Fine Wine Source Wine


May 2019

Foxglove Wines: Foxglove is the value label from twin brothers Jim and Bob Varner. “The idea,” says Bob Varner, “is to be as simple as possible.” At the core of Foxglove is Bob Varner, also the winemaker at Varner Wines. Starting from their first vintage in 1991, Bob sources his Pinot & Chardonnay from a variety of places, all of which are in Edna Valley. The resulting wine has Central Coast appellation pricing, and is full of the complex fruit flavors that the Edna Valley appellation is known for. Edna Valley, a relatively small appellation, grows mostly Chardonnay on about 1000 acres. The entire acreage is tightly controlled by a few owners employing the most up-to-date vineyard practices that give the valley impressive evenness. Located just south of San Luis Obispo, its vineyards are some of California’s closest to the Pacific Ocean. Mild winters, cool, foggy summer, and clay-loam soils produce a combination of flavors that have been described as “textbook Central Coast.” Bob and Jim Varner are best known for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir they produce under the Varner label, but Foxglove has become one of the great value labels made in California. The Foxglove wines are selected from several sites located in the Central Coast and are made with the same care and dedication as the Varner wines. The warm climate and ocean influence create wines that burst with fruit but have plenty of vibrancy and freshness. The use of oak is minimal and the Chardonnay is non-malolactic. While Chardonnay is the best know varietal from Foxglove, the Cabernet and Zinfandel have slowly gained an equally strong following.

Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% Paso Robles, 20 year average age of vines. Sourced from the Northern area of Paso Robles, the vines are planted on rolling hills, with loam soils at 900-1,000 feet of elevation. The fruit is 100% destemmed, pressed at dryness, with malo-lactic fermentation completed after pressing.

Varietals: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol: 13.9%, 0.60 TA (Total Acidity) 3.75 pH, .05 RS (Residual Sugar)

Tasting Notes: From Antonio Galloni of Vinous: “A rush of super-ripe dark cherry, tobacco, licorice, and plum give the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Foxglove its racy personality. Voluptuous in the glass, with silky tannins and soft contours, it will be impossible to resist upon release. One of the best values in California Cabernet.”

Food Pairings: If you are looking for a great food pairing for Cabernet Sauvignon, you only have to look as far as the butcher’s counter where they have the red meats! With a young Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon it helps to have a nice char with a bit of spice to offset the semi-sweetness and tannins. Seasonings that tend to flatter cabernet are garlic, rosemary, mint, and porcini (dried mushrooms). Steaks, burgers, beef short ribs, roasted or grilled lamb will do the job!

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Big ripe and rich with concentrated flavors of cedar, boysenberry, and cherries with a long silky finish. Best served with anything from the barbeque grill.

Wine Club Member HOT Deal: 2014 Paul Hobb’s Cabernet Franc, Moon Mountain District-Sonoma County, CA. “Likely the best Cab Franc I have ever had from California; as good as or better than ones from Bordeaux.” Jim. Wine Club Member Price $49.99…a savings of $10!

Fine Wine Source Wine


January 2019

Foxglove Wines:

Foxglove is the value label from twin brothers Jim and Bob Varner. “The idea,” says Bob Varner, “is to be as simple as possible.” At the core of Foxglove is Bob Varner, also the winemaker at Varner Wines. Starting from their first vintage in 1991, Bob sources his Pinot & Chardonnay from a variety of places, all of which are in Edna Valley. The resulting wine has Central Coast appellation pricing, and is full of the complex fruit flavors that the Edna Valley appellation is known for. Edna Valley, a relatively small appellation, grows mostly Chardonnay on about 1000 acres. The entire acreage is tightly controlled by a few owners employing the most up-to-date vineyard practices that give the valley impressive evenness. Located just south of San Luis Obispo, its vineyards are some of California’s closest to the Pacific Ocean. Mild winters, cool, foggy summer, and clay-loam soils produce a combination of flavors that have been described as “textbook Central Coast.” Bob and Jim Varner are best known for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir they produce under the Varner label, but Foxglove has become one of the great value labels made in California. The Foxglove wines are selected from several sites located in the Central Coast and are made with the same care and dedication as the Varner wines. The warm climate and ocean influence create wines that burst with fruit but have plenty of vibrancy and freshness. The use of oak is minimal and the Chardonnay is non-malolactic. While Chardonnay is the best know varietal from Foxglove, the Cabernet and Zinfandel have slowly gained an equally strong following.

