Astral Cabernet Sauvignon

In 1868 something begins to ravage France’s vines. After some digging—pun intended—it is discovered that a plant louse/ aphid known as phylloxera (phyl·lox·e·ra) was enjoying the roots instead of the wines in which they produced.

Although it is somewhat debated, the phylloxera mite is thought to have come from America sometime in the 1850’s. Back in Missouri Charles Valentine Riley, Missouri’s entomologist recognized the affliction in Frances plantings and wrote French botanist Jules Émile Planchon in 1870 to inform him that he too had observed this louse, feasting on the leaves of American vines, and not on the roots—his letter was quickly dismissed.

After some persistence, Riley visited France in 1871 and a argued that American rootstock was resistant to the aphid since the two had evolved together. He was correct! Then in the winter of 1872 George Husmann—The Father of the Missouri Grape Industry in Herman, Missouri—also a scientist, educator, and writer—sent nearly 400,000 cuttings to Montpellier, France. In spite of some French resistance to using American root stock the project was successful and the so-called la défense began.

To this day, all vines with few exceptions are planted on this Missouri bred rootstock in France and America with a local exception—our Astral Cabernet Sauvignon. To this day Astral remains one of the few California Cabernet’s not reliant on disease resistant stock, due in large part to Happy Canyon’s lack of humidity, and the presence of sandy soil!

~ Dierberg * Star Lane


Not long ago I reviewed the Astral Cabernet Sauvignon by Dierberg * Star Lane. I had been wanting to explore this wine since my visit a few years ago and it did not disappoint (see link to my post just above). Shortly after, Dierberg shared the story behind this vineyard. I found it very interesting and thought you might enjoy reading (posted with permission).

Wine Review: 2014 Petite Sirah by Peterson

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Petite Sirah by Peterson, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. Courtesy of Casemates who invited me to review tonight’s offering. I am writing this as I begin my review.

Dark opaque color. Warm intense nose full of big plum and dark cherry. I pick up secondary notes of berries tertiary notes of cedarwood and wet sand sedimentary earth.

Body is mild mannered with just a touch of acidity accompanied by big buttery plummy tannins creates a very nice full mouthfeel. Body has good fruit but remains dry (not sweet). The sandy terroir makes an appearance towards the back with a hint of minerality. Finish is smooth, crisp and brisk ending with a dry tannic grip that leaves the palate parched.

This is a surprisingly mature wine that is showing really well right now but should further develop nicely over the next few years. At $159.99/case from Casemates (as of this writing), I would buy a case, enjoy half now and lay the rest down. This winemaker is onto something. I have been consistently impressed with the quality of their wines and the head scratching value. This is without doubt a good deal on a great well made wine!

Also by this winemaker: Wine Review: 2013 La Stupenda, Barbera by Peterson

Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Lapostolle

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Valle De Colchagua) by Lapostolle, Chile

Dark opaque color. Slightly restrained but still fairly big, warm and heavy nose. Lots of dark plum and blackberry secondary notes. Swirl vigorously and unlock tertiary notes of oak which conspire to create the faintest hint of licorice which turns to more of a cedarwood vibe as it opens up.

Body is very balanced and greets you with good acidity accompanied by a mouthful of tannins in the form of plum skins. From there everything quickly simmers down as the body becomes restrained. Big, massive and dry tannic grip ushers a transition to a slightly warm and spicy finish leaving your lips dried shut – a dead giveaway this wine is young and while it shows sush poise and character, I believe in 5-10 years it will be a a beautiful gem of a wine that will surprise any palate. It is a fantastic wine now but with a little more time to develop it will be a remarkable piece.

I have reviewed some amazing wines by this Chilean winemaker before and this one does not disappoint. Not only are their wines extremely well crafted, they present tremendous value. Bien hecho amigos!

Reviews of wines by this winemaker

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Lapostolle wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2012 Touriga by Bumgarner

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Touriga by Bumgarner, El Dorado, California.

