Wine Guys

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This week we’d like to catch up on a lot of tasting notes we have accumulated in the last couple of months. To start, here are several Italian gems we recently discovered:

The Tuscan wines of Castello di Gabbiano are not to be overlooked if chianti is your choice. From its entry level chianti to its blends, quality is the standard.

The 2009 Chianti Classico () is made from the oldest vines. It has fresh floral aromas with a sweet cherry flavor and a dash of vanilla oak.

We loved  the effusive aromas and flavors in the Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 ($25). Cherries and strawberry notes abound with dashes of spice, chocolate and vanilla.

The 2009 Alleanza ($40) – a partnership of California’s Ed Sbragia and Tuscany’s Giancarlo Roman – is a delicious blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Ripe blackberry and cherry flavors dominate the wine. Persistent notes of cloves, black pepper and herbs give the wine considerable breadth. Full-bodied, luxurious mouthfeel.

The 2009 Bellezza Riserva ($40) is made entirely of sangiovese from Gabbiano’s best vineyards. We were lured by intense raspberry and citrus aromas which were followed by raspberry and vanilla flavors with a dash of flint. An elegant wine, this is an easy drink.

Other Italian gems:

Tenuta Frescobaldi Di Castiglioni Toscana 2009 ($25). This is a distinctly non-traditional Tuscan wine. Made from 50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot, 12 percent cabernet franc, and 8 percent sangiovese, grown at the Frescobaldi Castiglioni Estate. The wine yields a delicious plum and cherry flavors with a hint of oak in the nose. Round and rich in the mouth with a nice acidic finish for great palate cleansing. A terrific wine at a fair

Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2009 ($20). Using the same grapes that go into the region’s fabled Brunello di Montalcino, producers of this wine offer consumers a reasonably priced and tasty rendition of Montalcino’s most respected wine. Casanova di Neri blends 25 percent colorino grapes into this wine to give it a broader profile. Good texture and lots of bright berry fruit in a medium body.

Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano DOC 2010 ($15). The grapes for this entry-level wine are downgraded, but the winemaking certainly is not. Simple in style and medium in body, it offers a great value as a sipping wine or one to serve with pasta or other light fare.


Chateau St. Jean has been specializing in Sonoma County chardonnay for years. With that persistence, they get it right. Its regular chardonnay is a very good value, but we took a liking to its three 2010 single-vineyard chardonnays. The wines are united in their plump mouthfeel.

Each of these wines speak to the soil and climate of the vineyard and are fun to taste together. They represent good values.

Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Chardonnay 2010 ($25). Our favorite of the trio, the Robert Young chardonnay has great concentration and is more refined than the other two. Good tropical fruit and peach flavors with hints of spice and vanilla.

Chateau St. Jean Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($25). Floral aromas are followed by pineapple and soft lemon flavors.

Chateau St. Jean Durell Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($30). The Durell chardonnay has more tropical fruit notes, like papaya, to set it off from its cousins. Broader in flavors, it coats the palate with a melange of flavors but keeps its balance to the finish.


Marietta Old Vine Red Lot Number 58 California N/V ($12). We remember tasting and enjoying this wine when the lot numbers were in the single digits over 20 years ago.

Marietta Old Vine was one of the pioneers of the California red wine blends that are now a very popular wine category unto themselves. Rich, round and fruity with attractive berry cherry flavors and a touch of jammy sweetness make this wine a real crowd pleaser.

The Marietta Petite Sirah Alexander Valley 2009 ($22) has a lot more structure and a blue berry fruit and oak nose. Bold berry fruit flavors with sturdy tannins make this a wine for strongly flavored food.

The Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2009 ($21) is a delicious ripe cherry driven wine that can drink well now or easily age for 3-5 years. Would be a great accompaniment for winter beef dishes….very easy to drink.


Michel Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Cotes-du-Roussillon 2011 ($15). This was one of our favorite discoveries of the year. A blend of old-vine grenache and syrah, it has great depth of character and loads of rich, dense fruit. Chapoutier is one of the most reputable producers in the Rhone Valley and now has expanded to the Roussillon region. The wine has cellar potential, but is drinking great now.

Trefethen Merlot 2009 ($38). We liked this juicy, rounded merlot and offers rich cherry and plum flavors and a dash of black pepper and spice. If you like merlot, this is a winner.

Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc 2011($15).  This is a good value for what you get: aromatic, robust in bright fruit and crisp acidity. Nice mineral and citrus notes.

Rosemount Estate McLaren Vale GSM 2010 ($25). Rosemount does a good job all around, but this blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre is spectacularly delicious. Loads of ripe raspberry and black berry flavors led by generous spice and berry aromas. Smooth mouth feel and long finish.


1 Comment for “Wine Guys”

  1. Hi Tom & Patrick- Just a quick note to thank you for including Marietta Cellars in your recent tasting notes. We are always humbled by your praises. Should you want to taste our wines in the future, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to send samples. Continued success, Jennifer.

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