1. SQN Rose: This is not your usual rose. If you want your rose to be perfumed, tart, clean, crisp
and something you can slam back at poolside; this is not your wine. I've seen some revues that
totally slammed this wine as undrinkable. As a rose...perhaps. As a light red wine, probably
not. But I can find little to write home about this wine, especially at the price. If you just have to have a SQN to drink, then this should fill the bill. But I can think of no context in which you could drink this wine with much pleasure. Interesting interpretation of rose but certainly not undrinkable as some assert.
2. SanSouci: This is a Pinot made by MattBrady, asst winemaker at Jaffurs. The somewhat earthy character made me think the grapes came from the SolomonHills area of SantaMariaVlly. I liked the wine...just that. It had pretty cherry/Pinot fruit and very low-key oak. It reminded me a lot of NormYost's FlyingGoat Pinots from the SolomonHills area. No idea what the wine sells for. It was gifted by Matt to Larry to try, who shared it with our group. BTW....the VinoSapienWines site is bogus.
3. LesEnfants Terribles: I generally like MikeDashe wines quite a lot. These two were the exceptions. These LesEnfants Terribles wines are the darlings of AliceF***ing and the natural wine crowd. They are advertised as as native yeast fermentations and minimal SO2 usage; made in an "old world" style (whatever that means). I found the wines pleasant enough, but nothing compelling enough about them to make me want to try them again.
The McFaddenRanch is located in the upper end of PotterVlly and a relatively cool site. MikeDashe's Riesling from this same Ranch is absolutely stunning. Would like to see how his LesEnfants Terribles regime translates w/ his Riesling. His regular DryCreekVlly Zin is much more to my liking; w/ loads of blackberry/raspberry fruit. And his LateHrvst Zin is very/very impressive as well. But I'll leave LesEnfants Terribles to sweet Alice.
4. EhretFamilyWnry: This is a new winery for me. SusieBynum is the marketing director for Ehret. When I found out she was coming to SantaFe Wine&Chile Fiesta, I asked her to bring a btl of their Syrah for us to try. She also brought the two Cabs as well. Ehret is owned by Susan & Pierre Ehret, who also own the iconic Flamingo Resort in SantaRosa. Their BavarianLion vnyd is located up in the KnightsVlly. Their winemaker is NickGoldschmidt. Though not a big Cabernet fan, I liked both of these a lot and thought them very fairly priced. But I particularly liked the Syrah as first rate.
5. MonteBello: Not a lot more that you can say about MonteBello; truly one of the world's great Cabernets.
6. Jaffurs: This is the just released basic Jaffurs Syrah. It is one of their best, maybe the best, SBC Syrah yet. It has far less of the somewhat Oz character the previous 2-3 vintages showed. Apparently, several of the vnyd-designate barrels of Syrah were added towards the end to boost the quality of this wine. Another terrific Jaffurs Syrah.
7. Boheme/BodegaRancho: This is the label of Kurt & Derek Beitler. Kurt is an in-law of the Wagner/Caymus family and manages their Pinot vnyd on TaylorRidge, west and a bit north of Sebastapol. I believe he advised VinceRago, Al's son, on their Pinot/Chard just up the road a bit and down the road from Al's QueSyrah vnyd. As they started to make Pinot and Chard under the Boheme label, they decided to reserve the Boheme label for those wines, and put their Syrah program under the BodegaRancho label, using other vnyds than just QueSyrah. The '07 vintage is their first release under that label.
The VivioVnyd is in the BennettVlly, another cold-climate Syrah vnyd, but would guess it's a bit warmer than the QueSyrah vnyd. I've never heard of this vnyd, but apparently HighFlyer uses those grapes as well for a Syrah. And the ThierotVnyd is a well-known Chard/Pinot vnyd in the PetalumaGap. Didn't know they had Syrah planted there.
Kurt and Derek's focus with their RanchoBodega label is cool-climate Syrah from the extreme SonomaCoast. Of these three first-releases; my preference was the QueSyrah for its stronger/ more interesting Rhonish character; followed by the Vivio, then the Theriot. But all three are very strong Syrah that respect their respective terroirs. A pretty awesome debut for BodegaRancho...a wnry to watch in the future.
8. QueSyrah Vnyd: This is one of the first (after Ventana) certifiably cold-climate Syrah vnyds in Calif. In fact, it is so cold-climate that they're not sure it will ripen a crop this year. Owned by long-time friend, from a Summer at ArgonneNationalLaboratory in 1967, Al Rago. The first QueSyrah Syrahs were made by EhrenJordan under his Failla-Jordan label. They were most impressive; showing lots of cold-climate/cracked black pepper character w/ a strong roasted/Rhonish character. Kurt started using those grapes under his Boheme label in 2004. The wines have gone
from strength to strength since that very first one. One of Calif's great Syrah vnyds.