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Anthony Gismondi on Wine

Jess Jackson was still a California trial lawyer in 1976 when his state stunned the European wine community in a blind tasting held in Paris.

Steven Spurrier, a transplanted Englishman and wine educator orchestrated the coup, presiding over a panel of French judges who voted a 1973 chardonnay from Napa Valley's Chateau Montelena and a 1973 cabernet sauvignon from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars the two best bottles in a tasting. Several iconic wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux were among the also-rans.

Although the results put California on the global wine map, they failed to persuade skeptical and highly biased European buyers that the Golden State was anything but a crude pretender to wine's haut monde.

Enter Jess Jackson, complete with a legal background that undoubtedly provided him with the tools to interpret the results of the Paris jury as something more than a flash in the pan; rather, it was the foundation for a New World dynamo.

If finesse, balance and a connection to terroir  (the total environment surrounding the vines) had long been the European watchwords of wine structure, pursuit of ripe fruit and drinkability would become California's maxim -- and Jackson's Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay would become the poster child of that style.

Jackson's wine career began with 16,000 cases of chardonnay in 1982. The easy sipping (slightly sweet and definitely oaky) Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay (or "VR chard" as it was destined to be known) went on to grace wine lists across the continent, and sell quantities Jackson's fellow producers could only dream about.

That an oaky chardonnay with a touch of residual sugar became so popular in the U.S. wasn't so surprising. What is, is the fact that Jackson had originally planned to take a much different route: bottling single-vineyard-designated wines from Sonoma County sites such as Les Pierres and Durrell, and from as far south as Ventana vineyard in Monterey County.

The decision to spurn the European concept of appellation (wines that come from a specific site or region) in favour of blends of grapes revealed yet another part of the Jackson style: seek good advice and don't be afraid to accept it.

Back in the early '80s it was legendary Napa winemaker Ric Forman who told Jackson his blends were better than the single-vineyard wines he dreamt of producing. K-J chardonnay, with the ultra-broad "California" appellation, has never looked back.

Fast forward to 2003, and a window seat on an early morning flight bound for San Francisco. As the aircraft turns inland off California's North Coast a series of magical islands appear above the swirling coastal fog bank.

Closer inspection reveals those islands-in-the-sky are actually the vine-covered shoulders of Sonoma mountain ranges, home to some of California's most promising new vineyards - sites whose grapes, and ultimately the wines they produce, are poised to challenge the best the world has to offer.

Jackson's success in growing numerous grape varieties in climates ranging from parched Santa Barbara in the south to much moister Mendocino in the north, most under the influence of cool coastal fog banks, has earned his company an unofficial PhD in viticulture, and given a coming generation of winemakers more information than any university curriculum could cover.

By the late 1980s the K-J brand was entrenched across the U.S., and with the company's growing experience in working cool, marginal sites, Jackson's attention returned to his original interest: vineyard-designated small-production wines.

A new, much smaller banner was established: Jackson Family Farms now focuses on those small-production, high-end bottlings from specific sites. The dream has come full circle, and in a broad sense represents the new face of California wine. The new labels are destined to challenge their international competition at a level the winners of that long-ago Paris contest simply couldn't aspire to.

The specificity Jackson now looks for in his wines ties individual grape varieties to a site, a soil or, more broadly, a meso-climate. And that fits neatly with the spread of "American Viticultural Areas" - geographic appellations that go by the shorthand of AVAs.

In a sense, California's emerging AVAs, such as Sonoma Mountain, Stags Leap District, Howell Mountain or the Santa Ynez Bench, are logical extensions of what consumers have come to know about wine over the past three decades.

Think back to the 1960s, when people ordered wine by colour: it was simply red or white. By the '70s, consumers were calling for chardonnay and/or cabernet sauvignon, and by 1980 they were adding regional qualifiers such as "California" or "South Coast." Today more often than not, requests in restaurants will include the name of a single vineyard, an appellation or an AVA.

Agustin Huneeus, the founder of Veramonte in the Casablanca Valley of his native Chile, and the force behind Quintessa, in Napa Valley, refers to this phenomenon as "somewhereness." Huneeus is absolutely convinced future consumers will associate top quality wine with a specific vineyard or piece of dirt.

If all this sounds vaguely familiar to those of you who cut your wine teeth on Bordeaux or Burgundy, that's because it is should be familiar. AVAs or somewhereness may be the beginning of a New World appellation system or what Huneeus refers to when he speaks about a sense of place for each wine but it's old hat in Europe.

After three and half decades of missionary work on behalf of varietal wine, California moves on, and diverse folks like Huneeus and Jackson are leading the way. In California's emerging new order, Jackson Family Farms leads the charge, and this time around, the fruit factor is toned down, the structure is firmer, the acidity more prevalent and the terroir is front and center.

The current Jackson Farms, or JFF, offerings reads like a sybarite's guide to the best of California wine country. The Cardinale, Lokoya and Atalon vineyards represent Napa Valley; Hartford Court, Matanzas Creek and Stonestreet are Sonoma-based; Cambria is out of Santa Barbara County; Carmel Road is in Monterey, Edmeades lies in Mendocino, while the Vérité and Archipel projects span the mountains that divide Napa and Sonoma.

In many ways, Vérité illustrates California's new direction, and Jackson's obsession with individuality begins with winemaker Pierre Seillan.

Seillan's passion was born in the Armagnac region of France, where as a young man he worked with cabernet sauvignon and merlot at his family estate. >From there his love of vines took him to Saumur-Champigny in the Loire Valley, where his education was extended by investigating the fickle cabernet franc.

