Archive for the Tasting Notes from the Underground Category
Thanksgiving was a laid back, low key affair here at Adams, Heritier & Associates. We kept to ourselves, stayed at home and took things real easy. We did have a somewhat traditional holiday dinner, with a Bell & Evans Organic Turkey Breast (bone in), red skin potatoes with a red wine and mushroom sauce, stuffing and haricot verts. I even had the annual Detroit Lions football scrum playing on the big screen, although I paid closer attention to my Forge of Empires game.
As I mentioned in my last report, Donna White Communications sent us several of their clients’ wines samples for review over the last month or so, and among them were two from Oregon’s Left Coast Cellars, with whom we have some very positive history. Kim had suggested that they would be excellent choices for our holiday dinner menu, and so they were! Here are our impressions of each.
2015 Left Coast Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Gris The Orchards, 13.7% alc., $18.00: Pale to medium straw in color, with a pleasant if not overly effusive nose of citrus and tree fruit that follows through and explodes on the palate with lots of green apple, pear and lime. Rich, intense and quite tasty; medium-to-medium full bodied, with finely balanced acids and very good length. I don’t drink a lot (or enough) Pinot Gris, but this is certainly one of the very best domestic American specimens that I’ve had to date, and an impressive glass of wine indeed. Find this wine
2014 Left Coast Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Cali’s Cuvée, 13.5% alc., $24.00: Clean ruby garnet color; pure, lovely Pinot Noir character, rich and fairly intense. It’s “a little green,” according to Kim, who adds, “not saying I don’t like it, but it’s a touch stemmy and green.” I do detect a little of that, but these are minor aspects that lend positive, rather than negative attributes; mostly, I get somewhat earthy black cherry and cranberry. Medium full bodied, and structured for at least 3-5 years in the cellar, but more than just approachable already. Find this wine
I saved the last few sips of a glass of Pinot Gris to try with the holiday fare, and it worked beautifully. Needless to say, the Pinot Noir is a consummate turkey companion as well, making these two a solid 1-2 punch for any dinner starring turkey, duck or even a smoked chicken. Best of all, both offer great QPR (quality-price ratio), so you can buy multiple bottles of each without breaking the bank.
Reporting from Day-twah,
In August of 2015, we were contacted by Donna White Communications to see if we were interested in meeting Luke McCollom, the winemaker and viticulturist of one of their client wineries in Oregon, Left Coast Cellars. We were, we did and we quite liked Luke and the wines he opened for us. Fast forward to last month, when DWC contacted us again to ask if we would like to receive samples from wineries in the Terlato Wines portfolio. We’re always up for trying new things, so of course, we replied to the affirmative, and a few weeks later, we received three separate packages. Three of the wines were from California, so we’ll file the first of three reports on these. (There are two others from Italy and a pair from the aforementioned Left Coast Cellars.)
As far as I can recall, the last time we had a Hanna Sauvignon Blanc was during the epic “Blast Me Off to Sonoma” adventure in ’97. That one was from the ’95 vintage, and was delicious. This one proved to be just as impressive.
2015 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley, 13.2% alc., SRP $20.00: Clean medium color, with a grapefruit, boxwood and garlic sweat nose; the rich flavors echo with intensity, a hint of lime and some underlying mineral. More than medium bodied, with zippy acids and good length. Drinks just as well on the second night as it does on the first, and is a good match for the usual fish and fowl suspects. A fine example of California Sauvignon that I could drink on a regular basis, which should come as no surprise, as it’s from the Russian River Valley. Find this wine
We received a selection of review samples from our friends at Bonny Doon Vineyards last month, and after giving them the requisite two weeks to rest from their cross-country journey, we were looking for the earliest opportunity to break into them and see what these latest bottlings had to offer. Happily, just such an opportunity reared its pointy little head with a visit from our partner-in-crime, Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan. The three of us have some history with the Le Cigare range of Doon, so we knew exactly which bottles to select to welcome his arrival.
2013 Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Blanc Arroyo Seco Beeswax Vineyard, 57% Grenache Blanc, 27% Roussanne, 16% Picpoul, 14.5% alc., $28.00: Bright medium straw in color; classic Le Cigare Blanc character of white tree fruit and lanolin, rich, fairly ripe and mineral driven. Full bodied, with excellent acids and nice length. As we reported recently, these are quite cellar worthy, so while it’s delicious and very food friendly now, it’ll only get better over the next several years.
Randall Grahm: “A bit of a richer style than the lean, taut ’11, this is nevertheless a superb gastronomy wine, with excellent ageing potential.” Find this wine
It’s been about six years since we last had any of Sean Thackrey’s non-vintage multi-varietal red blend. Pleiades XIX wasn’t quite up to previous versions of what Kim once used to describe as “my wine,” and maybe that’s why we stopped buying it, along with the fact that the price kept creeping upward. By the time Thackrey’s wines finally became available at retail in Day-twah a few years ago, the prices were just plain stupid. I saw a bottle of Pleiades (probably XXII or XXIII) about a year and a half ago in an area wine shop priced at around $43, and I just shook my head.
