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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 - September 2, 2009


We tasted this week (9/2/09) Some New Wines:

  1. Via DOC: Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato dell'Albenganese (13%; www.PorteVinoItaliano.com)
    Az.Ag. Claudio Vio/LucalitaCrosa/Vendome 2007
    : Pale gold color; attractive floral/carnations
    slight stoney rather perfumed/aromatic nose; tart/lean very floral/stoney/carnations some citric/
    tangerines/grapefruit lovely flavor; very long/lingering floral/carnations rather stoney/steely
    finish; loads of perfumey/floral character; lovely wine at a great price. $12.00
  2. Uvaggio Moscato Lodi (www.Uvaggio.com; 12.5%) B by L'Uvaggio di Giacomo/Napa 2008: Pale gold color;very strong Muscatty/hair oil varietal nose; soft totally dry very strong muscatty/cheap hair oil
    slightly bitter flavor; fairly long soft intense muscatty/hair oil some bitter finish; a bit on
    the bitter side but loads of intense Muscat fruit; fairly priced at $13.00
  3. ScholiumProject ThePrinceInHisCaves FarinaVnyds (13.6%; www.ScholiumWines.com; skin
    fermented Sauvignon; 285 cs) Fairfield 2006
    : Deep gold color; very strong cat litter box some
    herbal/SB slight oxidative some perfumed/fragrant metallic nose; tart slight oxidized very
    strong/honeyed/dried mango slices/pineapply rich/textured quite interesting flavor; very long/
    lingering dried mango slices/pineapple slight herbal/cat litter box slight oxidative finish;
    a very bizarre wine. Pricey at $40.00
  4. O.Lemasson Le P Tit Rouquin Vin de Table ("Carrot-topped kid", 2eme mise; 11.5%; Gamay;
    Carbonic Maceration; 20-60 yr old vines; Anjour-Samaur/Loire) LesVins Contes/Cande sur
    Beuvron NV (2006)
    : Light ruby bit bricked color; very earthy/dusty bannana oil/volatile some
    BayRum/babbershop rather rustic/unclean bit herbal weird unattractive nose; rather dirty/rustic/
    earthy/loamy barber shoppy bit overripe bannanas flavor; (mercifully) short rustic/earthy/loamy/
    Kansas root cellar slight bannana oil unclean/rustic finish w/ light tannins; pretty inept
    winemaking. $15.00
  5. Dom.Rouge-Bleu Vallee du Rhone Sud Dentelle Vin de Pays de Mediterranee (55% Carignan/
    55 yr old, 45% Grenache/35 yr old; 1.8 ton/acre; www.Rouge-Bleu.com; 14%) 2007
    : Dark color; slightbretty/barnyardy earthy/black cherry/strawberry bit funky nose; somewhat hard/tannic strong black
    cherry/cough syrup bit earthy/dusty/barnyardy/bretty flavor; long rather hard/tannic black cherry/
    cough syrup/strawberry finish; lots of classic hard/tannic Carignane character. $17.00
  6. Dom.Rouge-Bleu Vallee du Rhone Sud Mistral AC: CotesDuRhone (71% Grenache/75 yr old,
    19% Syrah/10 yr old, 8% Mourvedre/75 yr old, 2% Roussanne/75 yr old; 1.5 ton/acre; 14.5%)
    : Very dark color; some strawberry/Grenache/blueberry some garrigue bit gunflint/smokey nose;
    soft/round strong blueberry/strawberry/Grenache flavor w/ light tannins; long blueberry/strawberry/
    Grenache finish w/ light tannins; almost Oz in style; bit lacking in structure; fairly priced
    at $19.00.
  7. Noceto OGP AmadorCnty Zin (TheOriginal GrandPere Vnyd; 15.0%; www.Noceto.com) 2006: Med.dark color;strong blackberry/Zin/briary rather dusty/old vines slight fumey/alcoholic nose; soft rather dusty/old vine bit alcoholic ripe/blackberry/Zin/briary classic Amador Zin flavor; long soft briary/Zin/
