I kid you not, Charles Hendricks is likely the most underrated & under known Winemaker in Napa Valley.
If you have not had his wines, you are missing out on great wines & relative real value for Napa. He makes his own private higher end label-Hendricks, Hope & Grace and midway through the 14 vintage for; James Cole, Regusci & T-Vine.
There are few Winemakers that can make wines that drink well young & some that will age two decades plus stored correctly.
This Santa Lucia Doctor’s Vineyard is really good but, his private label Hendricks Pinot from Santa Lucia is off the charts. His 2008 Hendricks Pinot Noir is the highest rating I have ever given a Ca Pinot Noir, 98.
The 13 Doctor’s Vineyard is better than his 12 & is still a little early right now. It will improve over the next 5 years & hold there a couple of years before its gentle decline.
The nose reveals, ripe, well extracted & slightly baked; blackberries, stewed, deep, dark, black plum, black cherries, black raspberries, baked strawberries, dry pomegranate & cranberries with shades of blueberries. Dark spices, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanilla, touch of savory meats, anise to black licorice, black tea, wet clay, steeped black tea, touch of herbs dominated with Rosemary, rich, black, earth, dry stones, dry crushed rocks, fresh tobacco, leather notes, volcanic minerals, limestone with bright, fresh & withering florals that are; dark, red, purple, blue mixed in violets and lavender.
The body is full, rich, lush and gorgeous. The structure, tension, length and balance are just hitting their good phase. It is simply a beautiful & complex Pinot Noir. Nicely extracted & slightly baked; blackberries, stewed, deep, dark, black plum, black cherries, black raspberries, baked strawberries, dry pomegranate & cranberries with more blueberries than the nose. Dark spices that bring palate heat, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon stick & vanilla, touch of savory meats, peppery notes, anise to black licorice, black tea, wet clay, steeped black tea, touch of herbs dominated with Rosemary, rich, black, earth, dry stones, dry crushed rocks, fresh tobacco, leather notes, volcanic minerals, limestone with bright, fresh & withering florals that are; dark, red, purple, blue mixed in violets and lavender. The acidity is very good & excellent at containing the slightly higher ABV. The long, complex finish is, well balanced fruit & earth, polished and will persist until dawn.
Photos of; Their Doctor’s Vineyard, one of my favorite paintings that used to hang behind the bar in their tasting room & now hangs in Charles’ house (it reminds me of a Jackson Pollock), Winemaker-Charles Hendricks and the front of their tasting room in downtown Yountville.
— 7 months ago
Kalinda is K&L Wine Merchants private label. If you give it 5+ years in bottle, it’s one of the best, if not thee best value in Napa Cabernet. I think I paid $18.99 or $21.99 for this 09. I’d like to tell you who made it but, that’s the mystery of Kalinda, you just don’t know. They either buy juice from a quality producer or have them make a wine specifically for them. They’ve made a lot of great producer relationships over the 40 plus years they’ve been in business. Either way, dollar for dollar, it’s a steal. Name a quality Napa producer you can buy for $20. It’s a very short list. I buy six of more of these every year without even thinking about it. It’s simply that consistently good and always an exceptional value.
On the nose, it’s sweet, ripe, ruby nectar. There are some hints of fruit liqueur. Blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, black plum with hint of strawberries. Mocha powder, dark chocolate, light dark spice, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, whiff of nutmeg, crushed rocks, loamy dry top soil, some dark moist earth, dark fresh & withering floral bouquet.
The body is medium edging to full. It’s fresh, fruity, silky and elegant. The length, structure, balance and tension are in a perfect spot. There is nothing on the palate that bites back. The fruits are ripe; blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, black plum, huckleberries, blue fruit with hint of strawberries. Mocha powder, dark chocolate, light darker spice than the nose, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, whiff of nutmeg, dry crushed rocks, soft, round volcanic minerals, loamy dry top soil, some dark moist earth, dark fresh & withering floral bouquet. The round acidity is nicely executed. The long, well balanced finish is really nice and lasts minutes. This bottle just missed 9.2.
