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Mostly 1970s Californian red wines

The Memorial Day weekend kicked off with several wines from the 1970s tasted over at Lou’s house.  After a sweeter than expected start with the fully mature 1998 Domaines Schlumberger, Pinot Gris, Alsace Grand Cru Kitterle four of us ventured down to his tasting room.  The fills on 1970 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien and 1975 Chateau Branaire, Saint-Julien, both from less than ideal storage, had decreased since purchase so were quickly dispatched as bad bottles.  Our first red was a good intro, not too old, rather it was quite young.  The 1993 Glen Carlou, Grand Classique Reserve, Paarl is a modest wine which may be drunk for a few more years.  Think clean and tart flavors with just a hint of earth.

We then moved on to a quartet of old Californian wine.  Two of the bottles proved undrinkable or not worth drinking.  The 1974 Woodside Vineyards, La Questa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains had some stink and certainly plenty of power.  I actually thought it would blow off and improve but instead it fell apart.  Shame as this is an historic wine.  The 1976 The Firestone Vineyard, Red Wine, Santa Ynez Valley represents the second vintage of this winery.  The winery was still under construction at the time of harvest and it was not anticipated to be until 1980 that operations would normalize.  Sadly the 1976 vintage suffered from heavy rains and it is evident in the wine.  This bottle is drinkable but simple, soft, and monolithic.

The final two bottles provided plenty of satisfaction.  The 1974 Arroyo Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County is all about cranberry fruit, crisp acidity, and an animale note.  It is clearly of a different winemaking style and I enjoyed it for that.  The final bottle of 1974 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is a very good wine from, incredibly, an inaugural vintage.  The key is that Roy Raymond Sr worked for decades at Beringer, even marrying into the family.  Both his long experience in the industry and the practice of discarding substandard bottlings are evident in this wine.  There is plenty of good, deep fruit, and ample body.  It is also more alcoholic than the other wines tried.  In any event, a very fine end to the evening.

1998 Domaines Schlumberger, Pinot Gris, Alsace Grand Cru Kitterle
A rich and honied start morphs to stone flavors in the middle then lychee by the finish.  This wine has a good amount of residual sugar but also dense texture backed by acidity in the finish.  Gentle in the finish.  **(*) Now.

1993 Glen Carlou, Grand Classique Reserve, Paarl
This wine is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 16% Cabernet Franc matured in French oak barrels.  Imported by The Hess Collection. Alcohol 13.2%.  Tart and clean flavors of cranberry red fruit are followed by good tannic structure with a fresh finish.  A bit more complexity comes from an earthy undertone.  This should drink well for several more years.  **(*) Now – 2023.

1974 Woodside Vineyards, La Questa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
Founded in 1963 by Bob Mullen, the fruit for this wine was sourced from La Questa vines first planted by Emmet Rixford in 1884 These old vines are purported to come from cuttings brought from Chateau Margaux.  In the 1940s Martin Ray propagated vines at Mt. Eden which were eventually planted by Ridge at Monte Bello.  Alcohol 12%.  Bright and volatile aromas of stinky feet.  There are powerful flavors backed by citric tannins but instead of improving it quickly falls apart then becomes weird. Past.

1976 The Firestone Vineyard, Red Wine, Santa Ynez Valley
The 2850 acre property was originally a beef-cattle ranch which was acquired by the Firestone family in 1972.  The winery was run by Brooks Firestone, son of the former Ambassador to Belgium, and grandson to the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.   Some 345 acres were aside for premium varieties and in 1973 they were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer.  The first crush was with the 1975 vintage which was the first commercial level achievement in this area.  The fermentation tanks were in place for this inaugural vintage but the winery was still under construction in 1978.  This 1976 vintage was troubled by heavy rains. Could this be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot???  Alcohol 12.5%.  A soft, monolithic wine with simple flavors of cherry cola that show more advancement as coffee and caramel note mix in.  There is watering acidity but this is simple wine.  * Past.

