2018 Optu (Bordeaux Blend) by Fidelitas, Red Mountain.

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Optu (Bordeaux Blend) by Fidelitas, Red Mountain.

Deep dark semi opaque color. Warm, aromatic nose with lots of ripe plums, blackberries, wet wood leather and dusty slate. A touch of caramel and cedarwood lingers in the back. When swirled vigorously, these all intensify and conspire to create subtle bursts of licorice.

Body is dry and moderately acidic on the attack. This is immediately tempered by restrained tannins in the form of tart plums. This provides a measured amount of structure. A subtle, crisp oak vanilla (reminiscent of neutral French oak), adds good dimension and enhances the fruit essence ever so slightly. Transition to finish is characterized by black currants and bitter cola ending with a dry, dusty tannic grip and moderate spice tingle.

I remember visiting their tasting room just outside Seattle. I enjoyed every wine I tasted but had to pick one to bring back and this is it. It’s a well built Bordeaux Blend that speaks to the region at large. I like how bigger blends express themselves with a little more restraint. While it may show well now, it still young and has many more years ahead of it.

Nicely done!

2018 Pinot Noir by Bulgariana, Danube Plain, Bulgaria.

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Pinot Noir by Bulgariana (@bulgarianawine), Danube Plain, Bulgaria.

Not all expensive wine is good and not all good wine is expensive. This is one of the best things about venturing off the beaten path.

Dark intense color (for a Pinot Noir). Crisp, slightly warm and restrained nose with notes of black plum and a loamy wet wood leather. Swirl vigorously to unlock ripe dark cherries and subtle hints of licorice. A very distant floral/honey that you’d likely miss.

Body is dry, balanced. Crisp black plum and cherry carry through albeit even more restrained. This provides a thin, unobtrusive structure. Damp wood and a touch of crisp oak (guessing neutral French oak) bring good dimension to this otherwise fairly dry wine. Midway through a gentle but firm, warm heat emerges, quickly making its way down the chest. This marks the transition to finish, a graceful fade away leaving the palate parched with a gentle dusty tannic grip and subtle bitter cola.

This wine surprised me the first time I had it a couple years ago. I had the 2014 vintage and it was just as revealing. That vintage has aged very beautifully, revealing lots of all spice and earth notes. I can see this 2018 vintage showing even better a few years from now. Perhaps the best part about this wine is that it will set you back a modest $14 or so. What a great value for the intermediate to advanced palate looking to explore this lesser known region.

Nicely done!

2017 La Bohème by Naggiar Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 La Bohème (Bordeaux Blend) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, CA.

Deep dark rich ruby color. Out of the bottle, nose is a bit restrained with crisp dark plum and a wet granite essence, and touch of sweet cherry cola you’d likely miss. Swirling vigorously releases more cherry cola and wet granite reminiscent of a mid-summer rain on a hot day – that essence that rises from the first drops as they hit the warm gravel. As it breathes, an unmistakable anise emerges in the back and moves forward. This is expected of a terroir driven wine from this region. I love it.

Body is clean, crisp, dry and balanced from front to back. Restrained tart plum ushers a well mannered expression providing crisp, thin but firm tannic structure. A clean crisp oak elevates the fruit essence. It is so subtle you’d likely miss it. I suspect neutral oak was used here. It has a precise, measured mouth feel. Crisp tannins turn dusty as body slowly gives way to its mineral underpinnings, black currants and a gentle, warm spice which emerges through the finish, descending down the chest and leaving the lips parched shut under a gentle but firm tannic grip.

This Bordeaux blend comes across as an exercise in balance and restraint. It is a well crafted example I can easily recommend for the intermediate to advanced palate who is curious to explore the Sierra Foothills and what it has to offer. A masterful showpiece.

Tres bien fait! Je l’aime beaucoup!

1885 Established (2013 Red Blend) by Three Wine Company

Tonight’s Occasion: 1885 Established (2013 Red Blend) by Three Wine Company, Contra Costa County.

Dark opaque color. Out of the bottle nose is slightly subdued but clearly intense with big, dark, tart plums, hints of slightly ripe, dark cherries a damp, old oak leather. Swirling vigorously unlocks bursts of red vines licorice and a certain cool crispness. Interesting. I think
This wine needs to be decanted for a while. It is still very tight.