About:

Food & Wine picked the 2015 Foxglove Zinfandel as an exceptional bargain bottle for under $20: “The juicy wild berry and herb flavors in this great-value Zinfandel finish with tart acidity” August 7, 2017. Sourced from the Northern area of Paso Robles, the vines have an average age of twenty-five years. The vines are planted on rolling hills with loam soils at 900-1,000 feet of elevation. 100% destemmed, pressed at dryness, and malolactic completed after pressing. The use of stainless on the Foxglove Zin keeps the ripe fruit from being too dark.

Varietals:

80% Zinfandel & 20% Petite Syrah

Alcohol:

14.5%

Tasting Notes:

Offering up pretty aromas of strawberries, blackberries and spice, the 2015 Zinfandel is medium-bodied, supple and velvety, with melting tannins and a juicy core of fruit. This is a delicious Zinfandel that represents amazing value.

Food Pairings:

Zinfandel wine is happiest when paired with anything from the meat aisle, from barbeque pork ribs, leg of lamb or a big, hearty meal. Think Pork, Beef, Lamb, Italian Sausage, Spare Ribs, Brisket, or Venison. You can also enjoy Zinfandel with bold, hearty soups, as well as your favorite kind of pizza. If cheese is your thing, try Foxglove Zin with Parmesan, Aged Cheddar, Aged/Smoked Gouda, Asiago, or Dry Jack. All-in-all, Zinfandel is a versatile wine for pairings!

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts:

Textbook Zinfandel: Purity of flavor, loads of spice and tart cherry!! Big back bone and a long lingering finish; best served with BBQ or Grilled Meats!

Fine Wine Source Wine


September 2018

Midnight Cellars:

Midnight Cellars is home to the Hartenberger family and their small production of award-winning Paso Robles wines. The 28 acre estate vineyard is situated in the newly established Willow Creek District, known for its strong marine influence, mountainous landscape, and calcareous soils. This climate, topography, and soil composition create an environment for growing quality, low-yield, sustainably farmed grapes. Planted on south facing slopes are Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec and terraced is eight acres of Zinfandel and a five acre lot of Chardonnay. The Midnight adventure began on a family vacation to Northern California. As father and son were sipping wine and overlooking a beautiful valley, the casual comment was made: “Hey Dad, you should buy a winery when you retire, and we’ll run it for you!” As fate would have it two years later, when Dad’s retirement became a reality, the winery idea resurfaced. The family sold their Chicago homes and converged on Paso Robles where they started their dream venture, Midnight Cellars Winery. In 1995 they purchased their 160 acre ranch in Paso Robles, which is now home to three generations of the Hartenberger Family. Midnight Cellars was the 29th established winery in Paso Robles. This area, also known as the Templeton Gap, has warm days and cool maritime influenced nights, making it a prime growing location. The vineyard is planted on hillside and hilltop in shale and limestone-rich soil. The southwest sloping hills face the Pacific Ocean, influencing a temperature swing of 40-50 degrees from daytime to nighttime.

About:

Although 2014 was another consecutive drought year for Paso Robles, this vintage resulted in fruit with powerful concentration and extra intensity. A dry and mild winter led to early patterns of flowering, veraison, and harvest, while the summer was mildly warm, with no extreme spike in heat. This vintage will lead to vibrant wines that will taste great young, but will continue to stay bold and balanced as they age. This is a very special Wine Club offer, only 765 cases were produced and Nebula was selling for almost $50 on Midnight’s website with a global average retail price of $43. We guarantee each Wine Club Member the allotted bottle; however, the remaining inventory will not last long!

Varietals:

90% Cabernet Sauvignon & 10% Merlot Aged 18 months in French Oak Barrels

Alcohol:

15.9%

Tasting Notes:

Rich aromatic notes of black cherry, raspberry, and anise rise from the glass. The first sip leads to complimentary flavors of spice and vanilla with full bodied black cherry fruit, berry, spice, leather, vanilla, and well balanced tannins.

Food Pairings:

Great wine for the tailgate or end of summer backyard party; grab nicest, best marbled, juiciest, Porterhouse or Rib-eye you can find and fire up the grill for one last Summer BBQ and enjoy the Nebula!

