Livermore Valley Wine Label Reviews

By Jason Barlow

Livermore Valley Label Reviews 2008

Concannon Vineyard
Concannon Vineyard 2007 Assemblage White / Livermore Valley
Over their 125 year history, the folks at Concannon have learned how to take advantage of the austere, rocky soil of Livermore Valley estate to produce fruit with highly concentrated flavors.  For this wine, winemaker Adam Richardson has expertly blended the classic Bordeaux varietals of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  Pause to take in the nose and you'll find lively aromas of melon, grapefruit and other citrus fruits, balanced by herbier, grassier notes.  The crisp, refreshing acidity flows into a bright, citrus finish that makes for great drinkablity.  Pair a bottle with fresh cuts of swordfish hot off the grill and you won't be disappointed.
Concannon Vineyard 2006 Viognier / Central Coast
Concannon's stony soils, cool mornings, and late afternoon breezes are key elements in their production of quality viognier fruit.  The sweet, floral nose of honeysuckle and orange blossoms, which rises out from the soft yellow hue, is best savored in the warm, fresh air of a clear day.  A palate busting with pineapple, honeydew melon, and green apple flavors make a second sip hard to resist.  The wine comes to a close with a smooth, creamy finish.  Bring a bottle along for a nice romantic picnic or grab a few and cook-up a spread of your favorite shellfish for friends.
Concannon Vineyard 2007 Righteously Rosè / Central Coast
Rosès are often overlooked in America, but winemaker Adam Richardson's effort might cause a few cynics to give them a second look.  A blend of mainly Rhone varietals, including Petite Sirah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Zinfandel, this is a lively wine.  Aging in cool stainless steel highlighted the floral notes and maintained a crisp hint of acidity, giving the wine a bright, fresh character.  Out of the vibrant pink-ruby hue, flavors of cherry, cranberry, and strawberry fill the palate, flowing into a tart, citrusy finish.  This is a wine made for summertime!
Concannon Vineyard 2005 Stampmaker's Syrah / Central Coast
James Concannon, the vineyard's founder, was a stampmaker by trade.  His memory is honored with this Rhone-styled wine, blending 77% Syrah, 14 % Petite Sirah, 4% Cinsault,3% Cunoise, 2% Grenache.  Hold a glass to the sun and admire the deep violet hue.  A sip will bring ripe flavors of blackberry and boysenberry.  More subtle notes of vanilla, licorice, and pepper float upon supple tannins.  Close your eyes to savor the smooth finish, with lingering notes of toasted oak from 12 months of aging in French and American barrels.  Enjoy this fine, newly released wine with hearty dishes, like a well-seasoned rack of lamb.
Concannon Vineyard 2005 Assemblage Cabernet Sauvignon / Central Coast
This rich Cabernet is made in the style of elegant Bordeaux wines.  Central Coast and Livermore Valley fruit was aged in carefully in selected oak barrels after long periods of cool fermentation. The resulting wine is one which deserves your full attention.  Pause to appreciate the deep purple hue and its soft ruby edges.  Take a sip and firm tannins allow lush flavors of black cherry, currants, and plum to drift over your palate, unfolding into a silky finish that offers complex layers of oak, dark chocolate, and hints of smoke.  A very nice wine that deserves the company of elegant cheeses or a delectable cut of filet mignon.  Open a bottle now, but cellar one for later, too.
Concannon Vineyard 2005 Petite Sirah / Central Coast
Concannon Vineyards pioneered producing the varietal back in the early 1960's.  Today, winemaker Adam Richardson carries on the tradition, making the grape a cornerstone of the winery.  This limited release vintage offers rich and complex flavors.  A nose of bright red fruit, oak, must, and spice unfolds into a palate bursting with black cherry, vanilla, pepper, and earthier tones, held up by a full-body and firm structure.  At its finish, the wine leaves dry and smooth, with lingering hints of cherry to tide you over untill your second glass.  Serve this wine to dinner guests alongside hearty meats, or pair it with your favorite dark chocolate dessert as a special indulgence.
