2005 Barbaresco (Roncaglie) by Poderi Colla, Alba, Italy.

2005 Barbaresco (Roncaglie) by Poderi Colla, Alba, Italy (DOCG).

Slightly maroon color. Nose is a little shy. Up front slightly under-ripe dark plum, old damp wood leather. In the back, a subtle honeycomb beeswax. As it decants, subtle caramelization adds a touch of ripeness and cocoa.

WOW! Body is very firm up front. Bold attack greets in the form of under-ripe plum and red apple skins. This brings with it, fully integrated, fine grained dusty tannins that grip almost immediately, progressively tightening their vise grip over the palate with each sip. As it breathes, the acidic punch softens into a gentle yet still firm tension across the palate from front to back. Mouth feel is dry, and leathery. Weight is medium-heavy for a Barbaresco. Somewhat bright. Hints of spice linger but none can match the sheer dominating and overpowering force of the tannic grip. Lips are parched shut. As it breathes, some of those tannins caramelize nicely to lend a subtle punctuation of sweetness in the vast dryness of its expression. This has the effect of elevating and ripening the fruit, especially plum. Hints of cocoa develope so faint you’d likely miss it.

Wow. I thought this Nebbiolo might be over the hill but boy was I wrong. It is still standing tall and strong after 17 years. This is an exquisitely crafted wine every cellar should have. This is my last bottle and I sorely wish I had more. I have had a hard time finding this wine for years now. A solid Barbaresco for the Advanced Palate.

Molto Bene! 🍷😙👌🏽

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2020 Garnacha by Lechuza, Spain

2020 Garnacha by Lechuza, Spain

Another great wine recommendation from one of you!

Clear, purple-ruby color. Bright nose with prominent crisp ripe red berries, red cherries, over a dusty hay leather. Secondary notes of beeswax and rose petal perfume linger in the background. Swirling vigorously intensifies the floral notes. Pretty!

Slightly firm ripe body greets with a touch of tension and burst of ripe berries and cherry. Mouth feel is fuller than expected, smooth, and a slight touch fruit forward. A old damp barnwood joins the party shortly after along with and every more boisterous dusty fine grained tannic grit and warm spice. Soon after, the ones left – a dry grip on simmering, parched lips.

This is a very respectable party wine. I like it!

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2020 Nebbiolo by Cantine Elvio Tintero, Langhe, Piemonte, Italy

2020 Nebbiolo by Cantine Elvio Tintero, Langhe, Piemonte, Italia

Bright, clear ruby-purple color. You get that rocky slightly dusty leather essence up front typical of this region. Nose is very shy overall. As it breathes a smoky tobacco emerges. Subtle berries linger in the back. Swirling vigorously intensifies the tobacco leaf. How is this a 2020 vintage??

Body is nicely balanced. Upfront crisp dark plum skins greet the palate with a subtle tension. This tension quickly relaxes as the already medium body thins and stretches out opening up for a good dose of oak vanilla. Plum turns to raspberry, oak softens what would otherwise be a very dry, lean, masculine expression. Fully integrated tannins begin to precipitate upon the palate in thin layers of coating grip which endures through the finish. Gentle spice warmth lingers. My lips are parched.

On the spectrum of Nebbiolo (especially from Langhe), this falls on the lighter side. It is arguably a chillable red. Nicely composed, mature execution, and built to be enjoyed now. This reminds me of the Nebbiolo by Haarmeyer. It shows a much more approachable side of this varietal.

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2021 Albarino by Bodegas La Caña, Rais Baixas, España

2021 Albarino by Bodegas La Caña, Rais Baixas, España.

Rais Baixas as is situated in the Galicia region of northwest Spain.

Bright floral aromatic nose with notes of jasmine, peach, nectarines and sweet citrus. Very pleasant.

Body is nicely balanced. That sweet Meyer lemon zest really pulls forward, drawing a mild tension and lending a little body to a smooth mouth feel. Slightly under-ripe peaches, white plums are followed by a decent amount of minerality that coats the lips in increasingly moist layers. This defines the finish. Warm, moist lips.

This is a nice, well executed Albarino. For the price, an exceptional value and if you’re like me, can’t think of a better introduction to Basque Wine Country. Bien hecho!

