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09.11.2007

California's Best Boutique Wines: Tasting Family Winemakers 2007

fwm_tasting2007.jpgBetter late than never? Many of you have been e-mailing me for the last few weeks since the Family Winemakers tasting event here in San Francisco asking when my notes from the tasting would be up on Vinography. My intent has not been to teach you a lesson of patience, rather I was learning a lesson myself: DO NOT GO FOR TWO DAYS. Folks, I ended up tasting over three hundred fifty wines over two days, and that is just too many. It's taken me hours and hours to transcribe my scores from the tasting, but I've finally finished.

Family Winemakers, for those unfamiliar with the event, is the largest single tasting of California wine in the world, and focuses on family-owned and operated wineries, many of them the sort of boutique, mom-and-pop wineries that are making some of California's best wines.

The event takes place over two days, one for the public and the trade, and one just for the trade. This year I decided to go to both days of the event, and I suffered from my own ambition. I did, however, get a chance to taste a lot of great wine.

There was also a lot of wine that I DIDN'T get to taste. So much, that I am going to put my foot down and say, "Enough is enough." The tasting has just become too huge. There are so many wineries and so many wines that it no longer offers a useful service to your average professional who is interested in discovering new wines for their restaurant, wine bar, or retail store.

My recommendation? Break it into two separate events. Hold a tasting in May for wineries in the first half of the alphabet and then another in August for the second half. Or something like that. Just stop the madness.

Anyhow, let's get back to the wine reviews. My strategy at this, and any large tasting, is to taste wines from new wineries I'm not familiar with, along with wineries I know well but whose wines I haven't tasted recently, and then to taste a few of my personal favorites along the way.

I never make it to all the wineries I want to go to, and I never make it to all the wineries that folks in the industry want me to either. So if I missed you this year, I'm sorry. That's just the way it goes.

My notes below have been divided between white, pink, and red wines, and then grouped by score. Within score groups they also happen to be listed in reverse alphabetical order because that's the order I tasted them in, and because I'm too tired to dump them back into Excel and re-sort.

Enjoy.

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2003 Derbès Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $39

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 and 9.5
2006 York Creek Cellars Pinot Blanc, Napa. $22
2006 Thomas Fogarty Winery Gewurztraminer, Monterey. $17
2006 Orin Swift Cellars "Veladora" Sauvignon Blanc. $25
2005 Littorai "Theriot Vineyard" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $60
2005 DuNah "DeDees Vineyard" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $40
2003 Derbès Chardonnay, Carneros. $36
2006 CrauforD "Highlander" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa. $16
2003 Cooper-Garrod "Gravel Ridge Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains. $20
2005 Cooper-Garrod Viognier, Santa Cruz Mountains. $20
2003 Arcadian "Sleepy Hollow Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands. $35
2004 Mt. Eden "Saratoga Cuvee" Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains. $26
2003 Mt. Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains. $38

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2006 Vinum Cellars "Vio" Viognier, Chalone. $25
2005 Tin Barn Sauvignon Blanc, Bennett Valley, Sonoma. $15
2004 Tandem Winery "Porter Bass Vineyard" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $48
2006 6 Sigma "Barrel Ferment" Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County. $28
2006 Rosenblum "Kathy's Cuvee" Viognier. $18
2005 Ramey "Hyde Vineyard" Chardonnay, Carneros. $58
2005 Ramey "Hudson Vineyard" Chardonnay, Carneros. $58
2005 Littorai "Mays Canyon" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $60
2006 Goosecross Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County. $23
2004 DuNah "Tre Cuvee" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. $38
2006 Dry Stack Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. $28
2005 Ancien Chardonnay, Carneros. $32

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 and 9
2005 Tandem Winery "Ritchie Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma. $54
2005 Tandem Winery "Sangiacomo Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. $38
2006 Storrs Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains. $25
2006 6 Sigma Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County. $20
2005 Sheldon "Sleepy Hollow Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands. $30
2005 Ramey Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $36
2005 Navarro Chardonnay, Anderson Valley. $19
2006 Modus Operandi Sauvignon Blanc, Napa. $28
2005 Mueller Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $30
2006 Green and Red "Catecula Vineyard" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa. $20
2006 Gann Family Cellars Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $24
2005 Fantesca Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $35
2006 Aubin "Verve" Sauvignon Blanc. $14

