Posts Tagged ‘Santa Rita Hills’

A tasting with Lou: Sandlands, Sanguis, Soumade and more

November 3, 2019 Leave a comment

Lou and I gathered quite a while ago to drink some randomly selected wines.  A new wine for me is the NV Phillippe Tessier, Phil’en Bulle.  It is a little sweet for me so perhaps better with dessert.  Of particular note is the white wine 2017 Linne Calodo, Contrarian, Paso Robles.  I should also note the very young 2016 Domaine la Soumade, Cuvee Prestige, Rasteau which, with several years of age, will become a very good wine.  2017 Sandlands Vineyards, Red Table Wine, Contra Costa County is a young wine for drinking now.  A solid bottle of 1989 Raymond Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, Napa Valley delivered surprise and pleasure.  A pair of Sanguis offered a fun comparison even if they should have been drunk up a few years ago. The 2011 Sanguis, 11-A, John Bastiano is very clean, chalky, and full of verve.  For a brief bit, I preferred the luxury of the 2011 Sanguis, 11-B, Bienacido but it sadly cracked up after a short period.

NV Phillippe Tessier, Phil’en Bulle, Loire
A Zev Rovine Selection imported by Fruit of the Vine. Alcohol 12.5%. A slightly hazy, light straw yellow. Very fine and strong bubbles carry the ripe, sweetish start. Some yeast the short finish.  **(*) Now.

2017 Linne Calodo, Contrarian, Paso Robles
This is a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Picpoul Blanc, and 20% Viognier. Alcohol 13.7%. Refreshing with good acidity white nuts and expansive flavor. A core of tropical fruit remains but the gum, coating texture adds presence. Notes of pastilles in the finish. **** Now – 2022.

2011 Sanguis, 11-A, John Bastiano, Santa Rita  Hills
Alcohol 14%. A very light color with a green tinge. A little toast on the nose eventually blows off. Tart with some berry toast. Clean with chalk and yellow fruit. Plenty of verve. ** Now.

2011 Sanguis, 11-B, Bien Nacido, Santa Maria Valley
Alcohol 14.8%. A touch more fruit and weight, oily in the middle with a steely finish. Racy with good balance, it has some toast flavors. With air it begins to crack up revealing acidity and heat.  *** at best but Past Prime.

2017 Sandlands Vineyards, Red Table Wine, Contra Costa County
A blend of Carignan and Mataro. Alcohol 12.9% Grapey with cranberry flavor and chalky tannins. Tart with crunchy acidity this sports an interesting mineral, fruit blend.  *** Now – 2022.

2016 Domaine la Soumade, Cuvee Prestige, Rasteau
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14.5%. A grapey, young color and tight, grapey nose. Tight in the mouth but there is a lovely vein of fruit through the linear structure. Beautiful fat from the ripeness, it is powerful, building flavor. ***(*) 2024-2034.

1989 Raymond Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, Napa Valley
Mature with Eucalyptus. Some firmness in the mouth but the Cab flavor comes out. In fresh shape this is a tasty wine with focused, ripe fruit, some dry wood notes, and structure in the end. *** Now.

Liquid Farm to my table

Just a quick post as I continue to spend the end of summer on vacation.  Thanks to Andy at MacArthur Beverages I picked up a bottle of 2015 Liquid Farm, Chardonnay, White Hill, Santa Rita Hills.  This is a refreshing Chardonnay best consumed in one night.  I particularly like the texture and crisp acidity which precedes the surprisingly chalky middle.  It is certainly worth securing a bottle.

2015 Liquid Farm, Chardonnay, White Hill, Santa Rita Hills – $37
Alcohol 13%.  The very light straw color leads to toasty fruit aromas.  The finely textured flavors ride crisp acidity which brings toast-accented white fruit.  There is an attractive chalky middle which turns dry by the finish.  ***(*) Now – 2019.

Cinsault and Pinot Noir from California

November 9, 2016 Leave a comment

We recently went through a few bottles of the 2014 Birichino, Cinsault Old Vines, Brechthold Vineyards,  Mokelumne River, Lodi.  Last tasted nearly a year ago I think it is time to start drinking up any of your remaining stocks.  From Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman the 2014 Lompoc Wine Co, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills manages to be a lighter wine with lower alcohol and avoid any unripe, yeasty character.  I rather enjoyed the flavor and the price.  My only gripe is the short finish.  Worth trying though.  The Birichino is from Weygant Wines and the Lompoc from MacArthur Beverages.



