really nice to cruise through a producer's wines to see
similarities - as well as differences. So, for the sake
of research, we held a small offline to check out some mini-verticals
of Tensley syrah. From conversation, most people seemed
to like the Colson bottlings better than the Thompson, and
I'd give a slight edge to it as a more fruit-driven wine.
That said, I though a few of the Thompsons were very nice.
The Purisima - at least the '01, was killer. Word was Joey
won't be buying Purisima fruit any more, but will be adding
Tierra Alta Vnyd, another stellar vineyard in the Ballard
Cyn corridor, as well as some Turner (SRH) and Three Creeks
(Happy Cyn) syrah for 2005. Good things coming from Tensley.
Lea Tierra Alta Rose of Syrah - (made by Joey's
wife) - terrific flavors and balance, I could have sipped
this all day.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - slight roasted herb
quality in the nose, lots of fruit, very nicely balanced.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - a bit barnyardy -
some thought maybe corked, but I think the horse was
just eating corks. Bit of bacon accents the black and
red fruit - nice, but not as nice as the '99.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - Touch of French stink
in the blackberry nose, with lighter notes of chocolate
and toasted herb. Very juicy throughout, particularly
nice acids and fine grained-tannins see this through
the long smooth finish. Very nice.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - Somewhat hi-toned
black fruit in the nose - ditto the palate. Nice body
and fruit, but the acids seemed a little too bright.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - smoky, slightly roasted
nose of dark fruit. Lightly sweet mouthfeel, very juicy
acids, nice fine-grained tannins, just a bit unsettled
at the moment - may need some more time to come together.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - tons of slightly bright
dark fruit, with background notes of smoke and earth.
Absolutely mouthfilling fruit and texture, with nice
fruit-filled long smooth finish.
Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah - Trace of VA in
the nose of dark fruit, herb and a bit of earthy smoke.
Very nice balance, texture, and fine-grained finish,
though I'd have liked a bit more fruit toward the back
Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah – hey, now
that's better - nose of clove-infused dark berry, and
toasted herb. Somewhat sweet on the palate - more so
than the other wines above. Plenty of fruit, lots of
sweet tannins and a long smooth finish.
Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah - Lots of dark,
spicy and slightly bright fruit in the nose. Some sweetness
to the marvelous fruit, excellent balance, chewy seamless
mouthfeel, nice long smooth spicy finish.
Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah - Lovely nose of
black and red fruit, baking spices, and lightly toasted
herbs. Lots of juicy acids, fabulous balance, and very
long smooth finish.
Tensley Purisima Mtn Syrah - Wow, what a nose!
Light floral and almost citrus scents really add to
the lush spicy blackberry fruit. Spicy and mouthfilling,
loaded with juicy acids that always seem to stay in
harmony with the fruit, long smooth very fine textured
finish, and a sweet-sour aftertaste. Beautiful!
Tensley Purisima Mtn Syrah - Smoky dark fruit
- still a bit reserved in the nose. Sweet juicy mouthfeel,
seems very fruit-driven initially, but the fruit gets
a bit pinched on the smooth finish.
Tensley Purisima Mtn Syrah - Lots of herbs
seem to accent the dark fruit in the nose, with toasted
rosemary, sage, etc., along with some Manzanilla olive.
Tensley Larner Syrah - the lone Larner, this
seemed to stand more on its own - stylistically speaking.
Smoky herbs and blackberry in the nose, with a much
higher degree of acidity (yet still balanced) and slightly
leaner in the finish.
Tensley OGT Magnum – Wow! Loads of dark
smoky fruit; very mouthfilling and chewy on the palate,
with very, very long smooth finish.
Tensley OGT Magnum – quite similar to
the ’03, but riper and sweeter nose and mouth.
Departure Tierra Alta Syrah - (Tim Grubb’s
label, barrel sample) Lovely perfumed dark fruit nose.
Plenty of off-sweet fruit on the palate, very juicy
long finish. Nice job here!
Tensley BMT Syrah (Barrel sample, 75% Thompson,
25% Colson) – Sweet and ripe in the nose. Loads
of fruit, very lush on the palate, young – but
very tasty right now!
Tensley OGT Syrah w/ 20% Grenache (Barrel sample).
Bit more raspberry over blackberry in the nose, with
a nice perfume scent. Seemed more lush and plummy in
flavors, smooth long finish.
Tensley Tierra Alta Syrah - Late Harvest 5%
Residual (barrel sample) – what a nice surprise!
Nice and sweet – yet not overripe or the least
bit pruny. Very nice!
QUA NON TASTING
together for a small dinner party, we met in Orange
County with three fellow eRobertParker board members
from the San Diego area to try a few recent SQN wines.
What a terrific night! Great wines and great company!
1996 Fleury Brut Millésimé
My notes pretty much mirrored Mark's on this beauty.
