Chateau Montelena dates back to 1882 when Albert Tubbs bought 254 acres of property just north of Calistoga. Tubbs planted vines and by 1896 Montelena was the 7th largest winery in California. Winemaking came to an end with the onset of Prohibition. The current iteration of Montelena can be traced to 1968, when Jim Barrett was brought on as a…
Author: Tom Lee
Mailing Lists: Excellent California Wine Without The Wait
My brother started buying and cellaring wine a decade after I did and has since amassed about 800 bottles of mostly California wine. He recently lamented that his collection was deep in Pinot Noir but lacking in Cabernet Sauvignon. He was wondering which Napa Cabs I suggest he look into. This got me to thinking: Many of the wines you…
2004 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel – Bottle Notes
Alberto Rafanelli, an Italian immigrant, first founded A. Rafanelli Winery in the early 1900’s. It wasn’t until the early 70’s that Alberto’s son, Americo, came out with the present day label and started selling the wine commercially. David and Patty Rafanelli now run the winery and a 4th generation Rafanelli, their daughter Shelly, is the winemaker. The winery is perhaps…
Pick My Next Bottle: ’95 California Cabernet
The August installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 1995 California Cabernet Sauvignon (see the July installment for background on this series). I plan on opening the winning bottle on August 25th, and publishing an in depth bottle note on August 27th. 1995 was the third vintage in a string of four exceptional vintages in Napa Valley. James Laube…
Petite Sirah: California’s Most Age Worthy Varietal?
Petite Sirah was first bottled as its own varietal by Concannon in 1961. The wines made in these early years were huge, tannic, extracted wines. Some of the better examples like Ridge York Creek, Freemark Abbey, Stags’ Leap and David Bruce were thought to be wines capable of aging for 30 or more years. Therein though was the problem as…
2006 Switchback Ridge Merlot – Bottle Notes
Switchback Ridge wines are sourced from the Peterson Family Vineyard in Calistoga. The property has been in the Peterson Family since 1914 and was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah in 1990. Bob Foley has been the winemaker since the inaugural vintage in 1999.
2006 Rochioli Estate Chardonnay- Bottle Notes
Rochioli Vineyards is one of the true pioneers in Russian River Valley, with a winemaking history dating back to the the late 1950s. Although best known for their world class Pinot Noir, Rochioli also produces remarkable Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Mailers: How many wines is too much?
As I look at the multitude of wines listed in the most recent Williams-Selyem mailer, I find myself wondering if there’s a point where a winery offers too many wines?
2011 Betz Petite Rousse – Bottle Notes
Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. Although the winery was recently sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel (with Bob Betz remaining on as the winemaker) I expect quality will…
2004 Outpost Petite Sirah Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes
Outpost sits atop Howell Mountain and strives to make world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Grenache from an amazing estate vineyard. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the very start. He has also gone on to start his own winery, Rivers-Marie, all the while making truly exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon for Schrader amongst others.