2014 Birichino, Cinsault Old Vines, Brechthold Vineyards,  Mokelumne River, Lodi – $24
This wine is 100% Cinsault sourced from vines planted in 1886.    Alcohol 13%.  After one hour of air there are aromas of powdery, light red strawberry.  There are similar flavors in the mouth of candied, cherry, strawberry in this smooth yet very finely textured wine.  This bright red fruited wine is quite nice and while lighter towards the finish the fruit leaves an impression of weight.  It could use just a touch more acidity. **(*) Now – 2017.



2014 Lompoc Wine Co, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – $18
Alcohol 12.5%.  There is a light nose of cinnamon and early harvest fruit.  In the mouth the wine is a touch puckering but does have powdery ripeness and ethereal strawberry flavor.  The wine expands quickly with a sense of weight but stops a bit short in the finish.  The bright entry makes way to a mineral like hint and even some grip.  **(*) Now.

The zippy 2015 Melville, Chardonnay, Clone 76 – Inox

October 12, 2016 1 comment

A few of the Californian Chardonnays that I drink on a frequent basis were raised entirely in stainless steel.  I find these wines can provide both the texture and weight that I enjoy.  The 2015 Melville, Chardonnay, Clone 76 – Inox, Santa Rita Hills is another excellent example of this type of wine.  The fruit is sourced from a 1.8 acre block of vines located on very sandy soils.  The Melville wines were originally made by Greg Brewer but after his departure last year the wines are made by Chad Melville.  This particular wine is charming once it warms up a bit.  It is zippy with weight, picking up more fruit as it progresses.  I preferred the wine on the first night rather than the second but do not be fooled, this wine will develop over the next few years.  It is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2015 Melville, Chardonnay, Clone 76 – Inox, Santa Rita Hills – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented for three months then aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks for 5 months.  Alcohol 14%.  With a rounded start, this grippy and zippy wine has nice weight to the mouth filling flavors.  The flavors move through the finish where it picks up some berry fruit, fat, and nuts.  ***(*) Now – 2021.


More Chardonnay Than I Realized

March 21, 2014 1 comment

I drink Chardonnay from California and while I have bought bottles of Kendall-Jackson, Vintners Reserve from a famous DC merchant, other wines in the $20-$30 range can offer an engaging experience.  Recently both Jenn and I have been enjoying bottle after bottle of 2012 The Ojai Vineyard, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County.  If the name Ojai sounds familiar that could be due to all the press it received as a result of the Wine Writers Symposium, check out Robert Parker Responds to Jon Bonne.  I think this wine will hit its peak towards the end of the year but right now offers up a nice blend of fruit, acidity, oak influence, and presence.  The 2012 Elizabeth Spencer, Special Cuvee, Chardonnay, Mendocino had lots of verve and remained lively for days.  It was a young wine that could use half a year in the cellar but I was attracted to the acidity and tannin combination.  I enjoy tannins in a white wine.  The 2010 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills may at first seem austere but reveals itself to be a careful combination of the savory, tang, acidity, and smoke.  More reflective than quenching but I enjoyed it.  Both Jenn and I liked the 2011 Antica, Chardonnay, Napa Valley on the first night when it had yellow fruit, salivating acidity, and stones but then it kind of fell apart the next night.  Be sure to drink it in one sitting.  The 2012 Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast had yellow tropical fruit, lively acidity, spices, and perhaps a little too much intention for my preference.  I believe there is good diversity in the wines below so try one that sounds most attractive to you.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 The Ojai Vineyard, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County – $25
Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium golden-straw with a nose of Chardonnay and some toast.  In the mouth there was controlled ripeness complemented by nice spices and texture.  With air it took on yellow, juicy fruit, and a vein of baking spices.  There was acidity on the tongue tip and increasing texture that left a persistent aftertaste.   *** Now-2017.


