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Review of the Latest Releases From Seamus Wines

corkWe wrote about the boys from Seamus a little over a year ago. We liked their story, we liked their wines and we liked them. They’re doing some great things with quality sourced grapes from the best wine regions in California. This is small lot production including Cabernet Sauvignon from Somoma (along with a Reserve bottling), an unusual red blend Cuvee, Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands, Russian River Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, Pinot Gris from Lodi, and a new Rosé.  Their story is a good one, and you can read more background on Seamus by clicking here.

We first met them at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival in 2014, and their wines were noteworthy. Since then Jim Foley

The Foleys: Jim Sr. and Jim Jr.

The Foleys: Jim Sr. and Jim Jr.

Jr., the winemaker, has been continuing to improve his wines, and we are lucky enough to have seven wines supplied by Seamus to review. These are their latest and greatest, and we are very excited to see what we have on our hands. That excitement also stems from the recent results out of the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This contest draw a lot of entries from around the USA. In fact, 7,164 American wines were entered and competed in various categories and price levels. A good showing here means a lot to a winery, especially a small and up and coming one. Seamus managed to pull in eight awards, including a Gold for their Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir and a Double Gold for the new Debutante Rosé. We have six of the award winners in the house, so this promises to be a lot of fun.

Seamus is not available in many states, and hopefully that changes soon. You can order directly from them however, and their website is at:

Let’s see what we’ve got on our hands (anticipation…..). An interesting note from their small production lots is that many of the wines are numbered bottle by bottle within each varietal. We’ll let you know which bottle we have, just for fun:


2014 Seamus “Shannon” Sauvignon Blanc – named after the River Shannon in Ireland, which is itself named after the Celtic goddess Sionna. Sionna was known for her wisdom. This wine is 100% Russian River fruit and is fermented for a long 60 days. 300 IMG_1961cases were produced. Our thoughts:

Light golden yellow in color, the wine has a big nose of fruit. For me peach predominated, although the apple was clear as well. The palate brings lush fruit, and this is so clean and crisp it is somewhat amazing how much fruit it packs. The finish is also clean and very long. I got a little lemon at the end. The acid is very bright and cleans everything off beautifully. Refreshing and delicious, this is one very high quality Sauvignon Blanc. Recommended retail of $29. Beautifully pure and clean wine. Silver medal in San Francisco.

2014 Seamus “Pearl” Pinot Gris – sourced from Lodi, this wine see both stainless steel (one third) and neutral French oak (two thirds) fermentation. It also see extended time on the lees, so we are expecting a wine with structure and mouth feel. We love wines IMG_1960that do that right, so let’s see what we have here:

Beautiful, brilliant and light golden yellow color. This has a big, rich nose of tropical fruit. The oak is evident. In the mouth the texture is luxurious, and the lees contact comes through. Along with the tropical fruits maybe a bit of apple pops in. The oak is always there, but not heavy handed. This is a significant white wine, almost comparable to a Cotes de Beaune. I’m not saying it’s a Montrachet, and it’s not even Chardonnay, but some of the qualities are there. It’s very good if you like wines with some oak on them. $28   Silver medal in San Francisco.

2014 Seamus Debutante Rosé – the art on this label has a great story we’ll share with you. Seamus uses various art on their labels, including portraits of young women on the front of the Shannon Sauvignon Blanc and this wine, the Debutante. When I asked IMG_1963who the portraits were of, Jim Foley Sr. relayed the following story:

“If you get to Savannah you should try to go to Tybee Island. There are two great restaurants there, Tybee Island Fish Camp and Tybee Island Social Club.  Both owned and operated by Kurtis and Sara Schumm.

One night back in 2014 after a great meal and drinks we sat with our friend Kurtis, who in addition to being a really great chef, is also an accomplished artist.  We mentioned we were planning the Debutante and he said he always wanted to design a wine label.  We said great. 

A few days later he called and told us he had received a commission to do a portrait of Elizabeth Ostrander, the December 2014 Playboy cover girl and Playmate of the month.  Would we be interested in having her on the label?

Our first reaction was that the South probably was not ready for this on a wine label.  No … NO he said – this would be a portrait, very tasteful. 

She said she would be honored but would in return require a case of wine.  The rest is history and both Kurtis and Elizabeth are credited on the back of the label.”

I must say the Foleys hang out with some very interesting company.

The wine, incidentally, is a new release and has been very well received. This won Double Gold at the recent San Francisco Chronicle competition. It’s a rosé of Pinot Noir from Sonoma County. 60% was from pressing (presse method – where the red grapes are crushed and pressed immediately to produce a pale red wine) and 40% from the Saignee (or bleeding off the free run juice from crushed grapes which have been left to macerate for a short time – in this case 22 hours). Fermented in both stainless and neutral French oak. The wine is likened to the hair color of redhead Elizabeth Ostrander, Miss December 2014 and the model for the portrait on the label.

