Cabernet Sauvignon, Bosché Vineyard, Freemark Abbey, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California, 13.8% abv, 2004, US$120

bosche FAIt’s possible I may have a bit of a bucket list for wine-related things, just sayin’.

I’ve enjoyed fresh oysters in Cancale spurrierbuttressed by glasses of Muscadet, had a private tasting with the Queen of Priorat, and in summer 2015, got Steven Spurrier to sign my copy of The Judgement of Paris.  While he didn’t author it, he was the protagonist.

Another of my wine bucket list goals is to make it, eventually, to all of the wineries that participated in that event – the Judgement of Paris.  This famous double blind tasting organized in 1976 by the above-mentioned Spurrier introduced Californian wines to a very skeptical France.

Freemark Abbey, whose FA 2 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon and 1972 Chardonnay were part of that storied tasting, can now come off my list.

Logan – who has a Canadian fiancée pastry chef studying at the nearby Culinary Institute of America – was our guide.  IMG_7732Their first sampling room opened in 1946 and is resplendent with its original stone and old growth, California red wood.   Home to Napa’s first female vintner and now to the same winemaker for the past 36 years, the stunning facility was retrofitted 2 years ago and boasts an incredible, live edge, red wood tasting table.IMG_7733

I tasted the 2014 Viognier, Oak Knoll – super peachy and nectarine with honeysuckle, the 2013 Riesling, Los Carneros, Napa Valley – with its whiff of petrol and light lemon – and the 2014 Chardonnay – 20% oak, no malo, pineapple and mango, tons of citrus, minus the butter – to start with.

IMG_7734The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – 75%, 5% Petit Verdot and the rest Merlot, a nice snapshot of valley and mountain fruit, the 2012 Bootleg Cabernet Sauvignon – more valley dynamics from different vineyards, fruit forward with boysenberry pie and big tannins – and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain – with its purple fruit and heavy tannins – followed.

I also tried the 2012 Ted’s Blend – a Cabernet Sauvignon of all three Rutherford vineyards – and the 2012 Cabernet, Bosché from the vineyard that produced the valley’s best grapes in the 60s.  This 2012 version was awarded 97 Robert Parker points.

I left Freemark Abbey with a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bosché.  Ready to drink, we enjoyed it recently.  Deep, deep garnet with a slight browning on the rim, it was loaded with aromas of dried strawberry, sagebrush, saddle soap and a touch of fern.  Initially there was tobacco which faded as it opened in the decanter.FA Tasting Room

On the palate, it is dry with medium acidity and softly strained tannins that melted with our steaks.  Flavours include bramble berry with tobacco, leather and a solid finish. Initially restrained, after breathing, it opened up.

If you’re holding a bottle, drink now and don’t wait on this WSET Very Good version of the famed Bosché vineyard.



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Bobal, Corazón Loco, Rosé , DO Manchuela, Spain, 13% abv, C$20

From a landlocked DO west of Valencia and Utiel-Requena off the southwest coast of Spain comes the Corazón Loco – the crazy heart – a rosé made from Spanish varietal Bobal. IMG_7195

Named after the Latin bovale for its (apparent) similarity to the shape of a bull’s head (I just don’t see it), Bobal has traditionally been used as a blender – adding acidity and colour to other red wines.

More recently, Manchuela has had a wine renaissance and this is the traditional home of Bobal.  New Bobal-based wines – some rosé , some red and even some sparkling – have been produced and gained a following worldwide.

Manchuela used to be part of the very large wine region Castilla La Mancha but in 2000, it received permission to become its own DO.  Many of the bodegas felt the bulk wine reputation of the larger region was holding them back in their marketing efforts.

Most of the terrain is flat, but vineyards are at 600-700m and valleys and rivers create a very mild climate that the grapes do well in.  Bobal loves it especially because of the clay and limestone soils.

The Corazón Loco is the colour of salmon with an alcoholic nose of green strawberry, watermelon and moss.  The palate is dry with good acidity and flavours that mimic the nose – with more under ripe berry and melon rind.

While Manchuela’s Bobals may be some of the best around, the one is uncomplicated, bitter and a little off balance.  A simple WSET Acceptable, drink it only when you don’t want or need to pay attention.


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Pinot Gris, Switchback Vineyard, Haywire, Okanagan Valley BC VQA, 2013, 13% abv, C$25

As the bottle mentions, this fabulous tipple was created by Michael Bartier, Matt Dumayne and consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini at the Okanagan Crush Pad and has been “..fermented using wild yeast and raised in concrete.”

Okay, so let’s talk about that.  What’s so special about concrete?  Many vintners like to use them because the thick walls make it easier to keep the temperature stable and in addition, the shape of the egg encourages a more consistent and fuller mouth feel.

IMG_7219This wine is proof of that.  Medium lemon in colour with aromas of pears and ripe Meyer lemons, it shows pink grapefruit pith and dried herb.