2012 Elizabeth Spencer, Special Cuvee, Chardonnay, Mendocino – $25
Alcohol 14.1%.  The color was a very light straw.  The nose remained subtle with tropical notes and sweet nuts (yup).  The finely textured fruit in the mouth had a core of acidity and pleasing tannins which were ripe and built on the cheeks.  It was somewhat compact to start with but over several days built some roundness to the firm white fruit.  Had lots of verve.  *** Now-2018.


2010 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills – $28
Alcohol 14.0%.  There was a little smoke to the yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the wine had some savory weight, acidity, and grip from the start.  It had tang and freshness combined with weight and an expansive aftertaste.  There was a chalky finish before the acidity hit the back of the throat and the smoke return in the aftertaste.  Deliberate.  *** Now – 2015.


2011 Antica, Chardonnay, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in 30% new French oak then aged for six months on the lees.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a light golden yellow.  The nose was fresh with yellow fruit and underlying toast.  In the mouth the fresh acidity balanced the white and yellow fruit.  The wine showed some density with salivating acidity and some stone notes.  It was best on the first night.  *** Now.


2012 Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast – $25
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, then 12-15% saw oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose bore yellow, tropical aromas that mixed with some toast.  In the mouth was a slightly textured start with a crisp start of yellow fruit that was felt on the tongue tip.  It was round in the mouth, lively on the tongue,  with ripe spices in the finish.  It ended more lush with a tropical hint to the flavors.  ** Now-2015.


2012 Melville, Chardonnay Estate, Santa Rita Hills – $26
Alcohol 14.5%.  This was the most forward with rounder, softer flavors and toast notes.  Not my style.  * Now.


The 2013 Bacchus Importers Portfolio Tasting: Individual Wineries

For the second post from the Bacchus Importers Portfolio tasting I have focused on individual wineries.  It is always a bit tricky to take any substantive notes during a portfolio tasting.  So please treat these as a general overview of what was going on.  Below you will find my notes arranged in the order I visited the winery tables.  Within that the wines are presented in the order tasted.


Brewer-Clifton and Palmina

Toby Oshiro

Toby Oshiro

Brewer-Clifton is the project of Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton who also produces Palmina.  The fruit for Palmina is sourced some several vineyards including Homea and Walker Vineyards.  The Homea Vineyard was planted with Italian varietal specifically for Steve.  Across the street is the Walker Vineyard which is owned by the Walker family but farmed by Steve.  This year’s Brew-Clifton lineup includes the Machado Pinot Noir.  This is the newest vineyard to be sourced from.  It is located on the arm coming off of the Kessler-Hawk Vineyard.  Steve and Greg took a land-lease of this 15 acres of  bare earth to plant Pinot Noir and a little Chardonnay.  The vineyard is only a couple of years old so the 2010 bottling is the first pure Machado vintage.  The Palmina wines are of strong value and I particularly liked the Dolcetto.  If I had to pick one Brewer-Clifton wine the Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills was lovely.

2010 Palmina, Arneis, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 100% Arneis sourced from the Honea Vineyard.  The nose was fresh with citrus, white fruit, and floral aromas.  The flavors were a little richer in the mouth with yellow fruit along with some orange and lemon flavors which took on weight.  There was acidity and a little drying nature at the end.

2010 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from multiple vineyards in Mount Carmel, 3-D, Gnesa, Sea Smoke, and Zotovich.  The nose was heady, yeasty, and a touch earthy.  In the mouth there were fresh apple and white fruit flavors followed by tart apple with green acidity.

2011 Palmina, Dolcetto, Santa Barbara County
The nose was pretty god with purple aromas and a little grapey, inky note.  In the mouth there was good, fresh fruit, grapey flavors of black and purple fruit, along tannins and acidity all in balance.  There were grapey tannins in the aftertaste.

2010 Palmina, Barbera, Santa Barbara County
The light nose bore dark red strawberry aromas.  In the mouth there were cranberry, pomegranate, strawberry type fruit with more acidity towards the finish and a puckering quality.  The finish brought acidity and black fruit.

2011 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from three vineyards in Mount Carmel, 3-D, and Machado.  There was a beautiful nose of red fruit, orange, and ink.  The youthful mouth follows the nose with an orange hint and serious profile. Nice.

