by Tom Hill
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.
Interesting New Wines -
November 23, 2011
We tasted some Interesting New Wines last week (11/23/11):
1. ForlornHope Nacre Semillon YountMillVnyd/Yountville (77 cs; 11%) MatthewRorick/Calistoga
2008: Light gold color; very attractive valve oil/figgy/Semillo/lanolin/floral/waxy some stoney/earthy
nose; fairly rich/textured some metallic/citric rather high acid/austere strong waxy/figgy/lanolin/Semillon
clean flavor; very long waxy/figgy/lanolin/Semillon pretty acid/austere bit tannic finish; needs age but has
the acidity to go out quite a ways; loads of Semillon character but some like a HunterVlly Semillon w/o the
oak; definitely a food wine. $22.00
2. BedrockWineCo Heirloom WW CompagniPortisVnyd/SonomaVlly (Planted in 1954; 14.4%; 0.9 tons/acre;
6 brls) 2010: Med.light gold color; very fragrant/floral/aromatic slight haymow/valve oil rather GWT-like
highly perfumed nose; fairly tart rich/off-dry (??) rich/lush very GWT-like/floral/perfumed flavor; very long
lush/rich tart very perfumed/aromatic slight earthy/herbal rather GWT-like finish; rather Alsatian GWT in style;
quite lovely/aromatic white w/ good structure. Great price at $24.00
3. Ryme Vermentino LasBrisasVnyd/Carneros (His; 14.2%; www.RymeCellars.com) 2010: Med.gold slight cloudy color; rather
earthy/dusty bit orangey/orange peel/orange muscat/green olive slight oxidized quite complex nose; fairly rich/lush
rather tart earthy/dusty bit tannic/bitter some orange peel/green olive quite savory very interesting flavor; very
long rather tart/saline/savory slighht floral/sunflower earthy/dusty light orange peel/green olive finish; not your
usual rendition of Vermentino; lots of savory character and not for everybody. $32.00
4. QuattroMani [toh-kai] DOC: GoriskaBrda ExtoGredicVnyd (winemaker: Ales Kristancic; 12.5%;
www.DomaineSelect.com) Movia/Dobrovo/Slovenia 2008: Med.gold color; very fragrant/perfumed piney/PineSol/Lavoris/
pepperminty/ocean breeze quite lovely nose; soft somewhat watery/diffuse/dilute bit herbal very pepperminty/
PineSol/Lavoris some watermelon aromatic flavor; med.long PineSol/piney/Lavoris dilute soft ocean breeze finish;
a rather exotic nose but rather watery/dilute on the palate. $14.00 (BWM)
5. DivineProvidence WW RRV (14.5%; old vine Traminer Aromatico) ArbeGarbe 2007: Med.gold color; beautiful fragrant/aromatic
perfumed light lychee/GWT/restrained some stony/mineral complex nose; slight candied very perfumed/aromatic/lychee tart/
balanced/spicy lovely flavor; very long fairly tart/balanced very perfumed/lychee/spicy light mineral/stone slight
tobaccoy/pungent totally dry finish; some like an AltoAdige GWT but less flamboyant; definitely like a GWT but more
restrained & elegant; a superb Traminer.
