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2008 Jones Family new release Cabernet Savignon

It may sound like an overworked expression, however Jones Family is a brand that approaches their winemaking from an uncompromising philosophy, In 2008 Thomas Brown took over fromHeidi Barrett as winemaker after she had made the previous dozen vintages. My first real exposure to the wines was last year when I named the 2007 as one of my Top wines of the year. Now I’m back with the early reviews on the new releases now that they are in bottle. 

The Jones red wine program is divided between ‘The Sisters”, a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend intended for earlier drinking, and the more serious, essentially varietal Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the first post release tasting of both wines together. Production of the wines is microscopic compared to some of its peers; with total yield of just over a ton per acre from the all-estate property at the base of Howell Mountain managed by David Abreu accounting for just under 750 cases total.

2008 Jones Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “The Sisters”, Napa Valley

14.9% alcohol, 466 cases produced, 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot


2008 Jones Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

14.9% alcohol, 281 cases produced, 99% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petite Verdot


Wines of Jones Family may be ordered at


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Celebrating Anderson Valley Pinot Noir










The only other time I was in the town of Philo, CA was in February about 10 years ago. What made it memorable was the amount of snow that fell overnight while my wife and I had been staying in the guest house at Handley Winery. It was everywhere, and heavy - breaking branches off of oak trees kind of heavy.

I returned today (in much warmer weather) for my first attendance at the annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival which will now have a permanent circle on my event calendar. Before I do anything else, I want to thank Kristy Charles, of Foursight Wines who organized my attendance at both the Grand Tasting and an early morning and very lightly-attended media tasting of new releases. It was immediately apparent that a lot of thoughtful organization went into making this happen, all the little things put together make my job so much easier. Lastly  the layout of the tent (at Goldeneye Winery) was open and spacious and even though the event was well attended never felt crowded. Everyone seemed to be having a good time as well

Many of the producers of this region are well known to me and several have made it into my tasting notes previously - Handley, Goldeneye, Breggo, Black Kite, Harrington and Couloir have impressed from the beginning with wines that go from very good to exceptional. You can be assured there will be more in-depth discussion of these wines at the purely domestic wine report as they begin entering the market. From the media tasting hosted at Scharffenberger Cellars of 27 current and upcoming releases:

Three Star Wines

There were four wines I gave three stars

Two Star Wines

There were eight wines I gave two stars

To see what they were, please either register, or login to go to the purely domestic wine report.

Thank you,

Doug Wilder



My 422 mile, one day marathon to Hospice du Rhone

Yesterday was the last day of Hospice du Rhone, the three-day annual gathering of the world’s top Rhone producers in Paso Robles. I usually go for at least three and sometimes four days but this year the stars didn’t line up and I was contemplating not going at all. Then all of a sudden, I decided to make a one day, marathon round-trip to the event. 422 miles = six hours of driving to attend a three hour tasting. Am I crazy? Not exactly…

Since the house that I usually rent (the one with the hot tub overlooking the fairgrounds) was not available this year, I had already decided not to have friends fly in for the event.

Work schedule pinched out the traditional Rhone n’ Bowl launch on Thursday night and also the Friday tasting. As no more seminar media passes were available (including the one I was most interested in) with my Winemaker of the Year, Morgan Peterson, of Bedrock Wine Company, and Joey Tensley, it looked like I might just pass this year. At the 11th hour, something spurred me say ‘yes’ to spending the better part of the day on a long drive, interrupted by three hours of tasting (not drinking) high alcohol wines.

I decided this would be a direct trip with no intermediate tastings along the way. To further streamline the trip I grudgingly axed the detour to Los Osos for my regular breakfast stop at The Sculptured Egg, home to the best Eggs Benedict in the world. Usually if I am within 30 miles of the place I make it a point to go, as many others do as well.

The reason I went is I knew there would be a lot of the producers from Oregon, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Orleans (alright, Cabot), that I don’t get too much face time with. I wanted to get a fix on how their wines are showing and make some notes to share with you briefly and make plans to followup with them in the coming months.

I also wanted to hand out the announcement for the upcoming launch of 

the purely domestic wine report

If I liked the wines I tasted at a particular table, I offered an envelope containing details of the new publication to the winery principals. Receiving what I took as widespread approval informed me that this change is happening at the right time.

