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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 California Rhones - March 5, 2008


We tasted last night (3/5/08) some New Calif Rhones :

  1. VIE Roussanne RoundRiverRanch/LakeCnty (14.1%; www.VIEWinery.com) 2006: Med.gold very cloudy color; interesting waxy/figgy aromatic very ripe/rotted apple light toasty/oak slight earthy nose; bit spritzy/prickle very ripe/rotted apple/figgy/cream soda rather strange flavor;
    med.long. $27.00
  2. Domaine des 2 Mondes Viognier Saints & Sinners Sanford&BenedictVnyd/Sta.RitaHills/
    SantaBarbaraCnty (14%) MorgonClendenen/YvesCuilleron 2005
    : Med.gold color; rather cardboardy/musty no fruit badly TCA-tainted nose; tart very weak fruit bitter rather cardboardy/musty flavor; totally robbed of everything by that danged cork. Too bad, hopefully LazyAcres will make good on this. $28.00
  3. Booker White PasoRobles (65% Roussanne, 35% Viognier; www.BookerWines.com; 14.2%) 2005: Light gold color;quite fragrant floral/honeysuckle some peachy ripe light vanilla/oak very attractive/perfumed nose; soft rich/textured/glycerined very floral/perfumed/honeysuckle light vanilla/pencilly/oak flavor; very long rich/lush/mouthfilling big/ripe/peachy/honeysuckle/floral
    light vanilla/oak finish; really rich/lovely white; would like a bit more acidity maybe. $27.00
  4. SQN ThePetition Calif WW (15.8%; Roussanne/Chard/Viognier) 2005: Med.dark gold color;
    strong toasty/oak/butterscotchy/caramel/oak quite fragrant/floral/peachy/pear/honeysuckle
    some complex nose; huge/intense butterscotchy/creme brulee/oak/charred very intense floral/
    melony/mango/tropical fruit bit hot/alcoholic very textured/glycerine complex flavor; very long/ lingering floral/mango/tropical/pineapple/peachy/huge fruit intense butterscotchy/caramel/creme brulee/charred/toasty/oak somewhat alcoholic finish; a ton of charred oak but an intensity of fruit underneath to carry it off; rather bizarre wine but I like it for its over-the-top excess. $80.00
  5. Booker Remnant RW PasoRobles (15.5%; Syrah, CabSauv, CabFranc, Petit Verdot) 2005: Very dark color; strong toasty/oak some blackberry/Syrah fragrant slight boysenberry/jammy nose; rich bit tannic/hard/structured floral/blackberry/Syrah some toasty/charred/oak bit violets/lilacs
    almost Nebbiolo undertones flavor; very long somewhat tannic strong blackberry/boysenberry/
    Syrah some toasty/smokey/oak finish; a big structured red that seems a bit tight/closed right now; needs 2-6 yrs to develop. Very fairly priced at $30.00
  6. RN EstateVnyd Cuvee des Artistes PasoRobles (55% Syrah, 25% CS, 11% CabFranc, 9% Zin;EG; 14.8%) 2004: Dark color; strong licorice/blackberry/Syrah/jammy/Zin-like slight herbal/
    floral perfumed nose; soft quite ripe/jammy very strong blackberry/Zin/licorice flavor; very long ripe/jammy licorice/plummy/Zin then Syrah. $34.00
  7. Booker Fracture Syrah PasoRobles (16.5%) 2005: Very dark/black color; lovely intense blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry some Oz-like bit volatile/fumey huge fruit some jammy nose; soft bit tannic ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah huge fruit flavor; very long huge/ripe/blackberry/Syrah/
    boysenberry slight alcoholic/fumey some tannic finish; needs 2-5 yrs; huge fruit like a
    d'Arenberg Shiraz; a bit alcoholic but carries the 16.5% well; very good Paso Syrah. $45.00
  8. Booker Vertigo Syrah PasoRobles (16.6%) 2005: Black color; intense licorice/tarry/spicy
    blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry slight toasty/oak more interesting nose; soft huge fruit/black-
    berry/boysenberry/Syrah slighht licorice/tarry/spicy/pungent flavor; very long tarry/licorice huge/ blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah w/ some tannins; needs 2-5 yrs; terrific Paso Syrah; no alcoholic or fumey character; more interesting than the Fracture w/ more spiciness. $45.00
  9. Neyers Syrah HudsonVnyd/NapaVlly (14.1%) 2005: Med.dark color; lovely smokey/ Rhonnish/roasted quite spicy/peppery/blackberry/Syrah slight coffee/pungent lovely/complex nose; very attractive some toasty/oak rather Rhonish/roasted peppery/blackberry/Syrah lovely flavor;
    very long quite Rhonish/roasted/coffee light toasty/oak strong peppery/blackberry/Syrah finish w/ light tannins; very good drinking now & lovely Rhonish character; much like a junior Cd'H w/ less extract & structure. $48.00
  10. Neyers Syrah HudsonVnyd/NapaVlly (14.1%) 2006: Very dark color; more intense blackberry/Syrah slight Rhonish/coffee/toasty/oak bit complex nose; tart very strong blackberry/ Syrah/boysenberry/peppery some toasty/oak/pungent bit Rhonish/roasted/earthy flavor; very long ripe/earthy/blackberry/Syrah bit tannic slight toasty/oak/Rhonish finish; needs 2-6 yrs; more up-front Syrah fruit & less Rhonish character than the '05; lovely Syrah. $48.00
  11. Neyers Syrah OldLakevilleRd/SonomaCoast (14.6%; www.NeyersVineyards.com) 2006: Black color; very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some earthy light toasty/oak nose; tart bit earthy strong blackberry/Syrah some toasty/charred/oak bit peppery flavor; very long rather strong/
    blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry light toasty/pungent/oak bit tannic finish; needs several yrs; much simpler and less interesting than the Hudsons. $30.00
  12. Neyers Cuvee d'Honneur Syrah/NapaVlly (HudsonVnyd; 14.1%) 2005: Med.dark color; beautiful Rhonish/coffee/espresso/roasted/rather Graillot-like strong blackberry/spicy/Syrah/peppery
    fairly complex nose; tart lovely/Rhonish/espresso/roasted/coffee some toasty/oak strong balanced blackberry/Syrah rather elegant/complex flavor; very long/lingering very Rhonish/roasted/espresso/ French roast some blackberry/Syrah/peppery balanced/elegant finish w/modest tannins; a beautiful complex/balanced Rhone-like Syrah. $48.00
    ___________________________________ ______________
    A BD Cake: GreatPoundCake w/ Rum-Infused Glaze & Mascarpone Frosting
  13. Ch. de la Chartreuse AC: Sauternes (MeBaC; 13%) L.Ricard/Preignac 1985: Deep golden color; intense peachy/botrytis slight toasty/oak bit aged lovely old Sauternes complex nose; fairly
    sweet peachy/apricotty/botrytis light toast/pungent/oak slightly dried out lovely old Sauternes fairly complex flavor; very long strong peachy/apricotty/botrytis light toasty/oak complex bit dried-out quite sweet finish; a little beyond its peak and starting to dry out but a lovely/complex old Sauternes at a great price.$20.00.

