February 18th is Global Drink Wine Day. Did you celebrate? I know I did! My friend Kristal stopped by to help. We celebrated by opening a Cab from Chile. How did you celebrate? What did you open? Let me know in the comments below. I highly recommend sipping along while watching as we taste and make small talk about different wines we’ve tried.
Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Petite Syrah by Loxton Cellars, Sonoma, California
Dark opaque color. Nose is a little shy out of the bottle but quickly comes alive with ripe plum, blackberry, caramel and that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt. A wet mushroom leathery essence. It’s a bit subdued here but still very present. Swirl vigorously to release a burst of dark cherry, anise and hints of green peppers.
A viscous, spicy, slightly acidic attack greets the palate. This rapidly subsides as crisp, clean tannins move in front and center. Hints of oak vanilla soften the blow, temporarily wetting the palate. By the halfway point, the fun and games are over as a dry crisp tannic grip, black currant and cola completely dominate the experience. This marks the transition to a finish, turning even dryer. The palate experiences a brief sweet relief as black currant and cola give way to a long spicy dry finish.
My goodness this is a massive wine yet surprisingly nuanced. It feels very natural, terroir driven and unaltered. I thought it might be a good time to open 2012 vintage but dare I say, it’s still early. Chris Loxton has been quietly and meticulously crafting his life’s work from the vines to the wines. One of my favorite Sonoma winemakers, I’ve been enjoying his wines for at least a decade. Every time I open a bottle, I wonder if I bought enough…
Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Cloud’s Nest, Mt. Veeder) by Trinchero Family Wines, Napa Valley, California
Dark opaque color. Nose is very shy out of the bottle. Once it breathes a little, you can recognize ripe plums. Sweet dark cherry caramel comes second. Out of the bottle, hints of red licorice and amber wood dot the background. These quickly dissipate as it opens up. Terroir is fairly neutral and if anything, is expressed as a faint woody leather.
Body is perfectly balanced from attack to finish. Ripe, plums, dark cherries and blueberries play nicely on the palate. This conspires with a touch of wood/oak to create a slightly silky, weighted, wet mouth feel. Dusty, fine grained tannins provide an ever present substructure. Eventually the body gives way to expose this dusty tannic underlayment. This marks the transition to finish as dry spicy tannic dust storm engulfs the palate. Black currants, caramel make sporadic appearances as spice and a dry tannic grip wrestle for control. This duel continues with no end in sight for a very long protracted finish.
This wine may not be so old after all. It has had time to integrate. As it opens up, it comes even more alive as opposed to mellowing out. At 13 years old, I feel like this is how it was meant to be enjoyed. Here’s a little secret: if you visit Trinchero, ask for the list of library wines. Explore your favorite wine and how it progresses.
Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, California
Dark opaque color out of the bottle. Rich dark plum essence on the nose. A granite rocky mineral essence comes second. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of sweet, dark cherry and red vines licorice as a distant leather disappears into the background. Notes are crisp, unmistakable, and very highly delineated.
Body is precisely balanced from attack to finish. Fruit carries through, and is well represented without overwhelming the palate. Oak is measured, almost unnoticeable as it conspires with dark plum and berries to create a slightly silky mouth feel. This has the effect of taming this fairly dry wine. Firm tannins provide broad structure across the palate while remaining fairly restrained. Transition to finish is marked by a the unleashing of massive tannins that, in short order, completely dominate the palate, revealing its relative youth. Blackberries and currants linger as an ever tightening grip seals your lips shut, parched. At 14.7% ABV you would hardly notice but for a slightly bold spice towards the finish which easily dissipates as it opens up. A testament to the winemaker’s craft.
This is a big bold Cab by all accounts. It is full of character, balanced and shows a good amount of restraint. It will only become more interesting as it further integrates over the next 5-10 years. This is a winemaker to watch closely. Well built, impeccably executed wines.
Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Grey – Glacier) by Ventisqero, Leyda Valley, Chile.
Dark semi opaque color. Out of the bottle you are greeted by a rich aromatic nose with notes of ripe plums, and an earthy leather reminiscent of loamy sedimentary terroir and wet wood. Swirl vigorously to release a burst or sweet cherries and an even more intense leather. Hints of mushrooms and black licorice linger in the background. What a beautiful nose.
Body greets with a slightly acidic attack. This is quickly smothered by a silky, velvety body of slightly tart plum and a touch of oak. This lends a mouth watering character. Subtle tannins provide a low level foundation and structure. No sooner than it arrives, the body quickly fades away quickly transitioning to a thin whispy silky sheets in the wind. This is where the previously understated tannins take over, eventually leaving the palate slightly parched and under a firm but gentle tannic grip. Random tinglings of spice punctuate the finish.
First order of business when I land in Chile is to visit this Winemaker. I absolutely love their work. Very well crafted, artisan wines. This Pinot punches several classes above its weight. Like every one of their wines I’ve tried, it makes no compromises.
