NOIR - BLIND
tasting held here July 8th in Orange County at Gerry
and Debbie Frayer's - and probably the first time we've
held with bagged bottles. Even though we were inside
most of the time, it was a real scorcher outside, so
some of the wines were probably not at optimum temperature.
But, a good time was had by all, and there were som
were asked to bring the bottles already bagged, and
Debbie Frayer would give them numbers (out of our eyesight)
when we arrived. Excellent idea, because this would
further "blind" us to the bottles, especially
our own. But, there was a small tipoff - bottles were
numbers with an alpha designation wherever someone multiple
bottles. hence, there were a's and b's and sometimes
c's and d's of a particular number. Gracious participants,
- ripe and spicy, with a slight
vegetal/herbal quality. Interesting touch of beet on
the palate, nice balance, bit of heat on the off-sweet
finish. Kind of weird.
Wine: 2004 Radio
Coteau Las Colinas Syrah. Yep,a syrah. What
a bush league thing to do to us.
#1b - nose
with lots of citrus, light spice, and nice cherry fruit.
Good acidity and balance - seems like Russian River
fruit to me. Very nice.
Wine: 2004 Belle
Glos Clark & Telephone, Santa Maria Valley.
RRV? Good thing I didn't bet on it.
#2a - very, very ripe in the nose; almost
Zin-like in ripeness. Somewhat better in the mouth,
but still quite ripe. Not too fond of this one. Gotta
be '04, but from where?
Wine: 2002 Faivley
Clos de Corton. Wow, whatta smackdown. Difficult
to believe this was French. Maybe I got the wrong pour??
#2b - ripe nose, good dark fruit, with
a nice black cherry aromas. Lost of acids on the palate,
with just a touch of citrus. Very nice. Okay, this one
has to be from the Russian River.
Wine: 2002 Arcadian
Dierberg, Santa Maria Valley. Okay, my ego
is taking some torpedoes.
#3 - ripe and slightly
hot in both nose and mouth, moderate fruit, decent balance,
but weak finish.
Wine: 2002 Harmonique,
#4a - big and intense in the nose, lots
of dark fruit throughout, crisp acids, amazing fruit,
long full finish. Ex-cellent! Wild guess: this was some
dark intense stuff - either Cargasacchi or Clos Pepe
Wine: 2002 Clos
Pepe Estate "VS"
#4b - tight and a bit brooding, again
with the dark fruit, but not too forthcoming. Mouth
seemed similarly tight.
Wine: 2002 Clos
#5 - nice light citrus
and strawberry - smells like Russian River. Lovely balance
and fruit, very good fruit-filled finish.
Wine: 2004 Merry
Edwards Olivet Lane, RRV. Finally!
#6a - surprisingly
light in color, with a little bricking at the edges.
I think we all felt this had some serious age on it
- what, maybe a '91? Nice aromas and flavors, good balance
and finish. Still has lots of fruit going for it.
Wine: 2001 Whitcraft
Melville, Sta. Rita Hills. Say what, 2001?
What the heck happened to the color?
#6b - Wow! Beautiful dark fruit in the
nose and mouth, amazing balance, long deliciously chewy
finish. Really nice package here. Not at all overextracted,
yet seems packed with fruit. Arcadian...Williams Selyem?
Wine: 2004 Ambullneo
Solomon Hills/Hudson Vnyd. Yikes, what a stunner.
And what an appellation - half Santa Maria Valley and
half Carneros...a mutt!
#7a - nice
ripeness throughout, bit of spice in nose and mouth,
excellent balance, and very nice fruit profile.
Wine: 2004 Radio
Coteau La Neblina, Sonoma Coast
#7b - ripe raspberry nose, nice spice
and more of a wild strawberry/cherry in the mouth. Nice.
Wine: 2002 Willakenzie,
Emery. Interesting, I'd have expected to noted
more "earth" on this.
#7c - funky and sufficiently stemmy
nose to have me thinking a young Brewer Clifton, or
Oregon. Very nice - just so much different from all
that came before.
Wine: 1999 Tori
Mor, Yamhill Co. Cool!
#7d - big nose, tons of fruit and a
bit of spice. Concentrated mouthfeel, excellent balance,
long finish. Not a clue, but I like it!
