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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.

Some New Wines - October 31, 2012

We tried last night (10/31/12)  Some New Wines:

  1. ForlornHope LaGitana Torrontes SilvaspoonsVnyd/Calif/AltaMesa/Lodi (12.9%; 77 cs) 2011: Light yellow color; very fragrant/perfumed floral/carnation/honeysuckle/hair oil bit mineral/earthy powerfully aromatic nose much like a GWT/Gruner combined; very tart/tangy/metallic light earthy/mineral very strong floral/honeysuckle/ hair oil/pineapply wonderfully aromatic flavor; very long tangy/mineral/earthy powerfully aromatic carnations/ honeysuckle/pineapple/hair oil quite tart/metallic/salado finish; the best Torrontes I've had since.... The ForlornHope '10; easily the best Torrontes I've ever had and a world-class white wine; a steal at $20.00
  2. Colome Torrontes VinoBlanco de GranAltura ValleCalchaqui/Salta/Argentina (13.5%; www.BodegaColome.com) BodegaColome 2011: Light yellow color; strong floral/carnations/hair oil light earthy pretty but simple nose; soft/fat/underacid rather floral/hair oil/carnations bit metallic/tangy somewhat washed out/dilute flavor; med.short floral/carnations/hair oil bit metallic/tangy/earthy finish; a pleasant enough nose bit rather dilute/watered down on the palate and falls apart in the glass after an hour. Rather pricey for Argentine Torrontes. $21.00 (LCSWS)
  3. ForlornHope Nacre Semillon YountMillVnyd/Yountville (77 cs; 11%) 2009: Med.light yellow color; attractive low-key figgy/Semillon/spicy/graham cracker rather spicy nose; quite tart/grapefruity/tangy/ metallic rather low-key/Semillon/figgy/graham cracker flavor; long very tangy/tart/lean/grapefruity/ metallic light/low-key/ Semillon/figgy/graham cracker finish; lacks the waxy/lanolin character of ripe Semillon; much like some of the HunterVlly Semillons w/o the oak some show; a rather quiet/understated Semillon that I expect will get much better w/ age. $24.00
  4. Chester'sAnvil GWT Mendocino (13.5%; www.LagierMeredith.com; www.PottWine.com) 2010: Light yellow color; light/ low-key quite spicy/lychee/GWT slight pencilly/cedary/oak(?) delicate very pretty nose; slightly tart light/ delicate/gentle spicy/lychee/GWT slight cedary/pencilly maybe a bit off-dry quiet/understated flavor; med.long low-key/lychee/spicy/GWT slightly tart slight cedary/pencilly finish; an elegant/delicate expression of GWT w/ emphasis on the lychee character; quite a pretty wine some like the ArbeGarbe Traminer. $26.50
  5. ForlornHope TheFaufreluches GWT HillFamilyVnyd/RRV (13.02%; 27 cs; 2 wk fermentation on the
    skins; 24 cs) 2011
    : Dark gold/burnished bronze color; strong orangey/orange peel bit pungent/smokey quite spicy very intense/very unusual/very non-GWT complex nose; slightly bitter/savory intense orangey/orange peel/apple peel powerful/spicy/orangey bit off-dry(?) strange savory/phenolic/ somewhat bitter flavor; very long intense orangey/orange peel bit bitter/savory/phenolic slight piney/resiny; a rather strange/powerful/ mesmerizing wine that has no hints of GWT character as we know it. $24.00
  6. ForlornHope Suspiro del Moro Alvarelhao SilvaspoonsVnyd/AltaMesa/Lodi (12.56%; 177 cs;
    whole cluster frmtd; 173 cs) 2011