La Rochelle
La Rochelle 2006 Classic Clones Pinot Noir / Arroyo Seco
The Mirassou family has a long history with Pinot Noir and this wine is the latest addition to that account. The fruit, which comes from a late fall harvested on the family vineyards in the Arroyo Seco region, was aged for over a year in French oak.  The resulting wine presents with a bold ruby hue in bright sunlight.  Swirling a glass releases aromas of black cherry and cola, with hints of spice and herbs lingering in the background.  Ripe cherry flavors dominate the palate, with subtle hints of spice and earth that give the wine added depth and entice you back for a second sip.  With its lingering, lively finish, the flavors' memory hangs on.  A very nice Pinot Noir to pair with salmon in a soy sauce and garlic marinade or a roast chicken seasoned with rosemary.
La Rochelle 2006 San Vicente Vineyard Chardonnay / Monterey
The San Vicente Vineyard was first planted back in the 60's, and quality fruit has been coming from there ever since.  With this latest harvest, winemakers Tom Stutz and Steven Mirassou have produced a fine wine, with an excellent depth of flavors that unfold from its golden hue.  The ripe essence of peach and pineapple are balanced by softer nuances of vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak.  A nice lively acidity and a crisp tropical finish make this wine quite drinkable and a lovely compliment to an outdoor dinner on a soft, sunny evening.  You may even want a second bottle, just in case.
Murrieta's Well
Murrieta's Well 2006 White Meritage / Livermore Valley
The vineyards 92-acre estate was first planted in 1884 with cuttings brought over from France.  Today, winemaker Sergio Traverso carries on the tradition of making Bordeaux- style blends.  This white consists of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon, achieving a lovely balance between the crisp and creamy characters of the contrasting grapes.  The result is a rich wine with very nice depth.  Pineapple and other tropical fruits are carried by a fresh acidity and balanced with flavors of ripe melon, honey, and creamy oak.  Combined with the zest of a crisp, tart finish, this wine is sure to please.  Pick up a bottle and toast with some good friends.
Murrieta's Well 2006 Zinfandel / Livermore Valley
This is a classically produced Zinfandel, from carefully farmed old vines on the historic Raboli vineyard.  Aged for twenty months in French and American oak, we have a lovely, lighter wine, with an elegant ruby-purple hue, which is oh so drinkable.  Lush aromas of strawberries, plums, and tea rise from a freshly swirled glass.  With a sip, the strawberry returns, accented by hints of cloves and earth.   The light, jammy finish is sure to put a smile on your face.  Drink this one on its own or with succulent slow smoked ribs.  Without an abundance of spice, it won't overpower the flavors.
Murrieta's Well 2004 Zarzuela / Livermore Valley
Winemaker Sergio Traverso offers up a delectable blend of Spanish and Portuguese grape varietals, including Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, and Souzao. Zarzuela is the Spanish word for "operetta," and this wine exhibits a similar character of great harmony.  After 14 months of aging separately in oak, the wine was then blended and returned to the barrels for further development.  Finished, the wine invites you in by its deep violet hue, with bold ruby edges.  A bouquet of cherry, currants, pepper, and floral notes wraps around your senses.  After a sip, lush flavors of black cherry, leather, and spices fill your palate as they drift upon supple tannins.  The wine's finish is smooth and dry, leaving hints of coffee lingering behind.  A very nice wine.
Murrieta's Well 2005 Red Meritage / Livermore Valley
The California tradition of making excellent French Style wine continues.  Here we have a lovely blend of meritage varietals with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc.  Great care by the winemaker and extended aging in French, American, and Hungarian oak give this wine excellent depth.  Scrumptious flavors of plum, blackberry, and chocolate drift upon solid tannins, accented by the elegant spice of cinnamon and pepper.  A soft touch of oak, hints of coffee, and dark fruit are left lingering by the well-balanced finish.  Pair this with full-flavored cheeses or a barbecued lamb chop and enjoy.