Photos of, the K&L tasting bar in SF, floor shot of racked wines and beautiful shots from the Napa Valley.
— 2 years ago
Attended a Parallel Wines private tasting last night. Very nice and classic in style. Didn’t realize how small their production is...less than 600 total cases. This is their 20th year and Melka has been with them from the beginning.
My favorite red of the evening. This is their reserve label, and it changes names each year. Very smooth. Showing the whole fruit spectrum...red, blue and black. More herbs de Provence here with some savory smoked meat too. Dark chocolate shavings, cherry wood and ripe, sweet fruits. — 10 months ago
Casual wine club with friends tonight over a steak dinner. My wife & I supplied the wines, our friends hosted and cooked.
Having sold its organically farmed grapes for 116 consecutive vintages, Napa Wine Company decided to set aside 15% of their crop in 1996 to produce their very own private label wine with. After approximately 20 months of aging in both new and used French oak barrels the wine was bottled and released. However, NWC withheld a small portion of their offering, thus relegating it to the secure confines of their cellars to lie & wait until the right time. Needless to say, the time is nigh. Produced under the masterful guidance of winemaker Randy Mason, this inaugural vintage of 1996 Cabernet from Napa Wine Company was sourced exclusively from Oakville's iconic Rock Cairn vineyard and is as classic as matured Napa Cab comes. This is a truly special bottle.
This opened up beautifully with a highly perfumed nose of saddle leather, mushrooms, cherries, Luxardo cherry syrup, licorice, mint, pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, and Christmas spices. On the palate very feminine, balanced, and downright elegant. So delicious. I was very happy with this. — a year ago
I think this might be K&L’s first Kalinda Bourgogne Blanc. They have made their private label wines since 1984. I can’t remember one not being worth twice it’s value or more.
Jacques Bavard made this 16 for K&L. He is a small Negociant producer in Puligny-Montrachet.
On the nose, Meyer lemon, green apple, ripe pineapple, peach, white peach, touch of grapefruit w/ pith, lime, cream, soft vanilla, honey notes, hints of tangerine, waxy character, soft saline minerals, sea shells, spring yellow & white flowers.
The palate is full & lush. It’s big & creamy. Ripe pineapple, peach, white peach, green & golden apple, Meyer lemon, lime, grapefruit w/ pith, beeswax, honeysuckle, tangerine, cream, pear, hints of vanilla, saline, sea shells, elegant, soft chalkiness, beautiful round acidity and a finish that is well balanced, big structure, nice tension with excellent length and lasts minutes.
This $19.99 a bottle. Buy a bunch for everyday drinking and to impress. It’s very good and too easy to drink. Easily worth twice it’s bottle price. I’ll be buying more. — 2 years ago
Is there anything better than Ribeye & Claret? From my perspective, no. This is the second wine from one of more prestigious Chateaus in St. Estephe. Bordeaux rule number 2, buy the hell out of good producers second wines in very good vintages, like 2005. You’ll get great wines at more affordable prices. Providing, you exercise patience; which is rule number 1. Decanted for 3 plus hours. On the nose, ripe; blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, baked strawberries, black plum & cherries pull up the rear. Incense, herbaceous character, anise, scorched dark earth, burnt ambers, anise, baking spices dominated by vanilla, black tea, black cherry cola, loamy dry soils, dry & fresh red florals with violets for days. It’s in a great phase with many years ahead. The body is full and round. The texture has you wanting more. It’s velvety and ripe. Tannins soft and powdery, around 65-70 resolved. The fruits are ripe & ruby...showing the excellence of the 05 vintage. Blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, baked strawberries, black plum & cherries pull up the rear. Incense, herbaceous character, anise, scorched dark earth, dry stones, leather, cigar with ash, burnt ambers, anise, baking spices dominated by vanilla, black tea, black cherry cola, loamy dry soils, dry & fresh red florals with violets for days. The acidity is dead on. The length, structure, length & balance is harmonizing like America on the album, “ Horse with No Name.” The long finish is; ruby, rich, elegant, round, beautiful and lasts a minute plus. Beautiful wine. 9.4 with the steak. 