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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.

Mostly Rasmussen Wines - March 2, 2011

We tried last week (3/2/11) Mostly Rasmuussen Wines:

  1. Esoterica by KentRasmussen SauvBlanc NorthCoast (13%) 2010: Light yellow color; very attractive melony/figgy slight cat pee/gooseberry lovely fragrant nose; fairly tart/lush slight buttery very perfumed/melony/figgy/SB bright/zippy flavor; long light cat pee/gooseberry bright/melony/fiffy/SB lovely/zippy finish; a really lovely bright/vibrant kind of SB but good richness & texture.
  2. KentRasmussenWnry Chard NapaVlly (13.5%; Last Chard) 2007: Light gold color; some toasty/ tobaccoy/oak/pungent/smokey strong melony/ripe/Chard slight buttery/vanilla nose; tart rather ripe/lush ripe/melony/Chard some vanilla/toasted/ smokey/oak flavor; long ripe/melony/Chard/spicy some vanilla/smokey/tobaccoy/pungent/oak finish; good acidity & balance w/ good ripeness; very attractively priced at $29.00
  3. Esoterica by KentRasmussen Roussanne Calif (13%) 2009: Light gold color; lovely very fragrant/floral/honeysuckle/spicy quite perfumed/aromatic nose; soft very lush/floral/Rouss/honeysuckle slight valve oil lovely flavor; med.long very strong/floral/honeysuckle/Rouss soft slight spicy/valve oil soft finish; a lovely/soft/very floral Roussanne at a very attractive price. $20.00
  4. EdmundsStJohn Roussanne TablasCreekVnyd/PasoRobles (14.5%) 2004: Med.gold color; rather earthy/stoney/minerally/chalky slight hazelnutty very light floral/honeysuckle nose; tart/tight/lean strong chalky/minerally slight toasted hazelnuts low fruit/floral some earthy flavor; med.long earthy/chalky/ minerally slight hazelnutty finish; evolving in a strange way; seems to lost a lot of fruit but not developing much hazelnutty/old Rhone character.
  5. Esoterica by KentRasmussen GrenacheRose Mendocino (12.5%) 2009: Strange bronze/orange very light color; strong watermelon/strawberry/Grenache/spicy bit fresh hay/hay mow/earthy interesting nose; tart/lean/earthy strong watermelon/ strawberry/Grenache slight herbal/hay mow flavor; med.long strong/bright/watermelon/strawberry/Grenache tart/lean/wiry slight herbal/hay mow finish; quite an interesting "rose" and more like an austere Provence rose than a Calif tutti-fruitti rose.
  6. CaraMia PinotNoir IGT: Provinca di Pavia (12.5%) Trento/Verona 2007: Med.color; very earthy/minerally slight Burgundian slight cherry/Pinot pleasant/terroir-driven nose; very earthy/dusty/gout de terroir slight cherry/Pinot flavor w/ some rough/coarse tannins; med.long very earthy/dusty slight herbal bit cherry/Pinot finish w/ light/rough/coarse tannins; rather short on fruit but a decent AltoAdige-like Pinot. $12.00
  7. KentRasmussenWnry PinotNoir Carneros (13.5%) 2007: Med.light color; rather pungent/toasty/ pencilly/oak beautiful/ fragrant/cherry/Pinot/black cherry quite perfumed nose; tart light/bright/vibrant strong floral/cherry/violets/Pinot/ spicy somewhat pencilly/pungent/smokey/oak flavor w/ light tannic bite; very long bright/spicy/cherry/Pinot/black cherry some pencilly/smokey/Burgundian finish w/ slight tannic bite; needs several yrs; beautiful elegant/perfumed Pinot. $40.00
  8. Esoterica by KentRasmussen PetiteSirah Chavez-LeedsVnyd/Rutherford/NapaVlly (13.5%) 2007: Very dark/black color; very strong peppery/earthy/PS light boysenberry/blackberry/spicy/licorice fruit some toasty/pungent/oak nose; strong blackberry/blueberry/PS/spicy strong toasty/smokey/oak flavor with rather rough/agressive tannins; long rough/hard/ tannic/extracted some toasty/pungent/oak some blackberry/earthy/peppery/spicy/PS fruit finish; a pretty extracted Petite w/ rather hard/rough tannins that needs some 4-10 yrs to develop. Should be a good one. $40.00

And a wee BloodyPulpit:

1. I've followed KentRasmussen's wines from the very start, back when he first released his Estate/Carneros Chard and PinotNoir. I was quite impressed w/ both of them. The Chards, then, tended to be a bit on the reductive side annd showed what I characterized as the "Rasmussen stench". That was long/long ago in a galaxy far away and they no longer show that character. But they aged amazingly well.

