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A generous bottle of 2013 Sineann, Abondante, Columbia Valley

March 2, 2017 1 comment

I often spot the wines of Sineann in Seattle but until recently, never in Washington, DC.  The 2013 Sineann, Abondante, Columbia Valley is a Bordeaux blend with a dose of Zinfandel thrown in.  This is a forward, generous wine with a flavor profile you might find hard to place your finger on.  The Pacific Northwest can readily produce these hearty, juicy blends for everyday drinking.  Priced at $18 this is a good opportunity to try this Oregon producer’s non Pinot Noir wine.  It is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Sineann, Abondante, Columbia Valley – $18
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.  Alcohol 14.8%.  This is a forward wine with an unusual fruit profile.  It is a little puckering with both black fruit and a mixture of ripe, powdery berries, only to become black fruited by the end.  It has fine grained tannins.  ** Now – 2020.

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Wines with Thanksgiving Leftovers

November 28, 2016 Leave a comment

leftovers

Lou brought a trio of bottles over to go with Thanksgiving leftovers.  Coupled with a magnum of Bandol we tasted through some diverse wines.  The 1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is from a moderate vintage and provides enough interest for a small glass.  The wine tastes as if the fruit were not quite ripe when picked.  Despite that criticism, the wine itself is chugging along and in no way decrepit.  From a much better vintage the 2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico looks significantly younger than its age.  It is full of color and dark red fruit delivered with some bright acidity.  While it is not particularly complex, it is in fine shape and made for solid drinking.  The magnum of 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol proved to be my favorite wine of the night.  It is a touch soft at first then opens up to plenty of clean, maturing flavors with an attractive mineral streak.  It even seemed racy for a bit. There is no mistaking the 2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes for any other grape.  The aromas and flavors work in that lifted greenhouse or vegetal quality to good effect.  Actually, the wine is surprisingly packed with flavor.

1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13.5%.  More stemmy flavors the fruit at this point but the lifted fruit is still there in the form of bright, dry red fruit.  It tastes a bit short of ripe fruit.  With enough interest for a small glass it is more remarkable for holding up this long.  * Now.

2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico
Imported by Paterno Wines International.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Surprisingly dark but on closer inspection there is a garnet hint on the edge.  In the mouth are dark red fruit flavors, polished wood, and unfortunately a touch of heat in the end.  The flavors are dry with a generally bright outlook.  There is even some structure.  Overall this is a very solid wine that is simply not too complex.  ** Now – 2018.

2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol en magnum
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 85% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, and 5% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  It is subtle for just a bit before the flavors accelerate through the mouth with a racy, mineral quality.  *** Now – 2018.

2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%.  Fairly attractive nose of red and blue fruit marked by lifted greenhouse aromas.  The flavors bear the same vegetal hint but it works well with the fruit.  There is quite a bit of stuffing and freshness to make this enjoyable.  ** Now – 2017.

Four Northwest Wines from Jørgensen, ORR, Savage Grace, and Southard

June 28, 2016 2 comments

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If there is one wine store in Seattle that I make sure to visit then it is Pike & Western Wine Shop.  During my most recent trip I asked Michael Teer for several recommendations.  Of the Northwest quartet of wines, the 2015 Savage Grace, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills is my favorite.  This is a lively wine with bright red fruit and no sense of greenness.  It is a fun wine to drink now but I suggest you let this age through the winter so that it will open up.  Combining both character and value is the 2013 Southard Winery, Syrah, Columbia Valley.  With air the grapey flavors become more floral and take on hints of smoke.  The final two wines will benefit from some age.  Drunk over a week, the 2015 ORR, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley shows a respectable amount of tropical, floral, and nut flavors to be an elegant wine leaning towards the ripe side.  The 2014 Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Malbec, Crater Lake Vineyard, Rogue Valley is from Oregon.  It is a tense and focused wine best left in the cellar.

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2015 ORR, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.9%.  Though very pale in the color, the nose is rounded with aromas of slightly tropical white flowers.  The offers a taut start with vibrant acidity moving through similar flavors.  There are hints of nuts matching the tropical, floral, white fruit.  It shows some lifted and controlled ripeness.  It will benefit from a year in the cellar.  **(*) 2017 – 2020.

