Return of the 100pt Native: Fred Schrader’s Homecoming

UPDATE: Good news on the final tally for the MFA auction: It raised $186,000! Most successful in the museum’s history. I’m sure it will stay around for many vintages to come.

You may know Schrader for his stunning Napa cabs over the last 15 – 20 years, or his fabbo ratings from both Parker and Wine Spectator. Folks around here knew Fred long before, more than 30 yards ago when he was just an antique picker, turned auctioneer and art dealer, local boy made good, now made great.

He returned to his Florida hometown this month for the first time in decades to guest star at the Museum of Fine Arts wine festival and auction in St. Petersburg. Schrader played the role with gusto and a big moustache. The two magnums Schrader and wife Carol donated, the 2007 CCS cabernet sauvignon and Old Sparky cab raised $5,500, they had the winning bid of $3,000 for a future penthouse dinner on the St. Pete waterfront and provided a grand wine for the dinner of 250. That was the 2010 Aston Estate Pinot Noir to go with scallops and fredola and Kobe short ribs. The pinot is a newer project he started a few years ago, now coming handsomely into its own. “It takes longer with pinot [than cab], but we’re in the best place on the Sonoma Coast.” He also provided bottles of Double Diamond cab and Vieux-Os zinfandel for a private party.

In return, Schrader got time to walk along a Beach Drive he hadn’t seen in over 25 years. As much as the area enjoyed welcoming him. “It was good for the hometown boy too,” Carol confided.

Local wine lovers chipped in with wines from their cellars, like Margaret and Ed Amley who donated a bottle of Screaming Eagle and two case of super-Tuscans.

When all was bid and done at silent and live auctions, the museum buzzed with hopes that the auction in its second year had raised $100,000; however organizers in the counting house have not come up with a final tally. Their goal is to someday match their neighbors to the south where this year’s Naples Winter Wine Fest raised over $12 million.

Meanwhile, if you missed out on the Schraders, B-21 has a few bottles of the 2006 Double Diamond from Amber Knolls, And if you want to bid on fine bottles for fine art next year, contact the MFA and circle February on your calendar.

Mondavi Madness: Advocate Calls Newest Cab An “Oustanding Bargain”!

Year-in, year-out Robert Mondavi turns out terrific reds at price points from $25 to $100. I’ve got gems from each recent vintage (07, 08 and 09): all top quality and remarkable values, especially at my prices. In fact when Parker’s crew called the 2008 Napa Valley Mondavi cab a steal, they figured it would sell in the low $20s. Not my price to you.  It’s quite the grown-up cabernet, black fruit shaded with dried herbs and mint, and built to keep for 15 years. The 2009 pinot noir is already shining, juicy, gentle and easy drink, full of cherries, berries and licorice and stout hearted enough for a thick slab of beef. That’s all on top of the magnificent ’07s. I still have the premium Oakville and the phenomenal Reserve from that vintage. All three vintages are a credit to the team that took up Mondavi’s legacy after the great man passed in 2007. Open any one of these and toast old Bob and the crew that came after.  Run-n-tell that.

2008 Robert Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon2008 Robert Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

…a pleasant nose of black fruits intermixed with hints of charcoal and spice, delicious, sweet fruit, medium body, and nice suppleness and flesh….89 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

2009 Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir Carneros2009 Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir Carneros

…emerges from the glass with layers of perfumed red fruit and sweet spices. This fleshy, generous Pinot is best enjoyed over the next few years, while the fruit retains its juicy exuberance….88+ Points, Robert Parker’s WA




Hidden In Plain Sight: Michael Martini’s 90-point ’08 Napa cab.

2008 Louis Martini Napa Cabernet SauvignonI know you love the 2007s, but don’t miss the beautiful 2008s in California. Many got overlooked, including this terrific effort from Michael Martini. Granted, it’s a muscular wine with sturdy tannins, not as easy and ripe for the pickin’ as the ’07s. This is a serious cab that takes time. And rewards it. Which is why I like it, the kind of California cabernet I’d stick in the cellar but you could open tomorrow also. Martini’s 2008 is dry, dark and deep, and not shy on tannin. There’s ample cherries and plums, the darker the better, but it is the grown-up smoke, cedar and herbs that carry the day for me. Lucky for you I’m so diligent or else you could have missed this gem! This is cabernet for adults at a childish price. Enjoy me now and enjoy me later. And thank Louis and Michael. Run-n-tell that.

