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Del Bondio
Domaine Alfred
Flora Springs
Kathyrn Kennedy
Kosta Browne
Long Meadow Ranch
Lost Canyon

Papapietro Perry
Pride Mtn
Richard Perry
Saxon Brown
Siduri / Novy
Surh Luchtel
Thunder Mtn

Report on the 4th annual trade tasting presented by the Family Winemakers of California, Tuesday, June 17, 2003. This annual event focuses on wines grown and/or produced by FWC members from current releases or soon-to-be-released vintages.

The FWC was founded in 1991 to represent the small, family-owned winery before the California Legislature and state regulatory agencies. Annual tastings are presented twice each year, once in Northern California and once in Southern California. The attendance at this year's event was large - about 185 labels were present, pouring nearly 600 wines. Thankfully, the event is four hours in length, and I managed to get to 39 of the wineries represented, tasting about 88 wines.

The tasting notes below give a brief description of the wine's attributes and/or qualities. These wines are generally the current releases for each winery, although some wineries may substitute samples from yet-to-be-released vintages if current supplies are sold out or otherwise unavailable.

Overall impressions: in the four years FWC has held a Southern California tasting, the Pasadena Convention Center has been the best thus far. The rotating venues have included the L.A. Hilton, the Skirball Center, and the Santa Monica Air Museum - diverse venues, to say the least. Given the multiple-room atmosphere of each of the previous locations, this year's event was held in a much more "conventional" setting - one large exhibition hall. The glasses that were provided this year were also a step up from the wide-bowl sloshers of the past. Unfortunately, the food was a step down. No, people don't attend this event for purposes of dining. But, something other than slices of brown and white bread and cubes of cheese would have been more fitting (there was quite a bit of gourmet appetizers at the both the Skirball and the Air Museum). If there were other items available here, they were apparently gobbled up before I ever saw them.

Okay, on to the wines. Among my favorites this year were several Cabs - notably from Barlow, Del Bondio, Kelham, Neal, Reverie, Rockledge and Sawyer. Each of these were outstanding - if they're not around, seek them out! In the Syrah camp, the Beckmen, Domaine Alfred, Novy, and MacRostie were the stars.

On the OTC wines (other-than-Cab), the Paloma Merlot was delicious, as was the Flora Springs Trilogy. Probably the biggest surprise I encountered was the Rockledge Primativo. Big, ripe and juicy, this was a beautiful wine with fabulous balance and plenty of grip. There also were plenty of fabulous Pinot Noirs being poured. The Loring Pinots were all barrel samples - well, actually they were "designer water-bottle" samples, with Brian using an inventive method to sample folks on his un-released 2002 wines (he's sold out the '01 vintage).

Selected Tasting Notes


The Barlow clan

2000 Merlot. Lovely, sweet and fleshy nose and mouthfeel, and long delicious finish.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. Flat out beautiful nose of cassis, toast and touches of vanilla and herbs. Chewy, smooth textured, excellent balance, and long finish.

2001 Zinfandel. Very nice - for a Zin! Okay, seriously, this has a very well balanced and juicy boysenberry nose and mouthfeel.


Steve Beckmen

2002 Sauvignon Blanc. Very New Zealand-like in its boxwood and lightly citrus-influenced nose. rich and fulll mouthfeel, long delicious finish.

2001 Marsanne. Lovey honeyed nose, with full and fleshy mouthfeel, and long finish.

2001 Grenache. Sweet and juicy raspberry and cherry fruit. Huge nose, chewy mouthfeel, long finish. This is from a combination of Alban and Tablas clones.

2001 Cuvee Le Bec. The sweet Grenache really comes through in this beautiful GSM blend. Gorgeous!

2001 Syrah. The Estate Syrah has a really nice coffee-toffee nose, very nice balance, and long bright-fruit finish.

2000 Syrah - Purisima Mtn. Huge nose and mouthfeel, all the aroma and punch of the Estate Syrah, but carries a lot more weight and complexity.


2000 Merlot. Fleshy and very stemmy, the wine also seems to show an undue amount of unripe qualities.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa. Slightly vegetal in nose, and a bit bitter in mouthfeel. Disappointing, especially considering some of the previous efforts.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Barietelle Vnyd. Big,and tasty with a very nice mouthfeel, the wine is loaded with rich fruit, very nice toast and roasted notes, very good balance, and long finish.

