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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 New Wines - July 11, 2007


We tasted recently (7/11/07) some new wines :

  1. Lioco Chard MichaudVnyd/Chalone/MontereyCnty (14.5%; PhBalance: 3.60; TA: 6.9 g/l; RS: 0.09 g/l; Brix: 23 ; <.9 tons/acre; No oak; Unfltrd) 2005: Pale yellow color; very clean/spicy/ appley/ melony bit candied/cotton candy slight minerally/chalky nose; tart rich/lush clean/bright spicy/ appley/melony/Chard light minerally flavor; med.long bright/spicy/appley/melony/Chard slight mineral finish; a pure/bright Chard at a fair price. $32.00
  2. Boheme Chard TaylorRidgeVnyds/SonomaCoast (12.3%; Wente clone; 65 cs) 2005: Med.yellow color; very fragrant/perfumed floral/melony/Chard/ripe apple/pear some minerally very light oak lovely nose; tart rich/lush very floral/spicy/menolly/appley/pure Chard very light/spicy/oak rich/textured flavor; very long/lingering concentrated/melony/ripe/Chard slight minerally light/pencilly/oak finish; a terrific essence of Chard like the MtVeeder '75 or some of the early Long Chards; beautiful balance and concentration; very fair price. $35.00
  3. Babcock Chard Oasis LomaVerdeVnyd (15%; OptimumQuodPossum) 2005: Light gold color; some caramel/butterscotchy/oak bit earthy ripe/melony/Chard some spicy/nutmeg nose; soft/lush/
    round rather caramel/butterscotchy/oak ripe/melony/Chard rather fat/textured flavor;med.short soft/fat caramel/butterscotchy/oak very ripe/melony/Chard finish; a pleasant Chard but just that; pricey at $40.00
  4. Babcock Chard TopCream SantaRitaHills EstateVnyd (15%; OQP) 2005: Med.gold color; more
    pencilly/caramel/creme brulee/oak slight chalky strong/ripe/melony/Chard bit citrusy nose; tart rich/lush pencilly/caramel/oak slight spicy/minerally/citrusy strong melony/ripe/Chard flavor; med.long rich/lush ripe/melony/Chard rather pencilly/oak finish; more acid and far more interesting Chard than the LV; still pricey at $40.00
  5. Boheme PinotNoir MarshVnyd/SonomaCoast (13.2%; Swan clone; < 0.5 ton/acre; 26 cs) 2005: Med.light color; beautiful bright cherry/floral/Pinot/alpine strawberries slight minty very perfumed/aromatic light toasty/oak elegant/delicate nose; tart very bright/cherry/
    floral/violets/Pinot light pencilly/oak slight earthy elegant flavor; very long/lingering bright/cherry/ spicy/Pinot light pencilly/oak finish w/ light tannins; a beautiful elegant/ balanced very floral/ perfumed/cherry Pinot; fairly priced at $45.00
  6. Boheme PinotNoir TaylorRidgeVnyd/SonomaCoast (14.8%; Swan clone; <1/3'rd ton/acre;
    55 cs) 2005
    : Med.dark color; bigger/richer more earthy/mushroomy/Burgundian deeper/black
    cherry/cola/Pinot light toasty/oak complex nose; tart very rich/lush somewhat Burgundian/
    mushroomy/earthy strong ripe/black cherry/cola/Pinot/DrPepper light toasty complex almost RRV flavor; very long strong/black cherry/cola/Pinot slight earthy/Burgundian finish w/ more tannins; needs several yrs; bigger more RRV style Pinot but not over-the-top; lovely more Burgundian Pinot; fairly priced at $50.00
  7. SantaCruzMtnVnyd Syrah ZayanteVnyd/SCM (12.5%;www.SCMountainVineyard.com) 2001: Very dark color; deep blackberry/Syrah some herbal slight dusty/earthy/SCM some toasty/oak
    nose; tart bit lean/hard blackberry/Syrah rather earthy/cola/dusty/SCM somewhat toasty/oak rather rought/brawny/earthy flavor; med.short bit hard/tannic/rough blackberry/Syrah some herbal/ dusty/SCM finish w/ some tannins; a rather rough/rustic bit coarse Syrahthat speacks of SCM terroir; very well priced at $15.00
  8. Greta-Plan Valois AOC Rouvinez Vins Sierre Suisse (13%; Cepage: Syrah;www.Ullrich.ch) Paul Ullrich AG/Basel 2003: Dark color; somewhat bretty/horsecollar very peppery/cracked black pepper/cold-climate/Syrah some blackberry/Syrah quite spicy/complex nose; tart/lean/scraggly rather minerally/cola/blackberry/Syrah dusty/earthy black pepper slight bretty/unclean flavor; long tart/hard earthy/dusty somewhat peppery some blackberry/Syrah finish; lots of cold-climate/black pepper Syrah character but a bit bretty/unclean. Some like the LesCretes Syrah. Most people didn't like this wine and I wasn't able to browbeat them into liking it. Very fair price at $18.00/converted
