California Dreaming
April 2018

Based on last weekend’s weather I thought I’d never get this sunshine-filled California newsletter out; but finally, it’s here! The buds are about to burst, the May long weekend is on the horizon and, at least today, the sun is shining.

 

As you may know, we love wines from California. Based on the turn-out at this year’s California Wine Fairs in Toronto and Ottawa, we are not alone. Californian wines always deliver vibrant flavours and ripe aromas: whites that soar and attention-seeking reds. This is why we represent almost 50 wineries from California and regularly have more than 100 wines available from across the state.

 

What’s really great is that California is currently enjoying a string of exceptionally high-quality vintages. 2012 through 2016 are all exceptional years, so as a buyer, you can feel confident that you’re getting some of the best wines to come out of the Golden State – ever. Here is a small selection of wines that you can only buy right here, right now, from Rogers & Company.

 

Questions? Feel free to call me. I’m always happy to “talk wine”: 647 955 8872 or [email protected]. I hope to hear from you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Chris

Cannonball
“Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2016
$22.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

The 2016 vintage in Sonoma County was unusually mild, a long season from budbreak to harvest, allowing for perfectly balanced ripeness in all varietals. In this vintage, Cannonball sourced fruit from Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley and the Bennett Valley Vineyard, just east of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County.

 

Sauvignon Blanc is a hands-off varietal, best left un-manipulated. The must is fermented in stainless steel tanks and does not go into barrels. The resulting wines is pure and fresh; perhaps less “green” than the popular New Zealand style. Cannonball’s take gives off exotic aromas of honeydew melon, honeysuckle, jasmine, and white pepper. On the palate the wine is mouth-wateringly fresh: peach and nectarine, green apple, light pear, minerality. The texture is fabulous too.

 

“Fleshy and lightly ripe, this wine embraces fresh flavours of nectarine, quince and melon, with slight teases of lemongrass and honeysuckle. Bright, persistent acidity supports just the right amount of body and breadth.”

90 points + Best Buy, Wine Enthusiast, May 2018

 


Duckhorn
Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016

$38.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

In Napa Valley, you’ll find two styles of Sauvignon Blanc: the first, a traditional stainless steel fermentation uses all (or almost all) Sauvignon Blanc. The second is the “white Bordeaux” style, exemplified by Duckhorn’s Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which the winery has made since 1982.

 

The addition of 16% Sémillon gives  Duckhorn’s wine body, silkiness on the palate, and age-ability. 10% of the wine ages in new French oak barriques, adding more complexity to the blend. The “white Bordeaux” style is crisp yet creamy, a medium- to full-bodied fresh white with aromas and flavours of apple, white peach, sea spray, and fresh lemon. Consider this if you’re looking to replace your “go to” Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. It is perfect for grilled white meats, cioppino, and fried seafood.

 

“Fragrant and succulent, with melon, lime and passion fruit flavours accented by spice and orange sherbet hints. Features a smooth, supple frame and juicy accents. Drink now.”

90 points, Wine Spectator, Nov 2016


 

Buehler

Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2015
$33.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Though Buehler Vineyards is located in Napa Valley, their Chardonnay is sourced from the Wood Vineyard and River Vineyard in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County.

 

Here, the grapes grow in a cooler, fog-influenced environment, where the fruit can develop acids and sugars and flavour compounds in balance, no single component outpacing the others. The resulting wines are gentle, pretty, and really easy to drink.

 

“It’s hard to find value in Napa Valley, although great wines there are plentiful. That said, Buehler Vineyards, owning their own property for years, has turned out some very well-made, moderately priced wines.”

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Aug 2015

 


Truchard Vineyards
Carneros Chardonnay 2016
$44.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

“This Napa Carneros producer doesn’t get the credit it should for its remarkably fresh, balanced Chard-onnays. Winemaker Sal DeIanni has been with Truchard for 18 years, dodging the spotlight while making wines that are brilliantly refreshing and energetic, as well as excellent value. […] DeIanni has a deft hand with oak; his Chardonnays are pure, mid-bodied and kissed with vanilla and spice – not fancy, just delicious.”