2008 Louis Martini Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

“The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a big wine and an absolutely fabulous value in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It bursts onto the palate with expressive dark fruit, sweet spices and licorice, showing marvelous depth all the way through to the creamy, generous finish….”  90 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

Red-Hot Reds: Keenan, Canoe Ridge, Cold Creek, 91-94 pts

When I want a great American cab or merlot, I look up. Up on Spring Mountain for Keenan, and up to Canoe Ridge and other top sites in Washington State where Chateau Ste. Michelle does its best work. These are wines of genuine terroir that many U.S. wineries just don’t have, no matter how well meaning or easy to drink they are. These wines are more than great grapes from top vintages. They also show off their regional character like the pure crushed rock minerality in the dark fruit Michael Keenan and Nils Venge bring down from Spring Mountain. I find great local taste from the giant Ste. Michelle in the smaller vineyards they have discovered and cultivated like Canoe Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills, and always in the powerful, firmly structured reds from Cold Creek. These are 2007 Keenan Cabernet SauvignonAmerican wines with a true sense of place. I’m proud to see that in a world of sameness. And I’m proud to share them with you at prices that will make you want to try them all. Run-n-tell that.

2007 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon

“…exhibits a dense ruby/purple hue along with plenty of crushed rock, black currant, black raspberry, white chocolate, and earth characteristics. A supple texture, beautiful concentration, and a long finish…”  92 Points, Robert Parker’s WA2008 Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge

2008 Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge

“A fine bottle – full, fleshy, immediately throwing out dense aromatics with toast and roasted coffee and bitter chocolate components. A deep vein of black cherry and cassis keeps the core tight and focused, and a small splash of Syrah adds the 2008 Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creekscent of black pepper.”  91 Points, Wine Enthusiast

2008 Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek

“…the alcohol hits 15%, yet the tight, dense, cassis-laden body of the wine is intact, with an appropriate hint of herb. The length and balance once again suggest a wine that has decades of life ahead.”  93 Points, Wine Enthusiast

2007 Ste. Michelle Merlot, Cold Creek2007 Ste. Michelle Merlot, Cold Creek

“A full-throttle effort, with big flavor swashes of blackberry, cassis, black pepper, coffee grounds and ripe tannins. This is Cold Creek Merlot at its most powerful; the 35-year-old vines are in their prime and the flavors show it….”  94 Points, Wine Enthusiast


2009 Chappellet Climbs The Mountain Again: 92 points!

2009 Chappellet Mt. Cuvee, NapaYou loved the 2007 Mountain Cuvee and and bought me out and I understood it. That cuvee was a stunning “meritage” made entirely of mountaintop fruit. I say the 2009 is its match, an exceptional Napa cab (and more), 92 points in my book! Cyril, his mother Molly, and the rest of the Chappellet team have brought Bordeaux to the mountain again. Hard to call it Left Bank or Right; they grow all five Bordeaux grapes up on Pritchard Hill, and this vintage has a heap of merlot and cab franc. The Chappellet sites sit high on the east side of the valley. The coolness and fog make for a blend that is complex, everything here from cherries and plums to cedar and savory spices. It has both body and elegance, a rare combination. The 2009 has high style and a price that’s as low as can be for the fabulous taste of Napa. Run-n-tell that.

2009 Chappellet Mt. Cuvee, Napa

92 Points, Bob Sprentall

Aussie Awesome: Lip-Smacking 94-pt Coonawarra Cab!

