November 3, 2017

California's First Wine Region - The Sierra Foothills

1. 2015 Jeff Rehnquist "R" Barbera Amador County
The 2015 Amador Barbera has a ruby purple color of a moderate depth. The aroma centers on raspberry, cherry and currant, along with a perfumed note of violets and lavender. The aromas are framed with notes of vanilla, nutmeg, and hazelnut. This combination generates a gravitational pull that is hard to resist. Barbera is known for its brightness due to a little extra acid in the grapes similar to a Pippin or Granny Smith apple. This often makes for a zesty, tangy, sometimes zippy flavor. However, our 2105 Barbera has a savory succulence and a rich viscosity not normally associated with Barbera. The red fruit flavors are delivered by a wine with a creamy, smooth, and round texture that transitions seamlessly to an elegant finish with notes of mocha, caramel, and gently toasted oak.
Double Gold - 2017 Calaveras County Fair Wine Competition
Gold - 2017 Dan Berger's International Wine Competition
Silver - 2017 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition
Silver - 2017 California State Fair

2. 2012 Renaissance Syrah Sierra Foothills North Yuba
"Founded in 1978, Renaissance Winery is known to collectors, connesuiers and wine-lovers the world over, for wines that are pure expressions of terroir and their distinctive style." Winery Syrah can be quite floral in its youth, developing white and black pepper aromas and herbaceous notes as it ages. Some examples show tanned leather and smoky scents, while the fruit in these wines tends towards the very dark flavors of blackcurrant and licorice.

3. 2010 Keplinger Wines "Sumo" Proprietary Red Amador County
The 2010 Sumo is a tremendous wine endowed with serious depth. Explosive and powerful, the 2010 covers every inch of the palate with black cherries, plums, menthol, and melted road tar. Hints of exotic spices develop later, adding layers of complexity and nuance. This is another 2010 that needs bottle age to settle down, but it is fabulous, even today. Here, too, though, the road comes to an end, as 2011 is the last vintage for the Sumo. The 2010 is 88% Petite Sirah and 10% Syrah, co-fermented with 2% Viognier, from Shake Ridge in the Sierra Foothills. This is another brilliant showing from Helen Keplinger. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.
Rated 94+ Wine Advocate

4. 2005 Renaissance Syrah Sierra Foothills North Yuba
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and wood smoke. In the mouth, smoky cassis and black cherry fruit has a juicy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Powdery, powerful tannins wrap around the core of fruit, and sit on top of a deep crushed stone minerality. Great acidity, but a slight bit of alcoholic heat surfaces in the finish. Winery

5. 2012 Terre Rouge Syrah "Sentinel Oak" Vineyard Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley, CA
Built for aging, this tightly wound, elegant and yet grand wine is sure to develop more nuances and smoothness with time. It smells enticingly like cedar, tobacco and dark chocolate-covered blueberries, yet retains a firmness and reserve that doesn't let those melt into richness on the palate quite yet. Store this confidently in a cool place and enjoy it 2020–2025. Rated 95 Wine Enthusiast Magazine

6. 1997 Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Sierra Foothills North Yuba - blend 91% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc
This wine blended from 12 different cabernet slopes, is a medium dark color. Now showing additional complexity from bottle aging. Palate: medium bodied, concentrated, with very ripe fruit (blackberry) and tannins. The finish is vibrant and minerally. This wine which is delightfully drinkable, will keep improving with further aging over the next few decades. Winery

7. 1999 Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Sierra Foothills North Yuba
The Renaissance Vineyard 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon (and the Renaissance Vineyard 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Terroir) were both masterpieces, though, with the standard cabernet making me ashamed I'd always ignored it in favor of the prestige bottlings here. So when I said Renaissance makes one of the two or three best cabernets in California it would have been more accurate to say they make four of the five or six best cabernets in California. Unlike the special bottlings, though, the standard '99 is totally ready to drink, suave and svelte in mouthfeel with intense stony minerality and a savory brothiness balancing the sweetness of the bluish fruit. A great intro to Renaissance because it shows the inimitable character of the vineyard in an exceptionally drinkable package. As one would expect, the 1995 Vin de Terroir is more tannic and austere, similar in its stony flavor but redder in its fruit complexion. It's still a wine to hold in the cellar." Winery

8. 2000 Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Seirra Foothills North Yuba
Dark ruby in the glass with a hint of purple lingering, this wine smells of prunes and chocolate and licorice. In the mouth, the wine tastes of dried cherries, prunes, and raisins but with a bright acidity underneath that makes it quite mouthwatering despite the flatter, dried quality to the fruit. A faint salinity enters the wine in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Winery