Vintners Dennis O’Neil and Steph Martin began development of Checkerboard Vineyards in 1999 and retained winemaker Martha McClellan to create a portfolio of wines reflecting the mountainside. The estate includes four vineyard sites of different elevation, exposure and soil composition, providing the foundation for a portfolio that includes Checkerboard Aurora Vineyard, Checkerboard Coyote Ridge Vineyard, Checkerboard Nash Creek Vineyard, Checkerboard Kings Row, Checkerboard Sauvignon Blanc, and Checkerboard Rose. Grapes are harvested at dawn in micro-lots and delivered steps away to the winery where clusters are sorted, discarding any blemished ones. Individual berries are hand-selected for vinification and transferred for fermentation, by hand, to Taransaud wooden tanks, stainless tanks, and individual wooden barrels.
Farming is based on long-term sustainability and includes water conservation and monitoring, permanent cover crops planted in alternating rows, and the use of entomology for pest control and the development of soils with good organic matter and microbiology. Checkerboard Vineyards is a member of Fish Friendly Farming which promotes environmentally-friendly land practices and water quality management. Aurora Vineyard is located in a small valley midway up Diamond Mountain and on a large knoll at an elevation of 1,200 feet. The knoll bulges outward, giving the vineyard full Southern exposure and open light from the East and West and protection from Napa Valley’s summer fog. Six acres are planted in the knoll’s rich, volcanic soils that are riddled with basalt cobble in a loamy red clay. The remaining six acres are planted in a deep gravely mix of volcanic ash and chips of decomposed Rhyolite that were washed down from the steep, rocky crags of Diamond Mountain above.
There's a fresh, sweet aroma to the 2016 Checkerboard Aurora Vineyard that builds excitement and anticipation for what's to come. On approach, the palate is juicy and expansive and explodes with flavors of blackberry, mulberry, dark cherry, caramel, leaf tobacco and green olive. The wine continues with a voluptuousness that's linear and constant yet lifted by natural acidity. The finish is showy, long and lingering with finely polished tannins. An exceptional vintage.
Gaja Costa Russi Nebbiolo is made from 100 percent Nebbiolo.
Costa (Italian for the side of the hill facing the sun) Russi (the nickname of the former owner) is ruby red in color, with a captivating aroma of blackberries, violets and roasted coffee beans. The purity of the palate is layered with dark fruit flavors and complex tannins.
STYLE: Complex, Elegant
FLAVOR: Blackberry, Violet, Roasted Coffee Beans
The 2016 Barbaresco Costa Russi is a more floral, sappy Barbaresco, offering textbook notes of black cherries, rose petals, sappy herbs, and violets. It's one of the more vibrant, juicy, and perfumed wines in the lineup and has medium to full body, bright yet integrated acidity, and the same incredibly polished yet certainly present tannins found in all these 2016s. This is another elegant 2016 that never puts a foot wrong.
-Jeb Dunnuck 98+ Points
The 2016 Barbaresco Costa Russi is ripe, creamy and enveloping, as it so often is, and yet also preserves the super classic sense of structure that runs through all these wines. In 2016, Costa Russi has an extra touch of mid-palate sweetness that gives the wine its sense of immediacy. Succulent red cherry, rosewater, kirsch, mint and dried flowers meld together in the glass. Soft and sensual, with tons of allure, Costa Russi is another winner from Gaja. Time in the glass brings out the wine's density and tannins, both of which it has in spades.
- Antonio Galloni 98
This delicate red features floral, strawberry, cherry, currant and loamy earth aromas and flavors, showing terrific balance. A line of firm tannins adds support, and the finish is long and expansive. Best from 2023 through 2045. 175 cases imported.
-Wine Spectator 97 Points
The wine is, unsurprisingly, lively and brisk with fresh citrus, red fruit, and the snap of cool watermelon. Almost addictively compelling, a single sip is impossible. The wine pairing here is easy: anything and everything... or nothing but good times.
The crown cap holds in the fizz, and the wax finish helps us keep bottle variation to a minimum (looks cool, too).