In my opinion one of the most understated winemakers in this region. I have followed this humble winemaker’s work for well over a decade now and have always been struck by the level of quality of his wines. I last reviewed this wine just a little over a year ago and my notes then are still spot on. This region is not known for Touriga and that is perhaps what makes this one-time vintage special.

Massive heavy nose out of the bottle. Starts off with some cherry but opens up to plum with a play between oaky licorice and heavy tobacco when swirled vigorously. I feel this wine is shining brightest right now. I expected it to have lost some of its character by now but I must say it is experiencing a very long peak. It is very much alive and evolving as I taste right now. A real treat and somewhat bittersweet moment as I am now down to what may be the last bottle in existence.

Brian Bumgarner, you already know this but I really love your life’s work and look forward to many more amazing vintages. Cheers my friend! 😁🍷🍷🍷

Reserve: 2016 Pinot Noir (Cork Dancer) by Hitching Post

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Cork Dancer) by Hitching Post , Santa Barbara Country, Califronia.

Today we take a look at an understated everyday Pinot for the everyday wine enthusiast. This wine presents great all around value. If your are looking for a great EDC (Every Day Consumption) wine, I recommend adding this to your cellar.

Deep ruby color. Crisp nose with notes of berry, subtle stone fruits and caramel stand out most. Body shows good balance with a mildly acidic attack followed by creamy tannins in the form of plums and dark cherries. Transition to finish is seamless, capped by mild, dry tannic grip and a hint of spice.

At 12.5% ABV it is a very mellow laid back experience. You can open a bottle by yourself and work your way through it over the course of your evening with minimal fuss. All this conspires to make this a very approachable and enjoyable wine. This is most definitely a pleaser. Nicely done guys!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Hitching Post wines delivered to your doorstep.

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2016 Pinot Noir (Drum Canyon) by Dierberg * StarLane

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Drum Canyon) by Dierberg * StarLane

Deep ruby red color. Nose is restrained, well mannered, slightly warm, with notes of oak, berries, hint of sweet cherry all conspiring to create a very subtle red vines licorice. Terroir is also represented in the form of wet dusty leather. It maintains a classy posture overall. Interesting.

Body is representative. A very mild restrained acidic attack that is quickly accompanied by buttery smooth tannins. Very subtle oak and blackberry emerge towards the back to create a full mouth feel. A very faint black currant lends good structure and balance as it transitions to a brief finish capped by a hint of spice.

I reviewed the Dierberg Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir a while back and was absolutely enamored with it. One of my top California Pinot Noirs. Looking back at my notes I can some similarities and some differences. First this one is more medium bodied, slightly dryer more structured body. Where they resemble is the result of the winemakers attention to detail, commitment to excellence and adherence to core principles. The result is a world class California Pinot. I highly recommend this Pinot, particularly for the advanced palate, especially side-by-side with the Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir for a good perspective on this winemaker and his craft. Well done folks!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Dierberg Star Lane wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2017 Pinot Noir (Black Pine) by Roger Roessler Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Black Pine) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, California.

Ahhhh. Just right. Beautiful aromatic nose with berries (my little boy says cranberries), a leather reminiscent of wet sandy forrest floor, black licorice and cedarwood notes.

Body shows a tight balance. Buttery tannins go hand-in-hand with mild acid. Subtle oak, dry fruit accompanies a fairly neutral terroir expression creating a lush mouth feel. A transition to finish with minimal fanfare capped with mild spice and subtle tannic grip reminds you that this typical Roessler Pinot, while beautiful right now, has a bit more in store for you if you are willing to be patient.

Spoil your palate. Stop by the tasting room or order any one of their monthly case deals. Explore artisan crafted Pinot from up and down the pacific coast. He’s done all the homework for you to enjoy. Well done Roger and Company!

Wine Review: 2010 Carignan (Cordillera) by Miguel Torres

Tonight’s occasion: 2010 Carignan (Cordillera) by Miguel Torres, Valle Del Maule, Chile.