The nose is completely misleading! Body is very smooth and balanced from front to back. Tart plums turn ripe providing a great marriage between measured acidity and gentle tannic structure. The oak and cherry fill and soften the mouth feel very nicely. In a vanishing act, the body quickly dissipates across the palate leaving behind a fine, dusty tannic grip and gentle but persistent warm spice heat midway down the chest.

This is a treat of a wine. The kind I would open with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. It is by all accounts a big bold wine at 15.3% however the winemaker has actually pulled off this balancing act quite nicely. Well done Matt and the entire crew at Three Wine Company!

2017 Pinot Noir (Elton) by Willamette Valley Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Elton, Eola-Amity Hills) by Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon.

Slightly warm weighty nose with a noticeable albeit restrained minerality in the form of a wet slate accompanied by a hint of caramel butterscotch and damp wood. Swirling vigorously unlocks subtle bursts of black licorice, sweet cherry and very distant honeysuckle you would almost certainly miss.

Light, slightly dry and viscous body shows great balance. Crisp tannins provide firm, lean structure. Dark, tart plum a crisp, clean oak vanilla provide creamy mouth feel. This quickly gives way to a subtle cola as it fades away into a slightly dusty finish culminating in a gentle spicy heat at the back of the palate.

This is an very well built Pinot. It represents its origins very nicely without being overly abstract. It is measured, clean, slightly bold with a touch of flair, especially in the nose. I love this region and I was very pleased to find that this Winemaker decided to open a tasting room in my own backyard – an authentic taste of Willamette Valley, here in Sacramento, California.

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 Willamette Valley Vineyards wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Willamette Valley Vineyards wines on Wine.com

2016 Proprietor’s Blend by CG DiArie

Today’s occasion: 2016 Proprietor’s Blend by CG DiArie, Shenandoah Valley, CA.

Tonight we are again lost in the hills, off the beaten path.

Clear intense ruby red color. Nose is a little shy with notes of plum and butterscotch. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of its granite underpinnings. Ahhhh. Like home. This all too familiar essence gets me every time. It’s a nice mix of dusty granite mineral and earthy leather. As it breathes, a gentle star anise emerges further asserting its origins. The nose warms. Red berries dot the backdrop as the butterscotch falls backstage. I could sniff this all day.

A bright attack greets hand in hand with thin, crisp tannins in the form of dark plum. Both quickly fall to the floor, creating thin unobtrusive crisp structure. Subtle, crisp, clean oak makes an appearance, ushering dark plums and dark cherries across the stage. Mineral leather starts to wet the palate. This marks the transition to finish. This conspires with the plum to create a subtle cola eventually ending in a grippy, slightly moist palate. Spice tingle and heat win this battle finale. A slight drool may ensue.

What makes this wine even more fascinating is the winemaker’s story. It is a masterful blend, well crafted, balanced. A polished representation of the region. At the 10yr mark it should be even more magnificent! I need to get a few more for the long haul…

Nicely done Chaim, Elisheva, Sivan and the entire crew at CG DiArie!

2017 Malbec Reserve by Polynesian Girl

Today’s occasion: 2017 Malbec Reserve by Polynesian Girl, Somerset, CA

Dark opaque plum color. Thick, warm, weighty nose is a little shy out of the bottle with plum up front. Swirling vigorously releases a subtle crisp oak caramel/vanilla followed by an equally subtle star anise. As it breathes, it’s granite underpinnings start to reveal themselves. Very fain herbal notes linger in the distant background.

Body is firm. Bold acid greets the palate along with equally bold, broad, weighted dark plums. This creates a thick slab-like structure that permeates the entire experience. Crisp oak dances around the palate while granite, anise and blackberry create a thick almost viscous integrated mouth feel with an unmistakable albeit restrained Bacon Fat. Body and finish are one monolithic expression, culminating in a dry palate with a fine grained dusty tannins, a firm grip and a slightly restrained spice heat that lingers well after the fact.