About 80% Pinot Noir, and it really comes across in
the body and structure. Fascinating toasty/yeasty nose,
with touches of lemon, lime and dried black cherry.
The mouthfeel and balance on this wines was incredible,
with a mousse that seemed to smoothly vanish like vapor
on the palate somewhere through the long juicy finish.
Sine Qua Non E-Raised
Huge floral-scented nose of predominantly red fruit,
accented by clove, herb, and smoked bacon. Smooth and
juicy mouthfeel, seamless throughout, well-integrated
red and black fruit, amazing smoothness and fine-grained
texture. Long luxurious finish. (Not that we were weighing
this factor, but this had the wildest label as well.
The smeared-look illegible front label has what appears
to be a piece of red tape holding it on. On the back,
all of the information is typed as if part of a movie
Sine Qua Non Midnight Oil
Fascinating nose of blackberry and black cherry, with
a carmelized brown sugar/vanilla-laced accent, and a
spicy - almost gunpowder-like background note. Meaty
and smooth on the palate - much more Syrah-like than
the rest of the flight. Excellent balance, dark tarry
flavors, very long smooth finish.
Sine Qua Non Syrah Papa
The nose here is bright and slightly hi-toned blackraspberry,
with sweet tarry/licorice notes and hints of clove and
something approaching the fragrance of glove leather.
Noticable sweet oak on the palate gives this wine lots
of definition, but it's extremely well integrated, melding
with the dark cherry fruit through the long smooth finish.
As Mark mentioned, the slight edginess of this young
wine completely disappeared when matched with the duck
breast, making the mass of fruit all the more obvious.
Audelssa Syrah Tempest
Nose of blackberry and some dark cherry, with lighter
cake spices creating an elegant scent. Knowing that
this had 5% Viognier, I made an effort to find it in
the nose - either in apricot or floral scents. But this
was a "Goldilocks" kind of nose - just the
right amount - and, the wine aromas were all interwoven
very nicely. Smooth, subtle and almost creamy in the
mouth, this wine worked surprisingly well in the flight
- like your favorite sibling from out of town.
Ojai Viognier Late Harvest - Roll Ranch
Loaded with pear and a touch of apple cobbler w/cream,
there was also an intriguing dried floral scent in the
background. Rich, yet not at all overpowering, this
wine was amazingly balanced, and the juicy acids continued
to cut a swath across the side of the tongue well after
swallowing. This was very feminine in its elegance and
went marvelously with the creme brulee.
Sine Qua Non Mr. K - The Noble Man
The opposite side of the coin from the Ojai, this smooth
but very masculine Chardonnay was brimming with dense
apricot and spiced pear aromas. Quite smooth on the
palate, with none of the edginess of a sauvignon/semillion-based
wine, yet very powerful flavor and texture, nearly perfect
balance and wonderful tasty finish.
25 people gathered locally (in Orange County, CA) to
try several vintages of Pisoni Vineyard wines made by
many of their producers - about 35 wines in all. We
had assembled quite a horizontal - within the vertical
of vintages. Our unstated goal was to try and find the
defining qualities of the iconic Santa Lucia Highlands
grower. The event was both fun and interesting, though
I'm not sure we achieved our goal.
--- seemed a bit hot, but nice nose and flavors.
Big surprise here. I’m sure most of us weren’t
expecting much from this bottling but it did not disappoint.
Lots of strawberry and cherry aromas that carried through
on the palate. Good balance of acids and fruit, nice
flavors and finish.
Flowers --- Another surprise. Fascinating nose of strawberry,
cherry and orange zest. Juicy mouthfeel with lots of
fruit and juicy acids, nice flavors and balance, and
long finish. Somewhat better in the mouth that the aromas
---- Slightly sweet and a bit cloying in the nose, with
a sappy vine-like aroma. Sweet-sour dark cherry on the
palate, nice flavor profile, balance and finish.
--- a little stinky at first, this seemed to blow off
and left the wine underneath showing its age fruit-wise,
yet still with a nice balance and flavors.
Arcadian --- some beet/stewed veggie thing going on
in the nose. Light citrus hints to the strawberry fruit
on the palate, nice balance and finish.
--- bit of an alcoholic wiff at first, but big dark
spicy fruit in the nose. Dark, ripe, and very concentrated
on the palate, a bit chunky with a somewhat narrow focus.
Could’ve used more acids.
Scott Paul --- ripe dark cherry nose, slight citrus
element, lots of spice. Lots of spicy dark cherry, touch
of citrus, long finish. Delicious!
subtle nuances of clove and nutmeg accent the strawberry
fruit. Nice citrus turn to the red fruit, with a bit
of sappy vine.
--- Sweet sappy spice and red/black fruit. Nice flavors,
but kind of understated on the palate, with just a bit
of flabbiness from mid-palate onward.