On the palate, the wine is dry with juicy acidity and great body.  It bears a strong resemblance to sherry and Chenin Blanc with its layered flavours of citrus fruit, lanolin, honey and dried sage.image

WSET Very Good plus – complex, precise, clean and beautifully balanced.  Do yourself a favour – buy this.


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Rosé, Lumineaux, Hawks Butte Vineyard, Bink Winery, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County, Anderson Valley, California, 2014, 14% abv.

imageWinemaker Deb Schatzlein has made some gorgeous treasures with Anderson Valley fruit and custom crushes at neighbour Balo.

At their tasting room located in The Madrones (yes, you need to stay there or at The Brambles where we did), we tasted her Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah.image

But it was this Merlot-based rosé that I ended up leaving with.

Produced with Demeter certified, biodynamic fruit from Boonville’s Filigreen Farm (located just down the road to the south of Philo), this wine is gorgeous shade of pink salmon with aromas of sweet rhubarb and strawberry with light dried herb and rose petal.

The dry palate features great acidity and flavours of more rhubarb with jalapeño pepper, strawberry and rose.  No tannins or bitterness affect the finish although the alcohol is a little elevated.  No matter – Philo is up in those hills, high above Napa and Sonoma.  It all fits.

WSET Good plus, refreshing and delicious.

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Cabernet Sauvignon, Jordan, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California, 2008, 13.5% abv.

Sometimes the Winellama writes about wine and sometimes she writes about an experience. This time, she’s writing about an experience topped by equally outstanding wine.


We pulled up for the trade tasting at Jordan in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley and thoroughly enjoyed our time with Sally who knowledgeably led us through the crush pad, fermentation and barrel rooms and into the library for a tasting of the 2008 and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons.

Artfully paired with quince paste, heritage pork belly and figs, honey and three cheeses – one a black truffle triple creme Brie from Marin – crostinis, Jordan’s 2015 estate grown olive oil and chive – the wines shone.image

Jordan specializes in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and I ended up leaving with a 2003 Cab (stay tuned for that post). It was tight choice though between that and the 2008 which came from a tough vintage. There was so much frost that year they almost lost the crop – and then through the extremely hot summer, the grapes were quite stressed.

imageSlender and restrained, but with excellent structure and depth, the 2008 showed aromas of Byng cherry and pomegranate with flavours of blackberry and cassis with light clove, cinnamon, kid leather and grippy tannins.

I actually tasted this in 2013, so it’s interesting to see how it has evolved, but also retained its carpentry over the past 3 years.image

Following the tasting we met up with the indomitable Lisa Mattson and enjoyed a walk through the garden – replete with melons, berries, figs, apples, pears, herbs and tomatoes. The drought has made everything in the region tinder dry and Jordan’s property is no exception. But they have their own onsite reclamation pools and farm sustainably and responsibly.

Another home run – the wine, the atmosphere, the people – Jordan has outdone itself again.  image

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Viognier, Tahbilk, Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia, 2014, 13.8% abv.

IMG_7213This wine is produced at Tahbilk where 5 generations of the Purbrick family have been involved in winemaking since the current owner’s great grandfather purchased the vines in 1925.  Viognier was planted here in the 1990s.

Medium lemon in colour, on the nose it’s a hugely fragrant bouquet of peach and apricot with white blossoms.

The palate is dry with good acidity.  Flavours include more ripe stone fruit with clove spice and white flowers.

The solid finish offered helps make this WSET Very Good.  Refreshing and delicious, drink now and don’t age this lovely, fruit forward, clean wine.

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Rosé, Faustine, Domaine Abbatucci, Corsica, 2014, 13% abv, C$45++

IMG_7258This rosé is made from Sciaccarellu (local dialect for Sciacarello) grapes grown on 18ha of 20 year old vines at Jean-Charles Abbatucci’s Demeter-certified biodynamic vineyards in Corsica.

Abbatucci is a direct descendant and namesake of General Jean-Charles Abbatucci from Ajaccio who was a hero of the French Revolution and comrade of another famous Corsican, Napoléon Bonaparte.

In true biodynamic fashion, Abbatucci is reputed to live and breathe the smallest details of vine cultivation and wine production – including grass cover between his rows of vines peppered with roaming sheep.  His vines are also grown from cuttings gathered from local elderly farmers to ensure they don’t die out.  He’s also been reported to play songs for his vines and then the same songs again as the wines ferment and age!

Well, it has worked.  A delicate shade of pink salmon, this wine offers clean aromas of rose hip, sweet red pepper, herbs and crushed rocks

The palate is dry with juicy acidity and similar flavours of rose petal, sweet pepper, garrigue and stony minerality.

Refreshing, clean flavours, balanced, no bitterness, and absolutely precise.  In a word, beautiful.  WSET Very Good and highly recommended.

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