2000 Syrah - Sierra Foothills. Nice blackberry fruit, good structure and balance, and long finish. Knowing th eappellation, I figured this for an El Dorado Syrah, but found out it was from Calaveras County! Nice!


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Very nice example of Napa Cab for the vintage - plenty of structure and fruit, classis cassis and toast in nose and mouth,with long finish.

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon - Kronos. Good- but not great. Well made, very nioce flavors, balance and finish, the wine is something of a "claret" version of previous Kronos offerings. Vintage issue?


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. These folks keep churning out fabulous in-your-face fruit-filled Cabs -- yet, nobody seems to have heard of them. Smooth mouthfeel, very fine-grained tannins, excellent structure and finish.


2001 Syrah. Nose of espresso, roasted coffee, and floral scents. Full mouthfeel, impressive flavors and balance, long tasty finish. This is the first vintage from DA's Syrah vineyard, and it's stunning! Leave it to a Pinot producer to knock out a nice Syrah.


2001 Sauvignon Blanc. The other side of the NZ-style is this fleshy, alfalfa-scented, lightly oily Napa SB. This is really more about fruit and smoothness, and is something of a protypical Napa SB. While this will do nicely with fish dishes, it really isn't as versatile as a more acid-balanced wine.

2000 Trilogy. Elegant, juicy and seductive. Very well made, this is something of a surprise. Often hit or miss, the '00 Trilogy seems to have hit on all cylinders.


2000 Merlot. Chocolaty and fleshy; very nice!

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. Slightly stemmy and ripe in the nose, with a fairly light mouthfeel and moderately long finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. A touch of vegetal/stalky quality in the nose, with a steely somewhat thin mouthfeel and moderate finish.


1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. Smooth, with nice notes of cassis and toast. Very nice balance and long finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Very nice fruit and herb qualities. Terrific balance and long smooth finish.

2001 Syrah - Santa Cruz Mtns. Lots of gamey and espresso notes, with a big chewy macerated-fruit mouthfeel, and long finish.


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow, what a nose! Lots of cassis, black cherry, toast, and a touch of vanilla in this seamless beauty. Big and chewy, but excelent balance and structure and very long smooth finish. Another of the unsung Napa Cabs.


2001 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Lovely nose, fleshy mouthfeel with lots of plum, cherry and strawberry, very good balance, and long finish.

2001 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Take the Sonoma Coast version, and add an extra dose of everything. Very nice!

2001 Pinot Noir - Cohn Vnyd RRV. Now, take the RR version and add even more berry, stem and finesse. This is a formidable trio of wines.


2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa. Karen Culler is making these wines, and it shows. This Cab has a great nose and smooth mouthfeel. It could use a bit more filling in the middle, but it's very balanced with a nice smooth long finish.


2000 Pinot Blanc. Nice texture, huge fruit, excellent balance, long finish. More about fruit than elegence.

2000 Pinot Noir Reserve. Very nice nose; correct mouthfeel - if a bit light,and showing some heat on the finish.


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Fabulous nose of toast, cassis, coffee, and a touch of stem. nearly Cab Franc-like in mouthfeel, there is a tasty chocolate-cherry flavor, and smooth long finish.


2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Beautiful, full and rich in nose and palate, tastes great and finishes smooth and long.




1999 Merlot. Smooth and fleshy nose and mouth. Surprising amount of grip on the mouthfeel.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. sliky smooth nose and mouth, grippy mouthfeel. 23% Merlot.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Killer nose! Smoother throughout than the regular Cab,and bigger and longer finish.


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Somewhat stemmy nose, chalky black cherry flavors, long lightly tannic finish. Big and somewhat gutsy, when this smooths out - get out of the waqy!


2002 Pinot Noir - Rancho Ontiveras. Sweet and rich mouthfeel, this is a wine for immediate gratification. Very accessible and juicy right now, with some near term potential to improve further.

2002 Pinot Noir - Garys' Vnyd. Deep and delectable in nose and mouth, sweet ripened flavors, with a nice grip on the finish. Solid wine, with a nice future.

2002 Pinot Noir - Rosella's Vnyd. Slightly stemmier than the others, this bottling also packs a bit more in earthy components. My favorite of the three.