2009 Penley Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra“Dont hate me because I’m so easy to drink” is what the 2009 Penley Cab would say if it could talk. Righto, mate. This is pure Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, ripe, full of blackberries and hints of chocolate and Oz licorice, smooth and very, very drinkable, and so user-friendly it has a screw cap. But hold that sneer, it’s no candied fruit bomb. Penley’s Cab is extremely well-made, varietally structured, on target and distinctly terroir-torial. Is that a word? Oughta be. In this case, the Phoenix is grown on the distinct soil of Coonawarra, where the Limestone Coast is topped with the red earth called terra rossa. It has a minerally backbone and judicious enough oak to provide perfect balance. And earn a serious 94 from James Halliday, Australia’s arbiter almighty. A Cab you can quaff or savor with equal satisfaction. You can drink a case in the next year easily, especially at this exclusive bargain. You’re gonna want that.

2009 Penley Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon

“Bright crimson; by some distance, the best of the ’09 Penley varietals, with redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit supported by quality cedary oak and fine tannins, the medium-bodied palate long and complete…” 94 Points, James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion


Treasure You Missed: 90-pt Napa Cab From Louis Martini

2008 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, NapaSo much hype went to the 2007s in California, the beautiful 2008s including this terrific effort from Michael Martini got overlooked. Granted it’s a muscular wine with sturdy tannins, not as easy and ripe for the pickin’ as the ’07s. This serious Cab takes time. And rewards it. Which is why I like it, the kind of California Cabernet I’d stick in the cellar. We tasted through three dozen wines one day last week and this leapt out at me, the best of the day. Martini’s 08 Napa is dry, dark, and deep, not shy of tannin. There’s ample fruit, too, cherries and plums, but it is the grown-up smoke, cedar, and herbs that carry the wine for me. Lucky for you I’m so diligent, or you could have missed this gem. This is Cabernet for adults at a child’s play price that will let you fill your toy box. You’re gonna want that.

2008 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

“…It possesses velvety tannins, deep plum, black currant and black cherry notes with loamy, earthy undertones, medium to full body and an elegant personality. Drink it now or cellar it for 15 years…”  90 Points, The Wine Advocate

Spring Mountain High: Keenan’s Opulent ’07 Cabernet (94 Pts)

2007 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon NapaWith this wine Michael Keenan is living high as the luckiest vintner in California. He had his usual Spring Mountain fruit, Cab master Nils Venge as a winemaker, and the wonderful vintage of 2007. What more could he want? Together they make a deep dark wine, full of blue-black fruit and a rocky vein of minerality. A beautiful Cab so elegant it gets misplaced while the attention goes to Keenan’s fabulous Merlots. I know you love them; when Mike was here for a big B-21 dinner this winter you all went nuts for the Merlot and “Mernet”. Yet the Cabernet is the sleeper, make that the “sleeping beauty,” you have to have in your cellar. Few Napa Cabs have such a distinct taste, it’s that mountain terroir. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain

“The Spring Mountain fruit is deep and dark in its plumminess, with an intense minerality that streaks through the entire wine, as if you can taste the elevation rising into the finish. It builds from savory blueberry and the French roast coffee scent of oak toward crushed rock in the tannin…”  94 Points, Wine & Spirits Magazine

The Wolftrap’s big catch: Super Quaffer of the Year.

2009 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap, Western CapeThis just in: The gold medal and wolfskin go to Boekenhoutskloof, 2012 winery of the year in the eyes of John Platter. He’s the Robert Parker of S’africa, veteran and venerated: When he says drink, the smart folk do.  Details make it obvious why BHK is a winner in Platter’s book. He gave five stars to the 2009 cabernet, the 2009 syrah plus the 2008 late harvest semillon.  Platter isn’t a stuffy bloke, one of his most sought after awards is for superquaffer of the year. Boekenhoutskloof won that for Wolftrap white, a vigonier-chenin blend. I’m partial to the red, a syrah that’s smooth and spicy.

Well deserved for this is one of the best on the Cape, with deep roots in Franschoek. That’s the appellation with the strongest French accent of the old Huguenot growers.  B-21 shoppers would give the winery high marks for the Porcupine Ridge line and that  luscious Chocolate Block red (syrah, grenache, cabernet, cinsault and…viognier!).  Some day we may get beyond the wolves, procupines and chocolate say Boekenhoutskloof out  loud. Easy, it’s just  like it sounds.