    from Euros.
  9. Boheme Syrah QueSyrahVnyd/SonomaCoast (14.5%; 201 cs;www.BohemeWine.com) KurtBeitler/Occidental 2004: Black color; beautiful peppery/cracked black pepper/green olive/cold-climate Syrah very strong black cherry/blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry bit roasted/ espresso/mocha/NorthernRhone complex/spicy nose; tart/tannic very cracked black pepper/cold-
    climate Syrah rather hard/tannic intense black cherry/blackberry/Syrah somewhat pungent/
    roasted/esperesso/Rhonish complex very slight pungent/toasted/oak flavor; very long/lingering tannic/hard pungent/roasted/espresso/Rhonish very strong black cherry/blackberry/Syrah light toasty/oak finish; needs 4-10 yrs; a stunning example of cold-climate Syrah, maybe as good as anything Ehren did w/ these grapes; one of the best young Calif Syrahs I've had this year; fairly priced at $50.00
  10. Boheme Syrah SantaLuciaHighlands (15.1%; 275 cs) 2005: Very dark/black color; intense
    boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah bit herbal/peppery/chocolat huge fruit very spicy very light
    toasty/oak nose; richer/softer intense blackberry/boysenberry/chocolaty/Syrah slight herbal/
    peppery/spicy light oak flavor; very long/lingering big/ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/chocolaty/ spicy/Syrah bit herbal/peppery light/toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; needs 1-4 yrs yet; somewhat Novy in style, some Oz/but w/ structure in style; very classic SLH Syrah in style; attractively priced at $40.00
  11. Babcock Syrah FryingPan AlisosVnyd/SBCnty (14.5%) 2005: Black color; very intense
    boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah/chocolaty some toasty/oak slight herbal/ozone/carbon arc/
    WWII beacon huge fruit nose; soft/rich/lush some toasty/charred/oak intense boysenberry/
    blackberry/chocolaty/Syrah big fruit flavor; long soft/rich/lush/extracted huge/blackberry/ boysenberry some toasty/charred/oak slight herbal finish w/some tannins; hugeboysenberry/Syrah fruit but a bit lacking in structure & acidity;rather ChesterOsborne/d'Arenberg in style; slightly pricey at $50.00
  12. Babcock Syrah Nook&Cranny Sta.RitaHills (15%; EG) 2005: Black color; beautiful black cherry/ bing cherry/blackberry/boysenberry strong roasted/peppery/mocha some toasty/charred/oak complex nose; tart rich/extracted/structured some smoky/charred/pungent/oak bit roasted/peppery/ cracked pepper/smoky huge black cherry/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah spicy/licorice/DrPepper complex flavor; very long tart/structured/rich/mouthfilling some tannic some toasty/charred/oak intense black cherry/boysenberry cracked black pepper/slight Rhonish/herbal complex finish; needs 2-6 yrs; terrific example of cold-climate/SRH Syrah; fairly priced at $50.00
  13. AlcinaCllrs Syrah GabrielliVnyd/MendocinoCnty (14.9%;www.AlcinaCellars.com) 2004: Dark
    color; strong blackberry/Syrah fairly bright/tomatoey/spicy slight earthy some toasty/charred/oak attractive nose; tart bit lean/dusty fairly strong blackberry/Syrah/earthy bit tomatoey/spicy light charred/toasty/oak flavor; med.long bright/blackberry/Syrah slight tomatoey/earthy/dusty light toasty/oak finish w/ light tannins; a good/solid 4-square Syrah that speaks of Mendocino; bit pricey at $34.60
  14. EdmundsStJohn BassettiVnyd/SLOCnty Syrah (14.2%) 2005: Black color;intense blackberry/
    framboise/Syrah somewhat roasted/coffee/espresso/mocha/cracked white pepper fairly pungent/ smokey/gamey/raw meat quite complex nose; tart strong blackberry/framboise bit tannic slight roasted/espresso/smokey/pungent structured complex flavor; very long strong blackberry/framboise some roasted/peppery/espresso rather NorthernRhone rather tannic/hard finish; needs 4-10 yrs; more elegance & high-toned character than the other Syrah; another terrific EdStJ Bassetti; very good price at $48.00