6. ForlornHope The Fanfreluches GWT Adam&EveVnyd/RRV (14.3%; 34 cs) 2010: Med.dark orange/gold/burnished bronze color;
slight earthy rather orangey/orange muscat/orange peel/dried mango bit rotted apple/very ripe slight caramel rather
complex/unusual interesting nose; fairly tart orangey/orange muscat some perfumed/hair oil/ripe slight oxidized very
slightly tannic rather savory unusual flavor; very long orangey/orange peel/dried mango slight hair oil/GWT slight
tannic slight oxidized/savory complex finish; lots of savory/interesting/strange rather atypical GWT character. $34.00
7. Sattler StLaurent Burgenland (13.0%; www.ErichSattler.At) Tadten 2008: Dark color; rather earthy/dusty/gout de terroir
rather black cherry/boysenberry/StL fairly perfumed interesting nose; fairly tart rather earthy/dusty/gout de terroir
strong bing cherry/boysenberry almost StaRitaHills/Pinot flavor; med.long earthy/gout de terroir strong black cherry/
bing cherry/boysenberry slight tannic/bitey finish; lots of Pinot-like character dominated by the gout de terroir;
attractively priced at $17.00 (KK)
8. ForlornHope Ost-Intrigen StLaurent RicciVnyd/Carneros (12.3%; 12 cs) 2010: Med.dark color; rather strong eucalyptus/
minty/menthol very strong black cherry/boysenberry/Pinotish some earthy/dusty complex beautiful nose; tart very strong
black cherry/boysenberry/Pinotish very menthol/eucalyptus slight oaked/toasty/pungent light earthy light tannic/rough
flavor; very long/lingering fairly tart strong black cherry/boysenberry/StL/Pinotish some minty/eucalyptus slight earthy
finish w/ some tannins; needs more age; maybe the best StLaurent I've had; a steal at $24.00
9. AlainGraillot AC: Crozes-Hermitage (12.5%) 2002: Med.color w/ some ricking; bit herbal/green olive/tapenade strong
roasted/smokey/espresso/pungent/NorthernRhone complex nose w/ little Syrah fruit remaining; some tart bit dried out/
tannic strong smokey/pungent/roasted/espresso little Syrah flavor; med.long somewhat tannic/dried out roasted/smokey/
pungent/espresso complex classic NR finish; lots of classic NR character but almost no fruit remaining and starting
to dry out; still pleasurable to drink. $27.00
10. Halcon Alturas Syrah Estate/YorkvilleHighlands (13.7%; 300 cs; www.HalconVineyards.com) SantaRosa 2009: Very dark color;
intense boysenberry/plummy/licorice/huge fruit slight earthy/dusty strong Fr.oak/toasty/charred/pungent beautifully
intense nose; rather tart/tannic very strong boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah/plummy/licorice very structured flavor;
very long intense/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah strong charred/oak/smokey slight earthy fairly tannic/structured finish;
needs 3-8 yrs; amazingly good debut Syrah. Fairly priced at $nc (PG)/$38.00
And the usual pap from TheBloodyPulpit:
1. Ryme: This Vermentino come from FrankMahoney's LasBrisas vnyd in the Carneros, probably one of the coldest plantings
of Vermentino in the world. When the grapes for this wine came in, they couldn't agree on how the wine was to be
made. Ryan (Glaab) wanted to make it as a skin-contact/orange wine. Megan wanted to go for a classic/aromatic
rendition similar to those from Liguria. Then things got ugly....words were exchanged...fisticuffs broke out. So finally
they settled on two Vermentinos...Hers and His. This was the His version. We had the Hers version several months ago.
I thought it was one of the best Vermentinos I've yet had from Calif. The His version was a rather strange duck and I
struggled to find descriptors for it. You have to think outside the box to appreciate it.
2. DivineProvidence: This was a wine made by Enrico Bertoz before he & Letizia had established their ArbeGarbe wnry.
So not commercially available I believe. Made from the last crop off SarahLeeKunde's vnyd of old-vine Traminer
Aromatico afore it was pulled. What a shame. It had a lot of the same perfume you find in GWT, but rather more
restrained and didn't stray into the floozy/cheap hair oil side of GWT that you get in many. It had a bit of
stone & mineral that reminded me some of the AltoAdige GWTs. Generally, I'm not terribly impressed w/ the wines
made of the SaraLee vnyd. This was an exception. One of the most beautiful GWT's from Calif I've had.
3. Fanfreluches: means "frippery" as best I can tell. Another off-beat wine from MattRorick. This was made w/ 1 week
of skin contact, at which point the fermentation was almost over. So an orange wine. Given that GWT is a "gris" grape,
I would have expected more of a rose color to it. It drew mixed reactions from my group. Some relished in its
ecentricity...others panned it as too weird. I thought it interesting; in a good way. Very unusual and not to
everyone's taste. I had it the next day w/ Thanksgiving dinner and liked it a lot better in that context. It did
Susan's bird proud.
4. Gout de terroir: This is an old British wine-writing term meaning "taste of the earth"....that somewhat earthy taste
you get in RedBdx, Jura wines, and many others. At low levels, it's like brett, and adds a bit of interest/complexity
to a wine. At higher levels, it has fairly negative connotations. It is a feature I find in many StLaurents and
BlauFrankisch's. Anyway...this is the context in which I use the term. Of course, nowadays, now that "terroir"
has been elevated upon a pedestal to be worshiped; the term has taken on a somewhat different interpretation.
5. Ost-Intrigen: Got no idea what this term means. Google just gives me an amazing number of ForlornHope hits....way
out of proportion to the amount of this wine being made. Amazing.
The Ricci vnyd is owned by a friend of Matt's in the Carneros district. Only a paultry 12 cs of this wine made.