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2014 Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Malbec, Crater Lake Vineyard, Rogue Valley – $32
Alcohol 14.34%.  The nose is slightly black and floral.  The flavors begin with tart red fruit moving into a citric and black middle and a tangy finish.  The structure eventually comes out with a moderate amount of focused tannins.  There is more of an acidity driven wine that comes out as tension.  It certainly has a future potential. **(*) Now – 2020.

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2015 Savage Grace, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills – $27
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 5 months in neutral oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This lively wine has a slightly electric start of brighter, red fruit.  A fuzzy ripeness builds as an underlying inky spine becomes apparent.  There are no green nor black pepper flavors.  It is all bright red fruit, with subtle, bright red berry ripeness in the finish.  With good acidity and fine texture, this is a fine wine.  I would only age to let it open up.  *** Now – 2018.

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2013 Southard Winery, Syrah, Columbia Valley – $18
Alcohol 14%.  There are some flavors of dark, red fruit, a touch of tang, and a ripe haze.  There is plenty of watering acidity which matches the grapey hints.  With extended air the wine develops a smokey start and becomes more floral. **(*) Now – 2020.

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Maryland’s Way: A dinner based on historic recipes

As follow up to our recent Picayune Creole Cook Book dinner, our second wine cookery dinner shifted focus north to Maryland.  For this dinner Sudip and I were joined in the kitchen by Lou.  Lou was raised in Maryland which imparted a strong affinity for the foods of the Chesapeake Bay as compared to my Virginia upbringing which involved more southern food.  Lou suggested we cook from the Maryland’s Way cookbook

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This fantastic mid-century cookbook is in fact a collection of historic Maryland receipts dating back to 1634.  The receipts were gathered and published by The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis.  This house was built in 1774 and today operates as a museum.  Lou’s parents cooked from this book when he was young and today he possesses that very same copy, complete with a few old recipes stuck between the pages.

Lou texted a pictures from the book including an entry from an old house book, “it is usual to have terrapin, canvasback ducks, or game” and an 19th century extract regarding a dinner of the Ancient South River Club, “A fine lamb…Several dozen crabs must be caught…must have asparagus…potatoes and peas…I shall bring boiled ham, and a fine piece of beef.”  Sudip and I were hooked, immediately ordering our used copies of the book.  The book has many chapters ranging from Chesapeake Bay Fish, Diamond Back Terrapin, to Vegetables, and Fragrances and Seasonings.  There are even copies of old letters and menus.  All of this first fascinated Lou as a child and will fascinate anyone interested in the history of Maryland cooking.

The first order of business involved picking our menu.  In all honesty, the recipes sounded far more interesting than what is in the Picayune Creole Cook Book.  That, of course, is a more test-kitchen product whereas Maryland’s Way is a collection of family recipes each with their own language and method of conveying ingredients and direction.  One hundred years ago we certainly would have started with Maryland terrapin and Madeira.  In our case we managed to involve oysters, crab, rock fish, and ham.  There are many recipes for biscuits and rolls.  I was intrigued by the Maryland Beaten Biscuits but this involves hitting the dough with the flat of an axe for at least 30 minutes.  For formal company the recipe suggested 45 minutes of beating!  When it came to the vegetable side dishes we had a hard time focusing.  So many of the recipes caught our appetite so we focused in on onion pie, parsnips, beets, and sweet potatoes, many of the ingredients came from local markets.

Rockfish stuffed with crab

Rockfish stuffed with crab

The routine we are settling into involves the prepping of the ingredients in our individual kitchens then gathering at our house late afternoon.  We start with some drinks and cheese then cooked the dinner with which we drink other bottles of wine.  Lou and I picked the wines together.  Champagne was a requirement given the food, as was a few whites to go with the rockfish, one from Maryland and one from France.  With the ham we opened a pair of Maryland wines from Black Ankle.  I like to see some older bottles opened so we tucked into a pair of 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon before the fray of cooking.  Lou included a surprise bottle which he served with the ham.

