Tasting Report: Wines of Addendum, 2014 Vintage

Addendum is a brand new (and standalone) wine label from the team at Fess Parker. The winemaking operation is in Santa Barbara, but unlike Parker’s main label bottlings, these grapes come from Napa up north. The goal of this unique project: To make high-end, Bordeaux varietal wines from California fruit… though you’ll find a little syrah in the mix in the last wine in this collection of four Cab-focused releases from this inaugural vintage, 2014. (The rest of the wines are all 100% cabernet.)

We recently tasted the wines along with Blair Fox, winemaker and Rhone varietal pro, and Tim Snider, the president of the winery. Thoughts on all wines tasted follow. (Note: Less than 800 combined cases were made across all four of these wines… and all are aged 28 months before bottling.)

2014 Addendum Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Skellenger Lane – For legal reasons, the actual vineyard can’t be named on this label, for legal reasons. Quite fruit forward at first, the lush blackberry and currant notes eventually give way to chocolate, vanilla, and some baking spice. Mint comes in on the back end, but  a moderately tannic backbone remains omnipresent through to the end. A classic Napa bottling that probably will really hit its stride in four or five years. A- / $95

2014 Addendum Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak Stagecoach Vineyard – Even juicier and fruitier than the Skellenger Lane bottling, this wine avoids the overwhelming tannin that mountain fruit can bring, showing zippy raspberry and blackberry notes that eventually segue into some of the mint that the Skellenger Lane bottling also shows. The finish here is surprisingly acidic, but also opulent, with a silky and lush texture that lingers on the tongue. A- / $95

2014 Addendum Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Essentially a hybrid of the previous two wines — 2/3 from Rutherford, 1/3 from Stagecoach. Here the Skellenger chocolate absolutely attacks the nose, a modest milk/dark cocoa blend that guides the way to strawberries, blueberries, and plenty of currants. It just goes on and on… pivoting a bit on the finish to a touch of citrus. A real best of both worlds. A / $90

2014 Addendum Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Atlas Peak Stagecoach Vineyard – 56% cabernet, 44% syrah. An almost syrupy bomb of chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch, layering in baking spice, caramel, and raisin notes. I’m reminded of whiskey when sipping on this wine, which is a good and a bad thing, but ultimately this showcase of fruit — which, by the way, is neither particularly heavy with either cab or syrah — tends to lean a bit too far to the sweet. B+ / $80


What’s the Best Way to Cellar Wine?

So you’re a fan of good wine, and you’ve just acquired a nice bottle. It’s not something you’re going to drink right away, and perhaps you want to put it down for a while and let the passage of time potentially improve what’s inside. If this is your first time cellaring a bottle of wine, it might seem like a confusing task: Where’s the best place to keep your bottles? What about light or temperature? Should a bottle be stored on its side, or standing up? If you’re ready to start a wine cellar of your own, here are some basic instructions for how to get the most out of your bottles.

For temperature, it’s best to keep things cool, but not too cool. In general, people drink reds too warm and whites too cold, and this is extended over to how the bottles are stored, as well. If the temperature in your cellar is too high, the wine will age far too quickly, and the aromas and flavors could be dulled by the heat. Too cold, and the tastes and aromas contained in the bottle won’t evolve much at all. In general, a good cellar keeps a temperature of around 50° to 60° Fahrenheit, which is just right to keep a bottle of wine steadily aging for a long time. Just as important as the ideal temperature is that that temperature remains more or less steady. Obviously most of us can’t afford a perfectly regulated wine cellar, but kept somewhere with a consistent temperature will do bottles good.

Light, or lack thereof, is another important factor in a good wine cellar. Specifically, ultraviolet light can have a detrimental effect on wine, so if complete darkness isn’t a possibility, at least keep the bottles away from the sun. UV light can bleach not only the bottle’s label, but the wine itself, leaving it tasting thin and unpleasant. Light from bulbs carries much less UV than the sun does, and all the better if you’re using incandescent bulbs, which emit almost no UV light at all. But if it’s possible, it’s best to keep your cellar dark when you’re not around; if no light gets in, your bottles are better off.

If you go to a good wine shop, you may notice that the higher-end bottles are stored slanted, or on their side. This is how you should keep your bottles in your own personal cellar, as well. The idea here is that if a bottle is kept on its side, the wine will keep the bottom of the cork moist. A dry cork will get loose and let air in, which will cause the wine within to prematurely oxidize, which will lead to that often awful vinegar taste you get from a bottle past its prime — not to mention it can be a frustrating task trying to extract a dry, brittle cork from a bottle. Obviously, this only matters for bottles with corks, so if you have a nice screw top bottle on hand, it can stand up if you feel the need.

So, light, temperature, and bottle placement are probably the three most important factors in a good wine cellar (if you have some especially old bottles, or some well-aged vintage ports, you’ll also want to make sure your bottles aren’t jostled in any way, as this will disturb any sediment that may collect in the bottle). Of course, not all of us are blessed with spacious basements that fulfill all of the requirements for a perfect cellar. If a cool, dark basement isn’t possible, consider a little-used closet, or a quiet corner of a room that doesn’t get a lot of light. Keep your bottles cool, on their side, and in the dark, and you’ll be able to age your wines comfortably. Happy drinking!