Steven Kent
Steven Kent 2006 Merrillie Chardonnay, Unfiltered / Livermore Valley
This wine comes from the gravelly soils and rolling hills of the Livermore Valley.  Made with fruit harvested out of the Ernest Wente and Wisner Vineyard and named for Steven Kent Mirassou's great-grandmother, we are offered a pure Chardonnay, without filtration.  Aging in American, French, and Hungarian barrels brought out rich notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak to balance the vibrant fruit flavors of pineapple, melon, peach, and green apple.  With such depth, it is a wine to savor straight through to the smooth, light, oaky finish.  Paired with sole in a butter and lemon sauce or pasta alfredo, it's sure to please.
Steven Kent 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Ghielmetti Vineyard / Livermore Valley
With its refreshing crisp character and vivacious acidity, this is one of the best Sauvignon Blanc's to come out of the Livermore Valley.  From its white-golden hue pours zesty scents of lime, grapefruit, pear, and subtle floral notes.  After taking in the vibrant nose, sip and savor the bright palate, full of peach and citrus fruit flavors.  A clean, crisp acidity make for a fresh, dry finish that's the perfect remedy to a balmy afternoon.  Enjoy this delicious wine, relaxing on your own, before dinner with good friends, or as an accompaniment to a lemon and herb shrimp scampi.
Tamás Estates
Tamás Estates 2007 Pinto Grigio / Arroyo Seco
An old world varietal gets a new world touch with this wine.  Produced from fruit grown in the Arroyo Seco region, the moderate costal temperatures allow for gradual ripening that produces vibrant flavors.  Aging in stainless steal tanks allowed the wine to retain its crisp, fruity character.  A warm evening with a soft breeze is a perfect time to take in the lively nose of zesty lemon, grapefruit, and fresh cut grass.  Then savory the bright palate as the wine's firm acidity is balanced nicely by vivid citrus flavors.  Soft hints of minerals are left lingering on the finish.  Grab a bottle next time you indulge in a salmon or shrimp topped salad or with a juicy chicken breast marinated in a light Italian sauce.
Wente Vineyards
Wente Vineyards 2007 Riva Ranch Chardonnay / Arroyo Seco
Made predominantly from grapes grown on prime land in the Arroyo Seco region where the cool growing season and gravelly soil are ideal conditions for ripening Chardonnay, this wine is another fine effort from fifth generation winemaker Karl Wente.  Eight months in American oak brought out rich vanilla and oak character to balance the ripe bouquet of fruit, including apple, pear, and peach that rise out of a translucent golden hue .  More subtle flavors of tropical fruit and caramel round out the palate, which comes to a close with lingering hints of oak.  Pair this very nice, medium-bodied, wine alongside pasta topped with your favorite cream sauce or salmon with a fresh pesto marinade.
Wente Vineyards 2006 Riverbank Riesling / Arroyo Seco
Picture the cool fertile vineyards of the Wente Family ranch when you pour a glass and admire the soft yellow hue.  Swirl and wait for indulgent aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossoms.  A sip adds lush fruit flavors of peach, apple, and melon.  Slightly sweet but charged by a firm crisp character, the wine strikes a nice balance, making it easy to drink.  It's a perfect compliment to a light fruit and cheese appetizer.  So chill a bottle or two and invite some friends over to join you.
Ratings Key:
96 — 100
92 — 95
89 — 91
85 — 88
81 — 84

Other Great Related Links:
The Livermore Valley Harvest Celebration:Rediscovering the Charm of Family
Livermore Valley Label Reviews 2008
Andy Beckstofferís Imprint On The Wine Industry
A Day in the Dust: A Tasting of 2005 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Duckhorn: A Portfolio Tasting
Freemark Abbey
Rutherford Napa Valley Tastings 2008
Paso Robles, CA Tastings 2008

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