Grapelive News Aug. 28, 2009

kwaug09gl.jpgThe summer heat has finally reached us on the central coast, and the mighty Pacific Ocean is looking more like a quiet lake and the vines are just starting to get through veraison here in Carmel Valley, much later than normal after a mild season so far. The sunshine is very welcome for the small estates nestled in the hills up river from Carmel-By-The-Sea, especially Bill Parsons’ Parsonage Village Vineyard that producers some of the regions greatest red wines. After a power tasting in San Francisco at the wonderful California Family Winemakers event at Fort Mason, I came home to do a last barrel tasting of Parsonage wines before he bottled them from the 2007 vintage.

The 2007 is something special in California, with Pinot Noir grapping most of the interest so far, rightly so as I have mentioned time and time again. Though as the Syrah and Cabernet from the vintage might just see some huge ratings and ranting for them as well. At the Family Winemakers show I focused mainly on small Pinot Noir producers and will be getting out a full report soon, as I found some fantastic news wines, but I did get a chance to taste some Syrah and Zin too with some really good wines grabbing my attention, like Big Basin Vineyards (Syrah), Grey Stack Cellars (Syrah), Lamborn Family Vineyards (Zin), Red Car (Cuvee 22 Syrah), Melville Winery (Syrah), Biale (Zin) and JC Cellars (Zin & Syrah, especially the 2005 Caldwell Napa Valley Syrah!) all poured amazing Syrah or Zinfandel under the radar of the mainstream. Of course Turley Cellars impressed with their 2007 Howell Mountain Cedarman Zinfandel, but I hope you all get a chance to see the wines mentioned previous as they were great examples of these grapes.

parsonagevines09.jpgI must give a shout out to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant (importer) for bringing some of the best value wines I’ve ever had from small family estates across Europe, especially from the tiny wineries in France. I have been buying and raving on about some of his selections, though I might have been better on keeping quiet as now Kermit is selling out of all my favorites! Honestly, is there a better regional wine than Domaine Lascaux (Languedoc), Chateau La Roque (Pic-St.-Loup), Reverdy (Sancerre), Domaine Fontsainte (Corbieres) or Domaine Katherine Goeuil (Rhone Valley)? I think not! All of these interesting wines are under $25 and some are under $15 even, red and white, plus Roses! These wineries are showing terroir and complexities that rival wines three times the price. Check them out soon, they are going fast, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley, CA also sells direct to the consumer at their shop and is a great place to visit if you are up that way.

kwfw09.jpgBack to my local area, Carmel Valley and the Monterey Peninsula, the late on set of summer warmth has given a few headaches, but looks to have been super good for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, leading to perfect even ripening and small well formed clusters. Look out for another killer Pinot Noir year for 2009, after a good year for those unaffected by wildfires smoke in 2008. There are some scary wines from certain areas coming to market, smoke taint is a serious problem and I really suggest you be careful selecting Chardonnay and Pinot from the 2008 vintage, as there was some terrible fires that let some vineyards sit in smoke for weeks. Upper Carmel Valley, Anderson Valley, Sonoma Coast and other areas of the Central Coast regions were hit the worst. Be sure to support your small family wineries as with the economic crisis and fires and the high cost of doing business are taking a huge toll on them, so please do what you can to help out, really a bottle here and there makes a big difference. We are all going through this together; remember that and a little help goes a long way. Plus wine does ease the pain and tension during times such as these!

bill09.jpgSo, look for my full report on my last try of the 2007 Parsonage Estate reds which I hope to upload really soon, Bill Parsons continues to blow me away with his wines and I am always in a happy place when I visit his vineyard, it does have a positive effect on my mood and palate! Though I did have to tease him for having cheesy country music blaring as they were moving barrels around, while everything was being set for the bottling line. Apart from that I had a fantastic time tasting and making my notes on his final blends and special cuvees. I was torn trying to pick the best of the vintage, and after long reflection I have given the nod to the stunning and exotic “Bixby Reserve” Petit Verdot, which I rated in this tasting at 94-96 Points, though I’m learning towards the 96 side the more I think about how good this wine is, and I know it will vastly improve in the next 3-5 years. Since these wines are just now getting into bottle, they will not be released for a few months yet, so this gives you time to get on his mailing list. You can visit Parsonage online or in person to get their wine and release info, so check them out at

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