Behrens Family Winery is based in St. Helena in the Napa Valley section of California. The boutique winery produces limited quantities of blended red wines and a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The owners of the winery are Les Behrens and Lisa Drinkward. The name Erna Schein is a dedication to Les’ mother.
The 2007 Erna Schein Jersey Boy was red blend, comprised of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine’s labeled ABV was 14.5%. There were 384 cases of this vintage produced. The back label of the wine declared it “California Red Wine”.
Last month, we joined our neighbors (yes, the neighbors) for dinner at Drew’s Bayshore Bistro. Drew is one of the finest chefs in the Northeast and his restaurant is a BYOB. I arrived at Drew’s with some Robert Biale Zins in tow. They are always a great match for Drew’s Cajun style. My neighbor popped out a bottle of 2007 Jersey Boy. I had never heard nor tasted the wine before and it turned out to be quite good. Unfortunately, there were no notes taken that evening.
I inquired where he procured the said Jersey Boy, and promptly set about obtaining a bottle to review in greater detail.
PlumpJack Winery is located in the Oakville section of Napa Valley, California. The winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon (one Estate and one Reserve), Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah.
The 2006 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged in French oak barrels (100% new) for 21 months. The labeled ABV was 15.2%. The fruit for this bottle was harvested from the McWilliams Oakville Vineyard.
Over the years, I had tasted PlumJack’s Cabernet Sauvignon many times. It has always been an outstanding wine. In June of 2012, I was at a small wine shop in Southern New Jersey, when I came across the 2006 Reserve. I eagerly grabbed the bottle and headed to the checkout. Unfortunately, the bottle was mispriced on the shelf (too good to be true). The actual cost was quite a bit more than what was listed.
Having never come across the Reserve at a retail location, I weighed the odds of finding another. Then, I thought, what would NJ Vinoman do?
I bought the wine.
The town of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, California, is the home to Ramey Wine Cellars. The winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blends, as well as several Chardonnay selections.
The 2008 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley was 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels (63% new, 37% old) for 24 months. The label listed ABV was 14.5%.
It had been a year or so since I last tasted a Ramey Cabernet. I came across the label while shopping in a local discount beverage store.
In the interest of research, I thought it time to revisit the wine.
The town of Paso Robles, in the Paso Robles appellation of California, is home to Justin Vineyards & Winery. The winery’s primary focus is the production of two Bordeaux blends, one using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, and the other using Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In addition to this, they use a number of different varietals (Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay to name a few) to produce smaller quantities of wine.
The 2008 Justin Vineyards & Winery Isosceles was a red blend, composed of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot. The wine was aged in French oak barrels (65% new, 35% old) for 24 months. The label listed ABV was 15%.
Recently, I was dining at Salt Creek Grille, in Rumson NJ, when the manager approached me. He mentioned they had one bottle left of the 2008 Justin Isosceles. Previously, I had neither heard of the vineyard, nor tasted the wine. On his recommendation, I decided to give it a try.
I was glad I did.
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is located in the town of Montalcino in the Tuscany section of Italy. The winery produces red wine, grappa, and olive oil. While they are best known for the Brunello di Montalcino (two non-Riservas and one Riserva), they produce five other red wines as well, using a number of different varietals.
The 2009 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso Toscana was “mostly Sangiovese” (that is a quote from the winery’s website and they did not respond to a request for further information). The restaurant I sourced the wine at listed the breakdown as 50% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 10% Syrah. The wine was aged in Slavonian oak barrels and barriques (aging time unavailable). As a result of the varietal blend, the designation was IGT.
I had previously tasted the Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello di Montalcino Pianrosso and greatly enjoyed the wine. As I was dining at Basil T’s, in Red Bank, NJ, I came across the Ciacci Piccolomini Rosso Toscana IGT on their seasonal wine list. Their seasonal list is designed to move vintages that are at or nearing their peak. The list also offers a discount of 50% on the price. So, instead of the typical restaurant markup, you are paying close to retail for a bottle of wine. It’s a nice deal.
I decided to give this IGT a taste.
The Antinori family dates their family line in Italy to the early 13th century. The family were initially members of the Guild of Silk Weavers in 1285. Then, in 1385, an Antinori joined the Guild of Wine Merchants. Today, Marchesi Antinori is a wine empire. They produce wines from Tuscany and Umbria, and have formed joint ventures with other wineries in the United States, Chile, Hungary, Malta, Romania, and Italy.
The 2008 Antinori Tignanello was a red blend, comprised of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The grapes were sourced from the Tignanello and Solaia vineyards, 30 kilometers south of Florence in the Tuscany region of Italy. The wine was aged in French and Hungarian oak barrels (60% new, 40% second vintage) for 12 months, and spent an additional 12 months aging in the bottle prior to release. The label listed ABV was 13.5%. The wine carried an IGT classification. There were 335,000 bottles of this vintage produced.
Tignanello was one of the Super Tuscan pioneers. Today, it is one of the more widely recognized names in the Super Tuscan universe. I had not tasted the wine for some time. Given my recent comments on Sapaio, Argiano Solengo, and Sassicaia (my favorite), I thought it time to turn my attention to Tignanello.
Nickel & Nickel is located in Oakville in the Napa Valley section of California. The winery produces 100% varietal, single-vineyard wines. Napa Valley is the source for all thirteen of their current vintage Cabernet Sauvignon offerings. They also offer one Chardonnay, one Merlot, and a Syrah from Napa Valley. From Sonoma Valley, they source one Chardonnay, one Merlot, one Syrah, and two Zinfandels.
The 2008 Nickel & Nickel Kelham Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oakville section of Napa Valley. The wine was aged in French oak barrels (50% new, 50% once-used) for 18 months. The label listed ABV was 14.2%.
Over the years, I had tasted a number of wines from Nickel & Nickel, several Cabernet Sauvignons, and a Zinfandel from Bonfire Vineyard. They were all quite good. I had not sampled one in quite some time and happened upon the 2008 Kelham Vineyard in a local store.
I decided to revisit the brand. I was glad I did.