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We started the afternoon outside on the deck eating goat cheese and drinking the 2002 Rare Wine Company, Les Mesnil, “Cuvee Sans Malolactique” Blanc de Blancs Champagne en magnum.  This only got better and better with air.  I would say it took at least three hours to open up to reveal the right about of white and yellow fruit, fine yet firm bubbles, and a mousse that was matched by the weight of the fruit.  A pleasure to drink now but I highly recommend letting this age another five years before trying again.

The rest of the Champagne was required for the start of our dinner so we switched to a pair of old Dry Creek Vineyard wines.   Dry Creek Vineyard was opened in 1973 by David Stare, representing the first new winery in the area since Repeal.  When David Stare presented a tasting of all his Cabernet Sauvignons vintages in 1980, from 1973 through 1979, it was the 1977 Vintner’s Selection that was the top wine.  David Stare stated it was “a little more complex with a big future.”  The Vintner’s Selection blends were in the range of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.  The fruit was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks then aged in small oak barrels.  The 1977 vintage in California was the second in a row to experience drought conditions.  According to the Underground Wine Letter the “crop was not nearly as affected” as with the previous vintage.

Both of our bottles had fills of bottom-neck or higher.  The cork of the regular bottling came out easy with staining higher up the sides whereas the cork of the Vintner’s Selection was firmly seated with staining only at the business end.  Both bottles were in fine shape and drank well over the course of four hours.  I really liked the deep fruity aromas and flavors of the 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County but it was the 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County bottling that improved with air.  This bottle is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot that was aged in French and American oak.  According to the back label this should have been consumed by 1985.  Thankfully it was not for it was the first wine we finished, no doubt due to the remarkable liveliness.

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1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.1%.  The nose is higher toned with red fruit and a smoke hint.  In the mouth, this old school wine, has bright red fruit that mixes well with greenhouse notes.  The wine maintained a tart grip, with lively acidity, and over the course of several hours the fruit fleshed out.  Endless energy which draws you back for more.  **** Now but will last.

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1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.0%.  The nose is deeper and darker with animale notes.  In the mouth is deep, old perfumed red fruit, a tart middle, and good acidity.  There is plenty of fruit presence and even an inky, lipstick hint.  It becomes a bit unknit in the finish where the structure shows.  *** Now but will last.

Once the final cooking begins it becomes hard to take the time to jot down tasting notes. The following come from memory and a few words scribbled away.  The 2014 Basignani, Seyval, Montbray Vineyard had a very interesting nose but was rather devoid of flavor and quite short in the mouth.  It took three days for the 2009 Domaine de La Bongran, Cuvee E.J. Thevent, Vire Clesse to fully open up.  The nose mixed yeasty stones whereas in the mouth were complex, round flavors of cream and dried floral fruit.  Neat stuff.

The Black Ankle wines were very solid, slowly maturing, and in no way mistakable for a wine from Virginia.  The 2006 Black Ankle Vineyards, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  I would say age has softened the edges rather than add significant bottle age complexity.  The 2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County offered most of its flavor in the finish where it mixed grapey flavors, sweet oak, bacon fat, and smoke.  The 2004 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley stepped this up one notch by offering rich and filling Pinot Noir flavors unmistakably from the west coast.  It even had some pleasing complexity from age.  So in the end, not quite my style but enjoyable.

Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Farm, Monocacy Silver cheese
Fire Fly Farms, Mary Goat Round cheese
Grilled bread

1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County
***

Oyster Stew

2002 RWC, Les Mesnil, “Cuvee Sans Malolactique” Blanc de Blancs Champagne en magnum
***
Rock Fish stuffed with Crab

2014 Basignani, Seyval, Montbray Vineyard
2009 Domaine de La Bongran, Cuvee E.J. Thevent, Vire Clesse
***
Miss Fanny Chase’s Spiced Ham
Onion Pie
Parsnip Cakes
Spiced Beets
Sweet Potato Pone

2006 Black Ankle Vineyards, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County
2004 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
***
Berry Pudding with Foaming Sauce

It was a fun evening with interesting wines and rather tasty food.  I am not a food historian but I must remark that most of our dishes had mace in them.  From what I gather this has less to do with Maryland specifically, rather it is the Colonial basis for some of these recipes.  That was a time when nutmeg and mace were commonly imported.