Wine: 2003 Peay,
#8a - controversial
bottle. A couple of us said "corked" immediately
- others thought not, only to come around later and
think so. Some of the original "corked" folks
said "maybe not," still others said "no
way." Go figure.
Wine: 2002 Daniel
Lenko, Niagra Peninsula, Ontario. Hmm. Maybe
it was the fact that this was Canadian that threw everybody
off. What's that all aboot, eh?
#8b - somewhat restrained nose, nice
flavors and balance - more to the black cherry side
of fruit, very good finish. Nice, if a little unmemorable.
Wine: 2004 Mellville
Clone 5, Sta. Rita Hills.
#8c - big and slightly ripe nose - 2004?
Lovely balance, nice concentrated fruit, not quite as
ripe in mouthfeel, nice finish.
Wine: 2004 Melville
#9a - killer nose! Gorgeous dark fruit,
nearly perfect balance, fabulous mouthfeel. Just a complete
Wine: 2001 Miner
#9b - ripe nose, good balance overall,
but seems to have a hole in the mid-palate. Nice flavors
Wine: 2001 Loring
#10a - smells too overripe and pushing
singed, with a background note of funk. Decent flavors
and balanced, but this either comes from a hot climate
or has been heat damaged.
Wine: 2003 El Molina, Rutherford.
Rutherford? Ruth-er-ford? That's Napa! What the....
#10b - nice nose of lightly spiced red
and black fruit. Excellent balance, very nice flavors
profile. Has all the earmarks of a go-to Pinot.
Wine: 2004 Kenneth Crawford,
CENTRAL COAST VISITS
to Tensley and Kaena wineries
Wines - While attending the 1st Annual Sta.
Rita Hills Wine and Fire Celebration in June, we knew
we'd have a break between events and had arranged a
couple of Sunday visits in the area (waste not, want
stop, Joey Tensley's operation in Buellton. Joey's work
at Beckmen gave him an affection for Rhones, and he
makes several bottlings of Syrah as well as a few white
addition, a few other wines/winemakers are on the premises,
and we were fortunate enough to try them as well. As
well as his own label, Joey makes the Carina
lineup for David Hardee, and Joey's wife, Jennifer,
is now making her own wine under the Lea label.
Also, wine enthusiast Tim Grubb is now making his own
wine as well, under the Departure label. Finally,
Joey's assistant winemaker, Lino, is making his own
Cleb label here.
Carina Rancho Arroyo Grande Viognier
- 30% ML gives this a nice pear, peach. apricot aroma,
with a lightly sweet hit on the back end. Good acids
and balance, and it seemed a bit hot initially, but
at 13.7% probably just needs some time to come together.
Cleb Alisos/Black Oak Syrah - huge
dark fruit, with lots of tar and leather accents, this
Phelps Noir clone Syrah is thick meaty - just the thing
to have after some whiney Viognier. Kidding, but this
is a heafty mouthful of wine.
Cleb Clover Creek Syrah - slightly
reduced, this was recently sulphured. Certainly had
tons of fruit throughout, and we were beginning to get
the impression that Lino liked big wines.
Departure Tierra Alta Syrah, Clone 1
- 5% co-fermented with Viognier. Really nice aromatics,
punched up a bit by the Viognier - but not all that
Departure Tierra Alta Syrah, Clone 1
- no co-fermentation on this barrel sample, and it did
seem meatier in scent and taste. Both of these wines
were very well balanced - even a bit high-toned in structure.
Departure Tierra Alta Syrah, Clone 877
- okay, now this is even meatier than the previous clone
1 sample. Quite tasty, with lots of structure, but lovely
Departure Tierra Alta Syrah - Tim
created a blend of the three wines above, as a sample
of what might be his final blend. Though very good,
quite frankly I liked the 877 on its own best, and hope
he backs off some of the Clone 1 in the final belnd.
Tensley Camp 4 Blanc (65% Grenache Blanc; 35%
Roussanne) - nice acids and crispness, with
just a hint of sweet fruit makes this deliciously drinkable.
Tensley Camp 4 Roussanne - aromas
of light floral and wheaty notes, with a nice waxy mouthfeel
and excellent balance.