From the Loire, Seillan moved to Bordeaux and spent two decades as technical director and winemaker for seven châteaux in Lalande de Pomerol, Saint Émilion, Saint Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.

Despite an education grounded in terroir and site-specific appellations, Seillan was never convinced he had reached the pinnacle of his craft. To that end, every year he would make a secret blend from different sites and different communes or appellations, and it would routinely best his fellow winemakers' site-specific, appellation d'origine contrôlée wines.

The catch was, under French appellation law, commercial use of Seillan's creativity was strictly prohibited. After 21 years of winemaking in his homeland, Seillan's desire to grow wine according to "what the vine gives you and not what you can farm" led to a remarkable decision to move to California.

He arrived in 1997 and immediately went to work for Jackson. He chose Sonoma County's mountainsides as the place to pursue his dream of "micro-cru" winemaking. Now he legally mixes grapes and county appellations in pursuit of excellence under the Vérité label. His five harvests at Vérité have infused Jackson Family Farms with his enthusiasm for "growing wines" and utilizing extreme sites such as the stunning, mountain slope vineyard named Jackson Park, in Sonoma's Bennett Valley.

The 485-hectare property, located 180 to 425 metres above the cool valley floor, and just south of the city of Santa Rosa, is Seillan's dream merlot site -- Bordeaux on a mountainside. The vineyard is planted mostly to merlot and will supply grapes to both Vérité and nearby Matanzas Creek.

The day of my visit, we scrambled to the top of the property and stood as grapevines would, facing south and west. The sun was warm, yet a cool Pacific breeze washed across our faces, demonstrating on our skin the same forces of terroir, that somewhereness, that work on the grapes.

Below, on rolling hillside pitched south and west, some 100 hectares of merlot cling perilously to the thin soil. Seillan waxes enthusiastically about the cool, long growing season and the soil diversity that create complexity in the grapes' flavours. He has found at least seven distinct terroirs, now planted to multiple clones and rootstocks, on 38 individual blocks, or micro-crus.

I feel as if I'm standing on the final piece of a great jigsaw puzzle that will bestow the mystery and complexity of flavour that has until now eluded all but a few of California's finest wines.

At Vérité the blends are what Seillan terms distinctive micro-crus, crafted after the Bordelais model. La Muse, a "Right Bank" or Pomerol style wine made from a merlot and cabernet sauvignon, expresses elegance and finesse. Conversely, its sister, La Joie, a "Left Bank" or Pauillac wine, demonstrates richness and power from its predominantly cabernet sauvignon blend.

It's somewhat ironic that Jackson Farms' rise to prominence coincides with the current malaise afflicting the state's varietal, and specifically its johnny-come-lately cult wines. "All style and no substance" may sound harsh, but few of the wines and none of the prices that had dot comers furiously waving their auction paddles in the early and mid-1990s will be around a decade from now.

Yet 22 years after Jess Jackson began his journey, JFF is only just beginning to make its mark. If it appears that Seillan has Jackson's ear, embracing the terroir mantra comes just as easily to the rest of JFF's winemakers. Christopher Carpenter, responsible for the Cardinale and Lokoya projects, explains the focus at JFF is more and more on mountainside vineyards.

"The basic premise is the vines over the course of millions of years have adapted to areas where they are predisposed to survive in less than ideal growing conditions.  In modern winespeak, this is the oft-heard phrase that vines do best when they struggle," Carpenter says.  "Though this is not necessarily true in an overall vine picture, what is true is that the plant creates more appealing fruit in conditions [where] the plant itself, or more specifically, the vegetative portion of the plant, is struggling."

At Hartford Family Winery, another JFF success story, Jackson's daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Don Hartford own and farm nine vineyards in the Russian River area and out toward the Sonoma coast; all produce highly expressive fruit, but none more so than six-acre Seascape Vineyard.

Seascape sits atop a scenic ridge west of the town of Occidental, within the Sonoma Coast AVA. The grapes abut a stand of old redwood trees on a ridge that looks west to the Pacific Ocean. Fog seldom leaves this coastal vineyard, one of the coolest and most westerly in California, and the vineyard is cropped to a very light two tons per acre for chardonnay and one-and-one half tons per acre for pinot noir.Don Hartford describes the wine he gets from Seascape's terroir as extreme yet subtle -- I can't help think that on some level he could be speaking of his father-in-law, Jess Jackson.

Border line, marginal vineyard sites are a JFF signature, which is why when it comes to geography and topography, Jackson is Sonoma's most compelling vintner. Farther north, he has 150 acres of ground-breaking pinot noir and syrah fruit coming into production near the village of Annapolis; at this point those grapes are headed for the Hartford winery.

Value is a relative term when you talk about the fine wines of JFF, but the founder's success was built on the perceived value of that Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay, and it's never far from his mind.

At Cambria, JFF's Santa Barbara domaine, winemaker Denise Shurtleff turns out high-class pinot noir and chardonnay at prices that must terrorise the French. Not surprisingly, Shurtleff's main interest is to create wines that reflect Santa Barbara County and, more important, the Santa Maria Bench. And as delicious as her Burgundian wines may be, Shurtleff is also focused on Cambria's Rhône varietals, in particular syrah and a limited production viognier.

Similarly, there is Archipel, another label designed to move the consumer into the world of serious terroir-based products. Archipel is a working demonstration, if you like, of Jackson's belief that intense flavours come from mountain-grown fruit and of Seillan's philosophy that blending is the secret to the world's best wines.

