WINE REVIEWS

 

2018

Decoy Limited Red

2017 Paraduxx

Paraduxx was founded in 1994 by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn as the only Napa winery focusing exclusively on Napa Valley blends. Winemaker Cardiff Scott-Robinson combines winemaking experience from two continents, mastering multiple grape varieties and a passion for blending.

2017 Paraduxx: The color is opaque to dark cherry on the edges. The wine opens with enticing aromas of blueberry, dark cherry, cedar, and licorice.  The palate has layers of rich fruit flavors, a creamy feel, velvety tannins, a spatter of dark chocolate, and spice that adds depth to a long finish that goes on for minutes. The 2017 Paraduxx Proprietary Red Wine is a bold expressive blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with 6 additional varietals that work remarkably well together.  A wonderful achievement in winemaking that will satisfy the palate of today's consumer at a particularly good value. 

2018 Decoy Limited Napa Valley Red:  This well-crafted red uses grapes from some of the most acclaimed Napa Valley vineyards, including Duckhorn’s own estate properties.  It is composed of Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a small amount of Tempranillo.

The deep ruby accents aromas of cassis, ripe cherry.  The flavors take you through a bold, rich, and luxurious journey of blackberry, baking spices and a pleasant sweetness from the French Oak.  The creamy texture carries through a long and velvety finish. 

By Perry Miroballi

2017

Stags Leap Winery

The Investor

Situated in the Stags Leap district of Napa Valley. This property once served as a resort and manor home for California’s high society and elite from 1886-1956. Vineyards were planted as far back as 1872. Los Angeles restaurateur and builder, Carl Doumani purchased the property in 1970 restoring the principle residence and vineyards. With an annual case production of 85,000 cases a year, Doumani reestablished recognition for the Stags’ Leap Winery label. Treasury Wine estates assumed control in 1996.

 

The Investor Red Blend is composed of 37% Merlot along with 30% Petite Sirah, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Malbec. The opaque and inky complexion of this blend reveals floral rose petal aromas with an inner core of juicy blackberry marmalade, dark plums and brown spices.  Within the core are intriguing savory elements of dried sage and black olive. The Merlot offers a Right Bank Bordeaux-styled personality to the wine while the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon enhances the overall structure and complexity. It is youthful and will develop gracefully over time.

 

2017

Hamel Family Wines

Isthmus 

Pam and George Hamel began their journey in the family wine business in 2006 when they bought a house in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley. The property came with 1 acre of Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Today, the site occupies 124 acres. The grapes are sourced from estate vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Moon Mountain. John Hamel II had directed the winegrowing and operations since 2017. John expresses “Practices like biodynamic and dry-farming allow the vines to have a deep and natural connection to where they are growing, and ultimately we strive to have this connection expressed in the wine.”

The 2017 Isthmus Red is a blend primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon with a smaller amount of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Petit Verdot from the estate vineyards of Hamel Family Ranch and Nuns Canyon Vineyard.  It is aged for 14 months in French Oak.  With each swirl in the glass, the wine reveals complex aromas of fresh dark cherries, cedar, forest floor, leather and a whiff of tobacco. The palate is full bodied with a concentrated core that has silky edges.  The tannins are refined and persist through to the finish. I tasted the wine the following day and it revealed more balance and elegance.  The wine has a rewarding future given an additional five to ten years of aging. It’s hard to be patient and cellar a wine of this caliber when the wine is great to drink now! 

By Perry Miroballi

 
 

Orin Swift

2018 Papillon

2019 Abstract

While studying in Florence, Italy during his college years, David Phinney developed a deep-seated passion for wine. On returning he worked at Robert Mondavi Winery during harvest in 1997. The following year he established Orin Swift Cellars. His ideology was an unconventional style of blending different varietals across varying sites in California. His success story was founded on the creation of his most iconic wine in 2000, The Prisoner, boasting a Goya label.  Phinney later sold The Prisoner to Huneeus for $40 million and Gallo acquired the rights to the Orin Swift collection for $100 million.

2019 Abstract: This is a clever blend of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Syrah aged in French and American Oak. This broadly shouldered wine is a youngster with elements of cassis, cola and generous ripe tannins. The mid-palate is supple with undercurrents of tea and dried fruits. Give this wine a few months to develop its full potential.

2018 Papillon: One of the crown jewels in the Orin Swift portfolio. A blend of all five Bordeaux varietals aged for 15 months in French oak. This blend is as plush and juicy as grandma’s fresh baked cherry pie with an extra helping of crushed boysenberries and blackberries on top. It reveals a bit of a ripe brambly character with a touch of cinnamon and black pepper.  It is a gem that is concentrated but remains silky and balanced through the long finish.  

Prisoner Wine Co.

2019 The Prisoner

2018 Derange

Anne and Pat Stotesbery acquired mountainside vineyard property on Mount Veeder in 1996 and later in 2000 purchased acreage on revered Howell Mountain. The couple replanted the vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, restoring the winery originally built in 1886.

 

The 2016 Ladera Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Howell Mountain vineyard parcels in mineral rich soils that range in elevation between 1,600 and 1,800 feet, above the fog line. The wines are aged in 100% new French oak barrels for 22 months. This youthful wine is well endowed with a lush mouth-feel. There is an abundance of ripe black fruits that emerge from the glass dusted with cocoa and a hint of graphite.  This brooding wine is framed with Asian spices and a touch of sweet oak, yet stays in balance with ripe tannins. 

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Michael David

2018 Misfits & Mavens

2017 Politically Correct

2018 Misfits & Mavens: This is one of Michael David’s small batch wines for wine club members. It was “created to celebrate our differences while coming together, one glass at a time.” This dark ruby Bordeaux blend opens with dusty Cabernet Sauvignon aromas that are broad and fleshy. This wine expresses itself with warm framboise, strawberry coulis and Morello Cherries melded together with brown spices and cinnamon. The texture is supple and sexy keeping your attention  through the finish. Our last description was simply “delicious.”

 

2017 Politically Correct: The label embodies the philosophy of the winery ” the freedom to create without fear of condemnation.” This wine is sourced from premium lots of grapes from select vineyards. A deep ruby hue reveals elements of creme de cassis, crushed black raspberries and Oolong tea. This is a well-structured wine built around ripe mixed berries with hints of savory earth and briary spices. There is remarkable purity of fruit with a lengthy finish.

The Prisoner Wine Company

2019 The Prisoner

2016 Derange

2019 Prisoner: Originally created by Dave Phinney, The Prisoner Wine Company continues to source from multiple small family growers in creating artisan-styled blends that are “unrestricted by tradition.” Sourced from multiple vineyards, this wine is a composite of Zinfandel blended together with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Charbono. It is deeply opaque and immediately reveals its personality with a wealth of black and blue fruit preserves.  The core is intermingled with savory spices and a hefty dollop of dark cocoa powder. It has plenty of ripe, sweet tannins that make it more modern in style and immediately attractive.

2016 Derange:This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel from Napa Valley sites that include Lee Hudson in Carneros and York Creek in Spring Mountain.  The imposing, unapologetic bottle weighs as much as the big flavors inside! This is a serious massive wine!  The color is dark red leaning more to the opaque side.  The aromas are ripe dark fruit, baking spices, dark chocolate, sweet tobacco, and vanilla accents. It is a mouthfeel and extraordinarily rich on entry.  The finish is smooth and velvety with enough acidity to carry you on this journey a few extra minutes.  Derange is a wine build for age but it is so good now, why wait?

By Perry Miroballi