Review: 2012 Chateau Haut-Logat Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois


What’s Cru Bourgeois? “A Cru Bourgeois du Médoc wine (a step below Cru Classe) is produced in one of eight prestigious appellations of Bordeaux (Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis en Médoc, Margaux, Saint Julien, Pauillac, or Saint Estèphe) and has satisfied the strict quality selection procedure by which all applicant wines are reviewed annually.” This wine is a blend of merlot (45%), cabernet sauvignon (45%), and cabernet franc (10%).

A rustic wine, this one from Chateau Haut-Logat has a balsamic edge with notes of cherry, currant, and rhubarb. Lightly astringent as the palate develops, the finish is a bit harsh, though it’s filtered through notes of rosemary, thyme, and mint, which mask the bitter edge to some degree.

C+ / $25 / crus-bourgeois.com

Review: 2014 Les Dauphins Puymeras Cotes du Rhone Villages

70% grenache, 20% syrah, 10% carignan. This affordable Rhone Valley wine offers an exceptionally fruit-forward profile, featuring notes of bold strawberry and cherry, backed with a hint of rhubarb. As the palate develops it turns a little toward citrus, with stronger orange juice and orange peel notes, before leading to a slightly astringent — yet highly fruited — finish. Best with food.

B- / $19 / lesdauphins-rhone.com

Review: Wines of San Simeon, 2017 Releases

San Simeon is a sublabel of San Antonio Winery, which makes a vast number of wines from grapes sourced from all over California — in Paso Robles, Monterey, and Napa Valley. Today we look at a mere three of them, part of the San Simeon label (that’s where Hearst Castle is, which you should go see in person).

Thoughts follow.

2015 San Simeon Chardonnay Monterey – More of a northern California style chardonnay, this wine offers butter, lemon, and a modicum of baking spice — creamy but with a lightly bitter kick — leading to a happily food-friendly finish. B+ / $19

2014 San Simeon Pinot Noir Monterey – A lively wine, this pinot finds notes of black pepper sprinkled atop cherry, currants, and a touch of rhubarb. The palate is just a touch gummy, but secondary notes of cola and cloves give it added depth, and the lasting finish — moderately tannic — offer lingering intrigue. Drink slightly chilled. A- / $19

2015 San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles – A gentler style of cabernet, full of fruit, with notes of fresh raspberry and strawberry, with a vanilla cream kick. The palate is lush without being overbearing, with just a hint of tannin (particularly after the wine has time to open up). The finish shows some sweetness, with touches of graphite. I liked this wine more and more as I experienced it, especially at this price. A- / $19


Review: Gonzalez Byass Sherries – Leonor Palo Cortado and Gonzalez Byass Nectar

Sherry continues to attempt to muscle onto American wine menus but it’s having more success in cocktails, where it can stand in for spirits to create a lighter, less boozy cocktail. Here’s a look at two very different sherries from major producer Gonzalez Byass, and a cocktail idea on how to use one of them.

Gonzalez Byass Leonor Palo Cortado Palomino 12 Years Old – 100% palomino grapes, which comprise some 95 percent of the Jerez growing area. The color of strong tea. Nutty on the nose, with leather and notes of roasted vegetables. The palate is extremely dry, leathery again, with ample notes of dried savory spices — thyme and some sage — before moving to a very drying, almost bitter finish that echoes notes of old, wet wood, mushroom, and furniture polish. B / $21

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Dulce – 100% Pedro Ximenez grapes. As the name implies, this is a sweet (very sweet) style of sherry. Much darker in color, close to coffee. The palate is fueled with notes of sweet dates, plump raisins, and figs. Some cola notes bubble up on the back end, but the sweetness is quite enduring, almost overwhelming at times. Sip in moderation (and slightly chilled), or mix liberally. B / $15

How about a sherry cocktail?

Palo Negro
5 oz Leonor Palo Cortado sherry
5 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Serve on the rocks.

Tasting the Wines of Vin de France, 2017 Releases

Back in 2009, France created a new categorization to cover wines sourced from all over the country. The so-called Vin de France wines are a mixed bag of grapes and styles (as the restrictions are few), but the overall goal with the category is to create single-varietal wines or blends, sourced from anywhere in the country — either all one region or multiple ones, mixed together — at a very affordable price.

Today, Vin de France wines comprise 15 percent of total wine exports from the country.

We checked out two Vin de France wines (a third was corked) from recent vintages. Thoughts follow.

2014 Marc Barriot Le P’tit Barriot Vin de France – 100% syrah. Do you like terroir? This wine wears it on its sleeve — a big and funky wine that reeks of earth, balsamic notes, and green vegetables, and carries that through to an equally semi-sour palate. The finish seems some wild, citrus-like notes emerging. Rough and rustic, this is the wine to drink before you embark on a running with the bulls. Vaya con dios! Or whatever they say in France. C / $18

2013 Maison Ropiteau Pinot Noir Vin de France – A simple and jammy pinot noir, this wine loads up on fresh berries and vanilla, with gentle balsamic notes underpinning the experience. The finish is short, quite fruity, with just a touch of rose petal to it. There’s nothing incredibly deep here, but as far as summery picnic wines go, you could do a lot worse. B / $10