Archipel comes from hillside vineyards that rise above the valley fog the way an archipelago rises from the sea. In fact the grapes come from the same vineyards as those used in Vérité wines, but the mandate is a more affordable product with taste that appeals to a broader audience.

Archipel is not really a departure for Jackson Family Farms -- it meets the company goal, which is to make the best damn wines you can. According to Jackson, his team "is learning much faster than we ever have before."

Exponential learning by restless winemakers, and a burning desire to set the bar higher, drive the story of Jackson Family Farms, and it would appear that the long-term strategy behind "making the best damn wine by dividing everything into small units and giving talented people autonomy over their work" is producing the desired results.

Late last fall, Jess Jackson made the most improbable of announcements when he revealed JFF had purchased Château Lassègue, a Saint Émilion Grand Cru on Bordeaux's famed Right Bank.

What he calls a "small unit" acquisition ends a 12-year hunt by Jackson to find just the right French property, and perhaps on a broader scale it closes a circle that opened in Paris some 28 years ago. My guess is that Steven Spurrier and his band of judges would be equally impressed with how old the new California has become in such a short period of time.

Latest Tasting Notes:

 

91 Archipel 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot - Cabernet Franc - Syrah - Malbec
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $74.95
An intricate blend of Sonoma (83) and Napa (17) fruit mixing 69/23/8 of cabernet sauvignon/merlot and cabernet franc. Spicy clove, peppery, blackberry jam, with mineral, sweaty leather and tobacco aromas. Rich round and supple with a big cassis jam flavours mixed with licorice vanilla, peppery tobacco a touch of blackberry jam. Smooth and balanced with fine intensity. Should improve for several years.

92 Archipel 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot - Cabernet Franc - Syrah - Malbec
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $74.95
Excellent deep cherry purple color. Huge peppery, vanilla, sweet cassis nose with blackberry, licorice root and spicy threads. Big and young on the palate with definite tannins; balanced and ripe. Tasty flavours of vanilla, coffee, earth, licorice, blackberry jam, pepper and even orange. Bigger and more structured than the 2000, this will need four to seven years to reach full maturity. Classy and worth the investment.

90 Atalon Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $66.95 Specialty
Eighty per cent of this 98 per cent cabernet sauvignon comes of the Beckstoffer Vineyard in the Oakville District (once the source of fruit for BV's Georges de Latour). Expect a dark cherry colour with intense peppery, earthy, liquorice, black berry jam, spicy cassis nose with a hint of tobacco and barnyard. Rich, ripe and concentrated the flavours are a mix of spicy coffee, olive and blackberry fruit spiked pepper and spice. A bit skinny in the middle palate with some hard, dry tannins yet to disperse. Needs time

93 Atalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $66.95 Specialty
The colour is dark. The nose very spicy with smoky, cassis jam, black berry and vanilla aromas and just a touch of cloves and leather in the background. It's rich, and concentrated with big yet supple, round tannins and intense spicy, clove, vanilla, black berry and orange peel flavours. Pepper and olives dust a long and balanced finished. Fine potential here for ageing although it's much more integrated at this stage than the 1999. Excellent effort.

93 Atalon Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Estates 1997
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $129.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The 1997 Mountain Estate Cabernet is primarily from four mountain vineyards in the Napa Valley Appellation--Keyes Vineyard, Howell Mountain; Gaskins Vineyard, Atlas Peak; Veeder Peak Vineyard, Mt. Veeder and Reverie Vineyard, Diamond Mountain. Lovely intense spicy blackberry nose with streaks of licorice. Elegant styling with medium/full body extract with firm dry Bordeaux styling. Lots of spicy barnyard earthy leather flavours in the finish - almost Lafite-like.

90 Atalon Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Estates 1998
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $83.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Rich spicy vanilla oak nose laced with blackberry. Similar flavours on entry with bright peppery blackberry fruit on the mid-palate and a distinct vanilla cherry finish. Elegant structure but at the moment firm dry tannin dominates the back palate. Look for this wine to improve as it mellows out over the next three to five years.

92 Atalon Merlot 1999
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $49.95 Specialty
Lovely sweet nose with spicy clove, pepper, black cherry jam, mint and orange peel aromas. Substantial but smooth, round tannins preview a wealth of rich, warm, mocha, cherry, clove, pepper earth flavours. It's quite intense with big structure and will need a few years to develop. A big, fat style. Very Napa. Should have wide appeal.

95 Atalon Merlot Mountain Estates 1997
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $105.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Lovely cedar leather sandalwood and spice nose. Christmas cake fruit with big rich ripe plush round tannins as you would expect from 1997. Lovely balance for a big wine with plenty of ripe well developed tannins. Blackberries and cedar with a wisp of mineral in a "mountain" of a wine.

90 Atalon Merlot Mountain Estates 1998
Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $75.95 Specialty
Enticing ripe blackberry, saddle leather nose spiced with black olive, pepper and plum aromas - almost more cabernet-like than merlot. Hot, ripe and round with slightly lean, hard tannins but not without some elegance. Spicy, olive, mint, cherry jam, peppery, clove vanilla flavours. Good for 1998 if not a bit alcoholic.

88 Cambria Chardonnay 2000
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $22.95
Katherine's Chardonnay grapes are whole-cluster pressed and its primary and secondary fermentation take place in French oak barrels where the wine is aged sur lies for a period of eight months. Look for a spicy, toasted lees, butter, pear and mango aromas with a touch of orange and honey. Dry, soft and elegant with mineral, pear, buttery lees flavours and dry citrus, butter finish. Well balanced and priced.

