Leave the Noise, Pick Up a Glass

    The Wine Guy

    As I’m writing this, I have the news on. Clearly, a mistake, but also a reminder that when everyone is yelling over everyone else, one thing you can do is shut it off, tune it out and focus on something better. Here are some “alternative focus” items that give a whole new meaning to the term, “hydration therapy”.


    The Prisoner, 2017, Napa Valley Red, ($49.95), is a limited-release red blend that’s out now. Ever since Dave Phinney’s first release of The Prisoner, it’s been a cult classic, snapped up in every vintage by hordes of admirers. Winemaker Jennifer Beloz and her team continue the success of The Prisoner by following the same formulas that Phinney perfected; working with a family of growers to source a diverse variety of grapes from premier vineyards throughout California and this is what gives The Prisoner its interesting and distinct quality and character. For example, this 2017 was sourced from all of these vineyards: Rodgers, Somerston Estate, Tiedemann Ranch, Solari Family Vineyard, Korte Ranch, York Creek, Tofanelli Family Vineyard, Rancho Chimiles, Black Sears, Hudson, Antica of California and Sage Canyon Ranch. It’s a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Syrah and Charbono, aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels, 30% new. It shows bold aromas of black cherry and plum heightened by hints of oak and vanilla. A soft and velvety palate of anise, dark cocoa powder, black cherry and roasted pecans lead into a dense finish with thick, almost chewy tannins.


    Mollydooker, 2016, The Boxer, Shiraz, South Australia, ($25.95) is just sublime. A wonder from down under, Mollydooker wines were launched with the 2004 vintage and were an instant cult classic, producing broodingly rich, decadent offerings that are snapped up as quickly as they are put on the shelf. This 2016 hasn’t been scored yet, but the pedigree is undeniable. Grapes for this year’s The Boxer come from prime vineyard blocks including the Mollydooker home vineyard in McLaren Vale with some additional fruit from Langhorne Creek and Currency Creek all in South Australia. The slightly cooler climate grapes from Langhorne and Currency Creek add a floral lift and elegance. All of the grapes are sustainably grown. Parcels were vinified separately, barrel fermented and aged in 100% American oak, 42% new. This powerful wine is vibrant, complex and jam packed with a kaleidoscope of flavors. Chocolate, plum and licorice just to name a few; all beautifully wrapped in bright berry fruit on the mid-palate. Subtle oak elements and flawless tannins intertwine with the fruit ever so gracefully. This Shiraz finishes with a persistent length and is an absolute joy to drink. Don’t miss it, because like The Prisoner, it’s limited!


    Au Contraire 2013 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, ($19.95) is a great value alternative to some of the better-known but considerably more expensive Sonoma Pinot Noirs. It’s a blend of Sonoma Coast vineyards from Sebastopol, CA. to the new Fort-Ross Seaview AVA overlooking the Pacific. Fruit was rigorously hand sorted and fully destemmed with no crushing. Moderate cold soaks (4-5 days), warm fermentations (85-90 F) with mostly native yeasts. Total skin contact ranged from 11-18 days with all fermentations carefully basket-pressed and put into barrel on their lees where it aged for 12 months in French oak barrels (35% new). Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave this a score of 90 points saying, “A soft, pillowy wine with a velvety texture, this crowd-pleaser exudes coastal characteristics of forest floor, dark cherry and rhubarb, providing body with substance and a long, lingering finish.”


    Ch. Saint-Roch Kerbuccio, 2015, ($29.95), is another in a long line of success stories from the totally- revitalized Languedoc-Roussillon region in the Southwest of France. For generations, this region produces   unremarkable red and white wines that you’d typically receive if you ordered “Vin du Maison” at any cafe. Not anymore! Today, this region is bursting with delicious, full-bodied wines from vineyards owned by many of France’s best growers and vineyard owners. Sporting a deep, inky color, the 2015 Maury Sec Kerbuccio is fabulous stuff, as well as a smoking value. Blackberry jam, roasted herbs, black licorice, tapenade and saddle leather give way to a rich, concentrated, seamless red that has moderate acidity, sweet tannin and a great finish. The blend is 80% Grenache and 20% Carignan, aged in 50% new demi-murids; it’s heavenly juice that tastes like it cost three times its price. Drink it now through 2017-2021.


    Stop arguing about the news (unless it’s sports!), have a glass of one of these and chill. You’ll thank yourself!

    Talk to The Wine Guy at [email protected]