This past week I had the distinct pleasure of joining bottling efforts at Bumgarner Winery in Fair Play, CA.
I have been following winemaker’s work for well over a decade and have been collecting some of his oldest vintages. Brian Bumgarner’s style is more traditional. His are best described as dry, terroir-driven and age-worthy.
On this day we bottled the Many Hands Cuvee, his award winning Bordeaux style blend. You can read my review of the Many Hands Cuvee here. A a reward for helping out, the Winemaker grilled sausages and prepared a delicious charcuterie board for us.
Winemaking is not a glamorous affair. It is real. It is raw. It takes lots of hard work, patience, tenacity and diligence. It also takes family and community, both of which Brian has in relative abundance around him. This shows through his work. Brian’s wines have been the perfect punctuation to many moments over the years. Thank you for sharing your amazing wines with us all these years. I very much look forward to all your future vintages. This was definitely a moment to cherish.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (3BBL) by Roger Roessler Wines (@rogerroesslerwines), Sonoma CA.
Clear ruby color. Gentle, plush, aromatic nose. Earthy notes take center stage with wet wood, damp forest floor, a touch of that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt and Mushroom. As it breathes, slightly ripened cherries creep forward. Swirling vigorously intensifies, fruit and floral notes. A sweet cola makes an appearance. Beautiful!
Body is nicely balanced, greeting with a gentle touch of acidity which is quickly replaced with a smooth, silky, slightly viscous body. Paper thin layers of crisp tannin are laid down beneath layers of thin wisps of cherry cola, faint crisp caramel and viscous leathery essence. Transition to finish is characterized by the emergence of a gentle but firm spice towards the back. Body vanishes, leaving behind slightly bitter cola as crisp, clean tannins assert themselves amidst a gentle warmth.
This 3BBL is a blend of this vintner’s top Pinot from that vintage. Each vintage unique in its own expression. This vintage is a beautiful representation of the greater Sonoma region. It preserves this identity very well in an all around classy expression. If you haven’t explored Roger Roessler wines, I highly recommend them. They make for a great study, a compendium of Pinot Noir from up and down the Pacific Coast. I have been following their wines for well over a decade now.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak) by Gustavo Wine (@gustavowine), Napa Valley, CA
Dark semi opaque color. Out of the bottle, intense dry plums. As it breathes, it develops a fine, dusty, sandy leather essence, almost granite in nature. Hints of berries pop in and out of the back, eventually turning to dark, slightly sweet cherries. Notes of herbs and eucalyptus emerge. It’s a bit rustic. I feel like the nose will continue to evolve for hours if left alone. Very nice.
Oh wow. Okay! So the body is unexpectedly smooth. Balanced, front to back. There is little to no attack. Fairly light for a Napa Cab. It leans more on the delicate side. It is dry. Plums carry over with a measured amount of tannins quickly arriving at a harmonious compromise. A soft old wood, leathery mushroom essence tempers the stage, adds a little weight as the body slowly develops. Plums ripen slightly and tannins develop a dusty, fine grained texture. This marks the transition to finish as the palate slowly begins to dry, leaving behind gentle but firm tannic grip, leather and a touch of warmth.
I love the story behind this winemaker and even more that he continues to make wine. His generation were the ones who’s craft put Napa on world stage. These are the kind of winemakers I seek out, off the beaten path.
Bien hecho Gustavo! I had a blast visiting the tasting room!
I’m reminiscing about my last visit to their tasting room downtown Napa at the beginning of last year with my friend (2020, right before the pandemic hit). We had a blast tasting and handing out with Gustavo’s wife at their understated tasting room. I highly recommend a visit whenever you’re in Napa.
Big bold intense color for a Pinot. Nose is shy out of the bottle. You can definitely pick up hints of that all too familiar Sonoma dirt. Nose develops a little more weight, berries and ripe cherries as it opens up. Damp woody dirt and red vines licorice move forward. Nose is very subtle and gentle.
Body is not as big as the color suggests but very much in line with the nose. Subtle, gentle, smooth expression. Ripe cherries greet the palate with a hint of acidity more in the form of a sweet citrus that is quickly smothered by a full, plush, soft mouth feel. Transition to finish is seamless leaving the palate slightly dry under an enduring spice warmth.
This Pinot is showing nicely right now. It is clean, well executed. It feels like a classic Pinot Noir, subtle, nuanced, smooth and balanced. It channels the terroir very subtly, gracefully retaining it’s sense of place. Now I’m curious to see how the 2018 vintage is showing now. That should be an interesting vintage right about now. Stay tuned!
Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Thracian Valley) by Bulgariana, Bulgaria.
Clean, bright yellow gold color. Up front, passion fruit, cantaloupe and a subtle wet earthy leather. Swirling vigorously gently intensifies the nose, rendering it somewhat mineral in expression. Tart white, stone fruit emerges towards the back (mostly plum). The faintest honeysuckle you’d likely miss. Very classy.
Body balanced, front to back. Dry. Without attack, a soft, plush, slightly weighed, mild mannered body greets and slowly blankets the entire palate. I can tell it’s dry but yet it’s mineral underpinnings have a mouth watering effect. Stone fruit carry forward and linger in the back. Leather turns from slight wet wood to mineral as it falls into the background. Transition to finish with very little fanfare, marked by emergence of a warm gentle spice, mineral leather with long enduring moist lips.