92 Cambria Chardonnay Bench Break Vineyard 2000
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $48.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
Very attractive creamy vanilla, smoky lees, mineral/slate, citrus rind, and apple aromas. Dry, somewhat tight palate with more mineral, buttery lees, citrus and baked apple flavours. Round and a touch oily with a dry mango, smoky finish. Long lean and very sophisticated. This will need a year or two more to be fully developed.

91 Cambria Katherine's Chardonnay 2001
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $41.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
At harvest, 2001 Katherine's Chardonnay grapes were gently whole-cluster pressed to capture the fresh flavours while avoiding any harsh tannin. Primary and secondary fermentation took place in French oak barrels of which 32 per cent are new. The wine is aged sur lies for a period of eight months. Look for a bright mineral, pear, buttery, floral, citrus and honey aromas. The structure is dry and lean with mineral, citrus, creamy butter, vanilla and apple skin flavours. Still tight and needs a bit of time to develop. Very similar to a Puligny. Fine potential to age for the next 3 to 5 years.

91 Cambria Katherine's Chardonnay 2002
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $38.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
Mineral, nectarine, pear, spicy lees aromas with buttery honey and vanilla. Elegant and round with citrus, honey, green apple, nectarine flavours and a creamy bttery/vanilla, pineapple finish. Classy, long and balanced. Good now or over the next two years.

87 Cambria Pinot Noir 2000
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $22.95
A fine mix of tea, strawberry jam, spicy, barnyard and leather aromas. Dry and somewhat lean on the palate with raspberry, strawberry, spicy, licorice flavours and more tea and pepper on the finish. A bit warm in the finish and perhaps not a plush as it could be but solid none the less and we like the price.

92 Cambria Pinot Noir Bench Break Vineyard 1999
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $54.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
Tar, barnyard, smoky, spicy, liquorice root aromas with lots of cherry jam. Round, elegant and fresh with nice balance and integration. Strawberry jam, smoky, mineral, raspberry flavours with a touch of spicy liquorice on the finish. Delicate with slightly tight tannins. Drink now and over the next year or so.

94 Cambria Pinot Noir Bench Break Vineyard 2000
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $54.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
Big resiny, smoky, black cherry jam, mineral, compost and liquorice root nose with a hint of tobacco and compost. Ripe, round and elegant with soft, supple tannins. Very flavourful with black cherry, raspberry, smoky, mineral vanilla and liquorice root flavours. Long, balanced and intense. Delicious.

90 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard 2000
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
AB $38.50 Fine Wine Boutiques; BC $41.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wines; ON $38.95
Individual lots of 2000 Julia's Pinot Noir were hand-harvested into small, open-top fermentors. Look for a spicy, peppery, barnyard, cherry jam, plum and licorice root aromas. Round and elegant with light tannins. Good cherry, strawberry, spicy, licorice and compost flavours. Nicely balanced and elegant and will improve as it round out over the next year.

89 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard 2001
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $44.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
Tea, spicy, peppery, barnyard nose with toasted, smoky, vanilla cherry and strawberry aromas. Dry, somewhat tight tannins with high acidity (Santa Barbara) preview smoky, vanilla, pepper, cherry and compost flavours. A bit reserved and tight at this stage but should improve in a year or two.

91 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard 2002
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
BC $39.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
Spicy, carrot, gamey, black cherry, orange rind and rhubarb nose. Dry, soft, supple palate with light tannins. Juicy, spicy, smoky, rhubarb, cherry, vanilla flavours with some gamey, orange peel, compost notes on the finish. Good intensity and balance. A darker, slightly more earthy, taut style.

88 Cambria Syrah Tepusquet 2000
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United States
AB $35.95; BC $41.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wines
The first bottle we tasted was suffering from cork taint the second was better but the style is definitely on the stinky/compost side. There is a big spicy, clove, vanilla, resiny, garrigue nose with meaty, blackberry jam notes. Dry, round and moderately elegant with some light, dry tannins. Quite spicy and peppery with resiny, black cherry and gamy flavours. The smoky finish is a bit too lean and tight - where's the fruit.

88 Canale Black River Reserve Malbec 2000
Alto Valle del Río Negro, Patagonia, Argentina
BC $32.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Typical malbec with smoky dried herbs and saddle leather on the nose. Slightly richer and rounder on the palate with smoky, coffee oak and minty herbal characters. Well made but the mushroom herbal cassis finish will appeal more to the connoisseur than the beginner. Euro-styling.

91 Cardinale 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
California, United States
BC $210.00 Specialty
Cardinale is a mountain wine made from fruit grown at select vineyards along the Mayacamas Range. Each is densely planted and low yielding including: Keyes (Howell Mountain) and Veeder Peak (Mt. Veeder). The '99 is a 75/25 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot and it's a 56/42 blend of Napa County and Sonoma County fruit. Look for a peppery, spicy, clove/ cassis nose with strong black cherry and earth aromas and some tobacco leaf in the background. Rich, round and elegant with some slightly bitter tannins but nicely balanced. Nice peppery, earthy, vanilla, cherry and cassis jam flavours with a mineral, leather earth finish. A refined, elegant style slightly marred by a modicum of bitter tannins in the finish.

93 Cardinale 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
California, United States
BC $210.00 Specialty
This very young '00 Cardinale is a 63/37 blend of Napa and Sonoma fruit and like the '99 a 75/25 split of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Look for a spicy, peppery, black olive and cassis nose streaked with licorice aromas and notes of blackberry, earth and tobacco. Rich, ripe and concentrated with fairly big tannins. More pepper, earth, clove, vanilla and cassis jam flavours with black cherry and licorice root on the finish. Excellent potential here but you will have to wait another 3 to 7 years for this 'mountain' of wine to reach maturity.