A casual tasting from a 1975 Spanna to a 2012 Favorita

A last minute offering to host some friends at the house resulted in four of us tasting through some excellent wines.  With a little bit of back and forth Lou, David, and Bill settled down in my living room with variety as our theme.  We began with a Piedmontese white wine which is something I have never tried before.  The 2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi is made from Favorita which is a relative of Vermentino.  Tim (MacArthur Beverages) pointed this wine out to me and I am glad he did.  I was surprised by the floral aromas and even more so by the waxy, sweet lemon fruit, and substantial mouth feel.  It turns out the grapes are harvested ten days after maximum ripeness so as step everything up.  There were comparisons to Loire Chenin Blanc so if this sounds remotely interesting then you must grab a few bottles.

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I kicked off the red wines by serving the 1975 Antonio Vallana, Gattinara in a paper bag.  I had double-decanted the bottle two hours prior.  Both then and during the tasting I arrested by the amount of sweet fruit and freshness of the flavors.  Indeed, many guesses settled towards Bordeaux from the 1989 or 1990 vintages.  This wine reflected its outstanding provenance as you would expect from a Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Company) selection.  While it comes across as fresh it has complexity from age.  Spanna is the local name for Nebbiolo.  If you have any interest in Barolo or Barbaresco then this wine must be on your list of bottles to try.

We moved onto younger wines.  The first bottle of 1998 Contratto, Solus Ad, Barbera D’Asti was recently brought back from Rome by Lou. Popped and poured, this bottle offered up coffee infused aromas and flavors.  Its heft was balanced by a certain roundness making it a solid, aged Barbera.  The 2001 Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino continued to offer deep, dark fruit flavors that were an easy match for the substantial structure.  At 15 years of age, I found it hard to resist this bottle since the harshness of youth is all gone.  It will continue to develop.  I want to try more Brunello.

We then moved to the Rhone in the form of another brown-bagged wine.  The fruit in the mouth was substantial, which gave me some doubt as to the origins, but I think we all pinned the floral aromas as being from a Syrah and Viognier blend from the Northern Rhone.  There were even guesses as to Cote Rotie but no one got the vintage correct.  The wine turned out to be the 2003 Duclaux, Cote Rotie.  David picked it in response to a 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape tasting where none of the wines were found to be overripe.  The 2003 vintage was very hot and has its critics.  This bottle of Cote Rotie exhibited the vintage by dialing up the fruit a notch (or two!) without losing any characteristics of the varieties and region.

This was the last good wine we tried.  The bottle of 2007 Bastide St Dominique, Les Hesperides, Chateauneuf du Pape was “troubling” with a consensus that it was heat damaged.  I returned with a brown-bagged 2003 Archery Summit, Pinot Noir, Arcus Estate, Willamette Valley.  David had mentioned the Archery Summit, Arcus in a winter time conversation so I thought this would match with his 2003 theme.  Let’s just say the guesses leaned towards Spanish Grenache.  This massive wine bore no resemblance to Pinot Noir.  While it was not an off bottle, no one drank it.  Why bother when there were so many good wines to return to?

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2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi – $25
Imported by The Sorting Table.  This wine is 100% Favorita.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose attracted with heavy floral aromas which were rather sexy.  In the mouth the flavors were waxy with sweet fruit and lemons.  There is acidity in the start with some chalk in the finish and an aftertaste that left ripe texture on the gums.  If it is a little expansive in the middle then it reigns it in by the finish.  *** Now.

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1975 Antonio Vallana, Gattinara
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12%.  Bottom-neck fill.  There is a little funk and animale on the complex nose which reminds me of some 1960s Californian wines.  In the mouth there is still sweet fruit, lovely acidity, and a impeccable quality of freshness.  The wine is still structured leaving fine grip on the gums. The fruit mixes with floral notes before taking on a hint of tartness.  **** Now but will last for ages.

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1998 Contratto, Solus AD, Barbera D’Asti
Imported in a suitcase.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose evoked coffee and shoyu.  In the mouth the flavors continued with coffee infused dark fruit.  The wine was rounded with some density but did not overreach into sexiness.  There is a roast note to the fruit, good acidity, and fine, drying tannins in the finish. *** Now – 2021.

