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PLONYC 1 (CLONYC 42) Craig Haserot & Sojourn Cellars


PLONYC One enters the books in a big way last evening when Craig Haserot of Sojourn Cellars agreed to be our guest. With my new love for Cali Pinot I felt like a big gift had been hoisted onto my lap. I have never met Craig before and can tell you some things I have learned about him in person last night. Firstly, the passion he brings is second to none, but he backs it all up nicely with a knowledge that is incredible. Listening to him speak is somewhat mesmerizing; he knows where the bones are buried on many subjects California wine. He also has a super sharp palate and listening to his descriptions while tasting the wines really paints the picture well about what is in your glass. All of this made for an amazing, insightful and energetic evening, one that the membership has become quite accustomed to when they attend any XLONYC.

Oh yeah, Craig brought wine, lots of it. 5 amazing Pinots, a Chardonnay that astounds and a few Cabs just for the fun of it. It was a great evening. Thanks to all that attended.

2012 Sojourn Chardonnay Sangiocomo Vineyard- I love this on nose alone, it showed a nicely pure sweet honey and melon that catches your attention. Mouth feel is deft with just the perfect amount of tastiness and buttery-ness. A nice balance which always displayed a fresh minerality that is pretty nice too. It has to be one of the best Chardonnays I have had in a long time, one that displays the Sun, earth and hand well. Forthy-five dollars worth of Heaven :)

2012 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast- great balance on this one with some notes of strawberries and cherries. The 2010 version of this was my first Sojourn into this label, and this one holds up to that standing. A true crowd pleaser.

2012 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Rodgers Creek, Sonoma Coast- For those with an extra $9 to splurge, this may be your best QPR decision of the year. This shot from the glass with tremendous finesse; a darker shade of berries and a bite riper all around. Love the slight bramble in the middle-palate, this showed some richness and distinction that boggles my mind. It took me a bit to wrap my head around this one. I loved the aromatics and wondered aloud if the 15% whole cluster adds to any of it. What we got was a crash course in whole cluster I won’t soon forget. Phenomenal.

2012 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Sangiocomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast- A bit more boisterous with a sense of self, this went even darker with a slightly elevated acidity that it seemed to deserve. Another achievement in aromatics, this one played with the senses a bit more. An underlying damp earth component brought interest and a bright-boldness grabs you. This is the second Sangiocomo Pinot I have sampled to date, and I sense I will need to explore it more going forward.

2012 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Gap's Crown, Sonoma Coast- Similar a bit to the Sangiocomo, this had a bit more verve. An interesting viscousness ran through this. This one had some great richness as well. As it sat in the glass it went a bit redder strawberry in style. Another winner with tons of upside.

2013 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Sangiocomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Barrel Sample- Some similarities to its young sibling, but also a hint of what the Rodgers had too. Some darker fruits included a bit of cassis and blackberry. A bit of expected youthful heat showed through, but such deft and balance so early in its ‘wood’ life, this should be truly incredible come next year when released.

I loved this whole lineup. The family traits were evident but as any family there is and well should be singular characteristics. Any of these could be enjoyed with dinner tonight. A few interesting Pinot Noir conversations broke out, one about alcohol (ABV) and another about age-ability of any or all of these wines. I think I have found one of the reasons I am attracted to these wines, the ability to Pobega them with the UPS guy remains intact.

My favorite appetizer is the wine friendly Lobster & Crabcake with seaweed & coconut curry sauce.

Some Cabernets.

2011 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch Vineyard, Sonoma Valley- Craig’s ‘house’ wine, literally. Grown out back from his home this shows some pretty black berry notes as well as some cola and sassafras. Its big boned and bold with nice balance. Tannins well formed and acidity just right. A nice first step into the Sojourn Cabs.

2011 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, Napa Valley- Possibly the best QPR cab here, this is where Georges fruit goes once it has been given the boot. All the declassified GIII is here and its breed shows. Love the velvety mouth feel and silky tannic structure. Fantastic aromatics with great verve and lift. The PV adds some wonderful dimension and complexity. A must buy.

2010 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley- Bold and distinct, the small berry shows through wonderfully always keeping balance and elegance in play. Love this expression of cab today. Some interesting exotic tea leaf notes, violets and some earth is in here too. Black currants, black raspberries and crème de cassis complete a well-formed package. A truly wonderful, aromatic wine with years of life ahead. Find some, buy some, this is Spring mountain at her best.

