21 Jul 2010
Lush green vineyards that roll over the hillside, majestic mountains in the back drop, Italian Villa tasting room, interactive cooking classes, and big bold Cabernet Sauvignon. These are the things that make tasting wine in Napa Valley, California a world class destination. Signorello Estate Vineyards embodies this ideal. While I’ve never been to their estate vineyard, the wine in this review provides the perfect backdrop for me. I hope the enjoyment of the wine comes through the video and the review.
Visiting Signorello offers you a wonderful experience of a 50 acre boutique winery that offers personalized tastings, Kobe beef and Cabernet Saturdays, Italian Pizza Sundays, private dinners and interactive cooking classes. Owner Ray Signorello and winemaker Pierre Birebent take great care seeing your visit is special and memorable. Signorello produces about 7000 cases of premium wine annually.
2008 Sinorello Estate Seta
- The Stuff: 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc; aged for 10 months in 25% new French oak; 630 cases; 14.1%ABV
- The Swirl: Light pale yellow in color, very clean and clear, great light refraction
- The Sniff: The wine presents an immediate strong odor of white peach. Once you get beyond that there is a definite presentation of toasted cedar and nuts. A very interesting note of caramel presents itself as well.
- The Sip: A full bodied white wine reminiscent of melons, lemon zest, and a medium toast component. A very refreshing wine that has a lot of layers and a crisp acidity. The finish is delightful and lingering.
- The Score: At $32, this is out of the price range for a daily sipping porch wine. The great layers and complexity earn a 4/5. Find this wine on sale at $20 and you have a heck of a bargain!
92 Points Wine Enthusiast
2006 Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 75% Cabernet, 17% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc; aged 20 months in 43% new Troncais, Nevers, and Alliers oak. Extended maceration of 25 days; 2750 cases produced; 14.3%ABV
- The Swirl: Cloudy deep plum and crimson colors that are about 90% opaque. Lovely colors of ruby and garnet at the edges.
- The Sniff: Very pungent aromas of dark current, dark cherries, roasted coffee beans and spiced tobacco. A very dynamic and powerful nose full of character and intrigue.
- The Sip: Medium to full bodied wine with modest integrated tannin on the back end. Very enjoyable presentation of dark red fruit with a more smooth vanilla offering on the mid-palate. A good wine that lacks the layers that were hinted with on the nose.
- The Score: At $50, this is certainly a full, lush and powerful wine that could be drunk now. I recommend another 2-5 years prior to opening to allow the fruit to soften and the wine to become more dynamic. 3+/5
89 points Robert Parker Issue #186, December 2009
2006 Signorello Estate Padrone
- The Stuff: 83% Cabernet, 12% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc; aged 20 months in 70% new Troncais, Nevers, and Alliers oak; 25 days extended maceration; 625 cases produced; 14.3%ABV
- The Swirl: Incredibly dark and inky nearing some deep black undertones. A dark stormy night of a wine that is 100% opaque.
- The Sniff: A more subtle coy nose with elegant aroma of cranberry, cocoa, pepper and leather.
- The Sip: The muscular mouth feel on this wine is as impressive as the hefty bottle it come in. Pure deep red fruit on the front palate that move quickly into a full bodies mid palate of raspberry and tobacco. The tannin is big and thick and demands a hearty meal to accompany it. This is a special wine that could and should lay down for another 10-20 years. Buy and hold.
- The Score: Very impressive and full of flavor and intensity. At $110 is certainly out of the price range for most but make note of the label and pick up a bottle for the special occasion or to hold in your cellar. 4/5
92 points Robert Parker Issue #186, December 2009
Blind Cabernet Tasting Results
The Signorello reds participated in a blind Cabernet tasting that included a 2007 Walla Walla L’Ecole 41, The Edge and Fuse (reviews coming the week of 7/26). The wines were bagged and tagged and 12 participants were asked to rate them with 1 being their favorite and 5 being their least favorite. The interesting results (from lowest to highest) are below:
- 2006 Signorello Estate Cab ($50) – Avg Score 3.8 – Received 4’s with a 2 and a 5
- 2007 Edge Cab ($20) – Avg Score 3.6 – Received several 2’s and several 5’s
- 2007 Fuse Cab ($25) – Avg Score 3.5 – Received all 3’s and 4’s
- 2007 L’Ecole 41 Cab ($32) – Avg Score 2.2 – Received mostly 2’s with a 1 and a 5
- 2006 Signorello Padrone ($110) – Avg Score 1.3 – Received all 1’s and a 2 (almost unanimous)
20 Jul 2010
Pinot Noir, the noble Queen of Burgundy. The vine that produces ample aggravation for some and amazing reward for others. Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair describes Pinot Noir as “the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”
My romance with Pinot Noir has yet to be discovered. At times we’ve stolen away for a quick embrace but each encounter left me feeling betrayed and empty as I longed for the full thick flavor of Cabernet or the smooth softness of Merlot. One affair caused my heart to quicken. A sultry, sweet seductress from the Willamette Valley gave me hope for a lasting romance. But alas, it was not meant to be, as I returned to my spicy lover, Syrah. When my good friends Ed Thralls, Joe Herrig and Tamara Belgard announced the group Pinot Noir twitter orgy on July 15, I secretly agreed. I kept my cheating intentions from my lovers and eagerly circled the date on my calendar.