Bob Riskin (l), and Jack States (c)

2001 Pinot Noir - RRV. Nose seems overripe and singed, with an obvious vinyl streak. Decent mouthfeel and taste, but the nose is a turn-off. Considering the fruit source (Dutton), this may have been damaged.

2001 Pinot Noir - Carneros. Nice bright strawberry-cherry fruit, very good mouthfeel and texture, with a touch of complex earthy qualities, and long finish.

2001 Syrah - California. Perfumed blackberry nose. Heavy on the palate, with a slight grip throughout. 50/50 blend from Sonoma and Livermore.

2001 Syrah - Stage Gulch Vnyd, Sonoma Coast. Nice charred and roasted nose of blackberry and blueberry fruit, grilled meat, and black olive. Full on the palate, with lots of charred flavors and long finish.


Bob Rebuschatis

2000 Pinot Noir - Carneros. Wow! Killer nose of red and black berries, toast, sweet stems, Portobella mushroom and forest floor. Full and textured on the palate, loaded with nicely integrated flavors, this wine gets your attention early and never lets go!

1999 Merlot - Carneros. Nose of fleshy dark cherry fruit and toast. Big and brawny mouthfeel; built more like a Cab than a Merlot.

2000 Syrah - Carneros. Beautiful nose of lightly charred black fruit, with touches of coffee, tar, and herbs. Full mouthfeel, nicely integrated flavors, and long finish.


2001 Zinfandel. Ripe boysenberry nose, with touches of herbs and earth. Full on the palate with decent fruity flavors, and a long finish.

2001 "Syrage". Interesting nose of red and black fruit, moderately full mouthfeel, with a bit of tang on the finish.


Gove Celio, Mark Neal

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon. Absolutely fabulous nose of cassis, black cherry, and pomegranate, with sweet stems and toast, and a touch of herbs. Big and rich on the palate, amazing concentration and flavor, very long finish. This is possibly only the 2nd vintage from this label, who apparently bulked out the '00 fruit, rather than produce a lesser wine. The '99 was a solid offering, but they've raised the bar with this one.


2000 Merlot. Big and beefy with lots of dark fruit and a touch of roasted coffee, here's a Merlot that seems almost more a Syrah in both density and fruit - neither of which take away from the fact that it's absolutely delicious.


Renae Perry

2001 Pinot Noir. A healthy dose of new oak contributes to the full rich qualities in the nose of this wine. Loaded with black cherry, toast, and a touch of cola, the mouthfeel does a nice job of delivering what the nose promises.


2001 Merlot. Lush and perfumy in the nose, with sweet oak, loads of fleshy fruit, and a very rich full finish.


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark and brooding, this wine seemed a bit restrained in the nose. Full and dense on the palate, with very chewy fruit, and massively long finish. It's a Cab that wants to be Petite Sirah.


Norm Kiken

2002 Sauvignon Blanc. Very citrus-influenced nose, with a light boxwood and stem aroma. Nice and crisp on the palate, plenty of fruity flavor,and long finish.

2002 Chardonnay. Nose of apple, pear and alfalfa. Moderately full mouthfeel, delicious fruit, long finish.

1999 Cabernet Franc. Lightly floral quality to the big cassis and sweet stemmy nose. Full and rich on the palate, with very nice structure, balance and a long smooth finish.

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of cassis, toast,and vanilla. Excellent balance, smooth mouthfeel, and lots of fruit make this Cab a vintage winner.

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Lovely nose of cassis, herbs, and cheese toast. Beautifully balanced, full of sweet toasty fruit, with a smooth long finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Big dark fruit in the nose. Thick and rich on the palate, with a very nice sweet saucy taste, and chewy finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Effusive nose of Black Forest cake, sweet toast, and a touch of herb. Full and rich, with mocha-infused black cherry flavor, and a chewy smooth long finish.


Some Favorites


2000 Barlow Cabernet
1999 Del Bondio Cabernet
2000 Flora Springs Trilogy
2001 Neal Cabernet
2000 Paloma Merlot
1999 Reverie Reserve Cabernet
1999 Rockledge Cabernet
2000 Sawyer Cabernet


2001 Kosta Browne - Cohn Vnyd
2002 Loring - Rosella's
2000 MacRostie - Carneros
2000 Papapietro Perry
2000 Siduri - Van der Kamp


2001 Beckmen Syrah - Purisima


2000 Rockledge Primativo


2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of fruit and nicely balanced. But the nose is somewhat oaky, and the taste get a bit tart in the latter palate.