Linda Murphy on Truchard Vineyards, Decanter, July 2016

 

Truchard’s Chardonnay is quite full-bodied for a wine that drinks with such finesse. The fruit is grown in southern Carneros’ mineral-rich soils (the vineyards are ancient sea floor). The wines are whole-cluster pressed, then barrel-fermented (one third in new barrels). The wine then ages on the lees for 10 months, goes through partial malo-lactic fermentation, and is stirred regularly.

 

If you’ve enjoyed Rombauer or Far Niente’s Chardonnays, I recommend Truchard. I have pointed many clients to this wine, with great response.

 


Mount Eden
Domaine Eden
Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains 2014

$51.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 

Domaine Eden is a mountaintop estate purchased by Mount Eden Vineyards in 2007. Although the Domaine Eden property is only two kilometres away from Mount Eden, the terroir in the Santa Cruz mountains varies dra-matically from hill to hill. The Domaine Eden soils are more shale than clay, and the resulting fruit is more forward and opulent than Mount Eden’s.

 

“Showing a deep gold colour, the 2014 Chardonnay (57% declassified Mount Eden fruit, aged 10 months in 35% new barrels) offers lots of orchard fruits and buttered citrus, terrific minerality and reductive notes, medium-bodied richness and a silky texture. It has bright acidity, and while it doesn’t quite have the balance and finesse of the Mount Eden Chardonnay releases, it is a terrific Chardonnay.”

92 points, Jeb Dunnuck, Aug 2017

 

“Grapefruit rind, yogurt, sour cream and warm pear show on the nose of this bottling. There is great acidity on the sip, with a mango cream and tropical fruit touch, but those elements coalesce into a rich, roasted-almond-driven palate as the wine breathes.”

92 points, Wine Enthusiast, Nov 2017


Brack Wine Company
“Bench” Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
$32.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Brack Wine Company was founded in 2008 by Jason Enos and Chris Fitzgerald. They craft multiple labels, sourcing fruit from over 30 long-term contracts with Sonoma vineyard sites.

 

Bench wines are sourced from the Totem Ridge Vineyard in Knights Valley (Sonoma’s premier Cabernet appellation). Seven vineyard lots from seven different elevations and soils types produce a deep spectrum of flavour.

 

Brack’s techniques are decidedly “old school” (or new-school natural, depending on your point of view): indigenous yeasts (for a more complex fermentation), extended 21-day maceration on skins, 18 months in 100% French oak (45% of which is first-fill). The wine isn’t fined or filtered.

 

The result is a rich, ruby-purple wine with a vibrant nose. It’s rich yet bright, with notes of violets and blackberries, as well as delicate vanilla bean from maturation in new French oak. The palate is elegantly wound with dusty tannins, supple and velvety. The seamless finish is nice and long, with aromas of black currant, cocoa, and loamy forest floor.


CrossBarn

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
$74.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

CrossBarn is an innovative winery led by renowned winemaker Paul Hobbs. Dedicated to crafting wines of stunning quality and value, his approach combines sustainable vineyard practices and traditional technique.

 

In a string of excellent vintages, 2014 was the third straight outstanding season in a row. Produced using hand-harvested fruit picked at night when the vineyards are cool, CrossBarn’s Napa Cabernet is a showcase for some of the valley’s best vineyards. This is the hands-off real deal: fermented by native yeast and macerated on skins for nearly a month. This is exceptionally good value for top-tierNapa Cabernet.

 

“This wine is composed of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple coloured, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley opens with spicy cassis and blueberry tart notions plus underlying bay leaves, cedar, pencil lead and smoked meat notes. Full-bodied, rich, concentrated and packed with black berry and spice box flavour layers, it has a firm backbone of grainy tannins and instills plenty of freshness on the finish.”

92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2017

 


Frog’s Leap
“Estate Grown” Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
$84.95 per 750 ml bottle, cases of 12

$43.95 per 375 ml bottle, cases of 12

 

John Williams founded Frog’s Leap Winery almost 40 years ago. He was inspired by the great wines of the 1950’s and 1960’s, some of the greatest wines ever made: the Inglenooks, Beaulieus, Martinis. What made these greats “great” is the end goal: balance and beauty, not power and points.

 

Frog’s Leap fruit source is impeccable: the dry-farmed, centenary-vined Rossi Ranch in Rutherford. The wine is made for drinking anytime, accessible today or a sure-bet to age as long as you’d like. The wine is extremely complex, a pleasure to drink, and one of the best values in Napa Valley today.