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2006 Vinum Cellars "Chard No Way" Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg. $9
2005 Trione Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $30
2005 Trione Red Wine, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $52
2006 Storrs "Viento Vineyard" Gewurztraminer, Monterey. $16
2006 Allison Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County. $18
2006 Navarro Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley. $22
2005 Monzoni Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands. $28
2006 Magito White Blend, North Coast. $17
2006 Kokomo "Peter's Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. $28
2005 Krutz Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands. $30
2005 Goosecross Cellars Chardonnay, Carneros. $29
2006 Gann Family Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $18
2006 Frias Family Sauvignon Blanc, Napa. $16
2006 Farella-Park Sauvignon Blanc, Napa. $15
2006 Bask Viognier, Suisun Valley. $14
2006 Bask Chardonnay, Suisun Valley. $16

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 and 8.5
2006 Trione Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $23
2005 Trione Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $35
2003 Spelletich Chardonnay, Carneros. $28
2006 Mueller Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $18
2006 John Anthony Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros. $19
2006 Ancien Pinot Gris, Carneros. $22


PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 and 9
2006 Vino Noceto Rosato di Sangiovese, Shenandoah Valley. $13
2006 Allison Rose, Sonoma Coast. $18
2006 Dry Stack Cellars Rose. $18

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2006 Yorkville Cellars Rose of Cabernet Franc, Mendocino. $18
2006 Frias Family Rose, Napa. $15
2006 Fleming Jenkins Rose, California. $20

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 and 8.5
2006 Vinum Cellars "It's OK" Rose. $9
2006 Gann Family Cellars Rose, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $15


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2005 Rosenblum "Harris Kratka Vineyard" Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $35
2004 Ramey "Jericho Canyon Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $110
2005 Outpost Cellars Grenache, Howell Mountain, Napa. $40
2004 Jericho Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $75
2004 Derbès "Les Pinots" Pinot Noir. $45

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 and 9.5
2004 Spence Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa. $65
2005 Sojourn Cellars "Sangiacomo Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $48
2005 Sheldon "Vinolocity" Grenache / Syrah Blend, Santa Rita Hills. $30
2005 Shultz Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder, Napa. $30
2005 Rosenblum "Richard Sauret Vineyard" Zinfandel, Paso Robles. $25
2003 Rockledge Primitivo, St. Helena, Napa. $22
2004 Rockledge Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa. $60
2004 Rocinante Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $35
2003 Rocca Family Vineyards Syrah, Yountville, Napa. $42
2005 Parallel Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $55
2005 Outpost Cellars Zinfandel, Howell Mountain, Napa. $45
2005 Outpost Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa. $65
2004 Orin Swift Cellars "Murcurey" Red Blend. $75
2005 Littorai "Mays Canyon" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $65
2003 Ladera "Lone Canyon Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $65
2005 Lamborn Zinfandel, Howell Mountain, Napa. $30
2005 Klinker Brick "Old Ghost" Zinfandel", Lodi. $37
2004 Jocelyn Lonen "Founder's Blend" Red Wine, Napa. $85
2004 Jocelyn Lonen "Reserve" Red Wine, Napa. $60
2004 JC Cellars "Ventana Vineyard" Syrah, Arroyo Seco. $30
2004 Green and Red "Tip Top Vineyard" Syrah, Napa. $24
2005 Graves "Rock Lady" Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre Blend, Paso Robles. $36
2002 Farella-Park "Alta" Red Wine, Napa. $55
2004 Farella-Park "Road Block" Syrah, Napa. $28
2003 DuNah Red Wine. $38
2005 Downing Family "Fly by Night" Zinfandel, Napa. $32
2004 Diamond Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa. $55
2005 CrauforD "The Kilt Lifter" Zinfandel, Napa. $32
2004 CrauforD "Tattoo" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $38
2001 Cooper-Garrod Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains. $28
2002 Cooper-Garrod "Valley View Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains. $28
2000 Cooper-Garrod "R.V.'s Fine Claret" Red Wine, Santa Cruz Mountains. $32
2005 Clos Saron "The Black Pearl" Red Wine, Sierra Foothills. $35
2005 Charter Oak Cellars "Monte Rosso Vineyard" Zinfandel. $45
2005 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $46
2004 Bugay Cabernet Franc, Sonoma. $38
2003 Bugay "Les Rochieres" Reserve Cabernet Sauvignong, Sonoma. $89
2003 Bugay "Incline One-Nine" Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $89
1999 Blue Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. NA
2005 Big Basin Cellars "Rattlesnake Rock" Syrah. $55
2005 Aubin "Verve" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $27

