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.
Some New Wines -
November 16, 2011
We tried the other week (11/16/11) Some New Wines:
- We tried the other week (11/16/11) Some New Wines:
1. Drew Albarino ValentiVnyd/MendocinoRidge/AndersonVlly (12.4%; 70 cs; www.DrewWines.com) Elk 2010: Light
gold color; strong floral/pear some stony/mineral slight metallic fairly aromatic nose; tart bit lean/tangy
very floral/pear some mineral/stony/chalky flavor; med.long stony/mineral tangy/grapefruity rather floral/pear
finish; lots of tangy character but very nice aromatics. $30.00
2. CowanCllrs Isa LakeCnty (Skin frmtd SauvBlanc; 13.1%; www.CowanCellars.com) SantaRosa 2010: Med. gold/orange color;
somewhat earthy/dusty/stony some waxy/figgy rather perfumed/dried fruits/dried mango quite exotic nose; some
tannic/hard/chewy waxy/figgy dried mango/dried pineapple fairly tart/tangy complex bit earthy/dusty slight herbal
rather exotic/savory flavor; very long bit tannic/bitey waxy/figgy/dried mango/dried pineapple tart/tangy finish;
quite an interesting/unusual wine w/ little if any LakeCnty SauvBlanc character. $27.00
3. Chester'sAnvil Chard SonomaCoast (14.3%l 93 cs; www.LagierMeredith.com) 2010: Light gold color; very bright
lemony/melony/honeydew slight steely/chalky/mineral very attractive nose; rather rich stony/mineral/chalky tart/lean
strong apple/melony/honeydew/lemony clean/bracing flavor w/ little oak; long mineral/chalky rather tart appley/lemony/
honeydew steely/chalky/mineral bright/bracing finish; lovely Chard in a Chablis style. Great price at $30.00
4. Chester'sAnvil GretnaGreen NapaVlly (Marsanne/Roussanne; 14.2%; 204 cs) 2010: Med.gold color; rather ripe butterscotch/
caramel light toasty/oak fairly perfumed/perfumed talc rather floral/appley/honeysuckle very attractive nose; soft
rich/lush strong floral/honeysuckle/appley rather ripe/caramel/butterscotch light toasty/oak quite perfumed/aromatic
flavor; very long lovely melony/honeysuckle/appley light toasty/oak some ripe/caramel very perfumed finish; a lovely
very aromatic white Rhone at a very good price. $30.00
5. Arnot-Roberts Trousseau LuchsingerVnyd/ClearLake (6 brls; 12.6%) 2010: Med.light slight brick color; bit earthy/dusty/
pungent/ozone/WWII beacon some raspberry/grapey/watermelon/floral/perfumed cinammon/spicy somewhat weird rather
interesting nose; very tart/lean rather austere bit grapey/raspberry/watermelon quite spicy/cinammon some earthy/dusty
rather strange flavor; very long tart/lean/eviscerated somewhat tannic/hard earthy/dusty/pungent some spicy/cinammon
bit grapey/watermelon interesting/strange finish; probably needs some age but hard to guess where it's gonna go;
sorta like an AltoAdige Schiava or an Austrian StLaurent. $30.00
6. Chester'sAnvil Zin MtVeeder/NapaVlly (ChesterBrandlin home ranch; 14.8%; 2009: Very dark color; strong toasty/charred/
oak intense blackberry/Zin some dusty/earthy/old-vines/mushroomey bit boysenberry/milk of magnesia really lovely/
interesting nose; fairly tart rather hard/tannic/structured very strong dusty/old vine/Kansas root cellar intense
blackberry/Zin/very spicy bit peppery some charred/toasty/oak flavor; very long/lingering intense blackberry/spicy/Zin
bit peppery some dusty/old-vines some charred/toasty/oak fairly tannic finish; big spicy Zin fruit but lots of structure
and needs some age. $38.00
7. Drew PinotNoir PerliVnyd/MurderRidgeBlock/MendocinoRidge (13.9%; 99 cs) 2009: Med.color; strong black cherry/framboise/
Pinot/high-toned very perfumed/fragrant bit toasty/pencilly/oakvery spicy nose; fairly tart bright/cherry/black cherry/
Pinot/framboise/spicy light toasty/oak rather smooth/polished flavor; med.long smooth/polished bright/cherry/black
cherry/Pinot/spicy light toasty/oak finish w/ light tannins; brighter and more high-toned than the Weir; quite a nice
restrained/polished/well-crafed Pinot. $40.00
8. Drew PinotNoir WeirVnyd/YorkvilleHighlands (13.9%; 180 cs) 2009: Med.color; strong sour cherry/black cherry/Pinot/
licorice/ozone/pungent riper/less bright bit earthy some toasty/oak nose; rather richer/lusher strong black cherry/
pungent/licorice some earthy/dusty light toasty/oak flavor w/ bigger tannins; med.long earthy/pungent/slight tarry deep/
black cherry/Pinot/Pinot some toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; a bigger/richer less-bright Pinot than the Perli. $40.00
9. CowanCllrs PinotNoir BennettVlly (13.4%) 2010: Dark color; somewhat earthy/dusty some toasty/oak strong cherry/black
cherry/Pinot/boysenberry/ripe nose; rather tart bit tannic/lean strong black cherry/Pinot/earthy bit bigger/riper
some toasty/oak flavor; med.long bit tannic/hard strong black cherry/earthy/Pinot some tannic bit toasty/oak finish;
bit bigger/riper and less high-toned than the SonomaCoast; very fairly priced at $32.00
10. CowanCllrs PinotNoir SonomaCoast (13.9%) 2010: Med.color; very bright/spicy/cherry/sour cherry/Pinot some peppery/
cold climate light pencilly/toasty/oak/smokey quite perfumed/aromatic nose; tarter/leaner brighter/cherry/sour cherry/
Pinot/spicy cold-climate/spicy/peppery slight minty light pencilly/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; long tart/lean very
bright cherry/sour cherry/Pinot some peppery/cold-climate/spicy light pencilly/oak finish w/ modest tannins; lots of
bright/spicy Pinot character; needs several yrs of age; quite nicely priced at $32.00
The usual stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:
1. Chester'sAnvil Chard: I was quite impressed by this Chard. Reminded me some of EhrenJordan's Estate. Many
so-called Chablis-style Calif Chards come off as lean & eviscerated. This one is quite tart & bracing acidity,
yet it is packed w/ Chard flavor. Like a GrandCru Chablis, it is tart & lean, yet has a certain richness & texture to
it that shouts GrandCru. It wouldn't be mistaken for a GrandCru Chablis, it certainly has similar characteristics.