2010 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Machado, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Machado vineyard which was planted in 2007.  The nose of youthful Pinot Fruit doesn’t have the depth of the Santa Rita Hills.  In the mouth there was bright red fruit, citrus, and a yeast note.  The flavors show some weight and depth as spices come out in the finish.  There was a grapey, young, spicy tannin touch.


Hank McCrorie

Hank McCrorie

Burly stems from Hank McCrorie’s college football nickname.  The fruit is sourced from the Simpkins Vineyard.  The 2008 vintage saw a devastating frost which destroyed two-thirds of the Cabernet Sauvignon crop.  This did not diminish the remaining one-third from making a tasty wine.

2010 Burly, Sauvignon Blanc
The nose was subtly grassy with white fruit.  In the mouth the white fruit had weight but was also lively on the tongue.  There was some creaminess, flavors of pastilles, and tannins.

2008 Burly, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The dark nose revealed earthy black fruit and some greenhouse notes.  In the mouth there was coiled up power to the red and black fruit.  The tannins and acidity were integrated.  There were chocolate notes and a good midpalate of roast and spicy notes.  This will develop but can be drunk now.

Soter Vineyards

James Cahill

James Cahill

Tony Soter is the founded of Etude Wines.  Soter Vineyards is a family winery located in Oregon.  We tasted three tiers of wine.  Planet Oregon is focused on good value, young Oregon Pinot Noir, sourced from and produced at certified sustainable properties.  The North Valley wines focused on producing fruit from vineyards located in northern Willamette Valley such as Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, and Ribbon Ridge.  Finally the Estate Wines use fruit sourced solely from the 30 acre Mineral Springs Ranch.  James Cahilll is the winemaker who previously worked at Beaux Feres and Elk Cove Vineyards.  The North Valley rose was a beautiful, captivating wine and the North Valley, Pinot Noir was very good with earth and black fruit.  The Soter, Mineral Springs Pinot Noir was a confident treat and I liked how the Proprietary Red Wine was a balance between Oregon and California (and it includes some Malbec!).

2011 North Valley, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented in 10% new French oak, 30% used French oak, and 60% stainless steel barrels.  One quarter of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 12.8%.  The tight nose bore sweet white floral fruit and some yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was tart weight to the fruit which was crisp, with lots of feel on the tongue.

2012 North Valley, Compass Cuvee, Rose, Willamette Valley
This is a blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir which was just bottled.  The nice aromatic nose revealed strawberry and raspberry aromas.  In the mouth there were acidity driven flavors of raspberry and pastilles with a drier finish.  This was very crisp with nice acidity. Nice.

2011 Planet Oregon, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  The nose was muted.  In the mouth there were acidity driven flavors with a little citrus note to the light, red fruit.  There were youthful tannins and some spice.

2011 North Valley, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented with 15% whole clusters and aged in 10% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.6%.  The nose had more depth.  In the mouth there were earth and red fruit flavors, nice.  It was weightless with a little black fruit and ink in the finish, along with very fine ripe tannins.

2010 Soter, Pinot Noir, Mineral Springs, Yamhill-Carlton District
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Mineral Springs Ranch.  The fruit is destemmed then undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged for 12-15 months in 33% new French oak.  The nose was younger but more confident.  There were red fruits in the mouth which became blacker with focused ripeness.  The tannins and acidity were subservient such that the aftertaste left an earthy note.  This should age well.

2007 Soter Vineyard, Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 2007 and 2006 vintages featuring 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Malbec.  It is Tony Soter’s last Californian wine and was produced in Oregon.  There were black fruit flavors, minerals, acidity, and a focused aspect.  The tannins were balanced as dark flavors pervade the aftertaste; drying on the lips.

Adelsheim Vineyard

Margeaux McLain

Margeaux McLain

Adelsheim Vineyards was founded by Daivd and Ginny Adelsheim in 1971.  The estate has grown from the original 15 acre vineyard at Quarter Mile Lane to 11 vineyards encompassing 190 acres.  The Elizabeth’s Reserve is a barrel selection meant to produce a wine capable of aging.  The Bryan Creek is the only single-vineyard wine aimed for the East Coast.  I thought it too would age and it would be fun to taste these two several years down the road.

2011 Adelsheim, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Gris which was gently pressed then fermented with cultured yeasts or which 15% of the wine was fermented in older neutral French oak barrels.  It did not undergo malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The nose had fresh white fruit with a  little honied note.  The flavors were white and tart in the mouth before taking on some ripeness.  The finish was drier and tart.

