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Tasting Report: Family Winemakers of California 2011

Family Winemakers of California, while not quite as daunting as I’ve seen it in prior years, remains a monstrous wine exhibition: It’s been called the largest show of its kind in the country — and with 300 wineries pouring this year, if that’s not still true today, it’s awfully close.

I did my research in advance and sullied out lots of great finds this year, but none was as impressive as a winery I’d not heard of before: Dragonette Cellars, whose easy Pinot was crushed by a pair of near-perfect Syrahs.

For more gems, check out my complete (if limited) tasting notes below.

Tasting Report: 2011 Family Winemakers of California

2009 Paloma Merlot / B+ / tannic for a merlot

2008 Ramey Syrah Sonoma Coast / B /

2008 Ramey Claret / A- / balanced, quite nice

2007 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A- / jammy, softened out

2008 Saxon Brown Pinot Noir Parmalee-Hill / A- / solid, needs time

2008 Saxon Brown Pinot Noir Durrell Vineyard Hayfield Block / B+ / odd finish

2007 Saxon Brown Syrah Parmalee-Hill Owl Box Block / C+ / really odd finish, not a fan

2007 Saxon Brown Syrah Flora Ranch / B- /

2008 Patel Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / young style, mint and citrus notes

2008 Patland Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard / A- / young, easygoing

2008 Patland Syrah Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard / A- /

2009 Melville Pinot Noir Santa Rita / A- / bright

2010 Melville Pinot Noir Estate / A- / mildy herbal

2008 Macauley Cabernet Sauvignon / A- /

2008 Beau Vigne Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A / deep, port-like character, amazing body, long finish

2008 Cavus Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / big jam bomb, textbook Cal cab

2008 Caliza Companion / B+ / Cab/Syrah/Tempranillo blend, interesting combo

2008 Caliza Azimuth / A- / syrah/mourvedre/grenache blend, nicely smoky body

2008 Caliza Syrah / B+ / more minerals and leather here

2008 Carter Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Coliseum Block / B+ / slight tightness

2008 Carter Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Revilo Vineyard / A- / brighter in style

2009 Carter Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Beckstoffer To Kalon / A / already showing well

2008 Carter Petite Sirah / B / finish too tart

2007 Hartwell Cabernet Sauvignon Miste Hill / A- / bit on the sweet side

2008 Guarache Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / good balance, fruity, light tannins

2009 Guarache Pinot Noir / A / lush and rich, very nice

2008 Dragonette MJM Syrah / A+ / amazing richness, cocoa, plum and pepper

2008 Dragonette Syrah / A+ / very similar to MJM at 60% the cost

2009 Dragonette Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard / A- / easygoing Pinot

2007 Delectus Cabernet Franc / A- / stellar Cab Franc

2008 Delectus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / B / thin

2006 Delectus Petite Sirah Spring Mountain / B / long finish, fruity

2008 Delectus Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley / B- / young, too young

2008 Delectus Cuvee Julia / A- / complex, good richness

2007 Bacio Divino Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / big cherry cabernet, plums and raisins

2007 B Cellars Blend 24 / B / young stuff, needs time

2008 B Cellars Synergy Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / solid, great balance right now

2009 Benovia Chardonnay Russian River Valley La Pommeraie / B+ / bright

2007 Andrew Geoffrey Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / easy, good balance

2007 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A / lush, accessible

2007 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Lone Canyon / A- / big tight

2007 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain / A- / deep and rich

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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