"Top-Flight Wine" (TFW) (Top-FlightWine.com TopFlightWine.com Top-FlightWines.com TopFlightWines.com) is a wine blog giving you the inside news on the wine business, new wines, interesting tasting notes, wine country news, wine festivals, wine clubs, and wine education. Top-Flight Wine (TFW) reviews are based on a 100 point scale. The goal is to find a Top-Flight Wine.
The robust 2006 Caymus Vineyards Special Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is filled with sweet rich developed mixed dark berry fruit with hints of delicate spice and rich cocoa. Exceptionally smooth and velvety in the beginning with a perfect balance of acidity. The long bold finish bursts with refined tannins and continues to intrigue. This is a dynamite full-bodied California Cabernet worth exploring! 96 Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
The 2010 Starborough screw cap Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is intermixed with ripe kiwi, summer time melon, rich guava, and subtle balanced soften acidic tropical fruits. A clean beauty arises in it from filtration of this 100% New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with rounded stainless steel mineral development. 86 Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
The 2007 Artesa Estate Reserve Carneros Chardonnay is rich, bold, structurally built from mountainous small berried ripe fruit, displays subtle elegant fruits of delicate Macintosh Apples, Meyer lemons, and hints of ripe garden melons. The Reserve Chardonnay is filled with toasted vanilla new oak creaminess with a structured acidity. The dedication to quality is displayed at all levels of this dynamic wine, from the full bodied spice filled mid-palate to soft complex balanced smooth finish. This is an exceptional wine to add to your cellar! 93 Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
While traveling up the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley you will come across artistic structures strategically placed within the meticulously manicured rows of vineyards. These rustic, strong, and powerful Vineyard Fans help protect the early budding vines during the frost prone springtime. The dangerous cold air at the lower levels is moved to higher levels allowing the vineyard to slowly warm and help preserve the new vines. The Vineyard Fans, functional by nature, are like artistic steel structures, designed in unique styles, and are representative of the beauty of the Napa Valley scenery. Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
The 2006 Foxen 7200 Merlot, Vogelzang Vineyard delivers from the Santa Inez Valley with impressive style and structure. This 100% Merlot, clone 181, is a medium bodied Bordeaux styled wine, unfinned and unfiltered, with a fairly deep elegant hue. The 60% new French Taransaud Barrel aging is dominant in the beginning aromas and extends through the finish. This low production handcrafted wine give you many subtle ripe rich plum and cherry flavors that soften toward the beautiful finish. 90 Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
Memories of regions throughout the world are representative in many Napa Valley wineries and develop deep connections to visitors. The French inspired Chateau Montelena shows strong bold lines, rustic doors, and a waterfall of ivy over the old weathered stone castle like facade. The brilliant white and large curved lines of Chimney Rocks Dutch influenced winery stand out in the surrounding vineyards. The architecture of Dominus Estate is impressive; walls naturally insulated with basalt rocks stacked randomly between a solid steel cage system, and impart intermittent rays of light inward. Darioush Winery displays spectacular rows of columns and lavish fountain systems highlighting the wineries Parisian style architecture. Artesa's design focus is on a minimalistic modern approach on the environment and winery, high-lighting the natural components of the land and expansive views. Timeless art, world class wines, dynamic restaurants, tranquil spas, and memorable architecture draw Oenophiles to the Napa Valley. Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
Winemaker Bob Bertheau designed a high quality medium bodied blackberry jam filled Merlot from the Wahluke Slope and Indian Wells Vineyard in Columbia Valley Washington. Aggressive tight fruit on the nose slowly fades once you work into the ripe dark garnet infused velvety fruit. Overtones of French and American oak intertwine creating hints of vanilla. This Washington Merlot is evenly balanced due to the blend of 81% Merlot and 19% Syrah, and finishes impressively with soft supple tannins. This intense wine has a strong personality that draws you in with intrigue. 89 Top-Flight Wine (TFW)– G.A.
The Jim Barry 2007 Lodge Hill Shiraz, from the breathtaking Clare Valley, is one wine I will put on my Top-Flight Wine list. It is an explosive medium-bodied purple hued Shiraz with depth & structure, layered with a peppered spice, strong presence of American Oak and some French oak. Bountiful amounts of dark blackberry and a smaller portion of boysenberry fruit saturate the wine from the rich loam soils. The presence of 14.9% alcohol is noticeable along with a hint of floral notes, but balances with the smooth richness of the Shiraz fruit. Dry tannin will slowly coat your palate along with hints of baking spice on the finish. This Shiraz really delivers for the price point. 91 Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.
Lake County wineries offer high quality wines at competitive prices. The wine scene in this picturesque area is growing. Rugged rolling hills rise from majestic Clear Lake, north of the Napa Valley, and are sprinkled with aspiring vineyards in the Red Hills and High Valley. Vines thrive in the higher altitude vineyards and develop bold and rich flavor in the deep red volcanic soils, absorbing sunlight during the warm days and cool nights. Many wineries are small to mid level wineries like Wildhurst Vineyards, Langtry Estate & Vineyards, Shannon Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Hawk & Horse Vineyard, Brassfield Estate, Ceago Vinegarden, and Steele Wines. I recommend visiting Jim Fetzer's Mediterranean style Ceago Vinegarden, an architectural masterpiece overlooking serene Clear Lake. Take time to sample some of their exclusive wines. Jim Fetzer continues to deliver on the biodynamic and organic farming front and is in the process of creating a European style hospitality retreat. Lake County wines offer quality, value, and terrior character, so why not put them on your radar. Top-Flight Wine (TFW)-G.A.
