California wineries select vineyard sources for unique offerings

Let’s look at another offering from Far Niente. Two from the Post & Beam Winery label. This Napa winery only produces Cab and Chard. I like their focus. Their Napa Chardonnay can be found for $30. The Unoaked Chard, 87 McD, makes my list as a refreshing summer porch alternative. Opens with discreet aromas of orange blossom and melon; the nose and the mouth are very frank, rid of the woody profiles. Melon and orange zest repeat on the palate, with lively acidity supporting the fruit, and a pleasant biscuit and lime note. The last three vintages from their Napa Cabs house are solid 90-point offers under $50. The 2019 opens with notes of raisin, boysenberry, ripe gooseberry and leather barrel and dark coffee beans. The tannins are a bit lifted, but the color and nose indicate it will age. I decanted and let it sit for about two hours. This softened the tannins and allowed for a nice expression of herbal accent and roasted coffee on the finish, 2019, 91 McD, under $50. The 2018, 90 McD, is a better buy because it’s more accessible now. Want to upscale, look for Austin Hope Winery 2018 Reserve from Paso Robles, 95 McD to $125. No. 7 WE Top 100 2020, 96 points. Very dark purple, opens in the glass to a mixed and complex bouquet of blueberry, black cherry, mocha, burnt sugar caramel, pie spice, vanilla and wet leather base notes. The palate is full-bodied and balanced with flavors of plums, berries, cloves, dark cocoa and a slight smokiness. Not quite ready, but the color and tannins tell me to lay down for a year or two. I’m only guessing, but if Rudy Kurniawan had put his mitts on this wine, he’d apply a hot Napa label/address, and all likely suspects would have put 98 points and a $300-400 price tag. The 2020 is supposed to be better and is tagged at $285. Those who want to take a look at their cabs can snag a 2017 92 Point Drink Ready Cab for less than $75. This is not the reserve label.

Recognizing that I scold a lot about buying expensive wine that isn’t value for money, I’m forced to take my hat off to Lail Vineyards Georgia 2018 and 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. I had the great opportunity to taste a vertical of their wines from 2015-18. Winners all. You may recall I wrote their Blueprint SB 2017 and ’19 value tag around $40, both 92 points, a while back. Good value for money earned them 1 price point. Today, it’s the Georgia label. Robin Lail is the daughter of John Daniel Jr., longtime owner of Inglenook in its heyday in the 70s and 80s. Its grapes come from company-owned Mole Hill, Howell Mountain and Totem vineyards in Yountville. Robin doesn’t ride daddy’s ponytails either. She’s a noted expert who co-founded Dominus Estate and Merryvale Vineyards prior to this eponymous effort in 1995. Her Calistoga Cabs and Stags Leap are stellar grapes, typically priced in the mid-90s and ranging from around $250 for J. Daniel at $350/ Mole Hill. Here is a synopsis of an article by Lisa Perrotti-Brown in Wine Advocate, for the sake of brevity; the song was well written. She was right: “The 95 points, Georgia 2016, 100% made from Totem grapes, fermented and aged 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels. ripe peaches, fresh pears, pineapple and guava with hints of chalk dust, white pepper, dill seed and honeysuckle. Medium to full-bodied, completely coats the palate with tropical fruit and spicy layers, crisp acidity, long, mineral finish, Drink 2021-30, Release 7/2019. I have to admit, I’ve never tasted chalk dust, but I did snort a lot of it while dusting erasers in my youth. Suckling wrote 95. The 2018 is quite different but equally attractive. Look for May straw color, the bouquet of white peach, vanilla bean, brioche and lemongrass evolving into flavors of apricot, lemon curd and nectarine on a full, round palate with crisp acidity cleansing the reverberating flavor finish; 96 McD, needs at least a year. Saved the bad news for last – these SBs will set you back about a dollar fifty. Splurge for the 2015 around $165. I found three stores that will ship it. Your local wine store consultant, who I’m sure all readers have established, can help.

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