Once Upon A Vine


Celebration 2000 Classe M Champagne

Once upon a time in Hollywood — a month ago


Bin 138 Old Vine Barossa Valley Shiraz Blend 2009

Raspberry aromas and a rubbery note. Very raspberry on the palate. Oak influence is restrained, particularly for a Penfolds red (apart from St Henri) although it is 10 years old, very integrated and nearing the end of its drinking window. Once again the Grenache aromas and influence on the palate dominate in this GSM Blend. Easy to drink. — 2 months ago

Peter, Scott and 9 others liked this
Bob McDonald

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@ES Faiello Totally agree. Bins 128 and 28 as well as Koonunga Hill are good as well. Seems like Penfolds Wines are more readily available in the USA these days?
ES Faiello

ES Faiello

I’ve always found them well represented... 707 cab might be a treat, 128 & st henri a bit rare but all in all - not too difficult to find - esp. lower end stuff - cheers!
Bob McDonald

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@ES Faiello Thanks for the feedback.

Relic Wines

Old Vines Frediani Vineyard Petite Sirah 2016

Sourced from the Alfred Frediani Vineyard in Calistoga this Old-Vine Petite Sirah absolutely phenomenal. The 100% Petite Sirah spent 21 months in 50% new French Oak barrels and it immediately begins to impress once in the glass. It offers seductive aromatics of ripe blackberry cobbler and dark cherries, which are joined by dried loam, violets, sweet exotic spices, crushed rocks and a dusting of roasted cocoa beans all coming together beautifully. On the palate this is full-bodied and opulent, with big polished tannins framing the rich layered texture that is well balanced and remains fresh and inviting. This goes on to impress with its incredible ripe, dense core, which is marked by flavors of dark fruits, sweet spices and a loamy character that expands through the long enveloping finish. A fabulous job by winemaker Mike Hirby to make such a profound wine without jeopardizing balance and sense of terroir. This Petite Sirah is a total knockout that is nothing short of absolutely delicious today, and should continue to drink marvelously for years to come. — 5 months ago

P, Ira and 12 others liked this

P A Premium Badge

@Joe D'Angelo Joe Nice post Cheers 🍷

Vine Hill Ranch

VHR Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Red and dark cherries, licorice, dark chocolate, and spices. An opulent wine with a fabulous finish. My wife says “jewel tones” - I like it! Needs a couple of hours to decant — fabulous once you do. — 6 months ago

David liked this
David L

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Made just a bit. Hard bottle to find. Cheers
John Malcolm

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Thanks. I get as much VHR whenever I can.


Bocca Di Lupo Castel del Monte Aglianico 2010

The 2010 Bocca di Lupo is showing marvelously at the nine year mark. Sourced from this storied Puglia vineyard, the wine was partially aged in new French and Hungarian oak barrels (25%) before bottling. Tightly wound upon entry, this needs an hour decent to fully be aroused. Once awoken, the Aglianico takes the lead with a dense core of red fruits, leather and baking spices, with firm tannins and suggestions of milk chocolate that round out the expressive palate. Showing good freshness and verve, as well as weight, the 2010 Bucca di Lupo will enjoy a long life in the cellar. Drink 2019-2035- 92 — a month ago

"Odedi", Veronika and 14 others liked this

Château Cheval Blanc

St. Émilion Red Bordeaux Blend 1990

Delectable Wine

The 1990 Cheval Blanc is a vintage that once upon a time I drank regularly, although I had not seen it since March 2016. Poured against the 1990 Lafite-Rothschild, this is the clear winner. Still youthful in color with modest bricking. The bouquet explodes from the glass with kirsch, mulberry, antique furniture and black truffle scents. With aeration it becomes more savory, the Cabernet Franc wanting to see more of the olfactory action. The palate is medium-bodied and comes equipped with a stunning velvety texture. This Saint-Émilion feels spherical, conveying a sense of controlled decadence but avoiding any ostentation. This is as good a bottle as I have encountered over the years. Brilliant. Tasted at Noble Rot's “Xmas” dinner. (Neal Martin, Vinous, December 2019)
— a month ago

Daniel liked this

Clarendon Hills

Old Vines Clarendon Grenache 2010

The 2010 ‘Romas’ is a dazzling effort at now nine years of age. Tannic and strangely backwards upon opening, this Grenache considerably benefits from a one hour decant. Once awoken, the wine shows a gorgeous array of aromatics from ripe rose petals to potpourri and exotic spices that meld with the deep red currants and red cherry compote that take shape in the glass. The soft, silky texture entices, as does the bright sense of minerality. Unveiling its plush mouthfeel, the ‘Romas’ plays with suggestions of kirsch cordial and boysenberry jam with minerals, orange zest and lovely earthy undertones. Complex and delightful at this stage, the 2010 ‘Romas’ will have at least another decade left in the cellar. Drink 2019-2033- 93 — 4 months ago

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Dr. Owen Bargreen

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@P A Cheers my friend 🍷
Hugh O'Riordan

Hugh O'Riordan

I love this wine. Wish it cost less
Dr. Owen Bargreen

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@Hugh O'Riordan Yeah I really love these wines. They’re cellar so marvelously. Definitely not cheap!

Once Upon a Vine

The Big Bad Red California Red Blend

Rly good red blend. Smooth and fruity but not too heavy. Love a good movie night with the Ohio peeps! — 6 months ago

Iona liked this

Once Upon a Vine

A Charming Pinot California Pinot Noir 2015

From my Prince Charming. Love this one. — 9 months ago

Williams Selyem

Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016

David T

I would be remiss as a Sommelier if I didn’t pay homage to a Winery co-founder, Sonoma pioneer & legend, Burt Williams, who passed away this week at 79 due to complications of Parkinson’s.

