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Nenad Jelisic's rating system (Nenad Jelisic Points = NJP)

5,0 NJP = A fabulous, unique and world-class wine. Closer to heaven, you cannot come. If you like wine then it is a must to buy and try this wine; 4,5 NJP = A extraordinarily good wine. Only small micro details distinguish this wine from to be a 5 points wine; 4,0 NJP = A very good wine. A wine that has almost everything that the most highly rated wines (4,5 and 5,0 NJP) should have; 3,5 NJP = A more than good wine. A wine that has both finesse and good taste and a wine that you greatly enjoy while drinking it; 3,0 NJP = A good wine that is well above average. A wine that lacks just a little to end higher up, i.e. to 3.5 NJP; 2,5 NJP = A wine that has ended up in no man's land. Close to be a good wine, but also close to be a below average wine; 2,0-1,0 NJP = A below average wine. You can drink it, but in return it provides no excitement; 0,5 NJP = A bad wine, but still if you make an effort when you drink it, it is drinkable; 0 NJP = A catastrophically bad and non-drinkable wine. It does not even suit for cooking.

You took my breath away! Go West - tasting of wines from California, Oregon och Washington State, Sheraton Hotell, Stockholm, 13-03-2015 (03-04-2015 av Robert Jonasson)

   Go West was a tasting where there was an opportunity to taste a wide range of wines (about 700 pcs) from California, Oregon and Washington State. Of all the wines in the USA, the most famous wines come from California, in particular from the wine district and appellation of Napa Valley. Oregon and Washington State are two wine regions that experiencing rapid growth and there were very exciting wines to try from these regions. The tasting lasted about 2 hours less than a usual tasting and due to that a smaller amount of wines were tasted. A total of 115 pcs of wines were tasted and of these, incomparable 65 wines got 3,0 NJP or more. This means 56% of all the tasted wines. This is the highest percentage of wines that received 3,0 NJP or more in any tasting since NJ Consulting & Import began writing about the tastings, we participated in. A comparison can be made with the most recent tasting, Burgundy Wine Tour, where only 16% of the wines got 3,0 NJP or more. At the Burgundy Wine Tour, all wines were tasted, but only a few producers offered wines at the highest level (Grand Cru). At this tasting, a selection of wines to taste was made (because it was impossible to try all). Most producers offered their top wines and this made it a pleasure to take part in the tasting.

 

   The following wines got 4.0 NJP or more:

 

1. Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, 2012, red dry blend wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, 5,0 NJP,

2. Joseph Phelps, Insignia, 2011, red dry blend wine, Napa Valley, California, 4,5 NJP,

3. Northstar, Merlot, 2011, red dry blend wine, Columbia Valley, Washington State, 4,0 NJP,

4. Beringer Vineyards, Private Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1998, red dry wine, Napa Valley, California, 4,0 NJP,

5. Girard, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, red dry wine, Napa Valley, California, 4,0 NJP,

6. Girard, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, red dry wine, Diamond Mountain, California, 4,0 NJP,

7. Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Chardonnay, 2012, white dry wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, 4,0 NJP,

8. Ridge Vineyards, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, red dry blend wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, 4,0 NJP,

9. Robert Mondavi, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, red dry wine, Napa Valley, California, 4,0 NJP and

10. Twomey Cellars, Merlot, 2010, red dry blend wine, Napa Valley, California, 4,0 NJP.

 

   The best producer at the tasting: Ridge Vineyards; the competition was very tough, but it was no doubt that the best producer was Ridge Vineyards. The producer succeeded to take home the title for the best white wine, the best red wine and the best wine in all categories.

 

 

Ridge Vineyards vineyards

 

   Ridge Vineyards is a legendary winery in California, which was founded in 1960. The winery and the vineyards are located at Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. The history of the Ridge and Monte Bello Ridge started much earlier when Osea Perrone already in 1885 planted the first vines at Monte Bello Ridge. In 1892, the first vintage of the wine from the vineyard was produced by Perrones company Monte Bello Winery. During the 1940s, Perrones abandoned property was purchased by a man named William Short, which later became Ridge Vineyards. Ridge Vineyards produced the first vintage of a wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon in 1962. The era as a real quality producer started in 1969 when Paul Draper was hired as winemaker. Nowdays, Paul Draper is a legend in the wine business and he is still responsible winemaker at the Ridge Vineyards.

 

   At the famous tasting "Judgement of Paris" in 1976, Ridge Vineyards became the object of international fame when the vintage 1971 of Monte Bello was placed fifth.

 

   Ridge Vineyards produced its first wine, made from Zinfandel, with the 1964-vintage. From vintage 1966, the winery began to separate grapes from different vineyards, including from Geyserville, to make single vineyard wines. In 1991, Ridge bought Lytton Springs Winery in the appellation of Dry Creek River and, nowdays, it has a winery in both Lytton Springs and at Monte Bello Ridge.

 

   Ridge Vineyards produces 34 different wines where Monte Bello Chardonnay and Monte Bello are clearly the best wines. However the entire wine portfolio is very good and worth trying. The wines are produced as naturally as possible without for that matter Ridge Vineyards is certified as an ecologic or biodynamic producer. Ridge strives to get the terroir to reflect in the wine as much as possible and, therefore, all vineyards are vinified separately.

 

   The best white wine at the tasting: Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Chardonnay 2012, 4,0 NJP. A beautiful, elegant, well balanced, still young wine with great complexity and good acidity. It will be even better with a few years of cellaring. The wine is made of 100% Chardonnay, which is harvested by hand, whole-bunch pressed and fermented with natural yeasts. It is aged for 11 months in American oak barrels (90%) and French oak barrels (10%). 32% of the oak barrels are new. The vines grow in unique green stone and clay soils layered over decomposing limestone.

