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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 Calif Rhones - September 16, 2009


We tried last month (9/16/09) Some New Calif Rhones:

  1. Novy Viognier RRV (14.1%) 2007: Light gold color; strong peachy/pear/Viog slight cracked white
    pepper rather fragrant interesting nose; soft/fat pear/peachy/Viog ripe/lush attractive flavor;
    long lush/ripe pear/peach/Viog loads of Viog fruit soft/fat finish; loads of ripe Viog fruit
    but a bit lacking on structure and acidity; for current drinking. $16.50
  2. Turley TheWhiteCoat SanLuisObispoCnty WW (14.5%) 2005: Med.gold color; very ripe floral/
    honeysuckle/Roussanne-like/rotted apple some toasty/oak/toasted coconut nose; tart very rich/lush
    floral/Roussanne/honeysuckle/pineapply strong toasty/oak/toasted coconut flavor; fairly long very
    ripe pineapply/floral/honeysuckle strong toasty/oak/coconutty finish; rather on the overripe and
    over the top side; drink up. $36.00
  3. Turley TheWhiteCoat SanLuisObispoCnty WW (14.5%)2006: Med.gold color; strong floral/pineapply/ripe/honeysuckle strong oak/toasty/toasted coconut slight valve oil nose; soft very ripe pineapply/floral/honeysuckle some toasty/oak flavor; med.long very ripe/pineapply/floral/honeysuckle toasty/oak finish; much like the '05 and rather on the overripe side. $36.00
  4. Turley TheWhiteCoat SanLuisObispoCnty WW (14.5%) 2007: Med.gold color; less fruit/overripe strong toasty/oak/tobaccoy/vanilla very light floral/carnations nose; bit tarter/leaner ratherr tobaccoy/
    toasty/oak/vanilla light floral/fruit less overripe flavor; med.short tart/lean strong pungent/
    tobaccoy/toasty/oak shy fruit/floral finish; different oak and much less overripe/over-the-top
    fruit; more mainstream Viog and more attractive. $38.00
  5. Failla Viognier AlbanVnyd/EdnaVlly (125 cs; 14.3%) 2007: Light gold color; strong pear/Viog bit
    valve oil/minerally some Condrieu-like/peach very light oak nose; tart/lean rather rich pear/Viog
    some minerally/valve oil light toasty/oak flavor; very long peach/pear/Viog some minerally bit Condrieu-
    like/peach finish; a lovely Calif Viog and one of the closest to Condrieu yet. $41.00
  6. Novy Syrah DryCreekVlly (UntiVnyd; 3% Viog; 67 cs; 14.3%) 2006: Dark color; strong blueberry/Syrah/blackberry bit earthy light toasty/oak some raspberry/Zin-like very attractive nose; soft ripe/Syrah/blackberry slight earthy light oak bit simple/raspberry/Zin-like flavor; med.long blackberry/
    Syrah/blueberry slight earthy light toasty/oak with a bit of a hard/tannic bite far in the finish;
    maybe could use a couple of yrs yet; a lovely Zin-like Syrah at a great (pre-release) price. $19.00
  7. Novy Syrah RussianRvrVlly (14.1%) 2006: Dark color; strong boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah slight peppery/cracked black pepper light toasty/oak very attractive/juicy nose; soft/lush blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry slight cracked pepper very light pencilly/oak flavor; long rich/lush/juicy/soft strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah slight cracked pepper light toasty/oak finish w/ light tannins; loads of juicy Syrah fruit w/ some cold-climate/cracked black pepper character; a really nice Syrah at a great price. $21.50
  8. Novy Syrah Rosella'sVnyd/SantaLuciaHighlands (14.2%) 2006: Very dark/black color; beautiful peppery/cracked black pepper light herbal/spicy intense blackberry/blueberry/Syrah bit valve oil very spicy lovely nose; soft beautiful cracked pepper some SLH/herbal lush blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry light toasty/oak flavor; very long/lingering rich/lush/mouthfilling some cracked/pepper light herbal/rosemary very strong Syrah/blackberry/boysenberry light toasty/oak finish w/ modest tannins; a beautiful lush SLH Syrah that can use several more yrs; terrific Syrah at a great price. $24.50
  9. Shane Syrah ValentiRanch/AndersonVlly (70 cs; 100% WholeCluster; U/U; www.ShaneWines.com)
    : Very dark color; very strong cold-climate/cracked black pepper some blackberry/blueberry/Syrah
    rather Rhonish/roasted/Hermitage/Graillot-like complex beautiful nose; tart some tannic very roasted/
    coffee/cracked black pepper Hermitage-like strong blackberry/Syrah complex flavor; very long/lingering
    rather tannic cracked pepper/roasted/Rhonish/Hermitage strong blackberry/Syrah finish; needs 3-8 yrs;
    a stunning Syrah along the Graillot C-H lines; one of my best Syrahs this year. Very fair price at $42.00
  10. Shane Syrah JemroseVnyd/BennettVlly (70 cs; 75% WholeCluster; U/U; 14.2%) 2007: Very dark/black color; very strong floral/violets/blackberry/Syrah very spicy bit pungent/licorice very perfumed some Rhonish nose; tart less tannic bit angular lovely floral/violets strong blackberry/Syrah slight licorice/
    pungent complex flavor; long somewhat hard/angular/tannic rather perfumed/floral/violets strong Syrah/
    blackberry/black cherry light licorice finish; needs 2-8 yrs; not as Rhonish/roasted in character but
    more along a C-R floral character; terrific Syrah at a fair price. $42.00
  11. Shane Syrah TheUnknown/SonomaCnty (220 cs; KickRanch & Archer & Jemrose vnyds;
    55% WholeCluster; U/U; 14.2%) 2007
    : Dark color; strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah bit spicy some toasty/oak attractive nose; somewhat hard/tannic strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah rather spicy light toasty/oak flavor; med.long some hard/tannic strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah light toasty/oak finish; a strong foresquare Sonoma Syrah that needs 3-7 yrs; probably the least of these Shanes at this point in time but should develop something. $38.00
  12. Shane Syrah TheVillan/MendocinoCnty (145 cs; 14.2%; AlderSpringsVnyd/ValentiRanch/
    BrokenLegVnyd; U/U; 65% WholeCluster) 2007
    : Very dark color; some peppery/cold-climate/cracked pepper strong blackberry/Syrah some floral/violets/forest floor slight pungent/smokey/herbal quite interesting/complex nose; tart some tannic strong spicy/blackberry/Syrah some floral/forest floor very light oak flavor; very long strong blueberry/blackberry/Syrah very floral/violets/lilacs/forest floor very slight
    licorice/pungent finish w/ fair tannins; needs 2-6 yrs; not as powerful but probably the most interesting
    of these Shane Syrahs; lovely Syrah at a very good price. $38.00