 

“The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is a gorgeous wine, not to mention a tremendous value. It is also the kind of wine that is easy to overlook in a universe of turbo-charged Napa Valley Cabernets. But that would be a mistake. The 2015 is dark and ample on the palate, with a bit more textural richness than normal because of the unique conditions of the year. Succulent black cherry, plum, lavender, spice and new leather all flesh out in the glass, but it is the wine’s exceptional balance that makes the deepest impression. Even better, this is one of the very finest values in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon readers will come across. Don’t miss it. 2020-2035.”

94 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, March 2018

 


Mount Eden
Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains 2014
$99.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 

“Is Mount Eden California’s greatest vineyard? Every time I have a great aged Mount Eden wine – which is most of the time – I’m in awe of how well it develops. This is a unique property in the sense that all three of the major grapes grown there – Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – not only are distinctive and classy, but they age incredibly well. Suppose if one were to only collect wine from one vineyard, Mount Eden would be a tough choice to beat.”

James Laube on Mount Eden, Wine Spectator, Dec 2008

 

“Seeing one-third whole clusters and 12 months in barrel, the 2014 Pinot Noir Estate has a subtle, nuanced style as well as terrific notes of dried strawberries, red currants, spice-box and forest floor. It’s elegant, seamless and silky on the palate, with fine tannin and impeccable balance. Give it a few years to develop more complexity (although I’d happily drink it today) and it’s going to keep for 10-15+ years.”

95 points, Jeb Dunnuck, Aug 2017

 

“Wild strawberry and plum mix with subtle yet sultry notes of nutmeg, mace, loam, graphite and game on the nose of this bottling. Sizzling acidity leads the palate, carrying cherry, plum and red apple flavours, followed by layers of eucalyptus and pine forest.”

95 points, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2017


Robert Craig
“Affinity” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
$118.95 per bottle, cases of 6

“Affinity” is Robert Craig’s flagship bottling. Grown at the LaLonde Vineyard in the foothills of Mt. George, this site has always been the main source of the fruit for Affinity. Today, however, Affinity is a single-vineyard wine, which allows the winery to focus on bringing out the terroir of this special site.

 

The LaLonde vines are over 30 years old. They grow in volcanic soil so sparse that the harvest is only 2.8 tons per acre. In wine terms, that’s very little material, very concentrated fruit.

 

“Aromas of ripe fruit, walnuts and dark chocolate with some cloves. Full body, chewy tannins and a extracted finish. Lots of phenolic character. A little old school in style this year, but it shows promise. Better in 2020.”

93 points, JamesSuckling.com, Jan 2017

 

“80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and the rest Petite Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Delicious black raspberry and blackcurrant fruit, some spice box, licorice and incense are all present in this supple-textured, medium to full-bodied, opulent wine, which is sexy, lush and ideal for drinking over the next decade or more. The colour is a healthy dense purple, and the wine full-bodied and textured, with a beautiful finish and real harmony. Drink it over the next decade.”

92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Dec 2016


Altamura
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
$189.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Altamura is a tiny winery in Napa’s Wooden Valley that skyrocketed to “Cult Winery” status when its 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet was named Wine Spectator’s #5 Wine of the Year in 2010.

 

Altamura remains one of Napa’s most collectable Cabernets due to Frank Altamura’s painstaking attention to detail and the resulting quality of the wine. The vineyard is dry-farmed, half the crop or more is dropped in pursuit of concentration, and only free-run juice is used (the fermented must is not press, eliminating the potential for bitterness from seeds and pips). The wine ferments in small lots, some of which macerate for three weeks. The wine ages in French oak (70% new), for 34 months. Let me repeat that: 34 months! What!? The wine is lightly filtered before bottling.

 

“Ultrarich and extracted, offering a powerful array of blackberry, licorice, gravelly earth, cedar and tobacco leaf notes. Never eases up on torque and authoritative presence. Best from 2021 through 2035.”

94 points, Wine Spectator, Aug 2017

 

“Produced from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, all estate fruit and aged for 34 months in 70% new French oak, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium to deep garnet-purple colour and expressive nose of crème de cassis, mocha and bay leaves plus hints of fertile loam, licorice and sandalwood. The full-bodied palate is laden with spicy black fruit and earthy layers, framed by grainy tannins and finishing long and perfumed.”

93 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2017