$20 Above

$20 Above: Shafer Relentless 2009

Shafer Relentless 2009

Date Tasted: 3/15/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $63.00 (Purchased for $62.00)

From The Winery: 15.8% Alcohol. 82% Syrah, 18% Petite Sirah. Napa Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: I picked up Shafer’s 2009 Relentless about a week after the 2008 vintage was named as Wine Spectator’s 2012 wine of the year. Good thing, too, because this wine was flying off the shelf. Given the ratings pedigree for the Relentless, Shafer could easily command more than the extremely reasonable price of $60ish. Let’s hope that they keep the price in that ballpark. The 2009 Relentless is one powerful wine. “Power” and “powerful” were repeatedly jotted down in my notes–not because I like to repeat myself, but more so that I’ve drank a lot of Syrah in the last few months and I haven’t tasted any that packed a punch like this one. It presents with a deep purple color. Big black and blue fruits, particularly plum and blueberry, are beautifully complimented with incense, saline, dark chocolate, expresso, pralines, and sweet spice. There’s a strong oak presence, but this wine is more than large enough to handle it. Full-bodied in the mouth, with big yet tamed tannins and an incredibly long finish. The ABV pushes 16%, but there is little to no heat on the back palate. It’s an incredible wine, and one of the better values in the Napa Valley.

Rating: Stellar (95), 4.5/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Syrah 3 Comments

Trione Vineyards & Winery

The Trione family has been farming and selling grapes in Sonoma County for over forty years. They now own and farm over 650 vineyard acres in the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Sonoma Coast. In 2005, the family built Trione Vineyards & Winery near Geyserville, California. Winemaker Scot Covington uses three percent of Trione’s Estate grapes to produce their wines. Production is currently around 6,000 cases.

After tasting six of Trione’s current releases, the overarching themes that I continuously noted were consistently good quality and balance. I did not detect a trace of heat in any of these wines.

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Trione Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $23.00

From The Winery: 14% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: This lively and zestful wine presents with a very pale straw color. The nose is chock-full of wild grasses and sliced jalapeños, but the flavors lean more towards fresh citrus fruits, specifically lemon and tangerine. Refreshing, balanced, and overall a nice expression of Sauvignon Blanc.

Rating: Recommended (88), 3/5 Value 

Trione Chardonnay 2008

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $30.00

From The Winery: 14.3% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: Light gold in color, this Chardonnay features expressive aromas of honey melon, oak, spice, and lemon candy. A shade low on acidity, with a clinging aftertaste of toasted oak.

Rating: Recommended (87), 2.5/5 Value 

Trione Pinot Noir 2008

Date Tasted: 2/7/13

Price: $35.00

From The Winery: 14.2% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: This garnet colored Pinot Noir is aromatic and has an airy, elegant presence. Fragrant red cherry, mulch, and dark chocolate aromas and flavors really pop, while the light and silky mouthfeel and impeccable balance take this wine to the next level. My favorite wine of the group and priced well at $35.00.

Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 3.5/5 Value 

Trione Syrah 2008

Date Tasted: 2/7/13

Price: $32.00

From The Winery: 14.8% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: A very clean, balanced Syrah that provides an excellent expression of herbs and spices–particularly oregano, bay leaf, and mint. Black raspberry and menthol are also readily apparent on the nose and mouth. The fruit is a bit on the tart side (I’m ok with that), and there is a slight bitterness on the palate, followed by very fine tannins.

Rating: Recommended (88), 3/5 Value 

Trione Cabernet Sauvignon Block Twenty One 2007

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $64.00

From The Winery: 14.5% Alcohol. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2.5% Petit Verdot, 2.5% Malbec. Cloverdale Ranch Vineyard, Alexander Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: Dark in color, this Zinfandel like-Cab presents with one of the loudest noses that I’ve come across. It’s absolutely loaded with raisiny fruit, cassis, and chocolate. There’s some sweetness on the palate, huge fruit, and sweet spices. Given the “huge fruit” and sweetness, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s enough acid to balance it out.

Rating: Recommended (88), 2/5 Value 

Trione Red Wine 2007

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $48.00

From The Winery: 14.5% Alcohol. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (blend breakdown unknown). Alexander Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: The “Red Wine” blend may be more subdued that the Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s still a big wine. I found the aroma/flavor profile to be a bit more complex, with blackberry, molasses, pencil shavings, red bell pepper, and damp earth. Black fruits, spice, and supple tannins fill the palate.

Rating: Recommended (89), 2.5/5 Value 

Disclaimer–These wines were provided as samples by the winery.

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Wine Column Leave a comment

$20 Above: Kerloo Cellars Va Piano Syrah 2010

Kerloo Cellars Va Piano Syrah 2010

Date Tasted: 2/28/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $38.00

From The Winery: 13.9% Alcohol. 96% Syrah, 4% Viognier. Walla Walla Valley AVA (Va Piano Vineyard, Block 6). 161 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: The first thing that popped into my head upon tasting Kerloo Cellars 2010 Va Piano Syrah was a song–specifically The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black”. Like the song, this wine is dark, exotic, and intoxicating. It falls on the savory/umami side of the Syrah spectrum. The aromatics are complex, with black cherry, black olive juice, mint, garrigue, cumin, leather, and beef blood. On the palate, the wine has a full mouthfeel, solid acid, slightly gripping tannins, and a long, clean finish that trails with flavors of smoke and black licorice. Per Kerloo Cellars website, there are only 18 cases remaining!

Rating: Highly Recommended (92), 4/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Syrah, Washington 5 Comments

$20 Above: Two Vintners Syrah 2010

Two Vintners Syrah 2010

Date Tasted: 2/18/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $21.00

From The Winery: 14.5% Alcohol. 100% Syrah. Columbia Valley AVA (grapes sourced from Klipsun, Stonetree, Olsen, Pepper Bridge, and Discovery Vineyards). 198 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: Two Vintners 2010 Syrah is a shockingly great buy at $21.00, and without a doubt the best Syrah that I’ve tasted at this price point. There are several dimensions to the nose, highlighted by a distinct aroma of earth that’s downright mesmerizing, and also including plum, white pepper, roasted meats, and tobacco. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, balanced, and exhibiting fine tannins and a long finish. This is not a flashy “look at me” wine–it’s understated and literally gets better with every sip. With only 198 cases produced, there’s not a lot to go around. If you do come across it, I highly recommend snagging multiple bottles.

Rating: Highly Recommended (91), 5/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Syrah, Washington 2 Comments

$20 Above: Stolpman Estate Syrah 2010

Stolpman Estate Syrah 2010

Date Tasted: 1/26/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $30.00 (purchased for $22.00)

From The Winery: 14.1% Alcohol. 97% Syrah, 3% Viognier. Santa Ynez Valley AVA. 5000 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: The 2010 Stolpman Estate Syrah is bright, pure, intense, and  has bit of a wild side to it. It’s a very different wine from Stolpman’s hard-hitting 2009 Estate Syrah (think blackberry and barbecued meat deliciousness). Deep purple in color, the ’10 displays cranberry, plum, bacon fat, and graphite, with rustic aromas and flavors of juniper berries, sassafras, and leather. Balance is aplenty and the wine is very approachable despite it’s youth. Notably, Stolpman described this wine as “the most accessible Syrah that we’ve yet produced.” I don’t drink enough Central Coast Syrahs (or Central Coast wines in general), but Stolpman has quickly become a producer that I’m following with great interest.

Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 3.5/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Syrah 3 Comments