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2003 York Creek Cellars Cabernet Franc, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $36
2003 York Creek Cellars Petite Verdot, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $30
2003 York Creek Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $25
2003 York Creek Cellars "Horseshoe" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $60
2005 Tallulah "Les Trois Voix" Grenache, Syrah. Mourvedre Blend. $30
2004 Surh Luchtel "Page Nord Vineyard" Syrah, Oak Knoll District, Napa. $35
2005 Surh Luchtel "Mosaique" Red Blend, Napa. $29
2004 Surh Luchtel Zinfandel, Napa. $35
2001 Storrs BXR Bordeaux Blend, Santa Cruz Mountains. $40
2003 Spelletich Bodog Red Blend, Napa. $26
2004 Sojourn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $42
2005 6 Sigma Tempranillo, Lake County. $42
2006 Siduri Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $29
2004 Carol Shelton "Maple" Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $33
2005 Sheldon "Ross Ranch" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $36
2005 Sheldon "Vinolocity" Grenache / Syrah Blend, Santa Ynez Valley. $30
2004 Sensorium Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains. $42
2004 St. Helena Road Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $42
2005 Rosenblum "England Shaw Vineyard" Syrah, Solano County. $35
2005 Rocinante Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $40
2003 Rocca Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville, Napa. $55
2005 Rocca Family Vineyards "Bad Boy Red" Red Blend, Napa. $29
2005 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $50
2005 Ramey "Larkmead Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $80
2005 Parrish Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles. $44
2005 Paloma Merlot, Napa. $54
2005 Orin Swift Cellars "The Prisoner" Red Blend. $32
2004 Nickel & Nickel "Harris' Vineyard" Merlot, Oakville, Napa. $48
2004 Mueller "Block 11" Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $38
2005 Littorai "The Haven Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $75
2004 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa. $70
2005 John Anthony Syrah, Napa. $45
2005 Jocelyn Lonen Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $35
2005 JC Cellars "Fess Parker Vineyard" Syrah, Santa Barbara. $30
2005 JC Cellars "The Impostor" Red Wine. $32
2004 Green and Red "Tip Top Vineyard" Zinfandel, Napa. $28
2003 Graves Syrah, Paso Robles. $36
2004 Graves Syrah, Paso Robles. $36
2005 Graves Syrah, Paso Robles. $36
2003 Farella-Park Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $32
2003 Fantesca Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $60
2005 Erna Schein Red Wine, Napa. $85
2005 DuNah Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $45
2005 DuNah "Sangiacomo Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $45
2005 Dry Stack Cellars "Moric's Block" Syrah. $38
2004 Downing Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $35
2004 Downing Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon , Napa. $35
2003 CrauforD "Tattoo" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $38
2004 Cooper-Garrod Cabernet Franc, Santa Cruz Mountains. $24
2005 Clos Saron "Texas Hill Ranch" Red Wine, Sierra Foothills. $35
2005 Churchill Cellars "Bella Luna" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $45
2003 Bugay Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $54
2003 Bugay Syrah, Sonoma. $49
2004 Blue Rock Vineyards Syrah, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $38
2004 Blue Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $47
2005 Big Basin Cellars "Mandala" Syrah. $45
2005 Aubin "Verve" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $28
2005 Ancien "Toyon" Pinot Noir, Carneros. $34
2005 Ancien "Mink" Pinot Noir, Napa. $42
2004 Arcadian "Pisoni Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. $48
2003 Arcadian Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley. $48

