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.
Frog’s Leap Winery is based in the town of Rutherford, in Napa Valley, California. The winery produces a number of red and white wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel, to name a few.
The 2009 Frog’s Leap Merlot Rutherford was 100% Merlot. The wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months. The label listed ABV was 13.2%.
I had heard the Frog’s Leap name talked about frequently, but had never tried any of their wines. I came across their 2009 Merlot while shopping a local beverage store.
Purely out of curiosity about the brand, I picked up a bottle.
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.
– Taken by me at a local tavern in June 2012.
On the 28th of June 2012, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in New York City hosted a winemaker dinner for Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. Attending from the wineries were David Duncan, President and CEO, and Daniel Baron, the head winemaker. The dinner was part of the Silver Oak Tower Tour 2012, celebrating 40 years of Cabernet Sauvignon production by Silver Oak.
Silver Oak produces two Cabernet Sauvignons. One is produced with grapes harvested from Napa Valley, while the other uses grapes from Alexander Valley. The Duncan family, Silver Oak’s owners, established Twomey in 1999 when they acquired the Soda Canyon Ranch in Napa Valley. Twomey Cellars produces a Merlot, four types of Pinot Noir, and a Sauvignon Blanc.
I found out about the wine dinner by way of my neighbors, who asked if there would be interest in attending. Let’s see…Del Frisco’s, second best steakhouse in New York City, check. Silver Oak, premier producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, check. Great wine and great food with great friends, check. That decision didn’t take very long.
Tavarnelle Val di Pesa is a small town in the province of Florence in the Tuscany region of Italy. The town is home to Poggio Al Sole winery. In addition to wine, Poggio Al Sole also produces olive oil. The winery was purchased by the Davaz family of Switzerland in 1977, and is run by Johannes and Kathrin Davaz.
The 2009 Poggio Al Sole Chianti Classico was 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine was aged in old oak barrels. The ABV was 13.9%. There were 40,000 bottles of this vintage produced. The wine’s designation was DOCG.
I discovered this wine by way of Restaurant Nicholas, a local restaurant. Nicholas Haray, the restaurant’s owner, has a knack for finding some lesser known gems in the wine world. The wines I’ve gotten from him tend to be hit or miss. I’ve had some outstanding wines and then I’ve had some less than spectacular wines, but no recommendation has ever been a bad bottle.
I was unsure what to expect from this bottle from Italy.
Castello di Ama is based in the town of Ama in the province of Siena in the Tuscany region of Italy. In addition to red, white, and rose wines, they also produce olive oil.
The 2011 Castello di Ama Rosato was 93% Sangiovese and 7% Merlot. The wine was produced by means of the saingee method. It was aged in stainless steel tanks for 4 months. Its ABV was 13.5%. The wine was bottled in February of 2012 and had an IGT classification.
Although I was very pleased with the Caves de Donnas Larmes du Paradis, the kind people at Basil T’s, a local restaurant, insisted I try the 2011 Castello di Ama Rosato.
I was very glad they made the recommendation.