I've always loved the wines from the Mount Veeder AVA. Some of the wineries that are quite nice are Mount Veeder Winery, Hess Collection Winery, Jade Mountain, & Chateau Potelle. The thick skinned fruit is bright, rich, explosive, and tannic. Mount Veeder AVA, in the Mayacams mountains, is above the fog line like the Howell Mountain AVA, and experiences some similar characteristics. Between the range of 600 and 2100 feet some exceptional red grape varietal prosper, Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel. Two white varietals, Chardonnay and Viognier, absorb a unique flavor profile during the long growing season. The depth of concentration and intensity of the fruit from the sandy loam soils in this area make it more challenging for the winemaker to find the perfect balance to these vary deep colored wines. I like to call the rustic mountain vineyard fruit from Mount Veeder AVA as a “Jewel” because of the low production and vary individual characteristics. Top-Flight Wine (TFW)-G.A.
Clear, white, or brownish red crystals that accumulate on the bottom of corks and at the bottom of the bottles are a little mysterious at first glance, but they do not adversely affect the wines flavor. These mild crystals are known as tartrate crystals, formed when the naturally occurring tartaric acid in the grapes combine with the minerals absorbed into the fruit from the soils. Tartrate crystals usually form when a white wine or red wine has been chilled down to a low temperature, while being stored on the side for extended periods of time, and the tartaric acid crystallizes. These potassium bitartrate crystals usually form when alcohol levels increase and temperature levels decrease. Larger wineries use expensive “cold stabilization” methods to filter out the crystals before bottling, while smaller boutique wineries use minimal vinification techniques, which may result in more crystal formation. If you see crystals and sediment in the wine, and clarity is important to you, then you will want to filter the wine before you taste it. Stand the bottle upright to let the sediment and crystals settle to the bottom and slowly pour the wine into a decanter that has a filter at the top. I hope you see the diamonds in your wine as another intriguing component to your wine experience. Top-Flight Wine (TFW)-G.A.
Tucked away in the Vaca Mountain Range above St. Helena lies one of the most famous AVA's of Napa Valley, beautiful Howell Mountain. This AVA begins at the hillside at 1400 and extends up to 2200 feet, allowing for vines to grow deep and strong in iron rich red volcanic soils. Due to ten degrees cooler day time growing temperatures, the berries are small, bold, intense, and develop thicker flavorful skins. The wonder of this special microclimate is that the berries develop slowly drawing in the minerals from the soil, fighting for water, forming deep roots, and working to absorb the sunlight. As ripening slows in the Napa Valley because of the thick layered river of fog covering the valley floor, Howell Mountain continues to prospers, building tremendous richness. Some of the most amazing flavor profiles show in these dark, rich, robust, blackberry infused, mocha and chocolate spice, and earthy wines. Recognized as one of the first AVA's, Howell Mountain continues to produce wines of distinction rivaling vineyards of Bordeaux, based on complexity, robustness, depth of flavor and style, character, and pure elegance. Next time your in Napa Valley follow the Silverado Trail North toward St. Helena, take a right on Deer Park Rd just before the town, and follow the road into the hills toward the majestic Howell Mountain, AVA. Top-Flight Wine (TFW)-G.A.
Make sure you decant this intense dark jammy Merlot. Swirling it in the wine glass you notice a concentrated and bold blackberry and spice layered wine. Winemaker David Ready, JR. did an outstanding job marrying 98.5% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, .5% Cabernet Sauvignon from the beautiful rocky hillsides and bench vineyards of the Alexander Valley. This wine explodes with bright fruit aromas and an inky depth of color, with a boldness of a Cabernet. An expert level of a combination of 13% new French and American Oak and 1 year of aging of rich fruit shows nicely in the smooth generous tannins. 90 Top-Flight Wine (TFW)-G.A.
A slow and steady transition is taking place in the grape growing regions in the area of responsible farming. As the “Green” movement grows in strength we are seeing more wineries developing biodynamic and sustainable methods to growing their grapes. Solar power is coming alive in Napa Valley along with water conservation in the vineyard. Many wineries are questioning the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides; especially the adverse long-term effects they have on the vineyard soil and ecological balance. Wineries are using many eco-friendly methods to control the conditions in the vineyard, including composting and manure, many unique cover plants, natural predators like hawks and owls. By using these methods, it allows the true expression of the grapes to develop their character based on terrior of the region and natural elements. One winery that I highly recommend that uses Organic practices is ZD Winery (CCOF)-California Certified Organic Farmers since 1999 and have been using solar power since 2007. ZD's 2007 Chardonnay is outstanding with ripe bright fruit, hints of American Oak layered with vanilla, and a smooth balanced tropical fruit richness. It is exciting to know that quality can be achieved through Organic practice. Every year more wineries will be transitioning to environmentally friendly approach to making wine. The true expression of terrior will be refined through these new practices creating a new level of high quality wines. - Top-Flight Wine (TFW)-G.A.
The first time you sample a bottle of Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon you can not help but notice the intense American oak that imparts a layer of spice and vanilla marrying brilliantly with the dark fruits. The cooperage recipe to toasting the barrel is complex like the winemaker's recipe for making of a fine wine. The craftsmen that create these barrels are true artisans who work to make a consistent quality product. The barrel is toasted with a light, medium, or dark toast, sometimes to the degree of the winemakers' specifications. The size of the barrel along with the degree of toast contribute to the harmony within the wine. Silver Oak Cellars lengthy aging process really allows the flavor profiles to develop and intensify in these high quality American oak barrels. I enjoy swirling the Cabernet around, tilting the glass, and experiencing the delicate character. Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is so distinct in its American oak profile that it will leave a special place in your heart for many years. - Top-Flight Wine (TFW) -G.A.