Ken Brown Rancho La Vina Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010

Pinot Noir lovers need to introduce themselves to Ken Brown Wines!

Located on the southern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the winery specializes in small lot Pinot Noirs with about 3,000 cases produced annually with most lots at less than 250 cases.

I highly recommend that you stop in for a visit the next time you are in Santa Barbara as all of his wines are stunning and well priced.

The 2010 Ken Brown Rancho La Vina Vineyard Pinot Noir is absolutely irresistible!

The only thing more incredible is that the bottle only cost $39, this is especially striking when you consider that only 166 cases of the Rancho La Vina Pinot were produced in 2010.

This is a big, expressive effort whose brilliant violet color and enticing fruit aromas are just a precursor of what is to follow.

Intense, mouthwatering black cherry and blueberry flavors overwhelm the palate, while licorice and hints of raspberry can be detected in the lush rounded tannins on the exquisite finish.

I rate the wine a 9.2 on a 10 point scale.




Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend 2015


The 2015 Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend is a wonderfully decadent effort.

The wine is balanced and loaded with luscious fruit, racy acids and plush dusty tannins.

Syrah forms the backbone of the blend at 50%, followed by 30% Merlot, 11% Cab Franc and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the fruit was sourced across selected vineyards throughout Napa Valley.

The juice explodes across the palate with waves of blackberry and blueberry flavors that are intertwined with chocolate, sweet creamy oak, licorice baking spices and flowers.

The unbridled intensity and energy that gushes from the glass truly overpowers and awakens the senses, and is more than you would expect from a wine that costs just under $60.

Now “Old World Enthusiasts” may not appreciate this opulent style, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it as well.

I give this wine a rating of 9.2 on a 10 point scale.

Angel’s Envy – Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Angel’s Envy is one of the smoothest and flavorful bourbons that I have tasted.

It’s classic vanilla, honey, maple and baking spice flavors are accentuated with subtle fruit flavors imparted by the port casks that the whiskey was finished in.

At an average retail price of about $45, this is an excellent choice for both newbies and aficionados.

2005 Cliff Lede Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon



What a massive and powerful Napa Cab!

The 2005 Cliff Lede Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is bursting with concentrated flavors of blackberry and plums that are balanced by the cinnamon and licorice infused velvet tannins that cling incessantly on the palate.

Even after 12 years, this dark purple juice has great structure replete with an abundance of youthful fruit which together should allow this wine to continue to age another 15+ years.

I really loved this wine, and its original cost of $65 gives it a ridiculously high quality to price ratio.


2007 Cakebread Benchland Select



The 2007 Cakebread Benchland Select is simply gorgeous!

Fruit for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced almost evenly from Rutherford (56%) and Oakville (44%).

After maturing for almost 10 years in the cellar, the wine is now perfectly balanced as delicious ripe fruit and juicy acids are harmonized and supported by soft dusty tannins.

The juice is a beautiful, inky purple almost black color with aromas of licorice and blackberry on the nose.

Lush flavors of dark berries, plum and cinnamon are followed by chocolate and leather with hints of earth on the satisfying and long dry finish.

Although drinking exceptionally now, the experience is amplified even more when paired with food like this roasted filet mignon.

Limited quantities of this Cab can be found for $200 or more, but current vintages retail for about $110 – $120.

2014 Goosecross Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


Goosecross Cellars is a boutique winery in Yountville, Napa Valley that produces about 7,000 cases of wine annually.

Their focus is mainly on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Red Blends as well as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and most of their offerings range between $27 and $82.

The 2014 Goosecross Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a lush, fruit forward effort with vibrant blackberry and blueberry fruit that wash across the palate and are followed by generous amounts of cinnamon and nuts on the creamy long finish.

This youthful Cab is drinking wonderfully now, and should provide enjoyment over the next 7 – 10 years, and at a price of $54 it won’t break the bank!

2008 Lachini Chehalem Mountains Estate Pinot Noir


The 2008 Lachini Chehalem Mountains Estate Pinot Noir is a wonderfully complex Pinot from Willamette Valley, Oregon.

This ruby red wine walks a tightrope between the elegantly soft tannins on the finish vs the lively acids and heavy mouthfeel perceived at the start.

Over time layers of flavors are slowly uncovered. The first impression is of chocolate and cola wrapped around dark fruit. Eventually these sensations turn to black cherries with soft mushroom accents. Finally ending with ruby red grapefruit on a dry finish.

Like most Oregon Pinots, it pairs very well with food, especially pork chops, but it also drinks very nicely alone.

Only 325 cases of this exquisite juice was produced, and its $60 price tag ensures it will be very difficult to find.

Rocca Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

The 2010 Rocca Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is an intense and sophisticated Cab that is firing on all cylinders.

The silky ripe fruit and juicy acids are in perfect harmony with the velvet tannins that stretch across the long finish.

A dazzling deep purple with intoxicating fragrances of violets, berries and forest floor waffling up from the glass.

Only to be outdone by the killer combination of dark plum, blackberry, cedar and cinnamon flavors that cascade across the palate, highlighting different components on each sip.

Rocca is a boutique winery in Yountville with an annual case production of 2,200 across a 6 wine portfolio focused on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

These limited production wines make great Christmas gifts for the oenophiles on your shopping list, as 5 of the 6 wines retail between $45-$100.

The Rocca Grigsby Cabernet can be found today between $70-$80 which is a great price for such a high quality Napa Cabernet!


Gorman Winery Old Scratch GSM

Washington is a treasure trove of great wines at even better prices, and @gormanwinery is one of my favorite producers in the State. He makes some fabulous Cabernet and Syrah based wines at prices that will knock your socks off.

The 2014 Gorman Old Scratch GSM is a perfect example of this high quality to value ratio juice produced in the region. This Rhone style red blend is comprised of 80% Syrah and 10% each of Mourvèdre and Grenache. The wine is a brilliant dark purple with berry and pepper on the nose. The first taste coats the mouth with smooth dense dark fruit and licorice followed by cinnamon and creamy oak spices. The juicy fruit is balanced skillfully against the dusty tannins that support the long peppery finish.

To be clear, this is not your standard fruit bomb Syrah, but rather a complex, supple high quality wine that you can enjoy with friends, and the $28 price point is just an added bonus!


Cakebread Cellars Merlot

She’s a Beauty!

The 2007 Cakebread Merlot hits all of the right notes!

The dark violet juice is flush with blueberry and cherry aromas. Rich, bold tastes of blueberries and plum eventually give way to black cherry and creamy vanilla flavors that linger endlessly on the silky smooth tannins.

This lively 10 year old is drinking exceptionally well right now, and is a must try if you can find it. It currently retails for about $55-$60.