9.2 on its own. Photos of; Chateau Cos d’ Estournel, hosting/tasting area, private wine stock and barrel cellar. Producer notes and history...Chateau Cos d’Estournel has a long history in the appellation of St. Estephe. Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, gave his name to the estate after founding it in 1811. It only took a few years before Chateau Cos d’Estournel became famous with wine lovers and royalty all over the world. In the early days, the wines of Cos d’Estournel were not sold through the Negociant system. The owner preferred selling his wine directly to his customers. In fact, Chateau Cos d’Estournel was exported to numerous countries across the globe, with a large portion of the production being sold to India. It was that connection to India that inspired much of the unique, east Indian design we see at Cos d’Estournel today. Chateau Cos d’Estournel was one of the first Chateaus to bottle, label and sell their own wine. This practice continued until the death of Louis Gaspard d’Estournel in 1852. After his death, the estate was purchased by an owner that sold their wines on the Place de Bordeaux, using the negociant system. If the Chateau had not been selling their wines through the negociant system, it would never have been included in the 1855 Classification! Chateau Cos d’Estournel was sold to the Charmolue family, the owners of the neighboring Chateau Montrose. They continued to own the estate until 1917, when it was bought by Fernand Ginestet. The purchase was the next major step in the development of Cos d’Estournel. The next era in the development of Chateau Cos d’Estournel took place in 2000, when Chateau Cos d’Estournel was bought by Michel Reybier, who made his fortune in the food industry. Michel Reybier hired the son of Bruno Prats, Jean-Guillaume Prats to manage Cos d’Estournel. Things improved with the efforts of Jean-Guillaume Prats who helped design the most modern wine making facilities in the entire Bordeaux wine making appellation at the time. A complete renovation of Cos d’Estournel took place in the winemaking facilities and cellars. The wine making facilities are completely modern, using 100% gravity. On October 15, 2012, Jean Guillaume Prats announced he was leaving Chateau Cos d’Estournel to join LVMH. Jean Guillaume Prats was replaced by Aymeric de Gironde. Following the departure of Aymeric de Gironde in 2017, the owner, Michel Reybier took over managing the estate. In 2018, the estate released COS100, produced from their oldest Merlot vines that were 100 years of age. It was limited in production to a 100 Jeroboams, (3 litres) and 10 Balthazars (12 litres) and a few other sizes were produced from only 2 barrels of wine. The proceeds from COS100 go to the charity, Elephant Family, that is devoted to protecting and nurturing Asian elephants in their own, natural habitat. Cos d’Estournel’s new cellar is a joint reflection by the technical team, the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Jean Guillaume Prats. It’s a marvel blend of simplicity and modern technology. Cos d’Estournel is unique to Bordeaux and the rest of world. What makes this special is that the cellars of Cos d’Estournel are entirely operated by gravity. There are no pumps of any kind to force the wine. The purpose is to allow a gentleness to the wine and improve its purity allowing for expression of their special terroir. It set a new benchmark for cellars not only in the Left Bank, but in all of Bordeaux. The new cellars at Chateau Cos d’Estournel include 72 isothermal cone shaped stainless steel vats. The vats are specifically designed for thermal inertia. The 72 vats have a wide range of capacities to correspond with the needs of each parcel of vines. The vats range in size from as small as 19 hectoliters all the way up to 115 hectolitres. 