Posts Tagged ‘Santa Ynez Valley’

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tasting Unlabeled and Bagged Wines With Lou

October 11, 2013 Leave a comment


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Aromatic and Textured, 2011 Two Shepherds Wines


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tasting A Variety of Wines at Lou’s

We recently joined Lou and Adriene for dinner and wine in their newly renovated dining room….and kitchen.  I think the wine bottles look great on the marble countertop!  There was not much attempt to coordinating the wines and I am finding such diversity enlivening.  The Albert Morot and La Sirena were decanted a few hours ahead of time by Lou whereas the Fidelitas saw less than an hour of air.  As usual the leftover wine was divided up, dosed with Private Preserve, then retasted the next night.  The La Sirena was a standout wine for me, a lovely treat that I believe all of us very much enjoyed.  The Albert Morot is still young and in its oscillations revealed hints of what its future will be.  This was Jenn’s favorite wine of the evening.  The Charles Schleret was beguiling youthful, fresh, and virtually unchanged over both nights.  The Faury is an infant which should age while you drink the 2009.  What I remember most is that the evening was so relaxing.  We gently floated through the cheese, wine, and dinner, happily chatting with no regard to time.

2005 Domaine Charles Schleret, Riesling Herrenweg, Alsace – $24
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  The delicate aromas of Riesling fruit step out of the glass and reveal a delicate, floral perfume.  In the mouth the gently ripe fruit mixed with spice, lively acidity, and controlled ripeness before expansive darker flavors come out.  Tastes young.  On the second night the flavors tightened up a touch in the aftertaste otherwise it remained virtually unchanged.  Easy to drink and will undoubtedly drink for a long time.  *** Now-2022.

2010 Domaine Faury, St Joseph Blanc – $28
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Marsanne and 40% Roussane.  The light to medium nose is of delicate sweet herbs and white fruit, florals, and perhaps passion fruit.  In the mouth the bright white fruit flavors mix with stones in the supple, fruity body.  On the second night the acidity was well-integrated and the aftertaste had drying spices on the tongue.  Light compared to the 2009 vintage and in need of age.  **(*)  2015-2022.

2009 Bruno Clavelier, Bourgogne Passetoutgraine, Vieilles Vignes – $15
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  This is a blend of old-vine Gamay and Pinot Noir.  Opened the night before. The nose was piercing with raspberry aromas and some spicy, Big-Red.  In the mouth the flavors bore gritty citrus tartness before becoming tart and cardboard-like.  * Now.

2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru, Beaune – $25
Imported by Robert Kacher.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It was aged for 16 months in new and old oak.  In the glass the color was a light garnet with a tinge of rose.  The nose bore brighter red fruit, a touch of celery, and a hint of Italian parsley.  In the mouth the flavors were focused with bluer-red fruit, a minerally acidity throughout that worked well with the wood notes.  This refreshing wine opened up to reveal roasted meats, herbs, and a richer nose.  On the first evening it did tighten up at time and on the second night it was less aromatic, tight, and youthful.  I would age this a bit more.  *** 2015-2022.

2003 La Sirena, Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
From the wines of Heidi Barrett she is famous for being the winemaker at Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Grace Family, and others.  This wine is 100% Syrah aged for 20 months in oak.  In the glass the color was medium+ ruby with some garnet.  The nose was finely textured with vanilla notes and quite a stand out.  The flavors in the mouth were expansive with blue and black fruit, controlled power, and a youthfulness with some age.  With air it became ripe, gritty, and showed flavors of waffles with maple syrup.  On the second night it still showed lively blueberry flavors, concentration, and orange juice acidity.  Nice!  **** Now-2020.

2007 Fidelitas, Red Wine, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley – $36
This wine is a blend of 53% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc which underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel then was aged for 24 months in 50% new and 50% used American and French oak.  This wine was powdery with sweet spices, vanilla, in a soft personality. The flavors in the finish tilted towards cinnamon spice with a soft aftertaste.  On the second night the wine tightened up for the better with ripe black fruit, pleasing warm acidity, and a stone sheen.  I suspect this will not make old bones.  ** Now-2015.

Enjoying Stolpman Syrahs with Lou

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Lou was interested in trying a selection of his Stolpman Syrahs for some time.  It was at his house that he first introduced me to the wines of Stolpman by pouring the 2008 L’Avion.  I subsequently purchased the 2009 L’Avion which I enjoyed a bottle of in August.  When Lou brought up Stolpman Syrah as the focus for our gathering I quickly agreed.  With my offer of Salus and Miner Chardonnay our tasting was set.