And the Usual deranged musings from TheBloodyPulpit :

1. Boheme: These are just released wines from Kurt Beitler up inOccidental. He is the nephew of ChuckWagner/Caymus. He manages the Caymus SonomaCoast Pinot vnyd on TaylorLane, out to the west of (Nuclear-Free Zone) Sebastapol, pretty near the Pacific. It's an
interesting vnyd that's up on the pergola system, a la that found in Trentino, one of the very few in Calif. Just west of the Caymus TaylorLane vnyd is Vincent Rago's TaylorRidge vnyd where the Chard and Pinot were sourced from. And then further west down TaylorLane is Al Rago's Que Syrah vnyd. The Marsh vnyd is in the same locale, just one ridge to the north of TaylorLane. Pete Marsh sold the vnyd after '05, so Kurt will no longer be getting those grapes. All these vnyds are in the extreme SonomaCoast, very cool area.

Al Rago & I go waaay back, to the Summer of '67 when I worked in the ReactorPhysics Division of ArgonneNatlLab. His QueSyrah vnyd is truly one of the great Syrah vnyds in Calif. Ehren Jordan made some terrific Syrahs from those grapes in the late '90's, early '00's. The '98 Failla-Jordan QueSyrah Syrah is one of the greatest Syrah wines I've had from Calif.

A yr ago last March, afore RhoneRangers, I tasted the Syrah from barrel w/ Al & Kurt up at Caymus. I liked the various samples I tried there quite a lot and knew the wine was pretty good. Little did I know how good the finished wine would be. I was expecting to like these Boheme wines a lot. I was not expecting them to be this spectacular, though. Across the board, some of the best first-release wines I've ever had.

I'm not much of a Chard fan. This TaylorRidge was one of the best Calif Chards I've had in some yrs. It reminded me of the '75 LongVnyd Chard that MikeBernstein made, back when MtVeeder Wnry was a name to be reckoned with. And some of those early LongVnyd Chards that ZelmaLong made there in the late '70's. They all had almost an essence of Chard character in their intensity; floral aromatics that almost made you think of Muscat in its intensity. Not seen the likes of such from Calif to those in some time. The two Pinots were also outstanding, but starkly different for being so closely co-located. Here, there are so many other SonomaCoast Pinots that are so spectacular out there that Kurt's didn't stand out as much in my mind. The lovely/delicate aromatics of the Marsh reminded me much of Eric Sussman's Radio-Coteau Pinots in style.

The Taylor Ridge Pinot was bigger/deeper and reminded me more of some RRV or Swan Pinots. But they are, I think, as fine as any of these SonomaCoast Pinots around. I slightly preferred
the Marsh because of its wonderful perfume. The two Syrahs I thought pretty stunning examples of Calif Syrah; both pretty distinctive/characteristic of their respective terroir. The QueSyrah vnyd Syrah is one of the best new Calif Syrahs I've had this year. My guess it'll be as good as any EhrenJordan made from these grapes.

Don't think I'm smart enough to characterize Kurt's winemaking style. Given the Caymus connection, I was expecting a $hitload (Kansas colloquialism for "a lot") of new oak. In all the 5 wines, they amount of oak was waaaay in the background. He did a great job of letting the grape source speak for themselves. Definitely, a wnry to keep your eyes upon in the future.
2. Greta-Plan: I had asked Susan to try to track down a Swiss Syrah I'd heard some good
things about; whilst she was visiting a friend in Basel. She went to the Paul Ullrich
wine shop and this is what they immediately recommended. I thought it was a bit on the
bretty side in the nose, but there were a lot of good/cold-climate Syrah characeristics
in there that I liked quite a lot. It reminded my of a Val d'Aosta Syrah I had several yrs ago from DarrellCorti under the LesCretes label; very black pepper/cold-climate Syrah in character.
3. Alcina/Gabrielli: GregP had indicated to me that he was not totally pleased w/ the Gabrelli Syrah grapes in '04. So I had pretty low expectations of the wine. I was pleasantly suprised, however. Though not up there w/ the best of Greg's wines I've had (this was the first Syrah), I thought it was a good/solid 4-square Syrah that showed some of that tomato sauce character I sometimes get in Mendocino reds. I understand this is his last Gabrielli wine. If TJ's has this wine at <$20, it's a steal at that.
4. Babcock Syrahs: BryanBabcock has probably making some of the best wines in his life over
the last few yrs. I can hardly wait now to try his Cabs, from an area that gets no respect
for Cabernets. His standard black-label is a good/tasty/solid SBC Syrah. These two TerroirExclusives Club Syrahs are about as good as it gets for SBC Syrah. The N&C is
particularly terrific and a great expression of cold-climate/SRH Syrah.
5. EdStJ/Bassetti: This is always the favorite of my EdStJ Syrahs and this one certainly didn't disappoint. Loaded w/ cold-climate Syrah character; it also has a lot of high-toned notes that you don't often get in Syrah. It's got the acidity & structure for long aging. With Steve's 60'th BD coming up in a month, it may very well outlive him (but certainly not me, though). To my mind, Steve's Bassetti is the best of the 4 Bassetti's produced from these grapes. Alas, this '05 will be the last Bassetti Steve makes.
6. Syrah pricing: Though all these Syrahs were somewhat pricey, I certainly didn't feel they
were out of line and will be going back to the well to buy some more of these. I had the opportunity to taste the Darioush Syrah (forget vintage) that is priced at $80 here in NM ystrday. When I tried it, I just shook my head in wonderment. All of these Syrahs, at nearly half the price, blew that one away. And you don't have to go big $$'s to get great Syrah in Calif. Several of the EdStJ are below $20. The Jaffurs SBC and the Ojai SBC Syrahs are in the low $20's and great-drinking Calif Syrahs. The Qupe single vnyd Syrahs are in the upper $20's and about as fine of an example of Calif Syrah as you can find. Dozens of such examples abound. Too much good drinking out there.


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