skip to Main Content

“Taken” Me Away …

I’ve been looking for a wine at a fair price to “take me away” … and I’ve found it! I’d heard of the Bordeaux blend Taken, but had yet to find a bottle to purchase. Well the other day I was fortunate enough to find a bottle and I grabbed it. Now I wish I’d grabbed a case!

Taken is the brainchild of two childhood friends, both of whom are from Napa wine families. Josh Phelps is the son of Chris Phelps (former winemaker for Dominus, Caymus & Swanson) and Carlo Trinchero’s family runs Trinchero Family Estates. Let me tell you something, these two young men have got it going on!

The 2012 Taken is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. It is already drinking so well, and some time in the bottle will only bring out more of its earthy qualities.

The wine’s color is deep garnet red with a rim variation of bright purple. On the nose are blackberry and black cherry. The velvety mouth feel provides flavors of chocolate covered cherry, blackberry and coffee. The fruit isn’t overbearing, and there is a wonderful earthiness that follows with smooth tannins on the finish. This wine has nice complexity and rocks, especially for the $30 price tag. Now I just need to find more!

Phelps and Trinchero have two brands under the Taken Label (Taken and another called Complicated) and are about to launch a third, which they’ve named Available! I sure am looking forward to trying them as well.

So … if YOU’RE ready to be Taken away … give this lovely wine a try. Here’s their website:  http://takenwine.com

 

Good Friends, Great Chardonnay!

I love my friends!!!!  Friends get you through rough spots in life, and can also help you celebrate the highs.  Sometimes, friends also share really good wine!

My friend Lisa, (whose husband Michael chose the wine and even chilled it for us, so big kudos to Michael!) brought us a dynamite Chardonnay the other night to a “Girls” gathering.  Yes, this Chard is big and oaky, but it’s balanced and yummy too!

I enjoy a lot of different styles of wine.  Many “wine pros” hate Chardonnay.  Many “wine drinkers” love Chardonnay.  There are two sides to this story.

Chardonnay is a neutral grape.  It is often called the “winemakers grape”, because it can be influenced greatly by the people producing the end product.  It can sometimes be manipulated in a way that is not flattering, and in my opinion this is when Chardonnay gets a bad rap.  Chardonnay can also be LOVELY.  Some of my favorite wines in the world are Chardonnay, especially from the Burgundy region of France.

There are also great examples from other regions, including the New World.  A great example of a fun Chardonnay from the New World (Napa specifically) is the 2012 Staglin Family Salus Chardonnay.  Now would I want to drink this wine every night???  No, but then I wouldn’t want to drink ANY wine every night.  Well, except for Champagne, but that’s another story for another day!

This Staglin Salus Chardonnay is not pretending to be from Burgundy.  It is big and buttery.  It has a good amount of oak on the nose and palate.  It also, however, has some lovely acidity, with pear, green apple, and Meyer lemon to balance the whole thing out.  And the finish is long and lovely.

For me, there are times when I relish a big, buttery Chardonnay like this.  Personally, I think that it’s snobby to say that this is wrong.  If you are a lobster lover, this would be a great pairing.  Personally, I love some good old-fashioned buttered popcorn with this wine!

So whether you’re sitting down to a nice meal of rich seafood, or you’re sitting in front of the TV watching a fun chick flick and devouring some buttery popcorn, grab a bottle of the 2012 Staglin Family Salus Chardonnay.  Let me know what you think!  I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed.

http://www.staglinfamily.com

Macauley Vineyard Winery

Originally established by Ann Macauley Watson in the early 1980s, Macauley Vineyard Winery went through a short hiatus after her death in 1994.  Always knowing deep down that the winery business was for him, her son, Mac Watson, spent some time at Rudd Oakville Estate and decided to re-establish the Macauley label in 2000.  Along with his wife, Amy Baxter Watson, and his childhood friend Kirk Venge, son of legendary Napa Valley winemaker Nils Venge and now full owner of his family’s Venge Vineyards, Watson is producing some fabulous wines.

A couple of nights ago my husband and I cracked open a 2007 Macauley Cabernet Sauvignon.  We decanted it for about an hour before pouring our first glass.  Oh wow, what a lovely Napa Cab.

The ’07 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is sourced from three renowned Napa Valley vineyards, Star (in the Rutherford AVA), Stagecoach (from the Atlas Peak AVA), and Beckstoffer To Kalon.

On the nose are dark fruits and black licorice.  On the palate are dark cherry, cassis, and some chocolate.  This wine has very nice structure and is beautifully balanced, a sure sign of a winner.  Oh … have I mentioned the finish????  Oh my.  The finish is full of sweet, velvety tannins and goes on and on and on.

If you run across any Macauley wines on a restaurant wine list or in a wine store, don’t be afraid to buy!  I know that I’ll definitely be seeking out more Macauley wines.

