1. PinotNoirBianco: I've had maybe a dozen PinotNoir Blancs over the yrs, mostly from Oregon. Never seen
one from Italy before (though have had several Nebbiolo Biancos). Even have had the DomaineSerene
PinotBianco, which is priced at $70/btl. It's a joke...but you have to fund the Evenstads lifestyle
I guess. Most of the PinotNoir Blancs are made, best I can tell, to salvage a PinotNoir crop that didn't
get ripened. They often have a tart/lean/green/eviscerated character to them. This Oltrepo rendition
seemed perfectly ripe and had some interest to it. And no PinotNoir character I could pick out.
2. SumuKaw: Made by HankBeckmeyer and from (I recall) the Bush vnyd Syrah grapes. The LaClarine wines are made by "natural" winemaking (whatever you choose for that to mean) and are the darlings of sweetAlice. The few that I've had thus far (about 5 now) have, I thought, been well-made and interesting, not your mainstream wines, and have avoided the excesses/flaws that many "natural" wines can show. No bugs or bacteria growing in the wines.
This was a very/very controversial wine. Most people disliked it because of its green/underripe
character. It had a very pungent character that reminded me of the oils from green walnut husks (know
that smell well...used to sit up on our outhouse and pluck green walnuts off the tree and throw them
against the sides of Billy & Nanny...with a resounding "thump".... the Utter's goats next door...which
would provoke ole lady Utter to come running out of the house and holler at me "TommyHill...you leave
my goats alone"); a smell that would stay on your fingers for days. But it had enough roasted/pungent/
espresso/green olive/Rhonish character that I rather liked the wine...for its eccentricities. Sorta
like why I'm much more attracted/endeared to Quasimodo or Frankenstein...rather than TomCruise or
ArnoldSwartzenegger. But it's assuredly not a Syrah for everybody. As we're admonished by Monktown
attourneys.."You have to think outside the box".
3. CortiCab: Another in a recent set of Corti Reserve wines released to celebrate the 65'th yr anniversary of the founding of CortiBros. The wine was actually made at Clos du Val and selected for this bttlg
by Darrell. I liked this Cab quite a bit and it reminded me a lot of the BernardPortet's early Cabs
from the '70's; though more loamy and Bdx in style. The Corti Reserve Cab '78, made by JedSteele up
at Edmeades from MendocinoRidge fruit remains one of the greatest Calif Cabs I've ever had. I don't
think this Cab is in that same league...but it is a very good one.
4. Heritage Zin: This is DryCreekVnyd's basic Zin that iis made from Heritage clones that they planted
some yrs ago. This is always my go-to red when I see it on a restaurant list...which is, alas, not
nearly often enough. The vine age that goes into this wine is roughly 30 yrs old. This 2010 version
struck me as having a bit more depth and structure than previous ones...maybe the best one yet.
5. Loring: I have, of course, followed BrianLoring from the very start....when he first started making
Pinot down in the StaRitaHills. I've always liked his Pinots, and still do when I taste them from time-to-time, but since I don't buy that much Pinot anymore, I've sorta lost track of them.
Knowing my proclivities for SantaBarbara Rhone varietals, Brian sent me these samples to try with
my group. These are Brian's first foray into the Rhone field and he wanted my opinion on how I thought
he was doing.
The grapes come from WestSide PasoRobles from the RussellFamilyVnyd. Thought that name had a bit of a
familiar ring to it. Turns out to be another guy I followed from the very start, ErichRussell. Back when
he started RabbitRidge up in Healdsburg in 1981.
The group generally liked Brian's Rhones quite a bit. Plenty of toasty/oak but ample fruit to support
it. Stylistic, the wines lay somewhere between the lithe/elegant character of the TablasCreek and the
big/bombastic style of the Saxum. They showed little of that overripe/jammy character that you get in many
Paso Rhones. Maybe more elegance & lightness than I expected. Sorta like a Paso Rhone produced by
a Pinot producer. Very good/well-made Rhones, though a bit on the pricey side.