Reserve: 2015 Chinon Bonaventure by Chateau de Coulaine

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! 🍷😁👌🏽

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Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County) by Louis Martini

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County) by Louis Martini, Napa, California.

Not all wines have to be an intense, even sometimes laborious exercise for the senses. There are times when one just needs an honest wine. Not every bottle has to be an occasion. Sometimes I just want to contemplate other matters and not necessarily have to focus so intently on the wine. These are the moments that I resort to the unsung heroes of my cellar – The Pleaser. A wine that doesn’t overwhelm your senses or demand your attention. A wine that hits a few key notes and maybe offers an interesting suggestion or two. A clean, well made, honest wine, most importantly, for a great price. These wines I stock by the case.

This Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is just that. A winner. It embodies the value proposition. A hint of that Sonoma dirt, good fruit, dry plum and blackberry, a touch of cedarwood, balanced body, a finish characterized by a moderately dry tannic grip and a touch of spice. It is always available and for a good price that makes a case an approachable proposition for most.

This is the wine that draws you in and draws your interest towards their signature wines such as their Napa Cab and Monte Rosso Cab Franc, both of which are noteworthy and in my reserve.

I love a winery that not only puts out great signature wines, but also makes a good flagship wine I can enjoy on any given day.

Nice work!

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Reserve: 2008 Sangiovese (La Tarantella) by Hitching Post

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Sangiovese (La Tarantella) by Hitching Post, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, California.

Deep dark color. Warm intense nose with a tart plum up front. Swirl vigorously to unlock secondary notes of caramel and ripe dark cherries. Terroir appears neutral but closer inspection reveals a touch of minerality. This is already big next to most Sangiovese I’ve had.

On the body, the attack is mildly acidic but quickly tempered by tart plum which midway through, introduces a good balance of tannic structure. The caramel notes step further back and add great accompaniment to the overall slightly silky, jammy mouth feel. Once opened, tannins develop a fine grained texture towards the back. The finish is abrupt as the body quickly vanishes, leaving your palate dry, lips tacked shut and a gentle but ever increasing spice warms the palate down to the chest.

I can’t imagine what this wine was like at bottling. It must have been barely approachable because 12 years later it is still standing tall and strong. This bottle is a real treat. I had no idea they made a Sangiovese, let alone one like this. My good friend brought this back from the central valley. Thank you Jill for your generosity and kindness.

Nicely done!

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Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Prolific Vines

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Prolific Vines Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.

Deep, dark, rich color. Slightly warm, restrained nose with notes of blackberries, and subtle dark plum. Terroir is subtle and in the form of a slight sandy, loamy leather. Oak is very measured, and makes its presence known through a very distant licorice and cedarwood. You would likely miss it.

Body is precise. Balanced front to back. Fruit is carried over as a slightly dry dark plum. Crisp, measured tannins provide clean structure, creating a classic foundation from attack to finish. Transition to finish is seamless, culminating in a subtle back and forth between creamy and dry tannic grip, ultimately leaving the palate parched. A reminder of its youth. A hint of spice caps the experience. This is more of a nuanced Cab than most people might be accustomed to. I suspect this ultimately has to do with the climate. It does not have the typical overpowering characteristics of say a Northern California Cab (aggressively acidic, tannic, spice).

This is a great Cabernet Sauvignon. It is showing surprisingly well for its relatively young age. It should age quite nicely, given more time to further integrate. I would pick up a few bottles. Enjoy one now and revisit this vintage in about 5 years. This is a pre-release look at this vintage. I previously reviewed the 2016 and looking at my notes, the 2017 is very reminiscent of it, surprisingly consistent if not a tad more mature.

It was nice to finally visit this little estate tucked away in the Santa Cruz Mountains (see photos from my visit below). I especially want to thank Dr. Julie and her husband Albert for being to kind and gracious for hosting me and giving me an extended tour of the property and the vineyard. It was a real treat. It was inspiring to see the amount of work they have put into making this passion of theirs become a reality. This is what I love most about being off the beaten path.

I very much look forward to visiting them again soon. If you do decide to attend one of their tastings, don’t forget to ask Dr Julie if she has any of her Tomato Jam on hand. It is simply sublime and unlike anything you’ve had. You won’t be disappointed. Join their club to secure your annual allotment of this very limited and unique wine.

Reserve: 2012 Many Hands Cuvée Rouge by Bumgarner

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Many Hands Cuvée Rouge (Bordeaux style blend) by Bumgarner, El Dorado, California.

Deep, dark, opaque, almost inky color. Warm shy almost neutral nose out of the bottle. Swirl vigorously to unlock notes of dark plum and cherry. Secondary oak introduces a very subtle vanilla caramel occasionally punctuated by faint cedarwood. Terroir is fairly neutral up front in what feels like a rocky granite sand.

Body is fairly balanced, starting off mildly acidic in the form flesh from green tart plums. Firm, persistent fine grained tannins quickly take over, introducing robust structure. Towards the back, faint vanilla softens the edges ever so subtly, giving a good mouth feel. This marks the transition to finish which is dominated by dry, ultra fine grained tannins. The palate is left parched and tingling with spice notes. I’m thirsty! Now wondering if I should have let this bottle lay down another 5 years at least.

I have been following this winemaker’s work for well over a decade now and I absolutely love his more traditional style and unwavering adherence to fundamental principles. I highly recommend his wines for the intermediate-to-advanced palate. This Bordeaux style blend really showcases his mastery of big varietals. When I think of wines off the beaten path, Brian Bumgarner is one of the first that come to mind. Pick up any of his wines now and forget about them. Thank me 10-15yrs from now. Oh, and save me a glass! 😁🍷

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

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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!

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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!

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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!