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts:

Rich, intense, and loaded with layers of complexity, flavor, and a long lingering finish. Best served with tasty red meats broiled or on the BBQ.

nymphwhite

March 2016

Domestic Wine: 2013 Cass Vineyard & Winery-Flying Nymph Blanc, White Rhone Blend

Cass Family Vineyard & Winery:  Cass Vineyard & Winery is located in the rolling oak-studded hills between Paso Robles and Creston on California’s beautiful Central Coast. This area that the vineyard calls home offers quiet serenity for the visitor and an ideal growing environment for wine grapes. Sited due east of the “Templeton Gap,” the vineyards receive the evening’s cooling breezes that the west side of Paso Robles is noted for. They also rest far enough from the coast to generate the heat needed to optimally ripen the Rhone varieties grown on their 160 acre estate vineyard. 100% of the wines crafted at Cass Winery are estate grown. Cass Vineyard was planted in 2000, and wine production began in 2005. Founders Steve Cass and Ted Plemons live on the property. In 2010 Michigan natives Doug and Beverly Cass became partners, handling the distribution in the Midwest, East, and Southern states, and have been guests at The Fine Wine Source on several occasions. Doug has been in consumer sales over thirty years and is also co-founder of the Michigan based business Kahootz Toys, whose brands include Play Doh, Lite Brite, and Spiro Graph (that turns 50 this year).

About:  White Rhone blends consist of two or more white grapes originally from its namesake region. They mainly include Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. Blends outside of the Rhone are mostly found in California and Australia and can include all four primary varieties together. Aiming to preserve the intense fruit and aromatics of these varieties, this blend was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel. Hand-picked in the early morning, the cold grapes were pressed within moments after coming off the vine. Following juice settling, a long, cold fermentation commenced using a unique South African yeast strain. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited to preserve acidity, keeping it crisp and fresh.

Varietals:  65% Rousanne & 35%Marsanne

Alcohol:  14%

Tasting Notes:  Aromas of lemon zest, kumquat, lemongrass, and ruby red grapefruit. Although it displays some restraint at first, it soon opens up to notes of honeydew melon, white rose and fresh herbs. The palate is light on its feet, with lean, zippy acid holding together a core of flavors that span honey mandarin, lemon curd, and green apple. The finish stays tight and clean, with a kiss of agave nectar and wet stone.

Food Pairings:  Squash, smoked fish, Asian cuisine, curry dishes, roast duck, and lobster.

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts:  A truly delightful wine! A perfect patio sipper, that is great with Antipasti and other light dishes.

December Domestic Wine: 2012 Peachy Canyon ‘Incredible Red’ Zinfandel, Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

Peachy Canyon Winery is a small family owned winery in the beautiful wine country of Westside Paso Robles on the Central Coast of California; near Hearst Castle and Big Sur. Peachy Canyon Winery specializes in estate Zinfandels and has been family owned and operated by the Beckett Family since 1988.

Made in a traditional style, this Zinfandel originates from dense, ripe grapes offering an array of delicious characteristics. A bright and pleasing wine, every glass is packed full of berry flavors and lanced with lightly toasted oak and mild spice aromas.

History of Peachy Canyon: When Doug and Nancy Beckett, a couple of school teachers looking for a better life, moved to Paso Robles in 1982 with their two sons, Joshua and Jacob, they never knew the life they would lead today. The label’s start came in 1988, thanks to a load of Zinfandel grapes from Benito Dusi’s vineyard. Though only amounting to a couple hundred cases, the premiere release centered the label’s reputation for premium red wines.

Today, the Beckett’s brand has become nationally distributed in 49 states and select international destinations. In order to secure premium fruit, Peachy Canyon sources grapes from over twenty local growers in the Paso Robles AVA and 100 acres of their own vineyards. The winery is still headed by founding vintners Doug and Nancy, as well as the family’s second generation. After years away from home, both Josh and Jake returned to Paso Robles and Peachy Canyon to work for the family business. Josh has been with the winery for nine years and has been the winemaker since 2003. Combining his varied experiences with different winemakers and regions, Josh keeps an open mind in order to create the most exciting wines possible. Jake wasn’t able to resist the lure of the family business either. For years, Jake worked as the vineyard manager over-seeing the four Peachy Canyon Vineyards and working with local growers to ensure fruit quality is kept at their high standard. In 2005, Jake wanted to learn other aspects of the business and joined the sales team. Jake now is the General Sales Manager and travels the country promoting the family brand.

Varietal(s): 90% Zinfandel and 10% Petite Sirah

Alcohol: 14.1% by volume

Food Pairings: Perfect for any occasion! Enjoy this bottle with or without food, but pairs perfectly with rich bold flavors. Try with grilled meats, savory stew, etc. Enjoy!