As the date arrived, I found myself excited to share in the rendezvous with six Pinot Noir from Oregon and California. The sultry queen prepared herself and the seven of us hid away in a quiet room of the house. While my wife did homework in a nearby room, I explored each of them uncovering layers of lush fruit, velvet vanilla and even hints of spice. One queen was a little dirty and liked it funky. I hope it wasn’t too kinky that I brought my video camera to capture the passion, excitement and lust. One intoxicating beauty captured my heart. Her scent, her taste will remain in my heart and on my lips for eternity. Alas, I have discovered the joy of Pinot Noir.
2008 Duck Pond Cellars Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 98% Pinot Noir 2% Gamay Noir; Aged 7 months in oak; 13.5% ABV; 17,000 cases
- The Swirl: Light cherry cola color with sparkling jewel tones at the edge. About 40% opaque.
- The Sniff: More immediate presentations of earth and cedar that open up to subtle aroma of cranberry and light cherry.
- The Sip: A good structured Pinot Noir that would pair well with all kinds of food dishes. The Duck Pond lacks depth in layers and structures to compete with more expensive wines, but for the price point this is certainly a label to keep on your radar.
- The Score: At $20 retail I score this a 3/5
2007 Tom Eddy Pinot Noir Manchester Ridge
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from Manchester Ridge; Aged 9 months in 66% new French oak; 14.6%ABV; 72 cases
- The Swirl: Smoky cherry with muted color at the edge. About 50% opaque
- The Sniff: Candied cinnamon and cherry with slight undertones of earth and funk
- The Sip: Amazing structure that I described during the tasting as “elegance in a glass.” There is a slight tartness on the finish that presents cranberry and vanilla. Wonderful acidity.
- The Score: At $55, Tom Eddy shows they can do more amazing Cab. 3+/5
2007 Solena Estate Domain Danielle Laurent Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from Yamhill Carlton District; 11 months in 52% new French oak; 13.9%ABV; 573 cases
- The Swirl: Light cherry colors with pink undertones and pink hued edges. About 50% opaque.
- The Sniff: Mushroom, earth, funk, and hints of cranberry
- The Sip: Layers of earth, vegetal components, and thin cherry fruit. A good acidity finish cleanses the palate to prep you for another sip. Could see this pairing well with ham, turkey, and Christmas.
- The Score: At $45 this is the type of Pinot that some may turn their nose up. It’s a well made wine with good structure and layers. If you like terroir driven Burgundian Pinot, you’ll love this wine. Give it a sip before you commit to a whole case. 3+/5
2008 Solena Estate Hyland Vineyard Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from Hyland Vineyard; aged 13 months in 80% new French oak; 13.7%ABV; 300 cases
- The Swirl: Medium plum and garnet colors with about 60% opacity
- The Sniff: Cherry cola, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
- The Sip: Elegant vanilla on the front palate with enchanting tart strawberry and under ripe cherry. Love the layers in the wine as it progresses during the sip. Finish is strong and lingering with a very well balanced acidity.
- The Score: At $50 this may be a special occasion Pinot for a lot of people. A safe bet that will impress you with every sip. Drink alone or pair with food for a memorable experience. 4/5
2008 Meiomi Belle Glos Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from Sonoma, Monterey, and Santa Barbara; 9 months in 60% new French oak; 13.9%ABV
- The Swirl: Strong plum color with good color to the edges. Presents about 50% opaque
- The Sniff: Tight aroma of red berry, baking spice and cedar.
