1. I, of course, followed CraneCanyon from the very start. Made by GardnerBritt. Way back in the '90's, really liked what he was doing with Zinfandel. Did a visit w/ him sometime in the mid-'90's. His son, David, was quite interested in science (or, as we do it at LosAlamos...Science) and so they made a visit to LosAlamos a yr later. I arranged a tour of the LosAlamos MesonPhysics Accelerator and some talks w/ several other scientists. As I recall, there was wine involved. Anyway, David went on to get his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at UCLA and now works at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the CO2 sequestration program. Who'd have thunk, back then, this squirrly little teenager would go on to becomne a world-class scientist!!
Anyway, a chance encounter w/ MikeOfficer led Gardner to reconnect w/ me and bring me up-to-date on CraneCanyon and kids. I'd not seen CraneCanyon in the marketplace for yrs and had been curious. Like many small wineries, business has not been booming over the last few yrs. But still in business and making small lots of things that interest him. He wanted us to see what his wines were doing, so sent us a 6-pak to try.
The older wines were still holding up fine and interesting to drink. None yet on their last legs.
The younger wines were very impressive, especially the Vitruvian/Syrah. Not generally much of a
Cabernet fan, but the ElMilagro was also impressive; one of the best I've had this year, which I
must admit is a big data base.
2. As reported by Gardner:
Vitruvian Red, Bennett Valley Syrah - This is my own small label. This is the most handmade little wine I've ever made. After putting it through the crusher-stemmer, it never again went through any electric tool. I picked all of the grapes myself from 5 different vineyards in 7 different pickings. All from Bennett Valley. After each fermentation, I chose a barrel for that lot according to its characteristics. All new French oak, 5 barrels. 125 cases. Blended with 2% cabernet from Sonoma Mountain appellation. Alcohol at 14.1%. Created a new label for it. Decant and let breathe an hour if possible.
2000 El Milagro Carneros Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon - This is the bottle with only the bright red wax seal, nothing else. It may be my favorite wine of the bunch. I did only a large puncheon barrel (90 gallons) of this wine. Great grapes from a historical old vine lot in Buena Vista's old vineyard. I
was close friends with the COO, and he got me half a ton of primo stuff. Super handmade, great new French oak barrel, bottled by hand. It is really gorgeous now. I hesitate for you to put it in a tasting. You should just have it with your lady and a really good dinner. This is the bottle I had the most difficulty parting with, but I wanted you to taste it. Warning- this is not some brooding monster of a wine. It is a seductive velvet beauty that goes down so easily it'll be gone before you know what happened. Decant and let breathe an hour, then consume. And in the middle of it all, take a moment to really study the nose.
3. OldWorldWnry: This was a new wnry for me run by DarekTrowbridge, whose grandpa was
LinoMartinelli, long of the RRV. I would often see Darek's comments on SteveHeimoff's blog, finally took a look at his Site, seemed interesting in what he was doing, so ordered a mixed half case to try. There was someting nagging me in the back of my mind about the name when I realized I'd had some of his wines he'd made for private label for RyanSciar's CellarRat shop back in KansasCity and remember Ryan raving about Darek.
I, across the board, liked the wines. The whites had a bit of oxidative character to them that reminded me of PaxMahle's. Would guess that they were made w/ skin contact in the style of an orange wines. The reds had a sort of old-timey quality to them some like the early Rafanellis. The Syrah was one of the best Mendo Syrahs I've had in quite awhile; very much like the early McDowell Syrahs, back when Billy was making very impressive wines.
4. Scholium: This is cutting-edge/pushing-the-envelope/eccentric wines made by AbeSchoener.
As usual, they are always an adventure to taste. Certainly require you to think outside the box
when you try them. I always enjoy the opportunity to try them, but they sometimes leave me
shaking my head in puzzlement at what Abe is trying to say to me.