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2017 Grey GCM (Garnacha, Cariñena, Mataro) by Viña Ventisquero

2017 Grey GCM (Garnacha, Cariñena, Mataro) by Viña Ventisquero, Colchagua Valley, Chile.

Damp hay, dark plums and cherries. Hints of cola and root beer. Subtle touch of buttery oak. Overall mildly restrained on the nose. Swirling vigorously releases more cherry cola.

A thin, light, shy body greets the palate. A mere suggestion of crisp acidity quickly pulls back leaving a dry almost wispy body. Cranberries and red cherries followed by a very light touch of oak then by crisp, fully integrated tannins. This marks the transition to finish as the tannins proceed to dominate the palate, only to be challenged by a warm spice heat that slowly roars back up from the chest. Both eventually settle for a truce over dry parched lips. Such subtle drama.

This wine is a sleeper. Delicate, subtle, clean, crisp, nuanced. It is likely peerless at this price point and is deserving of far better company. I’m not the least surprised as this winemaker has consistently amazed me over the years. This reminds me why I am going all the way to Chile to visit them. I can’t wait! Bien hecho amigos!

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You can access Ventisquero wines directly from the Ventiquero Wine Club website as well as on wine.com, both linked below.

https://ventisquerowineclub.com

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2019 Artist Blend by William Chris Vineyards, Texas Hill County

2019 Artist Blend by William Chris Vineyards, Hye, Texas Hill Country.

47% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 15% Maurvedre, 6% Tannat.

Nose is all terroir up front with a dusty, clay-like leather. Hints of zest and cola. Touch of plum and dark cherry that slowly develop a subtle honey beeswax essence. A faint touch of herbal eucalyptus notes. As it opens up, a prominent smokey cocoa emerges.

Body is beautifully balanced. Greeting with a gentle acidic attack, dressed in a soft, silky mouth feel. This draws a nice subtle tension across a supple body. Notes of under-ripe dark cherry, plums are nicely complemented by a subtle buttery oak vanilla. Hints of banana peel and cola so faint you’d likely miss them. This whole melange slowly fades across the palate leaving behind a slowly intensifying grip and hint of spice.

What a gorgeous wine. This has to be one of the top 3 GSM blends I’ve had yet. Very nicely executed from its components down to their respective vineyards. Even in a side-by-side tasting against some of the top GSMs in my cellar, it really showcases the the high level of the winemaking program at William Chris. The work Chris and his team do cannot be overstated. Nicely done guys!

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2018 Pinot Noir by Mac Forbes, Yarra Valley, Australia

2018 Pinot Noir by Mac Forbes, Yarra Valley, Australia

Leathery nose greets with a good dose of loamy sedimentary and mineral dirt. Reminds me of that signature Loire Valley terroir. Once you get past this terroir driven nose, a subtle but bright cherry cola emerges. Hints of sweet citrus linger in the back. Swirling vigorously intensifies the leather and red berries. As it opens up, red vines licorice and mineral slate. I like it already.

Body is all business. A subtle zest greets the palate. Bone dry. Subtle hints of oak vanilla provide a counter note while enhancing the cranberry and under-ripe cherry expression. Mouth feel is thin, silky, almost wispy. It’s mineral underpinning reveals itself as a bitter cola as it transitions to a dry finish characterized by thin, crisp tannic grip, lemon/lime zest and white pepper.

This is a proper Pinot Noir. A highly terroir driven wine with a mature execution. I recommend for Pinot lovers with an advanced palate. At 11% ABV you can sit back and enjoy every nuance over and over with little to no palate fatigue. It is light enough, it can easily be enjoyed chilled.

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Top Three Chardonnay Wines (2022 Edition)

In a recent conversation with one of you WineSnobs, I asked what kind of content they would like to see more of. They made a great suggestion – do a Top Three wines series for different categories and/or varietals. I thought it was a great idea. It also prompted me to reflect over all the amazing wines I’ve encountered so far and come up with a short list of three wines I can recommend that would further advance your journey, adventure and discovery of wine as a whole.

So without further ado, here are the top three Chardonnay wines I recommend for 2022. No matter your taste – oaked, un-oaked, dry, light, buttery or acidic – these three Chardonnay are sure to change how to look at and appreciate this varietal. Be sure to share your thoughts and notes with me on social media or in the comments below.

