The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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20 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2015 { planet grape } LIVERMORE VALLEY IS A WIDE SPOT in a long chain of identical valleys running north-south behind the East Bay Hills, and is the warmest valley from southern Monterey to San Francisco. Marine influ - ence is mostly blocked by the East Bay Hills and the Santa Cruz Mountains, so the days are warm, but gaps in the hills allow evening cooling with fog from the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific. The Altamont Ridge blocks much of the San Joaquin Valley heat. Harvest starts and ends later than it does in Napa Valley, and there is less rainfall. Livermore is cooler than the northernmost points in Napa Valley. Livermore Valley is on a mission to estab - lish itself as a key producer of California wines, and they are well on their way. RECENT STANDOUTS FROM LIVERMORE VALLEY WHITES Steven Kent Winery 2014 LOLA White, Ghielmetti Estate ($24)Fresh, mellow and fruity with notes of lime, pink grapefruit, melon, canned peach, lemongrass and thyme. Murrieta's Well 2012 The Whip ($22) Slightly sweet, juicy and vibrant with notes of lemon, green apple peach, pear, lychee, pineapple, white raisin, mustard seed and wax. McGrail Family 2013 Chardonnay, Chandler Vineyard ($30) Rich and creamy, this classically-styled California Chardonnay has notes of apple, pear, vanilla, caramel and buttered toast. Steven Kent Winery 2013 Merrillie Chardonnay ($34) Round, creamy and bright with notes of yellow apple, apple pie, pineapple, watermelon, muskmelon, Bosc pear, lemon curd, and crème brûlée. Wente Vineyards 2013 Morning Fog Estate Chardonnay ($15) Crisp green apple notes mingle with ripe tropical and creamy butter and vanilla. Balanced and lively. RHÔNE VARIETALS AND BLENDS Dante Robere 2011 Purgatorio ($31) Cab-like structure with juicy Petite Sirah notes of cherry, raspberry, blueberry, and cassis along with notes of white flower, brown sugar, chocolate mint and cedar. Fenestra 2010 Infrared Estate ($31) Vibrant, plush, fruity and soft, this Rhone- inspired blend has notes of watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, mul - berry, fig, plum, red rose, gummy bear, fruit roll up, leather, cinnamon, smoked meat, pasilla pepper and cedar. Vasco Urbano 2012 The Sheriff ($36) Rich, round, dark and spicy with notes of cherry, blackberry, black currant, plum, cedar, and cinnamon. Vasco Urbano 2012 Heine Petite Sirah ($48) Big, rich, broad-shouldered and bal - anced with notes of blackberry, cassis, raisin, dark chocolate, malt, coffee bean, burnt marshmallow, cured meats, browning mushroom, leaf, tobacco and vanilla. Robust tannins ramp up on the finish. Vasco Urbano 2012 Henry ($42) Rich, luscious, lively and chewy with notes of cherry, mulberry, blueberry, boysenberry, dark chocolate, Nilla wafer, cookie dough, toasted nuts and malted milk. BORDEAUX VARIETALS AND BLENDS Cuda Ridge 2012 Petit Verdot, Smith Ranch ($34) Intense and chewy with notes of blueberry, mulberry, tomato paste, molasses, maple syrup, peppermint and dark chocolate. Well-balanced though exposure to air softens the tannins. Nottingham Cellars 2012 Micro- Lot Reserve Malbec, Ghielmetti Estate ($55) Rich, ripe and oaky with notes of mulberry, blueberry, forest berry jam, prune, chocolate-covered raisin, vanilla and cedar. McGrail Vineyards 2010 Merlot Picazo ($36) Full, round, ripe and tannic with notes of blackberry, cassis, blueberry, chocolate covered pomegranate, menthol, fig newton, vanilla and cedar. Long, juicy finish. Cuda Ridge 2012 Cabernet Franc ($32) Sleek, fresh and fruity with notes of berry preserve, cassis, fig, cinnamon raisin bread, nutmeg, clove, turned earth and mushroom. Nottingham Cellars 2012 1846 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) Full and luscious with a juicy core of dark fruit, chocolate-covered cherry, red apple, cof - fee bean, and vanilla. Fine-grained tannins and fresh, bright acidity for balance. Lineage 2011 by Steven Kent Winery ($165) Intense, sleek, and powerful with notes of cassis, fig newton, vanilla, espresso powder, and mocha. Richly tan - nic now, so aerate or age first. Livermore Valley's Opus One. ZINFANDEL Fenestra 2010 Zinfandel ($22) Intense, bright, powerful and balanced with notes of raspberry cobbler, cherry Lifesaver, blue - berry, mulberry, boysenberry, braised meats, incense, spruce, cedar, clove and allspice. Wood Family Vineyards 2012 Muy Bueno Zinfandel ($32) Ripe, rich, bold and spicy with notes of cranberry, straw - berry, raspberry, cherry, boysenberry, Red Vines licorice, spearmint, maple syrup, milk chocolate, cedar, and clove. For more Livermore Valley reviews, visit page/3/?s=livermore+ LIVERMORE VALLEY IS MAKING STUNNING WINES by Catherine Fallis, MS California's Hidden Gem

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