With a story like that this is already pretty cool. How was the wine?

The color here is actually quite beautiful, an orangey pink that almost glows in some lights, There is bright fruit on the nose, with citrus and a hint of blood orange. Definitely some watermelon joins the party. The palate sees the watermelon take center stage, with other flavors complementing. A strong acid ridge is persistent and cleans everything nicely. The finish long, very long, and pleasing. It’s more than a simple summer quaffer. This is very good, and Rosé lovers will be very happy. $28 and again a Double Gold winner in San Francisco.  We don’t drink much Rosé, but this was in the fridge over three days and every time I went to it I liked it more, and more.  I could drink a lot of this.

2012 Seamus Red Wine Cuvee – this is a unique blend you don’t see anywhere else. Jim Jr. uses 60% Grenache from Santa Clara along with 40% of the Sonoma Valley’s Atwood Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Both varietals are fermented and aged separatelyIMG_1966 in neutral French oak for 20 months. After blending the wine sees an additional six months in oak to allow the flavors to integrate. You don’t see this every day. 225 cases produced, we have bottle #947 out of 2700. Did we like it?

We mentioned this was unique, and it certainly is. 60% Grenache and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is not your everyday blend. The color is not quite pure reddish purple, but leans a little toward garnet. I got more red fruit on the nose, along with a little spice and a little oak. Medium to medium+ in body, this carries brisk acid and soft tannins. It almost reminded me of a Sangiovese, with some tart cherry in there. It worked very well with food, but it’s not our favorite. $28 and a Silver at the San Francisco competition.

2013 Seamus Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – this is from the Doctor’s Vineyard (which you probably already guessed) located in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a hot spot for high quality Pinot Noir. It’s all Pinot Noir, although if you like the details there are three IMG_1965clones in here, dominated by the Swan clone at 95%. The wine is aged in 50% new oak. The final product carries 14.7% alcohol, so this is no lightweight. 110 cases produced and we have bottle #575. Our impressions:

This was a Gold medal winner in San Francisco, and we can see why. The wine is a darker red/purple, with a nose of red and black fruit, with black cherry noticeable. There are floral notes as well. On the palate the wine is rich, but the acid keeps it clean and fresh and the tannins are actually a bit brisk. Leave it in the glass for a few minutes and it opens and gains a bit in complexity. The finish is long. Delicious Pinot Noir here. $59 and top notch juice.

2011 Seamus Atwood Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – made with grapes from the Atwood Ranch Vineyard in Sonoma County, a 20 acre estate in one of the first bonded wineries in Sonoma Valley. The wine see 24 months in French oak, a combination of IMG_196850% new barrels and the remainder a mix of once used and neutral. An important point is that the maceration period was very long, extended to ten weeks. 78 Cases produced, and we have bottle #757 of 936. What did we think?

The wine is dark purple red and has a pretty explosive nose with rich currant aromas and an herbal quality that reminds me of sage. When you take a sip it starts luxuriously, with mouth coating fruit flavors. Unfortunately the lean 2011 vintage on the North Coast starts to undermine it a bit in the mid-palate, and it fades somewhat into the finish. It’s a good wine certainly, just not what you would expect for an $88 Sonoma Cab. It’s not alone in 2011. Good but not great here. It did win bronze in San Francisco.

2012 Seamus Atwood Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – essentially the same wine as above, although the blend is a little different. Here it is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Once again from the Atwood Ranch Vineyard. 78 IMG_1967cases produced, and we have bottle #907 of 960. Let’s see how it compares to its older brother:

All we can say is “WOW”. This is decadent. It’s downright hedonistic. We love it. A lot.

It’s very dark purpley red in color and carries a nose of currants and cherries. Very rich on the nose and equally so on the palate, this wine has an unbelievable chocolate/mocha flavor which runs with the fruit. That said, both that mocha thing and the fruit come through pure and clean. It’s full bodied and really long. Nice acid keeps the balance. After a few sips we opened a box of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and starting alternating between them and the wine. It was heaven. This is truly great. $88. I’m not sure this is being released yet and we might have got it by accident. Lucky us. Keep an eye out.

I know we just put out our list of the Top 25 Wines of 2015 (you can see that by clicking here),  but I’m already penciling this one in for the Top 25 in 2016 list. It’s incredible and worth every bit of the $88, and we don’t say that very often. Wow!

So there you have it. Overall this is a pretty outstanding group of wines, and it is clear Jim Jr. knows what he is doing and where he wants to go with his style. Some of the approaches are a bit off the current trends, and we think that is great. These are not very inexpensive wines, but they are very good and in many cases excellent wines. You should try some if you have the chance.

We’re looking forward to much more from the Foleys. We’re also keeping an eye out for that 2012 Reserve Cabernet. Our cellar needs at least one.  I’d say one case but it is $88 after all.

A votre santé!

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