12 of the smaller vats that are designed to handle between 19 and 60 hectoliters that have two levels in each vat. In other words, this offers the technical equivalent of 24 separate vats. Each of the vats are double lined, which allows for more exact and temperature control. None of the vats use interior heat coils. Perhaps the most inventive part of the cellars is the four 100 hectoliter lift tanks or wine elevators that replace the pumps used in the traditional pumping over and racking off processes, which introduce air and often destabilize the marc. From the moment the grapes arrive, everything travels by the flow of gravity. Jean Guillaume Prats called this process a pumpless, pump over. What takes place is, the wine is released from the main vat where the skins remain. By gravity, the juice is then moved into smaller vats which are on wheels. These small vats are sent to the glass elevators where they are moved up one floor and returned back into the vat by gravity to cover the skins. At this point, the process is still unique to Chateau Cos d’Estournel. The wine production of Cos d’Estournel is labor intensive starting the moment the grapes enter their new facility. The berries travel through a tunnel that instantly lowers the temperature of the fruit to 3-5 degrees Celsius. This sudden chilling stops the loss of juice while also slowing oxidation. Next, the grapes are cold macerated at 7-9 degrees Celsius for about a week. Pump overs are done by gravity recycling. The juice from the top of the vat moves to the bottom of the vat entirely by gravity. The fermentation takes place at low temperatures to avoid over extraction or harsh tannins. The 91 hectare vineyard of Chateau Cos d’Estournel is planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The vineyard is located close to the border of Pauillac and Saint Estephe at the southern tip of the Saint Estephe appellation. The vineyard has cultivated 84 hectares of vines. Even though the vineyard has been expanded over the years, the grape varietals planted here have remained consistent. The vineyard, located on the hill of Cos, has gentle elevations of up to 20 meters. On average, the vines are 35 years of age. However, the estate has very old Merlot vines as well, which date back more than 100 years. Part of the terroir is situated on the hill of Cos, which is at a high elevation for the Medoc at 20 meters. Cos d’Estournel is translated from old Gascon speech; which means the hill of pebbles. It describes the terroir along with clay, gravel, sand and limestone soil. However, there is a unique aspect to the soil at Cos d’Estournel, as you find more gravel and less clay here than you do at other neighboring vineyards. Because the fruit is grown close to the Atlantic ocean in a cool climate, Cos d’Estournel is often among the last of the properties in the Medoc to harvest. The vineyard is managed by teams and each team member is given 45,000 vines to look after. The vineyard, which is almost one large block, can be further divided into 72 separate parcels. — 3 years ago
I can always count on Del Frisco’s and their private label wines to really make an entrance. This Sonoma County Cab, made exclusively for the Double Eagle Steakhouse, was developed by Paul Hobbs and is produced/bottled at his CrossBarn Winery. This is a solid selection with loads of deep, brooding dark fruits, mint, Christmas spice cake, figs, molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds. Great with a burger 👌🏻 even better with a steak, I imagine. — a year ago
We have been working on our South Africa and Egypt trip for months. Diligently doing research and taking about it daily.
One of our stops will be a week on the Western Cape or as many define it, Stellenbosch. It has always been on my wine region bucket list for its wines and beauty. One of my goals was to find some excellent producers of Pinotage.
This Beeslaar is the private label of the Winemaker at Kanonkop, Abrie Beeslaar. Abrie makes a black label Kanonkop that sells retail at $200. That’s right, $200! It must be deliriously good if they can get $200 for it.
I found this 2016 Beeslaar at K&L for just under $37. It’s the 1st Pinotage that has my eyes wide open as to what can’t be done with this difficult varietal in the right hands. If his private label is this good, I hope to visit Kanonkop and taste their black label.
The nose reveals; dark chocolate raisins, dark eastern spices, plum and black cherry, blueberries, baked strawberries, blackberries, black raspberries, black raisin currants, smokiness and grilled meats, black pepper and a touch of white, some green vegetal notes, cinnamon, dark chocolate mocha bar, dark fruit steeped tea, gravely schist, touch of coffee grounds, dark fruit roll-ups, leather, tobacco with ash with fresh, dark red & blue florals.