2009 Sojourn Proprietary Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (cellar wine)- Wow, this is amazing! Plush, deep, bold and elegant. Black cassis with hints of spring flowers and cocoa powder. Mouth feel is sexy with a lingering note of cardamom and a wee bit graphite. Holy smokes, this is great.

2010 Sojourn Proprietary Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley- A bit more subdued and less dimensional than the 2009, this should blossom in a few/three years and if it is anything like the 2009, you will smile, big.

2012 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch Vineyard, Sonoma Valley barrel sample-Young and fresh, this is all primary. If coaxed you may glimmer a sense of its future, and if its family here on that table has any say, this will be another great Cab expression from Sojourn for a silly price and who can look that horse in the mouth……

This lineup was a spectacular look into Sojourn Cellars. Come for the Pinots, stay for the Cabs and be amazed by it all. I am glad I found Sojourn this year. Better late than never I say.

Craig was gracious enough to offer us one of two classic Sauternes to enjoy with dessert: A classic and beautiful (so I was told [wink.gif] )1976 Chateau Climens 1st Cru Sauternes-Barsac that was received gratefully from us all! Thanks for all the awesome wines, Criag!--- both from this millennial and last.
Timely? Sure is, the offer came out like twenty minutes ago!

CLONYC 41- A Smattering of Georges IIIs

Sometimes the thing you don’t learn will be your lesson; last night that un-lesson seemed clear to us all sitting around a dinner table sampling 11 Cabernet Sauvignons from one specific site, the Beckstoffer owned Georges III. I will go on a limb and say that this group is pretty savvy when it comes to its Cabernets; to date we have successfully done Dr Crane and To-Kalon focused tastings but this one left us a wee bit nonplussed in its inability to show any consistency across the spectrum of a vineyard site. Please don’t get me wrong, these are all very well made wines, some superb, but oneness? Nope.
When I don’t actually fall asleep on the express bus home I can sit and ponder what just happened. Last night I came to that conclusion stated above and although Andy Beckstoffer may send a hit team out for me (I will be weary of anyone aproaching me sporting a farmers hat), many others would care less about my opinion. Good wine is good wine, right? Truth be told, Andy would chuckle and hit the little X in the top right corner too. Let’s face it, we are not speaking a 9 acre site, more like 300, a mini ‘To-kalon’ if you will.

We were 11. I asked to have great coverage and used the Beckstoffer Vineyard web-link to guide us. We had some fantastic results, one being the 2008 Fairchild GIII; it was pure poetry in a bottle. The Staglin was a half-beat behind and may have suffered to my barbaric inability to fully appreciate ‘older’ wines---that is my story and I will deal with myself at a later date. The Schrader opened good+ and went to great++ within 10 minutes. By the end of the night it was more perfumed and opulent. Wow. Some group favorites showed nicely. Overall, all the wines showed well, some just slightly less-so.

Here we go:

1st flight
2008 Fairchild Cabernet Sauvignon George III- This opened with pretty floral notes and some black and blue fruits. It had it all: elegance, structure, approach and length. Loved the slight note of cola. Balance was spot on. Tannins intricate but restrained and acidity perfect. I have never had this before and it could be my discovery of the new year, granted it’s only January. 94

2008 Myriad Cabernet Sauvignon Georges III- Buttery popcorn on the nose. Palate showed a more exuberant style of wine when compared to the Fairchild. The oak nose retracted a bit and the black fruits came forward as coaxed. This is a fatter styled wine with more verve and flash (More Mike Smith I’d say), more akin to its vintage I believe---at least the fatness. I got nice notes of cocoa powder and cardamom. Some bottle age will bring this into focus. I actually enjoyed the style a bit more than others but this is always the case when comparing wines. 90

2009 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon Georges III- I love when I get to sample these Schrader’s. I am on the list, but seem to be always quietly bashing them in my mind. Maybe the price has pissed me off and I forever search for something to call better. These are the real friggin deal. This is tightly knit and intricately weaved and shows tremendous breed and structure, yes this is a super-structure. Big black currants with blackberry laced cocoa. As it sits in the glass it become more fragrant. The tannins are large and well behaved and acidity right on it mark. At the end of the night I sampled this again and it was just singing from the glass. Densely packed and somewhat flamboyant, but never in your face. That is its key. 93

The group voted 6 for the Fairchild, 4 for the Schrader and 1 for the Myriad. I went 1,3,2. 
A very nice flight.

