Tasting Report: Family Winemakers of California 2012

This year’s Family Winemakers of California event — the largest wine tasting in the U.S. — marked a real return to quality, with lots and lots of good producers and great wines on display. I didn’t have nearly enough time to sample everything I would have liked (you can tell I tried to go through the tasting alphabetically, and only made it to about the Js). Lesson learned for next year. Here are thoughts on everything I did get to try. Don’t miss those Bailiwick Pinot Noirs!

Tasting Report: 2012 Family Winemakers of California

2005 Ankota Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / burly
2006 Arger-Martucci Cabernet Franc / B+ / chewy, mouth-filling
2006 Arger-Martucci Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / some grassy and cherry notes
2006 Arger-Martucci Odyssey / B / a little green
2009 Bailiwick Pinot Noir Borderline / A- / Marin-grown, nice sweetness
2009 Bailiwick Pinot Noir Russian River Valley / A / great, very rich
2010 Bailiwick Cabernet Franc Russian River Valley / B+ / mild, strawberry notes
2008 Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / very rich, currants and some tobacco
2008 Bennett Lane Maximus / B+ / big fruitiness
2006 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / easy for something at this age
2006 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve / A / rich and lush, but needs time
2009 Bjorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain / B+ / big chocolate, licorice finish, minty; unique
2010 Blue Rock Baby Blue / B+ / very light body
2008 Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / more structure and elegance here
2009 Blue Rock Best Barrels / A- / nice richness (85% Cab, 15% Petit Verdot)
NV8 Cain Cuvee / A- / much more subtle
2008 Cain Concept / A- / gentle and mild
2008 Cain Five / A- / where is the classic barnyard of Cain Five? Finally a more mellow, drinkable wine from Cain
2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers / B+ / sweet erry fruit
2009 Calera Pinot Noir Ryan / A- / black pepper notes
2009 Calera Pinot Noir Mills / B+ / modest finish
2009 Calera Pinot Noir Selleck / A- / very fruity
1999 Calera Pinot Noir Mills / B+ / still hanging together
2008 Canihan/Exuberance Pinot Noir / A- / tart, good structure, candy-like finish
2009 Canihan/Exuberance Pinot Noir / A- / little richer
2006 Canihan/Exuberance Syrah / A- / lots of depth, woody, has teeth
2008 Canihan/Exuberance Syrah / B+ / touch of astringency
2009 Cavus Cabernet Sauvignon / A / rich, dark chocolate, massive body, very long finish
2008 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / lots of heft
2010 Darms Lane Pinot Noir / B / lots of smoke on the nose
2008 Darms Lane Cabernet Sauvignon / B- / Sucrets finish, thin body
2007 Star Lane Estate Blend / B /
2006 Star Lane Astral / A- / big mint chocolate, nice finish
2008 Dierberg Santa Ynez Syrah / B+ / peppermint, lots of aromatics
2008 Dierberg Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir / A / classic, beautiful
2008 Dierberg Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir / A- / a bit tougher
2010 Dragonette MJM / B+ / menthol, big
2010 Dragonette Seven / B+ / similar, lighter body
2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / good structure, but mild
2005 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Bosche / A+ / wow, incredible flavor depth, blueberry and spice
2011 Galerie Sauvignon Blanc / A-
2006 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon / B / a little mushy
2007 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon / B / some tannin, green in glass
2007 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Impassable Mountain Reserve / A- / cranberry and chocolate notes
2009 Jones Family Winery Sisters Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / chewy, cherry, chocolate
2009 Jones Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon / A / fantastic breadth and depth
2009 Ramey Annum / A
2009 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / lighter than expected, mint finish
2010 Ramey Claret / B+ / mild
2005 Veedercrest Cabernet Sauvignon Vintner’s Reserve / A- / 42 months in oak; headed straight into Port territory

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