The body is full, thick and rich. There is a dark, tarry, dusty tannin structure. This will benefit from 3-5 years plus in bottle but, it is crazy good. Sound, firm; structure, big tension, long length and very good balance. Dark chocolate raisins, smokiness and grilled meats, dark eastern spices that brings pronounced heat to the palate, black plum, plum and black cherry, blueberries, baked strawberries, blackberries, black raspberries, raspberries, black raisin currants, dark berry bubblegum, black pepper and a touch of white, tree bark with a touch of sap, some green vegetal notes, cinnamon, dark chocolate mocha bar, dark fruit steeped tea, gravely schist, dry stones, touch of coffee grounds, dark fruit roll-ups, new un-smoothed leather, tobacco with ash with fresh, dark red & blue florals. The acidity is round and splendid. The elegant, rich finish runs ripe fruits to dry tannins with dusty earth and shows an even tug of war with its fruits and earthiness.
It drinks like a combination of; Grand Cru Gamay, Shiraz and Northern Rhône.
I will be getting more of this and forgetting about it for 5 more years. Can’t wait for that moment and noting the changes.
This wine raises my excitement level for our trip with each sip.
Pinotage is a grape variety made from a cross of Pinot Noir & Cinsaut that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University...making it one of the youngest grape varietals.
Photos of; a shot of just how beautiful Cape vineyards can be, Winemaker-Abrie Beeslaar, Pinotage fruit near harvest and field-hands harvesting their very tall vines. Beeslaar has no Cellar Door currently.
— 2 years ago
On the nose, it's pure elegance. Kirsch cherries, ripe blackberries, dark cherries, plums, poached strawberries, raspberries haunt the background, vanilla, very light and soft spice, candied moist black earth, fresh violets and liquid, fresh, slightly perfumed red/dark florals. The full body is smooth, sexy and silky elegance. The tannins are round, beautiful and 65-70% resolved. The dark cherries and cherries roll the eyes back in the head. OMG! The fruits are simply garden of Eden beautiful. Poached strawberries, creamy black and regular raspberries, ripe black plum, overly extracted pomegranate, dry cranberries, soft, delicate top soil/dry clay, limestone, crushed dry rock powder, dry stones, black cherry cola/licorice, hint of anise, light notes of dry herbs, fresh tobacco leaf, sweet, dark, moist, turned earth, lead pencil shavings, rich, round mouthwatering acidity and a rich, elegant cherry driven finish that doesn't stop and I will not forget. Cheval Blanc is not a classified First Growth but on my palate it qualifies as such. Glorious bottle! I've had the 05 & 10 early. It will certainly out do this 2001 but not today. Photos of; the historical Cheval Blanc; which I prefer. I love the Bordeaux history. The new and modern 20 Million dollar addition. Shots of the cellar...the new concrete and stainless state of the art fermentation tanks. Producer notes and history...The name Cheval Blanc translates into white horse. The Chateau's history in St. Emilion traces back to 1832. It was the year the Ducasse family purchased land from Chateau Figeac. Prior to it being know as Cheval Blanc, the vineyard was better known as Le Barrail de Cailloux, which loosely translates into "barrel of tiny stones." Of course, the inspiration from the terroir's unique gravely soils. The original vines purchased from Figeac became what many people think is the best wine of St. Emilion, Chateau Cheval Blanc. For the most part, I agree with that. Back in 1832, Chateau Figeac was owned by Countess Felicité de Carle-Trajet. At that time, Chateau Figeac had grown to a massive 200 hectare estate; which is huge by St. Emilion standards. It was the Countess who decided to sell portions of their holdings. The breakup of the larger Figeac estate helped create a myriad of new St. Emilion wine making estates; which explains why so many Chateauxs include the word Figeac as part of their name. However, the owners of what was to become Cheval Blanc wanted to establish their own identity that was separate from Figeac. In 1838, the Ducasse family purchased what was to became the majority of Cheval Blanc. Some of the vines were previously part of Figeac. They began buying more St. Emilion vineyard land to create Chateau Cheval Blanc. In 1852, Mille Ducasse married Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, she came