2011 Adelsheim, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was whole cluster pressed then 82% fermented in stainless steel tanks with 18% in neural barrels.  It did not undergo malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 13.2%.  This was crisp and focused on the nose followed by a similar mouth with powdery notes.  There was apple like acidity.

2011 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed, fermented with inoculated yeast then aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.0%.  There was a light, tight Pinot Noir nose.  In the mouth tart red fruit was on the tongue tip before turning redder with acidity and some chewy texture.  There were mouth coating tannins then a finish with blacker fruit and citrus.

2009 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Elizabeth’s Reserve, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed, fermented with inoculated yeast then aged for 10 months in 34% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.4%.  There was a good nose with some depth.  The mouth was tight with red fruit, some of it tart, a little grip, and an overall ability to age.

2010 Bryan Creek, Pinot Noir, Chehalem
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Bryan Creek Vineyard which were destemmed then underwent malolactic fermentation in 30% new French oak barrels.  There was a pure Pinot Noir nose.  There were red and black fruits, minerals, a racy aspect then black fruit and citric notes.  The acidity was cool.  This was rugged in a sense, leaving minerals and the notion it will age.

2009 Adelsheim, Syrah, Chehalem
This wine is 100% Surah sourced from several rows of Syrah next to the tasting room.  Alcohol 13.6%.  There was some black fruit then red tart fruit.  It was a little racy with structure, citric tannins, and a spicy firm finish.

Summers Estate Winery

Bob Mazzola

Bob Mazzola

Summers Estate Winery originated in 1987 when Jim Summers purchased 28 acres in Knights Valley.  This holding was expanded by 25 acres through an additional purchased in 1996.  Summers Estate produces the largest amount of Charbono in California.  Bob suggested if we could only taste one wine then to try the Charbono.  I’m glad we did.  I also liked the Zinfandel, it showed balance.

2009 Summers, Charbono
This wine is 100% Charbono which was aged for 18 months in 50% new oak of which 50% was American and 50% French.  Alcohol 13.7%.  There was a tight, inky, black nose.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with old-school flavors.  Though dense it was approachable with very fine tannins.  Neat.

2009 Summers, Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 19 moths in 60% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  There was a black, licorice nose, smells like Knights Valley.  The flavors were focused in the mouth, similar to the nose but a bit haunting.  This was young with focus and watering acidity.

2008 Summers, Zinfandel, “Four Acre Zin”
This wine is 100% Zinfandel which was aged for 16 months in 70% American and 30% French oak.  The nose was more expressive with good fruit.  The fruit was balanced in the mouth with mixed berry flavors, sweet spice, and a young, good finish.  There was some depth along with clean, strong, spicy tannins.

The Four Graces

Rebecca M. Oliver

Rebecca M. Oliver

The four Graces originated in 2003 when Steve and Paula Black purchased a 110 acre vineyard in Dundee.  The winery is named after their four daughters.   I particularly liked the Pinot Gris both on the nose and in the mouth.

2011 The Four Graces, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Gris which was whole clustered pressed then fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13.1%.  There was a pretty nose of floral, ripe fruit.  The crisp start bore flavors of floral, sweet white fruit.  It was a little chewy with sweet spices in the finish.

2011 The Four Graces, Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Point Blanc.  Alcohol 13.3%.  The nose was tight with nutty aromas and a light texture.  In the mouth the fruit was again up front with texture from the acidity then it flattened out.

2011 The Four Graces, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged for nine months in 25% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.8%.  There were aromas of toast, popcorn and roast.  In the mouth the firm black fruit flavors mixed with toast as dry, powerful tannins came up.  The finish was lighter in flavor with a very dry aftertaste.


Tom Pillsbury

Tom Pillsbury

I looked forward to tasting the wines of DuMOL again this year and I was not disappointed.  There is a step up in quality with the various bottlings with the Clare Chardonnay and Estate Pinot Noir showing the most complexity.  I should like to see how these develop over the short term.

2010 DuMOL, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Dutton Ranch, estate, Heintz, Ritchie, and Hyde vineyards.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 15 months in 40% new French oak.  There was a citrus driven nose with some toast and lees.  The flavors were rich in the mouth, expansive with yellow fruit in the finish, complexity, and some ripe notes.

