Grapelive Latest: Special Review

Grapelive Special Review

By Kerry Winslow

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doslagos07.gif2007 Dos Lagos Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2007 Dos Lagos is a deep and thickly concentrated Cab with solid structure and fruit intensity with a black/purple hue that coats the glass. The palate is ripe, but focused showing massive black fruits and pure Cabernet character, leading with blackberry, dark currant, plum and blueberries before array of background flavors unfold. Interesting crème de cassis, mocha, cedar spice, cigar tobacco and violet like perfume all come across in layer after layer with powerful tannins holding things together, though thankfully they are not harsh or distracting from the wine and I’m sure as it is still a very young wine will fade in time to allow much pleasure over the following 5-10 years. Bob Foley, ex Pride, and maker of top Napa Cabernet like his own Claret, Switchback Ridge and Hourglass seems to have fallen in love with the terroir at this rugged Atlas Peak location, and after tasting this vintage, I think he is on to something big here.($125 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

*Available Direct Dos Lagos Vineyards at:

www.doslagosvineyards.com

or at 750 Wines at:

www.750wines.com

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Grapelive Special Report

Dos Lagos Vineyards
By Kerry Winslow

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doslagospressday.gif

Tom and Marcie Dinkel have released their first vintage of Dos Lagos Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, with only 120 cases of this wine being made and with star winemaker Robert Foley fully involved in the project, as he also has the main contract for grapes at this tiny four acre estate for his own wine. From my tasting notes; The 2007 Dos Lagos is a deep and thickly concentrated Cab with solid structure and fruit intensity with a black/purple hue that coats the glass. The palate is ripe, but focused showing massive black fruits and pure Cabernet character, leading with blackberry, dark currant, plum and blueberries before array of background flavors unfold. Interesting crème de cassis, mocha, cedar spice, cigar tobacco and violet like perfume all come across in layer after layer with powerful tannins holding things together, though thankfully they are not harsh or distracting from the wine and I’m sure as it is still a very young wine will fade in time to allow much pleasure over the following 5-10 years.

Bob Foley, ex Pride, and maker of top Napa Cabernet like his own Claret, Switchback Ridge and Hourglass seems to have fallen in love with the terroir at this rugged Atlas Peak location, and after tasting this vintage, I think he is on to something big here.

Tom and Marcie Dinkel took a huge leap of faith taking on this vineyard planted in the 90’s and looks to be rewarded in the best way possible, with a blockbuster wine right out of the gate and an instant success, after following their passions. Tom an ex Honeywell sales manger, and now start up manager in a solar technology company has turned a dream into reality along with his wife Marcie who is a budding artist and will have her paintings grace the label each vintage. This interesting and down to earth pair, may seem like an unlikely duo to make a small high-end Cabernet Sauvignon, with little background in wine to speak off and being to humble and excited, but don’t let that fool you, they are serious and have put a lot of heart and soul into this venture. They sought out talent and made believers of everyone that has seen the vineyard and tasted the grapes, and before being able to make their own wine, they sold to Caymus for their Napa Valley Cabernet that has received mid 90’s scores from top critics, even though the Dos Lagos fruit was only a small component it was very well thought of.

In the vineyard itself set in the remote hillsides on Atlas Peak is mostly volcanic soils with less than six inches of topsoil anywhere to be found, making for small yields and small berries that give maximum flavors and power. The Dinkel’s found a experienced vineyard manger, Hector Lopez, that broke his teeth with Caymus and other top sites in the area to coax the best possible fruit from these vines. His neighbor’s wine gave Tom even more faith and helped shape the powerful big his wine has and will be, that neighbor Bialla Vineyards even lent the Dinkel’s their talented winemaker Craig MacLean to help them start their project, before finding that Robert Foley was interested and available. Foley in fact was so convinced; he took the project in house and makes the Dos Lagos at his own winery, a brilliant state of the art facility on Howell Mountain where he makes some of Napa Valley’s finest reds.

The Dinkel’s with eyes wide open, know they picked a very tough time in the wine business to bring out a new wine, let alone a very pricy high-end wine with no track record, but seem to ooze calm pleasure at what lies ahead and are very positive going forward and have so far beaten the odds and are getting a lot of enthusiasm from the wine community and word of mouth buzz, all leading to people searching them out all ready. No question the support and talent of Robert Foley will also pay off and bring excitement as well as customers looking to find the next big thing, which this looks to be. I was left very impressed and look forward to re-trying this wine again as well as seeing what the next vintages bring.

In a side story to this article, I must also mention the amazing St. Helena wine merchant, 750 Wines, they are into finding these secret next big thing wines and people, and they invited a few journalists and wine bloggers to meet the Dinkel’s and taste the wines. This unique format, which was not for the buying public or even their clients was an informal way of interaction between a producer and the press to get marketing feedback and a real critical lens on their wine. David and Monica Stevens of 750 Wines offer many selections of these rare, collectable and new talent labels, and do a great job of promoting them. It was great to see their drive to help the new guys and young talents of the wine world make it. If you are into wine and want to see and taste the future superstars then you need to check 750 Wines out, they are a place where the action is, search them out online or look them up in St. Helena on Adams Street right off Highway 29.