Wineries commented they are ready for a new voice who will bring potentially dozens of new producers to the attention of consumers. Furthermore, they realize that because my reviews get published within a few weeks of tasting subscribers will have a better chance of actually getting the wines discussed.

Because of the time pressures, crowded tables and desire to see as many producers as possible I reduced my notes to assigning two or three stars to wines I tasted.


  • Two Stars (**) represent very good quality in the range of 89 - 93  
  • Three stars (***) represent excellent quality in the range of 94 -98

Below is a list of the producers I liked enough to assign either of the scores to:




De Su Propia Cosecha


Fausse Piste 

Herman Story 



Mark Herold






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Premiere release - 2007 Tercero Petite Sirah Santa Ynez Valley

Larry Schaffer is a name that is well known and respected in the Cal-Rhone circles. He is a passionate experimenter in the raw materials he works with from the Santa Ynez Valley appellation with his fledgling Tercero label. I visited with him briefly at the recent Rhone Rangers tasting in San Francisco, quickly realizing there was no way I could go through the multitude of beakers and bottles he had lined up in less than 20 minutes; precious time to devote to one producer. Luckily, I have a box of samples from Larry and delved in to a couple of them this week. The one I decided to write about in Worth Noting is his first release of a varietal Petite Sirah - the iconoclastic grape that in California can range from charmingly ‘pretty’ to brutally tannic.

When I first entered the wine business in 1990 I worked a lot with Vincent Arroyo’s Petite Sirah Estate which curiously is literally across the street from my house now. I told customers to drink them in the first year of release or wait 15 years. Anywhere in between was a roll of the dice in how the tannins would be showing at a particular time.  We did such a good job sending people to visit Vincent that he put all of our customers on his mailing list and had no more wine for us. Taken at the right time they were memorable. 


One of the things I have continually noted about Tercero in the three plus years I have patiently sampled them is that in most cases 85% of what is in the bottle is screaming good and the other 15% has me scratching my head. I experienced this when I twisted caps on the 2007 Watch Hill Grenache, and 2007 The Climb, a 50/50 Syrah - Petite Sirah blend last Fall. I wrote a full page of single-spaced notes in October and it was only on the finish that the wines lost it for me, troubled by a green bean character at the end that was out of place given how the rest of the wine showed. Because they were being considered for the Top wine list of 2010, I did not publish my thoughts. His white wines, especially the 2009 Grenache Blanc, Camp 4, is a glorious example of exuberent freshness and sells for $20.00

2007 Tercero Petite Sirah Santa Ynez Valley; $28.00 DW 90

14.3% alcohol

A: prune plums and chocolate with hints of graphite, earth, cinnamon and dried sage

P: a dense, polished core of textured blue and blackberry, stone fruits and soft notes of salted licorice

I: This wine took several hours to really find a voice. When first opened it was very angular and not appealing at all. Needs a hearty side of beef to match up to its weight. 

For more information on Tercero, go to their website


2010 Capture Sauvignon Blanc from Denis and May-Britt Malbec

Last year, Capture expanded their single Sauvignon Blanc offering from the 2008 vintage to include two 2009 vintage wines - Tradition, produced from three sites of different makeup in Lake and Sonoma Counties, and Les Pionniers, sourced only from hillside properties in Sonoma. The winemaking team of Denis and May-Britt Malbec create wines that generate significant buzz - If you need to allocate your SB, then you are really onto something. 

In 2010, I tasted the 2009 vintage wine in early July and thought they were very solid examples of a variety that more and more is gaining credibility among consumers and critics alike. With Desante, Lail, and Grey Stack producing exceptional bottlings it makes me wonder if we are seeing a white wine revolution.

I tasted the new 2010 vintage earlier this week. Both received very solid reviews from dougwilder - the purely domestic wine blog. Last year the winery sold out of them rapidly. If you wish to purchase them, get on the list at



2010 Capture Sauvignon Blanc Tradition $30

2010 Capture Sauvignon Blanc Les Pionniers $40

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Doug Wilder, Founder  the purely domestic wine blog