Here are four Californian wines that Jenn and I drunk during May 2008. We rather enjoyed the Steven Kent Chardonnay and found the 20 months of barrel aging did not make this an oak bomb. The Neyers Mourvedre made us happy, the Tudal Cab was quick to be drunk, and the Blackburn had us on the fence.
2005 Steven Kent, Chardonnay, Merrillie, Livermore Valley – $24
This is 100% Wente-clone chardonnay that was aged for 20 months in 70% new American & French oak barrels and 30% used. It is a very light, golden straw color. On the nose there were aromas of apples, some toasty oak, and creaminess. In the mouth there were round, soft apple/citrus type of fruit. There is focused acidity that gives way to a slightly flinty, toasty finish. The wine got better with warmth and was quite enjoyable on the second day. Jenn and I enjoyed this wine and would recommend it.
2006 Neyers, Mourvedre, Pato Ranch, Contra Costa Valley – $28
Tom Hill recently reviewed this but I only just bought a bottle this week based on a recommendation. This is 100% Mourvedre from 100+ year old vines. The light nose revealed blue fruits. In the mouth there were blue fruits, minerals, and some earth in this dense wine. It was balanced by the acidity and finely proportioned tannins that give way to a long dark aftertaste. The wine is slow to open so decant for a few hours, otherwise it could benefit by some age.
2004 Blackburn Winery, Proulx, Lux, Paso Robles, $22
This is a 52% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 16% Syrah. 6% Zinfandel, and 4% Petite-Sirah blend. A medium ruby with slight reddish-brown tones. A light nose of red fruit that is ripe and tart. In the mouth there is dusty fruit at first that turns to purer red and blue fruits with supporting acidity. There are light tannins in the finish. This wine had a slight funk to it that blew off.
2004 Tudal Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Clift Vineyard, Oak Knolls District, Napa Valley – $25
This is a fairly low production wine of less than 200 cases. A light nose of chocolate and blue fruits. In the mouth there is brighter red/blue fruits that comes across as perfumed. This medium-bodied wine has low-level, fine tannins with prominent acidity. The somewhat short finish yields to a pleasing, simple aftertaste. A tasty, more elegant style for drinking now.
I drank a lot of Australian wine a year or so ago but much less this year. It could be that I found the 2004s to drink well on release and prefer my 2005 and 2006s with some age. I only had one Maxwell wine before, the 2004 Ellen Street Shiraz which my wife and I really liked so I was eager to try the Silver Hammer. The Winner’s Tank Velvet Sledgehammer was mentioned in the Garagiste thread but I thought I’d include my note; it is tasty but more loose and flamboyant. The Rosabrook was reviewed on the board a year ago and is still drinking well. I drank one earlier this year at the normal price then bought a few more at MacArthur’s Aussie sale. In order of preference: Rosabrook, Maxwell, Winner’s Tank.
2005 Maxwell, Silver Hammer, Shiraz, McLaren Vale – ~$30
This is the inaugural vintage of the Silver Hammer. The medium-dark color is red with purple. There are blue fruits on the light, young nose. In the mouth there are blue and dark fruits and a bit of minerals. There is ripeness and roundness to the fruit, but it comes across as balanced. There are very fine tannins in the aftertaste. It is drinkable now but I’d give it a few more years in the cellar. As a point of reference, I drank this alongside the 2006 De Lisio, Quarterback. The Quarterback came across as having more blue/red fruit, a bit sour in tilt, and less definition.
2006 Winner’s Tank, Velvet Sledgehammer, Langhorne Creek – $20-$25?
This too is the first vintage of the Velvet Sledgehammer. It is aged in 35% new French barriques for 16 months. It comes from specific parcels within the same vineyard used for the regular Shiraz. It is a rather opaque ruby-purple color. There is a light nose of roast, red berries, and raspberry. There is immediate, rich, mouthful of flavors that echo the nose. The wine is not quite creamy but rather a softness that picks up ultra-fine tannins. I think it is preferable to wait a few years on this one.
1998 Rosabrook Estate, Abattoir Block, Shiraz, Margaret River – $32
A medium-opaque garnet in the glass. A fresh nose of wooden box and red fruit. In the mouth there are immediate, round, mouthfilling mature/earthy flavors with some mintiness. There is good acidity, and a fine, thorough finish that is still tannic. This wine is tasty, easy to drink (I sucked down the bottle), and has life left in it.
These three wines are a bit different from what I normally drink so I grouped them together. To some degree I enjoyed all three wines but then I don’t know what to expect. At $37 and $28 per bottle I probably would not buy these two Italian wines again…I’d rather drink the 2006 Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling “Quarzit”! At $15 the Casa Castillo is worth trying but don’t stock up on it for fear of all tannins and no fruit.
1996 Rocche dei Manzoni, Varo dei Manzoni, Monforte d’Alba – $37
This is a chocolate-ruby wine of medium opacity. There is a light, maturing nose of cedar and sour cherry. This light to medium bodied wine has flavors of bitter, dark cherries supported by mild acidity. There are very mild tannins on the tip of the tongue.
2001 Rizzi, Riserva, Barbaresco – $28
This 100% Nebbiolo wine is aged 18-24 months in Slovenian oak casks. A light garnet-brown color. There are sweet spices on the nose, cinnamon, with a touch of tobacco and oak. The spices repeat in the mouth with tad bit of sweet fruit. A dark tea flavor develops with air. This is a light-to-medium bodied wine that is tart with acidity that provides a mouth-watering finish. The ultra-fine tannins thoroughly coat the mouth.
1998 Casa Castillo, Las Gravas, Jumilla – $15
This is a blend of 60% Monastrell and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in Allier oak for 12 months. It still has a youthful dark color. The nose has aromas of dark fruits, minerals, and develops a briary aroma with air. In the mouth there are dark fruits and strong tannins that will outlast the fruit.