    blackberry dusty/old vine finish w/ light tannins and light vanilla/oak; an attractive classic Amador
    briary Zin w/ good old vine character. $28.00
  8. Ridge Calif Zin YorkCreek (22% PetiteSirah/YorkCreek; NapaVlly/SpringMtn; 14.6%; Drk: 8/08-8/14-8/16: JO) 2007: Med.dark color; very strong raspberry/Zin.Nehi raspberry soda pop bit overripe slight dusty light vanilla/oak/DraperPerfume slight alcoholic/fumey nose; tart very bright/zippy/raspberry/
    Zin/Nehi raspberry soda pop slightly hot/alcoholic some vanilla/oak/DP somewhat tannic flavor; med.long
    rather hard/tannic bright/raspberry/Zin/spicy bit vanilla/oak slight alcoholic/overripe finish; plenty
    of bright raspberry fruit but somewhat hard/tannic on the palate; least of the Ridge '07 Zins but
    one of the better YorkCreek Zins of late. $30.00
  9. Ridge Calif LyttonSprings (71% Zin, 22% PS, 7% carignane; DryCreekVlly; 14.4%; Drk: 11/08-11/18:JO) 2007: Very dark color; very strong blackberry/Zin/licorice deep complex very spicy nose w/ light oak/DP; tart some tannic very strong/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/licorice slight vanilla/DP/pungent
    lovely rich/textured flavor; very long bit tannic/hard bright/lush/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/licorice
    very spicy light oak/DP finish; needs age but really great drinking now; one of the best young LS
    in recent memory w/ loads of spicy blackberry fruit; has the straucture and balance to take it out
    many yrs I suspect. $35.00
  10. Ridge Calif Zin PaganiRanch (5% AlicanteBouschet, 3% PS; SonomaVlly; 14.3%; Drk: 1/09-1/19:
    EB) 2007
    : Very dark color; intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin deep/complex slight rustic/gamey/licorice
    some peppery/spicy nose; very intense blackberry/boysenberry/spicy/Zin/licorice dusty/OV some peppery/
    rustic rather tannic/hard beautiful flavor; very long/lingering peppery/boysenberry/licorice/RCCola/
    Zin/very spicy light vanilla/oak some tannic flavor; seems to be less Alicante and less rustic character
    than previous ones; needs age; a stunning Pagani. $35.00
  11. HaywoodEstate RockyTerrace Zin SonomaVlly (14.9%; LosChamizalVnyd; Planted in 1976;
    www.HaywoodWinery.com) 2006
    : Med.color; rather Am.oak/vanilla some peppery/spicy/blackberry/Zin
    interesting nose; tart tannic/hard very spicy blackberry/Zin more oak more complexity flavor; long
    spicy/blackberry/Zin some tannic/hard finish; needs age; more lush/approachable than the other
    two; overpriced at $40.00
  12. HaywoodEstate MorningSun Zin SonomaVlly (14.8%; LosChamizalVnyd) 2005: Med.dark color; strong
    blackberry/Zin/spicy less oak bit simpler nose; tart rather hard/tannic light vanilla/oak spicy/
    Zin/blackberry flavor; med.long rather hard/tannic slight vanilla/oak spicy/blackberry/Zin finish;
    needs age; seems tighter & more closed/tannic than the others; overpriced at $40.00
  13. HaywoodEstate LosChamizalVnyd Zin SonomaVlly (14.6%) 2006: Med.dark color; some vanilla/Am.oak very spicy/blackberry/Zin/licorice somewhat perfumed very attractive nose; tart bit hard/tannic very spicy/blackberry/Zin/licorice light vanilla/Am.oak flavor; long very spicy/Zin/blackberry rather hard/tannic light vanilla/oak finish; needs age; seems the least of the three; less overpriced at $30.00, but no great value.

