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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.

Trip Down LimerickLane - February 24, 2010

Last night (2/24/10) we took A Trip Down LimerickLane:

  1. ChristopherCreek Viognier Catie'sCornerVnyd/RRV (13.5%; www.ChristopherCreek.com;
    "French style") Pam&Fred Wasserman 2007
    : Light yellow color; very attractive very ripe/floral/peachy/
    Viog some toasty/oak bit yeasty rather fragrant/ripe/attractive nose;soft/fat slight toasty/oak/toasted
    coconut very ripe/peach/mango/Viog flavor; med.short ripe/soft/fat ripe/peachy/Viog light toasty finish;
    big Viog fruit & rather ripe; lovely/ripe nose but a bit porky on the palate. $28.00
  2. Jaffurs Viognier (14.4%) 2008: Med.gold color; low-key quite perfumed/pear/Viog rather spicy lovely/
    sleek Viog nose; tart very spicy/pear/Viog restrained/elegant apple pie flavor; very long quite spicy/
    pear/Viog elegant finish; more on the elegant/restrained side but plenty of flavor; great value at $25.00
  3. ChristopherCreek Zin DCV (14.6%; 70%/50% young/old-clone, 30%/50% 85 yr old 2 acres +
    AlicanteBouchet&Carignane; "Primitivo style") 2006
    : Med.dark color; ripe blackberry/raspberry/Zin slight earthy/dusty some vanilla/oak slight funky/rustic nose; tart some raspberry/blackberry/Zin bit earthy/dusty some tannic/coarse/hard bit vanilla/oak flavor; med.short hard/tannic/rough some raspberry/blackberry/Zin bit earthy/funky slight wet dog fur finish; not sure what "primitivo style" means unless it refers to the slight bit of funk in the wine, but better than most Primitivios/Italy that I know; pleasant/interesting Zin but a bit hard/tannic on the palate. $26.00
  4. ChristopherCreek Zin DCV (14.9%; 2 vnyds w/ vines of varying age) 2007: Med.dark color; rather strong/ vanilla/oak light earthy/metallic/ozone slight volatile/alcoholic some blackberry/Zin/raspberry nose; bit softer rather rough/tannic/rustic slight herbal bit hot/alcoholic some blackberry/Zin some vanilla /oak flavor; med. rather hard/tannic/rough slight blackberry/Zin some earthy/dusty finish; a rather rough /rustic old-timey style of Zin; doesn't have the bright raspberry character of classic DCV Zin. $26.00
  5. LimerickLane Zin CollinsVnyd/RRV (EB; Unfltrd; 14.6%) 2006: Med.dark color; rather pungent/ ozone/burning metal some earthy/Italian/funky very slight blackberry/Zin rather peculiar nose like I'm hanging out in a welding shop; soft/smooth some earthy/pungent/dusty rather pungent/burning metal slight blackberry/ Zin flavor; med.short soft/smooth slight blackberry/Zin some Italian/coarse/rustic/funky bit burnt finish w/ little tannins; rather strange burnt/ozone character like in a welding shop; reminds me of my time in the hull of SSBN-642 Kamehameha when she was under construction on the ways at MareIsland w/ all sorts of welding going on around me. Strange wine and hard to like. $30.00
  6. LimerickLane Zin OldVine CollinsVnyd/RRV (EB; Unfltrd; 15.1%; Vnyd planted in 1910;
    www.LimerickLaneWines.com) 2006
    : Med.dark color; some earthy/dusty bit pungent/smokey slight blackberry/Zin somewhat earthy/rustic nose; soft bit tannic/hard very slight blackberry/blueberry/Zin rather rough/earthy/ Italian-like flavor; med. rough/rustic/earthy slight blackberry/Zin/blueberry rather hard/coarse/tannic finish; not much Zin fruit and more like a Sicilian Nero than Zin; overpriced at $42.00
  7. LimerickLane Zin CollinsVnyd/RRV (EB; 14.6%) 2007: Med.dark color; slight herbal/floral/lilacs bit
    metallic/pungent some blackberry/Zin/spicy pleasant nose; soft rather pleasant/blackberry/Zin/spicy light
    tannic slight toasty/oaak flavor; med. some spicy/blackberry/Zin bit earthy/rustic/Italian light tannic
    finish; pleasant/simple and a bit lacking in fruit. $30.00
  8. LimerickLane Deco Zin CollinsVnyd/RRV (Dry farmed; Vines plntd in 1934; 15%) 2007: Med.dark color; fairly strong spicy/blackberry/Zin bit dusty/old vines light oak/toasty fairly attractive nose; soft pleasant/ blackberry/Zin bit earthy/dusty/old vines light oak flavor; med.long soft pleasant/blackberry/Zin light toasty/oak finish w/ modest tannins; best of the LL Zins because it has some fruit; pleasant but just that; overpriced at $38.00