Lovely Chard at a great price. Sometimes bigness isn't everything; sometimes it's just bufoonery.
2. Tasting Weird Stuff: I love tasting wines from unusual regions/varieties/winemaking styles. Sometimes these are
a bit tough to taste if you can't put them away in some context of something you've had before. It's well known that
the wines we like are the ones we're familiar with. Sometimes I use the term "interesting" for a wine when I can't
find anything else good to say about it...damning w/ faint praise. Other times, "interesting" connotes something that
genuinely stretches my vinous horizons. Seldom do I find these weird wines downright unpleasant. So I, in general,
enjoy meeting some of these weird wines. Not too unlike people, I guess. In LosAlamos, we certainly got some weird
ones (the saying goes among single women about LosAlamos men: "The odds are good...but the goods are odd").
3. Chester'sAnvil: This is, of course, the joint project of th Potts and SteveLagier & CaroleMeredith. Followed 'em from
the very start, I did/I did. The name comes from the huge anvil that Steve wheedled from ChesterBrandlin for discing
Chester's home vnyd one time. It was a rusty chunk of iron in Chester's barn. After Steve got it home and took the
wire brush to it and got it all polished up, it is truly a thing of beauty. Maybe we can get Steve to post a picture
of it. I recall that it dates back to the late 1800's. Nowadays, they probably make those anvils out of plastic,
This is another very strong lineup from Chester'sAnvil. I particularly liked the Gretna Rhone blend and the Zin.
I believe this is the last vintage it'll be from Chester's home ranch. I didn't include the Cab or the Malbec in this
tasting....it's hard for me to get excited by a Cab...but we'll eventually give it a shot.
4. Drew: This is, of course, Jason & Molly Drew's wnry up on the MendocinoCoast in the town of Elk. Followed 'em from
the very start down in SantaBarbara. I was first attracted to Jason's Syrahs. Since he returned to his roots up in
Mendocino, I find the style of his wines has changed somewhat. His SBC Syrahs used to be big/dramatic expressions
of SantaBarbara Syrahs. They have evolved into more elegant/restrained expressions of Pinot & Syrah. This Albarino
is his 2'nd or 3'rd vintage and is one of the better Calif Albarinos; speaking strongly of Albarino, but w/ more
of a Calif richness to it and not as lean/wiry as the Spanish versions.
5. CowanCllrs: This is, of course, JimCowan a.k.a FloridaJim on the various wine boards. He's been hanging out on these
wine boards w/ other scoundrels ever since the first punch card reader was connected to AlGore's InterNet many
a year ago. He came out to Calif & made wine w/ SteveEdmunds and the rest is, as they say, history. I have, of course,
followed Jim from the very start...when we were both posting via a punch card reader. Alas, we've not yet met in
These are the first wines of Jim's I've tried. I've heard rumor that he also has a Syrah, but he's apparently holding
that back. Or won't sell me it.
The Isa (named after his grand-daughter) is a very interesting (in the highest sense of the word) wine. Fermented
on the skins for 15 days when it went dry. Unlike some, it was made in a reductive manner that gives it a different
character from many orange wines that are made in a slightly oxidative style. It has no LakeCnty SauvBlanc character
that I could pick up...which is a good thing in my mind. It definitely has a tannic bite to it and should be served
at room/red-wine temperatures. I took a btl of it back to KansasCity last week and shared it w/ some of my wine
friends there. They were a bit puzzled by it but, in general, seemed to like it. I haven't a clue has to how this
wine is gonna age.
The Pinots I thought were quite nicely done. Not as distinctive as the Isa...in a very crowded field of Sonoma
Pinots. I much preferred the SonomaCoast version for its more restrained/leaner style.
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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