Breathtaking 95-pt Super-Cab You Won’t Find in Tuscany: ’07 Montevetrano

2007 MontevetranoNope. Smart Italian connoisseurs are heading south past Naples to one of the first growths of Campania where Silvia Imparata has built one of the finest wines in the south. You don’t have to go that far. I’ve lined up the last cases of this delicious vintage and they’re coming your way. They call Signora Imparata “Boss,” for she demands and gets the best. She wanted to prove that the slopes of Salerno could make world class wine like the Greeks made there 2000 years ago. She one-upped the Super-Tuscan crowd with something bolder: planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the long-lived local Aglianico that the ancient Romans loved. The results are stunning, especially in 2007. It was hot, hot, hot, but the Wine Advocate says the ripeness hits that perfect just-so spot and is as good as Montevetrano’s legendary ’97 and ’99. Order now to taste a rare Super-Salerno at its best. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Montevetrano

“Bright red fruit, flowers and spices are some of the nuances that emerge from this silky, beautifully balanced Montevetrano. The combination of explosive ripe fruit, richness and finesse is utterly breathtaking…”  95 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

CA Cabs to Treasure: ’07 Mt. Veeder, Atlas Peak, Oakville and Tresor

Hess Flaming Typewriter
Hess Family Art: Flaming Typewriter

For the best of the remarkable vintage of 2007, we went to the mountaintop. Literally for a couple of these. Hess and its Mt. Veeder vineyards are high on the west side of the Napa Valley. So far back you might give up on the drive but don’t, the art gallery is as rich as the wine (check out the flaming typewriter). On top of Atlas Peak on the other side is Piero Antinori’s Antica. Freemark Abbey and Mondavi Oakville are at the top of Napa’s oldest and finest vineyards, if not in the literal heights. These grand names all made intense wines in 2007, with sleek texture and big flavors, that are worth 93 points or more to the critics and 20 years of pleasure to your cellar. This is the vintage to collect and at these close-out prices, the time to stock up. For anyone who loves great California Cabs (maybe you) this is a great gift. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

“Shows all the hallmarks of an important young Napa Cabernet. Bone dry and quite hard in tannins, it’s immensely concentrated in blackberries, black currants, cassis and fine, smoky new oak…” 93 Points, Wine Enthusiast

2007 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

“…deep black currant fruit as well as notes of lead pencil shavings, camphor, and spice. It is medium to full-bodied, elegant, and rich from beginning to end, with outstanding purity, depth, and texture….”  91 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

2007 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Sonoma

“…a deep, rich, full-bodied wine displaying notes of graphite, blueberries, blackberries, spice box, and background oak. It is a young, formidably endowed, moderately tannic effort …”  92 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

2007 Antica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

“The finest wine I have yet tasted from Piero Antinori’s rocky hillside vineyard on Soda Canyon Road in southeast Napa, this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon boasts a dense purple color along with a rich, sumptuous bouquet of licorice, creme de cassis, and smoky oak…”  94 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

2007 Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder Napa

“Bordeaux-like in its aroma, structure, weight and range of flavors, this is tight, with cedary cigar box and tobacco scents. Dry and savory, with dried currant, mineral and gravel notes, ending with subtle flavor nuances….”  92 Points, Wine Spectator

Malbec, Cab From Scratch: Mendoza’s High-Altitude Decero

DeceroSome of the smartest folks in the Argentina wine business built this winery and vineyard in the 1990’s from the ground up from scratch. Decero as they say in Spanish, “from zero”. And the ground was already up high, 3500 feet, on the slopes of the Andes , hot, dry, and windy, perfect for deep roots and long ripening reds, it’s all they grow. Btw, they don’t call the wind Mariah the name’s “remolinos,” little whirlwinds that breeze through the vineyard and keep the grapes clean and dry. I like the fact that Decero is so focused, all pure varietals and every step done by hand. Doesn’t mean the wines are rustic, the Malbec has big black fruit and dark chocolate, yet it’s quite approachable and suave in its polish. The muscular Cabernet also has smooth fruit that dips into licorice, soy and bacon fat and wears a hint of mint and smoke. These wines demand that you fire up the grill. You’re gonna want that.