2010 DuMOL, Clare, Chardonnay, Carneros
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Hyde Vineyard.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 15 months on the lees in 50% new French oak.  The nose was more complex with less lees.  The mouth was lovely with rich but assured fruit that was younger in a sense.  The tart yellow fruit balanced acidity and tartness.

2010 DuMOL, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the seven vineyards.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 11 months in 40% new French oak.  There was a good Pinot Noir nose which was expressive with black cherry aromas.  The fruit was riper in the mouth with minerals, structure, and tart red fruit with weight.  There were red citrus flavors left on the back of the tongue.

2010 DuMOL, Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the estate vineyard.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 14 months in 55% new French oak.  The nose was tight with ripe, sweet spiced aromas.  There was more specific fruit flavors in the mouth with good expansive but light in nature.  The spices mixed with young fruit, making way to a long aftertaste.

2010 DuMOL, Syrah, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from six vineyards.   The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 15 months in 35% new French oak and 2 months in tank.  The nose was tighter with sweet, blue fruit.  The flavors were lively in the mouth with black minerals, fine, strong tannins.


Lou and I Pull Some Corks

Lou and I gathered this past week to taste an uncoordinated selection of wines.  Surprisingly we both opened up 2005 Pinot Noirs and were separately convinced we knew which bottle was ours!  Except for our Alsatian wine, this was a satisfying group of wines to taste and drink.

The Chateau d’Orschwihr was interesting to taste from a tactile perspective but was otherwise not worth drinking. The Stepping Stone rose strikes the balance of being rich and refreshing at the same time.  I found myself drinking a few small pours before we sat down to our tasting.  Make sure your bottle is not too cold and that you consume it on the first night.  Many thanks to Craig Camp for providing the sample.  The Carlo Hauner has good components but is in a simpler, primary state right now.  I would cellar it for another year or two.  The Tenuta Mazzolino is entering maturity with the nose in a more advanced state than the mouth.  While it is easily drinkable now I suspect it will be even better after several years.  It is attractively priced.  My first ever Sea Smoke was a treat.  It needed an hour or so of air to take shape and deliver its lovely goods.  While it tastes young compared to the Mazzolino I would not hesitate to drink a bottle.

2005 Chateau d’Orschwihr, Pinot Blanc, Bollenberg, Alsace – $12
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc sourced from 50 year old vines.  The color was light to medium auburn yellow.  The light to medium nose revealed ripe, fallen apples, and some oxidized notes.  In the mouth there was a good mouthfeel with noticeable residual sugar.  The flavors were simple with nuts and mushroom juice.  There was still good acidity, pebbly texture, and filling aftertaste.  * Past.

2011 Cornerstone, Stepping Stone, Corallina,  Syrah Rose, Napa Valley – $20
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Oak Knoll District.  The fruit was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel, then aged for five months in French oak.  This was a medium copper-rose color.  The light to medium ripe nose revealed strawberries and good red fruit.  In the mouth there was higher-toned red fruit followed by sweet spices.  It starts with some body at first then develops a good mouthfeel and borders on the richer side of roses.  The finish is dry and a little spicy.  This was satisfying and quenching to drink on the first night.  Sample provided by winery.  *** Now-2013.

2009 Carlo Hauner, Hiera, Sicily – $20
Imported by Bacchanal Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of Calabrese, Alicante, and Nocera sourced from volcanic soils.  The varietals are separately fermented in stainless steel then blended and aged for three months in oak barriques.  The nose revealed higher-toned, focused, and simpler aromas.  In the mouth the tart but good red fruit leaned towards an orange citrus sweetness.  There is some ripeness and with time flavors of dried cranberry and black cherry comes out.  There are sweet, lip-coating spices, finely grained, drying tannins, and a touch of candied flavors in the finish.  *** 2014-2017.

2005 Tenuta Mazzolino, Noir Folon, Oltrepo Pavese – $30
Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections.  This wine is 100% Piont Noir which was aged for 12 months in barrique.  There was a medium strength, aromatic nose of ripe fruit, minerals, and wood box which smelled of maturity.  With air there was sweet, dried craisins which were lovely to smell.  In the mouth the flavors were more concentrated than the nose with red fruit which was slow to expand but still a lovely follow on.  With time there were black fruit flavors which left a delicate, ethereal coating on the lips.  There was a low-lying aftertaste of black fruit, tang, and a touch of earth.  ***(*) Now-2020.

