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Tasting Report: Family Winemakers of California 2010

As in years past, Family Winemakers of California proves itself to be a vast and nearly unmanageable monster of a wine show. Now in its 20th year, this San Francisco event featured a whopping 340 wineries and thousands of wines being sampled.

While I’m not entirely sure how the likes of Kendall-Jackson, here for the first time, qualify as a “family” winery, there was no shortage of quality to be found. My favorites this year invariably trended toward Cabernets, with excellent expressions being poured by Barnett, Macauley, Ramey, Rocca, and Titus — all from the 2007 vintage. 2007 Napa Cab is already getting rave reports and may be the best vintage for the region since 1999 — snap it up!

Notes on tasted wines follow. Prices for wines poured were unavailable.

Tasting Report – Family Winemakers of California 2010

2009 Barnett Pinot Noir / B+ / chewy

2007 Barnett Cabernet Sauvignon / A / peppery nose, nice balance

2007 D-Cubed Napa Valley Zinfandel / A- / easy, nice and soft

2007 D-Cubed Korte Ranch Zinfandel / B+ / some toughness

2006 D-Cubed Howell Mountain Zinfandel / A / nice cocoa notes

2006 D-Cubed Primitivo / B /

2008 Handley Sauvignon Blanc / B / acidic

2007 Keller Estate Chardonnay Oro de Plata / A- / minimally oaked, tart

2007 Keller Estate Chardonnay La Cruz / A- / tropical notes, intriguing

2007 Keller Estate Pinot Noir La Cruz / A- / big fruit, earthy traditional finish

2008 Kokomo Winery Pinot Noir / B / big jammy notes

2008 Kokomo Winery Cuvee 4791 / B- / out of balance

2008 Landmark Chardonnay Overlook / B+ / classic style

2008 Landmark Syrah / C+ /

2006 Macauley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A / silky and smooth

2007 Macauley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A- / tougher but with great promise

2006 Macauley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville / A- / big and dark

2007 Macauley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Vineyard / A / silky, rich with plums and chocolate

2007 Martinelli Pinot Noir / A- / lovely, balanced cherry and earth notes

2006 Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon / B / extremely big now, tough

2006 Merryvale Profile / B / massively tannic and hard

2006 Mount Eden Cabernet Sauvignon Saratoga Cuvee / B / tannic, tough

2006 Mount Eden Cabernet Sauvignon Estate / B / similar to Saratoga

2007 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Annum / A / delightfully smooth, rich and easy drinking

2008 Robert Biale Zinfandel Monte Russo / B- / harsh menthol notes

2007 Rocca Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Grigsby Vineyard / A / very rich and lush

2007 Rocca Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Collinetta Vineyard / A- / similar, but with a lighter body

2007 Saxon Brown Pinot Noir Parmalee Hill / A- / easy, nice and soft

2007 Saxon Brown Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard / A- / very lush

2004 Saxon Brown Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / B+ / simplistic

2007 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A / big body, good balance

2007 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve / A- / not much different, maybe thinner

2007 Villa Creek La Boda / B+ / overpowering

2007 Villa Creek Avenger / B+ / menthol and cocoa, too jammy

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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  1. Rodney Williams August 31, 2010

    Hi Christopher,
    Sorry I didn’t actually get to meet you at the event. I work for Kendall-Jackson and, yes, we are indeed family owned. In fact, our owner Jess Jackson is one of the founding members of Family Winemakers and we’ve been a part of it every year since these tastings began.
    Although Kendall-Jackson is well known for it’s Chards, you appear to really enjoy reds. I hope you get a chance to try our Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cab 07 (92 pts Robt Parker), Jackson Hills 07 Cab (93 pts Wine Enthusiast) or our Grand Reserve Cab 07 (90-93 pts Robt Parker). All of these wines are available at retail and online. Same of our new Summation White Blend (90 pts Wine Spectator, one of 17 annual Best American Wine Values, Wine & Spirits). Our Chardonnays are even better reviewed. We are only able to deliver this kind of consistent quality year after year because we are family-owned and run by a husband ands wife team not willing to sacrifice quality for short-term gain. If you are in the area, please stop by our Kendall-Jackson Wine Center and see for yourself.
    Thanks for providing this wine forum!

  2. Christopher Null August 31, 2010

    Rodney – I stand corrected!


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