    : Med.dark color; very unusual herbal/earty/almost vegetal/CabFranc-like rather earthy/dusty/dried leaf pile some floral/lilacs/aromatic/dried mushrooms quite interesting nose; quite tart/lean rather herbal/vegetal/rosemary/thyme earthy/dusty/CabFranc-like tangy/pungent/mineral some aromatic/lilacs unusual flavor; very long herbal/CabFranc-like/vegetal/dried leaf tart/lean earthy/dusty some floral/lilacs/aromatic structured finish w/ fair tannins; quite an unusual/serious wine at a great price. $20.00
  7. ForlornHope MilAmores DewittVnyd/AmadorCnty RW (14.5%; TourigaNacional/TintaRoriz/ TintaCao/TintaAmarella; 96 cs; 52 cs) 2008: Dark color; very intense plummy/chocolaty/Porto-like some toasty/smokey/oak ripe/lush slight earthy/briary nose; bit tart structured/tannic boysenberry/ ripe/chocolaty/DuoroRed-like bit toasty/oak flavor w/ ample tannins; very long ripe/blackberry/ boysenberry/chocolaty/chocolate wafer some toasty/charred/ oak finish w/ ample tannins; a powerful/structured red that needs 4-10 yrs; some like the Quinta de Crasto red; a steal at $25.00
  8. ForlornHope Ost-Intrigen St.Laurent RicciVnyd/Calif/Carneros (13.3%; 6 cs; whole cluster frmtd; 70 cs) 2011: Very dark/black color; bit alcoholic very intense blueberry/herbal/blackberry/rosemary powerfully aromatic slight earthy/loamy nose; fairly tart rather tannic powerful/blueberry/black cherry/herbal/rosemary ripe/ chocolaty/almost Port-like quite structured flavor w/ some tannins; very long intense/blueberry/black cherry/ herbal/rosemary slight earthy/dusty/chocolaty finish w/ some tannins; needs 2-8 yrs; a stunning/unusual red w/ powerful aromatics; a steal at $22.00
  9. Sattler St.Laurent Burgenland (Q, trocken; 13.0%; www.ErichSattler.At) Tadten/Austria 2008: Med.dark color; some earthy/dusty/coarse bit blueberry/StLaurent slight herbal fairly fragrant nose; soft earthy/dusty some blueberry/StLaurent/Blaufrankish-like/black cherry bit dilute flavor w/ light/bitey tannins; med.short rather earthy/loamy/dusty light blackberry/blueberry/StLaurent/black cherry finish w/ light/bitey tannins; a rather pleasant/coarse StLaurent that resembles Blaufrankish quite a bit. $17.00 (KK)
  10. Massican il vermouth di friulano NapaVlly WW (100% TocaiFriulano; 15%; 46 cs) 2011: Light yellow color; very intense very fragrant/perfumed/exotic intense rosemary/herbal/thyme/ menthol/Vick'sVaporRub exotic/complex/ fascinating nose; soft/smooth very intense herbal/rosemary/ menthol/Vick'sVaporRub/thyme/dried herbs exotic/ fascinating flavor; very long soft/fat/smooth Vick'sVaporRub/menthol/rosemary/thyme/oregano/pungent/dried herbs finish; very exotic and unusual wine; not sure how it would translate into a mixed drink. $30.00
  11. HarborWnry Mauro Calif Aperitif Vermouth (18.7%) NV: Murky/brown color; strong raisened/pruney/LateHrvstZin bit oxidized somewhat exotic/herbal/menthol/rosemary/pungent quite perfumed/complex nose; rather sweet strong raisened/pruney/LHZin bit oxidized herbal/medicinal/quinine/bitter/dried herbs/menthol exotic flavor; very long pruney/raisened/LHZin bit oxidized slightly bitter/herbal/menthol rather sweet finish; the raisened/pruney/LHZin character dominates but a very interesting exotic character underneath; tastes like an overripe Zin that was
    salvaged into a Vermouth; quite an interesting/complex wine. $22.00 (CB)

