Reserve: 2016 Pinot Noir (Babcock Vineyard) by Pali Wine Co

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Babcock Vineyard) by Pali Wine Co), Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast.

Intense ruby color. Bright nose with plenty of cherry, hint of sweet cherry and smooth almost butterscotch caramel. Swirl vigorously to unlock even more caramel. A slight wet sand mineral undertone lingers in the back.

This is a classic central coast Pinot Noir. A fine example at that. Body is very restrained. Medium to light with good mild acid on the attack, moderate buttery tannins create a clean, rounded mouth feel. Good separation keeps your attention without straying too far off balance. A tart blackberry slowly take over the transition to a slightly dry and spicy finish.

This is a one-time limited production using grapes from a coveted Vineyard. Exactly the kind of wine I love exploring. What I like about this winemaker most is their wines are true and representative of their origins. No two are the same. They present a great opportunity to explore varied regions and styles of Pinot. I look forward to exploring more of their wines. Well done Aaron and all of the lively crew at Pali Wine Co! 🍷😁👌🏽

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 Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by MV Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Reserve) by MV (Miller Vineyards), Fair Play, California.

Last year our search for Winemaker Of The Year took us on an unexpected journey. We toured various California wine country but none left a an indelible mark like the Sierra Foothills. We were on the road almost every weekend of the year and tasting several times a week. We encountered so many amazing winemakers toiling away at their life’s passion. About half a dozen emerged as hands down in the class of their own, not just on a local or California stage but on a world stage. MV Vineyards was perhaps the most notable in this respect.

Tonight we look at a Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a distillation of what a big California Cab is all about. A true artisan work of art by a craftsman with absolutely no compromise and every possible attention to detail. Batches are so small you will never find this masterpiece anywhere else but in the little cottage at the end of the road in Fair Play.

Dark inky color. Big, warm, intense nose with caramel and marshmallows which quickly dissipate once it opens up. Subtle plum, blackberries, bramble bush and wild herbs take center stage. Terroir is very restrained an leans on the mineral sandstone side of the spectrum.

Body is measured. Well balanced from front to back. A measured dose of blackberries and plum carry over while retaining its dry overall posture. Herbs and wild bush remain in the back while bold well structured fine grained tannins take over the transition to a firm but restrained finish, capped with a healthy dose of spice. Simply amazing!

You cannot speak of California Wines and not have immersed yourself in art like this. This is the frontier, the leading edge of what made California wines what they are today. You will never find a corporate mass production wine that comes even close to this. This, like the others we have reviewed on here are worth a trip to California and the Sierra Foothills. Well done Mr. & Mrs. Miller!

Reserve: 2013 Syrah (Les Cotes de L’ouest) by Terre Rouge

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Syrah (Les Cotes de L’ouest) by Terre Rouge, Plymouth, California.

Dark rich intense color. Nose is restrained with gentle notes of plum, dark berries and hint of sweet cherry. Terroir is tastefully expressed through subtle wet sandy leather. Once opened up, a hint of mushrooms emerges when swirled.

Body is balanced from front to back, attack to finish. Mild acidity opens up the palate which is quickly filled in with plums, dark cherries and the faintest hint of dried apricot all wrapped in massive, heavy tannin. A seamless transition to finish characterized by an ever tightening tannic grip resulting in parched lips sealed shut with a spicy tingle.

Terre Rouge is our 2019 Winemaker Of The Year. This is their flagship wine, intended to introduce the wider consumer audience to their exquisite small batch wines. It is a head scratcher of a wine because it stands head and shoulders above most reserve Syrah I’ve had. It presents an incredible value at a mind boggling price point. It embodies what a classic California Syrah is all about. I keep a case on hand as a baseline comparison whenever reviewing a Syrah and I can say many Syrah have fallen to this humble wine. Well done Bill, Jane and the entire Terre Rouge Easton Team! 🍷😁👌🏽

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.

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Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Sanford

Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills Appellation) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.

I think I found the Prince of Pinot! Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Appellation is an elegant and well balanced Pinot.

Bright ruby red colored, light and fruity aromas of cherries, leather, and baking spices. On the palate, flavors of raspberries, red cherries, oak, and light peppercorn. At 13.5% ABV, this Pinot Noir has balanced acid and tannin structures, a delightful wine for any special occasion.

Need pairing ideas? Try pairing Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir with:

      • Roasted Chicken
      • Salmon or other fatty fish
      • Duck
      • Pasta dishes with pesto, a cream base, or mushroom sauce
      • Beef and garlic dishes

About our guest


Jenn is a Native Texan photographer, wine lover. She thoroughly enjoys learning about wine making, the history behind wines, and of course wine tasting. She also has a passion for travel and is on a mission to find amazing wines from around the world.

You can follow Jenn’s journey via his Instagram page @txblondevoyage


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 Sanford wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2017 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir by Pali

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Huntingdon) by Pali Wine Company.

We’ve seen a few wines from Pali. Alphabets and Riviera most recently. Now the Huntington. All Pinot Noir. All very distinct and quite representative of their various appellations. All medium to light bodied. All on the nuanced side of the spectrum.

The Huntington is a bold departure from the bunch. This is a Big California Pinot. It is unapologetic, jammy, chewy. A full mouthfeel. A dark, spicy, tannic affair. This is a bit of an eyebrow raiser for a Pinot from Santa Barbara County. I suppose even a WineSnob needs a break from the sometimes dreary monotony and strained palate that constant subtlety and nuance can sometimes contrive.