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 and 9
2005 Turley Wine Cellars "Uberoth Vineyard" Zinfandel, Paso Robles. $48
2004 Tin Barn Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $27
2004 Tin Barn Zinfandel, Napa. $27
2003 Tin Barn Syrah, Sonoma Coast. $32
2002 Tin Barn Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $29
2005 Thomas Fogarty Winery Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains. $25
2004 Tandem Winery "Sangiacomo Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $42
2004 Tandem Winery "Hellenthal Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $60
2004 Tallulah "Bald Mountain Vineyard" Syrah, Mt. Veeder, Napa. $40
2005 Stroth-Hall "Nelson Farm Vineyard" Syrah, Santa Cruz Mountains. $25
2004 Storrs Petite Sirah, Santa Cruz Mountains. $23
2005 Stephen Walker Trust Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa. $65
2005 Steltzner "Claret", Stag's Leap District. $18
2004 Steltzner Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag's Leap District. $38
2004 Steltzner Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag's Leap District. $75
2002 Spelletich Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $45
2003 Spelletich Zinfandel, Napa. $25
2004 Spann Cellars "Mo Jo" Red Wine. $40
2005 Sojourn Cellars Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $36
2005 6 Sigma "Pique Nique" Red Blend, Lake County. $18
2005 6 Sigma Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County. $42
2005 Siduri "Miurfield" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon. $39
2005 Novy Syrah, Sonoma. $20
2005 Novy "Page Nord Vineyard" Syrah, Napa. $33
2005 Novy "Rosella's Vineyard" Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands. $33
2004 Carol Shelton "Wild Thing" Zinfandel, Mendocino. $28
2005 Carol Shelton "Exhale" Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $20
2004 Sensorium Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $36
2005 Shultz Syrah, Oak Knoll District, Napa. $30
2005 Outpost Cellars Petite Sirah, Howell Mountain, Napa. $35
2005 Nickel & Nickel "Darien" Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $48
2004 Navarro Syrah, Mendocino. $22
2005 Modus Operandi "Vicarious" Red Blend, Napa. $35
2003 Meyer Family Syrah. $30
2003 Mantra "Revelations" Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $32
2004 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $35
2005 Kokomo "Peter's Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $45
2005 Kokomo Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $22
2005 Klinker Brick "Old Vine" Zinfandel, Lodi. $18
2004 Howell Mountain Vineyards "Beatty Ranch" Zinfandel, Howell Mountain, Napa. $ ??
2003 Howell Mountain Vineyards "Beatty Ranch" Cabernet, Howell Mountain, Napa. $ ??
2005 Green and Red "Chiles Mill" Zinfandel, Napa. $25
2005 Gann Family Cellars Merlot, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $29
2005 Frias Family Merlot, Napa. $32
2003 Fisher Vineyard "Cameron" Red Wine, Napa. $50
2002 Farella-Park Merlot, Napa. $20
2005 Erna Schein "Cemetery" Red Wine, Napa. $70
2005 Dierberg Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley. $42
2004 Cooper-Garrod Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains. $24
2004 Churchill Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $36
2003 Charter Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa. $65
2005 Chappellet "Mountain Cuvee" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $26
2005 Chappellet Merlot, Napa. $32
2005 Big Basin Cellars "Fairview Ranch" Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands. $45
2005 Aubin "Verve" Syrah, Sonoma Mountain. $28
2005 Aubin "Verve" Syrah, Colombia Valley, Washington. $24
2005 Ancien "Fiddlestix Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $48
2005 Ancien "Red Dog Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain. $48
2004 Addamo Estate Syrah, San. $28
2004 Arcadian "Fiddlestix Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $50
2004 Mt. Eden "Saratoga Cuvee" Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains. $24
2005 Mt. Eden Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains. $40


