1. Schioppettino: A very interesting variety indigenous to Friuli that can often make some very interesting reds. Usually a bit more wiry & lean than the Refoscos. Also know as RibollaNera, though they share nothing in common. This Pietro was one of the best Friulian Schioppettinos I've yet had.
JohnHoldredge used to make Calif's only Schioppettino from the MacBryde vnyd in the RRV. Alas, the vnyd was lost to Pierce's disease several yrs ago. When I was out in Healdsburg several weeks ago, I decided, on a lark, to stop into John's tasting room. Putting their best foot forward, John was not there pouring but some young lady. I thought maybe I'd jerk her chain a bit so I asked "could I try the Schioppettino", knowing it was a thing of the past. Without batting an eye, she pulled this cork & gave me a pour. "Whot?? You have Schioppettino again??" Yup. So I told her I'd like 3 btls of it. She apologized profusely and explained they had none there at the tasting room...it was all at the warehouse and suggested I come back the next day. "No can do" I said. Sensing that I was crushed by not being able to get any, she offered me free shipping if I wanted it. So I jumped at the chance to rip HoldredgeWnry off on the shipping.
So...this is the new OrsoVnyd Schioppettino from up in the DryCreekVlly. The wine had the bright spiciness that you often get in DCV Zin. It didn't have the depth & the bass notes that I recall from the MacBride/RRV Schioppettinos. It speaks less strongly of Schioppettino than the MacBryde. But damn fine Schioppettino that would play well in Friuli, I think.
2. Romarantin: This is a variety that originated up in the French Alps and made its way downstream into the Loire. It is a cross between GouaisBlanc and PinotTeinturier (Pinot w/ the black juice), which makes it a sibling of Chard and Aligote. Once widely planted, it's holdings have since shrunk to only 73 ha. I have had Loire whites that have had Romarantin blended in, but never a 100% Romarantin. This vnyd was purchased from an old farmer in 1998 and contained a block of ungrafted/pre-phylloxera Romarantin planted in 1850 that somehow managed to survive phylloxera. Provinage describes the old (pre-phylloxera) French technique of propagating a vnyd by burying the canes into the adjacent ground.
This Romarantin was a positively fascinating wine to taste. It's definitely a taste of history (for which
you must pay a premium price). It reminded me a bit of the old-vine Chalone CheninBlanc '07 that Darrell still sells. That old CheninBlanc has since been pulled. Alas..friggin' tiny/short-sighted minds.
3. Sagrantino: Several weeks ago, I was driving down WestSide Rd after visiting w/ ChuckMansfield at HopKiln. I saw the DaVero tasting room. I like their olive oil a lot, but never had their wines, but was not inclined to stop. I noticed their signage in the vnyd identifying various grape varieties. Suddenly I noticed "Sagrantino" and did an abrupt U-E and went in. The lady there acknowledged that it was their Sagrantino, but it was for their club members only. As I started rambling on about Italian varieties in my customary long/boring fashion, she realized this wasn't just your ordinary tasting room denizen. So she gave me a small taste and agreed to sell me a btl.
The wine was pretty much about what I expected it would be. A sound/well-made/pretty wine that spoke in a soft voice of Sagrantino. But if you're going to have the first commercial Sagrantino in Calif, you know they're going to charge whatever the traffic will bear. But I suspect the traffic will not bear a $65 price tage for many yrs.
Actually, the first Calif Sagrantino I've had was PietroButtita's Roso d'Oro/LakeCnty. A much lighter wine, but even more pretty, and at a reasonable price.
4. Buchignani Zin: Stan Buchignani's Ranch up on DutcherCreekRd is the the source of most of their Carignanes. Meh...not a wine that stirs my soul. Like Ponzo/Carmichael/Mazzoni; they're great old-vine Zin vnyds that could be making wines every bit as good as LS/Geyserville/Pagani. They don't, usually. So I cracked this Buchignani w/ low expectations. I was totally blindsided by how good it was.
The Ridge ATP Zins are usually given the classic Ridge oak treatment. Lots of vanilla/Am.oak...the Draper perfume you often get in Ridge Zins. This is one of te most un-Ridge ATP Zins I can recall in recent memory. It recalls some of the incredibly spicy Zins that can come out of Jimsomare sometimes. The oak was pretty low-key and the spiciness amazing.
I was rather puzzled at this Zin. When I went to the Ridge WebSite last week to look up the ATP price I paid, it was not there and said "No Reorders". That's strange for an ATP Zin that just arrived the week before. Later last week, the WebSite said "Sold Out". At 36 brls, that's definitely not a limited production Zin. Mary related that they had sold thru that wine remarkably fast. Yet it was only shipped out 2 weeks ago. My suspicion is that the Ridge folks realized what an exceptional Zin it was and squirreled away an unusually large amount of this wine. Anyway, if you want to try this exceptional Zin, forget it. Unless you got a good friend in the ATP. I've one more left.
5. Sandler: This is a wine that was gifted me by KenZinns, who occasionally works for EdKurtzman at his wnry in SanFrancisco. I've heard a lot about Ed's wines (mostly from Ken), especially his Pinots, but had never had the opportunity to try any. Not sure where the BuckHill vnyd is located, but would guess DCV from the profile of the wine. I thought it might be a code-word for Bucklin OldHill Ranch, but Ken assures me it isn't. Anyway...it's quite a pretty/vibrant/atypical rendition of Zin at a very good pprice.
6. Turley: These are the first Turley Zins from AmadorCnty to be released. Several yrs ago, they went up into AmadorCnty and purchased BuckCobb's long-time Karly wnry. I was very excited what Tegan w/ make out of Amador Zin grapes. I was expecting (of course) fairly alcoholic Zins w/ a lot of big/ brash/Amador briary character, some like the Montevina Zins of yore. These both were much more reigned in Amador Zins than I expected. The Cobb was pretty classic Amador Zin, but not in a loud/ bombastic voice. The SadieUpton was much more elegant/restrained an Amador Zin that resembled BenZeitman's Zins of many yrs ago. Both very fine additions to the Turley Zin lineup.