Since that time, Thackrey changed distributors, and Little Guy Wine Company has the wines priced much more reasonably, so when I saw a bottle of the Pleiades XXIV on the shelf at Mudgies a few weeks ago, I figured “what the hell” and picked one up for Kim and me to find out what was going on with it. I’m pleased to report that this one has a lot more stuffing than that XIX we were only lukewarm towards.
Sean Thackrey “Pleiades XXIV Old Vines” California Red Blend, 14.5% alc., $29: Clean, dark color; mint gets the better of a little barnyard over black and red plum and berry on the moderately expressive nose, and a hint of cereal sneaks in with a little air. Very much in the same style and character as all of those from the past that we remember so fondly, being intense and well-structured. The multi-vintage solera-styled wine shows earthy, leathery and, yes, slightly funky black and red fruit. Good stuff here; this is a wine that can age and develop for several years, and I’d actually lay it down for another 3-5 years before opening another. Tannin pigs’ mileage may vary. Bottled in April, 2015, a blend of Sangiovese, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Mourvedre, “to name a few.” Find this wine
Reporting from Day-twah,
Since filing my report on the delicious 2013 Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel, I’ve been checking out a few other Zins, and found two that really caught my fancy.
I’ve enjoyed several selections from the Terre Rouge/Easton lineup over the years, but, oddly, I’ve never posted any notes on them. Allan Bree aka califusa reviewed some of Bill Easton’s Terre Rouge selections for us back in his Rhone Ranger Tasting 2000 report, and Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan had good things to say about the 2011 Easton Amador Zinfandel (a wine I recommended and sold LOTS of in my retail days), but by and large, these wines have not been given the attention they deserve in these pages, an oversight I plan to rectify in the coming months. I’ve never met Bill Easton, but we are “Facebook friends,” and I’m guessing we’d get along quite well, because not only am I a fan of his wines, we’ve also had friendly back-and-forths on more than just wine-related subjects on that social network site.
2009 Easton Zinfandel Fiddletown Rinaldi Vineyard Old Vines, 14.5% alc., $28.99: Clean and dark in color, with a pure, effusive Zinfandel nose, all spicy black raspberry; plenty more of the same on the palate, with enough earthiness underneath to make it more than just a fruit bowl kind o’ wine. Full bodied and well-structured for several years of further development. This one pushes the envelope for what I’ll tolerate in ripeness, but never crosses the line or goes over the top, thanks to that earthy anchor. I like this wine, and have no doubt that my partner in crime, Canadian Zinfan, will too, and I have another stashed to open with him the next time we get together. Aged in French oak. Find this wine
We received a package from our friends at Vineyard Brands a few weeks ago. In it were five bottles of recently released wines from Tablas Creek. We’ve reviewed wines from this producer many times over the past several years, and I can’t remember a single one that we didn’t like a lot. That’s probably the reason that they’re on a very short list of our favorite North American wineries, the wines are that good on a very consistent basis.
This particular package contained four whites and one red. We gave them a little over a week to rest from their cross-continent journey, then we tried them one by one over the next week and a half. We started with one from what is essentially TC’s entry level Patelin de Tablas range, their only wines that don’t use grapes exclusively from estate vineyards, but also include fruit from some of Paso Robles’ top Rhône vineyards.
2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Blanc Paso Robles, 56% Grenache Blanc, 23% Viognier, 12% Roussanne, 9% Marsanne, 13.5% Alc., $25.00: Clean, medium color; somewhat pungent on the nose, with flavors of citrus, white tree fruit, some mineral and a hint of lanolin, being ever-so-slightly musky, yet very refreshing. Full bodied and fairly dense; rich and intense, with excellent acids and length. I love the way the refreshing citrus quality plays off the muskier element. Very fine indeed.
25% Grenache Blanc from Coyote Moon Vineyard in Estrella District
23% Viognier and Grenache Blanc from Fralich in El Pomar District
18% Marsanne and Roussanne from Cass Vineyard in Geneseo District
10% Grenache Blanc from Adelaida in Adelaida District
9% Viognier from Clautiere in Geneseo District
6% Grenache Blanc from Dawson’s Creek Vineyard in El Pomar District
3% Viognier from Glenrose in Adelaida District
3% Viognier from Paso de Record in Estrella District
3% Roussanne and Marsanne from the Tablas Creek cerified organic estate vineyard
Find this wine
I happened upon these two little delights a few weeks ago whilst strolling through Plum Market to pick up some victuals for the holiday weekend. We’d not had either previously, but the prices are very pocketbook friendly, and you pretty much can’t go wrong with wines from either importer. Happily, they proved to be just the kind of Chardonnay we like to drink here at Gang Central.