*Full Review of Dos Lagos

Grapelive Reviews

Grapelive Report

A Quick Look at Nicolas Joly Wines
By Kerry Winslow

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220px-coulee_de_serrant_and_clos_de_la_bergerie.jpgOne of the modern pioneers of Biodynamic farming and a natural winemaker, Nicolas Joly, who once was an investment banker in New York and later in London, makes some of the most interesting white wines in the world. He took over his family’s wine estate Château de la Roche aux Moines, located in Savennières back in 1977 and has done for Chenin Blanc and Savennières what Didier Dageuneau did for Sauvignon Blanc and Pouilly-fume. Joly’s Savennières are deep and edgy wines that take time to understand and grow on you, but once you see the light you’ll search them out and marvel at their unique character and funkiness. In the States we see Joly wines rarely and only three cuvees are available anyway, though I have heard that in some vintages there might also be a sweet wine added to the line up.

The top wine is the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, considered the holy grail of Chenin Blanc, sort of the Montrachet if you will, a wine of intensity, vibrant color, chalky and with eye popping mineral notes, though a core of peach, baked spicy apple and lemon fruit stays with you.

The next wine in Joly’s line is called Clos de la Bergerie, and it is always to me the most different and intriguing of his wines with a slight sherry like note, mature golden color most often and tangy with a touch of dried fruits. This wine has made me a fan for life; even if it is weird and wild at times I always enjoy the nature of it.
To complete the three wines I’ve tried by Joly, there is the Les Clos Sacrés (or the Les Vieux Clos, as it is labeled in Europe) which is the lightest and most freshly clean in style, it is steely and bright with acid, but still gives great flavor and is very savory.

It seems Nicolas is turning over most of the duties of the Estate to his daughter now Virginie Joly, and after tasting the current releases, I am happy to say the wines are as good as ever and I think the place is in good hands! And if you ever get a chance, get some of these beautiful wines and enjoy them on very special occasions or with your most trusted wine geeky friends, Viva La Chenin Blanc!

Check my notes and reviews of Nicolas Joly

Grapelive Reviews

Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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joly07.gif2007 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Bergerie Savennières, French White (Chenin Blanc)
Biodynamic farming and natural winemaking are this wines hallmarks and strengths, though it is a slightly wild and funky wine that takes time to get to know and love, and I do love it. The color is mature, very golden and the wine shows oxidation with hints of sherry, straw and verbena, but it is still intriguing and deep with character and charms. The nose has chalk, apple and a hint of citrus flower, before a crisp palate of yellow peach, apple and lemon with a touch of herb, butterscotch and dusty minerals. There is a rocky and earthy undertone that gives added complexity, while the nice acidity keeps everything in order and brightens the wine up. This wine is pure terroir and a very different expression of the Loire and the Chenin Blanc grape, and a wine very much worth finding for a special occasion. (*$$$) 94 Points, grapelive

*I saw it available last at around $65 a bottle…

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Grapelive Latest: Weekend Pick

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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snos08pm.gif2008 Snosrap Pinot Noir Monterey County (by Parsonage Winery).
This pretty and focused Pinot Noir is a wonderful secret, made by Parsonage Winery in Carmel Valley from grapes Bill Parsons has found from cool sites with ex-Morgan winemaker David Coventry consulting. Sold mainly through the tasting room only a tiny amount comes on the market each year and sells out fast. The 2008 vintage is a beauty with lovely floral notes, dried flowers and tea spices, with plenty of cream fruit on the lush palate. The core of red cherry and plum really comes alive in the mouth and the texture is silky. There is hints of crème de cassis, mocha and vanilla that give a long full finish and stay with you a good long time, but the wine is fresh still and vibrant with nice balance, making it great with food as well as just being enjoyable to sip on its own. * I tasted this wine prior to bottling twice, and it is getting richer each time and is much better now in bottle.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

www.parsonagewine.com

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Grapelive Latest: March 2

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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v29cru07.gif2007 Vineyard 29 “Cru” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
Cru, made from purchased grapes and crafted by Vineyard 29 and their winemaker Philippe Melka, who also makes Bryant Family, is a terrific Cabernet Sauvignon that must surely rank up there with the best of top line Napa Cabs under $75, in fact it may just be up there with the best $100 wines. This vintage, the 2007, is a stunning wine with total class and pure Cabernet Sauvignon character and flavors, without question it gives lots of pleasure and depth, while being rich and forceful on the palate. The nose is smoky sweet with nice oak, flowers, fruit and it has a very dark hue all of which make you want to dive right in. The palate has blackberry, cedar, plum, currant, pencil lead and hints of tobacco leaf all wrapped up in smooth, ripe and dusty tannins that never seem aggressive or out of place in this focused and vibrant Cabernet. The finish is very long and mouth coating with cassis, mocha and vanilla lingering, though not taking away from the essence of the natural fruit. You can cellar for 5 years easy, not that you would need to at all, but I still want to hold a few away for a another year or so to see what happens.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: March 1

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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snos07bord.gif2007 Snosrap Cyrano Red “Bordelais” Monterey.
I tasted this wine in barrel and just before bottling, and now in bottle, and it is getting better each time I try it. I had rated it at 90 Points in my early notes, but it has got more interesting and polished, so I had to bump it up a few points, and that is much more fair at this stage and it might even get better still. This wine is a new cuvee for Parsonage and their Snosrap Cyrano line up and it is a blend of about 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot and 25% Malbec, all of which come from select vineyard sites. The nose is rich in flowers, fruit and mocha scented oak and the palate is big, lush and full with layers of blackberry, cassis, cherry, currant and plum. There is lots of sweet chocolate, vanilla spice and sturdy ripe tannins that add depth and structure that also linger on the finish. This is a very enjoyable Bordeaux style blend that is pure new world in character with clean flavors and thick texture, though remains balanced and lively.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

www.parsonagewine.com

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