For those of you that see my posts, soon after I fell In love with wine, I/we started traveling to as many world wine regions as we could. It was at that point, I fell in love with producers. For many, they just sip wine and like or love it. If my posts reflect anything, they hopefully convey a love and homage for producers.

It is a daunting challenge financially & a labor intensive investment to start a winery. Producers that do it well, do it out of love & passion. Somewhere around 50% is completely out of their control...weather. It is a tremendous undertaking, hard work and why I have ultimate respect for producers and Burt is the rule, not the exception.

Williams Selyem has been a favorite Pinot of ours for sometime. We really enjoy them at 10 years plus in bottle. At that age, they take on a preferred Burgundian style. They long age effortlessly, beautifully and show so much more with that kind of time in bottle.

The nose reveals; ruby, dark cassis, blackberries, black raspberries, raspberries, both black plum & plum, boysenberries, blue fruits, pomegranate, Provence herbs, tree sap, charcoal notes, soft, savory meats, mint/eucalyptus, limestone, volcanic minerals, dry, powdery rocks, Lipton tea, mixed dark berry cola, dark, red, blue, purple flowers laid on top of distinctive Williams Selyem violets.

The body, this young is full & feels well extracted. The structure, tension are still big and need to round out. The length & balance are headed to the right place. Ruby, dark cassis, blackberries, black raspberries, raspberries, both black plum & plum, boysenberries, blue fruits, pomegranate, cherries, strawberries, Provence herbs, tree sap, pronounced dark spices with plate heat, chocolate cake w/ light frosting, clove, nutmeg,, cinnamon stick, some vanillin, charcoal notes, soft, savory meats, mint/eucalyptus, underbrush, limestone, volcanic minerals, dry, powdery rocks, Lipton tea, mixed dark berry cola, dark, red, blue, purple flowers laid on top of distinctive Williams Selyem violets. The acidy is near perfect. The long finish needs time but is; delicious, well balanced, elegant, falling into dark spice as it sets.

This will continue to improve over the next 15 years plus.

I didn’t know Burt personally but, I have enjoyed his craft & legacy over the years. I will leave this post with what the winery sent out this week in tribute. They’ve done it far better than I could.

We are deeply saddened to announce that Burt Williams, founder of Williams Selyem, passed away yesterday due to complications of Parkinson’s disease.

Burt, along with co-founder Ed Selyem, started out with a few tons of free grapes in the 1970s. The two friends didn’t set out to produce wines for anyone but themselves, and they surely never imagined that their humble experiment in home winemaking would spawn a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Together, they set a new standard for American-made Pinot Noir, and elevated Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley to among the best wine growing regions in the world.

Born in San Francisco in 1940, Burt and his family moved north to Sonoma County after his dad passed. Upon graduating from Sebastopol High School, he went to work as a printer for the San Francisco Chronicle.

A self-taught winemaker, Burt found his way with the aid of many winemaking books and study of old-world winemaking techniques. In the early days, the winery had little money to spend so they improvised and used old stainless-steel dairy tanks for fermentors—a tradition we still carry on today. He was always fascinated by the terroir of the Russian River Valley and believed that the grapes grown here could make wines to rival the best in the world.

In 1992, Burt quit his day job to focus solely on the winery. After much success, he passed on selling to a few suitors, then made the decision to sell the winery to our current owner, John Dyson. Burt set a particular standard for whom they were willing to sell the winery to. The first condition was that the buyer must already be on the mailing list. The second condition was that the buyer must already be in the wine industry. “Kathe and I were really very lucky to be chosen by Burt and Ed. Kathe had joined the mailing list in the early 1990s and I already owned a winery in New York and a vineyard in California. We saw that as a true sign of Burt’s dedication to maintaining the quality of the wine and the business,” said John Dyson.

After the sale, Burt stayed in the wine industry and purchased a vineyard in the Anderson Valley, where he grew Pinot Noir. We made a vineyard designate from his grapes, called Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch, until he sold the vineyard in 2015. Burt Williams was a pioneer of the industry and stayed a true friend of the winery. He visited the winery many times a year and was always interested in current goings-on. He would often come to events and pour wine and even sign bottles for customers. John Dyson said Burt once told him, “I have to say, John, I’m so delighted we sold to you. We could never have done anything like this ourselves and you really helped make what we started live on.”

Burt’s influence on the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, and Pinot Noir winemaking in general cannot be overstated. He was considered a trailblazer in the industry and is credited with helping put Sonoma County Pinot Noir on the map. He was also an influence on, and a mentor to, an entire generation of winemakers. VP of Winemaking Jeff Mangahas said, “Burt had a profound impact on my way of thinking of winemaking and it was some of his early wines that fueled my interest in the Russian River Valley. It is truly an honor to be the steward for Williams Selyem wines today and continue to make wines in the spirit of Burt.”

We will all miss Burt greatly.

Burt is survived by his wife Rebecca, two daughters, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Photos of; Williams Selyem, two photos of Burt & the “Morning Dew Vineyard” that I hope he is walking and producing heavenly vintage from in his hereafter.
— a month ago

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Peter van den Besselaar

Peter van den Besselaar Influencer Badge

Good post. Fine tribute!
Stephen Pierron

Stephen Pierron

@David T Well said sir and excellent tribute! I have not had the opportunity to try their Pinot Noirs, but hope to very soon. Starting one's own winery is no easy feat - I'm always glad to see others recognize the sacrifice and truly appreciate all aspects of wine making.....so much passion goes into it. Cheers!
Brian Reedy

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What a wonderful man. He is missed