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 New Arrivals - December 5, 2007
We tried last night (12/5/07) some New Arrivals :
- Novy Viognier RRV (14.4%; 242 cs) 2006: Light gold color; strong pear/Viog slight spicy/
peppery attractive/lush/fragrant nose; soft bit metallic/shrill bright/pear/Viog flavor; med.long bright/pear/Viog bit spicy/peppery finish; attractive bright Viog with plenty of lush fruit at a great price. $16.50
- McPrice Myers SantaYnezVlly WW (70% Viognier, 30% Roussanne; 15.4%; www.McPriceMyers.com) 2005: Med.gold color; lovely floral/perfumed/honeysuckle lots of
toasty oak nose; soft/fat lush/floral/honeysuckle/peachy/ripe rich/textured slight earthy/
nutty pretty oaked flavor; very long bit hot/alcoholic ripe/peach/honeysuckle rather toasty/
oak/creme brulee slight nutty/earthy finish; lots of ripe friut under all that oak. $23.00
- A Donkey&Goat Roussanne Tamarindo ElenRidgeVnyd/ElDorado (14.4%; Unfltrd; 24 cs;
www.ADonkeyAndGoat.com; TablasCreekClone) 2006: Med.dark gold color;very ripe/overripe/
rotted apple bit smokey/spicy some floral/honeysuckle slight earthy/peppery very strange nose; slightly spritzy/apple cider very ripe/overripe/rotted apple slight floral/honeyed flavor; very long apple cider/rotted apple/overripe slight earthy/floral finish; a very strange wine w/ lots of overripe character; speaks little of Roussanne. $27.00
- Qupe Roussanne BienNacidoHillsideEstate (EB; 14.5%) 2004: Med.dark gold color; very strong/intense floral/honeysuckle/ripe/peachy rather pencilly/oak somewhat waxy/nutty/old Roussanne rather complex nose; tart very rich/lush honeyed/waxy/floral/honeysuckle slight nutty/
oxidized rather pencilly/oak complex flavor; very long/lingering waxy/floral/honeysuckle/peach slight nutty finish; a big powerful wine w/ loads of fruit but w/the structure for the long haul; terrific Roussanne. $42.00
- Arbin Mondeuse Vin de Savoie Prestige des Arpentes (12.5%) LesFils de Charles Trosset
2005: Dark color; strong Beaujolais/blackberry/black cherry some earthy/pungent/minerally
nose; very tart/lean/austere minerally/stoney/earthy quite fruity/raspberry/blackberry quite
Beaujolais GC flavor; med.long some rough/tannic earthy/minerally grapey/blackberry/black
cherry finish; a rather rough/rustic red much like a Beaujolais GC w/ lots of acid; an interesting classic Savoie red. $19.00
- FortRoss Pinotage FtRossVnyd/SonomaCoast (14.7%; www.FortRossVineyard.com) 2003: Very dark color; very strong toasty/charred/pungent/oak very perfumed/aromatic/black cherry/RC Cola some pungent/new tire complex nose; very tart very strong black cherry/RC Cola quite toasty/
charred/oak spicy/pungent bit rough/rustic flavor; very long pungent/RC Cola/black cherry finish w/ fair tannins; some like a SonomaCoast Syrah w/o the peppery or high-tone character; amazingly good Pinotage. $30.00
- Fortitude ShakeRidge/KraemerFamily/SutterCreek/AmadorCnty (48% Zin, 20% PS,
14% Tempranillo, 12% Barbera, 6% Primitivo; 13.5%) 2005: Very dark color; lovely very
strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zin bit cherry/SpanishTempranillo some toasty/oak little Amador
slight earthy/briary nose; some hard/tannic spicy/blackberry/peppery/Zin tart/structured some
complex flavor; very long rather hard/tannic very spicy/blackberry/peppery/boysenberry light
toasty/oak finish; needs 3-6 yrs to develop; a lovely/structured Zin at a very good price. $24.00
- DryCreekVnyd DryCreekVlly Zin AnniversaryCuvee (35'th; 14.4%; 396 cs;14.5%; 20% PS;
www.DryCreekVineyard.com) 2005: Very dark color; lovely licorice/pungent blackberry/boysen-