Tasting Notes: Bright, luscious and fruit-forward, the fan-favorite Incredible Red Zinfandel bursts out of the glass with a rich cherry nose, and develops into red summer fruits on the palate. Balanced acidity and structure and subtle notes of leather finish  with spicy oak and mocha in a lingering finish.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Ripe and loaded with berries and spicy fruit with a long deep finish. Great with BBQ and other grilled meats. I know this is a sure winner! Peachy Canyon has always been a favorite of mine, and I’m sure it will be a favorite of yours too!”-JL

June Domestic Wine: 2010 Clayhouse 'Adobe Red', Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

“Our label and brand celebrate a historic home at our estate vineyard near Paso Robles. That 150-year-old adobe structure – the Clayhouse itself – still reminds us of the time when grapes were first planted in this area. The Clayhouse, which we’ve carefully restored, is really the ideal symbol for our vineyard and winery. After all, like the adobe, our wines are created from the earth, cultivated by hand, and nurtured by family traditions.

For the Middleton family, those traditions and deep passion for agricultural businesses go back more than four generations.

Today, Clayhouse Wines extend that proud family legacy with a selection of exceptional wines, all crafted by hand in a refined, elegant style that reflects the unique character of Paso Robles and the depth of flavor that the Central Coast imparts.”-clayhouse.com

About ‘The Clayhouse’:  “The 150-year-old adobe structure — the Clayhouse itself — really is the ideal symbol for our vineyards. After all, like the adobe, our wines are created from the earth, cultivated by hand, and nurtured by family traditions.

For the Middleton family, those traditions and deep passion for agricultural businesses go back more than four generations. Today, Clayhouse extends that proud legacy with its selection of exceptional wines, all hand-crafted in a refined, elegant style that reflects the unique character of Paso Robles.”-clayhouse.com

Vintage Description: Even fairly mild summer for Paso Robles. Yields were average producing a good well rounded vintage with expressive fruit flavors.

Varietal: 33% Zinfandel, 32% Petite Sirah, 20% Syrah, 13% Tempranillo, 2% Tanat

Alcohol: 13.7% by volume

Tasting Notes: Sweet ripe red cherries aromas. Jammy strawberry preserves and spice combine in the mouth in this complex blend of fruit flavors. Tannins are soft and rounded with a rich mouthfeel and warm toasty vanilla laced finish.

Food Pairings: This wine is a reliable Jack of all trades, made for cheeses, meat and red sauce based pastas, bbq, pizza or just sipping with friends.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A great blend! Tons of concentration and flavor. A wine that will make you stand up and take notice. A wine that is a perfect summertime sipper! Drink with rich cheeses and hardy meats!”-JL

October Domestic Wine: 2010 Viña Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

Viña Robles crafts wines that represent a stylistic bridge between the Old and New worlds, capturing the finesse associated with European wines, while celebrating the bold natural flavors of their estate vineyards in Paso Robles.

Here, proprietor Hans Nef and managing partner Hans – R. Michel bring their Swiss heritage to California’s Central Coast, where they aim to unite the best of both experiences.

“I want Viña Robles to express a unique balance of European heritage and American opportunity. As individuals, we are rooted in the Old World. As winemakers, we are empowered by the New World. But both worlds bring value to what we do, and we endeavor to capture this distinction in our wines.”-Proprietor Hans Nef

History of Viña Robles in Paso Robles: They first discovered Paso Robles in the early 1980s and became enamored with this emerging wine country. Along golden slopes, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranchlands and cowboy ambiance, a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.

In the mid 1990s, they planted their first estate vineyard and established Viña Robles as a family winery specializing in varieties that excel in the region’s diverse terroir. The vision for Viña Robles is summed up by their motto: European Inspiration – California Character.

Varietals: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Petit Verdot

Alcohol: 14.1% by volume

Tasting Notes: “The fruit for our 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was selected from four of our estate vineyards in Paso Robles. It was handpicked at night in small lots to ensure perfect quality and ripeness. Afterwards, the fruit was destemmed and gently crushed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Pump-overs took place regularly to enhance color and help extract tannins from the skin. After pressing, the wine was racked into barrels to complete malolactic fermentation and aging. Before bottling, we blended in 19% Petit Verdot from our Huerhuero and Adelaida Springs vineyards to round out the blend. The Petit Verdot enhances mouthfeel and structure.”-vinarobles.com

Food Pairings: The wine pairs well with richer foods. A great wine for grilled meats, heavier pasta dishes, and barbeque. Also a great match with salty cheese!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and deep, with a lavish style. Layers of flavor and complexity here. In perfect harmony of red and blue fruit here. The wine has great intensity and a supple soft finish. Flavors of cassis, raspberry, and cedar are all intermingled. I love it!”-JL

May Domestic Wine: 2010 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel, Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

Ancient Peaks wines hail from their estate Margarita Vineyard, which stands alone as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region. Here, amid the rugged Santa Lucia Mountain range just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, they maximize the remarkable diversity of their soils to craft wines of depth and dimension.

