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 Capri Ristorante – McLean, VA


Peter and Mario had been planning to present wines from California New Wave, as recently commented on by Jancis Robinson and others. Unfortunately, none of the experts in our customary wine stores knew anything about this wave, let along had any of the pertinent wines in stock. Hence, they searched for high-end relatively unknown American wines produced form rare grape blends, or in small batches. They found some specially interesting wines usually in short supply.

TYPE :  Blind

  1. 2017 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Marsanne, Adelaida District, Paso Robles
  2. 2012 Donelan Cuvee Christine Syrah. North Coast, Sonoma County
  3. 2013 Donkey and Goat Five Thirteen, El Dorado, Sierra Foothills
  4. 2013 Villa Creek Damas Noir. Mourvedre, Paso Robles


  1. Lobster bisque with shrimp
  2. Manicotti  in rich tomato bolognese sauce
  3. Lamb stew (carrots, potatoes, onions) with rice
  4. Grilled steak with veggies and mushroom sauce
  5. Dessert and/or coffee

PRESENTERS: Mario Aguilar, Peter Scherer

PARTICIPANTSMario Aguilar, Juan Luis Colaiacovo, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Orlando Reos, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Peter Scherer


(All information obtained and condensed from several Internet articles.)

2017 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Marsanne, Adelaida District, Paso Robles 

The Wine: The 2017 Tablas Creek Vineyard Marsanne is Tablas Creek’s fifth varietal bottling of Marsanne, the noble white grape of France’s Hermitage appellation. We use most of our Marsanne in our Côtes de Tablas Blanc each year. However, in 2017 we felt that the Marsanne was so complete and compelling, and so representative of the Marsanne grape, that we selected out two lots for a single-varietal bottling.

(RP) “The 2017 Marsanne reveals aromas of lemon oil, beeswax and fresh peach, followed by a full-bodied, textural and multidimensional palate balanced by gentle acids and concluding with a sapid but pure finish. This is Tablas Creek’s fifth standalone Marsanne, and it should be interesting to follow for a decade or more. Haas notes that Marsanne needs a certain vine age to be interesting, and it also benefits from a cooler year—two criteria that were met in 2017.”

The Winery: Tablas Creek is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands.

The partners searched California from the foothills of the Sierras in the north to coastal Ventura County in the south, looking for a close match to the Mediterranean climate and high pH soils of Château de Beaucastel. In 1989, they purchased a 120-acre parcel twelve miles from the Pacific Ocean in what is now the Adelaida District west of Paso Robles. They named it Tablas Creek Vineyard, after the small creek running through the property.

The property elevation averages 1,500 feet, and the shallow, rocky limestone soils are of the same geologic origin as those at Beaucastel. Summer days are hot and sunny, but the influence of the nearby Pacific cools the nights, and the remarkably Rhône-like Paso Robles climate allows the grapes to mature fully and yet retain crisp acidity. Ample rainfall in the winter allows most of the vineyard to be dry-farmed each year.

Red wines, comprising about 50% of the vineyard’s production, are made principally from Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise. White wines, comprising about 35% of production, are made from Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Two rosés, one based on Grenache and the other on Mourvèdre, account for the final 15% of production. Total production averages between 25,000-30,000 cases per year.

Read More about the winery here: https://tablascreek.com/

2012 Donelan Cuvee Christine Syrah. North Coast, Sonoma County 

The Wine: (RP) Syrahs have always been the benchmark wines from Donelan, since the early days when he was using winemaker Pax Mahle. The 2012 Syrah Cuvee Christine, which is fermented with a 30% whole clusters and aged in 80% neutral oak, comes from four separate vineyards in the Russian River Valley at Sonoma Mountain. This is 100% Syrah, aged 20 months in 33% new French oak and represents nearly 900 cases of wine. Deep purple in color with lots of roast beef, blackberry, bouquet garni, licorice and charcuterie spices, the wine is rich, beautifully pure, full-bodied and showing well already, which is of course a hallmark of 2012. It should drink well for at least a decade or more.

The Winery: Donelan Family Wines is a boutique California wine company that produces single-vineyard wines from specific AVAs in Sonoma County. It produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and white Rhône-style blends from Roussanne and Viognier, but it is most clearly recognized for its highly rated Syrah wines.

The company was formed in 2000 as Pax Cellars, and was a partnership between Joe Donelan and Pax Mahle, as financier and winemaker, respectively. This partnership dissolved in 2009, and Pax Cellars was rebranded as Donelan Family wines. Mahle went on to establish the Wind Gap brand.