And the usual stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Viogniers: I liked this Novy Viog better than any of Adam's Viogs yet. His first ('05?) Viog was pushing 16% and kinda cloying to drink, maybe a bit off-dry. This '07 shows more restraint w/ plenty of ripe Viog fruit, but still a bit on the soft side. The Turley WhiteCoat is a wine I don't particularly understand. They tend to be on the bizarre/very overripe side w/ loads of toasty/Fr.oak. Just a bit too over-the-top for my tastes. Vastly/vastly different from what Ehren does under his own Failla label. The '07 Failla is probably the most interesting and exciting Viogs I've had from Calif; absolutely superb. I liked it better than any of the Alban themselves I've had. Since I was dropped from his mailing list, I've only been occasionally to try JohnAlban's Viogs at HdR, if'n I move fast. I think they have been getting a lot better over the recent yrs and showing more restraint and structure then the early ones did, w/ a bit lest overpowering oak. Good, I say.
2. NovySyrah: Man...you gotta love Adam & Diana's Syrahs. Great jucy Syrahs w/ loads of pure Syrah fruit. I tend to like his AmberRidge Syrah the best, but the BennettVlly ones and the SantaLuciaHighlands ones are pretty close behind. The NapaVlly/Page-Nord Syrahs typically are the least interesting, but then I'm not a great believer of up-Vally NapaVlly Syrahs. I'd love to see them make a Syrah from the PetalumaGap area...but given today's Syrah market...probably won't happen.
3. Shane: ShaneWines is, of course, ShaneFinley. Asst winemaker at Kosta-Brown, formerly w/ Copain. Great credentials, obviously. And the wines speak of his winemaking skills well. This was my first chance to taste all of his Syrahs carefully together. I'd had them at RhoneRangers in March and liked them quite a lot. They were even more impressive this time out. My easy favorite was the Valenti for its strong Rhone character, but the Jemrose and TheVillian were pretty close behind. TheUnknown seemed a bit simpler in character but I'm confident it will develop as well as the others. Anyway...a terrific lineup of Syrahs w/ the Valenti absolutely stunning.


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