I believe the story was that some thieves stole a part of this crop in the dead of night. Presumably the two-legged
kind who had no idea the rarity of what they were stealing. Ha....probably thought they were going to be making
another Carneros PinotNoir. 45 of the 90 vines were stripped...resulting in only a quarter ton of grapes. This is
probably the only StLaurent planting in the USofA. Matt is hoping to get his friend to expand his planting.
The Austrian versions I've had of StLaurent, some 12-15 in number, all seem to show a lot of Pinot-like
character, maybe more like PinotMeunier; with a distinctive earthy/gout de terroir character. Matt's StLaurent
has a diminished earthy character, but w/ much more effusive fruit, as you'd expect from Calif I guess. There was
a distinct eucalyptus character in this '10 version that I don't recall in the previous vintages. Noticible, but
not enough to be a distraction.
6. Halcon: This is a new vnyd (to me) located at a high altitude in the YorkvilleHighlands. Owned by Paul & Valerie Gordon.
Winemaker is ScottShapley, formerly w/ Novy...who obviously knows Syrah. I was expecting this Syrah to be like the
MendocinoHighlands from the Perli & Valenti vnyds. I didn't get much cold-climate/peppery character that I was
expecting, that I find in some of the AndersonVlly Syrahs. It had huge fruit that reminded me a lot of the Lagier-
Meredith Syrah, but not as much high-toned notes as theirs. If anything, it was more like a leaner/more austere
Carlisle Syrah; with that same huge fruit that Mike's Syrahs show. Very good Syrah & I'll be going back for more.
And the usual nonsense from the BloodyPulpit:
1. Tablas blancs: I was surprised that the Picpoul and the Marsanne had a lot of ripe floral character. These two wines typically show the TCV austere character of their whites. These showed a lot more ripeness/lushness than they typically do, even though the alcohol levels were low.
OTOH, the EspritBlanc was classic TCV Esprit. Maybe one of their best yet. Though quite good now, and speaks mostly of Roussanne; it should show significant improvements over the next 10-15 yrs, maybe longer. Doesn't show the ripeness of the Picpoul & Marsanne.
2. Patelin: French patois for "neighborhood". TCV's new wine made from some Estate grapes, supplemented with purchased grapes from their neighbor vnyds in WestSide Paso. They both show a bit more lushness than the other TCV wines, but still that TCV restraint and elegance. Bot Blanc and Rouge are great values at $20.
3. EnGoblet: This is a wine made from vines on their Estate that are head pruned. Almost no one does head-pruned, newly-planted vnyds these days. I thought this was a terrific wine. They suggested this wine had an elegance & clarity from the head-pruned vines. Not sure I see that in this wine and thought it a pretty big/lush wine.
4. I have, of course, followed TCV from the very start. I was excited when I heard that they were coming to Paso, probably the true ancestral home for Syrah in Calif (GaryEberle's EstrellaRiverVnyd Syrah planting really opened the door to great Syrah in Calif). They brought in all their own cuttings from the Rhone vlly and had to work them thru the quarantine issue (in GenevaStation/NY I believe). The early focus was getting the vnyd started and propagating the Rhone varieties. Their nursery operation was a big part of their business, but I think they've gotten out of selling plant material. I was a bit puzzled in those early yrs why it took them so long to start producing wines. In those early yrs, they made wine from purchased grapes under a different label (forget the name...long time ago). Not sure the source of the grapes, but it was not very good wine. Recall, there was not much in the way of new plantings of grapes, particularly Syrah or Rhone varieties, in WestSidePaso back then, so they were probably EastSide Paso grapes.
When they did, finally, produce their first blended red (forget the name), BobSenn was so excited to show it to me in his LOW&SE tasting room. He could tell from the crestfallen look on my face that I was not impressed. I was expecting something much bigger & richer in the wine, as was becoming the vogue in Calif in those days. It had the understated restraint & balance that I've now come to recognize as the hallmark of TCV wines. "This is a wuss wine" I snorted to Bob. He gave me this knowing wink, as was his tradition when he was confident is his take on a wine, and responded.."You wait and see". About three yrs later, at dinner w/ Bob at the Casmalia HitchingPost, he brought a brown-paper bagged btl & opened it up for me, blind. "Wow" was my first response, then another "wow". It was a beautiful perfumed/fragrant, almost Cote-Rotie floral, kind of wine. "Cote-Rotie" I asked?? I could tell by the smirk on Bob's face that something was up. He unvieled the btl and triumphantly declared "Didn't I tell you". As he often did with me...Bob had the last laugh. Gads...do I miss that guy!!! End of story.
[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]
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