And the usual BloodyPulpit:

1. Scholium: You gotta admit that AbeSchoener certainly marches to the beat of a different drummer. This was the 4'th wine of his I've tried, and probably the strangest. Obviously made in the style of Gravner or Radikon. The distinct cat litter box was a pretty off-putting nose. But I very much liked the flavors I found on the palate. All in all, I must say I liked this wine...for its
eccentric character. It could be drunk at table with pleasure. But you gotta be "outside the box".
2. Pigato: This was about the 8-10'th Pigato I've had (always a sucker for off-beat Italian varietals)
and easily the best one yet. In fact, the best Liqurian white I've ever done had. Where they grow
a lot of Vermintino as well. Never had any of their reds yet. BonnyDoon grows Pigato, but it seems
rather coarse & clumsey compared to this one.
3. Muscat: This Uvaggio was a good example why you seldom see dry Muscats...it had a rather bitter streak which some RS would have covered up. Nonetheless, I liked this wine a lot and w/ food, it'd been just fine I think. One of the problems w/ dry Muscat, be it Alsatian or whatever, is that the intense Muscat nose prepares your palate for an off dry or sweet wine. And when it hits the palate and is dry, it can be a bit of a shock. You gotta be "outside the box" to appreciate them I guess.
4. GrandPere: This is oldest [b]recorded[/b] vnyd in Calif history, nearing 140 yrs old. There may be
others that are older, but not official records of their planting. It was originally owned by John
Downing, who used to feed his grapes to his pigs, before AmadorCnty became famous for their Zins back in '68. It was purchased by Scott&Terry Harvey when they moved to the ShenandoahVlly. In the front yard is this very/very old table grape vine, of unknown variety, that still produces grapes.
When Terry & Scott parted ways, Terry kept the vnyd, which was under contract to Renwood until
about 2001. Since then, Terry has sold the grapes to Scott, the Gilettes at VinoNoceto, and a few
others. When Scott was at Santino/Renwood in the late '80's/early '90's, he made some pretty spectacular Zins from GrandPere. Since there is a bit of Barbera interplanted in GrandPere, he even made a bit of GrandPere Barbera, though their compliance w/ the 75% minimum may be a bit suspect.
Unbeknownst to Scott, Renwood moneybags RobertSmerling, in keeping with his typical lofty ethical standards, trademarked the name GrandPere, took cuttings from the vnyd, propagated them into a new vnyd, and continues to make a GrandPereVnyd Zin. It is underwhelming. It is not old-vine Zin, it is not real GrandPere.
I liked this Noceto OGP Zin as a pretty good example of some of the old-time Amador Zins I used
to drink. Not sure how they got away w/ putting GrandPere on the label w/o drawing Smerling's
lawyers out of the woodwork.
5. Domaine Rouge-Bleu: Not a producer w/ whom I'm familar. Dentelle was OK, liked the Mistral. What caught my interest was the very old Roussanne they have planted. I'd love to taste that wine by itself, if they make it. Many of the '07 CdR's have been outstanding and much like a junior CdP. These two did not fit that mold.
6. Ridge Zins: Across the board, the Ridge '07 Zins, thus far, have been stunning; perhaps the best
set of Ridge Zins ever made. You just can't go wrong with them. This LyttonSprings is just about
as good of a young LS that I've had...not that I've had that many....only back as far as the '72.
The Pagani struck me as being more pure of Zin fruit and not showing the wild/funky side that the
Alicante often brings to it.
But....the YorkCreekVnyd continues to mystify me. That vnyd, in Ridge hands, consistently makes
one of the greatest and most ageworthy PetiteSirahs in all of Calif. But the Zins, the Merlots, the
Cabs from this vnyd never seems to make wines approaching the level of the PS. Over the yrs, the
YC Zins have tended to be on the overripe side. DaveGates has been insisting on harvesting earlier
to avoid that overripe character. This '07 YC Zin still shows a bit of that very ripe character
that has plagued those wines over the yrs. But it's not a Zin that particularly thrills me and is
about the least interesting of the '07 Ridge Zins thus far. Maybe a few yrs of age will bring something a lot more interesting than it is now. Some of those lesser Ridge Zins have this way of rising up down the road, with age, and biting you on the arse. Maybe this will be one such.
Of these Ridges, it was a tough choice between the Pagani and the LS. I loved the LS for its purity
of fruit; the Pagani for its more complex/gamier character. There appears to be less Alicante in this
Pagani, which seems to give a more pure blackberry fruit than before. They have, in the past, made a few Pagani AlicanteBouschets. I hope they have one in the works for this '07 vintage.
When I commented to Paul several months ago on how I was so impressed w/ the '07 Ridge Zins thus far and asked him if it reflected a change of winemaking style, as I felt they were more reflective of their terroir/vnyd and had less of the DP/Ridge winemaking stye in them. He gave me this "aw shucks" sort of reply and that John & Eric just got some of the best Zin fruit they ever had to work with and that the winemaking is pretty much the same as before. Whatever...I sure have been impressed with them across the board.
7. Haywood: I've followed PeterHaywood's wines from the very start, back in the '70's. I liked them quite a bit, especially his Zins from the LosChamizal vnyd. In '91, Peter sold the brand to Racke/BuenaVista, who then proceeded to run the brand into the ground with a lot of cheaper/unthrilling wines. Peter had retained the original rugged LosChamizal vnyd, but continued to sell the grapes to the coporate brand.
The ones I tried were less than thrilling and I had pretty much write the Haywood wines off.
I recently received a solicitation of a sale price on the three LosChamizal Zins. I sorta shrugged
my shoulders and ordered a 6-pack...with low expectations. When we tried them...surprise...they were pretty good...darned good, in fact. How, I wondered, could an evil corporate empire make such good Zins?? Well...it turns out...Peter has reaquired the Haywood brand and is now back making his Haywood Zins...and nothing else. I don't know if he actually made these '06's, or just finished them...but I liked them quite a lot. Hooray...PeterHaywood is back. The '07's should be released soon (under a new vnyd designation I believe), and I can hardly wait to try them.
I liked all three of these Zins quite a bit. Sort of old-timey in style. There were all three a bit
on the hard/tannic side, but I think some age will take care of that. They all had a spiciness that I
recall from his old days in the '80's. If they can be faulted for anything, its their lack of
distinctiveness. The differences between the three were very subtle nuances that I struggled to
characterize. Maybe those differences will become more evident down the road.
But..anyway...welcome back PeterHaywood. We've missed you over the last 15 yrs.


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