November 2017
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Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2017


We love when our winery partners get the praise they deserve. This year we represent five wines on the list!

#7 Domaine Huet 2016 Vouvray Demi-Sec, Le Mont “A star of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, Domaine Huët was founded in 1928; the Hwang family bought it from the Huëts in 2003. The domaine was one of the early proponents of biodynamics in the region, converting in 1990. The estate mainly comprises three vineyards: Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont and Clos du Bourg. The distinct terroir of Le Mont, with its clay and silex soils, yields fresh, minerally wines. The demi-sec has 20 grams per liter of residual sugar, and winemaker Jean-Bernard Berthomé ages the wine half in demi-muid and half in stainless-steel tanks for six months.”

#10 Booker 2014 ‘Oublie’ Rhone Blend, Paso Robles “In 2000, Eric Jensen gave up a high-powered career as a broker and concert promoter in Southern California to farm grapes and make wine in rural Paso Robles. He obviously knew what he was doing: his wines are among the best in the region. Farmed biodynamically, Jensen’s 45 acres of vineyards are planted almost exclusively to Rhône varieties atop steep hillsides with limestone soil. A blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise, Oublié is Jensen’s ode to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He fermented the 2014 in stainless steel and half the blend was aged from six to 12 months in used French oak barrels.”

#12 Bedrock 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel, California “Rich and supple, this is an explosion of pure, decadent fruit. Floral huckleberry and Chinese five-spice powder aromas open to layered blackberry, dark chocolate and licorice flavors that linger.”

#22 Saxum 2014 James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles “A dramatic wine that weds power and opulence, maintaining impeccable balance along the way. Brooding dark berry and loamy mineral aromas lead to rich flavors of currant, licorice, dried sage and smoky pepper. Ripe tannins frame the finish. Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise and Roussanne. Best from 2018 through 2028.”

#85 Raventos 2013 ‘De La Finca’ Conca del Riu Anoia “A minerally version, with up-front petrol and spice notes lacing the poached cherry, salted almond and lemon peel flavors that ride the delicate mousse. Elegant and harmonious. Disgorged February 2017.”

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Paso Robles Scores Big

In the recent Vinous article “Paso Robles Copes, Adapts and Evolves” Josh Raynolds writes, “Readers who follow the Paso Robles wine scene hardly need to be reminded that the region, which is historically dry in the first place, suffered through a long-term drought that drastically curtailed production in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. That has not stopped quality from surging to new highs.” His reviews for three of our producers greatly reflect this sentiment as Linne Calodo, Saxum and Villa Creek all score big!

Below are the producer excerpts from the article along with their scores.

“Matt Trevisan told me that he made about 40% of his “normal” production in 2015, adding that 2016 saw a welcome uptick of crop but that he wonders if the standard for ‘what defines a normal yield needs to be adjusted’ given how many short crops Paso Robles has suffered through in recent years. Here’s another winemaker whose wines has evolved toward a more elegant style over the last decade. The winery now houses an intriguing array of concrete tanks and wooden vats of varying size and shape, ‘which keeps the mind active’ Trevisan said. While Trevisan is by no means an old man, he’s definitely an old-timer in the context of Paso Robles’ west side producers, having launched Linne Calodo in 1998, with his wife, Maureen. They source fruit from some of the region’s top growers and they also have 20 acres of their own estate vines, split into 20 different parcels, to work with.”

“Justin Smith, whose wines have probably brought more attention to Paso Robles than any others, is also one of the most respected growers in the region. The vineyards he farms, both his own and those of a handful of selected clients, are well worth visiting if one can finagle an appointment. The key to success in a hot dry year like 2015, and in every vintage in the area, he says, ‘is to be willing to drop fruit that’s raisined and suck up the loss, even when it’s a short year.’ Smith’s 2015s were standouts in my tastings during my July visit and also back in the office in October, when I had the chance to re-visit those wines which were still awaiting bottling in the summer. They’re going to be long-lived wines based on their sheer concentration, I’m sure, and if you can’t resist trying them now by all means give them a lot of air!”

  • Paderewski Vineyard 2014 - 95pts (sold out)
  • Paderewski Vineyard 2015 - 95pts (not yet released)
  • Terry Hoage Vineyard 2014 - 95pts (sold out)
  • Terry Hoage Vineyard 2015 - 96pts (not yet released)
  • Booker Vineyard 2014 - 94pts (sold out)
  • Broken Stones 2014 - 95pts (sold out)
  • Broken Stones 2015 - 95pts (not yet released)
  • Bone Rock 2015 - (95-96)pts (not yet released)
  • Rocket Block 2015 - (96-97)pts (not yet released)
  • James Berry Vineyard 2015 - 97pts (not yet released)
  • Heart Stone Vineyard 205 - 96pts (not yet released)
  • G2 Vineyard 2015 - 96pts (not yet released)

“The biggest challenge in the recent drought years is ‘obviously, getting as much finesse out of such concentrated fruit’, Cris Cherry told me. But that’s always a concern in a hot region, he added, noting that he thinks that raising his wines in large format, low-impact vessels, especially concrete tanks, allows for slower and gentler extraction and more delicate character in the final wines. In addition, he has been upping his use of whole clusters, ‘when it’s appropriate’, in an effort to impart greater aromatic complexity and spiciness to his wines. There’s no question that recent vintages here have seen a steady rise in quality as well as energy and I’d confidently place this winery among the upper tier of the Central Coast. Of particular interest to Cherry these days is working with his new, estate-grown Clairette, the southern Rhône variety that’s the backbone of many of the best examples of Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc. Look for interesting things to happen here soon as his vines come further into maturity. By the way, this summer Cherry closed his ever-popular and excellent Villa Creek restaurant, which was a long-time haunt for visitors to the region, as he wants to devote all of his energy to his vineyard and winery.”

  • White 2016 - 93pts (2015 in stock, 2016 not yet released)
  • Garnacha 2015 - 93pts (2014 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
  • Avenger 2015 - 95pts (2014 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
  • Willow Creek Cuvee 2015 - 94pts (not yet released)
  • High Road, James Berry Vineyard 2015 - 94pts (2013 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
  • Syrah Slide HIll 2015 - 94pts (not yet released)
  • Luna Mata 2015 - 95pts (not yet released)

FEATURED: Wyncroft = Dialogue Change

Jim Lester and Daun Page are changing people’s perception of Michigan wine. For too long, the dialog around the great wine regions of the world has skipped over Michigan. Revelations come from tasting, and Wyncroft’s wines prove that Southwest Michigan has a great and wonderful, yet undiscovered, wine potential. The husband and wife team are producing profound wines with a French sensibility. We’re proud to tell their narrative and break all preconceived notions of Michigan wine.

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