So here we are. I am staring down the second half of this bottle a full day later. It is laughing at me. I folded in confusion last night. I went to bed not sure how I felt about it. I could not fault it either. Not sure what to think. I feel like I lost to this wine. Even now it pretends to be a little more approachable, but then laughs all the way through the finish. This Pinot will eat Napa Cabs for breakfast. I will lay down right next to a Syrah for 15 years and still chuckle at the irony.

Yeah yeah yeah, black currants are more pronounced a day later. Mineral leather too. It’s jammy but not sweet. It’s got big bold tannic structure, a basket-full of berries and an Indian kitchen’s worth of spices. But I feel like I’m still losing. I thought this was going to be another clean crisp “laydown” from Pali. I thought it would be another easy smooth pleaser. But Nooooo! This wine plays dirty. Really dirty.

Pick up a few bottles, lay them down for at least 5-10 more years. Let them mellow out. Taste the magic. You might have better luck taming it that I did last night. I’ll see you again in 2025 Pali Huntington.

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 Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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2016 Nebbiolo Reserve by Barboursville Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Nebbiolo Reserve by Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia, USA.

Restrained nose with clear hints of cherry and caramel. I don’t expect an overly complex experience from Nebbiolo. This one is no exception. It is a little shy on the nose. Aromas are clean, crisp and delineated. A fine leather undertone emerges once opened up.

This is interesting. Body is equally restrained, light, dry, void of any fruit. A very subtle herbal leather undertone carries through. It is very balanced. A hint of black currant quickly counters a mildly acidic attack. It is approachable out of the bottle. Once decanted (at least 20 minutes), a dry tannic grip emerges to dominate most of the body through a slightly tart plum finish capped with a little spice. A relentless dry tannic grip leaves the lips (and palate) parched and sealed shut. Further decanting reveals caramel notes throughout the body and finish. I suspect this is from the oxidation of tannins and the lack of any residual sugars which allows such subtlety to play out on the palate.

This wine has more of the posture of a Barbaresco which tend to be on the lighter more nuanced side (for a Nebbiolo) as opposed to a Barolo which are typically dark, heavy and leathery or a Langhe Nebbiolo which are typically dark, massive, mineral, tannic beasts.

While still clearly young, I suspect this wine will not change much over the next decade and beyond. The attention to detail shows here. Nebbiolo in this part of the world is a labor of love and a passion project. There is an adherence to core traditional winemaking principles here. It is a well made wine. The more I progress with this tasting the more I appreciate it. I am very curious to see what it is like after it’s had 10+ years to relax and further develop.

Watching the sunset in my backyard in California, I am exploring a Nebbiolo from Virginia and it is a serious wine. Less than two weeks ago I had no idea grapes grew in Virginia. This is an amazing time for a WineSnob to be alive. Well done Barboursville!

Tech Sheet

2016 Barboursville Nebbiolo Reserve

Fermentation: 7-9 days on the skins in stainless steel
Maceration:  10-15 days
Composition: 100% Nebbiolo
Aging: 12 months, French oak barriques, new 30%, used 70%
Analysis: Alcohol, 13.5%
Residual Sugar:
0.0%
Total Acidity: 0.62%

 

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Reserve: 2015 Riserva Sangiovese by Vino Noceto

Tonight’s occasion: a side-by-side with the 2015 Riserva Sangiovese and the 2015 Sangiovese by Vino Noceto.

This winemaker from Plymouth, Amador, California has been putting out an amazing Sangiovese with surgical consistency for as long as I can remember – well over a decade.

The Sangiovese alone is a benchmark by which I measure all other Sangiovese, regardless of where it’s from. I cannot overstate how well made it is. There is a more limited companion, the Riserva Sangiovese. I have been meaning to open both at the same time and explore them together, side-by-side.

Sangiovese

My previous notes hold. It is very well behaved. A mild mannered nose with hints of raspberry and cherry which become more prominent in a very well structured and balanced body. There is a subtle creamy under layer to the body. The finish is unmistakably peppery. The spice lingers long after the finish has faded away, like the tannins of a Syrah. It doesn’t take long to open up but when it does a light buttery, oak undertone permeates the entire experience. I consider this Sangiovese a prime example of what is possible with this varietal, in this region and the greater California wine region.

Riserva Sangiovese

Color has a hint of brown and a touch darker compared the Sangiovese. Nose on the Riserva has unmistakably a more oak. This is expected as it is barrel aged 6-8 months longer than the Sangiovese. This has the effect of smoothing out the edges and giving it a velvety mouth feel. It seems a tad more acidic.

Like any Sangiovese, I think it’s meant to be paired with food, especially meats. The Riserva even moreso. They both paired well with the New York Steak but it was pretty obvious this is where the Riserva really shines. It instantly cut through the steak, creating one seemless cohesive, creamy, buttery smooth experience. Wow. Hints of caramel, cocoa and tobacco emerge when paired. I’m not one to pair my wine as I like to fully immerse myself in all it’s nuance and complexity but this wine absolutely must be paired appropriately. The Riserva makes a great treat for any guest with a discerning palate. The Sangiovese is very approachable and an accessible price point, easily making it a very high quality every day wine.

I always keep several bottles of this Sangiovese in my cellar as a reference and to show fellow WineSnobs what is going on off the beaten path.

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