2nd flight
2009 Keating Cabernet Sauvignon Georges III- This opened on the feminine side with some spring flowers, black cherry. Hints of bunt caramel, cassis and red-cherries made this show very admirable, but when food arrived this began to go more expressive, creamy and mouth filling. Nicely balanced with a decent finish. Price-wise, this is in the lower end of the cost spectrum, but I would never refuse this on its own. A very good showing. 90

2009 Lewis Weiser House of Cards Cabernet Sauvignon GIII- A buddy named Jeff Lewis has this made for him with a friend or two. When I had it about a year back I enjoyed it much and felt it should be in this group. It has some pretty sweet red fruits on the nose. Palate shows a lighter styled wine than those surrounding it. There was an interesting lilty/flinty? Note on this that I could not place. Lynn said ‘ditto-paper’ and I seen what she seen, but maybe I didn’t. I know this needs air-time; this was opened at 4pm and recorked. So 3 hours may not have been enough. I seemed to enjoy it more than some. Jeff was to be part of the dinner but had to cancel. It would have been interesting to get his take but maybe it best to stay away from the zoo-animals when they feed.  90

2010 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard- I was very curious to taste this one. It had a similar style to the Myriad with notes of a creamy/buttery popcorn coming at first. I loved the red-black fruits. Notes of cola, reme de cassis and sassafras. Gret verve and approach,, the tannins more feminine and acidity a bit elevated which added real interest. Food served it well. This was my wine of the flight, easily. 92

The voting was 10 for the Sojourn and one for the Lewis Weiser

3rd flight
2001 James Joseph Cabernet Sauvignon Georges III- another I have not heard of. This showed its age well. Pure red fruits with notes of sassafras, cherry cola, tobacco and lead pencil shavings. Well balanced and long red fruit finish, this shows some nice interest but seemed a bit outclassed tonight. 90

2002 Staglin Family Cabernet Sauvignon 20th Anniversary Selection- Interestingly enough, Staglin was on the Beckstoffer website list. I was not refusing an opportunity even if it was sans GIII on the label. This was more like a GIIII anyway. :) 
A beautiful wine with multiple layers of goodness, this was sampled twice on the night since it is from a magnum. Deep red/black fruits with hints of anise, worn leather and cardamom. A mid-weight wine that is lilty in balance and fierce in its attack. I got some quiet notes of cocoa powder set deep within. Tannins are well resolved and this is in no danger of a cliff anytime soon. I mentioned that this wine epitomizes why we all feel in love with Cabernet sauvignon for. It’s 1500mls of pure joy, but then again, it’s Staglin. All else being equal, this would have been my WOTN, but when are things ever equal? 94

Unanimously voted by the group for the Staglin for WOTFlight

4th flight
2009 Fontanella Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard-Another I have not heard of. Pretty nose with slight hint of popcorn coming through. When coaxed, I got some nicely ripened reddish fruits of cherries and dark raspberry. Notes of soy and violets too. A well made wine more on the style of the Myriad. Lively and nicely balanced with some complicated tannins and a sense of ‘down the middle’ verve. Like it a lot, but last of the night sure suffers in placement. Had this been in the first or second flight it might have done better overall. 92

2010 Fontanella Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard- Slightly more polished and focused than the 2009 with some sweeter & blacker fruits. I love the density this brought to the table. I did get a slight popcorn note on the nose at first, but it never showed on the palate. A beautiful wine 91

2010 12c Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard- I have always been a fan of this one. I like this one much more than the 2009 I sampled back in April 2012 at CLONYC 31. Densely packed red fruits with some pretty creaminess that makes me think Dr Crane more than GIII. Interesting cocoa powder, cardamom and new leather. Elegant and deft balance with some great aromatics of red raspberries and violets. Long finish and we have another great bottle in out company. 92

The 12C had 8 votes of WOTFlight, the 2010 Fontenella 2 and the the 2009 Fontenella 1, yes me.

Overall on the night the Fairchild garnered 16 points (in the 3-1 point scheme: 3 for new WOTN votes and 1 for runner up) (My WOTN) the Staglin got 13, the Schrader 11 (My number 2 on the night), the Myriad 3 and the Sojourn 1. (44 total 11 guests x 4 points per guest). Man, I hate math.

Another great night of wonderful wines and lively company. Always thought provoking and fun, I think we may actually have too much of that 'fun' at these things. Anyway, that’s my story and I am sticking to it---at least until my next story comes along, one called PLONYC #1 (Pinot Lovers of New York City, the wines of Sojourn later this month)