This special bottling, done entirely by hand, should be opened and enjoyed cold, in one sitting, and with friends, as its charms are many but, alas, ephemeral.
We made a tiny little 66 cases of this special wine last year as a reckless, insouciant, and scientific experiment and, suffice to say, it was an unexpected hit. This year we’ve quadrupled our production so, you know, we hope you all like this one as much as the last. Our rosé is always a special thing to us, and when conjured up in this old, fun way, it takes on something altogether otherworldly.
Producing these wild, delicious, and unique wines always has inherent risks, but the payoff is well worth it. After halting primary fermentation, we brought the wine down to a very cool temperature and let it settle off of its primary lees. Adding 13g/l dosage of sugar and yeast to the wine in bottle provides the sparkle and lees-y feel as it gets turned into alcohol and CO2, and not disgorging makes it hazy, creating broader palate weight, pleasing textures, and balance throughout.
Vineyards: 100% Patton Valley Estate Vineyard, Gaston, OR
Harvest dates: August 29th-31st 2016
Dijon Clones: 113, 115, 667 and 777
Smith Story Cabernet Sauvignon Pickberryis made from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
This wine is an old soul. I feel closer to it than all of the wines we produce, filled with excitement to show off to the world. A rebel of sorts, a Cabernet Sauvignon that is for the curious wine drinker for sure. The 2016 is going to be a showstopper complete with an standing ovation. I can’t wait to see it on stage. Worth the wait.
Ali’s Notes: This was the vineyard I spent the most time in during the 2016 Harvest. There’s a magical view that just pulls me in mixed with an incredible assortment of vineyard rocks popping up throughout the vines. The end of the vineyard rows always had the most gorgeous blooming red roses too. I often sat under the big shade tree on top of the hillside and took it all in. I was there the morning of the pick, the vineyard workers were full of song and hustle. So much TLC was given during harvest.
Eric’s Notes: Steady and mostly uneventful growing season with a bit of midsummer spikes of heat but nothing maddening. A cool slow end of the growing season led to really pretty and balanced fruit. We did get lucky though… we had some rain come in just a few days after picking. Speaking of… the grapes were hand picked. hand sorted, destemmed and fermented in stainless steel with daily manual punch-downs. Wine was then aged in neutral Bordeaux barrels for 22 months before bottling.
It’s wildly similar to our 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. If opening right away, decant a few hours. The wine is a little tight out of the gates but showing nice herb and pepper notes - the salty minerality shows up on the back end of the palate as it airs.
LIBRARY WINE/ LIMITED AVAILABILITY: A Cabernet Sauvignon, without question on the nose. A Cabernet true to the Smith Smith story style; cooler and dancing aromatic while having density and layers of texture. Lots of spicy red fruits up front while fresh bramble fruits bounce around the palate which is rounded out by a savory, almost cinnamon-bark spice mouthfiling finish and pretty tannin structure.
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Pickberry Vineyard is the most convincing and complete of these wines from Smith Story. Deep and inky, yet very much medium in body, the 2016 has a lot to offer. Blueberry, menthol, licorice, lavender and spice meld in this supple, racy Cabernet Sauvignon. The balance of fruit, structure and freshness is terrific. This classically rendered Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon needs bottle age to truly blossom; give it a few years to be at its best. - Vinous 93 Points
Very aromatic wine, strawberry and raspberry nose. Fresh, fruity and well balanced on the palate.
Press out of the Cabernet, fermentation in regulated stainless steel tanks at low temperature. Early release.
This wine is excellent as an apetizer and pairs well with a range of dishes.
The wine has a focused palate, supported by concentrated fruit and a mineral core. The nose shows bright red fruit with raspberry, strawberry and apple notes. Alluring light salmon color.
Celebrating Solms-Delta’s rich history, this wine is nicknamed “Lekkerwijn”. The back label tells the story of the farm adjoining Delta, now largely incorporated into it. The first owner, Henri l’Ecrévent, was granted the property in 1690. Locals, unable to pronounce his name, solved the problem by dubbing him Arie Lekkerwijn. He was slain nine years later by the first owner of Delta, Hans Silberbach, who then took flight and was never seen again.
