Wente

2012 Wente Sauvignon Blanc Louis Mel  Livermore Valley 13%

Vineyard acquired by the Wente Family in the 1930s

Intense fruit on the nose shows hints of  jasmine over fine ripe undertones of spicy apple and sweet orchard fruits topped with lime zest and a suggestion of passion fruit. Bright acids on entry lead to a core of lovely bright fruit with a bit of minerality adding nice depth, to the  peachy tone on the palate. This is rather caressing in the mouth with a gentle texture, neither too rich nor too very.  Long, zesty, and very mineral, the finish leaves you with lingering notes of river stones. Ripe but not blousy. 89pts

2012 Wente Chardonnay Eric's Small Lot Livermore Valley $25 13.7%

100% SS, aged sur lie six months

This is quite complex on the nose, blending crab apple fruit with fine steely minerality and the floral and nutty notes that ageing on the lees contributes. Clean and focused up front, with a nice creamy edge to rather mineral driven flavors of green apple and green pear fruit. This has a nicely layered feel to it, with late flavors of stones and a bit of nectarine leading to a long, acid driven finish that shows off some lemon curd along with a light almond undertone. Rather elegant. 91pts

2012 Wente Chardonnay Riva Ranch Arroyo Seco Monterey 13.5%

90% bf, 10% SS, eight months sur lie, two to three perfect gewurztraminer

Big woody spice and lots of vanilla greets the nose along with rich pineapple, a little nutmeg, and subtle backing notes of tropical fruits. In the mouth this is fairly rich and very true to the nose with powerful flavors dripping in peachy, pineapple, spicy tropical fruit flavors all backed up with vanilla, a touch of red flowers,  and wood spice. Good acids keep this fresh and lead to a clean finish, with just a hint of tannin adding some textural complexity. A nice blend of powerful fruit and the structure to keep it refreshing in the mouth. 88pts

2010 Wente Pinot Noir Reliz Creek Arroyo Seco Monterey 14.5%

Very Pinot on the nose with black cherry, earth, and a nice shading of oak, over a little rhubarb and herb. Opening with lovely spice on the palate this is soft and gentle yet moderately intense on the palate with lots of a raspberry and cherry. The style that recalls Pinot from an earIier time, Attractive clarity on the palate with nice minerality, good length, and the gentle complexity that a little tree bark, herb stem dried brings to the wild strawberry of the midpalate makes this easy to like. Soft, fine little tannins and bit of oaky black spice accentuate the moderate finish. 87pts

2011 Wente Cabernet Sauvignon Charles Wetmore Livermore 13.5%

Old Cresta Blanca vineyard, first agricultural minister in California, went to France to bring back cuttings, 1882 started Crests Blanca, 1981 was acquired by Wente, now used as a barrel room and for consumer facing activities,

Tobacco, wood spice, earth, old leather, smoke, and subtle fennel and herb greet the nose. On entry there is a touch of tamarind in the bright, entry, clear attack with soft but present tannins supporting a nice blend of black raspberry and dark cherry fruit. There is an accent of vanilla here along with nicely integrated wood flavors which still allows the wine to express its bright fruit, earth, floral and a suggestion of weedy complexity unfettered.  Clean and very firm in an elegant way, this shows good length with a  powdery, dusty finish and some walnutty, toasted oak notes. Just  lovely with its mid plus weight and no fat or stickiness on the palate. 91pts

2011 Wente GSM Livermore valley 14.4%

40%syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre

A bit oaky on the nose with notes of smoke, a bit of garrigue,and hints of violet and iron framing the core of blueberry fruit. Tense and clear on entry, this starts out in the mouth as quie mineral and vaguely tannic. The tannins are quite raw, though adding an attractive counterweight to the lovey blue fruit, dried wild flowers, small berry black fruit, and hints of herbs on the palate. The finish sees a nice pop of wood over lingering wild raspberry preserves, and a bit of licorice on the finale. The well judged oak does become fairly noticeable on the finish, adding sweetness and spice, yet it does not rise above the fruit of the palate. 89pts

2011 The Nth Degree Cabernet Livermore 14.1%

Cocoa, briar, cigar box, and dark fruit which is both a bit plummy and reminiscent of black currant preserves greet the nose. There’s a noticeable hit of oak, spicy and with the smell of burnt sugar that builds in the glass. Fairly rich, with good power, and really fine acids that help keep everything bright on the palate. The base of tannins are moderately assertive, bit woody, though fairly well covered by the depth of blueberry and black currant fruit on the midpalate. There’s a hint of leafiness and green tobacco on the backend, which leads to good length and richness on the finish. This has a bit of Bordeaux quality to it, rich but remaining clear and fresh in the mouth. The oak remains noticeable throughout but is not heavy handed. It’s a powerful style of wine but I prefer the Charles Wetmore bottling from Wente which is both more immediate and less fruit driven. 90pts