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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some Calif & Wash State Rhones - November 1, 2006

We tasted last week (11/01/06) Some Calif & WashState Rhones:

  1. Rulo Combine WallaWallaVlly WW (82% SauvBlanc; 18% Viognier; 14.0%)) 2005: Light gold color; fairly fragrant/SB some perfumey/floral/V nose; tart rather citric/grapefruity some herbal/
    grassy/SB bit rich/round slight floral flavor; med.long rather citric/grapefruity finish; a nice SB w/ a slight floral character. $18.00
  2. Canon De Sol ColumbiaVlly Viognier (13.8%) 2005: Med.gold slight amber color; very overripe/
    rotted apple no Viog somewhat volatile nose; very soft/fat/underacid very overripe/rotted apples some hot/volatile dry flavor; long very overripe/rotted apple finish; very overripe
    character and no Viog varietal; tasted of rotted grapes. $22.00
  3. CougarCrestWnry Vivace WashState (13.3%; www.CougarCrestWinery.com; 70% Viognier,
    30% Chard) 2005
    : Light gold color; slight melony/hair oil/appley/Chard some floral/perfumed/ V very light oak attractive nose; tart/lean bit metallic rather appley/Chard bit earthy slight pear/ floral/V flavor; med.long soft/fat rather appley/Chard slight floral finish; a bit of Viog in the nose but mostly Chard on the palate. $24.00
  4. Reininger Helix Aspersa ColumbiaVlly (60% Viognier, 40% Chard; www.ReiningerWinery.com; Oasis & Willard vnyds; 14.3%) 2005: Med.light gold color; rather
    toasty/graham crackers/caramel/butterscotch/oak attractive strong pear/V nose; soft/fat/very ripe
    some caramel/butterscotch/oak light pear/V/floral flavor; med.long soft/fat rather Viog/pear slight
    appley strong caramel/oak finish; a pretty nice Viog but pretty heavy on the oak. $21.00
  5. CougarCrestWnry Viognier WallaWallaVlly (EG; 13.5%) 2005: Med.yellow color; attractive floral/pear/V/spicy slight earthy very light oak nose; tart light/elegant spicy/pear/V ripe/lush flavor;
    short soft/fat pleasant floral/V/pear slight earthy finish; a bright/lively elegant/light Viog.
  6. Vixen SantaYnezVlly V Cuvee WW (14.1%; 40% GrenacheBlanc, 40%
    Roussanne, 20% Viognier; 56 cs) 2005
    : Med.light gold color; some toasty/pencilly/oak rather
    perfumed/aromatic/floral peach/V slight volatile some overripe nose; soft/fat grapey/floral/very ripe/honeysuckle flavor; soft/fat very ripe some pencilly/toasty/oak ripe/floral/honeysuckle
    finish; lots of ripe/overripe character and a noticible oak; bit lacking in structure. $32.00
  7. Vixen SantaYnezVlly Viognier CherokeeRanch (14.5%; 45 cs; www.VixenWines.com) Jennifer Gehrs 2005: Light gold color; light toasty/oak attractive floral/pear/V fragrant nose; soft/fat very ripe floral/peach/pear/V light toasty/oak flavor; med.long soft/fat floral/peachy/V some
    toasty/oak ripe finish; a slobbery/StBernard sort of Viognier but likable. $29.00
  8. Darioush NapaVlly Viognier (14.9%; www.Darioush.com) 2005: Med.gold color; very fragrant/floral/perfumed/spicy/peach/V very light toasty/oak nose; soft very rich/lush pear/peach/ floral/V light pencily/oak spicy bit porky intense V flavor; long very spicy/pear/V light pencilly finish; an attractive ripe/lush rather Roussanne in style Viognier; pretty pricey at $55.00
  9. Sine Qua Non The Rejuvenators Calif WW (56% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, 20% Chard; AlbanVnyd; 15.2%) 2004: Med.gold color; rather strong toasty/oak little fruit fairly strong TCA/corked nose; strong toasty/oak pretty corked/TCA flavor; not much here but oak and TCA, so sad. $81.50
  10. Oasis SantaBarbaraCnty Syrah (13.9%; www.OasisSantaBarbaraWine.com)
    Dan Gehrs 2004
    : Very dark color; lush rich/ripe blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some roasted/ toasty/oak licorice/spicy lovely nose; soft rather hard/tannic/harsh some roasted/pungent rather
    blackberry/strawberry/Syrah light toasty/oak flavor; long ripe/lush hard/tannic ripe/blackberry/ Syrah/jammy/boysenberry finish; great some Rhonish nose but hard on the palate; needs some yrs but ?? $18.00
  11. Vixen SantaYnezVlly Syrah Harmony (14.1%;Satchwell/Pace/HarmonFamily vnyds; 46 cs) 2004: Med.dark color; rather herbal/Cab-like green olive/blackberry/Syrah rather toasty/oak/ charred interesting nose; tart rather herbal/Cab-like/green olive some blackberry/licorice/Syrah rather lean/hard flavor; long fairly tannic/hard herbal/Cab some Syrah/blackberry bit toasty finish;
    interesting/unusual rendition of Syrah; needs 2-5 yrs; bit pricey at $45.00
  12. DanielGehrs SantaYnezVlly Shiraz (13.9%; HappyCanyon area; www.DGWines.com) 2001: Very dark color; very ripe blackberry/Syrah/licorice/jammy rathertoasty/charred/oak lush very Oz-like nose; soft/fat/ripe/jammy very vanilla/oaked bit hard/tannic some blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah flavor; med. long hard/tannic vanilla/oak bit lean rather blackberry/licorice/Syrah Oz-like finish; needs several yrs; very interesting nose but rather hard/tannic on the palate. $34.00
  13. DanielGehrs Ozymandias RW SantaBarbaraCnty (14.1%; 50% Syrah/Cabernet) 2004: Dark color; very attractive/herbal/Cab quite Bdx-like some toasty/oak very interesting nose; rich/ripe very herbal/Cab rather charred/toasty/oak very Bdx-like flavor; very long hard/tannic Cab/herbal finish w/ample tannins; needs much age; not a lot of Syrah character but one of the best Bdx-like Cabs I've had from SantaBarbara. $36.00
  14. Viader HowellMtn/NapaVlly Syrah (14.0%) 2002: Black color; strong toasty/oak very strong
    blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry some roasted/charred/pungent very spicy complex nose; rather hard/
    tannic toasty/Fr.oak/charred strong blackberry/Syrah roasted/coffee/mocha flavor; long toasty/
    charred/Fr.oak rather strong blackberry/Syrah some pungent/walnutty/coffee/mocha fairly tannic
    finish; needs 2-6 yrs of age; a big pungent strapping NapaVlly Syrah. $37.00/hlf.

