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New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Dashwood 2013 300x291 New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc, Dashwood, Marlborough, 2013N/ 5 out of 10 on my cat aroma scale. Which would be nice for a whole lot of folks, but just a bit high for my personal preference.

Gooseberries, honeysuckle, and sun bleached rocks are nice though.

T/ Medium mouthfeel. She starts with a nice lime and honeysuckle tartness, then proceeds into some light yellow fruits and yellow grasses.

Her flavor is fuller than her nose suggests, and she ends with has a nice clean honeysuckle finish.

Price = $11 – $15

N = B / B-
T = B+
I = B
Overall = B / B-

This wine was a media sample generously provided by the winery.

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USA Moscato 14 Hands Columbia Valley Washington 2013 241x300 USA, Moscato, 14 Hands, Columbia Valley, Washington, 2013N/ She is a wonderful gardenia and white flower explosion. Soft honeysuckle, sandalwood, and rock notes play second fiddle to the flower power.

T/ Medium to full mouth feel. Round and coating. She’s dominating by a white flower reduction, that is delicious, but accounts for almost all of the show.

Her close, however, saves the performance by providing mouthwatering lime zest and tangerine notes with a light dusting of carmel.

Note: she is almost criminally easy to drink, and my drinking companion described this wine as “dangerous.”

Indeed.

http://www.14hands.com/

At $10 and just 10.5% booze, you should give this a whirl for a last summer party.

N = A-

T = B / B-

I = A-

Overall = B+ / B

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery.

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Cornerstone Napa 1 300x225 Winery & Vineyard Visits / Winemaker Focus / Cornerstone Cellars / Jeff Keene / Napa Valley, California & OregonI had the privilege of sitting with winemaker Jeff Keene for an extended tasting of Cornerstone wines.

The offerings were delicious, impressive, and showed a broad range of styles. The wine also importantly showed restraint in all the right places.

Jeff was 100% delightful and explained his winemaking philosophy beautifully.

Passion is an over-used word in the wine biz, but Jeff has it, as does Craig Camp, the Managing Partner of Cornerstone – whom I’ve respected from the first day I found out about him.

The tasting room has a great vibe and is dead center Yountville, so just go visit them, I insist.

Now, to the wines…

The Whites

2012 pinot gris ($20)

A crisp mineral blast accompanied by mouth watering lime zest and an extended finish. Old World style, which is great for this grape.

B+

2012 sauvignon blanc Artist Series ($20)

Dusty hay and rover rock notes on her nose with luscious tropical fruits, a nicely coating mouthfeel, and some lime and citrus fun.

A

2011 sauvignon blanc White Label ($30)

Aromas of spiced butter and yellow flowers leads to tastes of tropical fruits, spice notes, and a full mouthfeel for this grape. She could be a gateway drug for “chardonnay-only” drinkers.

A- / B+

2013 Rose of syrah (Corallina) ($25)

Fun. Strawberries, jolly rancher candy, citrus, and cantaloupe on her nose. Balanced and crisp with large servings of strawberries, raspberries, and cantaloupe.

A

2011 chardonnay (Oregon) ($40)

6 out of 10 on the butter scale, which is a nice point. Solid mineral notes, with round tropical fruit flavors and light citrus. A little too round and soft for me, but legions of folks love that.

B / B-

The Reds

2010 pinot noir (Oregon) ($50)

She spent more time in barrel than her Stepping Stone pinot noir counterpart, and it shows with more oak and smoke notes. She is also deeper and heavier. Along with nice red fruits she offers smoked taffy ands black tea notes.

B+

2011 syrah (Stepping Stone) ($35)

Impressive aromatics. Nice white pepper and bright florals. She tastes of plums and taffy with a nice hint of swamp (trust me here, as much like the flavors that come from a little Brettanomyces action, sometimes a touch of swamp is delicious). Complex.

A-

2011 cabernet franc ($45)

The right amount of tomato leaf on her nose with maduro tobacco, florals, and cherry taffy notes as well. Multiple spice and wood layers frame some bold black fruits and tobacco flavors.

A-

2011 cabernet sauvignon  (Napa Valley, White Label) ($65)

For a difficult cabernet year, this is quite an achievement. Amazingly clean, just how I love em’. Voluptuous for the vintage to be sure. Deep and nervous and the same time. Deep reds and black fruits play. Extended close with multiple echoes. A stunner.

A+

2010 cabernet sauvignon (Howell Mountain, White Label) ($80)

Massive Howell power but with a softness that surprises. Signature Howell. Very well done except for a slight touch of vegetal that likely blows off with decanting.

A- / B+

2010 The Cornerstone Red Blend ($200 – only 100 cases made)

So many layers! Black cherry, black tea, and brooding dark soil all get bathed in a violet and chocolate reduction sauce. Powerful and then restrained. And then that shifts. Wonderful.