1974 Arroyo Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Bandiera Winery was founded in 1937 by Emilio Bandiera.  This was largely a bulk winery until new owners sold wine under the Arroyo Sonoma label amongst others.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This builds ripe, tart fruit that has plenty of crisp flavor and crisp acidity.  Cranberry notes mix with the tannins and so does an animale note.  *** Now but will last.

1974 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Roy Raymond Sr. worked for Beringer beginning in 1933, eventually marrying Jacob Berginger’s granddaughter Martha Jane Beringer.  In the early 1970s the Raymond family bought 90 acres south of St Helena and in 1974 opened their new winery.  Early bottlings were discarded if they did not meet the family’s standards.  Alcohol 13.7%.  Good fruit and deep flavors abound in this wine.  It reveals focused and bright notes of blue fruit with some coffee.  Has body and staying power.  A treat to drink.  **** Now – 2028.

Four Syrah with Lou

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

I met up with Lou and one of his coworkers to taste through Californian Syrah.  To the mix I threw in a brown-bagged bottle of Australian Syrah.  The Californian wines were initially popped and poured.    At roughly one decade of age this might be the preferred manner to drink these wines as the flavors show more generously, not quite revealing the strong structures lurking underneath.  These wines are not yet at peak maturity but are still tasty.

The 2007 Shane, Syrah, The Villain, Mendocino County is all about black olive aromas and dry, black flavors in the mouth.  It is satisfying but does not have the expression of our next wine.  This is the 2007 Stolpman, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley and is my favorite of the group for drinking now.  It is lifted both on the nose and in the mouth leaving a fresh impression.  I think that the 2006 Pax, Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County has the strongest potential out of all the wines tasted.  There are good flavors just starting to come out.  Purportedly from the oldest Syrah vines in the world hails the 2004 Langmeil, The 1843 Freedom Shiraz, Barossa Valley.  Made from vines planted in 1843 it is seamless and clean with good acidity.

2007 Shane, Syrah, The Villain, Mendocino County
Alcohol 14.2%.  Lou noted “black olives” on the nose and both Jenn and I agree.  This is an articulate wine with black, finely textured flavors and a fresh, dry finish.  It is chewy at first with dry baking spices and minerals.  With extended air the dry nature and structure for age become more apparently.  *** Now – 2027.

2007 Stolpman, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
Alcohol 15.0%.  A slightly tight nose at first though with deep aromas.  With air there is a lifted suggestion.  In the mouth this is a fresh, mineral wine with good presence and lifted flavors.  There is watering acidity and a finely ripe finish where a ripe tannic structure is evidence.  With extended air it takes on some savory power at the end.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Pax, Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County
Alcohol 14.9%.  Chocolate and red fruit mix with the substantive structure by the middle.  The flavors are entering maturity with a core of complexity slowly coming out.  It is lively on the tongue with good poise throughout, notes of baking spices, and a long aftertaste.  It is tight, chewy, and not quite at full maturity but will certainly improve once there.  ***(*) 2019 – 2027.

2004 Langmeil, The 1843 Freedom Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The mixture of dark fruit, olives, and Kirsch smells Australian to me.  There is a ripe controlled start which quickly expands leaving clean fruit throughout the mouth.  This is a seamless wine with fresh acidity.  *** Now – 2022.

A quick tasting at the end of the holidays

January 5, 2017 1 comment

Exploring old Californian wine is a bit like an archaeological excavation.  You may know what you are looking for but not what you will discover.  Most recently we tasted a few solid wines and one that is downright bizarre.

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Cathy Corison left Freemark Abbey to become head winemaker at Chappellet in 1983.  Lou found many positive comments on Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon from this period but almost nothing with regards to Merlot.  That is ample enough reason to try a bottle.  This bottle of 1986 Chappellet, Merlot, Napa Valley was of fine fill and condition inside but a previously broken bottle splattered the capsule and ruined the label.  I preferred this wine in the mouth for its salty start and balance of acidity and structure.  The nose was a touch disjointed for me with separate aromas of stems and chocolate.  Otherwise I enjoyed the flavor.

