Grapelive Lastest: Smoke on the Water…. (Monterey Bay)

s5002710.jpgWith fire in the sky, I went out to Galante Vineyards and saw huge flames rising from the last of the “Basin Complex Fire” and sipped a wonderfully crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Jack Galante had his Wine Gang day out to his beautiful and remote ranch in Carmel Valley to enjoy his estate wines and a BBQ with Chef Michael Reese, the Cajun specialist. It was hot and smoky, but a fun filled day and enjoyable tour. Jack has almost unlimited energy and skill, chatting away with his guests, pouring wine, four-wheeling to remote vineyard sites and poaching old wines from his private cellar with out coming up for air! His loyal following and team all celebrated with rose petal foot baths, spiced tri-tip, savory beans, pretty vistas and lots of Galante’s famed Cabernet Sauvignon, even a 1995 Galante Vineyards “Blackjack Pasture” to quaff on. I stayed with their bright and refreshing 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, as it was close to 90 degrees out and I was hiking around the vineyards. Over the hill the firefighters were back lighting and set a ridge a blaze with 60 foot flames, which looked terrifying, but was done to create a buffer zone and keep the fire line secure. Later in the day Jack took me up to his high elevation Pinot Noir vineyard, “Almond Flat”, and I was amazed at both the height and the danger in which I was put to get there! In the end it was a very rewarding trek as I got to s5002723.jpgsee this amazing site and view the whole valley from there. Planted to mostly Calera clone with some other modern French clones, including 777, “Almond Flat” is a special place and a site that will produce some special fruit in the years to come. The current release, the 2005 and the 2006 both are big steps for this small winery and remind me of Nuits-St. George Burgundies with intense earthy and mineral notes and brisk, tight and dark fruits. These wines need air and food to show their class as intended. The 2005 gained elegance and depth with over 24 hours of air and I think the 2006 might be a 5-year lay down. In other words, like real Burgundy!
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On a drink up note, their 2006 Galante Cabernet Sauvignon “Red Rose Hill” is a smash hit, with beautiful red fruits, smooth tannins and lush textures. This is a blend change, now included are small lots of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Malbec that give many good complexities and fill this pretty wine out. Then there is the estate Sauvignon Blanc, this being from the 2007 vintage, with lovely tangy citrus and melon flavors that are zesty and pure. Both are their Wine Gang favorites, so be sure to call them quick like to get any that remain unclaimed!
Another wonderful weekend gone, but long-lived memories forever!
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GALANTE VINEYARDS

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alfaros.jpgLast week I ran into Richard Alfaro and his wife Mary Kay, Alfaro Family Vineyards, and I re-tasted his 2006 Alfaro Family Vineyards Chardonnay “Lindsay-Page Vineyard” Santa Cruz Mountains Estate, and wow, I was again blown away! This is a world class Chardonnay that ranks right up there! I am not kidding you when I say it rates well against Batard-Montrachet and anything from this State for sure, in fact I had to bump it up a few points on score. I have been singing the praises of the South Santa Cruz Mountains for a few years now, mainly shouting about the Pinot Noir Like Richard’s estate, Windy Oaks and more lately Jennifer Pandol’s Pandol Pinot sourced from the Schultze Vineyard, but this Chardonnay is amazing and totally mind blowing. It is complex and lush from beginning to end with pear, apple, lemon tart and hazelnuts framed with sweet oak notes. Richard and Mary Kay Alfaro are also making some fine estate Syrah and even a Bordeaux-style estate Merlot that they are releasing soon.

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ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARDS

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galanteredrose06.jpg2006 Galante Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Red Rose Hill”, Carmel Valley Estate

Galante’s Red Rose Hill Cabernet is a soft tannin and pretty wine that ages well and offers full flavors, and this wine takes that to the next level and then some! This wine is a new blend, a Cabernet base with small lots of Malbec, Merlot and Petite Sirah, with the Malbec being new to the Galante ranch. They make a big impact here giving added color and more texture, with some savory spice notes added in too. This wine now is Galante’s homage to Chateau Margaux or Bordeaux’s left bank and I would say it is successful in giving an impression of the French classics. The wine has plenty of fruit, but not soaring alcohol levels and maintains good grip and balancing acidity making this a super wine with food and one that can age with elegance. I still would recommend drinking now as it is really good as is, even if it will fill out more in the next year or so. The fruit is red currant, plum, black cherry, raspberry and cassis with some dried rose petals, cedar, sage and spicy sweet oak shadings. ($35-40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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GALANTE VINEYARDS

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2006 Alfaro Family Chardonnay Lindsay-Page Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
This is a big full bore Chardonnay that is ultra rich and incredibly deep and focused with lovely flavors and a long lush finish. Hazelnuts and white flowers lead to pure pear and apple fruit, with touches of clove, mineral, honey and vanilla. This wine is still a month or so away from release, but it is well on its way to be a classic.  A little more than a hundred cases of this wine is heading to market, so get on it now! ($30 Est.) * I revisited this wine recently (July 2008) and I must say it is even better now and reminds me of a great Batard-Montrachet! This wine is stunning and I can really not say this any other way, get it and get it now if you are a Chardonnay drinker, even if you are not you’ll love this wine. (94 Points before) 95 Points, grapelive

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ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARDS

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