2009 Decero Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard

“Medium ruby-red. Complex and inviting aromas of boysenberry, blackberry, bitter chocolate and violet. Sweet, pliant and aromatic, with black fruit flavors enlivened by an inner-mouth floral character…”  89 Points, Stephen Tanzer’s IWC

2008 Finca Decero Cabernet Sauvignon, Remolinos Vineyard

“Varietally accurate aromas of cherry, cassis, tobacco and licorice are lifted by a floral topnote. Supple, vinous and suave, with good lift to the red fruit and spicy oak flavors…”  88 Points, Stephen Tanzer’s IWC

2007 Decero Amano Remolinos Vineyard, Agrelo

“Dark cherry, currant, mocha, leather, violet and smoky, spicy oak on the nose, plus a whiff of caraway seed. Suave on entry, then tight and minerally in the middle, with lovely lift and perfume to the black raspberry, dark chocolate and graphite flavors…”  90 Points, Stephen Tanzer’s IWC

Double Down on Top ’07 Cabs

Look what I found, two more terrific Cabernets from 2007, in a particularly juicy corner of the blackberry patch. Actually they are from different places, yet both have the power andconcentration of that vintage. The 2007 Freemark is loaded with pricey fruit from the famed Bosche vineyard, thirty percent I am told. Why? They bumped it way up to celebrate their 125 year anniversary. If you love “Rutherford dust” you probably already know Bosche; you got a dust bowl here, medium body, graceful Napa.Celebrate! The Jordan is from gravelly vineyards in Alexander Valley and has a Bordeaux silk around very friendly blackberry and vanilla. The rounded style you expect from Alexander Valley. Two different patches indeed, and they each represent well where they come from. You’ll enjoy them now and again and again from your cellar for ten years or more. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa)…………………………. 2007 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley)

2007 Freemark Abbey Cab2007 Jordan Cabernet



92 Points, Bob Sprentall (92W&S, 93WE)                                                                                 .. 91 Points, Bob Sprentall

2007 Mondavi Trifecta: All Three Glorious Cabs on Sale.

This is the full Mondavi line up from Napa’s grandest vintage in recent times, all high scores, and all at significant discount. The 2007 harvest was the last Robert Mondavi saw before he died in 2008 and it sure does him credit. I urge you to try them all although you’ll be happy with any one. The main line 2007 Napa scored 90 points, rich and silky; WA calls it “sleeper of the vintage” not a bottom rung effort. The Oakville Cab is a favorite bargain for a lot of people, bigger, deeper, and with more Oakville spice noted from a great vineyard site, and a 91 rating well under $50 (under $30 to my B-21 pals with this offer). And what can I say about the 2007 Reserve? A score of 95 points tries to quantify how good this is; the excitement around the bottles of the Mondavi Reserve at our last tasting confirms it. This is already licorice-slick and bold with blackberries, yet it will be richer still with a few years tucked away. This is Mondavi and Napa at their best, at remarkable prices. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa)2007 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa)

“It is hard to find a better value than the outstanding 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This sleeper of the vintage exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color as well as loads of cassis, blackberry, graphite, and cedar notes. Full-bodied, rich, and concentrated with silky tannins and a lush, generous constitution…”  90 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate2007 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville)

2007 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville)

“Deep black currant fruit as well as notes of lead pencil shavings, camphor, and spice. It is medium to full-bodied, elegant, and rich from beginning to end, with outstanding purity, depth, and texture. This beauty can be drunk now or cellared for 10-15 years…”  91 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa) 2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa)

“The full-bodied, powerful, pure 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is another outstanding effort revealing notes of spring flowers, toasty oak, creme de cassis, licorice, and graphite. One would have to go back to the 1990, 1991, 2001, or 2002 to find a Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve this impressive…”  95+ Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate