Home | Recent Tastings | Wine Touring | Cellars | What's New

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 California Burgundies - March 7, 2007


We tasted the other night (3/7/07) some California Burgundies :

  1. Ramey Chard SonomaCoast (14.2%; www.RameyWine.com) Healdsburg 2003: Med.gold color; rather toasty/smokey/pungent bright melony/Chard bit appley slight earthy nose; tart strong toasty/ smokey/charred/Fr.oak light bright/melony/appley slight bacony flavor; very long/lingering
    strong toasty/charred/oak some melony/Chard finish; lots of charred oak but plenty of fruit
    underneath; bit lacking a mid-palate; bit pricey at $39.50
  2. Failla Chard KeeferRanch/RussianRvrVlly (14.1%; www.FaillaWines.com) 2004: Med.dark gold color; very fragrant/floral/spicy bright appley/melony/Chard loads of Chard fruit low key oak/ toasty nose; tart crisp/minerally bright/floral/apple blossom/melony/Chard/appley flavor; very long clean/crisp minerally/chalky bright/floral/spicy/melony slight butterscotchy/oak/ toasty finish; a lovely minerally Chard w/ loads of fruit; fairly priced at $44.00
  3. SonomaCoastVnyds SonomaCoast Chard (14.8%; Peterson/Sullivan/TwinHills vnyds; Clone 95 & Wente; 450 cs; TA: 0.72; www.SonomaCoastVineyards.com) AnthonyAustin 2003: Med.gold color; rather strong toasty/smokey/charred/oak fairly minerally/melony/Chard slight yeasty very Burgundian complex nose; soft very rich/lush minerally/smokey/pungent/toasty/Burgundian
    bright minerally/appley/Chard flavor; very long minerally/Burgundian/toasty/oak rather appley/ minerally/Chard some complex finish; rather Burgundian in character and a fair amount of oak but quite a good Chard. $41.00
  4. SonomaCoastVnyds SonomaCoast Chard Petersen&MillStation vnyds (Dijon95 & Wente clones; 12 months sur lie; 512 cs; TA:0.74, pH: 3.37; 13.42%; www.SonomaCoastVineyards.com) Anthony Austin 2004: Med.gold color; less charred/ toasty/Fr.oak more vanilla/spicy/nutmeg/butterscotchy bit herbal rather minerally/chalky strong
    melon/floral/perfumed very spicy complex nose; tart rich very spicy/melony/Chard light nutmeg/ butterscotchy very floral/minerally flavor; very long/lingering tart some vanilla/butterscotchy/oak bright/spicy/melony/Chard finish; a beautiful very spicy/minerally Chard w/ great structure; may go
    for 10 yrs or so; one of my best Calif Chards in some time. $50.00
  5. JosephPhelps fogdog SonomaCoast PinotNoir (13.8%) 2004: Med.dark color; pretty bright/
    cherry/PN some spicy light toasty/charred/Fr.oak slight earthy nose; soft some toasty/oak bright/ zippy/cherry/spicy/PN/cherry cough drop flavor; med.long bright cherry/PN/strawberry slight earthy some toasty/oak finish; a pretty/bright/vibrant SonomaCoast Pinot. $35.00
  6. FreemanVnyd&Wnry SonomaCoast PinotNoir (www.FreemanWinery.com; 14.2%) 2004: Med.color; deep black cherry/spicy/PN/cola slight herbal/dusty slight toasty/smokey/oak interesting
    nose; tart/lean pretty/bright/black cherry/PN/cola/DrPepper light toasty/oak slight earthy very attractive flavor; long bright/black cherry/cola/DrPepper some pencilly/toasty/Fr.oak slight earthy/ dusty/truffle finish w/ modest tannins; needs a yr or two. $41.00
