Looking at Livermore

Notes from a Day Trip to Livermore

Page Mill

Originally founded in Santa Cruz, Page Mill moved to Livermore Valley in 2004. From that year on the use of locally sourced fruit has increased from zero to nearly 90% of production. Unusual in California today, Page Mill uses all AMerican oak for their barrels.

2012 Page Mill Sauvignon Blanc 13.4%

A little custardy creaminess to the fruit on the nose, which shows a nice green fruitiness with gentle spice and sweet, nectarine aromas.  Dry, clean and focused in the mouth with very fine mint, mineral, floral, and sweet pea shoot nuances framing a core of nectarine fruit. This is tense, a touch simple and unusual but lovely with a gently dusty finish. 88pts

2012 Page Mill Chardonnay Chandler vineyard Livermore Valley 13.8%

Stony, dusty, and slightly gamy on the nose with pear skin and old wood aromas. Simple and straightforward on entry, showing lovely purity of fruit, in a clean, fresh, and modestly complex style. There is a fine lying autolytic floral and softly Brie like character on the back end with good length and nice freshness on the finish. The fruit is orchard toned with a gentle suggestion of smoky nuttiness on the finish. 87pts.

2004 Page Mill Merlot San Francisco Bay Cote Vineyard 13%

Lots of tobacco, lightly smoky paprika, and a little rose stem add complexity to the core of red fruit and red currant aromas found on the nose.  Rather restrained in the mouth, has a slightly jammy edge and initial richness on the palate followed by layers of mineral, rose petals, red fruit, red plum skin, and then more evolved notes of twigs and stems on the palate with nice follow through with the savory elements laying over the core of red fruit. A little cocoa and raspberry emerges on the moderately long and somewhat acid driven finish, along with soft but present tannins. At peak and engaging. 90pts

2011 Page Mill Cabernet Franc Livermore Valley Ghielmetti Vineyard 14.5%

Floral and full of chaparral herb aromas on the nose along with some modest wood and plenty of sweet/tart red fruits. With an attractive blend of sweetness and savoriness without too much heaviness and weight on the palate this is rather light and fresh with mineral inflected tannins early on the palate. Tart red fruit,  showing a bit of rhubarb, sour cherry, and subtly dried leafy flavors fill the midpalate, which  shows finesse and real freshness and energy through the finish, which could be longer but it's full of earth, cranberry and raspberry fruit. Very enjoyable. 91pts

2011 Page Mill Zinfandel Spenker Vineyard Lodi 14.2%

Showing fairly sweet and oaky on the nose today with toast, nutmeg, dried ginger and vanilla aromas over a base of gently briary and slightly jammy blackberry fruit. Showing some weight and richness in the mouth with lovely flavors of raspberry, wild strawberry and blackberry, all wrapped in briary spice with wood tannins peeking out on the backend. This shows some inky and medicinal extraction on the modest finish, which is a bit spicy with hints of blueberry fruit, 88pts

2010 Page Mill Syrah Livermore Valley Nelson Vineyard 15%

Big, dark, and inky on a nose rich with tree bark and roasted beefs aromas topped with hints of macerated herbs. Broad in the mouth, soft and rich and a little low on the palate. There are some nice herbal elements here, embedded in inky, plummy fruit that turns brighter on the backend, offering up nice savory notes with a touch of mineral. The tannins are a little hard on the finish which is fairly long and flecked with floral notes popping here and there, violets and iris, with incipient blue fruit on the backend. 89pts

2010 Page Mill Syrah Santa Cruz Mountains 14.7%

Raw beef, bacon, and faint pepper spice greets the nose followed by  rosepetals, black spice, a little oaky but well balanced by violet and blue fruit background notes. Rich, and a bit tough and grippy in the mouth with great depth to the beef blood and grilled beefy flavors. Fresh acids add brightness even though the flavors remain a bit dark and meaty, blocking a bit of freshness Finishing with good length and rich with  inky boysenberry fruit, this needs some time to fully integrate, today it remains rough and slightly rustic, though it promises to evolve well. 90pts

2010 Page Mill Petite Sirah Estate Vineyard Livermore 14.2%

Licorice and herbs over a base of black fruit on the nose, is followed by a big PS palate, a bit chocolaty and inky with fine plummy flavors a touch of old wood. Rich with soft, chewy tannins and bright acids, this relatively powerful wine retains good freshness in the mouth, finishing with focus and power and relative elegance for PS. Broad and full in the mouth, this has lovely tension and fine persistence to the plummy, black berry fruit on the long finish. Put down a few bottles in the cellar. 91pts