Lovely elegant nose of red and black fruit and spice.
Well-integrated juicy mouthfeel, nice flavors with just
a touch of earth, excellent balance, very long finish.
Ryan --- nose of dark cherry, and sappy spice notes.
Sweet spicy mouthfeel, seems very balanced and full-bodied
at mid-palate, but gets a bit flabby toward latter palate
--- the 1st bottle was deemed “off” on this
wine. It had major citrusy elements in the nose, and
a very earthy flavor, and much more of a non-sweet profile.
The 2nd bottle was definitely better, with substantial
dark fruit, wonderful balance and flavors and long finish.
---- I thought this wine was flawed -- its weedy rubbery
oxidized aromas seemed to blanket the fruit. Much better
in mouthfeel (not a difficult accomplishment), with
burnished red fruit and good balance.
Estate --- sensuous nose of dark cherry fruit accented
with mixed citrus peel and spice. Big, but nicely balanced,
with lots of dark fruit, juicy acids and a very, very
long citrus-spiced finish. Really nice stuff!
--- a sensation of hot spiced dark cherry in the nose.
Nice juicy sweet-sour dark fruit, more acids that many
of the other wines – but they seem to hold the
fruit more in the background, long orange zest-infused
Patz&Hall --- big and spicy in the nose, with a
sense of whole cluster earthiness. Lightly sweet mouthfeel,
lots of black cherry and a touch of earth and spice,
very nice balance and long finish. Very nice!
--- spicy black cherry nose, with a light floral scent.
Seems a bit light or underfilled in initial mouthfeel,
nice balance, elegant feel to the texture, and the wine
finished with a nice citrus touch to the dark fruit.
Interesting wine – nice, but seemingly less Pisoni-like
than many others.
--- very light in color. Ripe nose, with lots of dark
fruit. Lightly sweet mouthfeel, juicy acids, elegant
– if soft mouthfeel and finish.
Michael --- Stunning nose of black and red cherry, with
a touch of strawberry and spice. Lots of chewy black
and red fruit on the palate, with light citrus and spice,
marvelous balance, and a very tasty long finish. Excellent!
estate --- big and very ripe (almost candied) in the
nose, with lots of dark spicy fruit and an initial blast
of alcohol that seems to blow off. Less of the aromatic
ripeness translates to the palate, and the wine is very
nicely balanced without being too sweet. Very good flavors
and juicy long finish.
--- earthy nose of wild strawberry, cherry and spice.
More about strawberry fruit initially, the flavor profile
turns to a nice cherry/black cherry from mid-palate
onward. Very nice balance and flavors, not at all shy
on acids, and the palate remains juicy throughout the
very long finish.
--- sweet spiced dark cherry /cherry fruit. Juicy mouthfeel,
very nice citrus spice to the dark fruit, excellent
balance, and nice long finish. Built on a larger frame
that several others in the flight, but the balance of
acids and fruit work well.
--- light earthy scents to the spiced cherry fruit in
the nose. Lovely balance and elegant finish.
Capiaux --- earthy nose of burnished dark cherry and
some forest floor. Elegant dark fruit with a punch of
spice at mid-palate, and a very long well-balanced finish.
--- nose of strawberry and cherry fruit, and a touch
of spice. Off-sweet mouthfeel, with nice juicy acids
and fruit, excellent balanced and finish.
Michael --- gorgeous nose of spicy bing and black cherry,and
a clove scent. Sweet juicy mouthfeel, very tasty with
just the right hint of citrus to make the cherry fruit
sing through the long smooth finish. Wow!
--- beautiful nose of wild strawberry, dried flowers,
citrusy spice, and a whole cluster scent. Elegant mouthfeel,
with a mineral quality to the nicely integrated fruit
and acids, lots of dark fruit and spice, and lovely
long finish. This was a beautiful wine out of the gate,
but seemed to become a bit more mono-dimensional over
the next few hours.
estate --- nose of wild strawberry, citrus and spice.
Lots of dark spicy fruit that seemed to gain some weight
at mid-palate, yet softened just a bit on the finish.
--- lovely sweet-ripe nose of dark fruit, with light
touches of citrus and sap. Rich mouthfeel, well-balanced.
Lots of chewy black cherry fruit, with just a touch
of chocolate on the very long juicy finish. Nice job
--- almost tarry dark cherry fruit, with a sappy spice
and touch of menthol. Sweet and spicy dark cherry, nice
balance, rich spicy mouthfeel with just a touch of candied
grapefruit on the long finish. Some thought this wine
too oaky, but I thought it wore it well. Nice stuff
– what’s the controversy?
Siduri --- nose of black cherry, vanilla, clove and
a nice floral note. Sweet black cherry fruit, tons of
spice, very nice balance, and smooth tasty long finish.