What a class act. At around $13, this wine is proof positive, not all good wine is expensive and not all expensive wine is good. Like the Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc, it punches several levels above its weight for a fraction of the price. My first wine from the Thracian Valley, second wine from Bulgaria. It gives me pause as I sit here sipping – there is someone in Bulgaria making world class wines. I feel compelled to travel to Bulgaria.
Nicely done folks!
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Dark semi opaque color. Looks unfiltered. Out of the bottle nose is warm and weighted. This wine is all terroir up front. Reminds me of Beaujolais Gamay or Loire Cab Franc in its expression. Big leather up front with unmistakable wet wood and dusty granite. This wine asserts its origins with a keen sense of place. Within minutes it’s full identity reveals itself in the form of a rich, creamy anise. An unmistakable hallmark expression of the Sierra Foothills. Just beautiful. As it settles, ripe dark cherries, sweet berries and plum reveal themselves with hints of herbs I can’t pinpoint, a sort of eucalyptus.
There is no attack. You are greeted by a long, wide and fairly deep body from start to finish. Dry dusty tannins provide a thick chassis upon which a well integrated melange of leathery notes, dark plum, blackberries and hints of mushroom slowly play. As it finally transitions to finish, the stage clears, leaving black currants and anise and warm gentle spice. The palate is rendered slightly dry and tingling with spice and the chest warms.
There are many reasons why Terre Rouge * Easton was our first inaugural Winemaker of the Year for 2019. This bottle reminds me of all of them. A fine example of what is possible in this region, California and the world at large with a relentless commitment to the art form and excellence. I am just tickled every time I open one of these wines.
Nicely done Bill, Jane and the entire crew at Terre Rouge Easton Wines!
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 Terre Rouge wines delivered to your doorstep.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Grand Vin De Bordeaux by Chateau La Tour De Mons, Margaux, France.
Dark opaque plum color. Nose is a bit shy, with notes of slightly ripe dark plums, hints of ripe cherries, damp wood and that all too familiar fine, sedimentary, river silt. Swirling vigorously releases more intense leather and a touch of anise. It’s hard to go wrong with Margaux.
Body is precisely balanced from front to back. Dry plums carry over albeit with a little restraint, lightening the body and providing firm, crisp tannic structure. A precise almost unnoticeable oak softens the tannins and intensifies the fruit essence ever so slightly. Subtle anise and wet wood eventually take over the stage just before handing over to an emerging gentle spice heat. This marks the transition to finish as the body fades away leaving behind harmonious melange of very fine grained dusty tannic grit and a warm spice.
This highly coveted often overlooked sub-region of Bordeaux is best known for its big, bold, dry, age worthy wines and characteristic terroir driven expression. They are typically hard to come by and command a premium when you go find them. This Margaux is a fine example of what a Bordeaux is. I put out a WineSnob Alert on this wine several months ago when it was available for just under $40 – a steal for what it is. It lives up to every other Margaux in my cellar and I look forward to following this vintage over the next decade.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Napa Valley Sangiovese (Eliza Jane), by Dawn’s Dream Winery, Carmel Valley, CA.
Rich ruby color. Thick, warm nose with lots of dry berries, red cherries, and a wet woody sandy leather. As it breathes, bursts of dried, dusty mushroom and red vines emerge. Swirling vigorously only intensifies these leathery terroir notes. Wow! This is right up my alley!
Body shows good balance off the bat. Greeting with just a touch of bright acidity in a citrus expression. This is quickly balanced out getting gentle tannins in the form of dry, dark, tart plums, blackberries and currants. The wet wood and slightly mineral expression emerges and conspires with a faint crisp (neutral) oak to create a soft, silky, palate-wetting overlayment. Transition to finish begins with a fade to subtle bitter as its dry dusty tannic foundations are laid to bear once again, only this time with a gentle spice tingle.
I absolutely love Dawn’s wines. The Pinot Noirs capture so much of the spotlight that is easy to miss this gem. I wasn’t expecting this but not the least surprised. Dawn’s wines tend to catch the focused palate off guard and prompt reflection. What a lovely take on the humble Sangiovese.
Dark intense semi opaque color. Big nose out of the bottle with dark plum filling the air immediately. As it opens up, the plum ripens a little, adding ripe dark cherry, a touch of wet sedimentary soil and wood creates the essence of damp forest floor. You’d likely miss it, but a very faint honey beeswax emerges towards the back. This wine is interesting and shows good complexity on the nose.
Body shows good structure and balance from front to back. Being from Walla Walla, tannins show good restraint. The milder climate has a taming effect on this easily bold varietal. Body is overall lighter than your average Cab. Not as chewy or jammy. For a cab, I’d describe it as medium bodied. This allows terroir notes to peak through ever so slightly in the form of a subtle mineral leather and cola. Blackberry and a crisp caramel (neutral oak) are prominent throughout. Transition to finish is seamless, ending with a slightly dry dusty tannic grit. If this wine is in fact 14.6% ABV, I’d say the winemaker has pulled a tricky balancing act. It is barely noticeable. I’d put it at about 13.8% ABV. It’s a pleasing, easy sipper.
This is a good, well built wine with enough complexity and nuance to keep the intermediate to advanced palate interested, without being overly abstract to the general wine audience. I think this winemaker has done a great job.
Head over to Casemates and order your own case for just $139. You won’t be disappointed! 🍷😁👌🏽