Lea Tierra Alta Rose of Syrah - lovely
nose and fruit, nice and meaty in mouthfeel, with just
the right amount of crispness throughout. Very nice!
Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah - lots
of black and red fruit in the nose, big and rich mouthfeel,
with terrific balance and long almost sweet-sour finish.
Tensley Turner Syrah, Clone 7 - this
cool-climate Syrah is from the Sta. Rita Hills, and
the bluer more peppery fruit comes through in both nose
and mouth. Very nice!
Lea Turner Pinot Noir - terrific light
cola quality to the dark cherry and herb. Very nice
mouthfeel, and nice balance and finish.
Tensley Thompson Syrah - lots of black
fruit, with excellent acidity throughout, and a very
nice long lightly herbed finish. Missing - that light
chocolate I'm used to tasting in Thompson Syrahs - but
this is very nice.
Tensley Tierra Alta Syrah - fascinating
combination of what seems to be both warm and cool climate
characteristics, with both strawberry-cherry red fruit
and blueberry-black fruit. Excellent balance and finish.
Tensley Three Creek Syrah - this was
a "wow" for me! Packed with fruit, fabulous
balance and a lovely chalk/minerality throughout. Terrific!
Tensley Tierra Alta Late Harvest Syrah
- imagine blackberry-blueberry pie in a glass. Now you've
got this. Smooooth!
Cleb Viognier - nice flavors and balance, and
certainly bigger framed than the Tensley version (Lino
likes big wines).
Cleb Thompson/Colson Syrah - very dense, with
an interesting blend of textures. Nice stuff.
Wines - Next stop, Mikael Sigouin's Kaena
Wines. Mikael's originally from Hawaii, hence the name
and Hawaiian motif to the label. Interestingly, both
Mikael and Joey worked with Steve Beckmen at about the
same time, with Mikael leaving his assistant winemaking
job at Beckmen last year to take on the associate winemaking
job at Fess Parker, working with Blair Fox. We were
also joined by Sloan and Loren, whom we'd met the day
before at the Sta. Rita Hills event.
arranged to meet Mikael at the Fess Parker facility
located near the Santa Maria airport, just a stone's
throw from the Central Coast Wine Services (CCWS). This
is one of two Fess Parker winemaking facilities, and
actually acts more as a barrel room and storage location
for case goods. It's a huge place, and unlike CCWS,
we had it all to ourselves.
Kaena Camp 4 Mourvedre - nice funky
and gamey nose, with plenty of fruit, chewy mouthfeel,
and nicely ripened fruit on the finish.
Kaena Camp 4 Grenache - loaded with
nicely ripened raspberry fruit, nice concentration,
and very good balance.
Kaena Tierra Alta Grenache - more
complex and gripping than the Camp 4 bottling, with
darker fruit, very good blance, really nice mouthfeel
Kaena Tierra Alta Syrah, Clone 1 -
slightly hig-toned nose of dark fruit, with very good
balance and a bit of edginess in mouthfeel that smooths
out during long finish.
Kaena Syrah, blend of Tierra Alta, Larner, and Camp
4 - nice fruit and balance, and high
on the yummy factor, this blend seems to show the best
of each of these vineyards.
Kaena Tierra Alta Syrah, 50% whole cluster
- interestingly, I thought this might have some quality
that screamed 'whole cluster' to it, but no, it's just
delicious, and the light hit of chocolate on the back
end is like perfect end to a meal.
Kaena Larner Grenache - the slightly
newer oak on this wine seemed to make it a bit "showier,"
with enhanced aromas and textures. Nice stuff!
Kaena Tierra Alta "Hopa"
- a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache, this seems
to have it all - excellent balance, beautiful fruit
throughout, and the Grenache adds some nice edges to
Kaena Tierra Alta/Camp 4 Syrah - somewhat
'warmer' in style, with a bit of tar/asphalt, very nice
balance and long finish.
Kaena Camp 4 Grenache - raspberry
and black raspberry fruit, this wine attacks well in
the beginning, but really comes on at mid-palate and
through the long finish. Really nice!
Kaena Hearthstone Syrah - slightly
sweet nose of ripe fruit, with a briary character and
some tar and asphalt notes. Seemed to have less of what
I call a 'warm climate' quality. Very nice!