We moved back a decade with a pair from the 1977 vintage.  I was curious about the 1977 Ernies, Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Select Zellerbach Vineyard, Sonoma County for the reference to Zellarbach Vineyard.  Zellerbach is, of course, Ambassador James David Zellerbach who first bought property in 1943 on which he founded Hanzell Vineyards winery in 1957.  Hanzell is know for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but what of Cabernet Sauvignon?  The word “socks” was mentioned upon first smelling this wine.  The wine did clean up some but remained a bit dusty with a vegetal note to the aroma and flavor. The 1977 vintage is the second drought vintage in a row so perhaps the vegetal note came from young vines?  After an hour I rather enjoyed the wine but then it cracked up fast.  I certainly did not like the 1977 Zaca Mesa Cellar, Zinfandel, Santa Ynez Valley.  Smelled blind I guarantee anyone would think this a Riesling.  And once tasted you would think it some bizarre red wine which was co-fermented with Riesling!

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As it had just become the New Year, our oldest bottle of 1967 Chateau Latour, Pauillac marked the new 50th anniversary.  Purportedly one of the best wines of the vintage, this particular bottle sported the lowest fill of a group.  No doubt higher-fill bottles will be better but I was attracted to the blood, iron, and cedar aromas.  In the mouth the wine did develop some heft and even a touch of fat.  I give a nod towards this wine because of the better harmony between aroma and flavor.  Sadly, all of the wines cracked up once I returned home.  No great wines this time so Lou and I must simply get back together to pull more corks.

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1986 Chappellet, Merlot, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  This  The color is a bright, garnet ruby.  On the nose there are aromas of some stems and chocolate.  In the mouth this wine is in good shape with bright acidity and noticeable structure from powdery tannins.  There is a dry and certainly salty start before the seamless middle and slightly short finish.  Clearly the youngest wine tasted.  It will last for sometime but I doubt it will improve.  ** Now.

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1977 Ernies, Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Select Zellerbach Vineyard, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13%.  A little smelly at first this wine cleans up with air to reveal dusty, rather old, and slightly vegetal aromas.  In the mouth there are cherry flavors, some greenness, and watering acidity.  Though there is a bit of funk, the wine cleans up but never becomes very expressive.  ** Now.

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1977 Zaca Mesa Cellar, Zinfandel, Santa Ynez Valley
Alcohol 13%.  The lightest color of the quarter.  It smells like petrol!  In the mouth the petrol follows along with red fruit.  Lou found “cherry cola” which I echo with finding a cola flavored finish.  It is mouth filling and still possesses grip from the structure.  Really odd. Not Rated.

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1967 Chateau Latour, Pauillac
A Walter Eisenberg Selection imported by Pearson’s Liquor Annex. Mid-shoulder fill. Though of low fill the color is good.  The nose reveals blood, iron, and with air cedar.  There are similar flavors in the mouth.  The wine does flesh out substantially with black fruit, wood, and even a little fat.  Eventually it becomes more autumnal.  **(*) Now but better bottles will last.

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Three wines tasted while in Albuquerque

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment

I made a 10 minute visit to the wine store during our recent trip to Albuquerque. I believed I picked up a bottle of Stolpman a year prior so there was no time wasted in grabbing the 2011 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley.  This youthful wine had youthful flavors that we all enjoyed.  I suppose you could enjoy it over the short term but why wait?  Another type of wine that I always buy are those from Collioure.  Unfortunately, the 2010 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure  reminded me of raisins of which I lost interest after a few sips.  Finally, I grabbed a half bottle of 2007 Bonny Doon, Le Cigare Volant.  My inspiration came from tasting the demi-john aged versions, labeled en bonbonne, at the Rhone Rangers tasting last year.  I thought this 2007 regular version would offer up some bottle aged flavors but it did not.  Instead it was very young with a lot of zip, so much so I would have guessed an upbringing in demi-john.  Keep this one in your cellar.  These wines were purchased at Jubilation Wine and Spirits in Albuquerque.