91 Hartford Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2000
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $41.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Hartford's Sonoma Coast chardonnay is comprised of individual lots that fail to make its very best labels, which is good news for bargain hunter chardonnay drinkers who like big time appellation fruit. The 2000 Sonoma Coast mixes single vineyard Russian River and Green Valley fruit with a handful of growers along the Russian River and the southern edges of Sonoma Coast including batches from Durrell and Dutton Ranch Vineyards. Look for quite a leesy Burgundian style white wine (fermented in 1090 per cent French oak) with exotic fruit aromas of tangerine, lemons, citrus fruit and green apple skin flavours. Classy California chardonnay.

89 Hartford Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2001
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $41.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Hartford's Sonoma Coast chardonnay is comprised of individual lots that don't make the final cut for its top wines and that's good news for chardonnay bargain hunters. The '01 Sonoma Coast mixes single vineyard Russian River and Green Valley fruit that of a handful of growers along the Russian River and the southern edges of Sonoma Coast. Look for a fresh mineral / Burgundian nose. The flavours are a mix of peach, pear and citrus fruit. Fine quality here from reasonable production of 5554 cases.

93 Hartford Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 1999
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $42.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The Hartford Sonoma Coast Chardonnay boasts cool fruit from the Russian River and Green Valley. Lovely floral apple nose and dusting of citrus rind. Very smooth and creamy on the palate with flavours that match the aromas. Well constructed and restrained with a round soft oily finish. Very Sonoma and very good.

94 Hartford Chardonnay Three Jacks Vineyard 1999
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $45.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Slightly cloudy (unfined unfiltered). Rich aromas of floral, citrus peel and spice with green apple streaks. Expect a delicious, creamy, fruit entry with a dried apricot and spice (ginger) quality in the finish. Soft, totally approachable and ready to drink. Good value.

92 Hartford Court Chardonnay Laura's Vineyard 2000
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $100.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Laura's Vineyard is a multi-vineyard blend of heritage clone chardonnays from the Sonoma Ridges and Green Valley on the Sonoma Coast. Some provide floral components; other texture. Look for an open buttery rich chardonnay with wonderful balance. There are nutty, mineral aspects mixed with pear and vanilla that makes this a delicious drop of white wine. Solid rich, long and persistent.

93 Hartford Court Chardonnay Seascape Vineyard 1999
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $95.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Fog seldom leaves this coastal vineyard that is one of the coolest and further west in California. Some of the fruit was picked as late as November 16. The colour is a dark "grand cru" yellow with lots of smoky Burgundian fruit. The flavours are a mix of nutty, citrus, orange and pear fruit with a personality Don Hartford describes as extreme yet subtle. We agree. What a fabulous bottle of chardonnay.

90 Hartford Court Chardonnay Stone Côte Vineyard 2000
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $58.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Expect a medium yellow colour and a big flinty nectarine skin nose. Stone Cote is a small block that lies within the famous Durrell Vineyard and sits on what amounts to a hanging river bed on the side of Sonoma Mountain. (On a clear day you can see the Transamerica tower in downtown San Francisco). This is a cool site and it's reflected by the mineral peachy kiwi fruit flavours. Fine quality but the 2000 vintage needs drinking.

91 Hartford Court Chardonnay Stone Côte Vineyard 2001
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $58.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Stone Cote is a small block that lies within the famous Durrell Vineyard that sits on what amounts to a hanging river bed on the side of Sonoma Mountain. The wine has a wet stone, mineral nose with nutty exotic flavours and streaks of orange in the finish. The textures are sleek the finish is smooth. Impressive chardonnay.

91 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Arrendell Vineyard 2000
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $118.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The vineyard lies just south of the winery and is 27 years old. The average yield is only about one ton to the acre. Quite a unique nose of grilled herbs, oregano, licorice with black raspberry/cassis and smoked fruit flavours. It's soft and fairly rich for pinot and what is such a cool site. There is still some tannin to shed.

88 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Arrendell Vineyard 1998
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $118.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Open smoky bacon aromas with raspberry/cranberry fruit. Softer rounder version of the Marin county label with a little bit better fruit component. There are still some dry and bitter tannins in the finish that need another year to dissipate. Solid if unspectacular pinot, obviously suffering from the poor, cool '98 harvest.

90 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Marin 2000
Marin County, California, United States
BC $95.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Marin County was classified as a region '0' back in the '60s with little though of any one ever growing pinot noir there. Hartford's 1.6 acre site is a small, single vineyard that is planted to the Mt. Eden clone of pinot and situated on a very cold hilltop west of the town of Nicasio. The nose translates into a coffee toffee black cherry aromas. Sweet warm pinot fruit persists on the mid-palate and finishes with more coffee plum and mocha flavours. Tasty.

86 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Marin 1998
Marin County, California, United States
BC $92.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Smoked salami and barnyard with black cherry and smoky resin nuances. Jammy berry fruit and smoke on the palate with quite dry tannic finish. Lacks charm and weight but probably reflects the poor vintage more than anything.

90 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Marin 1999
Marin County, California, United States
BC $92.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Open compost green herbal pinot nose with smoky cherry highlights. Fairly rich entry with dark cherry/chocolate fruit but it is still showing quite a bit of dry tannins in the finish. Not near ready to drink. Hold for five years.

