I've posted tasting notes below from late-November visits to five wineries in El Dorado County:
Grace Patriot Wines
MV Winery (Miller Vineyards & Winery)
A full report on the visits is on the Grape-Nutz.com website: Sierra Foothills - November 2011 Grace Patriot current releases:Grace Patriot 2009 Pinot Gris, Estate, El Dorado.
Light straw color with a faint greenish tinge, this showed ripe stone fruit and tropical fruit aromas along with a touch of vanilla/oak. Medium-light bodied with a smooth finish.Grace Patriot 2009 Pinot Noir, Estate, El Dorado.
Light garnet color, with bright red fruits and some smoky oak notes on the nose. Fairly light on the palate and a bit thin on the finish, but a pleasant wine and one of the better Sierra Foothills Pinots I’ve tasted.Grace Patriot 2006 Syrah, Renner Vineyard, Sierra Foothills.
Medium purple, displaying plum and darker berry fruit, earth, black pepper, and baking spices. Nice depth and mouthfeel, this finished with moderate tannins.Grace Patriot 2005 Tempranillo, El Dorado.
Medium-dark color, this featured plum and blueberry, smoke, leather, and a dash of well-integrated sweet oak. Lively acidity and good structure for a few more years of bottle age. Quite a nice California Tempranillo.Grace Patriot 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado.
Medium-dark color, with dark fruit, green olive, and cedar notes, this was a medium-bodied Cab with a moderately grippy finish.Grace Patriot 2006 “Aboriginal Red,” Sierra Foothills.
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Shiraz. Aiming at an Aussie-style blend, this showed bigger, more intense upfront fruit and a bigger helping of vanilla/oak. Richer and weightier on the palate than the other reds, with a long finish.Grace Patriot NV “Season Finale,” California.
Port-style wine, made from ⅔ Cabernet Sauvignon with the remaining ⅓ being Souzão, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz. Medium color, showing dark berry fruit along with cocoa and brown sugar. Fairly sweet and viscous, this was a not really a standout but nevertheless was a pleasant finish to our tasting.Miraflores current releases:Miraflores 2010 Chardonnay, Sierra Foothills.
Light yellow color, with tropical fruit and vanilla/oak on the nose. Moderately creamy texture in the mouth, with a smooth finish.Miraflores 2010 Pinot Grigio, Sierra Foothills.
Light straw color, displaying pear and spice aromas. More crisp than the Grace Patriot Pinot Gris, this one had a touch of harshness on the finish that will probably round out with a bit more time in the bottle.Miraflores 2006 Barbera, Sierra Foothills.
Medium reddish purple, this showed fairly tart black cherry fruit along with touches of spice and oak. Medium-light weight on the palate, with good acidity and mild tannins.Miraflores 2006 Zinfandel, El Dorado.
From estate fruit, this had intense aromas of ripe raspberry and boysenberry, pepper, and lots of spice. For a five year-old Zin, the mouthfeel was still quite lively and the tannins still grippy and youthful. Nice wine that should continue to develop with more cellar age.Miraflores 2007 Zinfandel, El Dorado.
Medium color, this was not as aromatic as the ’06 vintage, showing slightly less ripe fruit, a bigger pepper component, and more noticeable oak. Big and structured, with somewhat rough tannins on the finish.Miraflores 2005 Syrah, El Dorado.
Medium-dark color, showing plum and darker berry fruit, herbs, and baking spices. Fairly rich mouthfeel with moderate tannins.Miraflores 2006 Syrah, El Dorado.
Medium-dark purple, this was less fruit-forward on the nose than the ’05, showing lots of pepper, earth, and a good deal of sweet oak along with the dark fruit. Bigger on the palate with a very chewy tannic finish, this still needs some time to settle down.Miraflores 2006 Petite Sirah, El Dorado.
Dark color, featuring blueberry and blackberry fruit, black pepper, anise and other spices, and meaty/gamey aromas. Big and mouthfilling but with surprisingly tame tannins, very nice.Miraflores NV “Príncipe,” California.
A Port-style wine made from Tinta Cão and Touriga Nacional grown in El Dorado and Amador Counties. Dark color, very aromatic with floral and dark chocolate notes in the foreground, plus plummy fruit. Medium-sweet and very viscous on the palate.Miraflores 2008 Muscat Canelli, El Dorado.
Very light color, with perfumey, floral aromas along with peach and apricot fruit – a fruit juice character to it. Moderately rich and not overly sweet, this was a pleasant if not especially complex wine.Miraflores 2008 “Botricelli,” California.
From Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grown in Lake County. Medium yellow color, this had a slight matchstick note along with honey, apricots, and a touch of earth. Very thick and rich, and moderately sweet with good balancing acidity. It was quite tasty and has the potential to age well.MV Winery (Miller Vineyards & Winery) current releases:MV 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Lewis Vineyard, Fair Play.
Very light greenish straw color, showing straightforward apple and grapefruit aromas. Medium-light weight with a smooth mouthfeel and finish.MV 2007 Zinfandel, Fair Play.
