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The North American Report
California and Beyond Report by Dan Williams

ROBERT MONDAVI 2011 RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON
NAPA VALLEY

The icon of icons for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has been released! The Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet has become one of the benchmarks for greatness in the Napa Valley… and for good reason! The fruit comes entirely from the famed To Kalon Vineyard (ancient Greek for “the highest beauty”), and To Kalon has become recognized as one of the “first growth” vineyards of the new world. The vineyard is densely planted so vines are forced to compete with each other for sustenance, resulting in lower yields, smaller berries and more intense fruit flavors. Couple that with an uncompromising work ethic and talented winemakers and you have the reason why Robert Mondavi Winery is always regarded as one of the best each and every year. A stunner, this Cabernet’s deep, engaging aromas of cassis and early-season blackberries weave harmoniously with dried herbs, violet-floral, garrigue (a fresh minty-sage character) and a sense of minerality, in a silky ribbon of flavor that flows elegantly into a long, lingering finish. So amazing for the vintage, esteemed wine critic Antonio Galloni scored this at 94 points!

ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve To Kalon Vineyard is the first year in which the Reserve is made exclusively from To Kalon fruit. The power and intensity of this site, along with the structure of the year, comes through loud and clear in a focused Cabernet Sauvignon loaded with class and personality. Bright floral, spiced and red-toned fruits are a reminder of the long, cool growing season. Readers should give the 2011 at least a few years in bottle. It will be interesting to see how the Reserve in its new incarnation develops. There appears to be plenty of potential though. The 100% new oak barrels are integrated beautifully.”

$114.95 750ml [242830] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

FOXEN 2012 “LA ENCANTADA” PINOT NOIR SANTA RITA HILLS

Bill Wathen and Dick Doré have been making wine together since 1985, when they founded Foxen Vineyards & Winery at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in Northern Santa Barbara County. Since that time their dedication has remained the same: the creation of small production, sustainably-farmed, vineyard-focused wines using a straightforward and minimalist approach to winemaking. They seem to be doing all the things right, as they now have an amazing following, and their tasting room has become a Santa Barbara Wine Country destination! This bottling comes entirely from the La Encantada Vineyard. This “charmed place” was planted by Richard Sanford in 2000. It is located on the western fringe of the Santa Rita Hills appellation, where its northern exposure makes it one of the coolest sites in the Santa Rita Hills AVA. Yields are minuscule, as Foxen typically gets less than 2 tons per acre, but scores tend to be high. This year’s release earned 94 points from Antonio Galloni!

ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - “The 2012 Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard is another of the many highlights in this range. Here the flavors are dark, smoky and gamy. Dark red cherry, plum, tobacco and cured meats flesh out in a resonant, highly expressive Pinot endowed with notable depth, especially within the context of the vintage. Hints of dried rose petal and violets linger on the finish. From start to finish, the Encantada is superb.”

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AUTONOM 2012 “LAW OF RETURN” GRENACHE CALIFORNIA

Proprietor and winemaker Paul Wilkins came out of the gate screaming with his 2007s and subsequent vintages have the same exciting results! The Law of Return Grenache is comprised of 100% free run juice...NO PRESSED JUICE! Very few producers employ this practice as it increases overall costs dramatically. But Paul feels that this gets him the best possible wine he can put in the bottle, and considering the price, it kind of makes you wonder why others charge more, yet their quality isn’t as high??? As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and the 2010 earned 91-93 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate!

WINE ADVOCATE 91-93 POINTS - “Ripe, full-throttle and serious efforts, these wines are made by Paul Wilkins of Alta Maria Vineyards. Showing lots of stem, pepper and earth, the 2010 Grenache Law of Return is much deeper and concentrated than the perfumed 2010 Grenache Dare. Ripe, voluptuous and brilliantly pure, with layers of black fruits, smoked meats, licorice and pan drippings, it hits the palate with a full-bodied, rich feel, solid mid-palate depth and a blockbuster finish. It’s a ripe, decadent effort geared for drinking over the coming 5-6 years. Drink 2014-2020.”

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RAMEY 2012 CLARET NAPA VALLEY

David Ramey is held in the highest esteem as a true innovator, a talented wine artisan and an industry revolutionary. More than 30 years ago David helped lead the charge away from technically proficient, squeaky clean wines toward natural winemaking methods that embrace the importance of terroir, creating distinctive wines of unique character. His deft hand has helped to create ground-breaking wines while he was at Chalk Hill, Dominus and Rudd. Dave thinks 2012 summed up to be a perfect vintage, with clear sunny days and cool evenings. The Claret is a blend from several amazing vineyards up and down the Napa Valley, and the final blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 2% Syrah, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Earning 90-92 points from Robert Parker, this wine has a very vibrant ruby/garnet color along with a rich and fragrant nose of crushed flowers, red and black cherries, framboise, and herbs. Warm and caressing on the palate, the flavors suit, adding plums, anise, baked cherries, currants, and a hint of cinnamon. Full-bodied and with supple tannins, this is enticing how, but should evolve for another decade plus!