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2011 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.4%.  There was a lively start with youthful bright black and red fruit on the tongue.  The flavors were young with some texture, a little weight, and a hint of ripeness in the black, minerally finish.  With air tart black flavors developed along with chocolate and more weight.  There were some ripe tannins in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2018.

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2010 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure – $24
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 15% Mourvedre sourced from 35-70 year old vines.  Alcohol 14.7%.  The flavors were ripe and clearly bordering on the raisin end of the spectrum.  The flavors of candied fruit lay low, bound up with good acidity and some structure.  Strange.  * Now.

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2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant – $17 (375 mL)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre, and 4% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.4%.  In the mouth were not-quite robust flavors that were lively and dry.  The was still quite a grapey structure integrated with the cherry and raspberry flavors.  The wine tastes remarkably preserved and timeless.  ** 2017-2025.

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Tasting Unlabeled and Bagged Wines With Lou

October 11, 2013 Leave a comment

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I went over to Lou’s house earlier this week to taste some wine.  He had put together a small flight of wines to taste blind so I thought it would be amusing to bring over two bottles of white wine which were missing their labels.  I never wrote down what the first wine was so it shall remain an Unknown French White Wine of recent vintage.  It was actually quite nice on the nose, certainly Sauvignon Blanc with Lou guessing Sancerre.  Next up was the 2011 Domaine de la Pépière,  Clos des Briords which Lou immediately guess as Muscadet based on the bottle.  I had double-decanted this one hour prior.  This is made from the oldest vines of the estate, planted in 1930, and I think that it is best left in the cellar.  Lou then brought out the 2010 Domaine Rolet, Chardonnay, L’Etoile.  I loved the 2007 vintage which I tasted last summer and suspect the 2010 will also develop well with age.  The last wine I brought over was the 2006 Domaine du Coulet, Brise Cailloux.  I tasted the 2006 No Wine’s Land back in the summer of 2008 and the 2008 Brise Cailloux earlier this year (thanks again to Lou).  The 2006 had a gorgeous, engaging nose which is not quite/yet matched in the mouth.  There is plenty of life ahead so I would be curious to hold on to any bottles.

We then came to the blind wines.  Lou had double-decanted them so the probably had about one hour of air before we tasted them.  I started with the first two wines and was really happy.  Parlor games are fun so I guessed the first was either from Charvin or a Stolpman, Syrah.  Having recently drunk the 2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, there was something familiar in mind.  Lou commented there was no California Syrah in the lineup.  In all fairness, Lou had previously offered to open up the 2008 Domaine du Pegau, Reservee due to my current interest in Pegau.  I suspected he had not for this tasting.  The second wine was certainly funkier, showing more advanced aromas and flavors, and absolutely lovely.  Remembering the 2008 Clos des Papes Phil opened last year, I guessed it was a wine from 2008.  The third wine had a brick wall of tannins, I thought some cuvee which saw way too much new oak.

It turned out the first wine was the 2007 Stolpman Vineyards, Grenache Estate, the second was 2008 Domaine du Pegau, Reservee, and the third was 2007 Domaine Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte.  The 2008 Pegau stole the show.  We typically split and gas up the leftovers to be tasted the next night.  I was so excited by the Pegau that Jenn and I finished it up that evening.  Lou purchased this bottle for $25 from Premier Cru, what a deal!  After that I really enjoyed the 2006 Coulet.  I think the 2007 Stolpman was more impressive the first night but the 2007 Grand Veneur certainly improved on the second night.

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Unknown French White Wine
This had ripe, grassy aromas of white candy with fine texture.  It was strong in the nose with its floral, white candy aromas.  The mouth was less impressive but had a nice chalky, dry aspect.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Domaine de la Pépière,  Clos des Briords, Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  The color was a very light white straw.  The tight nose eventually revealed some heavy, underlying floral fruit.  In the mouth was white candy-like fruit, not-quite crisp acidity, then rounder flavors of delicate white peach with a little tart tang.  The wine was balanced with a little, fine ripe finish.  This young wine eventually developed white stones which mixed with some tannins.  **(*) 2014-2020.

