Last year we attended the inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction. This was an event where wineries from throughout Sonoma County gathered to showcase wines that they have not bottled before, and to keep their wines unique, they don't plan on bottling them again! Last week we showcased the unique Pinot Noir from Patz & Hall, perhaps the best Pinot Noir they have ever made. This time, it's an amazing Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon blend from one of our favorite Sonoma County producers...Arrowood!
Arrowood Winery is pure Sonoma. The winery's influence in the region endures since the first wines were made three decades ago. Created exclusively for the Sonoma County Barrel Auction, Winemaker Kristina Weerner selected the top lots from the vintage to craft a unique blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Syrah comes from the Russian River Valley's acclaimed Saralee's vineyard. It is not uncommon for Arrowood's Syrah from this vineyard to score in the "outstanding" range with famed critic Robert Parker, and the Syrah for this blend was co-fermented with Viognier, which actually makes the wine darker and gives it more aromatics and texture. With that, they blended in 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Smothers-Remick Ridge Vineyard, a phenomenal property that sits roughly 600 feet above the valley floor in the northern Sonoma Mountains. It features 18 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon divided into 11 distinctive blocks that mirror the terroir. Known for its small, flavorful berries, this mountain site produced balanced wines with refined tannins. In the end, Kristina decided the best wine was blended of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon...and that's what we have here!
Only 10 cases were bottled, and you can't get this wine at the winery, even if you're a member of their wine club! This is a gorgeous red blend, and it displays a lovely ruby/garnet color with aromas of freshly crushed cherry, raspberry, red currant, strawberry shortcake, vanilla, and hints of oak. After a short bit of time to breathe, aromas of smoke, Asian spices, and grilled meat begin to emerge. On the palate, the subtle hints of spice continues, along with black fruit, black cherry, a briary quality, cured meat, and plum. The finish is fairly long, with pronounced tannins that give a nice frame to the wine. Absolutely delectable, this is a wine that can easily be enjoyed now, but will continue to develop nicely in the cellar for another 7-10 years!
Kuleto Estate is secluded deep in the wild solitude of eastern Napa. Their vineyards are scattered along the steep hillsides and windblown ridges above the valley floor, and about 8 miles back. At Kuleto, blocks and varieties are harvested in the order that they ripen...nothing unusual there. But instead of waiting for enough of a particular variety to ripen fully for the sake of having a pure tank or lot, Kuleto combines whatever fruit happens to be perfectly ripe at the moment. While co-fermentation of different varieties has not been the default protocol in the New World, it is intuitive and natural. It's also the genesis of their multi-varietal blends.
A blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Merlot, this Rhone style blend is made for pure indulgence. India Ink is rich, full, oak driven and hedonistic. Selecting barrels and wine lots revolves around creating a blend that is deep purple in color, loaded with blue-black fruit aromas, and is meaty, rich and powerful on the palate. It exudes fresh red fruit and spice with hints of smoke and earth reminiscent of a once inhabited cave. These aromas continue to the palate, where blue and black fruits are complemented by hints of black pepper and dark chocolate. Pair India Ink with a grilled steak and vegetables.
JEB DUNNUCK 94-97 POINTS - "The 2017 My Favorite Neighbor is in the same ballpark and offers terrific notes of creme de cassis, tobacco leaf, lead pencil shavings, and cedary herbs. It's a full-bodied, silky, impeccably balanced beauty that has just subtle background oak, a stacked mid-palate, and terrific purity of fruit."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93-95 POINTS - "A barrel sample blended of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 10% Petit Verdot, the 2017 My Favorite Neighbor Proprietary Blend is deep garnet-purple in color and a little cedary to begin, giving way to fragrant blackcurrants, black cherries and black raspberries with touches of spice cake, Sichuan pepper, violets and hoisin. Full-bodied, densely packed and with velvety tannins, it delivers tons of tightly wound flavors, finishing long."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 99 POINTS - "A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the 2015 La Joie features a very deep purple-black color and almost electric nose of crushed blackcurrants, ripe black cherries and mulberries with sparks of raspberry pie, wild blueberries, unsmoked cigars, charcuterie and crushed stones. Medium to full-bodied and charged with the most amazing energy, the youthful, vibrant black-fruited palate is framed by very firm, very finely grained tannins and wonderful freshness, finishing with lingering crushed stones and earth layers. 4,000 cases produced."
ANTONIO GALLONI 96 POINTS - "Verite's 2015 La Joie is deep, powerful and structured, with tons of Cabernet savoriness running through a core of intense, dark fruit. Grilled herbs, leather, menthol and licorice all develop in the glass. Sumptuous and yet also structured, La Joie is another winner from Verite. "