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2001 Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by Wine Cellars Ltd.  Alcohol 14%.  The deep dark fruit is never ending which acts as a counterpoint to the substantial amount of tannins.  As substantial as the wine is, the acidity is bound in allowing the fruitiness to be enjoyed.  With additional air it takes on hints of wood.  This is still young and will continue to develop for several more years.  **** Now – 2026.

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2003 Duclaux, Cote Rotie
Imported by Chateau & Estate.  This wine is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier which were co-fermented in concrete vats then aged for roughly two years in a variety of oak casks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is meaty with some maturity and a floral aspect pointing to Viognier.  There is a substantial amount of fruit in the mouth with a lot of drying tannins.  This mouth filling wine is slightly sexy.  If the fruit is almost effusive at the start it takes on tart red and black notes which balance everything out.  A pleasure to drink but will persist.  ***(*) Now – 2021.

 

A 2005 Patricia Green dump bin duo

My latest culling from the dump bin includes this pair of Patricia Green Pinot Noir from the 2005 vintage.  I have had some very tasty mature Oregon Pinot Noir so I will try nearly anything I can find.  This somewhat difficult vintage seems to have produced solid enough wines.   The 2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Anden Vineyard, Polk County is clearly the best of the pair.  There is still lively fruit, a sense of maturity, and an appropriate amount of the structure.  It is best to drink it in one night.  On the other hand the 2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Whistling Ridge Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley flavors were quite advanced for the prominent structure.  Perhaps it is best drunk with grilled food.  I would not go out of my way to find the 2005 Anden but at $20 it is certainly worth picking up a bottle if you are so presented.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Anden Vineyard, Polk County – $20
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is attractive with maturing, North-West Pinot Noir aromas.  There is very lively fruit from the acidity.  The cherry flavors are backed by some wood structure which is very much present as dry tannins left on the gums.  The wine has a citrus hint but remains very much about the fruit throughout.  With air the flavors are noticeably dry, showing both more maturity and more cherry.  Best on the first night.  *** Now but will last.

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2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Whistling Ridge Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley – $20
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is more advanced with old fruit and old wood.  There is a more robust start with tannins immediately present.  There is a cola-like note then watering acidity followed by a citric and rougher finish.  The wine is drier with older tasting fruit flavors.  With air there are more dried herb flavors and the wine softens up a touch but the tannic finish remains.  ** Now – 2020.

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“Sturdy and Deep-Flavored”: Wines from our Thanksgiving weekend

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

For the past several years I have taken the effort to drink American wine for the Thanksgiving holiday.  While I largely kept to that theme this year, I did kick things off with a bottle of Spanish Cava.  I did so because the earliest Thanksgiving memories of my mother are from Spain.  She spent her childhood in Zaragoza where the family was sure to celebrate Thanksgiving.  They used imported American ingredients to prepare the classic dishes of turkey with gravy, potatoes, green beans, and of course, many, many pies.  They did, however, drink Spanish wine with their meal.  Our Spanish bottle of 2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva took several hours to open up.  While it does require a few more years in the cellar, it eventually revealed attractive hard cherry flavors with just the right amount of texture.

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2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. This wine is a blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Monastrell. Alcohol 12%.  After a few hours of air, the firm but quickly dissipating bubble made way to dry flavors of hard cherry and cola.  Quite different and certainly rather in need of age, things wrapped up with a textured finish and just a hint of yeast.  **(*) 2018-2025.

I tend to rely on red wine for Thanksgiving and this weekend I tasted through some mature reds.  Lou and I picked up a number of bottles from the Earthquake Cellar which was recently sold off by BP Wine.  The NV Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties bears no date but the fact that this magnum is in a 2/5 gallon bottle dates the wine to the 1970s at the latest.  I personally believe the wine is from the 1960s for several reasons which places it during a period of fascinating change as detailed in History of Sebastiani Vineyards, 1955-Present.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Sebastiani was a bulk wine operation that produced wine solely for other labels.  Some 90% of this wine was dessert wine such as port, sherry, muscatel, and tokay.  By the early 1970s the transition to selling table wine bottled under the Sebastiani name was completed.  The bulk operation was no more.