Page Mill Port Lot 7 Se Decouvrir 18%

7% RS made in a Solera style

Very complex aromatics with sweet spices, plummy, pruny fruit, vanilla, chocolate, cream, black currants and black berries topped with a suggestion of peppery spice. The complexity of the nose translates well to the palate where one finds a wine driven by flavors of chocolate, cherry, carob, herb, and medical herbs, in a fairly tannic, style. A bit front loaded, the backend is a bit simple but attractive with brandy, caramel and dark raisin and dried cherry flavors. Neither particularly sweet nor alcoholic this has fine balance and a lovely blend of fresh fruit and aged characteristics. 91pts

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  • For you golfers out there, the Wente golf course is not to be missed. Nice to follow up golf with a trip to the tasting room and/or lunch or dinner.

    Jan 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

  • Don't miss Steven Kent for their awesome Cabernets and divine Lineage blend, Caddis (blockbuster new brand), Nottingham Cellars (rockstar Rhones and fantastic Petite Sirah), Occasio (just won Best of Class for their superb 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, $40 - $50 category in the 2014 SF Chronicle Competition) or 3 Steves (Best Red of Show at 2014 SF Chron) - you will be impressed with the friendly, welcoming and unpretentious atmosphere at these and many other smaller producers in this region. The wines are amazing and well-priced. There's a lot to love about Livermore!

    Jan 29, 2014 at 4:42 PM

  • Snooth User: napagirl68
    Hand of Snooth
    87843 2,642

    Sorry, GdP, but you I think you really missed the best ones! Living here, and socializing in the local wine world, I do not seem to be in the minority with my opinions. And every wine or winery has its fans... there are even those that love 2 buck chuck and swear by it- so it is very individual. I have given page mill a few tries, but no go. Wente is just ok, and the visitor center is probably good for tourists. They also mass distribute some wines, so that is good for those outside of CA. There are many more wineries here that demonstrate the "wide range" of wines from Livermore. The poster above is spot on.

    Jan 29, 2014 at 10:57 PM

  • Snooth User: vin0vin0
    Hand of Snooth
    357808 4,790

    I visited the Livermore area back in 2011 and had a very enjoyable time. I'll second the rec's on Steven Kent and La Rochelle and will also recommend visiting the McGrail (smaller) and Concannon (larger) wineries. McGrail was fun and relaxed and the folks there were really friendly. Concannon produces great a petite sirah and I really enjoyed their wine bar.

    GdP, we'll be looking forward to a tour of the Alameda hot spots next.

    Jan 31, 2014 at 7:07 PM

  • Snooth User: napagirl68
    Hand of Snooth
    87843 2,642

    vin0vin0, I can recommend Rock Wall in Alameda. Shauna Rosenblum (Kent's daughter) is winemaker. There are mostly zins, and I am not drinking a lot of zins now, but their others wines are nice, and she makes a decent Pinot from RRV. Will actually be there next weekend to pickup wineclub and the case I just bought- as a wineclub member, during your birthday month, you get all wine 50% off.. whoo hoo!

    Jan 31, 2014 at 10:27 PM

  • Snooth User: vin0vin0
    Hand of Snooth
    357808 4,790

    NG, thanks, I also visited the Rock Wall winery back in 2011. Had a great time chatting and tasting with Roger Rosenblum. Very laid back atmosphere and some great zins. Back to Livermore, here are a couple more places I was able to visit during the week I was out there, can't remember having anything bad - John Christopher Cellars, McGrail Vineyards and Winery and Ruby Hill Winery. Also, JC Cellars and Dashe in Oakland were great.

    Feb 01, 2014 at 10:31 AM

  • Snooth User: wooby98
    312902 4

    That's so funny I was just tell my husband and my resent trip to Livermore. I meet my sister and nephew there and we went wine tasting. ( My sisters first time ever. I think I've got her hooked.). We had time to visit three wineries. Garre, Eagle Ridge/Dante Robere and Rois-Lovell. I loved Garre and Eagle Ridge wonderful wines and great people. It every much reminded be of the Napa Valley atmosphere 20 years ago. I bought a couple of cases at both places. Didn't care for Rios-Lovell as much wines were nice just not the homey feeling. Love your story getting a bit more history on the area. We had a great time can't wait to get my husband to go for a trip.

    Feb 04, 2014 at 4:30 PM

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