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Sinor-LaVallee Estate Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Sinor-LaVallee Chardonnay reflects a maniacal attentiveness only possible through sole proprietorship from viticulture through winemaking. The aim was to create a singular Chardonnay that expresses the totality of Bassi Ranch’s ultra-coastal terroir.
The wine Chardonnay offers fragrant aromas of tropical fruit with notes of butterscotch, apricot and crème brûlée. The palate is rich and viscous, yet never loses its energy or focus. Flavors of pear, pineapple and peach show trailing notes of vanilla, mineral and spice. A luscious, full-bodied mid palate yields to a sense of balanced sleekness on the finish.
Sinor-Lavallee is owned by Mike Sinor and Cheri LaVallee and has been in operation since 2013. Sourced exclusively from the Bassi Vineyard near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo Valley (though not within AVA boundaries), the grapes are planted just 1.2 miles from the Pacific Coast. The wines are classically Central Coast in their expression (Especially the Chardonnay) and offer a nice note of terroir.
Mike Sinor has always been a grinder, a way of life he learned at a young age while working in his father’s auto wrecking yard. He brought that mentality to his first wine harvest in 1993 and never looked back. Through grit and determination, and without formal training, he ultimately became one of the Central Coast’s most decorated winemakers.
Mike married Cheri LaVallee in 1996 in Burgundy, soon after they started their own label. In 2013, Mike and Cheri put everything on the line to acquire the ocean-view Bassi Vineyard near Avila Beach. It was the destination they’d always been seeking—a singular vineyard that they could steward with holistic and meticulous viticulture.
Bassi Vineyard soils are marine in origin. These soils are low in organic material. The underlying bedrock is hard marine sandstone through which the vine roots can barely pass. Yields are inherently limited, producing fruit with natural intensity and vivid site expression.
Bassi Vineyard is farmed organically with biodynamic inputs. These practices are observed, first and foremost, because they help make better wine. No stone is unturned in that pursuit. What is great for the wine is also good for the land and the surrounding environment, so the rewards are ample for keeping everything in balance. No certification has been pursued. All recent plantings have been own rooted.
Sinor-LaVallee Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Sinor-LaVallee Pinot Noir reflects a maniacal attentiveness only possible through sole proprietorship from viticulture through winemaking. The aim was to create a singular Pinot Noir that expresses the totality of Bassi Ranch’s ultra-coastal terroir.
The wine presents jammy red fruit aromas with earth-driven notes of black tea and smoke. The varietal character is deep and pure, while the vineyard’s terroir is undeniable with savory notes of stem and sage. Supple plum and black cherry flavors engage the palate with a trailing suggestion of mixed berry pie. The structure is elegant and unquestionable, carried by mouthwatering acidity and concluding with a rounded, cedary finish.
Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Winemaker and Founder James Hall. Since 1988 founder and winemaker James Hall has guided the Patz & Hall winemaking program, instilling it with his own boldness, imagination and trademark perfectionism. Combining a belief in great viticulture, traditional winemaking practices, and the judicious use of innovative techniques, James has earned a reputation for crafting dramatic benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that balance vibrant power with vineyard-inspired depth and sophistication. In 1983 James joined Napa Valley’s Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as assistant winemaker. There, he spent four years developing his expertise crafting barrel-fermented, small-lot Chardonnays. While at Flora Springs, James struck up a close friendship with sales manager Donald Patz, and the two soon discovered that they shared a similar philosophical approach to wine and winemaking. In the spring of 1988, while working as the winemaker and estate manager for Honig Winery, James teamed up with Donald and Heather Patz, and Anne Moses to make and release Patz & Hall’s inaugural Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Aromas of ginger, guava and Crème brûlée with toasted almond, and toffee-brown sugar. Dense, and full bodied, there’s a pleasingly crisp and mouthwatering green apple note on the palate that melds with dried apricot, tangerine flavors along with a hint of toasted oak.
From the Russian River, the 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a step up and has more intensity and depth, with a rocking bouquet of honey stone fruits, brioche, toasted hazelnuts, and crushed stone. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, with bright acidity, it has a kiss of background oak but is a seriously good, layered effort that will cruise for 5-7 years, probably longer. - Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points
Gaja Gaia & Rey Langhe Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
The winery's historic Gaia & Rey Chardonnay is a wine that not only reshaped the legacy of the house itself, but also redefined Piedmont as one of the truly great winemaking regions of the world. Named after Lucia and Angelo Gaja's daughter, Gaia Gaja, and Angelo Gaja's grandmother Clotilde Rey (the family's great matriarch and one of its most forward-thinking visionaries), Gaia & Rey was first bottled in 1983 and released the following year. With this historic bottling, Angelo Gaja showed the world that exceptional white wines could be produced in the Langhe Hills, where red wines had been produced almost exclusively before. He also delivered to the world what is now considered one of the greatest white wines of Europe, a truly remarkable accomplishment in a country where red grapes have historically dominated the realm of fine wine. The 2017 vintage proves that great quality sometimes comes from scarcity. Three days of frost at the end of April set back the crop size by 10 percent, then high heat in summer and lack of rainfall presented challenges in managing the vineyards. The good news is that with strict selection and our no-compromise approach, the fruit harvested was healthy and excellent white wines were the result, despite the drop in production.