  9. LimerickLane Syrah CollinsVnyd/RRV (EB; 14.8%; Planted: 1988) 2007: Dark color; pleasant blackberry/Syrah slight earthy/dusty very light toasty/oak pleasant/simple nose; soft nice/blackberry/ Syrah light toasty/ oak flavor w/ little tannins; med.short soft/smooth simple/pleasant/blackberry/Syrah light toasty/oak finish w/ light tannins; a rather simple/unremarkablle rendition of Syrah. $30.00
  10. The CollinsEstateReserve by LimerickLane RRV (50% CS/25% Zin/25% Syrah; 14.1%) 2007: Med.dark color; bit pungent/earthy somewhat blackcurranty/Cab/blackberry light toasty/oak somewhat attractive nose; soft bit tannic pleasant blackcurranty/Cab/spicy light toasty/oak some berry flavor; med.long bit tannic some blackcurranty/Cab/blackberry light toasty/oak finish; needs several yrs; a pleasant enough Cab but seems a bit muddled & unfocused. $42.00
  11. ChristopherCreek Syrah EB/RRV (14.2%; "classical French style") 2006: Dark color; some pungent/toasty/ charred/oak slight roasted/Rhonish some blackberry/Syrah slight peppery/spicy attractive nose; fairly tart some smokey/pungent/charred/oak slight green olive/Rhonish fairly strong blackberry/Syrah quite attractive flavor; med.long tart somewhat charred/toasty/oak some blackberry/Syrah slight roasted/Rhonish finish w/ light tannins; good acidity & brightness of Syrah w/ slight Rhonish character; attractive Syrah at an attractive price. $27.00
  12. ChristopherCreek Syrah Reserve/EB/RRV (14.5%) 2007: Dark color; slight reductive strong charred/toasty/ mokey/oak some blackberry/Syrah slight green olive/earthy pleasant nose; strong smokey/toasty/charred/oak fairly strong blackberry/Syrah slight green olive/spicy/peppery lightly tannic flavor; long rather toasty/ charred/smokey/oak slight green olive/herbal finish w/ light tannins; can use a yr or two yet; attractive Syrah w/ less Rhonish character than the '06 and pretty strong/charred oak character. $32.00
  13. ChristopherCreek PetiteSirah Reserve/EB/RRV (14.9%) 2006: Very dark color; slight smokey/ pungent some blackberry/PS/peppery slight herbal somewhat earthy/rustic/Languedoc-like nose; soft some earthy/pungent slight blackberry/blueberry/PS rather hard/tannic/rough bit simple flavor; med.long smokey/pungent light blackberry/PS some earthy/rustic finish w/ ample tannins; sort of simple/rough PS but needs several yrs of age and may develop into something interesting. $32.00
  14. Jaffurs PetiteSirah ThompsonVnyd/SBC (15.9%) 2008: Black color; very perfumed/fragrant very intense ripe/boysenberry/blackberry/PS/blueberry slight spicy/milk of magnesia/peppery bit alcoholic/ fumey very powerful nose; soft/fat rather tannic huge/boysenberry/blackberry/PS/powerful slight toasty/oak slight alcoholic flavor; very long huge fruit very intense boysenberry/blackberry/PS slight milk of magnesia/peppery somewhat tannic finish; a big/ripe/soft slutty rendition of PS but maybe a bit short on acidity and structure; probably best consumed on the young side. $35.00
  15. CLWine SonomaCoast Syrah (14.5%) 2006: Very dark color; strong cold-climate/peppery/green olive Syrah/ blackberry very Rhonish/AlainGraillot/coffee beautiful/NorthernRhone complex nose; soft/rich/lush
    very strong roasted/espresso/NothernRhone/Graillot strong blackberry/Syrah slight toasty/oak slight tannic flavor; very long cold-climate/roasted/peppery/espresso strong/blackberry/Syrah finish w/ slight tannins; a classic cold-climate Syrah at an insane price. $11.00
  16. Ridge Calif Geyserville PetiteSirah (100% PS; 14.5%; 31 brls; Drk: 1/98-1/08: PD) 1996: Dark color; somewhat bretty/horsecollar bit earthy/dusty rather floral/perfumed some vanilla/Am.oak slight herbal bit peppery/berry/PS/spicy rather complex nose; soft/smooth rather bretty/horsecollar slight peppery/berry/PS light vanilla/oak rather SouthernRhone/garrigue complex flavor; very long somewhat bretty/horsecollar SouthernRhone/garrigue slight berry/peppery/PS smooth/complex finish; a bit too bretty for me but a very interestingly developed PS. Probably best to drink up. Larry's mystery.

