Tag Archives: napa

Superb Cab From Todd Again! Pure & Powerful 2010 Conn Valley, 93-96WA!

Only in America could a first growth like the fabulous Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards be on a first name basis with its devotees: it’s plain Todd to any of you who have met the long tall Anderson on his trips here. I’m especially partial to his rock smarts; Todd was a geologist before he started grapes near Howell Mountain 30 years back. Friendly giant of a guy. Same goes for his Bordeaux reds: Big, powerful, and worth taking time to get to know. The 2010 estate reserve cabernet is another exceptional wine of great purity with all those adult flavors of dark fruits, anise and tobacco. Give it five years and the black magic in this bottle will thrill. Lay down a couple for a long-term relationship that will last decades.

Buy 2010 Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa2010 Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
…Layers of blue and black fruit, smoke, tobacco and licorice are woven together beautifully. …creamy, layered finish laced with expressive blue and black fruits rounds things out in style….
93-96 points, R. Parker’s Wine Advocate

Beaulieu Vineyard Rolls Out Their 2010 Napa Cab

In the vintage of 2010, perhaps nature performed the job mortal men could not and maybe would not do, delivering grapes having higher levels of acidity and lower levels of sugar. The 2010 BV Napa cab will compel even the most caviling critic to acknowledge that, yes, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon can be elegant and ageworthy. BV is the longest continually-operating winery in Napa Valley and has enjoyed a resurgence the last few years, catapulting them back to the glory days of the mid-sixties and early seventies when the name BV was synonymous with world class Cabernet. This level of quality at this price has been virtually non-existent in Napa for years. It’s going to be a great run for the masterful 2010s. Let ‘em roll!

 

2010 Beaulieu Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

This thrillingly represents 2010 Napa cabernet at its finest value. Textbook. Serious juice. It has it all, and lots of it.

Napa Cabernet Sunshine

circa 2009

For many, the 2009 Napa cabernet harvest had its challenges. Impending stormy weather threatened the valley in the midst of the cabernet harvest. A big rain is a legitimate concern for many reasons. Moisture on the fruit means potential mold, canopies that have already begun their gradual decline prior to harvest might not be resilient; above all else, rain makes working outside impossible and delays the harvest. Some producers had harvested close to all their cabernet prior to the mid-October storms. We have tasted dozens & dozens of 2009 cabernet. Here are four wines we feel are reference standard Napa cabernet which were harvested prior to the rains and represent excellent value as well.

2009 Robert Mondavi Cabernet

Solid Napa cabernet. Optimal harvest conditions here, great Napa nose and palate pedigree. I prefer this to the four previous vintages.

 
2009 BV Rutherford Cabernet

The genuine article. broad and expansive, shows dark fruits and milk chocolate type and a touch of sweet earth. Lush in the center with tannins too.

 
2009 Hess Allomi Cabernet

…This explains the intensity and concentration which is lacking in a number of 2009 Napa cabernets. Love the fruit expression coupled with a touch of sweet American oak. Solid cabernet value here.

 
2009 Faust Napa Cabernet

…the 2009 is a great rendition of solid Napa Cabernet expression. Many ’09s are not as representative of Napa Valley, not here. This is what made Napa famous: solid, muscular, bit of dust, gravel and briar.

 

Michael Chiarello: Cookin’ Up Killer Reds!

Stopped by Bottega in St. Helena, the hottest restaurant in Napa owned and run by famed Food Network star (and chef) Michael Chiarello. In the ’90s he bought 20 acres in St. Helena, where he built his home amid 10 acres of darn near ancient (94 yr old) Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vines. With tutelage from greats like Turley and Tom Brown (consults for Outpost and Schrader), Michael and staff have fashioned exciting new releases that keep right up with his culinary achievements. The Giana Zinfandel has loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way. The Bambino Cabernet is a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing. You will love these. Limited quantities.

 

2009 Chiarello Zinfandel Giana

…loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way….

93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

2009 Chiarello Cabernet Bambino

…a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing….
93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Michael Chiarello: Cookin’ Up Killer Reds!