The reserve is the first free-run off the press. I must say, I think this is how this wine was really meant to be. It has such a poised personality this young. I can’t help but wonder where it will be given another 5 years or so. This Polynesian Girl’s work has been lingering on my list for a couple years now. This is the kind of winemaker I love. So far off the beaten path, toiling away at their life’s dream, making little hidden gems. From Vineyard to bottle, Tatiana’s mastery shows here.

WineSnob Calendar: Malbec Day

Did you celebrate Malbec Day? My good friend Shelly stopped by to help out. To celebrate we explored two Malbec wines from opposite sides of the world.

Have you had Malbec before? What are your favorites you’d like to see featured on WineSnob? Let me know in the comments below.

2016 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) by Panther Creek Cellars

Today’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Schindler Vineyard – Willamette Valley, OR) by Panther Creek Cellars, Woodinville, WA.

Rich ruby color. Out of the bottle, nose is a little shy with notes of damp slate, and a touch of ripe berries. Swirl vigorously to unlock bursts of sweet cherry, damp leather consistent with sedimentary soils, and a crisp caramel consistent with neutral oak so faint, you’d likely miss it.

Body is balanced right from the start. Light, bright but restrained acidity goes hand-in-hand with thin, crisp tannins reminiscent of dark cherry. This provides a measured amount of structure and good balance. Oak renders a silky mouth feel while minerality and fruit conspire to create dry, tart, slightly bitter cola-like essence upon the palate. This marks the transition to finish as the palate wrestles between dry and moist eventually ending dry with a subtle spicy tingle. Wet rock mineral essence permeates the entire experience. A subtle but notable star anise becomes more pronounced as it opens up over 1-2hrs.

Of their entire lineup of amazing Pinot Noir, I can see why this stood out the most – Terroir. It is terroir driven, front and center, start to finish. This is the mark of a great winemaker – a mere costodian of the grapes, allowing the vines to fully express themselves so intricately. At 100 cases, this is precisely the kind of wine I obsess over. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the greater Seattle area.

Nicely done Panther Creek!

WineSnob Calendar: International Tannat Day

Tonight we celebrate International Tannat Day – April 13th. I wasn’t tracking this date on my calendar so it kind of snuck up on me. I went back into the cellar and couldn’t find any Tannat to review for you tonight. So my last resort was to look through my archives and notes for any Tannat I have looked at before and I found two I had not yet posted. They are both by the same winemaker, Pisano from Uruguay. This was my first time exploring wines from this part of the world and I was thoroughly impressed. I did go back and buy more of the Reserva for long term review, however I must have opened it at some point. I guess it was too good to resist…LOL.

2015 Tannat Reserva

2015 Tannat Reserva Personal de la Familia, by Pisano from Uruguay. Unlike the last Tannat I opened from the same winery, this one is built big and strong. It is clearly made for the long haul. Laying this down for a while won’t hurt it. It reads like a classic Barolo or big Barbaresco with deep inky rich colors. The nose is prominent with dirt, and a hint of oak and berry. The nose quickly fades, giving way to a big body of notable acidity. Once opened up the finish turns buttery with lasting spice and tannin. Tannat is an interesting varietal. I only became aware of it mere weeks ago. Like Cab Franc, it is rare to find a single varietal Tannat. It takes personal passion to commit to it. love it! Go Uruguay!!! 🇺🇾😁🍷🍷🍷

2017 Tannat

2017 Tannat, Pisano, Rio De Los Pajaros, Uruguay. This one came as an interesting suggestion by my winesnob friend Nikki. We’ve been talking a lot about obscure varietals lately. She had been sampling this one and suggested I take a look at Tannat and what folks were doing with it. You know I still can’t get past the fact that I am enjoying a wine from Uruguay. It’s amazing! I’m tasting an honest wine. It’s well made. I cannot fault it. If this is representative of the varietal and the region, then I fully intend to explore it further. We are really living in the the Golden Age of wine, viticulture and oenology. It’s fascinating. There is so much good wine everywhere and it is so accessible. I feel very fortunate. This one has a nose of caramel and oak, balanced medium body and tannic finish. This varietal reminds me of others like Cab Frank, Touriga and Aglianico. They are not particularly complex but what they do, they do exceedingly well. I love it! Go Uruguay!!! 🇺🇾😁🍷🍷🍷