with a dowry that included their recently acquired Bordeaux vineyards that included 2 of the 5 gravel mounds running through the vineyards of Cheval Blanc and Figeac. Pretty amazing dowry! The Laussac-Fourcaud family built the chateau that is still in use today. The Laussac-Fourcaud continued to add holdings and increasing the size of the Cheval Blanc vineyards. By 1871, they accumulated a total of 41 hectares of vineyards in Saint Emilion. Chateau Cheval Blanc remains that same size to this day. A number of years ago, Cheval Blanc spent a boat load of money on updating and renovating to a modern facility in a true modern fashion that drastically departed from its original existing historical structure. Cheval Blanc has always tried to be innovative. Around 1860, when the chateau for Cheval Blanc was being built, extensive work was also being done in the vineyards. In fact, even then, Chateau Cheval Blanc was at the forefront of vineyard management techniques when they added a vast network of drains in their vineyards. Chateau Cheval Blanc was probably the first estate in the Right Bank to install this type of drainage system. At first, Chateau Cheval Blanc sold their wine under the Figeac label. Once Chateau Cheval Blanc began winning medals for the quality in their wine, they changed their label. That change included placing pictures of their medals on the label, which is still featured on their label today. More importantly, the wines were now sold under the name of Chateau Cheval Blanc. Cheval Blanc continued gaining in popularity by producing some of the best wines in all of Bordeaux during the 1920’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. In 1998 Cheval Blanc was purchased by Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frere for a 135 million Euros. They asked Pierre Lurton to manage the property for them. Today, Pierre Lurton also manages their other estates, Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau La Tour du Pin and Quinault l’Enclos. 1991 was one of the most difficult vintages in Bordeaux history, Cheval Blanc did not produce a wine. #RESPECT! In 2009, LVMH purchased the shares owned by Bernard Arnault in a private transaction. There was no official announcement of the price. However, rumors placed the price at close to 15 Million Euros per hectare (€615,000,000), making this the most expensive transaction yet, on a per hectare purchase price in the history of Bordeaux. 2000, 2005, 2009 & 2010 were near perfect or perfect vintages for Cheval Blanc and again in 2015, they produced candidates for wine of the vintage. In that same year at an auction held by Christie’s, a scarce, six-liter bottle of the legendary 1947 Cheval Blanc, (Probably the only real bottle in existence) sold for a record setting price of $304,375 dollars! In 2011, with the help of famed architect and Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, Christian de Portzamparc, Chateau Cheval Blanc completed a major construction and renovation project. This remodeling included; building a new winery, barrel cellars, vinification room, tasting area and efforts with the landscaped gardens. Even though the structure is modern in design (sigh), this new cellar cost over $20,000,000. The 39 hectare vineyard of Cheval Blanc has a complex terroir that consists of 3 different soils. Even though the vineyards are in one large parcel, this can be divided up as follows: 40% of their soils are gravel over multiple types of clay, including blue clay. Another 40% of their terroir has deep gravel soils, while the remaining 20% of their soils consists of sandy clay in the soil. The vineyard of Chateau Cheval Blanc is planted to 49% Cabernet Franc, 47% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon today, but the goal is to return to the original mix of 55% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines at Cheval Blanc are old, averaging 45 years of age. They have 8 hectares of Cabernet Franc planted in the 1950’s. However, some of the older parcels of Cabernet Franc are close to 100 years of age, as they were planted in 1920. Cheval Blanc vinification takes place in 52 different temperature controlled, cement vats that vary in size, due to the needs of specific parcels to allow for each parcel being vinified in its own tank. Malolactic Fermentation takes place in tank. The wines are aged in 100% new, French oak barrels for close to 18 months before bottling. @ FL Yountville — 3 years ago