- The Sip: A book of layers that turns one page at a time across the entire drinking experience. I love the initial smooth mouth coating feel where the wine envelops your tongue and gives it a nice warm hug. Beautiful ripe strawberry and cranberry flavor appears and then transforms into a smoky baking spice. The long lingering finish wraps up a fantastically well made wine.
- The Score: At $25 this is a superstar Pinot Noir that fits in most people’s budgets. A MUST try! 4/5
2008 Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from Las Alturas; Aged 9 months in 60% new French oak; 14.8%ABV
- The Swirl: Medium dark plum and crimson colors that borderline Merlot. About 70% opaque
- The Sniff: Close your eyes and picture yourself in the kitchen. Your grandma just baked her world famous cherry pie. The room is filled with aroma of bright ripe cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and that slight burnt aroma from the pie filling that spilled on the rack. That is this wine!
- The Sip: The aroma comes across very well on the palate as well bringing supple fruit flavors that showcase the amazing winemaking and extraction achieved by Joe Wagner. This Pinot Noir is without a doubt the best Pinot Noir I’ve had to date and is an established baseline for me.
- The Score: $44; a wine to remember, long for and diligently seek out. 4+/5
Cool video from Joe Wagner, winemaker of the wine reviewed above
The Blind Tasting Results
The Pinot Noir twitter event turned into an all out smack down pitting region against region. This gave me an idea. I decided to taste along during the event AND then host a blind tasting with 12 of my closest wino friends. Prior to people arriving I brown bagged and tagged each wine. I was the only person who knew the contents. My friends were instructed to taste the wine, take notes and then make their votes indicating a 1 with their favorite and a 6 with their least favorite. Below are the results in order from least favorite to favorite:
- Solena Estates DDL $45 – Avg Score 4.5 (received a 2 and several 3’s)
- Duck Pond $20 – Avg Score 4.1 (received several 3’s)
- Solena Estates Hyland $50 – Avg Score 3.9 (polarizing with lots of 2’s and 6’s)
- Tom Eddy Manchester Ridge $55 – Avg Score 3.6 (received two first place votes, no 6’s)
- Belle Glos Las Alturas $44 – Avg Score 2.8 (received mostly 2’s with a few 1’s and one 6)
- Meiomi Belle Glos $25 – Avg Score 2.0 (received mostly 1’s with a few 2’s and 3’s)
Put 12 palates in a room and you see the diversity of taste, but in the end a consistent pattern emerges.
Things overheard at a Pinot Noir tasting!
@winecouver: She thought his Pinot lacked length. The poor winemaker hung his head in shame. #pinotentendre
@SipwithMe: I’m thinking someone’s going to have a really big Pinot in their mouth soon. #pinotentendre #pinotnoir
@girlwithaglass What is happening when your tongue feels like you are sucking on wood? #pinotnoir #pinotentendre
@NINhilista Excuse me, but your pinot is showing…Thx 4 multiple corkasms! #pinotentendre
07 Jul 2010
Situated in the center of the state of Washington is a destination resort vineyard and winery that showcases 30 year old vines and views 900 feet above the Columbia River. Cave B Estate Winery is next to the Gorge Amphitheater 150 miles East of Seattle and 150 miles West of Spokane just off Interstate 90 in the little town of Quincy, WA. With 30 rooms, a spa, restaurant and award winning wine, Cave B makes for a perfect overnight trip, or resting stop on your journey to/from Seattle.
Owners Vince and Carol Bryan have fulfilled their vision for the property they began planting in 1980. The campus includes 120 acres of estate vineyards that winemaker Freddy Arrendondo uses to craft 19 different wines including Barbera, Tempranillo, and Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. Cave B recently received 8 medals at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards. Enjoy your stay with a hike down to the river, then enjoy a poolside massage and challenge your palate with a “Stump the Chump” blind wine tasting and wrap up your day with dinner at Tendrils Vineyard Restaurant.
2008 Cave B Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling fermented in stainless steel; 1.8% residual sugar; 12.7% ABV, 375 cases produced
- The Swirl: Beautiful soft honey tones that display a thicker viscosity, hint of small particulates in glass.
- The Sniff: The wine presents a lovely bouquet of perfume, nectarines, and guava. A soft sweetness graces the nose as well.
- The Sip: Love at first sip. A very fruit forward presentation of pineapple, tropical fruits and pears, followed by a perfectly balanced acidity that helps wash away the mild sweetness. The flavor is moderately sweet without coming across as syrupy.
- The Score: At $18 the Cave B Riesling is a wonderful balance of tropical aroma, off dry sweet fruit and a beautifully balanced finish that keeps you coming back for more. This wine is deserving of its gold at the SWA and scores a 4 out of 5 with me!