  7. Holdredge PinotNoir MazieRose/RRV (14.5%; www.Holdredge.com) 2005: Med.dark color; bright cherry/PN slight earthy/mushroomy/RRV attractive nose; rather bright/cherry/PN/cherry soda
    loads of fruit slight earthy/mushroomy/RRV quite perfumed/aromatic flavor; long bright/cherry/ PN/ cherry soda/strawberry slight earthy/mushroomy finish w/ light tannins; loads of bright cherry/PN fruit. $40.00
  8. Holdredge PinotNoir WrenHopVnyd/RRV (14.2%) 2005: Med.dark color; deeper more earthy slight herbal/ruhbarb slight minty/menthol less bright cherry more deeper black cherry nose; strong
    black cherry/PN/herbal some toasty/oak bit earthy/menthol deeper flavor; long black cherry/PN
    slight earthy/herbal/menthol slight tannic light toasty/oak finish; less bright cherry fruit and more bass/black cherry/plummy character. $38.00
  9. Holdredge PinotNoir RRV (14.4%) 2005: Med.color; lovely earthy/mushroomy/RRV attractive/ cherry/PN/spicy light toasty/oak nose; soft cherry/spicy/PN light earthy/mushroomy/RRV slight funky/ dusty light oak flavor; med.long bright/cherry/spicy/PN light earthy light toasty/oak finish;
    a pretty/drinkable Pinot w/ good RRV character. $32.00
  10. Drew PinotNoir WeirVnyd/YorkvilleHighlands (14.8%; 200 cs) 2005: Med.dark color; lovely toasty/oak very floral/exotic/perfumed spicy/black cherry/PN slight dusty nose; soft ripe/lush strong
    black cherry/cherry/PN bit earthy/dusty some toasty/pencilly/oak flavor w/ some tannins; long
    rather spicy/black cherry/cherry bit dusty finish; lots of bright cherry fruit. $35.00
  11. Drew PinotNoir McDougallVnyd/SonomaCoast (14.8%; 75 cs) 2005: Very dark/black color; beautiful black cherry/PN/ripe spicy/DrPepper some pungent/toasty/oak bit complex nose; tart rich/big very strong black cherry/PN/spicy/DrPepper some toasty/smokey/oak slight dusty some tannic flavor; very long spicy/DrPepper/black cherry/cola/PN some toasty/pungent/oak finish w/
    some tannins; needs 2-5 yrs yet; my favorite of the Drews; big & structured. $50.00
  12. Drew PinotNoir Fog-Eater/AndersonVlly (14.6%; 225 cs) 2005: Dark color; some dusty/earthy/
    walnutty/OR-like some black cherry/PN complex nose; tart/deep/rich black cherry/PN some
    earthy/walnutty/cherry cough syrup/cola bit tannic flavor; long bit tannic black cherry/cola/PN
    bit dusty/earthy/walnutty finish; not as bright/zingy as many AndersonVlly Pinots; needs several
    yrs of age. $35.00
  13. Drew PinotNoir Cargasacchi/JalamaVnyd/PotBellyBlock/SantaBarbaraCnty (13.8%; 200 cs;
    www.DrewWines.com) 2004
    : Med.light color; rather plummy/licorice some black cherry/PN rather
    pencilly/toasty/oak nose; tart bit lean/hard plummy/licorice slight black cherry/PN light toasty/ smokey/cedary/pencilly/oak flavor; med. licorice/plummy slight black cherry/PN light pencilly/toasty/ oak finish; not the power & richness of wines from the regular Cargasacchi vnyd; a bit strange for PN. $27.50
  14. SantaCruzMtnVnyd SCM PinotNoir (EB; JarvisVnyd; SaH: 32.2Brix; TA: 0.92; pH:3.1; 13 1/2%) 1981: Rather dark color w/ slight bricking at the edges; very strong toasty/charred/burnt/
    smokey slight mousy/decayed leaf little fruit nose; rather hard/tannic/astringent no fruit quite dried out strong charred/burnt/oak flavor; some interesting things in the nose but a pretty tired/dried-out Pinot devoid of fruit. Blair's mystery wine.