2014 Henri Perrusset Mâcon-Villages, 12.5% alc., $15.99: Clean, medium straw in color; the mineral and beeswax aromatics echo on the palate, gaining green apple and wet stone, being almost funky, and that’s a good thing. I love the wet stone, as it really sets the tone to the character of the wine. Full bodied, with balanced acids and nice length. Best of all, it offers terrific QPR (quality-price ratio) at this price. Find this wine
Imported by Kermit lynch
2014 Collovray & Terrier Domaine des Deux Roches Mâcon-Villages Tradition, 13% alc., $13.99: Quite different from the Collovray & Terrier Mâcon-Villages Tradition I reported on last year, this shows a clean pale-to-medium straw color, with more than a hint of burnt matchstick on the nose that follows through on the palate, with a solid core of green apple and pear fruit laced with underlying minerality. Full bodied, with excellent acids and good length; a little richer than the Perrusset, with a bit of a citrus-like zing to it, and like the previous selection, it offers terrific QPR. Find this wine
Imported by AHD Vintners, Ltd., Warren, MI
We like these both a lot, and you can bet your sweet bippy that we’ll be going back for more of both. No fat ass low acid California Chardonnay for these Gangsters.
Reporting from Day-twah,
So these three bottles were sitting on the shelves at Western Market in Ferndale for several months, not quite languishing, and I’d see them and say to myself, “I really should take them home; they’ve got a little age on them, and as devoted Doon-heads, we owe it to ourselves to see how they’re coming along.”
I finally bit the bullet in June. It then took us another few months to actually get to them, because I was looking for just the right occasion, which finally reared its pointy little head last week in the form of a certain annual celebration.
2008 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc Arroyo Seco Beeswax Vineyard, 57% Roussanne, 43% Grenache Blanc, 14.3% alc., $22.99: Clean medium color with a tinge o’ lemon; all mineral-driven white tree fruit and lanolin. The nose is still lively and the flavors still expressive, with somewhat toned-down acids that nevertheless do everything they need to do. No secondary action here as of yet, just an enjoyable 8-year old white Rhone blend that gives testament to the age worthy nature of this bottling. Made from biodynamically grown grapes, this is one of my very favorite California whites, vintage in and vintage out. Find this wine
I think I’d be safe in hazarding the guess that when many causal wine drinkers hear the term “Oregon wine,” the immediately think “Pinot Noir.” Some of the savvier might add “Willamette Valley,” but, of course, Oregon produces many more varieties than Pinot alone, and in other appellations as well.
One such region is Applegate Valley, a sub-appellation of the Southern Oregon AVA, and that’s where Troon Vineyard is located. Troon is by no means a new operation; Dick Troon started planting vines back in 1972. (Dick sold the winery to his good friend Larry Martin in 2003; you can read a brief history of Troon here.) Over the years, the focus has centered on seemingly unlikely varieties such as Vermentino, Zinfandel, Malbec and Tannat, to name just four. Sustainable farming is the practice (estate vineyards are L.I.V.E. and Salmon Safe Certified), with grapes crushed in the old school method, by foot. Natural yeasts are employed in fermentation, and they don’t do much in the way of using new oak or sulfur. In short, the wines are produced as naturally as possible, which is always a good thing, in our not-so-humble opinion.
Troon has been making something of a splash lately, not just because the wines are, for the most part, very good, but also due to the fairly recent addition of Craig Camp to the General Manager position. I’ve been virtually acquainted with Craig since before he took on the GM job at Cornerstone in Napa back in 2009, when we crossed paths and traded notes on various wine forums. Along with his many other considerable skills, Craig totally gets social media, and knows how to use it to promotes his business concerns; he demonstrated that during his tenure at Cornerstone, and, if anything, he’s doing so even more adroitly at Troon. Wine samples have been sent to a whole host of wine and food blogs, and the feedback has been quite positive, with more than a few rave reviews
2014 Troon Vineyard Blue Label Vermentino Applegate Valley, 80% Vermentino, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5% alc., $24: Clean medium color; green apple citrus flavors and aromas, with some underlying mineral. Good intensity in the mouth, and while it shows good acids and length, for me, it lacks just a little of the zippy edge that I like; I thought the same thing on the second night. Still, it’s pleasant, enjoyable and nice with chicken, spinach and feta sausages. Find this wine
We’ve made a lot of friends and acquaintances via the internet since Gang of Pour first went online in 1996, and a fair number of those folks are winemakers. Some, like Brian Loring and Jim Lester were making wine well before we met, and some were enthusiasts who followed through on their passion and picked up the craft after we got to know each other. One of the latter is a fellow by the name of Vincent Fritzsche, who is doing good things in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with his eponymous Vincent Wine Company.
We first met Vince at Zap ’99; he even contributed a page of notes to our report from that festival. He and his family moved from the Bay area to Oregon several years ago and he established his winery in 2009, after years of apprenticing with producers in California and Oregon. A few months ago, Vince sent us 6 of his wines to try, and here are our impressions of them. The grapes are sourced from sustainably-farmed vineyards in the Willamette Valley and made in small batches at Grochau Cellars in the Eola Hills.
We tried the four Pinot Noirs in pairs, and the two whites individually.