Dark inky opaque color. Massive, nose out of the bottle. Big, bold, brash with loads of dry plum, black cherries wrapped in heat. A hint of leather and caramel lingers in the back.

Body is surprisingly restrained in stark contrast to the nose. It is moderately acidic throughout, accompanied by subtle buttery tannins. Tart plum carries through into the finish characterized by a persistent, acidic spice that bites, simultaneously drying and torching the palate down to the chest. After about an hour it becomes an even more subtle experience overall.

This is a big wine by all accounts even for a Carignan. It is a well made wine. It has had sufficient time to develop and it shows quite nicely right now. It presents a tremendous value at $23.99 and is proof positive that not all good wine is expensive. It could easily lay down another 10 years. I will surely be watching this winemaker and the region in general. We’ll done!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Miguel Torres wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2007 Rioja by López de Heredia Viña Tondonia

Tonight’s occasion: 2007 Rioja by López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Spain.

Bold warm nose with plum, blackberry and a hint of caramel on the back. Swirl vigorously to unlock a sandy mineral leather.

Body is noticeably acidic. It is mostly Tempranillo after all. A very prominent black currant underlayment permeates the experience as moderate tannins make an appearance midway. Mineral terroir occupies a tertiary layer along with hints of caramel and spice. A tart plum dominates the finish capped by a dry, spicy tannic grip.

This is a really good wine. A welcomed diversion from California wines. Like most Spanish wine it is big, bold, dry, masculine and makes no apologies. It is honestly just now approachable at 13 years of age and I shudder to imagine what it was like at 5. It shows good structure and delineated complexity. It should serve as a good reference point for wines of this style and region. Bien hecho amigos! 😁🍷

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have López de Heredia Viña Tondonia wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Astral) by Dierberg Star Lane

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Astral (Cabernet Sauvignon) by Dierberg * Star Lane, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.

As expected, dark rich opaque color. This is mostly Cab and Cab Franc. Out of the bottle nose is slightly restrained but big and heavy with lots of plum and a touch of dark sweet cherry up front. In the back, anise lingers over a fairly neutral terroir and is accompanied by black licorice as it opens up. There is good separation. This had to have been massive, if not barely approachable 5 years ago.

Unlike your quintessential big jammy California Cab, the body shows good balance front to back. Moderate acid goes hand-in-hand with dry, restrained, fine grained tannins and black currants. Plum and herbs carry over from the nose providing a brief diversion in an otherwise highly structured body. Transition to finish is brief, culminating in a firm and spicy tannic grip that leaves the palate parched and tingling.

This is by all accounts a solid, well built, delineated, wine for the advanced palate. It will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them. At almost 10 years old, it is just now becoming approachable and should be a magnificent work of art in 5-10 years time. It is built for the long haul, is a fine example of the winemaker’s attention to detail and strict adherence to core principles. It presents a zero compromise view of what is possible from an already storied region. I highly recommend this for those seeking solid example of what a California Cabernet can be. It presents a solid reference point for anyone looking for some perspective on the venerable California Cab. Well done Dierberg * Star Lane!!!

Almost two years ago while exploring for the first time, the Santa Barbara county region of the Central coast (read about it here: Dierberg, Santa Barbara) Dierberg came highly recommended by my all-time favorites and very savvy vintner, Roger Roessler. It did not disappoint. I have since gradually been exploring their selection of outstanding quality wines and very much look forward to following their works moving forward. Several racks will remain dedicated to their wines in my cellar. You can also view all their wines I have reviewed and highly recommend here or by using the search.

Tech Sheet

2011 Astral by Dierberg Star Lane

From Winemaker: 2011 SLAST Tech Sheet.pdf
Cellar Life: 12-15 years
Composition: Cabernet Franc 76%, Cabernet Franc 22%, Syrah 2%
Aging: 20 months French oak, new 80%
Analysis: Alcohol, 13.7%
Harvested/Bottled:
Oct-Nov 2011 / Aug 2013
Total Production: Approximately 400 cases

 

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Dierberg Star Lane wines delivered to your doorstep.

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