This wine was first made in 1983, and back then, no malolactic fermentation occurred. Jump forward in time to the 2017 Langhe Gaia & Rey, and this is another vintage in which malo did not start. (Partial malolactic returns in 2018). Since those first years of production, the oak usage has also been tweaked, now with less barrique in favor of more botte grande. Thanks to these changes, the aromatic profile of this wine veers toward citrus and rich tropical fruit, especially in a warm vintage such as this. However counterintuitive, this edition also shows a very bright and precise touch of acidity that serves to give the wine balanced and mouth-cleansing salinity.
- Wine Advocate 93+ Points
The nose here is brilliantly red fruited, with layer upon layer of subtle spice, bright floral notes, herbs, and stone. Its not all poetry and pageantry, though, and the first impression of the wine was simply, “oh that’s goooood.” A fair assessment, and sometimes that it all one requires. Further tastes show fine tannin throughout, a juicy, vibrant mouthfeel that is very likeable, and deft, long-developing layers of fruit that reveal themselves severally.
Patton Valley's flagship wine, The Estate is the most comprehensive expression of their vineyard site, and the wine that truly defines their place in a given vintage.
"Glistening red. Vibrant red fruit, floral and spice scents show very good clarity that picks up subtle hints of succulent herbs and smoky minerals with air. Juicy and energetic in the mouth, the 2017 offers gently sweet cherry raspberry and rose pastille flavors and a touch of spicecake. Smooth, well-integrated tannins make a late appearance on a long, floral-tinged finish that shows no rough edges. - Josh Raynolds" - Antonio Galloni's Vinous (August 2020), 92 pts
Casir dos Santos Estate Reserve Malbec is 100 percent Malbec.
Aged 8 months in French oak barrels and then 6 months in the bottle.
Deep ruby color with aromas of ripe blackberries and plums and notes of forest, smoke and spice. Complex and structured with firm and elegant tannins. Well balanced acidity. A great reflection of the terroir.
Coming from a sustainable 50-year old plot, grapes are crushed, destemmed and go through pre-fermentative maceration at 11ºC for 24 hours. Alcoholic fermentation in tanks. 4 weeks of maceration with must. Aged in French oak barrels for 8 months, Malolactic fermentation in contact with fine lees.
The grapes from Vista Flores are harvested in three different dates, with approximately 30 days between the first and last harvest. The result is three wines with distinctive and markedly different nuances. 3 weeks skin contact maceration; ML with fine sediments. Aged in French oak (first and second use) for 8 months.
The resulting wines are tasted & the final blend is assembled prior to bottling. Aged 6 months in bottle prior to release.
Yellow with green hints Pineapple aromas with toasty notes and a fresh mineral character and finish.
Tasting Note: This very aromatic Syrah has hints of black pepper, dark berries and herbs and a bloody, earthy character on the nose. The palate is full-bodied with velvety but structured tannins and a balanced natural acidity. The finish is fresh, long and supple. Best served at 16 to 18 °C, this wine will greatly benefit from decanting when drunk within the first 3 to 5 years after bottling.
Andrea Mullineux told me that their debut 2012 Mullineux Iron Syrah has been the hardest cru to fine-tune over the years. Indeed, it has been trialed since 2005 but never bottled...until now. "We have been working hard to perfect the acidity here and it's been important to get life into the soil, getting the vineyard healthy, so that it can be picked with good acidity. Because it is dry farmed, in a space of three days, it can god from 22 to 26 Brix – so picking decision is critical," she said. It has a subtle marine influence coming through on the nose with macerated black cherries, boysenberry jam and touches of iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, quite grainy tannins, very nicely poised with touches of fig and marmalade towards the slightly saline finish. This is a strong debut to form the trio of Syrah single "terroir" offerings.
"The 2013 Iron Syrah has a roundness and softness on the nose that almost belies its complexity - red berry fruit, red peppercorns, rooibos and undergrowth scents that are very well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, wonderfully savory and quite gamey, and beautifully balanced with impressive volume and sustain on the finish that you would have difficult distinguishing from a top Côte-Rôtie. This is an excellent Syrah, my only reservation being that there is a touch of heat on the finish. - Neal Martin"
- The Wine Advocate (erobertparker.com, November 2015), 93 pts
"Similar to the Schist Syrah in its weight and meatiness, the Iron Syrah offers a more elegant, immediate appeal. Dark red plum, smoked meat, and savory herbs are seamlessly integrated on a lush, juicy and firmly structured palate, finishing very very long."
- iwinereview.com (January 2016), 95 pts
Chateau Franc Lartigue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is made from Merlot 70%, Cabernet franc 15%, Cabernet sauvignon 15%
Eight hectare property in the town of Saint-Emilion. Elegant and structured wine, keep for 10 to 15 years depending on the vintage.
Vines with an average age of 35 years have produced a concentrated wine. It is rich and full, while also having restraint and elegance. That makes for a fine balancing act of generous tannins and opulent black fruits. Drink the wine from 2021
- Wine Enthusiast 92 Points