TN: Another Saturday at Cooking School - California Wines


Yesterday, my wife and I joined 11 other people at the local cooking school. They offer a 6 course meal, prepared by their students. The wine is BYO. This weeks theme was California wines. Most of the wines are pop and pour, grouped roughly into flights, and shared as the food comes out. Due to the large crowd, on this day, it was lots of wines but small pours. Everyone gets two choices for each course of food (or a vegetarian substitute). Yesterday’s food was the best of the semester so far. The lunch lasts about 2 hours with lots of conversations and laughter. Still, the wine helps.
With Pretzel rolls, and Asiago Bread

  • 2013 Sinegal Estate Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, Napa Valley
    I had this at the winery, but this was my first from my order. Light green gold in color. Wonderful nose as it warmed and opened. Lots of grapefruit. A slight grassy note. Not tropical and certainly California but not overblown. Great texture. Great acidity. On the palate, grapefruit notes. Food friendly. There was a glass left in the bottle but some must have accidentally taken it. If they read this note, please let me know how it was on day 2. I am curious what the drinking window for this should be. (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Valdez Family Winery Chardonnay UV El Diablo Russian River Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    As the bottle was being passed a lot of people were talking about the oak. Maybe I expected more than there was by the time I tried it, but I found this oaked but not unacceptable. Its a medium gold in color. There is plenty of vanilla on the nose but also some nice lemon cream. The oak is stronger on the palate with more of a fresh cut lumber in addition to the vanilla. The lemon carries thru. Decent acidity. This is a big round wine. Probably at or near peak depending how you like them. (91 pts.)
  • 2013 Keplinger Eldorado - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Someone said this 55% viognier. I am not usually a fan of Cal Viognier, but this I liked. Not over blown and hot. The delicateness comes thru nicely. Light golden in color. Wonderful floral nose that also had some apricots. The fruit seems ripe on the palate with a slippery texture. Just the slightest perception of sweetness. Without getting into the discussion of whether Viognier ages, I would be drinking these in the next year or two while that floral quality is still there. Others at the table disagreed. (93 pts.)

With a Potato Croquette:

  • 2011 Wedell Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills - USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills
    Ruby in color. The nose has a nice floral note. Some light cherries too. On the palate, cherries. A bit more feminine. Slight heat on the finish. More pretty than powerful. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Calera Pinot Noir 35th Anniversary Ryan Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan
    I seemed to like this more than those around me. It needs a lot of time, but I thought it showed well. Ruby at the rim, purple in the core. Sweet black cherries on the nose. Great texture. Ripe black cherry fruit. Powerful but plenty of depth. Already a tight complexity. Long finish. Much more powerful than I was expecting. (92 pts.)

With Cream of Broccoli soup with Gouda Cheese Toast:

  • 2011 Hammell Wine Alliance True Believer - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
    My first time trying this wine. Charlie said it was the first vintage. A GSM blend. Outstanding. Ruby at the rim, purple at the core. The nose has black cherries, black raspberries, black pepper, licorice and spice. On the palate, this is very balanced. Black raspberries, black cherries layered with some earthiness. Seems to be young and in need of time still. Should improve. (92 pts.)
  • 2013 Carlisle Alicante Bouschet Pagani Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
    I don’t recall having this before. Wow. Inky purple in color. The nose has Chocolate, black raspberries, cinnamon and spice. This is young and really needs some time. Still, there is a juicy acidity that makes it delicious right now. Medium bodied. Lots of depth as it unwinds in the glass. A nice treat. (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Herman Story Grenache On The Road - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
    Corked. NR (flawed)

With a Sauteed Mushroom Salad, with Toasted Pecans, Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 2010 Saxum Paderewski Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Inky purple in color. The nose shows some cocoa/oak. Tons of raspberries and black raspberries. Some black pepper. Full bodied. Great texture. This is tight and I wish I would have had a bit more time to sample this, but with 13 wines, sometimes it goes that way. On the palate, kirsch and plums but no heat. Needs some air I think to come together a bit more. Its sweet, whether that is from ripe fruit of maybe 1or2% rs, I am not sure. Its delicious, that I am sure of. I think if I was drinking this by itself over a few hours, it might be a point or two better at this time. (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Linne Calodo Outsider - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Last week Jeff brought the Slacker and that showed so well he brought this. Inky purple in color. The nose is very nice with raspberries, black raspberries, bramble and even some leather. On the palate, this is pretty sweet. Next to the Saxum Paderewski, it was noticeably sweeter. Its good, but not particularly food friendly. Jammy black raspberry fruit. Would have made a better dessert wine. After most people had gone, we gave some to a woman at another table who had been drinking Beaujolais Nouveau. She found it “a bit sweet but nice”. (87 pts.)
  • 2002 Jaffurs Syrah Melville Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills
    Always a pleasure to drink an aged Jaffurs. Still drinking well and no real signs of age. Purple in color. Black raspberry fruit on the nose. Maybe some white pepper. On the palate, this is soft, complex and layered. Black raspberries, slight roasted meats and earthiness. Nice balance. Next to the Saxum and Jaffurs, it was softer but easily held its own. (91 pts.)

With Cauliflower Steak with Assorted Root Vegetables and “Gravy”:

  • 2009 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon Corona Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    Great showing for this wine. Kudos to Dick for keeping his hands off it all this time. Still young, but past its baby fat days. Maybe a vibrant teenager. Ruby/purple in color. The nose has cassis, slight vanilla, a bit of plums and cedar. On the palate, lovely texture. Tight layering. Cassis and spice. Minty on the finish. No hurry, but drinking great. (94 pts.)
  • 2010 Pott Wine Cabernet Sauvignon The Arsenal Greer Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    I loved this wine. Purple/ruby in color. The nose is very nice with cassis, licorice, tobacco and charred wood. Full bodied. Lovely texture. Full yet vibrant. On the palate, though quite young, it unwinds in the glass. Great cassis fruit, some graphite/minerals. Great balance. long finish. Drinks well now, but its best days are ahead. (95 pts.)

With Tiramisu:

  • 2007 Agharta Wines - USA, California, North Coast
    Perhaps these need more time. I am finding the 05 to be much better than it was (for my tastes). Purple in color. The nose has black raspberries, some blueberries and a bit of raisins. On the palate, this is like a dry ruby port. No heat or alcohol showing, but just has the port-like feel to it. It is a very heavy and cumbersome wine. A little goes a long way. At the same time, there is delicious fruit on it. It worked well with my dessert. The crowd seemed split. If I owned any (I don’t), i might wait a few years to see where it is going. (90 pts.)
  • 2015 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau
    A gift from the next table. Its been a while, but if nothing else, it gives some insight into the vintage. This is good. Cherries, bananas, and sour cherries on the nose. Better on the palate. Slightly off dry. Tasty cherry fruit. One would think that 2015 ought to be good in Beaujolais. (86 pts.)

Next time - Cal Cabs 98, 99 or 100 points.
Posted from CellarTracker

I am tempted to open my Alicante Bouschet after reading this!