A

Cornerstone Napa 4 300x147 Winery & Vineyard Visits / Winemaker Focus / Cornerstone Cellars / Jeff Keene / Napa Valley, California & Oregon Cornerstone Napa 3 300x132 Winery & Vineyard Visits / Winemaker Focus / Cornerstone Cellars / Jeff Keene / Napa Valley, California & Oregon

Winemaker = Jeff Keene

http://www.cornerstonecellars.com/

http://www.cornerstonecellars.com/Tasting-Rooms

From Cornerstone:

We are not about statistics and points, terroir is terroir and every vineyard must find its own balance.

There is no finer place in the world to grow cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot than the Napa Valley. It is both an honor to be able to craft wine from such outstanding fruit and it our responsibility to make each wine to the very best of our ability.

We make pinot and chardonnay in Oregon because we think it is a world class place to grow those varieties that the Napa Valley is not. It’s more important where the vines put down roots than where the winemakers do.

We do not make wine for everyone. We make what we believe in, not what the mass market demands. We will not be a slave to the fashion of the moment, we make wines we love to drink. What makes a great wine does not change; it’s not like having hemlines to go up and down according latest whim.

“For all questions related to wholesale distribution and production:

Winery: 707-948-6512 Email: craig@cornerstonecellars.com

For all questions related to the wine club:

Nadia Olson 707-490-2711 Email: nadia@cornerstonecellars.com

For all questions related to the tasting room or visits:
Tasting Room: 707-948-6512 Email: tastingroom@cornerstonecellars.com”

The rated wines were media samples generously provided by the winery.

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New Zealand Pinot Noir Goldwater Wairau Valley Marlborough 2012 New Zealand, Pinot Noir, Goldwater, Wairau Valley, Marlborough, 2012N/ Spice, nutmeg, BBQ smoke, and rock dust hover over cherry and black cherry notes. Hint of forest floor.

T/ Medium mouthfeel. Medium acid work… was hoping for just a bit more dance. Warm cherry and black cherry notes. Smoked meats and wood.

Mouthwatering, extended mineral and cherry finish.

http://pasternak-wines.simpleflame.com/pdfs/Goldwater%20Pinot%20Noir%202012%20product%20sheet.pdf

Alcohol = 13.5%

Price = $22-$26

N = B+

T = A-

I = A-

Overall = A-

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery.

From the winery:

“THE VINEYARD From the distant silhouetted mountains behind us to the indigo blue ocean before us, the Marlborough countryside is world famous and undeniably romantic. Our home, the celebrated Wairau Valley, is a place of wistful beauty and extraordinary terroir. Our history is rich and colourful. Goldwater was founded in 1978, making us among the oldest wine producers in New Zealand. For more than three decades our talented viticultural and winemaking team has worked diligently to create wines that mirror the character and personality of our unique coastal region. There is a windswept elegance to Marlborough’s famed Wairau Valley, it is both the heart of the of the district and home to some of the country’s most famous wines. The region takes its name from the Wairau River, which flows from the alpine ranges in the west to the ocean at Cloudy Bay. Wines from the Wairau Valley are rich, elegant, generous and concentrated.”

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Italy Garganega Soave Rocca Sveva Classico 2013 166x300 Italy, Garganega, Soave, Rocca Sveva, Classico, 2013N/ Yellow flowers, honeysuckle, melon, sun bleached rocks, with hints of resin and spice.

T/ Medium full mouth feel. Nice introduction of melon and tropical fruit notes. She is more rounded and has a higher mouth weight then would be expected from her nose.

Some mouthwatering action on the close. Her only fault is that I was wishing for a little bit more acid work.

http://www.roccasveva.com/wines/rocca-sveva-soave-classico/

Winemaker =  Giancarlo Piubelli

Price = ~ $15

N = A-

T = B

I = B+

Overall = B+

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery.

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France, Rosé, Bila-Haut, Michel Chapoutier, Pays d’Oc, Roussillon, 2013

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Red blend of cinsault and grenache. C/ Beautiful salmon and amber / pink. N/ Delightful rosé signatures of strawberries, raspberries, and sun bleached rocks, but also with hints of peach and melon. T/ Light to medium mouthfeel. A nice lively acid introduction complete with raspberry and jolly rancher flavors but she is more complex than that… […]

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France, White Blend, Bila-Haut, Michel Chapoutier, Côtes Du Roussillon, 2013

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White blend of: grenache gris, greanche blanc, macabeo, and vermentino. N/ Vanilla taffy, sea spray, marine wafts, melon, hay, cedar, and dry river rocks. T/ Medium mouthfeel. A lime and honeysuckle tart starts thing off, leading to some softer honeysuckle, tropical fruit, and green apple notes. A touch of slate closes her. Highly gulpable. This […]

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Italy, Glera, Prosecco, “Extra Dry,” Sparkling Wine, Spumante, Prosecco DOC Treviso, Mionetto, Brut, “Organically Grown Grapes,” Valdobbiadene, Veneto

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Note: this is one of the first wines where I’ve enjoyed (very much) the non-organic variety of the same brand and then actually enjoyed the wine made with organic grapes even better. This is a quality to price champion. N/ One of the purest expressions of green apple aroma that I’ve ever encountered outside of an […]