93 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Sevens Bench Vineyard 2000
Carneros, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $95.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Our Sevens Bench Vineyard is a small vineyard block on Duhig Road in Napa/Carneros. The name Sevens Bench is derived from the two predominate clones, Dijon 667 and Dijon 777, planted at the vineyard. Huge cedar drawer nose with smoky almonds and mocha highlights. Very sophisticated for Carneros with blackberry cherry fruit flavours in the finish. Ripe round and delicious.

93 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Sevens Bench Vineyard 1999
Carneros, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $92.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Founded in 1993 in Sonoma's Russian River, this property specializes in high end, low yield, and unfiltered, single site pinots. Sevens Bench is on a ridge overlooking San Pablo Bay, planted with Dijon clones. It's a very supple, gracious pinot with super ripe black cherry and plum jam fruit with more vanilla and pepper highlights than the Anderson valley version. Still some soft tannins to drop but will be a super pinot by 2004. Super ripe black cherry and plum jam fruit with more vanilla and pepper highlights than the Anderson valley version. Expect fine elegance and a long dry, cherry/vanilla flavoured finish. Should hold well over the next three to five years.

93 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Velvet Sisters Vineyard 2000
Carneros, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $95.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The story of the Velvet Sisters is as good as the wine. Legend has it they travelled to British Columbia and picked up a pair of velvet dresses. Upon their return to Mendocino they partied... a lot. This is a pretty pinot with black berry raspberry and brown sugar notes on the nose and in the flavours. A silky smooth, serious California pinot that shouldn't be missed.

91 Hartford Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2001
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $48.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
This blend of fruit from Dutton Ranch, Russian River and Green Valley has a huge sweet cedar nose. The mid-palate is sweet and succulent with sensational streaks of cinnamon and an all-spice character in the finish. Duck is the answer here. Outstanding quality for the money and a fine New World pinot.

91 Hartford Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 1999
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $54.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Medium cherry colour. Black cherry and licorice mark the nose with a bit of compost. Extremely soft and elegant in the mouth. More black cherry fruit and earth on the palate with a creamy vanilla finish. Solid pinot.

91 Hartford Zinfandel 2001
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $65.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Russian River and Sonoma fruit make up this four vineyards blend -- all of which average 90 years of age. Anise brown sugar and rich round fruit assault the palate. There is nothing rustic about his powerful huge delicious zin. All French oak and open-top, punched-down winemaking methods makes this a serious red.

92 Hartford Zinfandel 1999
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $51.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Black cherry ripe raspberry jam explosive fruit aromas. Wow! This is zinfandel you can get excited about. Big bright jammy fruit flavours and white pepper with just the right acidity. This is a great food wine. Despite the 15.8 per cent alcohol we found the finish balanced and eminently drinkable.

92 Hartford Zinfandel Fannuchi Vineyard 2001
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $65.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The 98-year old, seven-acre, Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard is located in the Russian River Valley appellation of Sonoma County. It is dry-farmed and has been hand-tended by the Fanucchi family for the last 29 years. Dried cherries and floral scents jump out of the glass. The flavours show sweet fruit and smoked meat with a dusting of tannins. Big bold warm zin.

94 Hartford Zinfandel Hartford Vineyard 2001
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $65.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Don Hartford tends this 90-year old vineyard located on approximately seven acres in the Russian River appellation of Sonoma County. The vineyard is head-pruned and produces low annual yields of roughly 1.5 tons an acre. The wine is magnificent. Anise and aromatic scents mark the nose with chocolate, mocha, dark fruit spice. Opulent and probably the way zin fans really like their wine.

91 Hartford Zinfandel Highwire Vineyard 2001
Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $65.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The vineyard trellising is now 50/50 high wire versus head prune. This Hartford zin is very spicy with more traditional styling. Don Hartford describes the flavours as "pyrotechnic" with spicy clove aftertaste and still some tannin to shed. Big spicy and warm.

92 Legacy 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot - Cabernet Franc
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $129.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Smoky resiny cherry vanilla aromas with peppery earth and cedar highlights. Huge wine in the mouth with copious tannins at this point. No doubt this is mountain-side fruit. Deep dark and chewy with peppery resiny dark berry fruit and licorice. Will need plenty of time to settle down - at least a decade.

90 Legacy Red Wine 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot - Cabernet Franc
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $129.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Weedy, cherry, tobacco, cedar, leather nose with cool dill aromas and a touch of cardamom. Dry and somewhat lean on the palate with herbal, green olive/cassis fruit and streaks of cedar, tobacco, leather flavours. Solid but a bit too dry and green for our taste. Perhaps another year or two in bottle will help it open up.

94 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
Diamond Mountain, Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $210.00 Specialty
The '99 is a 79/21 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot all from Reverie Vineyard on Diamond Mountain. Expect intense ripe blackberry jam aromas mingled with pepper, licorice, clove, dried poblano, vanilla and floral aromas. Very aromatic. It's rich, ripe and concentrated on the palate with fine tannins. More blackberry jam, cooked cassis and tobacco flavours with an earthy, spicy, clove finish. Balanced with potential to age for the next 7 to 12 years. Very fine effort.

93 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain 2000
Diamond Mountain, Napa Valley, California, United States
BC $210.00 Specialty
Very exotic spicy nose with cumin, cardamom, cedar, pepper, saddle leather, cassis and blackberry aromas with vanilla, briny olive and mint notes underneath. Suave, round and balanced on entry and light, dry tannins. More spicy, cumin, peppery, cassis, vanilla, smoky tobacco and chocolate flavours with olive, minty, licorice flavours on the finish. Reminds one of great Indian spices ground fresh in the restaurant. Very complex yet in a lighter style for a mountain wine and certainly it is drinkable now. It should improve over the next 3-4 years.