ROBERT PARKER 90-92 POINTS - "The 2012 Claret appears to be another outstanding example of value-priced Cabernet Sauvignon. A 6,000-case blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and the rest Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, consumers will love this beauty because of its forward, classic Cabernet style. It should drink well for 5-8 years."

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YARDEN 2012 “MOUNT HERMON RED” GALILEE

The Yarden wines have become “core” wines here at our store; so popular that, at times, they’re hard to keep on the shelves. We tasted the newest lineup of wines in early August, and to say we were impressed would be a severe understatement! Grapes come from Galilee (or Galil), the most northern, and generally considered the best, appellation in Israel. The highest quality area within the appellation is the Golan Heights (or simply the Golan), the coldest region in Israel. The vineyards on this volcanic plateau rise from 400 meters (1,300 feet) above sea level to 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) and receive snowfall in the winter. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, this 2012 displays strong notes of ripe red and black fruits such as currants, raspberries, black cherries, and plums, alongside hints of fresh herbs. Medium- to full-bodied and with fine-grained tannins, the Mount Hermon Red is ready to enjoy now and should hold its own for the next 2-5 years.

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YARDEN 2011 CHARDONNAY GALILEE

Just like Yarden’s reds, the Chardonnay is grown in vineyards up to 3,900 feet in elevation, helping to produce exceptional Chardonnay year after year. This wine was fermented and aged for seven months in French oak barrels, of which about 50% were new; while that does add some richness, the elevation of the vineyard helps to keep the wine fresh and lively. The 2011 Yarden Chardonnay presents bright lemon, floral, lime, pear and white peach notes rounded out with hints of spice and French oak. This classic medium- to full-bodied Chardonnay is wonderfully flavorful and eminently drinkable.

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RUDIUS 2011 “HYDE VINEYARD” CHARDONNAY CARNEROS

Growing up in Memphis and Mobile, Alabama in a family of lawyers, the thought of becoming a winemaker never occurred to Jeff Ames. But after deciding not to pursue his law degree, a part time job in a local wine shop in Memphis sparked his passion for wine. In 1998, he worked with Lynn Penner-Ash at Rex Hill, but his even bigger break came just a few short years later. In 2001, he was able to return to production when he became Thomas Brown’s assistant winemaker at brands including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor. Among winemakers and wine geeks alike, the name Hyde Vineyard is legendary. This site has been the source of several of the top California Chardonnays ever produced and has earned its reputation for quality over the last 20 years with wines of profound depth and longevity. Rudius’ inaugural 2011 Hyde Chardonnay shows amazing minerals and citrus notes, characteristic of the Hyde Vineyard, with a refreshing floral component with hints of honeysuckle and apple blossom. On the entry, this wine has medium weight with a delicate crystalline quality to the fruit. The mid-palate is flush with Meyer lemon and subtle hints of flowering rosemary, while the acidity keeps the finish bright, lengthy and fresh. The 100% Malolactic fermentation gives this Chardonnay great body and texture but the inherent acidity from the site carries this weight perfectly. Because of this distinct balance, this Hyde Chardonnay is not one to drink too cold, and decanting can do wonders for the wine, and letting it warm to near room temperature will allow you to experience all the unique aspects of this inaugural Chardonnay.

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BARBOURSVILLE 2013 VIOGNIER VIRGINIA

Virginia has a long and renowned winemaking history. It has even been recorded that Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s founders, collected some of the greatest wines in the world and planted vineyards in Virgina! Against the advice of bankers, government officials and other land owners who wanted him to plant tobacco, Gianni Zonin acquired the Barboursville plantation in 1976 with the seemingly ridiculous expectation of creating a vineyard. Nearly forty years later, Barboursville has set the standard for a region now populated by more than 200 wineries. Situated on the broad, rolling plateau and foothills of the Southwest Mountains in Virginia, the terroir lends itself to the consistent production of exceptional vintages in wines marked by extraordinary varietal integrity. Among the first to abandon the use of oak and malolactic fermentation, this Viognier demonstrates a striking balance between its flavor concentration and flesh. Welcoming aromatics lead to juicy and bright pear, passion fruit and hints of citrus on a gently herbal frame. Broad and expansive on the palate like most Viogniers, this wine is clean and refreshing on the palate instead of being overtly rich, which is a refreshing and welcomed difference.

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