And the usual blatherings from the BloodyPulpit:

1. This was one of the largest collections of WashState whites I've had, mostly of the Rhone
persuasion. Can't say I was overwhelmed by them. They seem to display much the same WashState terroir that I find in their Syrahs. I think the Harlequin Viognier is far better than these Viogniers and the McCrea whites rather more interesting.
2. Vixen: These wines are made by Jennifer Gehrs, daughter of long-time friend Dan Gehrs. The name comes (we are told on her WebSite) from the Aesop's Fable tale of the Fox and the Grapes, her favorite bedtime story. I thought the wines were rather good but a bit on the pricey side vis-a-vis the competition out there.
3. Gehrs: I've known Dan Gehrs from the very start, when he was first making wine at Congress Springs in the SantaCruz mtns. He made some wonderful Zin, PinotNoir, and Cab Franc up there. He eventually moved South to become winemaker at ZacaMesa, where the
wines took a big leap in quality. Since leaving ZacaMesa some yrs ago, he's been consulting
for various SantaBarbara wineries and making a bit of wine on his own. It's been a number of
yrs since I tried his wines and so ordered a selection after reading some good reports online on the Oasis. It's always nice to go back and visit an old...errrr...long-time friend.
4. Viader Syrah: We had tried this wine a month ago, but the hlf btl was badly corked. So got two more hlf btls. I had really wanted to dislike this wine; confident it would be just another
overpriced Napa Syrah that tasted like it was made by a Cabernet producer. Alas, I did not.
I liked the wine quite a bit. It had good French/Syrah character a bit like a Graillot, though
the smokey/roasted character was a bit ersatz/oaky. Still, it was too pricey for me, when you
can get a Lagier-Meredith at almost half the price.


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