Grape Varietals: 100% Grenache Noir
Style of Wine: Dry rosé
Vinification: The grapes were given overnight skin contact to extract color and flavour and then gently pressed to extract only the best juice. The wine was then tank fermented at cool temperatures to optimise fruit expression.
Maturation: The wine was aged on the lees in tanks for 6 months
Alcohol 13% Vol
Residual Sugar 2.14 g/l
Total Acidity 5.3 g/l
It’s an ideal lunch-time wine, and a perfect partner for smoked salmon, poultry, cold ham and nutty-style hard cheeses.
Produced by Solms-Delta (Pty) Ltd, which is a joint venture between the Solms and Astor families and the Wijn de Caab Trust, the beneficiaries of which are the historically disadvantaged residents and employees of Delta farm and its environs.
The South African roots of world-renowned neuroscientist Professor Mark Solms brought him back home in 2002 to revitalise the historic Delta wine estate … and to fundamentally rethink Cape wine-making traditions in the process.
Solms assumed custodianship of the 320-year-old estate with a vision that went much deeper than re-establishing its vineyards and cellars. He also wanted to do something about the legacy of his European forebears (who had settled in the Cape six generations before) and thereby address the pressing social and economic problems facing South Africa today.
First he planted Rhône varietals, ideally suited to the dry, hot and windy ‘Mediterranean’ climate of the Franschhoek Valley. Then he and the winemaker Hilko Hegewisch introduced desiccation – a largely forgotten, ancient mediterranean vineyard practice.
The result is a stable of wines that delivers a new, uniquely South African style. These are classical wines with a difference: made from grapes desiccated on the vine in the manner of the ancient Greeks, using selected French varietals that are known to thrive in Mediterranean climes, intelligently blended with the tried-and-tested favourite grape varietals of the old Cape. The wines offer a cascade of tastes and styles, all with a distinctive sense of place.
Nicknamed “Vastrap” ( meaning “trample”) after the style of music which unites Khoesan trance-dance with Dutch folk music. Played on any instrument such as concertinas, homemade violins, banjos and ‘blik-kitaars’. The traditional excuse for a Vastrap party was the trampling of a newly laid cow-dung floor; but the ancestors are said to have preferred the open air.
Segries Secret Grange Lirac Rouge is made from 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah.
This is a new wine for Chateau de Segries. 2013 is the first vintage.
The wine is dark and inky.
The aromas are intense and complex. It has fruit flavors of course, Strawberry and Blackberry, but it also have some interesting spice components, garrigue, pepper and licorice.
The finish is long and very pleasant as the tannins are round and well integrated.
La Grange is the name of the parcel where the grapes are grown. The soil is Clay and Limestone.
The average age of the vines is 80 years old.
The wine went through MaloLactic fermentation and was bottled without filtration.La Grange is the name of the parcel where the grapes are grown. The soil is Clay and Limestone.
The average age of the vines is 80 years old.
The wine went through MaloLactic fermentation and was bottled without filtration.
"The estate’s top wine is the 2016 Lirac Secret de la Grange, a 90-10 blend of Grenache and Syrah that never sees oak. This full-bodied blend is fabulously concentrated and lush, with ripe fruit flavors of raspberries and stone fruits, an intriguing hint of almond paste and a rich, long finish tinged with licorice. It should drink well for up to a decade. - Joe Czerwinski"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #233, October 2017), 93 pts
Sunset Hills Red is made from 77% Cabernet Franc, 9% Tannat, 8% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon
Notes of brambled blackberry, raspberry, plum, and forest floor. Light in body, leaning on acidity rather than tannins. Youthful and vibrant!
The lighter style that Sunset Red offers widens the scope of the wines here at Sunset Hills Vineyard. Delicate and youthful, the structure of the Sunset Red is carried by its acidity and bright fruit notes, rather than heavy oak or tannins. We want this wine to be enjoyed young—with the fruit notes still bright and vibrant.