Mac Watson, along with “a little help from his friends”, is honoring his mother’s memory in a very lovely way.

Tasting at Failla

Failla has got it going on!!!!!  Not only do their wines rock, but they have an adorable tasting room in which to try them!

I was in Napa a couple of weeks ago, tasting my way around the valley.  I’ve heard a lot about Failla’s wines (they’ve had top 100 wines in several recent years), but have never paid them a visit.  I did just that on February 7th!

The tasting room is located in a charming yellow house.  One enters into a library type room which leads into a parlor and quaint sitting room, complete with a wood-burning stove.  Two comfy chairs and a sofa invited us to sit, with wine glasses placed on a coffee table between!  Who wouldn’t want to delve into their lovely wines???

Our tasting room attendant first brought us the 2011 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay from Napa.  Wow, did I love this wine!!!  On the nose is passion fruit galore!  This is a rich Chardonnay with lots of lush tropical fruit, but it’s beautifully balanced with bright acidity.   I’m kicking myself for not buying a case of this!

Next up was the 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  This is an outstanding wine for a great value!  On the nose is plum and some herbs, perhaps oregano or sage.  There is also a hint of watermelon!  Loaded with cherry and a lovely old-world style earthiness, this wine rocks for $34.  Finding a well-made Pinot at this price is a definite treat!  In fact, I cracked open a bottle of this and am drinking a glass while I write this blog

The 2012 Keefer Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir from Russian River was the third wine we tried.  Very different from the Sonoma Coast, this wine has some cherry cola and root beer on the nose, along with violet.   Blackberry explodes on the palate, with some earthy mushrooms.  This wine is another winner!

The 2012 Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley was the last wine we tasted.   This is a bigger Pinot, with lots of dark fruit and vanilla, along with some spiciness.  This is their inaugural vintage of wine sourced from the Savoy Vineyard

Failla is a joint effort, owned by Anne-Marie Failla and her husband Ehren Jordan, who is also the winemaker.  Jordan’s resume is impressive indeed, having worked for Bruce Neyers at Neyers Vineyards, Helen Turley and her husband Jon Wetlaufer at Marcassin and Larry Turley at Turley Wine cellars.  The San Francisco Chronicle named Jordan the Winemaker of the Year in 2008!

Being a Francophile since my youth, I’m very fond of Jordan’s winemaking.  His Chardonnay and most of his Pinot Noir wines are done in a Burgundian style, and he also makes some lovely wines in the Northern Rhone style

If you haven’t tried Failla’s wines, do yourself a favor and seek them out.  They are truly outstanding.  The next time you get to Napa, be sure to call them to set up a tasting appointment.  You won’t be disappointed!

www.faillawines.com

Napa Chardonnay Tasting

I attended a great tasting in Miami this week where I had the chance to try some stellar wines from Napa.  This “Master Class” was sponsored by the Guild of Sommeliers, and was conducted by Master Sommelier Matt Stamp, assisted by Master Sommelier Andrew McNamara.

We did many flights of some fabulous wines, but today I want to chat about the flight of Chardonnay we tried.  All three wines are 100% Chardonnay.

 

Massican 2011 Chardonnay – The Massican is a very elegant, understated Chardonnay.  On the nose are citrus, fresh cut grass and a hint of sea stones.  The well-balanced palate has green apple, citrus, a hint of melon and a lovely creaminess.  This producer has a reputation for making great young wines, where one doesn’t need to wait too long to drink them.

 

Mayacamas 2000 Chardonnay – Nope, that’s not a typo.  This is indeed a 2000.  And it’s drinking fabulously!!!  Grown on the famous St. George rootstock, these vines are 63 years old.  Well, they were in 2000!  Winemaker Bob Travers is notorious for making long-lived wines, including his Chardonnay.  This golden colored wine has some citrus and stone on the nose.  The palate has pear and a hint of vanilla.  I loved the “Old World” feel of this wine.  If you find a bottle of this 2000 Mayacamas, I suggest that you buy it and enjoy it soon!

 

 

 

 

Kongsgaard 2010 Chardonnay – I’m not normally a huge lover of big oaky Chardonnay, but the Kongsgaard is definitely the exception.  This wine knocked my socks off!  It is very aromatic with vanilla and pear.  It is definitely big and oaky, but it is so well made that the oakiness isn’t obtrusive.  The acidity and minerality balances out the oak and leaves a rich, delectable fruitiness that lingers on the palate for a nice long time.  I’ve been literally craving a glass of this wine every day since I tasted it this week!

 

 

 

 

This was a wonderful selection of very well made Napa Chardonnays, all created in a different style and producing lovely, and very different, wines.  If you have the opportunity to taste any of these Chardonnays, my advice is to definitely do so!  In fact, seek them out!  If you’re a fan of Chardonnay, you won’t regret it.

 

Back To Top