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2010 Domaine Rolet, Chardonnay, L’Etoile, Jura
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  The subtle nose was apple-like.  In the mouth the white fruit had weight with good, drying stone texture.  There was fresh acidity in the start, lots of personality, and youth.  **(*) 2014-2024.

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2006 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret), Brise Cailloux, Cornas
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a nice nose of floral aromas, pepper, and leaves of violets.  It was finely delineated with a hint of sweet, spiced orange peel at the end.  There was tart red fruit which was acidity driven from the start.  The flavors continue through the wine eventually showing a hint of maturity.  It was steely with minerals, and a black fruit with graphite finish.  The structure slowly came out, leaving some very fine tannins on the gums.  ***(*) Now-2025.

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2007 Stolpman Vineyards, Grenache Estate, Santa Ynez Valley
This  Alcohol 15%.  There was fresher, younger red fruit with an orange citrus aroma.  It was a fine wine in the mouth mixing red fruit with a darker core and ripe, fine, drying tannins.  It took on perfumed fruit, young but very attractive.  It dried out a bit with air but kept a sweet, ripe finish.  It took on some orange peel flavors with air, along with dry, very fine tannins.  Best on the first night.  *** Now-2018.

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2008 Domaine du Pegau, Reservee, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  A slighter darker core.  The nose was older with earthy, smoky aromas.  It was a little sweaty with some blood.  The mouth followed the nose with ripe fruit, tannins, and acidity which tickles the tongue tip.  It had a lipstick finish and a long, expansive, beautiful aftertaste.  With extended air a youthful core of fruit came out suggesting longevity.  **** Now-2023.

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2007 Domaine Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was a medium-dark purple color.  It had nose of cassis-like, ripe fruit, and vanilla.  In the mouth was more linear fruit which quickly met an up-front wall of tannins.  These were very fine and drying.  An aspect of the nose came out in the finish.  On the second night this was more approachable with dense fruit, a simpler finish, and a structure that subsided. ** Now-2023.

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West Coast Wines

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Of some recently tasted wines from the West coast my favorite was the 2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate.  Being aromatic and flavorful it was a wine I just wanted to drink.   Next I would have to include the 2010 Windsor Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Clearly a wine from California, its approachable style will make it hard to leave in the cellar.  The Stolpman was purchased at Wishing Well Liquors, the Balboa in Seattle, the Montebruno and Matthew Rorick at Chambers Street Wines, and the rest at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Windsor Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley – $26
Alcohol 14.1%.  The light to medium strength nose was of blue and black berries and leather with a sense of California richness.  The fruit followed the nose but had more tart, red fruit.  The flavors were expansive with leather and salivating acidity on the front of the tongue.  It showed some underlying structure with a big personality but not heady.  It retained tart flavors on the tongue tip.  **(*) Now-2020.

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2006 Ravenswood, Merlot, Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley – $22
Alcohol 14.9%.  The nose bore maturing aromas with a very fine scent of woodbox.  The maturing red fruit had some weight, mixing nicely with woodbox flavors, salivating acidity, and some spice.  There was some black fruit with weight at first then the wine became drier with salivating acidity.  There were spicy tannins and black fruit in the finish which was a little rough.  It left wood box and a savory aspect in the aftertaste.  Will last but good now.  ** Now-2017.

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2001 Liparita, Merlot, Napa Valley – $15
Alcohol 14.5%.  There was an evergreen nose with underlying mulberry aromas and some tea.  The mouth followed the nose with ripe, expansive, red hard cherry flavors.  Though mature it still developed with a ending with a slightly rough finish with drying tannins.  A second bottle was more advanced with black olive notes.  ** Now

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2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley –
This wine is a blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose was perfumed with berries and a little vanilla.  The mouth had a lively start with slightly tangy fresh and red red and black fruit.  The acidity came out in the finish.  There were soft, billowy flavors which made the wine approachable.  It left a tangy and tingly aftertaste on the lips and tongue tip.  Nice wine.  ***  Now-2016.

