Well, so far we have had an excellent group of white wines in the morning session and then a lunch that was superb. I think next year I’m going to recommend that a nap period be built into the program before the afternoon session! But since that was not an option we plowed right into the afternoon session of red wines.
Again the session was moderated by Brian Koziol and consisted of vineyard owners, winemakers or others affiliated with the wines. The panel consisted of:
Buck Milbrandt of Milbrandt Vineyards in Washington
Chris Phelps of Swanson Winery in California
Joseph Carr of Joseph Carr Napa Valley in California
Tom Porter of Porter Family Vineyards in California
Todd Anderson of Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in California
We also tasted the wines of Caroline Ruffie of Chateau Haut Bages Liberal, who was also unable to join us due to flight issues.
Listed below are the wines in the order that we tasted them, along with general comments from the panel and our own tasting notes:
1) 2009 Chateau Ferriere, Margaux, FR – a typically Margaux nose that only hinted at the elegance to come. Lots of black fruit on the palate which was concentrated and showed sweet tannins.
2) 2009 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal, Pauillac, FR – peppercorn on the nose with concentrated alcohol vapors. The fruit was extremely ripe, with earthy notes and slightly harsh tannins which suggest good aging potential. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot.
Milbrandt Vineyards is a family owned winery that has been in the farming business for many years but only recently began growing wine grapes. Their first vintage was in 2006 but have already garnered several 90+ and Best Buy designations from various wine journals.
3) 2010 Milbrandt Vineyards, The Estates Malbec, Wahluke Slope, WA – bright red fruit up front opened to rich earthiness on the finish. While the earthy tones of malbec were present, this domestic version showed much more bright fruit. 1,000 cases produced and a blend of 88% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Merlot.
4) 2010 Milbrandt Vineyards, The Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, WA – a bit of a lighter styled cabernet, as cooler weather cabernets tend to be, blended with merlot and petit verdot. Showed some sweet tannins on the finish.
Chris Phelps served as winemaker for a Bordeaux Chateau during the blockbuster 1982 vintage, was invited to join Dmonius Estate in California by Christian Moueix of Chateau Petrus and spent 7 years at Caymus Vineyards before moving to Swanson Vineyards.
5) 2008 Swanson Vineyards Merlot, Oakville, Napa Valley, CA – a bold, firm merlot with black fruit and a solid body. Good tannins suggest some aging potential. 92% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot
6) 2008 Swanson Vineyards “Alexis” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA – bright fruit up front with firm tannins throughout. Easy drinking now but can age easily. Licorice, black cherry and saddle leather notes of a typical cabernet profile. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 % Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot
Joseph Carr doesn’t grow grapes or own a winery but bottles some excellent wines by purchasing quality grapes from various sources. His rationale is to make something that you want to drink and something that you’d like to have in your cellar.
7) 2010 Joseph Carr Merlot, Napa Valley, CA – lots of dark fruit and mocha notes were somewhat overpowered by gritty tannins up front. Could be a really good merlot but we think it needs some time to open up.
8) 2009 Joseph Carr, Cabernet Sauvignon Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, CA – a simply beautiful cabernet with silk, black fruit, licorice, sweet tannin and a superb balance. Probably the highlight of the afternoon session.
After retiring to the Sarasota area Tom Porter realized that he was not ready to be retired and decided to purchase a winery. In 2005 he did just that in Napa Valley when he purchased 20 acres and then constructed a 17,000 square foot underground cave to house the winery! The Cave Dwellers blend is a salute to this underground facility.
9) 2009 Porter Family Vineyards Cave Dwellers Blend, Napa Valley, CA – a good bit of syrah gives this a lot of red fruit nuances. Some nice tannins and a faintly port-like nose made this an interesting wine.
10) 2006 Porter Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA – classic cabernet with minerality, vanilla and buttery oak and saddle leather on the finish. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah and 3% Merlot.
Todd Anderson says that he attends these events to try other wines that he might like in his cellar.
11) 2009 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Right Bank Red, Napa Valley, CA – a play on classic right bank Bordeaux, this is a blend of 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot. Very smooth, nicely balanced with great black fruit.
12) 2009 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA – nice cabernet with mocha and dark fruit notes throughout.