Stopped by Bottega in St. Helena, the hottest restaurant in Napa owned and run by famed Food Network star (and chef) Michael Chiarello. In the ’90s he bought 20 acres in St. Helena, where he built his home amid 10 acres of darn near ancient (94 yr old) Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vines. With tutelage from greats like Turley and Tom Brown (consults for Outpost and Schrader), Michael and staff have fashioned exciting new releases that keep right up with his culinary achievements. The Giana Zinfandel has loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way. The Bambino Cabernet is a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing. You will love these. Limited quantities.

 

2009 Chiarello Zinfandel Giana

…loads of black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla, honeysuckle and chocolate; textbook Napa zin in every way….

2009 Chiarello Cabernet Bambino

…a pure Napa expression, full throttled juice and a silky landing….

130 Years of Napa in a Bottle: 2009 Lail Blueprint Just Arrived!

2009 Lail Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Lail Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon

This is classic Napa at its finest. Blew me over one Wednesday night when the Wine Lab had tasted through dozens of wannabes. I’d say the Lail jumped out at me, but it’s not at all flamboyant. In these overripe times Lail stands out with its elegance and grace (more Grace Kelly than Gaga), and it should; Lail‘s breeding is complete Napa aristocracy.

The vineyards trace back to the old Inglenook started by Gustav Niebaum, the great grand uncle of owner Robin Daniel Lail. She doubled down on that heritage working with Robert Mondavi, and afterwards, she became one of the founders at Merryvale and Dominus. Wow! Now she has the historic Inglenook Totem vineyards and a winery in the heart of Rutherford bearing her name, and a cult wine named J. Daniel (the other Inglenook pioneers in her family). Her Blueprint displays that great Rutherford tradition at its most approachable.

I believe 2009 Napa cabs are going to be exceptional, and the Lail is one of the first true unearthed jewels.

I’m Convinced By The Brilliant 2010 Solena!

2010 Solena Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee
2010 Solena Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee

Got very excited first finding Solena’s 2008 Grand Cuvee, and it takes a lot to excite a Burgundy freak with a U.S. Pinot. Happens most often for me in Oregon. Maybe because the vintages there are as dicey as they are in the Cote d’Or. Sure enough, the 2009 disappointed. Luckily I skipped it. Good thinking! Just about out of the ’08s (only have a few magnums left!), and along comes this gorgeous 2010. Lots of fruit with touches of licorice and cinnamon. Actually, I think the secret ingredient is that this young winery has quite a heritage with a French accent in the family. He’s from Bordeaux, she’s from Napa, but the fruit’s from Willamette. Remember their wine love story? For their wedding gift in 2000 Laurent Montalieu, who grew up in the Medoc and Guadeloupe, and Danielle Andrus, nee Pine Ridge, bought an 80-acre estate in Willamette as their wedding gift to each other. They set up their bridal registry at top vineyard nurseries and listed six clones of Pinot Noir vines as wedding gifts. It’s paying off big now. If you liked the ’08, you’re gonna love the 2010.

Napa’s Ed Sbragia Wins In Dry Creek!

2010 Sbragia Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc
2010 Sbragia Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc

I’ve known Ed and his wines for so long I can almost pronounce his last name (suh-BRAH-juh). Knew him as you did from Beringer where he was the guy behind the best stuff. His heart’s always been in Sonoma where he grew up, raised his own family and has his own label and winery. Family vineyards too: Zin comes from vineyards named for his dad, Gino; the cab grows at Doc Andolsen’s, the family doctor. I like family stories, but the wines are the point. Pure Dry Creek, extremely fresh and juicy cabernet, remarkably elegant zinfandel, crisp sauv blanc. That’s a happy family right there. I salute them.

2009 Sbragia Gino's Vineyard Zinfandel
2009 Sbragia Gino
2009 Sbragia Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Sbragia Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

12 on 21: Today, Free Shipping by the Dozens …Everywhere!

12 on 21

Yes, it’s the 21st again. Do you know where your orders are? In case you forgot, we celebrate the 21st of every month as a birthday, anniversary or name day here at B-21. Once a year is not good enough for us. We have our cake and eat it 12 times a year, and on this day when ordering online we give you the present of free shipping! That’s a big deal, could be $30 to $40 if you live out west or up in the frostbite zone. We pay the shipping for every order of 12 bottles purchased online on the 21st. You get the same FedEx Ground service: proud purple and trackable, too.

