1. D&G: Not a very good showing from Donkey&Goat. With Tracey&Jared's emphasis on natural winemaking, I guess you should expect a few that don't do too well in the btl.
2. Carignane: I'm not a big fan of this grape. I like a lot the bright cherry/black cherry/cola character the wines have in the nose; but they often seem rather earthy/coarse and tannic on the palate. Despite the tannins; it's seldom that the wines develop into anything interesting. Even some of those very old-vine Carignanes from Priorat seldom grab me by the throat. And most of the Languedoc ones epitomize the worst qualities of the grape. Maybe it's true that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
That said, I rather liked these two Carignanes. The Idlewood had an old-timey character to it that reminded me some of the old Pedroncellis and Parducci's back in the '70's. The Ridge, I thought, was maybe the best (young) Ridge Carignane I can recall. This ATP Carignane is a new wine for Ridge.
3. Idlewild: This is the wnry of Sam & Jessica Bilbro. If that name sounds familiar, Chris Bilbro is the owner/founder of MariettaCllrs, of Marietta OldVineRed fame. Sam's bro's, Jake & Scot, are making their mark w/ the recently acquired LimerickLaneWnry. And the family recently acquired the old BillyCrawford's GibsonRanch, up in McDowellVlly; a national treasure. Lots of stuff planted back in the late 1800's, including what is probably the oldest block of Syrah in Calif. Sam's GrenacheGris (the gris version of GrenacheBlanc&Noir) comes from very old-vine stuff on Gibson.
KenZinns had given me a head's up on Sam's Idlewild operation several yrs ago when he first tasted one, so I finally got around to ordering the tableau of Idlewild to try. I was favorably impressed. Both the Arneis and the Cortese are as good as any of those varieties I've had from the Piemonte. Of the reds, the Dolcetto was my easy favorite. Not sure what other wines Sam has in the works, but it's certainly a wnry I'me going to be following....from close to the very start.
3. AguaDulce: I've known CraigWinchell for a number of yrs on the wine boards where he'll often post interesting comments on winemaking questions from time to time. He's the winemaker at AguaDulce (sweet water) in AguaDulce, CA. Not heard of it??? Me neither...back then. This is a town in a high desert vlly along the AntelopeVllyFrwy, midway between SantaClarita and Lancaster, in SoCal. Not at all an obvious location to be growing grapes to make fine wine. My sense is that it's pretty dry up there and irrigation is a necessity. Perhaps a bit in climate/ terroir like the UpperOjaiVlly?? Hopefully, I can make a side trip in a few weeks when I'm out there to take a look-see at the area.
A few months ago, Craig queried me if I would like some samples of his latest release and, being interested in off-beat/unusual growing areas, I jumped at the chance. These three wines were those wines. The three wines had a certain softness on the palate that suggested some high pH wines like if find in WashState Cabs or many ContraCosta reds. Craig assures me this is not the case and the pH's are in the normal range. They seemed to have ample tannins that were not at all hard or angular. Actually, the wines far exceeded my expectations for coming from a totally unknown (to me) growing area. The Zin was a bit on the strange side in that is was picking up a bit of a pungent/ Shinola character that took me back to my ROTC days when I labored mightly to polish those danged shoes for inspection. But still plenty of Zin character to make it attractive. The Cab was a big fruit wine that reminded me mostly of Lodi Cabs in ripeness. The Syrah (which recently won some award)
was my easy favorite. Lots of bass-notes of Syrah that resembled some of the RollRanch Syrahs of Adam's. All in all..I was favorably impressed by Craig's wines.