2005 Sea Smoke, Pinot Noir, Southing, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed then aged for 16 months in 65% new and 35% used French oak.  The color was a light+ ruby with a hint of garnet.  The nose revealed dried herbs along with cool blue and black fruit.  At first the wine almost let loose with ripe blue and black fruit.  Clearly a Pinot Noir this was the most mouthfilling wine of the evening.  There was lots of body and good pebbly texture.  With time it became focused with beautifully layered fruit underpinned by lively spices on the tongue.  There was a spicy note in the finish and an incensed aftertaste.  **** Now-2017.

Pinot Noir from Block 7 and Samsara

This past week we investigated two relatively affordable Californian Pinot Noirs.  The Block 7 is produced by another winery from its own declassified fruit.  Samsara is a producer I am unfamiliar with so I grabbed their entry level wine.  The Block 7 is a decent drink with a lighter, fruitier personality.  My recommendation is to spend a few more bucks to embrace the power and vitality of the Samsara.  There is no mistaking this bottle of Californian Pinot Noir and if that is what you want to drink, you will enjoy drinking the entire bottle. Both of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Block 7, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Sonoma Stage Vineyard which is planted with Dijon clones.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged sur lie for 11 months in 30% new French oak.  This is a light ruby color in the glass with a touch of garnet.  The light nose steps out with red fruit which is definitely Cali-Pinot.  In the mouth there is an intial burst of bluer than red fruit, a touch of toast, then some spices.  The flavors lighten up and almost come across as watery at first but after a few hours they flesh out.  There are notes of toast and spices in the finish.  ** Now.

2010 Samsara, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – $26
This wine is 100% Piont Noir which was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  The nose is reminiscent of floral red fruit with the addition of gobs of cinnamon spice.  In the mouth there is a lot of fruit with prickly strawberry, cinnamon, and mouthfilling spice.  This textured wine is full of energy and wants to jump out of the glass. There are flavors of sweet spice in the finish.  It is a little spicy, initially unrestrained (in a good sense) before settling down with air, taking on a creamier mouthfeel.  It then reveals an inky nature, supple black fruit, and power.  *** Now-2017.

2010 diatom Chardonnays

Diatom is a project of Greg Brewer who also works at Brewer-Clifton and Melville.  Named after the diatomite soils found in the Santa Rita Hills this project was started in 2005.  The philosophy is to remove all external influences so as to produce a wine that is true to the specific grapes harvested.  Fermentation takes place in very cold neutral vessels and malolactic fermentation is inhibited.  The wine is aged on its lees.

When it comes to red wines, I shy away from the big, rich, oaky wines.  But with white wines, I rather enjoy the big, buttery California Chardonnays.  I typically drink just one glass of white wine at a time so I never get a chance to be fatigued by the wine.  It was with great curiosity that I tried these two wines which are at the extreme opposite of big and buttery.  I did not like them.  I tried them over three days and at both cold and warm temperatures.  They both barely budged in development.  I preferred the Hana Shinobu over the Miya but certainly not at these prices.  Perhaps I would enjoy the Clos Pepe or Huber.  Trying these wines left me wanting to drink a 2009 German Riesling such as the Schafer Frohlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Spatlese for $30.

I purchased these wines from MacArthur’s.  The Miya cost roughly $46 and the Hana Shinobu was $34.

2010 diatom, Miya, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
There were 2,760 bottles of this 13.5% Abv wine produced. This wine is a rather light, straw color.  There light nose reveals grapey, floral aromas.  In the mouth this steely wine has some mineral, tart fruit and piercing citrus-like acidity.  There is some mid-palate complexity. * Now.

2010 diatom, Hana Shinobu, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
There were 900 bottles of this 12.7% Abv wine produced.  The vineyards are younger.  This wine has a light, fresh nose of stones and flowers.  Again there is piercing acidity, tart flavors before it puts on midpalate weight.  Flint flavors develop with the longish finish.  ** Now-2015.