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)!!!