Stolpman Vineyards, Image by mreidphillips (flickr)

It is rare that we start with beer but I could not resist opening the Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder.  Almost a year ago Clark told me about how much he enjoyed Pliny the Elder.  I checked the availability in the DC area and there was none to be found.  Suffice to say even Clark’s corner beer store (with several hundred different beers) did not get any in stock until this summer.  Julia monitored the store’s Tweets and eventually it was made available at the limit of one bottle per person!  Fortunately Clark is a good customer and was able to part with a bottle for myself.

Russian River Brewing Company, Pliny the Elder
This double IPA beer was lovely, balanced, delicate with citrus acidity, and easy to drink.  The hops are controlled in this complex beer.  I found it quite refreshing. Thanks Clark!

Aaron and Lou

We drank small glasses of the Pliny while bagging the wines and setting the table.  We then moved outside to tasted the Chardonnays and Syrahs.  As always, the reds were double-decanted a couple of hours prior and all wines were served brown-bagged.  The leftovers were split between us, filled with Private Preserve then tasted the next night or two.  I have listed the wines in the order they were tasted.

I preferred the Salus over the Miner since the later was a bit too loose with too much toast notes.  In terms of the Syrahs Jenn and I preferred the 2005 Hilltops followed by the 2006 Estate, both are amazing!  On the first night I preferred the  2007 Estate over the 2009 Originals but my preferences flip-flopped on the second night.  The 2007 is very young and the 2009 is not giving up much, perhaps a revisit in three  to five years might help my perspective.  As far as for current drinking the 2005 and 2006 are an easy step up.  All of the Stolpman wines were lovely and shared a common floral quality.  I strongly recommend these wines.  The member prices are a good value with the higher-tier Hillside and Originals future-priced in the mid $30s and the others much less.

2007 Miner Family Vineyards, Chardonnay, Wild Yeast, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented with wild yeast then aged for 15 months in 70% new French oak.  This medium-bodied wine was softer and creamier in the mouth than the Salus.  There are ample notes of vanilla with a soft and loose delivery, some minerals, then it lets go as wood toast comes out in the finish.  On the second night the creamy texture remained, perhaps a bit more notes of toast, but a nice inky, pervasive note developed. *** Now-2015.

2009 Staglin Family Vineyard, Salus, Estate Chardonnay, Rutherford, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was barrel fermented then aged for 11 months in 61% new and 39% used barrels.  This was a tad darker than the Miner with a crisp, clean nose.  It was rich in the mouth but with good acidity, a creamy midpalate, and notes of lemon drop.  On the second night it was quite mouthfilling, well-balanced, and surprisingly fresh. ***(*) Now-2015.

2007 Stolpman Vineyards, Estate Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier that were co-fermented.  A tad more purple in color than the 2006.  This was very scented at first.  In the mouth there were crisp, violet flavors, with more tart red flavors throughout.  This savory, salty wine carried fine grain tannins, juicy red fruit, with a little toast and heat towards the finish.  On the second night the wine was quite primary with grapey red fruit.  There was the slightest hint of white pepper.  The fine, spicy tannins made this the most tannic of them all.  This is quite focused and might require many years to open up. ***(*) 2015-2022.

2006 Stolpman Vineyards, Estate Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 85% Syrah and 15% Grenache that were co-fermented.  This was powerful and concentrated.  It effortlessly filled the nose with aromas each time I was about to swallow.  There were clean, floral notes of lavender.  In the mouth the lingering flavors of hard, black fruits mixed with some spice, a wee bit of salivating acidity, a bit more spice, and some tannins.  With air it became a tad inky.  On the second night the nose was darker than the 2007 and fine textured tannins came out midpalate.  This wine was more enthusiastic in personality than the 2005 Hilltops.  Lovely. **** Now-2017.

2009 Stolpman Vineyards, Originals Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
The inaugural release of the Originals Cuvee is made from 100% Syrah sourced from the oldest vines.  This wine gave the least.  Purple in color and with flavors of tart red fruit mixed with a bit of Christmas spice.  On the second night, it sported the lightest nose but showed more concentrated flavors. **(*) 2015-2019.

2005 Stolpman Vineyards, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from parcels located at the highest elevations of the vineyard.  The wine is aged for 12 months in 100% new French barrels.  After the L’Avion Roussanne is moved from barrel to tank, the Hilltops is racked into the L’Avion barrels which still contain the lees.  The Hilltops is then aged a further 8 months.  This leans towards a garnet color and clearly looked like the oldest of the wines.  This was powerful and integrated with riper fruit, prominent blue flavors, a floral aspect, and richer mouthfeel.  There were herbs and complex, sweet fruit in this denser, meatier wine.  Really quite lovely.  On the second night the nose became more refined and the flavors were still the richest of all the bottles.  On the palate it became almost jammy and had developed chocolate notes.  Quite nice! **** Now-2017.

The Revealed Bottles