The Mount Peak legacy began a century ago in the celebrated Monte Rosso Vineyard. The wines produced by Mount Peak Winery gain inspiration by the Monte Rosso’s long history and the spirit of the original producers of wine from that vineyard and is captured in the wines today. The Gravity Red Blend is named for a remote, difficult to reach block on one of the lowest slopes of the Monte Rosso Vineyard.
The color is dark with purple edges in the glass. The blend is five varietals, mostly Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and a touch of Grenache. Every element of this wine expresses the depth of a great mountain vineyard. The glass fills with aromas of blackberry jam, plum, cedar, truffle, hints of graphite and slightly toasted oak. Leaning more toward a full-bodied style, Gravity has a luscious mouthfeel that is chewy with plenty of ripe tannins and an appealing earthy finish. Tasted the next day and the wine continued to reveal a lovely texture and balance.
By Perry Miroballi
2017 Beaulieu Vineyards
With a century of winemaking, Beaulieu Vineyards stands as one of Napa’s iconic wineries. Wine writers have repeatedly said that few wineries have had such a critical role as Beaulieu Vineyard in the history American Winemaking. Beaulieu Vineyard is one of the longest continually operating wineries in Napa Valley. According to the current director of winemaking, Trevor Durling, “we use traditional winemaking methods paired with the utilization of modern technology to maximize wine quality.” He continues “exceptional vineyards, wine quality and history are all tremendous assets that we hold dear at Beaulieu Vineyard today, and these things will also help to ensure our success into the future.” This holds true, as the quality of the BV’s wines in recent years have been extraordinary.
My experience with the Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve dates to the mid- 90’s. Since my first glass, I have always been a fan of this wine, the artistry of their blending and the complexity from the use of classic Bordeaux varietals. The color is almost opaque with dark purple edges is the glass. Within are aromas of black plum, crème de cassis, savory herbs, dust, and a hint of graphite. There is a creamy texture showcasing black cherry, cola, and a slight hazelnut overtone. The tannins have been tamed likely by the amount of Merlot (11%) added in this vintage, giving it a silkiness on the palate. There is enough acidity to give The Tapestry Reserve a long caressing finish. There is an unmistakable pedigree in the wines of Beaulieu Vineyards.
By Perry Miroballi
J. Lohr Vineyards
Jerry Lohr was raised on a farm in South Dakota and moved to California receiving an MS at Stanford and then a PhD in Civil Engineering. He was inspired by the landscape in Monterey and in the early 1970’s, at the age of 34, planted 280 acres in Arroyo Secco mostly to Chardonnay. Realizing the potential of growing red varietals in Paso Robles, Jerry planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in this region of diverse soils. Later he would also purchase some vineyards in Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon.
This distinguished wine is part of the “Bordeaux-inspired” cuvee series from J. Lohr Vineyards. The majority of this deeply saturated blend is Merlot with the addition of some Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. After tasting this wine, I was awed by the textural quality and pedigree of this wine, reminding me of an esteemed property from the Bordeaux appellation of Pomerol. The silky entry leads you to an expansive core of opaque blueberry compote and black currant fruit woven together with graphite and dark espresso. The richness and complexity of this wine is compelling with sleek edges that lead you to a divine finish that lasts for days.
2018 Justin Winery
Justin and Deborah Baldwin acquired their land in 1981 and planted 72 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles that same year. Initially they were wine growers, selling to other wineries. Then, in 1987, they harvested their first grapes bottled under the Justin label. Justin Winery concentrates on two Bordeaux styled red wines: Isosceles, which is a 100% estate blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and Justification, a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Varietals are planted to specific soil types on their hillside vineyards 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean, on the Central Coast. Winemaking has been under the guidance of Scott Shirley since 2012. For more that 30 vintages, Isosceles has been their flagship wine.
The 2018 Isosceles is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Aged 21 months in 100% new French Oak. The color is nearly opaque, with a deep ruby and purple core. This wine is extremely aromatic and complex. It opens with cassis and ripe black cherry followed by nuances of baking spice, cedar, licorice, and pipe tobacco. The bright fruit is sustained on the entry and evolves into a creaminess on the palate. The core of this wine has accents of spice, cedar and saddle leather. The finish continues with integrated fruit and acidity that leads you to long caressing finish. Tasted the next day with similar results. The 2018 Justin Isosceles is a wine you can drink and enjoy in its youth, but will age up to 20 years. I recently opened a 2001 Justin Isosceles. It revealed amazing youthful fruit, depth and was truly delicious.
By Perry Miroballi
Rod Strong, a recognized professional dancer chose to relocate to Sonoma County over 55 years ago and pursue his interests in winemaking, founding Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1959. In 1989 the Klein Family purchased the property and Tom Klein was responsible for the modernization and artisan styled approach to winemaking. The winery sources fruit from 14 estate vineyards throughout Sonoma with an emphasis on the Russian River Valley.
Consulting winemaker David Ramey works together with winemaker Greg Morthole in crafting these reserve tier wines. Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) is the dominant player in this red Meritage blend. A dark ruby hue opens with faint aromas of red violets framed by bright Rainier Cherries, black plums and sandalwood. The mid-palate has good weight and balance with a dusting of cocoa on the edges and a delicate underpinning of vanilla. The tannins are youthful yet it remains approachable at this early stage of evolution.
Michael David Winery
2018 Petite Petit
2018 Freakshow Red
2018 Petite Petit: This dynamic wine is one of the many pleasurable offerings produced by Michael David Winery. The Petite-Petit is intensely opaque and inviting from the starting gate. Given its high percentage of ripe, viscous, in your face Petite Sirah it may leave you breathless. The wine permeates every taste bud with juicy layers of mulberry, blackberry liqueur and fruitcake spices drizzled with dark fudge. The mid-palate is velvety and richly complex with supple tannins that lead you to a serious finish. If you are looking for a way to start and end your week, this wine will take you far beyond those borders. This red blend is a joy to consume without an occasion.
2018 Freakshow Red: After your first sip you will understand why this remains the number one selling wine from Michael David Winery. This playful red blend has some serious intentions with a composite of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Souzao, a Portugese grape known for its ripeness. The core is ultra-concentrated with a compote of fresh black orchard fruits and crushed dried flowers textured with dark roasted espresso. It has just enough acidity to keep everything in balance and fun.