Rodney Strong’s Rich, Full Cabernet Sauvignon

Rodney Strong, Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Rodney Strong Cab Sauv 2013

Rodney Strong Cab Sauv 2013

A deep, fully extracted Cab that signals a rich, full wine.  Does it have life?  It does!  Immediately, the freshness of the acids are evident.  The depth of blackberry and the liveliness of blackcurrant’s green edge with loads of plum make for a great display of dark, fresh fruit.

The oak is clearly evident, as is typical of Cabernets from Rodney Strong.  Leather, licorice, smoke, and savory notes, overlaying hints of earth, make for a nice complexity.

This wine’s vibrant acids give the impression of an out-of-balance wine.  But it all depends on style and food with which it is paired.  This mature Cab will cut through fats and stand up to very rich foods.  Make your decision as to whether you like this fresh acid character on a full, mature base in your Cabernet.  The tannins and the acids promise development and longevity beyond what the price would indicate.

Rating: 90

Emotional rating:  With food, this is a great experience.  Design your full-flavored dish and your emotions will sing.

Availability:  Widely available.

Lagrein — A Wine From a True Vineland: Italy

Tranin 2013, Lagrein

Tranin Lagrein 2011

Tranin Lagrein 2011

Italy is truly vineland.  Many intriguing grapes thrive and are indigenous to Italy, including Lagrein.  Alto Adige is its homeland and Lagrein lends the region a fame that will grow.  It is a German speaking region, backing up to the Austrian Tyrol.

Soft aromas of dark fruits and distant hints of oak carry through to a soft juicy palate that is  sharpened with lively acid to create a wonderful food wine.  Its medium body feels more full-bodied in the mouth with the flavors creating more sense of weight.  The tannins are light to medium and the finish is where the bitterness of the tannin is more evident.  This is wine to drink now and also to age for a few years.

Unusual indeed, an excellent experience awaits the discerning wine lover due to its aging in large oak casks and concrete tanks.  Only about 750 acres are planted.  As the newer winemakers experiment with this grape, we will see changing styles and you should keep tasting occasionally to monitor the development.  Wine experiences can center around grapes.  Try this wine on it’s own and with foods.   Experiment!

Rating: 89

Emotional rating:  History, its deep inviting color, and its possibilities raise it to a most rewarding experience.

Availability:  D

istributed by Classic Wines.

Waiting for Maturity Can Be Even Harder When It’s Wine’s


J. Bookwalter ForeshJ. Bookwalter Foreshado Cab Sauv 2011ado Cab Sauv 2011

J. Bookwalter Foreshado Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

One of the issues we face when we evaluate a wine is we can’t wait the 15 years or more we might want to wait to admire the full development to its maturity.  But this wine shows so well now that I am very impressed.  It is not made to be fruity and appealing for immediate consumption, although it could be said that it does have these elements.  It displays power and firmness, expressed in a solid structure.

Dark ruby in hue from its two grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon 85% and Syrah 15%), it reminds us again of the synergy of these grapes and the way they can enhance each other.  A little Syrah can make a big difference and 15% is more than a little.  Therefore, the depth and richness of the wine owes much to the supporting role that the Syrah plays.

The nose of the wine is striking and intense.  Earth, olive, and cedar, sweetened with vanilla and given character by the mineral notes of pavement, making this wine one to be remembered.  Fruit is there in deeper, darker varieties and the wine also gives evidence of the grapes having been quite ripe when they were picked.  A big body and a reasonably balanced softness with fine tannins climaxes in a long finish while the emotional appeal goes on and on.

This wine wants to be remembered and that’s its most notable characteristic.

Rating:  92

Emotional rating:  Like them big, bold and flavorful?  Then it will ring your bells.

Should be readily available.

A Wine to Define Your Emotions

Stoller Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills

Stoller Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills

Stoller Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, 2011

Here is a good example of a wine that will help you define your emotions when you taste.  Remember, wine is emotion in a glass.  We identify our emotions quickly when we taste a wine (or anything, for that matter) with the shallow evaluation of, “Oh I like this one,” or “I’m not impressed,” or at the negative extreme we blurt out, “I hate this!” as we ingloriously spit it out.

Do we often enjoy the experiences of wine that lay in-between these polarized reactions?  All our experiences are emotions and we need to get in touch with our emotions better in order to enjoy food and wine more.  We taste with our emotions, in the final analysis, and they are where we make our judgments of the wine or pause to dig a little deeper into their vast repertoire of experiences to find what it is we are enjoying or detesting.  To quickly enjoy or detest is to simply scratch the surface of our emotional reactions and leave out of the moment the many other reactions that our emotions want to give us.

So, here is how we do it most of the time.  First, we pour a glass, sniff, and say it seems to be good.  Then we taste and confirm: yes, it is pleasant.  And then we swallow and forget it.  Let’s do more.  As I said, this is a good wine to help you take a deeper journey into wine appreciation — your appreciation and enjoyment.

It is a red wine that you might agree is light and bright with no offsetting flavors or faults.  Start with a simple judgment.  In your opinion, is it red fruit that you are reminded of, like strawberry, raspberry or red cherries?  Or is it dark fruit, like blackberry, blueberry, black currant, or boysenberry?  I think it is red fruit.  Red, not black, and they are bright red berries.  Now, you  are on a journey with your emotions.  What are your experiences of red berries and wine that reminds you of red berries?  There’s more here as you think about it.  Doesn’t this light, bright wine remind you of sunshine, dancing in the fields and creating moments of pleasure and light heartedness you have enjoyed?  The flavors of this wine are assembling experiences in your mind, aren’t they?  They may make you feel light-hearted, making your thoughts more dance-like and receptive.   Wine begins an emotional journey that we should not miss, just like a steak can change the landscape of your mind if you will let it.

What of this wine?  It is Pinot Noir alright, light and bright with red berry flavors a plenty, a little spice, and reminders of cedar and vanilla.  Each facet can take you on another journey.  You may find more and that’s the wonder of wine-tasting: we all taste differently.  Taste again and let your mind wander among its many reminders of flavors and impressions and you will enjoy the wine all the more.

Rating:  89+

Emotional rating?  Well, you can describe your journey.

Available widely.

A Pinot Noir for Special Moments

Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012, Arcus Estate

Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012, Arcus Estate

Archery Summit — Arcus Estate 2012 Pinot Noir

This is a winery to watch and a wine to savor in those very special moments.  The vines are planted closer together than is the usual practice in the Willamette Valley of Oregon — more like the Burgundy vineyards.  Having to fight for nutrients with the other vines in close proximity, the struggle ends, as in much of nature, with a greater strength.  This vintage ripened well, as is seen first in the unusual depth of color.  The alcohol reached 14.5% in this wine of excellent balance!  Acids, tannins, alcohol, and flavors form a homogenous unit of tasteful pleasure.

The oak treatment is also held in balance and plays a support role to the flavors of the fruit.  Blackberry and dark cherry with accompanying hints of leather and coffee underlined with a rich dark chocolate base adorn a wine that keeps its intensity long after it is opened and finishes with a long rich finish.  No edges destroy its soft and full feel and it coats the palate, adding to its fullness.

The flavors are well married and play together in satisfying harmony.  This is, in my judgment, their best vineyard.

Rating 92

Emotional rating:  A conjunctive wine that pleases all the way from sight to sip to final bow.

Available:  Try and the winery itself, as it ships to a number of states.