Donelan owns four estate vineyards to produce its limited-production wine portfolio – Obsidian, Walker Vine Hill, Kobler and Richard’s Family – and sources additional fruit from Sonoma County growers. The company’s first vineyard, Obsidian Vineyard, is located in Knights Valley and was planted 30 years ago. The Walker Vine Hill and Kobler vineyards are located in the Russian River Valley, the latter in the cooler subregion of Green Valley. Donelan’s most highly acclaimed Syrah is sourced from one of the warmer warmer vineyard sites in Sonoma Valley, Richard’s Family Vineyard.

Most of Donelan’s single-vineyard and blended Syrah wines are fermented in whole clusters with native yeasts. The juice spends extended time on the skins for full extraction, and wines are typically pressed to French oak barrels to mature anywhere from 20 to 36 months.

Read more about  here: https://www.donelanwines.com/

2013 Donkey and Goat Five Thirteen, El Dorado, Sierra Foothills

The Wine: The name probably of this wine probably comes from the facta that it is a blend of 5 of the thirteen grapes accepted for Chateauneuf-du Pape. 40% Grenache – 18% Syrah – 18% Mouvedre – 14% Cinsault and 10% Counoise.

WE: Vivid, tangy cherry and raspberry flavors practically light up this medium-bodied, polished and complex wine. It pours out red cherry, cranberry and raspberry in refreshing bursts with each sip, with a lightly astringent, lip-smacking finish.

The Winery: (From Wine .com) Donkey & Goat is a family owned and operated winery located in Berkeley California. Tracey & Jared Brandt craft their natural wines from Rhône varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge and the undiscovered El Dorado appellation in the Sierra Foothills. Tracey & Jared trained in France, under Éric Texier, an up and coming Rhône winemaker who taught them the art and craft of making wines that speak to the soul about the earth from which they originate. Their maverick winemaking has helped pave the way for the natural wine movement. They make their wines for the table not the cocktail glass. They make Rhône varietals in both colors plus an atypical Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir true to the varietals nature, striving to make wine as naturally as possible and done so since day one.

As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking and grape growing was totally abandoned. But some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.

El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.

Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain or snow in the winter.

2013 Villa Creek Damas Noir. Mourvedre, Paso Robles 

The Wine: Full of color, ripe fruit, plenty of texture and earthy goodness, Mourvèdre is an important grape in many key regions in the south of France, as well as in Spain and the New World. Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance (there known as Monastrell or Mataro) and is the key variety in Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla. It truly thrives, however, in Provence’s Bandol region, where it shines on its own as a single varietal red and in Southern Rhône where it palys a major part in blends . It is also of great importance in the Southern Rhône alongside Grenache and Syrah—and in California and Australia, as a single varietal wine or in Rhône blends.

(RP) A wine that readers need to hide in the cellar for 2-3 years is the 2013 Damas Noir, which is a smokin’ wine made from 100% Mourvedre, fermented with, of course, 100% whole clusters. Brought up in neutral oak, this medium to full-bodied, concentrated 2013 has tons of spice, bloody meats, stem and mulled dark fruit-like aromas and flavors, as well as a structured, tannic finish. It’s loaded with potential. Winemaker Chris Cherry continues to produce a bevy of unique wines from his estate high up off of Peachy Canyon Road. The wines have shifted in style over the past decade, and today they’re much more savory and stem-dominated (most are fermented with 100% whole cluster and aged in a good portion of concrete) than in the past. I suspect the majority of these new releases will benefit from short term cellaring to let the stems integrate.

The Winery: Cris and JoAnn Cherry moved to Paso Robles in 1996 to open a restaurant, partake in the burgeoning wine scene and raise their children in the country. In 2001, they purchased their first grapes to make wine for their restaurant. And so began Villa Creek Cellars, their best expression of west Paso Robles’ Rhone grape varieties.

Today, they farm their own certified biodynamic and certified organic vineyard, the MAHA Estate in the hills west of Paso Robles. They continue to purchase grapes from the region’s most esteemed vineyards and strive to create exciting wines that reflect the land from which they originated.

The MAHA Estate is 8 miles west of Paso Robles. Extreme topography of south and west facing slopes that climb to 1800 feet continue to captivate Cris and JoAnn with the dynamic views of the coastal mountain range. The winery was erected in 2003 to house the production of roughly 3000 cases of wine each year. Monterey shale and siliceous shale provide an ideal foundation for the Rhone grape varieties planted in 2012 and 2013. Sustaining the vibrancy and the health of the land by farming the grapes under organic and biodynamic principles will, in turn, make vibrant wines. The soil is abundant in micro organisms and is the perfect host to the vines, the family and their flock of 30 Dorper sheep that graze the vineyard in the winter and spring. The energy of this site is palpable.

Read more here: http://www.villacreek.com/



View full evaluation here: 65 Tasting Evaluation Summary

Best Rated: 2012 Donelan Cuvee Christine Syrah, North Coast. Sonoma County – 92 Pts. – $52

Best Buy: 2013 Villa Creek Damas Noir Mourvedre, Paso Robles – 89 Pts. _$32