What goes in the box is more important, and it’s your choice. I’ve got more than 5,000 labels on hand. Whatever you want, whether you’re a frugal shopper or an aggressive collector. Heck, B-21 has more than 1,200 wines from France alone, including a huge selection of Burgundies and Rhones. Napa? More than 200. You don’t have to spend big money! I have almost 300 wines under $20 scoring 90 points and up. If you can’t find 12 bottles online to get free shipping, you’re not trying! What you save on shipping could pay for a couple of those bottles. Can’t say that our shipping crew looks forward to the 21st of each month. But you should! Place your order online today and it’s free shipping everywhere in the United States! It only comes once a month!

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.

Shafer’s 96-pt Syrah: As Relentless As Hillside Select!

2008 Shafer RelentlessJohn and Doug Shafer and winemaker Elias Fernandez are as demanding on Napa syrah as they are on their Stags Leap cabernet. That’s what makes the 2008 Relentless 96-points so gorgeous. Fernandez calls it “midnight in a glass”. You bet. It’s dark purple, almost black, and packed with licorice, fruit and smoke, voluptuous and muscular. It started decades ago when John was buying land for what are now premier vineyard sites. He left one rocky chunk sitting still, just over the Stags Leap line. About 25 years ago Doug and Elias gave it a second look, decided it could be perfect for syrah and slowly started clearing. By 1995 or so they found it had good rocks and drainage and cool breezy nights. They were very particular about clones, some they found in the Rhone, some in Australia and some from pure, ripsnortin’ California petite sirah. You can call it an old field blend, but once it’s been through careful crushing and aging in the barrels that Fernandez hand-picks it is labeled “Relentless.” That’s a tribute to Fernandez’s patience and obsessiveness, my kind of stickler. Btw, the Shafers are old friends of Florida and regulars at Naples mega-million wine auction festival. Just last weekend a fan popped $220,000 for a big haul of 2007 Hillside Select in salmanazars and magnums and three nights in Napa. That’s mighty big spending, but you can get in on the phenomenal Relentless here, just as stellar, for a lot less. ’08 is the best vintage yet and maybe the best American syrah there is. Wine Spectator says 96, Parker says 95.  You should be an early collector of the next great Shafer and have it to enjoy years from now. Run-n-tell that.

2008 Shafer Relentness

…aromatics are full and distinct, with loads of dark berry and charcoal, then this unfolds touches of black cherry, raspberry and red and black licorice on the palate, sailing along and firming nicely on the finish…. 96 Points, Wine Spectator

 

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

Big hearts, deep pockets and rich cellars raise $12 million at Naples wine auction

Naples Wine FestWine fans popped big for the little kids of Collier County last at the 12th annual Naples Winter Wine Festival and auction. Over $12 million big, adding up to more than $106 million raised in 12 years. That’s a huge injection of hope in a town that’s so wealthy on one end and so poor on the other.  The proceeds in Naples are so big they rival and sometimes surpass any other wine charity in the yet the stars of Napa, Burgundy and Bordeaux always show up in in Naples.  Top wine lot was for $1.1 million for a monster lot of Haut-Brion from HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg. Actually, it was drop-dead beautiful console cabinet custom designed and  built for Haul Brion, with almost two dozen bottles including, I’m not kidding, 1935, ’45, ’59, ’61, ’75, ’89, ’90 and 2009.  It initially sold for $550,000, a figure that so pleased Prince Robert that  he offered a second at the same price.

Next up: The second annual wine auction at St. Pete’s Museum of Fine Arts Special guest will be a hometown boy made very good as a Napa vintner Fred Schrader. He once ran his own auction in Pinellas as an antique and art dealer. Now folks bid high for his 100-point cabs.  Auction will be Feb 10. and tickets are a lot more affordable, $225 a head  instead of $5,000 per couple in Naples.  For information contact mfawineauction@gmail.com or call 896-2667 Ext. 197.

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