2000 Syrah. Nice blackberry, espresso and roasted grain nose. Full mouthfeel, nice flavors, satisfying finish.


1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, fruity and nicely oaked nose. Big and very smooth on the palate, with a nice sweet juicy finish.


Mary Rocca


2000 H. Gray Cabernet. Slightly toasty cassis in the nose. Full, rich and tasty, with a BBQ flavor woven into the black cherry and plummy flavors.

2000 H. Gray "Bad Boy Red".

1999 Rocca Syrah. Nice roasted coffee, tar and toasted grain nose. Moderately full mouthfeel, with a really smooth texture, and long finish.


2000 Zinfandel. Nose of new oak and fleshy boysenberry. Big and chewy, ripe flavors,and long finish.

2000 Primativo. Wow! Huge fruit and structure, with a smooth and chewy mouthfeel, lots of grip, and a very long finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of toasty cassis, with touches of mint and vanilla. Silky on the palate, with a very smooth texture, and long seductive finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Rich and slightly charred and smoky in the nose. Mass of fruit on the palate, with lots of finely grained tannins, and exceptionally smooth finish.


2000 Merlot. Chocolaty mocha accents in the fleshy nose. Full on the palate, with nice smooth texture and flavors, and long finish.

2000 Bradford Meritage. Sweet and tasty, very nice balance, smooth long finish. 59% Cab.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of cassis and bittersweet chocolate, with silky tannins, and off-sweet somewhat acid-balanced finish.


2002 Semillion. Light hay and newly mowed grass notes, along with some citrus and pear. Good mouthfeel and balance.

2000 Pinot Noir. Slight wiff of new oak and espresso complement the bing cherry fruit in the nose. Somewhat light-medium mouthfeel, cherry fruit, balanced finish.

2000 Zinfandel. Interesting nose, this is a field blend that is roughly 75% Zin. Smooth and tasty mouthfeel, well balanced long finish.


2000 Pinot Noir - Muirfield. Nice bing and black cherry nose, with touches of earth and herbs. Well balanced and tasty bing cherry fruit, long finish.

2000 Pinot Noir - Van der Kamp. Rich and plush nose of black cherry, sweet stems, and an earthy note. Very tasty mouthfeel, gobs of fruit, smooth long finish.

2000 Novy Syrah - Napa. Nose of blackberry, tar and licorice. Chewy mouthfeel, lots of dark fruit with a light tarry touch.


2001 Chardonnay. Crisp and full in nose and mouth, with excellent texture, lots of fruit, and a nicely balanced finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of cassis, toast and a hint of herbs. Full mouthfeel, with smooth mid-palate, and slightly pinched finish.


1998 Zinfandel. Nice fruity nose; balanced and fruity on the palate, though a little weak in mouthfeel.

1999 Zinfandel. Sweet fruity nose, nice balance, good use of oak, also slightly lighter in mouthfeel.

2000 Petite Sirah. Dense dark nose. Lots of fruit, but the mouthfeel seems a bit tart.


2000 Meritage "Mosaic". Nice complex nose, smooth and tasty mouthfeel. Very nice! 62% Cab.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa. Smooth and ripe fruit. Light on oak, with a nice sweet finish.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - Sacrasche Vnyd. Really nice nose and flavors; smooth mouthfeel, succulent fruit, beautiful texture with finely grained tannins and long finish.


Jon Cook, Kira Maximovich, Sue Broadston

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon -Doc's. Slightly stemmy nose, with cassis, toast and herbs. Very fruity on the palate, with black cherry flavors, and long balanced finish.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Bates Ranch. Dense nose, with a touch of sweet stem and sage, cassis, toast, and hint of clove. Tight mouthfeel, with lots of acid-balanced fruit, and very long finish.


1999 Merlot. Nose of black cherry and sweet stems. Very ripe, fleshy and tasty mouthfeel, and rich long finish.

2000 Syrah. Fruit-filled nose, with lots of blackberry and black cherry. Smooth and toasty mouthfeel, excellent balance, and long smooth finish.



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