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USA, Gewürztraminer, Snoqualmie, ECO, Columbia Valley, Washington State, 2012

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N/ Pine needles, lime zest, and light wafts of vaseline. The latter being a bit surprising as one typically finds those in riesling, not gewürztraminer.   She also has an interesting herbal and spice note that I frankly cannot quite put my finger on, my best guess is some mashup of tarragon and nutmeg, but it […]

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Beer, Active Fermentation, Homebrewing

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For my friends who have never seen active fermentation in process, this video shows some yeast going to town. (Para os meus amigos que nunca viram o processo de fermentação, este vídeo mostra algumas leveduras tendo muita diversão). Homebrew Four Active Fermentation 07JULY2014 Please Share & Enjoy:

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USA, Sauvignon Blanc, Snoqualmie, Columbia Valley, Washington, 2013

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N/ Sun-bleached rocks, green apple skins, light yellow fruits, lime zest, and sunshine. Cat aroma scale 1 out 10, which is the absolute perfect amount to let you know that it is sauvignon blanc, but without the offensive aromas that sometimes plague greener versions of this grape. T/ Medium mouthfeel. Lean, mineral driven green apples […]

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USA, Red Blend, Whistle Stop, Snoqualmie, Columbia Valley, Washington, 2012

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Red blend of: 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot N/ Deep and dusty plum jam wafts, mesquite wood, paprika, black, wet soil. T/ Medium-full to full mouthfeel. Round, black fruit flavors with a touch of barbecue spices. While she has an ample fruit payload, she also has some nice, clean lines of minerals and wood. […]

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USA, Chardonnay, Wente, Riva Ranch, Heritage Block, Arroyo Seco, Monterey, California, 2012

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N/ Rich and full. Wonderful butterscotch and oil waft well for the fans of such, but restrained in such a manner that even those of us who are not partial that profile can really enjoy this nose. Luscious yellow fruits, clean notes of oak, and slate. T/ Full mouthfeel. Wow, this one is huge. In […]

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Winery Visit / Winemaker Focus / Abiouness Wines / Nicole Abiouness

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I was at a fab party in Sonoma a few months back that was bursting at the gills with great, and varied, wines and local winemaker royalty.  Admission price to the party was an interesting bottle of wine. Aside from two that were clearly jokes, there were approximately 40 other fascinating offerings. I was, predictably, like […]

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USA, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mandolin, Central Coast AVA, Hames Valley, Paso Robles, California, 2012

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N/ Round wafts of black cherry and cassis. Old, wet wood, forest floor, and granite. Hints of tomato leaf and paprika.T/ Medium full to full mouthfeel. Big, bold flavors of plum skin, black cherry, chocolate, and cassis. A few untamed, tannic, bites, but multiple layers and luscious fruits. She also, thankfully, has some clean lines […]

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France, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Domaine de la Perrière, Cher, 2013

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N/ Unfortunately, for me, the cat/ammonia aromas are too high on this wine. I give it about a 6-7 out of 10 on my cat scale. Some people really enjoy that aroma, I simply don’t, so don’t let that scare you away from this wine if you do enjoy that smell. Underneath that I get […]

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Italy, Garganega, Soave, ReMidas, Cantina di Soave, Soave DOC, 2012

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N/ Honeysuckle, lime zest, yellow flowers, light Vaseline. Fresh rain on cement. Cream Brulé and toast points. Lovely.T/ Light to medium mouthfeel. A very nice balance between a lightly  coating mouthfeel, and ample, lime zested acid work. Yellow apples, honeydew, and pineapples. Medium long finish with a touch of mouthwatering lime. http://www.cantinasoaveusa.com/re-midas-soave.php Price = a […]

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Argentina, Malbec, Kaiken, Ultra, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, 2011

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Red blend of: 96% malbec and 4% cabernet sauvignon. N/ Massive black fruits, black plums, sweet black pepper, brick dust and crushed rocks. Lime zest smeared across Baker’s chocolate, if I may be Dr. Dorkus. T/ Medium-full mouth feel. She starts with an unexpected, lively, acidic intro of black fruits, and deep black plum flavors. Nice […]

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Argentina, Malbec, Kaiken, Terroir Series, Corte, Mendoza, 2011

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Red blend of: 80% malbec, 12% bonarda, and 8% petit verdot. N/ Black fruits, black plums, leather, canvas, and crushed rocks. Acid kissed, dry black soil. Hint of cherry taffy. T/ Medium-full to full mouth feel. Round and woody on her start, she then delivers a deep black fruits, boysenberry and plum meat midsection. Her […]

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Portugal, Vinho Verde, White Blend, Aveleda, Casal Garcia (Em Português tambem)

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Note: this is a non-vintage, highly-affordable wine that way over delivers…. This wine was made for spring and summer, I suggest stocking up on it. White blend of: trajadura, loureiro, arinto, and azul. N/ Dried hay, sea salt, sun-baked slate, rain, and wet cement in the most agreeable way possible. T/ Medium-full mouth feel which […]

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