berry/Zin very spicy/perfumed some toasty/oak bit chocolaty nose; big/rich/structured intense
blackberry/boysenberry/very spicy some black pepper some toasty/smokey/oak rather tannic
flavor; very long tannic/structured peppery/blackberry/very spicy/Zin finish; speaks more of
RRV Zin than DCV Zin; needs 2-6 yrs; big/rich Zin w/ lots of structure; rather different than
most DryCreekVnyd Zins. Fairly priced at $35.00
- Carlisle CarlisleVnyd/RRV Zin (15.9%; PellettiVnyd; Z+PetiteSirah/AlicanteBouchet/ GrandNoir; 273 cs; 0.6 tons/acre; U/U; Drk: '08-'15) 2005: Very dark color; spectacular blackberry/Zin/peppery/boysenberry/ripe very spicy quite dusty/old vines some pungent/toasty/oak bit riper/jammier nose; tart very intense spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin very spicy/peppery some
toasty/oak flavor; very long/lingering intense/spicy/peppery/blackberry/Zin finish w/ ample
tannins; needs 3-8 yrs; a bit more structured and dusty/old vines and more peppery; this is just about as good as RRV Zin ever gets. $37.50
- Carlisle Carlo'sRanch/RRV Zin (15.9%; PaperaVnyd; 1.3 tons/acre; U/U; 135 cs; Drk: '08-'14) 2005: Very dark/black color; intense blackberry/Zin/very spicy/peppery somewhat riper/jammier almost Syrah-like light toasty/smokey/oak rather dusty/old vines huge/intense nose; tart very rich/extracted intense blackberry/Zin/almost Syrah-like quite dusty/old vines slight alcoholic flavor; very long/lingering very intense ripe/blackberry/boysenberry very dusty/old vines
light toasty/oak very peppery finish w/ fair tannins; needs another 3-8 yrs as well; absolutely
killer classic/RRV Zin at a great price. $37.50
- Hocus-Pocus SantaBarbaraCnty Syrah (14.9%) 2005: Very dark color; rather toasty/charred/ oak ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah slight peppery/cardboard attractive nose; tart bit light
somewhat toasty/charred/oak rather blackberry/Syrah flavor; bit tannic/rough/hard ripe/Syrah/
blackberery slight licorice/pungent finish; needs a yr or two; a slight funky/rustic undercurrent but a very good Syrah at a very good price. $17.00
- Cep SonomaCoast Syrah (13.2%) Cloverdale 2005: Dark color; rather dusty/earthy spicy/ peppery/very cracked black pepper bit roasted/Rhonish nose; tart rather cracked black pepper/Syrah/blackberry classic cold climate/Syrah slight roasted/espresso/Rhonish flavor; med. strong cracked black pepper Syrah/blackberry bit roasted/Rhonish finish w/slight tannin; quite a
nice example of cold-climate Syrah; not big enough and alcoholic enough to garnish big scores, however. Very attractive price at $20.00
- Ridge Calif LyttonEstate/DryCreekVlly Syrah II (76% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 2% Viognier;
14.1%; 40 brls; Bttld: March'05; Drk: 1/05-1/10-1/11) 2002: Very dark/black color; bit hot/
alcoholic classic Draper perfume/oak slight floral/menthol strong blackberry/black cherry/Syrah
slight herbal/earthy slight volatile classic Ridge/complex nose; soft very Ridge/Draper perfume
oaked/toasty/pungent strong blackberry/black cherry/cola/Syrah fairly tannic/structured flavor;
very long some tannic classic Ridge/Draper perfume black cherry/Syrah/cola finish; speaks
strongly of Ridge but more varietal Syrah than previous. $36.00
- Ridge Calif LyttonEstate/DryCreekVlly Syrah (76% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 3% Carignane;
13.8%; 39 brls; Bttld: Aug'04; Drk: 7/04-7/09) 2002: Very dark/black color; intense black