Medium color, this had attractive bright berry fruit, a good helping of American oak, and a citrus/orangepeel note. Lively and not particularly tannic. A somewhat unusual but quite interesting expression of El Dorado Zin.MV 2008 Zinfandel, Fair Play.
Medium color, this had a darker fruit profile than the ’07, along with a dash of mocha, spice, and American oak. Bigger on the palate with a grippier finish.MV 2008 Syrah, Baby Rattlesnake Vineyard, Fair Play.
Dark color, featuring blackberry, black pepper, earth, and a savory note. Fairly rich but with bright acidity, the youthful tannins suggest that additional bottle age will be of benefit although it already displayed a long and tasty finish – very nice.MV 2007 Petite Sirah, Camden Vineyard, Fair Play.
Dark color, with earthy dark berry fruit, spice, and mocha on the nose. Big but not as rich as the Syrah in the mouth, and with moderate tannins.MV 2008 Petite Sirah, Lone Meadow Vineyard, Fair Play.
Very dark color, this showed riper and more aromatic fruit than the ’07 Camden bottling, with upfront plum and darker berries, vanilla/oak, and spice. Brighter mouthfeel than the ’07, with big, chewy tannins on the finish.MV 2008 Malbec, Dorado Canyon Vineyard, Fair Play.
Medium-dark color, displaying black cherry, lots of baking spice, earth, and oak. Fairly full-bodied, with grippy young tannins that will take time to smooth out.MV 2008 Late Harvest Muscat Canelli, Goedeck/Liu Vineyard, Fair Play.
Medium-light color, this had intense perfumey/floral Muscat aromas along with stone fruit. Rich and viscous, with fairly good acidity to balance the sweetness, and a long, smooth finish.Skinner current releases:Skinner 2009 Viognier, Stoney Creek Vineyard, Fair Play.
Light straw color, featuring ripe tropical fruit and spice aromas, though no floral note as I might have expected. Medium-rich mouthfeel with a long, smooth finish.Skinner 2008 “Seven Generations,” El Dorado.
46% Roussanne, 29% Marsanne, 25% Viognier. Light color though slightly darker than the Viognier, this showed minerally stone fruit, pear, and touches of honey and spice. A bit weightier on the palate than the Viognier and fairly lively, this could develop quite nicely with some bottle age.Skinner 2008 “Eighteen Sixty-One,” El Dorado.
40% Grenache, 35% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah. Medium-light ruby color, with black cherry and plum fruit, earth, baking spices, and smoky oak on the nose. Lighter-bodied with a juicy quality in the mouth, the smoky note reappeared on the finish.Skinner 2007 Syrah, El Dorado.
Medium-dark color, displaying riper plum and dark berry fruit than the “Eighteen Sixty-One,” along with an overlay of vanilla/oak. Medium weight on the palate, with moderately grippy tannins on the finish.Skinner 2007 Syrah, Stoney Creek Vineyard, Fair Play.
Co-fermented with 3% Viognier. Medium-dark purple, with brighter, “lifted” aromatics compared with the El Dorado Syrah, but no obvious floral Viognier character. Nice acidity with a touch of minerality in the mouth, not as rich as the El Dorado bottling but with a longer, livelier finish.Cedarville current releases:Cedarville 2010 Viognier, El Dorado. 100% Viognier.
Light straw color, the 2010 vintage showed more intense and ripe upfront fruit than some vintages of this wine. Aromas included stone fruit, citrus, and spice, along with a minerally note. Fairly big and rich, this had a long smooth finish.Cedarville 2009 Grenache, El Dorado.
Includes 16% Syrah, 8% of which was co-fermented with the Grenache. Light ruby color, featuring strawberry, cherry, earth, and touches of vanilla/oak and minerals. Medium-bodied with a juicy mouthfeel and finish, nice.Cedarville 2009 Zinfandel, El Dorado.
Blended with about 8% Petite Sirah. Medium-dark color, this displayed ripe, brambly wild berry and darker fruits on the nose, plus spice, sweet oak, and a dash of pepper. Big and intense in the mouth, with tannins that will need some time to smooth out.Cedarville 2009 Syrah, El Dorado.
Includes 4% co-fermented Viognier. Dark color, this featured complex aromas of plum and darker berry fruit, pepper, dried herbs, minerals, plus a grilled meat component. Bright yet rich on the palate, beautifully-balanced and with fine tannins on the finish. Certainly tasty now but should develop well with time in the cellar, very nice.Cedarville 2009 Petite Sirah, El Dorado.
Blended with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark color, with ripe dark berry fruit, black pepper, earth, and vanilla/oak on the nose. Very big and rich, but with surprisingly moderate tannins.Cedarville 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado.
100% Cabernet. Dark purple color, showing ripe black cherry, plum, herb/tobacco, and mocha aromas. Fairly big but lively mouthfeel, with a firm tannic finish.