90 Matanzas Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $66.50 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Big black pepper, spicy, barnyard, cassis, blackberry aromas with a touch of wax and prune. Rich and somewhat tannic, has big ripe cassis jam, blackberry, vanilla, spicy pepper flavours. Quite elegant and round and balanced but lacks a bit in the mid-palate. Will improve over the next five years.

92 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay 1998
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $58.95 Specialty
Fresh cut green apples with mineral and lees underneath. Quite clean and fresh in a cool fruit style. Apple lees dominate the cooler floral flavours of this chardonnay whose style is more French than Californian. Impressive creamy lees finish. Simple yet sophisticated.

90 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay 2000
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $49.50
Predominately cool, micro-climate fruit is used here from Sonoma Valley and small amount of Russian River. Look for a bright honey, butter, mineral and citrus nose. It's round, dry and crisp with a slightly oily texture. Fine buttery, spicy lees, mineral, citrus baked apple flavours fade into a soft, elegant flavourful finish. Simple but very enjoyable style.

91 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay 2001
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $56.00 Specialty
Smoky, toasty oak vanilla nose with ripe peach, apple skin and floral notes all streaked citrus rind and mineral notes. Round, elegant and oily on the palate the '01 is a bit leaner than the 2000 but we love the mineral chalky, green apple/peach, and buttery spicy smoky lees flavours. Very fine mineral and citrus style that has the ability to age and improve.

92 Matanzas Creek Journey Red Meritage 1999 Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $250.00 Estimated Retail; CA $155.00 Winery Only
Orange rind, mint, cherry jam, weedy, smoky vanilla aromas with a touch of barnyard, cassis and pepper in the background. Rich, round and flavourful with some very defined dry, tight tannins. Smoky, tobacco, cherry, mint, orange peel, leather and pepper flavours. Elegant olive, earthy finish. A tight but elegant style that will need a minimum of 2-5 years to fully round out.

90 Matanzas Creek Merlot 1998
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $105.00 Specialty
Stinky garlic and leafy cassis aromas with vanilla and spice. Soft round slick and smooth but it suffers a bit from the cool vintage. Elegant and polished with nice cherry plum fruit in the finish but the structure indicates limited ageing potential so drink it young. Perfect for restaurants.

89 Matanzas Creek Merlot 2000
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $49.50
The blend is 85/8/4/3 merlot, cabernet, syrah and cabernet franc most of which is Bennett Valley and Carneros sourced with touches of Alexander, Knights and Russian River valleys. Look for spicy, minty, green olive, orange and pepper aromas flecked with vanilla and cherry. The round and moderately rich flavours taste of pepper, olive and leafy tobacco with some weedy, cherry, vanilla on the finish. Good but not particularly fruity. Will need a few years to fill out.

94 Matanzas Creek Merlot 2001
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $49.50
We love the sophisticated toasted, smoky oak vanilla aromas streaked with pepper, chocolate and black plum jam. The 01 Matanzas merlot is intense to say the least. It is packed full of toasted oak, coffee, chocolate, plum jam and orange peel flavours all mixed with sweet vanilla, cherry jam and a touch of black olive in the finish. Smooth and polished, perhaps the best yet from Matanzas. Top quality here and drinkable but you could easily cellar this red for three to five more years.

92 Matanzas Creek Merlot Reserve Selection 1999
Sonoma County, California, United States
AB $84.95; BC $95.00 Estimated Retail
The '99 is the inaugural release of the reserve merlot fruit from the Bennett Valley blended with Alexander and Knights Valley. The nose is open showing peppery, spicy, barnyard, cherry jam aromas showing black olive, mint and smoky notes. Richer, riper and bigger than the regular bottling with a firm structure. Spicy, weedy, orange, smoky, cherry, mint flavours with some olive and vanilla on the finish. A bit tight and hard at this point, needs 3-5 years.

90 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc 1998
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $39.95 Specialty
Big lees garlic character. Big ripe apple aromas with a twist of passion fruit and almost similar flavours. Rich round entry full mouth but crisp, dry finish. Good effort not cheap.

89 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $49.50
Sweaty wool, mineral, grapefruit, gooseberry aromas with a touch of vanilla and dry lees. Round and viscous with mineral, green apple, grapefruit rind, gooseberry and vanilla flavours. Long, clean slightly citrus lees finish. Crisp but warm finish. The '01 has a touch of sémillon and is 40 per cent barrel fermented in 25 per cent new French oak.

92 Matanzas Creek Syrah 1998
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $55.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Big intense peppery gamey garrigue aromas with lots of blackberry fruit in the background. Lovely balance despite a true blockbuster style. A fine mix of Euro tannins and blackberry licorice smoky scents with big Aussie fruit. Firm and not near ready to drink. Wait another 3 to 5 years and this will be a winner.

90 Matanzas Creek Syrah 2000
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $56.50 Specialty
Spicy, peppery, sweaty saddle nose with blackberry, smoky cassis aromas streaked with game, tobacco and smoked pepper scents in the background. Rich, round and supple on entry with earthy, black pepper, black cherry flavours and a spicy, meaty, minty finish. Round and elegant, will be best in a year or two.

92 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon Christopher's Alexander Mountain Estate 1997
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $250.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
The blend is 94 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 6 cabernet franc all aged for 17 months in French oak, 77 percent of which was new. Open peppery earth and blackberry fruit nose --- very cabernet. Focused centre palate fruit with plenty of firm tannins mixed with an earthy leather prune character. Again there's an elegance and lean mid-palate at this young stage. Will need time to develop.