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2005 York Creek Cellars Tempranillo, Sonoma. $24
2003 York Creek Cellars Merlot, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $36
2004 Violet Green Cabernet Franc, Mendocino. $39
2005 Vinum Cellars "Pets" Petite Sirah. $12
2004 Vino Noceto Reserve Sangiovese, Shenandoah Valley. $24
2004 Vino Noceto OGP Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley. $28
2004 Viader "DARE" Cabernet Franc, Napa. $40
2004 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $40
2003 Thomas Fogarty Winery "Lexington" Meritage, Santa Cruz Mountains. $35
2004 Tantalus Tempranillo, Lodi. $18
2004 Tandem Winery "Van der Kamp Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain. $48
2005 Tandem Winery Peloton Red Blend, California. $25
2005 Tallulah "Shake Ridge Vineyard" Syrah, Amador County. $28
2004 Tallulah "Del Rio Vineyard" Syrah, Oregon. $30
2004 Tallulah Syrah, Sonoma Coast. $28
2005 Surh Luchtel Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $50
2004 Stroth-Hall "Sapphire Hill" Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $30
2005 Stroth-Hall "Fenaughty" Syrah, El Dorado County. $25
2005 Storrs Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains. $36
2005 Stephen Walker Trust Pinot Noir, Monterey. $36
2004 Steltzner Merlot, Stag's Leap District. $28
2004 Steltzner Cabernet Franc, Stag's Leap District. $38
2005 Spelletich Syrah, Contra Costa County. $25
2004 Spann Cellars "Mo Zin" Red Wine. $20
2005 Siduri "Amber Ridge" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $44
2006 Siduri "Rosella's Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. $46
2004 Carol Shelton "Monga" Zinfandel, Cucumonga Valley. $21
2005 Sheldon "Ripken Vineyard" Petite Sirah, Lodi. $30
2001 Punk Dog Wines "Sophie's Riddle" Red Wine, Sonoma. $19
2005 Orentano Pinot Noir, Sonoma. $40
2005 Nickel & Nickel "Bonfire" Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $48
2005 Navarro "Method L'Ancienne" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $28
2005 Mueller "Old Vine" Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $38
2004 Mantra Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $30
2005 Mantra Syrah, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $28
2005 Mantra Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $28
2005 Magito "Highlands" Cabernet Sauvignong. $18
2004 Lamborn Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa. $85
2005 Kokomo Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $22
2004 Klinker Brick "Farrah" Syrah, Lodi. $16
2003 Goosecross Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa. $64
2005 Gann Family Cellars Syrah, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $38
2005 Gann Family Cellars Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $28
2005 Frias Family Red Wine, Napa. $30
2005 Frias Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $65
2004 Behrens & Hitchcock Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $50
2005 Downing Family Syrah, Napa. $24
2005 Downing Family Petite Sirah, Napa. $50
2002 Cooper-Garrod "Finley Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains. $24
2004 Churchill Cellars "Bella Luna" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $45
2005 Charter Oak Cellars "Old Vine" Zinfandel. $45
2004 Bugay Zinfandel, Sonoma. $28

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 and 8.5
2004 Yorkville Cellars Cabernet Franc, Mendocino. $20
2005 York Creek Cellars "Mixed Black" Zinfandel Blend, Spring Mountain District, Napa. $24
2004 Violet Green Syrah, Mendocino. $47
2004 Vinum Cellars The Scrapper Red Blend. $25
2004 Vino Noceto Sangiovese, Shenandoah Valley. $16
2004 Tantalus Pinot Noir, Sonoma. $25
2004 Steltzner Pinotage, Stag's Leap District. $28
2006 Siduri Pinot Noir, Sonoma. $20
2005 Mantra Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $24
2005 Kokomo Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. $22
2005 Frias Family Syrah, Napa. $32
2003 Fisher Vineyard "Coach Insignia" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $70
2004 Addamo Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara. $35
2004 Mt. Eden Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains. $42

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2004 Violet Green "Cuvee Maggie" Red Wine, Mendocino. $36
2004 Vinum Cellars Cabernet, Napa. $25
2003 Tin Barn Red Blend, Napa. $34
2004 Tantalus Syrah, Carneros. $25
2004 Steltzner Sangiovese, Stag's Leap District. $38
2005 Soper Winery "Legacy" Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. $24
2005 Sensorium Syrah, Paso Robles. $25
2003 Page Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $50
2004 Modus Operandi Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. $52
2004 Lagier-Meredith Syrah, Mt. Veeder, Napa. $50
2005 Kokomo Petite Sirah, North Coast. $22
2004 Krutz Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $30
2004 JRE Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa. $65
2003 John Tyler Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $42
2005 Goosecross Cellars Zinfandel, Napa. $32
2005 Gann Family Cellars Petite Sirah, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $38