And the usual BloodyPulpit:

1. SQN Petition: This was/is a pretty bizarre wine. It's like looking at some of those guys in
the body building magazines (I look at the girls, too)...you're just in awe of that body and admire them for what they've accomplished..but you wonder if they could do a brain surgery or discuss discrete ordinates neutron transport.

Normally, I would dislike a white that had been slammed w/this much oak. But there was such a huge intensity of fruit underneath that it could carry it off. I've had a number of late harvest Chards over the yrs (the DavidBruce Chard Essence '73 is one that comes to mind) and this was easily the best of that genre. It's hard to envision where this wine would fit in at a table. My group was pretty evenly divided on this wine. Many of them disliked it for its excessive style. Many of them liked it for those same reasons. Everyone thought it was
overpriced for what it was.

I've followed the SQN wines from the very start. Still have a few of those early ones lurking in my cellar. But...alas...it's probably time for SQN and I to part ways, so I'll probably be withdrawing from the mailing list. The wines are now so expensive (though not overpriced vis a vis what's out there in the world market) that I can't see when I would ever drink one. I can't put them in a tasting w/o skewing badly the cost. They're interesting to try to see the latest thing Manfred has wrought. But they no longer fit into the kind of wine drinking I do. They're meant for a whole different world from the real one I live in; occupied by real people, who drink real wines. I long ago gave up first growth Bordeaux and Burgundy GrandCru and the LaLa's....it's now time to let go of SQN as well....sigh.
2. VIE Roussanne: I like the wines BryanKane has been making at VIE. I'd had this wine at a
tasting of some kind last year I seem to recall, though it may have been the '05. This wine
was on the rather strange side. Some things to like in it, but it had a very overripe character
to it. The cloudiness and the prickle makes me think something may be going on in the btl.
3. Booker: These are the first release from EricJensen's wnry. I'd tasted the Syrahs at the HdR BBQ that Mary had brought and liked them quite a lot. But tasting wines downwind from a
roaring grill w/ sausages squirting fat all over the coals is probably not an optimal tasting venue. I liked the Syrahs even more last night in a more controlled setting. They show lots of that classic Paso ripeness w/o being over-the-top jammy. I thought the alcohol was not at all obvious. This is a wnry to keep your eye upon. Eric is on the panel at the yr's HdR I noticed. Good exposure that.
4. Neyers: Ehren Jordan has been crafting some of the best Syrahs for BruceNeyers for quite a few yrs now, but they seem to get little recognition. There are not big/bombastic/extracted Syrahs but a quiet spokesman for balance and restraint. The Cd'H Syrah, in tribute to Thierry Allemand, is one of the most Rhonish Syrahs made in Calif and resembles the Graillots or the Moutons in style. It's one of my "always purchase" each year. The regular Hudson always seems a bit simple upon release, but w/ a few yrs of age, it develops this really lovely Rhonish
character. The OldLakeVilleRd Syrah, nominally from a cold-climate area there in the Petaluma Gap, is consistently my least favorite of the Neyers, a bit on the simple side and not a lot of cold-climate Syrah character.. It'll be interesting to see how they evolve w/some age.


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