A little history and some worthy new finds

May 28, 2018

A recent update claims that there are only 11 states where shipping of alcohol from California is acceptable. I know few would guess that one with no restrictions is Delaware, he wrote with pen in cheek. I also guess that the politically active can guess most of the rest. Give Pete and Lopez a call asking them to get rid of these restrictive laws and Prohibition-era regulations.

Freemark Abbey was founded in 1881 by John and Josephine Tychson. When John died in 1886, Mrs. Tychson became Napa's first female winemaker. The 2014 Cab is stunning, 94 points around $40. A very dark ruby-colored wine, it opens to a mixed bouquet of black cherry, chocolate, cocoa, cedar, and cinnamon, the latter driven by 28 months on French or American oak. On the palate, succulent fruit notes, assertive but balanced acidity and tannin say cellar me a few years. I believe $40 is a very fair price for a wine with wonderful potential. A clean, pure finish with hints of violet closed the deal for me. Please don't drink it now. This needs a few years in the cellar, 2019 start.

Another red, but from Italy, Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2015 is a steal at $60. I think these compare well with Sassicaia or Ornellaia, both in the $200s. Suckling, Larner and other floggers lavished very high 90s scores on all three, some as high as 98 points. A lot of eyewash. I'm going with a more modest 93 + 2 price points. This is a potent blend of Cab, Merlot and Petite Verdot which spent 18 months on new French oak and another 12 sitting in the bottle before release. I think it will surpass the 2010, which is terrific right now. This will at least double in price by 2022. Very dark purple with black currant, blackberries and chocolate nose plus oak-driven nut and chalky nuance. On the palate, more berry notes with coffee and vanilla riding a big, round mouthfeel.

Found two beautiful Chardonnays made in the older style of the '80s. Brewer-Clifton Santa Rita Hills 2015 was given a glowing review by Jeb Dunnuck, "seriously rich, unctuous beauty that offers notes of buttered citrus rind, candied lemons, honeycomb and hints of minerality. Deep, rich and thrillingly textured, it's certainly the smart value play." Tough to find this quality at $27/bottle or $323.40/case, 94 McD and worth every bit of the effort to get some. The second is a 2014 produced by Gavin Chanin, a star winemaker. Lutum Chardonnay Gap's Crown Vineyard 2014 is a bit pricier at $52/$623.88. I picked some up on the advice of Tony Galloni, Vinous Media, one of my gurus, who wrote, in part, "Gap's Crown oozes personality. Candied lemon peel, jasmine, sage and white pepper are some of the many signatures that develop in the glass. The 2014 is understated and soft-spoken, but there is no shortage of nuance." As RRs are well aware, it is rare I quote other critics, but in these cases the definitions worked for me. I think it is better than the heavily touted 96-97-point 2015 Paul Hobbs Edward James Estate that is going for close to $90. The Hobbs is excellent, by the way, just not a bargain. Parker loves Aubert Chardonnay and laid on 98-100 on CIX, $185, and Lauren Vineyard, $175, plus 96+ on Ritchie Vineyard, $149. Sorry, but I did not review these. I opted for a split case of Lutum and Brewer-Clifton. Don't look for price appreciation on Aubert; Parker praise drives the price.

I realize this is a bit repetitive for long-timers. Please refrain from saying Happy Memorial Day. Monday should include some quiet remembrance for all those who have given life and limb in defense of our great country. Although many folks moan and complain, please keep in mind very few are fighting to leave, and hordes are trying to immigrate to our shores. Of course, when 330 million congregate, there will be problems and rightful complaints. As one who has traveled to every continent but Australia and Africa, I can say with certainty there is no better place to live.