And some more stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Jaffurs: I've always liked Craig's Roussanne & Viognier. The Viognier has typically been on the ripe/ blowsy side, but good acidity on the palate to carry that ripeness. This '08 Viog seemed much more restrained and elegant, not at all blowsy, yet showed plenty of flavor and good structure on the palate. My favorite Jaffurs Viog yet.

The Thompson PS was pretty characteristic Jaffurs PS; loads and loads of blackberry PS fruit. But
this '08 didn't seem to have the tannins and structure of those past. It seems more for the short-term than previous PS's. Kinda like a big StBernard bounding up to you, knocking you to the ground, standing on your chest and slathering your mug w/ big/wet/sloppy kisses.
2. I was prompted to do this Trip Down LimerickLane a month ago. I had cracked a btl of the LimerickLane Zin '94 and liked it quite a bit. I dawned on me that I used to buy the LL Zins all the time, but that I hadn't had any of their wines since the late '90's...they'd sorta fallen off my radar screen. So I ordered up a bunch of their latest releases (alas...they were out of the Furmint). Then I recalled their neighbors up the road, ChristopherCreek. I had liked their Syrahs early on, so ordered up some of their latest efforts as well.
3. ChristopherCreek: This property came onto my radar back in the late '80's, when they released a Syrah. I was, then as now, trying every Calif Syrah that came down the pike. This was a Syrah, ca.1986, put up under the Sotoyome label, a rather garish label w/ a very early map of the RanchoSotoyome land grant on it. The wine was a bit on the rough/rustic side, but spoke of Syrah, though not of Syrah's greatness. RanchSotoyome was founded in '74 by BillChaikin.

The land was planted in the '70's to 4.5 acres each of Syrah & PetiteSirah by the Chaikin family.
What in the world prompted them to plant Syrah, one of Calif's earlier plantings, I have no idea. The wnry was purchased in '88 by the Mitchell family and renamed ChristopherCreek, after their son and the creek that runs thru the property. CC was then purchased by part-time SantaFe residents, Fred & Pam Wasserman in '97. In the late '90's-early-'00's, the Wassermans did a number of promotional events in SantaFe for their wines. At that time, I thought the winemaking had been markedly improved and liked the wines pretty much, though the Syrah was not to the high standards being achieved by then by other Calif winemakers. But they indicated that RRV could be a home of great Calif Syrah.

Of these current wines, I liked the Syrahs best of all. Especially the '06 for its greater Rhone
character. The Reserve was a bit on the tough side and needs more age. The PS was a pretty hard wine and also needs some age, though like many PS's, hard to predict where that wine will go. The two Zins didn't move me much. They seemed to lack the bright fruit you usually get from DCV Zin, had a bit of a strange/funky character. Didn't really dislike them...they just didn't appeal to me.
4. LimerickLane: Back in the early '90's, LL made some of the best Zins being made in Calif. They were pretty classic RRV Zins w/ loads of blackberry fruit and that light peppery character you often find in RRV Zin. MikeCollins vnyd deliver some impressive Zin fruit and I suspect they still do.
I was rather underwhelmed by this batch of Zins. They didn't have the intensity of fruit that I recall; the seemed a bit muddled and simple; some strange things going on in the wines. They wern't bad wines... but they just didn't deliver the level of excitement that I'd expect from this quality of a vnyd.     
5. CLWines: This is a joint effort by KendraCraven and DavidLattin (hence...CL), he formerly being with AcaciaWnry. I had tried an odd btl I'd ordered a month ago to fill out a case from K&L and was blown away by its cold-climate/Rhonish character, especially at $11/btl. So ordered another case for my peeps. After we tasted it together last Wed, they, too, were mightly impressed, so we got another 3 cases on the way. It is, easily, one of the best wine deals I've seen in yrs. The Syrah grapes come from the PetalumaGap area. They also make several Pinots as well that I'd like to try.
6. RidgeGeyserville: Ridge has marked all the vines on the Geyserville ranch as to variety. So it was not at all that difficult to make a PS from Geyserville; if'n you pick the right vines. To my recollect, this is the only time they made a Geyserville PS. Why they made it....beats heck out of me. I found the wine a bit on the bretty side, but one of the better/more interesting mature PS's I've had.
7. LimerickLane: For some reason, all thru this tasting, I couldn't get the line out of my head: "There once was a man from Nantucket.....". The name for Limerick Lane comes not from the poetry genre, but from the lime kiln that used to exist at the end of the road, called a lime rick. LarryA was trying to write a limerick during the tasting that described me, but he either couldn't come up w/ the last line or he couldn't make it bawdy enough for his tastes.
8. Catie'sCorner Viog: Named after SaraLee Kunde's daughter. This is supposedly cool-climate Viog, planted to an "unknown" Condrieu clone, which I presume refers to a suitcase clone. I've had maybe 10-12 different Viogniers from this vnyd. They all seem to have a pretty powerful/ripe Viog nose. But they all seem to be on the underacid side...a bit fat & porky...definitely DollyParton. The SanSakana's have been the best I've had, but they, too, were on the fat side. Not yet convinced that Catie'sCorner is a great Viognier site. But will continue to gather evidence.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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