90 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $62.95 Specialty
The blend is 94 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 6 cabernet franc all aged for 17 months in French oak, 37 percent of which was new. Open cedar, mocha, coffee nose. Similar flavours with blackberry coffee mocha highlights. Elegant structure with dryish oak tannins and cedar flavours in the finish. Fairly dry and lean with a slightly warm finish. Will need more time for all the parts to come together.

88 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $62.95 Specialty
Big spicy, tarry, peppery, tobacco, leather, blackberry jam aromas with black olive, herbal notes. Dry, somewhat lean entry but lacks a bit of mid palate concentration. Very dry tannins with vanilla, cassis, peppery, spicy, licorice flavours and a bit of coffee, smoky olive on the finish. Pretty tough and lean now and reminds us a bit of Barolo. It will need five years to round out but we are not sure the fruit will make it.

91 Stonestreet Chardonnay 1999
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $43.95 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
A five vineyard blend with fruit from Carneros, Russian River, Sonoma and Alexander Valley. Very intense smoky, garlic, fried onions, lees aromas with floral apple citrus fruit underneath. Great structure and flavour. Gobs of buttery smoky lees flavours and buttery fruit. Smooth rich long warm finish. California chardonnay fans will like this style although it's more elegant in the mouth than you might think.

90 Stonestreet Merlot 1997
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $52.95 Specialty
The blend is 79 per cent merlot, 16 cabernet sauvignon and 5 cabernet franc all aged for 18 months in French oak, 40 percent of which was new. Attractive fresh cherry jam nose with smoky, vanilla aromas. Warm chewy textures of smoky pruny cherry fruit and leather in the finish. Warm and long but dry.

90 Stonestreet Merlot 2000
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $62.95 Specialty
Chocolate, coffee, peppery, cedar, smoky vanilla, black olive aromas. Dry, round, concentrated palate but somewhat lean and dry in the finish. Smoky, oaky vanilla entry with peppery, cedar, black olive, orange peel, black cherry flavours. Needs a couple of years to integrate and soften but should be quite attractive.

91 Vérité 1998 Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon
California, United States
BC $175.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
A blend of 90/10 merlot/cabernet sauvignon and 62 per cent Sonoma County and 38 per cent Napa County. The nose is green olive, peppery, cherry mint, spicy, cardamom aromas. Soft, round and elegant with some slightly dry tannin. Olive, cherry, ham, vanilla, and cassis flavours with a spicy, minty vanilla finish. Very balanced and rich, holding well and will improve for a few more years. Well made.

94 Verite La Joie 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $175.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Made from micro-crus of mountain vineyards of which 90 percent are located in Sonoma and 10% in Napa County. Open chocolate/mocha prune plum aromas with hints of leather resin and vanilla. Super soft, velvet glove textures with similar flavours and a long smoky spicy finish. Rich and round with only a dusting of dry tannins in the background. Should peak around late 2005 to early 2006.

94 Vérité La Joie 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $175.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
A complex blend of 72/19/9 cabernet sauvignon / merlot and cabernet franc all grown at Sonoma Mountain vineyards. Look for a spicy, blackberry jam, clove, and cassis aromas with some aromatic plum and vanilla notes. Rich, round and concentrated, it has excellent intensity, ripe fine-grained tannins and plenty of grip. The flavours are a spicy mix of cloves, cassis jam and coffee flavours with a big waxy, plum and earth finish. Very California but a touch ripe Pauillac. Should develop well over the next 5 to 10 years.

91 Vérité La Joie 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $175.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Vérité is a selection of merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes from a handful of outstanding mountain sites or micro-crus in Sonoma County. Estate vineyard sources include Alexander Mountain Estate (Alexander Valley), Bennett Mountain (Sonoma Valley), Kellogg (Knights Valley) and other sites along the Mayacamas Range. Look for a slightly briny olive, mint and pepper nose with flecks of earth, spice, cherry/cassis and again big aromatics. Similar spicy, black olive, cassis and orange flavours with a cedar, clove and vanilla finish. Warm and round with a soft finesse. It has matured well considering the high cabernet content.

93 Vérité La Muse 2000 Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $175.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
Vérité La Muse (Vérité in the 1998 vintage) was inspired by the ideal of marrying the classic approach of the French vigneron to the exquisite potential of Sonoma and Napa County fruit. Look for an open vanilla, peppery nose streaked with cherry jam and spicy, and licorice aromas. It's rich with big concentration yet smooth and round tannins balance of the acidity perfectly. Coffee, vanilla, spicy, orange rind, peppery, plum jam flavours finish with smooth textures and a distinctive cardamom clove finish. Suave and drinkable at a young age but will improve over the next 3 to 7 years. A blend of 87/9/2/2 merlot/cabernet franc/cabernet sauvignon/malbec all from Sonoma Mountain. Sensational wine.

95 Vérité Le Désir 2000 Cabernet Franc - Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot
Sonoma County, California, United States
BC $175.00 Speculative - Vinterra Wine Merchants
A kind of Sonoma Cheval Blanc, Vérité Le Désir is a 33/51/16 blend of cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon all from Sonoma Mountain vineyards. The nose is a mix of tobacco, black pepper, spice, licorice, earth, black cherry, prune and vanilla aromas. It's very rich, round, concentrated with ripe tannins but again with super balance. Beautiful licorice, black cherry, cassis, vanilla, coffee spicy orange rind flavours. Very complex, long and classy -- a first for California. Should improve for many years.

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony co-hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 18 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple and iHeart Radio and more. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.