Over the yrs, Kent has made a lot of very interesting wines. Some terrific botrytis Rieslings from
WnryLakeVnyd. Some amazing Ports. The first Calif Dolcetto...in this ugly cobalt/blue btl. Calif's first Pinotage. He expanded his production to include the well-priced Ramsey line from purchased grapes. I understand the Ramsey production is being greatly curtailed. He moved from making his wine in this tiny garage on his Carneros estate into a much larger facility on the SilveradoTrail across from StHelena that was a former meat-packing plant.

Tasting thru this lineup of wines, I was relieved that Kent's wines are just as good as I remember them over the yrs...that advancing age hasn't caused him to miss a beat. His bread & butter, the Chard and the Pinot, were just as good as ever. Alas, this is his last Chard. He's not been able to find the grapes that he liked as much as his old Chard vnyd. And it's a tough sell these days. The Pinot seemed a bit lighter in extract than his earlier ones, but had an elegance and restraint and a great perfume that should appeal to the AFWE and those, to invoke the current hot topic, who are seeking "balance" in their Pinots.

I also liked the Roussanne. Not as profound and structured as, say, the Qupe; but it had great aromatics and classic Roussanne fruit. The PetiteSirah is a pretty tough/extracted wine and I think it'll be interesting to see exactly where it goes.

It's always nice to run into an old...errrrrr...long time friend and find them just as full of piss & vinegar as you remember them from yrs ago. That's how I felt about these wines. These are wines that fly well under the radar. They shouldn't be.
2. Rose: Kent relates: The Grenache Rose is my current "favorite of the house".  It is lovely, light, fruity and admittedly a bit too light in color.  The grapes were (red) Grenache from Mendocino County (right on 101 in downtown Cloverdale). Old head trained vineyard.  Late season ripening and picked at about 22 brix (because I was planning on making rose---this is not juice draw-off from a red fermentation).  When the grapes came into the winery I immediately pressed them as whole clusters using the "champagne" cycle on the press.  This technique for pressing absolutely minimizes the the phenolics in the juice.  Problem was that virtually (and I mean virtually) no color came out either.....which left me in a bind as to what to do.  I couldn't call it Grenache blanc as that the name of another grape.  I tried coloring it up with Petitie Sirah, but it really ruined the charming character of the wine at even tiny percentages.  I finally decided to use as little as possible to give it a hint of pink (about 1 gallon in 200---half a percent), but by the time I had filtered the wine and put it in the bottle a lot of that color had disappeared.  Thus......great wine.....strange color.....and hence the blue bottle (creative...????).

When I first saw the color of this wine, I thought it may have been made from GrenacheGris
as an orange wine. But it didn't have that oxidative or tannic character those wines show.
Obviously, it couldn't be labeled as GrenacheBlanc. But it certainly could have been labeled
as Blanc de GrenacheNoir, as some white Pinots are labeled. It's a pretty unusual rendition of GrenacheRose, but I found the wine to be quite likeable.
3. Kent relates on the SauvBlanc: The SB was an interesting bit of winemaking in that it is the first wine I have ever made that we bottled in the year we made it.  I was after a very very austere style of SB.  Those type of wine (think Vino Verde) don't get any better than the day they finish fermentation, so it is best to get them in the bottle so that they are stabilized and don't loose their lovely fruit.  44 days vine to bottle!  Could have done it in 28, but I had trouble getting the labels that quickly.
4. EdStJohn Roussanne: I rather puzzled by the place this wine is right now. This was brought as a mystery wine by SteveCostigan. Tasting it blind, I was convinced that it was a lower-level Chablis because of its chalky minerality and lack of lush fruit. Once it was unveiled and I returned to try it, I was not able to identify Roussanne in it, either young or aged. On release, because of its intense Roussanne fruit w/ a high acidity and underlying minerality; I thought it one of the most profound Calif Roussannes I'd yet had. It was showing very little of that aged Roussanne/hazelnutty/honeyed character the do. Maybe I'm just a doofus in predicting how a wine will evolve. Maybe its just in a weird/shut-down stage right now. The acidity is there and I suspect it'll need some time to show its glories down the road.


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