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 Ventisquero wines delivered to your doorstep.
Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Elle (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault) by Bumgarner, El Dorado, California.
Crisp nose is a little shy out of the bottle. First thing that hits you is a dry dusty granite with a hint of old weathered wood. Intertwined are hints of berry and faint vanilla. Swirl vigorously to unlock a burst of sweet cherries, more dusty leather and very distant mushrooms, you would easily miss.
Body is very nicely balanced front to back. It is mostly dry, subtle cherry carries forward, together with the wood notes and a sparing amount of oak, all conspire to create a slightly silky, lush mouth feel, moistening the palate. Thin crisp tannins provide great structure and grip. The granite, minerality, cherries and leather morph into a cola essence towards the back. This marks the transition to finish as a crisp dry tannic grip eventually triumphs over the experience, leaving your lips parched shut.
I previously reviewed the Fiona, a companion/sister wine to this one. I have followed this Winemaker for well over a decade. He is no stranger to big, bold, dark, dry, structured wines. However this wine is clearly an exercise in nuance and subtlety. I really like what he has done here. This is a very well built, high quality, understated wine.
To Brian and Jennifer Bumgarner, thank you for sharing your dreams and passion with us. Here’s to many more vintages.
Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Grenache Noir (Reserve) by Amador Cellars, Plymouth, CA
Summary: Watch this Winemaker closely.
Rich, ruby color. Crisp nose with a subtle tart plums, hints of granite mineral terroir, licorice. Swirl vigorously to release puffs of sweet cherry, and a distant minty/eucalyptus herbal essence so subtle you’d likely miss it all together.
A vibrant crisp body greets with cola, cherries and a suggestion of oak. Thin, crisp tannins provide good structure without overpowering the palate. This combines to create a soft, silky slightly weighty mouth feel with lots of dimension. Transition to finish is characterized by the emergence of a crisp spice which together with the crisp tannins, hold the palate hostage for the duration of the experience while pops of cherry, licorice and cola fade away.
This is a Winemaker who’s work I will be following closely. His work I only simply describe as understated. Creating such complex, layered balanced wines at such an early stage in his journey, one can only imagine what his craft will look like a decade or two from now. I am looking forward to every single vintage…
Nicely done Mike, the Long Family and the entire team at Amador Cellars.
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Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Chinon Bonaventure by Chateau de Coulaine (@chateaudecoulaine), Loire, France.
Warm thick nose out of the bottle with plenty of mushrooms loamy leather. Some call it barnyard or old victorian. Some don’t care for it but I absolutely love it and can’t get enough. It begins to dissipate within minutes to reveal sweet ripe dark cherries, some berry and subtle hints of marshmallow.
Body is more balanced than not with a subtle suggestion of acidity before quickly centering on the palate. Tannins are not as pronounced as one might expect, fairly restrained, allowing a rich meaty mouth feel. Plums replace cherries from the nose and that leathery essence permeates the background. It reads like an impeccably decorated old world set. Subtle spice guides the transition to a finish characterized by gentle tannic grip and warm, moist lips, tingling with spice.
I can only think of a few wines I’ve tasted that express leathery terroir this clearly. It is a sultry wine that feels wise beyond its age. For around $20/btl it’s a head scratcher. Please let me order a few more before it sells out 😅. This my friends is why I stay off the beaten path. Some little known Chateau in Chinon has been making this wine sine the 1300s.
Tres bien fait mes amis! 🍷😁👌🏽
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 Chateau de Coulaine wines delivered to your doorstep.
Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Pinot Noir (Orchestral) by Hahn Wines, Santa Lucia Highlands, Central Coast, California.
Deep Ruby-Burgundy color. Big rich nose out of the bottle with bold floral aromas, berries and damp wood forrest floor with hints of cedarwood and black licorice. As it opens up and the heat dissipates, notes of citrus make an appearance over a pleasant leather.
Body is smooth, mildly acidic. It is characterized by buttery creamy tannins and spice from front to back. This is after all a big California Pinot at 14.5% ABV. It has a fairly lush silky mouth feel which can be deceiving as this wine is fairly dry. Very little, if any fruit is carried over. The leather and wood notes conspire to trick the palate into sensing otherwise. Finish is rather subdued as it quickly fades away leaving more than a healthy tingle of spice. Faint suggestion of black currants accompanies the finale.
Hahn is a pretty big estate with many offerings through most mass market distribution. However when visiting such a winery, you have to know what to ask for. See, every winemaker no matter how big, has a passion project. One they pride themselves in. A work of personal craftsmanship which is typically never on the menu. This is what I am most interested in with any winemaker. Only 73 cases of this lovely Pinot were produced. The layering, character and complexity shows. This is the type of wine I seek out wherever I go.
Nicely done Hahn!
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 Hahn wines delivered to your doorstep.