cherry/blackberry/Syrah some floral/violets very perfummy slight brett/funky Draper perfume nose; some tart very blackcherry/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah somewhat toasty/oak/Draper perfume some tannic bit floral/violets flavor; very long some tannic/structured strong blackberry/ black cherry/Syrah some toasty/Draper perfume finish; bit more leaner/austere than II. $36.00 (ATP)
- Koehler SantaYnezVlly Syrah (15.0%) 2005: Black color; very strong toasty/charred/oak/burnt
some blackberry/Syrah strange green olive/herbal/funky bit reduced/fecal nose; tart bit
tannic/hard quite charred/burnt/toasty/oak some blackberry/Syrah somewhat funky/herbal/green
olive flavor; med.long bit tannic/hard/bitey some blackberry/Syrah very charred/toasty/burnt/
oak slight tarry/pungent finish; very strange Syrah. $22.00
And a kinda rambling and tedious TheBloodyPulpit:
1. NovyViognier: The first two Novy Viogniers were very ripe, pretty high in alcohol (16% or so)
and rather on the fat/porky side (think DollyParton at 70 yrs old). This '06 was much more
restrained in character, had a bit more structure & acidity; either from an earlier harvest or a water regimen.
2. Donkey&Goat Roussanne: This was a very bizarre and disappointing wine. I've had a number of the D&G wines (red) over the last few yrs and have, across the board, liked them all. Though
the alcohol level is (by today's standards) modest, the wine had a lot of overripe and somewhat cidery character; what I call rotted apple, like an apple that's fallen to the ground and lain there all winter, under the snow, and then when you go out in the Spring with your bare feet, this rotted apple pulp squeezes up between your toes..that kind of smell. The wine wasn't all that bad or undrinkable; just rather bizarre and not much Roussanne.
3. QupeRoussanne: BobLindquist has been making Roussanne for quite a long time. Mostly from
Alban and BienNacido (floor) grapes. This is the 2'nd vintage of this wine, grown up on the high ridge behind the wnry where his HillsideEstate Syrah comes from. It is simply a stunning example of Roussanne, maybe the best Roussanne yet produced in Calif, as good as
any of the Alban's I can recall. It may, just maybe, be of the stature of the Beaucastel
ViellesVignes. It has great structure and acidity and I see no reason it won't age 10-15 yrs.
4. Mondeuse: I've been a big fan of Mondeuse since I first tasted MikeOfficer's Mondeuse from
barrel, from the Twackers vnyd, back when he was a home winemaker. So I taste as many of
those from the Savoie and Refoscos from Italy that I can find. This was one of the better
prertty classic Savoie Mondeuses. The Carlisle is, probably, the world's greatest Mondeuse.
5. Pinotage: I'm not a very big fan of Pinotage (PinotNoir x Cinsault), nearly all of them from
SouthAfrica. They often have a hard/tannic/raspy/rustic character, often a bit lacking in
bright fruit, and an underlying sourness I just don't like. Never/ever found one I wanted
to try again. I've had one from KentRassmussen that I thought was pretty decent, just that.
When I first heard of this Pinotage from extreme SonomaCoast, I was pretty skeptical.
Where Lester&Linda Schwartz (originally from SA, hence the rationale for Pinotage) grow,
within view of the PacificOcean just south of FortRoss (the pics on their WebSite are pretty
spectacular) strikes me as awfully cold growing conditions for Pinotage. So I bought this
wine w/ very low expectations. Whatta surprise. The wine is, by far, the greatest Pinotage
I've ever had; a terrific red wine by any standard, not just for Pinotage. I'm now looking
forward to trying their Chard and Pinots.