And the usual musings from the BloodyPulpit:

1. Failla: I just get more and more impressed by the wines Ehren is producing from Failla these
days. His Sonoma Coast wines are some of the best around. And very fairly priced I feel.
2. SonomaCoastVnyds: A fairly new operation out towards Freestone run by John Drady w/ Tony Austin as the winemaker. They are making some very impressive wines. It's great to see
Tony making the kind of wines he's truly capable of. A wnry to watch as their own vnyds come on-line.
3. Calif Chards: It's easy to diss Calif Chards, but I'm finding more and more ones that I really like. Vis a vis French WhiteBurg, there are some real values out there in Calif Chard. If I hear the "fat/buttery/over-oaked/alcoholic/fruit-bomb Chard" that is used as a blanket condemenation of Calif Chard one more time, I think I'm gonna barf. There are a lot of really good/well-made Chards out there that defy that description. Get over it, folks.
4. fogdog: This is, I believe, Phelps first commercial release of their SonomaCoast Pinot.
They eschewed the Phelps/Freestone label because CraigWilliams doesn't think it's quite yet up to the potential that that vnyd will ultimately deliver. It is a pretty Pinot, but not nearly as stunning as some from the SonomaCoast these days.
5. Freeman: This is a wine Jim Coley at Gomer's in KC suggested I try. He was, of course,
once again, dead on. Quite a nice example of SonomaCoast Pinot. Ed Kurtzman is winemaker.
6. Holdredge: My first experience w/ John's Pinots. I liked them quite a lot; well-made, interesting Pinots. Slightly preferred the WrenHop over the Mazie for its deeper/black cherry character. Eager to try his other wines now.
7. Drew: I've been a big fan of Jason&Molly's Syrah from down in SantaBarbara from the very
start. I thought the Pinots were solid/four-square efforts but not as impressive as the
Syrahs. About 2 yrs ago, they bought property up on the Mendocino Ridge above the
AndersonVlly. These wines represent Jason's first efforts w/NorthCoast Pinot fruit. I was fairly impressed with them. It'll be interesting to see what he does w/ Syrah and Zin up there.
8. YorkvilleHighlands: This was the first Pinot I recall tasting from this (relatively) new growing area in MendoCnty. I thought it was a pretty good Pinot, not quite as bright and zingy as those from nearby AndersonVlly. I've had Viog and Syrah from there that I liked quite a lot as well. Despite the fact there's too much Merlot & Cab there, it's an area to watch I think.
9. SantaCruzMtn: This wine was a huge bruiser in its day. It's day has come and gone. It was
a big/black/extracted Pinot on release that Blair & I both thought would live forever. A Syrah-like Pinot back afore there were Syrahs from Calif to make that analogy. I'm pretty certain, though, if Ken Burnap had allowed the grapes to ripen sufficiently and it had fermented out to 15%-16%+ alcohol, the wine would still be alive & well.
10. UnderripePinots: I find in some Oregon Pinots from less ripe vintages/grapes a distinct
smell of green walnuts. Found it as well in the Drew FogEater. Strange, but I never find it in
RedBurg, AltoAdige, Arbois, Sta.RitaHills or other cold-climate Pinots. I know green walnuts well. We had 9 trees on our property in KansasCity. I used to sit on top of our outhouse, pull those green suckers, hard as steel ball bearings, off the overhanging tree, and pelt Billy & Nanny, the Utter's goats next door, with them. Every once in awhile, I'd hit one in the side of the ribs w/ a resounding/satisfying "thump". Billy or Nanny would rise up on their hind legs and let out this loud bellow. Then ol' lady Utter would come running out the back door, yelling at me.."Tommy..you get down off that outhouse and leave my goats alone". I'd run like the dickens to escape her wrath. But the smell of those green walnuts, oily and sticky, would stay on my hands for days, no matter how hard I scrubbed. I remember that distinct smell well. Great fun that was.


<< back to TomHill archive

Home | Top of page | Recent Tastings

Copyright © 1996 - 2007, Tom Hill - All rights reserved
No original material may be reproduced without written consent
Mail & Comments
- Grape-Nutz