Quick Sip – 2006 Testarossa Subasio Syrah

Named for the mountain where the University of Assi located, which founder Rob Jensen attended, the Subasio is Testarossa’s flagship Syrah. Although the tasting notes on the website classified this as a blend of new and old world style, I found it to be mostly new world. I’m not saying that is bad, I knew what I was getting into when I bought it after a tasting at the winery, I just thought that the website description was a bit misleading.

2006-testarossa-subasio-syrahWine Facts

Vineyard Appellations – Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Russian River Valley

Oak program – 15 months

Winemaking – extended cold soak, gravity flow, both punch down and pump over

Grapes – 100% Syrah

Alcohol – 14.4%

My Tasting Notes

Nose – black cherry, black currant, cedar

Taste – toasted oak, blackberry and black cherry

Mouthfeel – full body, good acidity, and leathery full tannins

Finish – long and fruity

This was a very nice fruit forward, big Syrah. Although it was quite good, at $30 there are a lot of other California Syrahs that offer the same flavor profile for lower price points. Although the alcohol level was high, it  did not seem out of balance and the wine had a great mouthfeel with full tannins and good acid on the back end.

I have some Testarossa Pinot Noirs in the cellar from our visit as well and I can’t wait to try those, as they are their specialty.


Categories: $20-$30, california, wine review | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Atari and Wine

I would never have thought that the Atari video games that I grew up with would have a connection to good Napa Valley wines. Before Dennis and Judy Groth started their vineyard and winery, Dennis was one of the key architects for the firm that built Atari, a consumer electronic company, into a 2 billion dollar company. In 1984 Atari was sold, and that was enough incentive (and I am sure cash) for Dennis and Judy to expand on their obsession for wine, in a big way.

Groth Vineyard and Winery was established in 1982 and is located in the Oakville AVA of Napa Valley. In addition to their 121 acre Oakcross estate, they also own and operate the 44 acre Hillview Vineyard South of the winery. Check out the cool layout below of the vineyard plantings. If you go to the actual website and click on the different lots, it gives you a actual picture of the vines in that lot, very cool.

The 2006 of Sauvignon Blanc had a delayed bud break which actually saved the grapes from any damage during a record heat wave in July. A great “Indian Summer” during the month of October allowed the grapes to reach optimum brix, and TA levels without hitting monster sugar levels. The wine was made of 96% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Semillon both of which were whole cluster pressed prior to fermentation. After fermentation 70% of the Sauv Blanc went in to retired Chardonnay barrels for aging (sur lies) while the other 30% went into stainless steel tanks. The older oak barrels were used to age the wine perfectly without imparting any oak flavor into the delicate fruity varietal.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Grapefruit, papaya, honey

Taste – Lemon, lime, mineral/rocks, pineapple

Mouthfeel – smooth and round, fuller bodied (due to the barrel aging) than most Sauv Blancs initially, turning crisp and refreshing towards the finish

Finish – nice length, smooth with a hint of almond

This was definitely a different Sauvignon Blanc from most I have had. I would say that if you want a Sauvignon Blanc that exemplifies Sauvignon Blanc’s this isn’t it. But if you want a great white wine from California than I would definitely recommend this wine. We had this wine with mushroom barely soup which I am not sure was the best pairing. I think I would have preferred a Red Burgundy or a Barbera instead, but that will be for next time.


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A place for relaxation and enjoyment – Pavilion

Winemakers Brian Mox and Larry Levin from Pavilion Winery have a long history of winemaking in the Napa Valley. They bring a combined experience from wineries such as Stags Leap and Quintessa and their knowledge from UC Davis in order to provide quality Napa Valley wines at a great price. Unfortunately information for the 2005 Pavilion Cabernet Sauvignon was not available on the Pavilion website so I cannot not offer a lot of detailed information on the wine, except to say that it is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Due to the great relationships the winemakers have formed in the valley over their years there, Brian and Larry have great access to some of the best vineyards in Napa.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Plum, boysenberry, blackberry, milk chocolate, bok choy

Taste – Thyme, blueberry, clove, cedar

Mouthfeel – Full body, very silky and ultra smooth on the tongue

Finish – very dry, the tannins definitely show up at the end of the party

At $14.50 this wine stands and delivers its new world prowess. This is truly a new world wine that pulls it off without feeling or tasting fake. We had this wine with mustard crusted tofu and braised kale. The dark fruit went well with the spicy richness of the whole seed brown mustard and the slight vegetal notes were elevated by the kale.


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Slightly Jaded!

I didn’t write down and I can’t remember when we bought this 2005 Jade Mountain Mourvedre but I do remember we had it at a Wine Cellar tasting before we purchased it. Jade Mountain Vineyard and Winery is located in Contra Costa County California. The Evangelho vineyard which was planted in 1890, is named for the last name of the family that has managed it since 1938 and is where this wine originates from. Winemaker Alison Green Doran has a long history of California wine making tutelage, from her father who bought Simi Winery in 1969 to her mentor Andre Tchelistcheff. Doran believes that the only way a wine can truly get better is to start from the vineyard. That statement speaks directly to my philosophy on making wine if I was to actually make it, and as a wine drinker it gives me a greater appreciation of the juice as it fills my glass.

A Bit of Background on the Wine –The wine is composed of 94% Mourvedre and 6% Carignane both from the North facing slopes of the Evanghelho vineyard. The 2005 vintage in Contra Costa started out cool and wet with a warm August and a cool fall, which led to one of the longest harvests on record. Prior to fermentation the grapes were cold soaked before they were allowed to ferment for 2 weeks, after which it was pressed and placed in French Oak barrels for 10 months.

My Tasting Notes

Nose – Birthday Candle, blueberry, chocolate cake batter

Taste – Dark berry fruit (slightly “sugary”), slight raisin and Zin quality, cinnamon and allspice

Mouthfeel – Medium body, smooth, good weight in the mouth, alcohol was a bit unbalanced

Finish – felt a bit on the short end compared to the rest of the tasting experience

This is a fun wine, we had it with take-out Stromboli from our favorite little spot up the street, Candellas Italian Ristorante. The wine was very fruity, with a nice mouthfeel that was ultra smooth and rich. My only complaint was that the alcohol seemed to be kicking me a little bit, but overall for $14 I recommend it as a good wine to have with pizza or other casual fare.


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Tonights Tasting at The Wine Cellar

Tonight’s tasting at the Wine Cellar features a good mix of value driven California reds. I am excited about all the wines, as it is always nice to find some good red values for everyday drinking, but I got a chance to check out the Hayman and Hill website so I am extra excited about their wines. 

Hayman and Hill is owned by Cellar Door a wine conglomerate that owns several wineries throughout the world such as Red Guitar and Diseno. Hayman and Hill is the creation of two passionate winemakers, working to create value driven single varietal, specific appellation wines from California.  Hayman, who has worked in Australia most recently for the wineries of Hardys but has a total of 17 years of winemaking experience. Hill who has been and is still currently the winemaker for Blackstone Winery brings a background of consumer driven wines, which would lead to the value driven piece of the Hayman and Hill portfolio. 

Hope to see you all out tonight at the wine cellar FREE as usual from 5:00 – 8:00 







Categories: california, hayman and hill, wine cellar, wine tasting | Leave a comment