2008 Cave B Semillon
- The Stuff: 100% estate Semillon aged 11 months in 20% twice used American oak and a blend of 50% neutral American and 30% neutral French oak. 14.5% ABV, 275 cases produced
- The Swirl: First thing that comes to mind is liquid gold, almost light beer in color.
- The Sniff: Mild aromas of orange and spice are on the nose with a hint of vanilla bean.
- The Sip: If I didn’t know better, I would think this wine spent more time in oak. It’s pretty obvious that the twice used American oak imparted some flavors of toasted almonds and burnt vanilla. The wine coats the mouth and had a thin mid palate before coming through with a crisp finish of pears and honey.
- The Score: While not a fan of the oak presentation of this wine, it still has some interesting layers of flavor that would appeal to some people. Before purchasing this wine, be warned that it’s not a deck sipping Sauv Blanc or stainless steel aged Semillon. At $20 I can score this wine a 3+ for dynamic flavors, but give it a try before you commit to more than one bottle.
2006 Cave B Cuvee du Soleil
- The Stuff: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cab Franc, 25% Merlot, 22 months in 30% new American oak and 70% Neutral French and American oak; 13.9%ABV; 400 cases produced
- The Swirl: A dark cloudy plum color that is about 90% opaque.
- The Sniff: Powerful aromas of dark ripe plums, cocoa, leather, and coffee. You could spend quite a bit of time enjoying the aromas of this wine, but each sniff entices you to sip again!
- The Sip: The layers of flavor in this wine continue on and on with elegant presentations of coffee, black tea, stewed prunes, and hints of red cherry and cocoa. The wine has good medium-firm tannin on the finish that lingers.
- The Score: The Cave B proprietary blend is a wine that will wow a dinner party. A elegant presentation of Cab Sauv, Franc and Merlot make this a special wine that will age beautifully for another 5-8 years. At $40 this is a fantastic wine for special occasions and scores a good 4 out of 5.
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intention to review.
Learn more about Cave B Estate Winery
30 Jun 2010
Some wines just scream summer! The crisp citrus acidity seems to be the perfect pairing for warm weather. Sauvignon Blanc is also a great pairing for light salads, chicken, shellfish and dishes that feature ingredients like bell peppers, olives or spinach. If pairing a Sauvignon Blanc with food, do your best to match the acidity levels with your ingredients (high acid pairs with high acid) and avoid rich creamy buttery dishes (as a rule of thumb).
The three Sauvignon Blanc featured in today’s post are from the southern hemisphere and grow in hot climates with cool evenings that help produce some stronger acidity in the wine. A Sauvignon Blanc that lacks in acidity can often come across as being overly tart on the back of your mouth. The new en vogue Sauvignon Blanc region is Marlborough New Zealand where super crisp, grassy, mineral focused flavors are being displayed. Price points on Sauvignon Blanc tend to range from $10-$20. Great daily sippers can be found for under $10.
2009 Valdivieso Sauvignon Blanc
Update: This wine was previously reviewed as part of the Wines of Chile tasting in May 2010. There was some concern of bottle variation among the reviewers and the winemaker graciously agreed to send out an additional sample. Note: The bottle label is different than the previous one received.
- The Stuff: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Leyda Valley; 13.5%abv, wild fermentation with no added yeast. Barrel aged in large French oak for 6 months; cork
- The Swirl: Yellow apple color with hints of pale green
- The Sniff: A dramatic departure from the traditional citrus Sauv Blanc. Strong aromas of herbs and a sweet sherry are present. Mild hints of ammonia and green pepper are on the nose as well.
- The Sip: A wild funk of flavorliciousness and a wild Sauvignon Blanc. This is not your grapefruit pucker sucker. I kept being drawn in by the odd herbs and spice but wouldn’t suggest this to folks who are looking for a crisp boat wine.
- The Score: At $22, this is an out of character Sauv Blanc. I give it a score of 3 out of 5. The flavor may be different than what you would expect from a Sauvignon Blanc but the wine is balanced and doesn’t trick you into thinking it’s something it isn’t.
2009 Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc (Octavin)
- The Stuff: Comes in a 3L (equivalent to 4 bottles) Octavin container with a collapsible bladder. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Stainless Steel fermented; 13% ABV
- The Swirl: Very light, resembles a lemon colored water
- The Sniff: A good power of grapefruit and a hint of herbaciousness. A strong steely minerality also attacks the nose and not in a good way.