The impetus for change developed in the mid 1950s under the control of August Sebastiani.  At the time, the Allied Grape Growers/Petri Group were going to start bottling their own wine at facilities throughout the country.  Gallo, in response, decided to bottle their wine in lightweight bottles so they could ship it across the country.  These two actions put direct competition on Sebastiani which had no choice but to change.  There is also the story that August Sebastiani’s wife Sylvia tasted a “really, really, really good cream sherry” which turned out to be a wine produced by Sebastiani for another label.  Why not bottle such good wine under their own name?

The Sebastiani brand was developed in the 1950s and a very basic bottling machine known as a Fillabelmatic was purchased.  However, the transition away from bulk wine production did not begin in earnest until around 1960.  Throughout the 1960s dessert wines were still produced but various tiers of wines were developed including table and varietal wines.  The varietal wines were not only bottled in 4/5 quart bottles but also in half gallon bottles and apparently magnum bottles.

Our particular bottle of Sebastiani wine clearly predates the conversion to metric wine bottles.  This requirement was passed in 1977 and went into effect in 1979. The basic Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon label from our bottle was used during the 1960s and 1970s.  Bearing the common theme of “Sturdy and Deep-Flavored” this label was used for both non-vintage and vintages wines.  Vintages wines such as 1963 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 9, 1968 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1970 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve all list “North Coast Counties” with a winery location of “Sonoma Valley, California”.  The 1972 Mountain Burgundy, 1973 Barbera, and 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve that was bottled in 1979, all bear “Northern California” as well as the zip code 95476.  This suggests that the non-vintage blend could be from the period of 1963 through 1971.

The cork was solid and the wine itself in sturdy enough shape that it drank fine over three evenings.  It was rather stinky and animale at first but it did clean up.  The fruit was sweet with rounded flavors and no hint of French or American oak.  Instead this time-machine of a wine transported us back to the days of redwood.  The images it conjured might have outpaced the quality of the wine but it was enough to last a glass or two.

As for the other wines, the 1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley slowly responded to air over the course of an evening.  With cherry and wood box flavors it only gave the slightest hint it would not develop any further.  By contrast the 1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley was forward on the nose and in the mouth with plenty of fruit and glycerin.  While clearly modern, it was not a bad drink at all, and in surprisingly strong shape.  The 1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape was in great shape, offering everything you could want from a somewhat rustic Rhone wine which has not yet hit full maturity.

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NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties (2/5 gallon)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was quite earthy at first with animal fur aromas.  Over time the stink faded off to reveal sweet fruit and wood box flavors in the mouth.  The wine softened a touch revealing rounded flavors and gentle old wood that lasted over the next few days.  ** Now but will last for many years.

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1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed gentle aromas of earth, cherry, and tobacco.  In the mouth the firm cherry flavors matched the polished wood notes.  This slightly savory wine still sported a rather fine structure.  The flavors thinned out some by the finish where there were some cola-like flavors, watering acidity, and roasted earth.  *** Now but will last.

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1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine was immediately aromatic with round fruit and wood box.  In the mouth the flavors were forward with round black fruit that was almost thick with glycerin.  With air this modern wine showed more minerals, blackness, and some nearly resolved tannins.  ** Now – 2020.

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1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a good core of red and black fruit and a pleasing amount of structure that leant towards the not quite rustic personality.  Clearly a good wine in shape for continued development.  *** Now -2022.

There was also a pair of dessert wines.  From the lightest of a group, the bottle of 1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes was youthful, fresh, and rather unevolved which meant it did not tire the palate at all.  A brief taste of the 2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland already reveals an interesting amount of complexity.  It is noticeably richer and thicker so think of it more as a sipping wine to wrap things up.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes
Imported by Luke’s Distribution Co.  Alcohol 14%.  In fine condition, this wine brighter, floral and yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the youthful, floral and orange citrus accented fruit has an appealing level of viscosity.  The level of acidity keeps things fresh and slightly watering through the saline marked finish.  I would cellar this further.   *** Now – 2035.

Tday7

2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Riesling that was fermented and aged in oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Already a deep color , aromas of petrol with both fresh and dried apricots step out of the glass. With air hints of black tea develop.  In the mouth, this is a thick wine with viscosity that is noticeable in the finish and aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2035.