearly on the level as the I Block. 89 points

2014 Fume Blanc Oakville

Enjoyed this more than the Stag’s Leap. No grapefruit. Like the oak influence here. 91

2013 Maestro

Solid wine but expected a bit more from this. Not near the level of the reserve. 91 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Really nice. Balanced. More old world but still definitely California. An often overlooked wine in this day and age but most of it still comes from To Kalon vineyard. 95

*Available

Robert Mondavi 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $99.99

Robert Mondavi 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $102.99

Honig

Have always admired Honig for their quality wines and affordable prices. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best values in all of Napa Valley.

Honig Birdbox and Fan

We took a tour of the entire vineyard which was a great experience. Above shows a birdbox that they have throughout their vineyards and wind machine to prevent frost.

2015 Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford *available

Always enjoy Honig’s Rutherford bottling. Touch more refined than the regular Sauvignon Blanc and you can really see the quality. 91 points

Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon *available

Another fine vintage for this Cabernet. Notes of blackberry, mocha and cherry throughout. 92 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Campbell

First time having this wine. Slight step up in quality from the regular Cab bottling. 93 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Bartolucci *available

The Bartolucci is just like the Sauvignon Blanc in the respect that I can always see the bump up in quality, although the difference between this and the 2014 regular Cab is a lot smaller this time. 93 points

2015 Late Harvest

Always been a fan of the Late Harvest although it seems to have crept up in price. Very refined and more balanced than the 2016 with flavors of honey and apricot. 93 points

2016 Late Harvest

Still a well made dessert wine but this just needs time to settle down in the bottle. 91 points

Joseph Phelps

Could say we saved the best for last? We did a pretty comprehensive tasting at Phelps. We tasted through their latest releases but then did something I had never done before. Every year Phelps does experiments with different barrels of their wines. So we had the chance to taste their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in 4 different types of oak barrels. The first was neutral oak, the second was French oak (medium toast), the third was American oak (medium toast) and the fourth was French oak (heavy toast). It provided quite an interesting education on the effects of oak on the wine.

Joseph Phelps same wine aged in 4 differnent oak barrels

Below are the notes from their current releases. Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon has always been good but they have done a lot of work to improve their other wines.

2016 Sauvignon Blanc *available

Always been a fan of their Sauvignon Blanc’s but this needs some time. Little too spry at the moment. 91 points

2014 Chardonnay Pastorale

A well made Chard done in a very classic style. Not overdone. 92 points

2014 Pinot Noir Pastorale

Although a nice wine, this was definitely overshadowed by the Pinot’s we had in Sonoma. 90 points

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon *available

Their regular Cab can be really nice in good vintages and this was one of those vintages. Still has some tannins to resolve but can be drunk now with a long decant. 93 points.

2013 Insignia *available

Just a classic vintage of this great wine. I have always been a fan of this and when it hits it really hits. Right up their with the top wines of the trip. 98 points.

 

Joseph Phelps Vineyards