Comments (12)

Steve wrote:
09.12.07 at 7:47 AM

Alder, I’ll make a prediction: One of these days you will no longer go to these huge circus tastings. You’ll realize that serious tasting is impossible at them, for more reasons than can be listed in a short posting. But, as I know you’re familiar with Peynaud’s “The Taste of Wine,” I would refer you to Chapter 6, “Tasting Problems and Errors of Perception,” which explains this far better than I can. His key comment: “Professional tasters try to avoid such errors by always tasting in the same environment...”.

Alder wrote:
09.12.07 at 8:32 AM

Steve,

Thanks for the comments. Yes, I'm familiar with "problems of perception" and that is one reason that I don't make tasting notes at these events (that and the fact that if I did, I'd never get to taste as many wines as I want to). The one thing about these tastings is that they allow me to sample a large number of wines that ordinarily I wouldn't have the access or time to taste otherwise. While I do get a large number of samples sent to me, I'm not Parker or the Spectator, where essentially every wine of note from a given region or vintage shows up at my door, or where an expansive budget allows me to purchase whatever I want to review. If I want to taste some of the better wines on the market, right now the only place for me to taste them is at a tasting like this.

drea wrote:
09.12.07 at 1:28 PM

I was just curious if any of these gave their production numbers, since often with boutique wineries, you're looking at less than 1000 cases. Was their a cap, in order to consider it a "family" winery?

Alder wrote:
09.12.07 at 1:48 PM

Drea,

Those numbers are readily available for those who ask -- it's not part of the info I gather at these tastings. In order to pour at this tasting, wineries must be a member of the Family Winemakers, which is a marketing organization. While I'm not 100% of their criteria for being a member, I'm fairly certain it doesn't include any sort of production cap.

Jill wrote:
09.15.07 at 4:28 PM

so Aubin "Verve" Pinot is in both the 9 and the 'between 9 an 9.5' categories. It's kind of splitting hairs, but which is the typo? I had a past vintage of this wine and would have put that in the 9 category, unless QPR is taken into account (then I would have gone slightly higher).

Alder wrote:
09.15.07 at 4:33 PM

Jill,

No typo. One is their Russian River bottling, the other is their Sonoma Coast bottling.

ScottS wrote:
09.16.07 at 5:05 PM

Thanks for validating the hype on the 05 Outpost Grenache and Zin. My order is in already and I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it.

Can you provide any additional information on the apparently poor showing for the Lagier-Meredith Syrah?

Thanks for suffering through the tasting. Must have been hell.

Alder wrote:
09.16.07 at 5:15 PM

Scott,

Well, it wasn't exactly suffering.... ;-)

The Lagier-Meredith Syrah just had an odd edge to it that I didn't care for. I don’t make individual tasting notes so I can't tell you more than that as my rough memory of my taste.

Brian wrote:
09.17.07 at 3:35 PM

I see you ranked high again one of my favorite wineries-one you turned me onto, Farella-Park. I tasted the Syrah from the barrel last summer!

Veronica wrote:
09.17.07 at 10:44 PM

I will have to get my hands on, "The Taste of Wine." Your scores are very impressive! I was at Family Winemakers as well, and it soon became one big, beautiful blur. What I was most impressed with though, was the Spence Howell Mtn cab and the Hollywood & Vine Cab.. I also liked the pinot noir from Anglim. There was a lot to like.
cheers!

Jarrod wrote:
12.08.07 at 1:39 PM

I disagree with your rating of the John Tyler Pinot Noir as only an 8. I recently tasted it at a restaurant and it blew me away! The Bacigalupi family is acutally making this wine, which in my opinion makes it that much better of a wine. I suggest you try and it again, and this time with food!

11.15.14 at 6:40 PM

This post is invaluable. When can I find out more?

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