6. Fortitude Zin: This is a wine made by TonySoter/Etude. I expected it to taste like a Zin made by a Pinot producer. Couldn't have been further from the truth. It really spoke more of big
HowellMtn Zin with very little Amador character. It had far more acidity and structure then
Amador Zins tend to have. A Zin that really needs age to show its stuff.
7. DryCreek AnnivZin: Bill Knuttle has hit another one outta the park. I'm not sure how they're
counting this as their 35'th Anniv Zin. DaveStare's first wine was his '72 Gamay, to my recollection. His first Zin was a '73, put up in a Burg btl. It was a pleasant/simple little Zin that didn't do a whole lot for me. It wasn't until about '74-'75 that Dave made a Zin that really got my attention. The DCV Zins have always been some of my favorites. Not particularly big, but very well made and polished; not the kind of Zin that'll score big #'s from important wine critics. But they always have that bright/classic DryCreekVlly Zin fruit.Their Heritage Clone Zin is one of the real Zin values around. The SingleVnyd (Beeson and Sommers) are always my favorites, closely followed by the OldVine Zin. This wine is a whole nuther breed of cat. It reminds me more of RRV Zin than DryCreekVlly; it doesn't have some much of the bright Zinberry character that the DCV Zins tend to have. It's got lots of structure for a Zin and should age very/very well.
8. HocusPocus: This is a wine made jointly by PeterHunken (Sashi Moorman's assistant at Stolpman) and Amy Christine (Somm at AOC). I think this is probably their first effort. And quite a good first effort it is at a very fair price.
8. Cep: Couldn't find out anything about this wine or who made it or where the grapes came from. But it was quite a nice example of cold-climate Syrah w/ lots of peppery character.
9. RidgeSyrahs: I've long wrestled in my mind over the Ridge Syrahs (and Grenaches and Carignanes). They are rather strange beasts; not at all like any other Syrahs being made in Calif. There are times that I don't care for them because the Ridge winemaking style nearly obliterates the varietal character... it speaks more of Ridge red wine than Syrah. When I tasted them blind in Syrah tastings...they don't show very well. And then I've had them blind in Syrah tastings and think they're pretty good Syrah. I'm badly confused...don't know wether I like them or not. If I judge them as Ridge red wine, I like them...a lot. If I judge them as Calif Syrah, I'm disappointed. What's a guy to do?? That being said, I liked these two Ridge Syrahs a lot. I think they may even be the best Ridge Syrahs yet. They both had more classic Syrah fruit than some of the previous editions. Yet they both spoke strongly of Ridge red wine. The side label gave them both a relatively short drinking lifetime. Yet they had so much structure and balance that I can't help think they'll go another 10 yrs beyond that. I really struggled as I tasted these wines. They are distinctly different from one another. Yet I simply could not come up w/ adequate descriptors to both describe the wines and describe the differences. I need to sit down w/ these two wines side by side and taste them over a several hour period. But I do think they are pretty outstanding wines...Ridge Red or Calif Syrah.
10. KoehlerSyrah: This was Larry's mystery wine that he bought because it had got a fairly high score (low 90's) from someone at a fairly good price. It was a somewhat interesting Syrah but there was just something about it I did not like, but couldn't put my finger upon. I should try this wine again over several hr's time.
11. CarlisleZins: These are the Fall release of Mike's two Zins. And spectacular Zins they be.
They remind me some of the Zins that JoeSwan made in the early '70's. Between the Carlisle/
Carlisle and the Carlo's, I'd be hard pressed to choose my favorite. Like saying which child is your favorite. The Carlisle/Carlisle showed more structure and peppery character, maybe a bit more dusty old vines. The Carlo's seemed a bit lusher and riper, yet somehow a bit more lean and tight. Whatever...two spectacular Zins (again) by Mike. As good a Zin ever gets in Calif. Now for the Syrahs.
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