- The Sip: The wine has a good mouth feel and is moderately awake with flavors of grapefruit and lemon zest. Slightly one dimensional and the wine lacks any acidity or notable finish
- The Score: No off flavors here and for the equivalent of $5 per bottle, this is definitely a trusty wine to have at a party or out at the cabin. Can give it a value score of 3 out of 5. Average flavors but above average value.
Cellar Tracker Scores: 85.8 (four scores)
2008 Brancott ‘B’ Sauvignon Blanc
- The Stuff: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand; Stainless Steel fermented with only free run juice; 13.2%ABV; Screwcap enclosure
- The Swirl: Subdued honey or wheat color
- The Sniff: Elegant aromas of grapefruit, dirty martini and layers of grass and spice
- The Sip: Fantastic mouth feel with a gentle whisp of grapefruit that is equally matched by stone fruit and river rock. Well balanced acidity keep this wine from feeling tart on the mouth and provides a good medium finish
- The Score: At $25 this is a perfect Sauvignon Blanc to pair well with a good dinner or to impress at a party. I score this wine 4 out of 5.
The Brancott ‘B’ Sauvignon Blanc is an elegant pairing of grapefruit, stone fruit and minerals. A wonderful balance helps this wine feel great in the mouth and provides a crisp stone finish. 4/5
Cellar Tracker Scores: 90 points (3 reviews)
NOTE: All wines were provided as industry samples with the intention to review
23 Jun 2010
Need a custom label for a wedding, non-profit event, business gift or product launch? Kirkland based, Northwest Cellars provides award winning wine with personalized labels! Founder Bob Delf spent 30 years in the software industry and worked as a CEO at three different companies. Bob’s passion for wine, keen business sense, and unique business model came together with wine makers Dave Moore and Robert Smasne to form Northwest Cellars in 2004. Bob and his wife Kathleen do all the blending work to bring their creation to market.
I was introduced to Northwest Cellars initially on Twitter. Bob participated in our two online tastings, WAMerlot and WAWine. Recently a good friend of mine, Rebecca Templeton became their wine rep in Spokane through her company Blends of Vino. I’m excited to help Rebecca get the word out about the personalized labels and have even been to a few events lately that featured Northwest Cellars wine.
But…How is the wine?
Rebecca knows that I’m honest in my reviews. I’ve reviewed another of her clients, Anelare Cellars, and didn’t care much for one wine, but really enjoyed their Saint Helena Syrah. So before I get to the review, if you’re in need of a custom label and you live in Inland Northwest, contact Rebecca Templeton at BlendsofVino.com and she’ll walk you through the process.
Now, on with the review:
- The Stuff: 61% Sauvignon Blanc and 39% Chardonnay from Columbia Valley, 13.5%ABV, 448 cases produced
- The Swirl: Extremely pale yellow in color with only a hint of tint
- The Sniff: I would bet $50 that the Chardonnay in this wine saw some oak. I couldn’t find anything in the literature, but the wine comes across with good lemon zest and a hint of vanilla and pears.
- The Sip: While adagio may be a musical term for at ease, this wine doesn’t strike the relaxing chord with me. It feels like it has a dual personality where the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc are fighting for position in your mouth. In one instance you can taste the strong grapefruit and citrus play and then a smooth oaky apple tries to come through.
- The Score: At $15, I could certainly encourage you to give it a try to see if it fits your tastes, but for me I can only score it 3 out of 5. Nothing off about it, but feels disjointed and unbalanced.
- The Stuff: 75% Merlot, 13% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon from Olson Estate, Roza Ridge and 3 Rocks Vineyards; 13.8%ABV, 3000 cases produced
- The Swirl: An interesting brownish rust colored purple hue that is showing some good signs of aging. Reminds me of cola.
- The Sniff: I love the nose of this wine. Strong dark fruits with leather, stewed plums, and just a hint of sweet milk chocolate. Fragrant and engaging!
- The Sip: Not your traditional Columbia Valley Merlot. Really loving the black tea, coffee and gamey meat components to this wine. Very complex in the mouth. The fruit is slightly thin on the front but the dynamic presence of the other flavors quickly engages your palate.
- The Score: At only $17 this wine surprised and mesmerized me. I loved the different interpretation of Merlot and enjoyed the soft, yet captivating flavors. I score this wine 4 out of 5. Be warned that if you love bright fruity cherry Merlot, this might not be for you.
Links you need
*Wine was provided as a sample with the intention to review