 

   The best red wine and the best wine in all categories at the tasting: Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello, 2012, 5,0 NJP. This is the first wine that I have given the highest score and also the first wine that has got 5,0 NJP of NJ Consulting & Import since the fall of 2012. Still young, but absolutely stunning wine that is both elegant and complex, with a perefect balance of fruitiness. It will be even better with a few years of cellaring. The grapes are harvested by hand, sorted twice and fermented with natural yeasts. The wine is aged 16 months in 98.5% new American oak barrels and 1.5% new French oak barrels. The vines grow in unique green stone and clay soils layered over decomposing limestone. The wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot.

 

 

   The best appellation at the tasting: Napa Valley AVA. Napa Valley is located in the wine region of North Coast and is USA's most famous wine district. Napa Valley is also classified as an appellation, American Viticulture Area (AVA). Napa Valley AVA consists of 16 different subappellations; Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mount Veeder, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, Spring Mountain District, St. Helena, Stag's Leap District, Wilde Horse Valley and Yountville. In total, the vine growing area is 18,011 hectares. Napa Valley AVA got its classification in 1981. To be classed as Napa Valley wine, it is required that the grapes are grown and the wine is produced in the appellation. The wine can come from one or more appellations within the Napa Valley AVA.

 

   The most common grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, which represents about 40% of the total wine production. This is followed, in descending order, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

 

   Napa Valley the best vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon: 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

 

   Napa Valley the best vintages of Chardonnay: 1992, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012.

 

   Napa Valley soils. Geographically, Napa Valley is enclosed by the Mayacama Mountain Range in the west and north, and the Vaca Mountains to the east. Geologically, Napa Valley has been formed by the movement of the tectonic plates and volcanic activity for the last 150-million years. Along with marine deposits and erosion, this has created a very complex and varied geology. The soils in the appellation vary very much and over 100 different soil types have been found. Usually, the soil is eroded down from the mountain sides to the valley floor. This means that coarser soils are found higher up on the mountain sides while clay and other fine-grained soils, sand and gravel have been deposited onto the valley floor. These deposited soils are also called alluvial soils and are very fertile. The most known alluvial formation of Napa Valley is Rutherford Bench where most of the vineyards in Oakville AVA and Rutherford AVA are located within.

 

   California consists of four different wine regions; North Coast, Central Coast, Central Valley and South Coast. Within these wine regions there are a total of 116 appellations (AVA). The vine growing area is approximately 194,000 hectares. Approximately 90% of all wine produced in the US comes from California. The wine production started in the wine region North Coast during the second half of the 19th century. The wine production almost stopped during the 1910s and 1920s as a result of the Prohibition and the attack of the root louse (phylloxera). The modern era of wine production began in the 1960s when a number of the most famous wineries were founded. Some well-known wine producers, which were founded during this period, were Robert Mondavi Winery, Ridge Vineyards and Heitz Wine Cellars.

 

 

Californian vineyards

 

   The climate in California is usually classified as Mediterranean climate. Note that only about 2% of the Earth's surface is considered to have a Mediterranean climate. Wine regions with a Mediterranean climate are characterized by long growing season where the temperature is medium to high. Furthermore, the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay gives cool breezes and mist, which cools the grapes. In the areas north of San Francisco, the annual rainfall is 650-1,150 mm  while in the areas south of San Francisco, it is about half as much.

 

   Over a hundred different grape varieties are grown in California. The most widely planted grape variety is in descending order: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel.

 

   Oregon and Washington State are two wine regions, which are located next door to each other on either side of the Columbia River. In Oregon, which is located on the south side of the Columbia River, there are 17 appellations (AVA). The first appellations got theirs official status as AVA in 1984 and these were Willamette Valley, Columbia Valley, Umpqua Valley and Walla Walla Valley. Somewhat simplified, it can be said that the grape types that thrive in colder climates such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay are mostly grown in the Willamette Valley, which is located in the northern parts of Oregon. In the southern parts of Oregon and Walla Walla Valley, the grapes that thrive in warmer climates such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Viogner are grown.

 

   Oregon's vineyards occupy more than 8,200 hectares of the state's surface, which makes Oregon USA's third largest wine producing state. In 2012, over 41,000 tons of grapes were harvested. There are more than 450 wineries that produce about 75% red wines and 25% white wines. The most common grapes are Pinot Noir (62%), Pinot Gris (13%), Chardonnay (5%), Riesling (3%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (3%).

 

   Washington State is located north of the Columbia River and is the wine region (state) that produces second-most wine in the USA. Only California produces more wine than Washington State. In 2013, about 210,000 tons of grapes were harvested from more than 20,000 hectares of vineyards. There are more than 750 wineries that produce about 52% white wines and 48% red wines. The dominant grape varieties within the Washington State are Riesling (21%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Chardonnay (18%), Merlot (18%) and Syrah (7%). In Washington State, there are 13 appellations where the largest AVA areas are Yakahima Valley (established 1983), Horse Heaven Hills (2005), Columbia Valley (1984) and Wahluke Slope (2006), which covers over 80% of the total area under vines.

 

   The eastern parts of Washington State, which produces most wine, are very dry. This area has about 300 sunny days/year and the average rainfall is only about 200 mm/year. During the dry years, many producers are dependent of irrigation of vineyards. The difference in rainfall is high in Washington State and in the western parts of the state, the average rainfall is about 1,200 mm/year.

 

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