And the usual profundities from the BloodyPulpit:

1. Torrontes: By far the most wines from this grape I've tried have been from SouthAmerica. They have, by & large, left me w/ the image of a pretty/aromatic wine, but just that. And cheap (usually); a good white quaffer; a grape which was mired in pretty medocrity. This F-H Torrontes 'tis a whole nuther beast. Easily the best Torrontes I've ever had. It will be interesting to see how this wine evolves w/ age...it may fall apart w/ a few yrs... I don't really have a clue. But it is sure danged good drinking right now. And from Lodi??? Is nuthin' sacred anymore??
2. GWT: These two GWT's were starkly different in style..as one would expect. I was expecting the C-A GWT to be typically intense Calif GWT/hair oil/in your face style of GWT...to be a bombastic expression of Calif GWT. It was not. It was a quiet/subtle/expression of GWT and emphasized the spicy/lychee character of the grape... quite unlike any I've had from Calif. It will not play well in Monktown and not find favor w/ the lovers of Z-H style of GWT. Sometimes you'd rather listen to Pacabel'sCanon than Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

The F-H GWT 'twas a whole nuther beast. It was made w/ skin contact throughout its fermentation. My observation has been that skin-contact in white wines modifies/distorts to obliterates varietal caracter as we conventionally know it..depending upon the degree of skin contact. Since GWT has a bit of a pinkish color like PinotGris, I was expecting a bit more of a pinkish cast to the wine. The wine was made in a reductive style and thus had none of the oxidative character you get from the Radikon/Gravner paradigm....more like the Movia take on orange wines. This wine will not play well in Monktown nor w/ lovers of the Z-H style of GWT.
This is a rather strange/weird wine, but my folks have been exposed to enough of the "orange" wines to be pretty accepting of them on their own merits. It's a difficult wine to taste because of it's bitter/phenolic character; but I can imagine a lot of foods, like curry dishes, that this wine would pair well with. But it definitely is not a wine for the faint of heart.
3. Vermouth: This is traditionally a fortified wine that is infused w/ various aromatic botanicals (roots, barks, dried herbs, spices, seeds). Wormwood (whatever the heck that stuff is) was a traditional ingredient. Because the aromatic additions were the important ingredient, oftentimes lesser quality wine was used as the base. In the case of this Massican, I seriously doubt that that was the case. In the case of the Harbor, I sense that it was way overripe Amador Zin, too long in the barrel, that Charlie tried to salvage by making it into a Vermouth. Actually, I thought he did a pretty good job of turning a sow's ear into a silk purse...or maybe just a Gucci burlap shopping bag.

I would be very interested in knowning what DanPetroski used to flavor his Vermouth with. I presume the base wine was NicheliniVnyd Friulano/Muscadelle.
4. ForlornHope: This is a wnry for whom I've shilled on the WineBoards before. Owner/winemaker is MattRorick; who revels in the idea of making grapes from lesser-known varieties that he considers obscure and a "forlorn hope". He makes his wine at the TennbrinkWnry in SuisunCity of SolanoCnty; also the home-base for AbeSchoener's ScholiumProject. I think Matt's making some of the interesting & exciting wines in Calif these days. Followed him from the very start; I did/I did.This Fall release is probably Matt's strongest release yet. A wnry to keep your eye on and worth seeking out.
5. Lodi: This is an area that doesn't get the respect it deserves. It was once relegated to the trashbin as the source of cheap jug wines. In fact, the quality of wines coming out of Lodi has made a quantuum leap in quality over the last decade. There are some very good old-vine vnyds in Lodi that are yielding some very interesting wines. Many of the reds, particularly Zin and PetiteSirah, have a distinct earthy/loamy/dusty/ somewhat mushroomy character that I often pick out in some of the annoymous Calif red blends. For those who worship at the altar of terroir, what more could one ask for??
6. Alvarelhao: See RobTebeau's discussion on Alvarelhao:
This is a relatively rare grape in Portugal; even rarer in Calif. It comes from RonSilva's SilvaspoonsVnyd in the AltaMesa AVA in the eastern foothills of Lodi. Ron has a lot of interesting/Portugese varieties planted that he sells to a number of top-notch winemakers, including MattRorick. I've been, across the board, impressed by the wines made from Ron's grapes. It's a vnyd to keep your eyes open for.
7. StLaurent: This is a variety indigenous to Austria that apparently originally migrated there from Alsace thru Germany. See RobTebeau's discussion:
http://fringewine.blogspot.com/2011/11/st-laurent-burgenland-austria.html It seems to show a lot of PinotNoir similarities, but there is no indication that Pinot is part of its genetic makeup. StLaurent and Blaufrankisch were the cross that produced Zweigelt, Austria's more widely
planted red grape. Grown mostly in the Burgenland. StLaurent is more widely planted in the CzechRepublic, though I've never seen one of those wines in the USofA.

The RicciVnyd, a friend of Matt's, is the only known planting of StLaurent in the USofA. The ones from Matt remind me a bit of PinotMeunier, but w/ more earthiness. In the 2011 vintage, Matt made only a tiny 6 cs worth. Therein lies a tale. The vnyd lies down in the Carneros...not a highly populated area. In the Fall of 2011, someone(s) snuck into the vnyd in the dead of night and ripped off the vnyd of its crop. The thieves undoubtedly thought they were getting some primo Carneros PinotNoir. They are probably very disappointed in their "Pinot" and, hopefully, found another vnyd to rip off this year. Matt was able to go into Ricci and salvage what little remained of the crop. LosAlamos probably has more F-H StLaurent, per capita, than any city in this great Nation...all of 6 btls (now only 5)!!!


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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