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2010 Balboa, Syrah, Walla Walla Valley – $34
This wine is 100% Syrah which was hand harvested, fermented in open top stainless steel tanks then underwent malolactic fermentation and 16 months of aging in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 15%.  There was some fragrance to the modern nose.  In the mouth the flavors were firm and modern with a little tart and tang to the black fruit.  It had a powdery nature with acidity on the sides and back of the tongue.  It took on some weight with a subtle toast and smoke in the aftertaste.  With air it developed a good middle with more tangy black and red fruit.  Not my preferred style.  ** 2015-2023.

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2010 Montebruno, Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills – $26
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines planted in 1998.  The fruit was fermented in open top vats with indigenous yeasts then aged for almost 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was lighter as was the nose of light green peppercorns.  In the mouth the flavors were acidity driven with lighter weight red fruit on the tongue tip. The cooler fruit was thinner in flavor but still mouth filling.  There was a pepper bit and a hint of cardboard.  * Now.

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2012 Matthew Rorick Wines, Valdiguie – $19
This wine is 100% Napa Gamay Noir sourced from 20 year old vines and aged for four months in very old barrels.  Alcohol 12.2%.  Lighter red flavors mixed with graphite and acidity. * Now-2014.

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Aromatic and Textured, 2011 Two Shepherds Wines

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William Allen’s first commercial release of Two Shepherds wine was with the 2010 vintage.  I recently tasted through four of his wines from his second vintage, the challenging 2011.  I was particularly impressed by the 2011 Pastoral Blanc and the 2011 Grenache.   The 2011 Pastoral Blanc was best after the first night.  It was a humble but confident wine which continued to reward until the end of the bottle.  The 2011 Grenache was beautifully aromatic from the start and a unique example of the varietal.  It was a bit tighter in the mouth so I suspect it will benefit from several months in the cellar.  I am amazed at how William can produce such good wine right away.  I suggest you order some of his wine to find out yourself.  These wines were ordered directly from Two Shepherds.

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2011 Two Shepherds, Grenache Blanc, Saarloos Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc which was fermented with indigenous yeasts in neutral French oak barrels, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged on the lees in a combination of oak and stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a very light straw.  The nose was not-quite piercing with aromas of white fruit and citrus.  There was a fresh start in the mouth with white fruit that rode the acidity.  There was a little acidity on the tongue tip.  The wine slowly built texture and flavors of stone.  There was a long aftertaste of expansive flavors, rounding out as it warmed up.  Youthful with many fine tartrates.  ***  Now-2015.

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2011 Two Shepherds, Pastoral Blanc, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, and 10% Grenache Blanc which was fermented then aged on the lees in oak.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a light, gold straw.  The nose revealed tropical hints and weighty floral aromas.  In the mouth there was crisp white and yellow fruit which quickly took on some weight.  The tropical flavors turned towers white tropical flowers with minerals in the finish.  There was a very fine texture and ripe spice flavors before the flavors built up in intensity during the aftertaste.  This wine reacts well to air and develops good length.  *** Now-2015.

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2011 Two Shepherds, Syrah, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $35
This wine is mostly Syrah, with some Viognier lees and stems, which was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 10 months in neutral oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose revealed ripe, scented lemon and fresh fruit.  In the mouth there was a bright start with flavors that were tart on the tongue and somewhat lively.  It remained tight and young with tart red fruit and a woodsy finish.  Potential.  **(*) 2015-2019.

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2011 Two Shepherds, Grenache, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $35
This wine is 100% Grenache which was 15% whole cluster fermented in small open top bins then aged for 10 months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The was a complex and expressive nose of lifted berry notes, cardamom, orange peel, and fresh, mixed “not mint” herbs.  In the mouth there was a little tart red fruit which was kind of firm.  The orange peel notes returned in this fresh wine which showed some midpalate weight.  This showed best on the second night becoming tighter on the third night.  *** 2014-2018.

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