Tara by Ventisquero Wines, Atacama Desert, Chile

Subtle, creamy white cherries. Full, lush, silky, luxurious, weighted mouth feel. leathery terroir notes remain front and center. Chalky slate finish. Unlike most chardonnay which leave your palate dry and tingling with spice, this one’s hallmark is an absolutely drenched, wet, moist (read drooling) palate. At 12.5% ABV, you can take your time and enjoy it without experiencing any palate fatigue.

A fine wine by all accounts. An impressive feat considering it was fermented in whole clusters using only naturally occurring yeast and pressed by foot! Unfiltered! Wild!

Read my full review of the 2016 vintage here

Chardonnay by Panther Creek Cellars, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Soft, restrained nos of mild citrus and under-ripe peach, damp slightly mineral leather, white cherries linger. Subtly firm, viscous body, slightly weighted mouth feel, good tension. White pepper, subtle citrus zest, under-ripe white cherries, crisp, refined caramel and a spice tingle.

If I were to open a Chardonnay on any given day, this would be it.

Read my full review of the 2017 vintage here

Chardonnay by Morgan Winery, Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Supple, slightly crisp nose with notes of damp hay, light citrus, cantaloupe, pomegranate white cranberry which evolve into peach stone fruit. Take your time because hours later this becomes a truly magnificent wine. Beautifully balanced from front to back. Soft silky if not viscous mouth feel. Sweet citrus up front with a touch of zest. The palate is rendered moist through the finish. The body quickly fades across the palate leaving hints of honeysuckle, ripe cantaloupe and cola.

A very gentle, terroir driven Chardonnay with a beautiful, full bodied expression.

Read my full review of the 2020 vintage here

2020 Chardonnay by Morgan Winery, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA

2020 Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas, CA

Supple, slightly crisp nose with notes of damp hay, light citrus, cantaloupe, pomegranate white cranberry .as it opens up these notes turn into more of a peach stone fruit. Take your time because hours later this becomes a truly magnificent wine.

Body is beautifully balanced from front to back, greeting the palate with a soft silky if not viscous mouth feel immediately. Sweet citrus up front with a touch of zest. Hints of white cranberries. There’s a noticeable minerality that lends a slight bitter in the background and renders the palate moist through the finish. The body quickly fades across the palate leaving hints of honeysuckle, ripe cantaloupe and cola.

This a very gentle, terroir driven Chardonnay with a beautiful, full bodied expression. I love this wine maker’s work. Great philosophy and execution.

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2012 Syrah (Double L Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Syrah (Double L Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas CA

Deep dark intense semi-opaque color. It appears clear and free of suspension. Out of the bottle nose is a little restrained for a syrah but very much present. Up front ripe dark plums, blackberries, dark cherries over a backdrop of old dusty, woody leather. Hints of black licorice punctuate the nose. Fruit and earth go hand in hand here. A deep, dark, brooding syrah.

Body is balanced from front to back. Bone dry. Thin plum skins carry over to greet the palate . Tannins are crisp, fairly restrained and fully integrated into the body. Slightly under-ripe blueberries. Barely noticeable acidity provides a gentle tension across the palate. Towards the back a gentle spice warmth slowly takes over the transition to finish, along with thin black currants. With each sip, a gentle grip builds upon the lips one delicate layer at a time. As it breathes, old barnyard woody leather and licorice intensify.

Following the nose I expected a massive beast of a Syrah however this is the complete opposite. Body is very delicate and gentle on the palate. There is a certain classic, understated simplicity to its expression and execution. This should make for a great benchmark Syrah in any cellar/collection. It is now that I have to remind myself that this is Santa Lucia Highlands and what a difference this climate/terroir makes with this otherwise massive varietal. This winemaker has done a great job of shepherding these grapes and chanelling everything that is great about this vineyard, and region at large.

Tech Sheet

2012 Double L Syrah by Morgan Winery

From Winemaker: 2012 Double L Syrah Tech Sheet.pdf
Terroir: Vineyard: Double L
Appelation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Soils: Arroyo Seco & Chualar Loam
Climate: very cool, Region 1 (UCD)
Composition: Rootstock: 110-14, 420a
Clones: 383 & 470
Aging: 1 3 months in 100% Bordeaux barrels
Analysis: Alcohol: 14.4%
Acidity: 6.7 G/L
PH: 3.54
Total Production: Approximately 75 cases
I would also like to say a Special Thank You to the Morgan Winery family and crew for digging into their limited library and making this limited production and beautifully crafted wine available. It’s truly a pleasure and honor to explore your life’s work.

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