Their Zinfandel has emerged as one of the Paso Robles region’s most acclaimed Zinfandels in recent vintages, including “Steal of The Year” honors in Sunset Magazine, 93 points in Wine Spectator and a Top 100 Wine of The Year designation by the San Francisco Chronicle. This acclaim is rooted in their estate Margarita Vineyard, which yields an intense yet finely balanced expression of the Zinfandel grape.

History of Zinfandel and its Relation to Ancient Peaks: A man named Joseph W. Osborne may have made the first wine from Zinfandel in California. He planted Zinfandel from Macondray at his Oak Knoll vineyard just north of Napa, and his wine was much praised in 1857. Planting of Zinfandel boomed soon after, and by the end of the 19th century it was the most widespread variety in California.

Zinfandel old vines are now treasured for the production of premium red wine, but many were ripped up in the 1920s, during the Prohibition years (1920–1933), but not for the obvious reason. Even during the Prohibition, home winemaking remained effectively legal, and some vineyards embraced the sale of grapes for making wine at home. While Zinfandel grapes proved popular among home winemakers living near the vineyards, it was vulnerable to rot on the long journey to East Coast markets. The thick-skinned Alicante Bouschet was less susceptible to rot, so this and similar varieties were widely planted for the home winemaking market. Three thousand cars (about 38000 t) of Zinfandel grapes were shipped in 1931, compared to 6000 cars of Alicante Bouschet.

The 2010 Zinfandel is composed of fruit from five separate blocks spanning three different soil types at their estate Margarita Vineyard–shale, sedimentary and volcanic. Collectively, these different soils and exposures bring natural complexity and dimension to the wine. Additionally, the vineyard’s marine-cooled climate and long growing season enable the Zinfandel fruit to achieve inherent structure and restraint

while delivering ample varietal richness and spic e.

Varietals: 100% Zinfandel

Alcohol: 15.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: The 2010 Zinfandel offers vibrant aromas of crushed raspberry and blueberry with a dash of sweet oak. Bright, juicy flavors of raspberry, boysenberry and black cherry anticipate notes of cola and spice. A smoky vanilla note joins luscious acidity on a rich, jammy finish.

Food Pairings: The wine pairs well with grilled lamb chops, wood-fired sausage pizza, Santa Maria tri-tip and chicken fajitas.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Really an old school interpretation of Zinfandel. As spicy as it is rich, with great balance and weight. A wine with tremendous flavor and intensity, but also elegance. I am excited to share it with you!”-JL

March Domestic Wine: 2010 Castoro Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

The husband and wife team of Niels and Bimmer Udsen established Castoro Cellars with the goal of producing world-class wines from Paso Robles-appellation grapes. Each vintage presents a new challenge and Niels is more than willing to constantly and creatively experiment. This on-going research is only one of the things that ensures they meet their goal.

Niels’ long-time nickname “Beaver,” evolved further when he was working in Italy and his friends soon took to calling him “Il Castoro,” which is beaver in Italian. The name and the motto stuck. Castoro Cellars’ “dam fine wines” sport a picture of a beaver on each label.

History of Cabernet Sauvignon and its Relation to Castoro: Cabernet is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines, where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Napa Valley, Australia’s Coonawarra region and Chile’s Maipo Valley. For most of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.

Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation—the grapes have thick skins and the vines are hardy and resistant to rot and frost—and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavors which express the typical character (“typicity“) of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions. Its widespread popularity has also contributed to criticism of the grape as a “colonizer” that takes over wine regions at the expense of native grape varieties.

Varietals: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol: 14.7% by volume

Tasting Notes: This wine is packed with rich berries, ripe fruit aromas and flavors. Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be ready to drink early on with formidable aging capacity.

Food Pairings: Drink this with a hearty entrée or with a selection of rich cheeses.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Full throttle, big, and rich with a long lasting finish. A fantastic Cab loaded with cherries and raspberries.”-JL