2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds) by Roger Roessler Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds – Sonoma Coast) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, California

Out of the bottle notes of damp forest floor and ripe cherries. As it opens up, the leather and earth notes only intensify. Dark cherry turns plummy. Swirling unlocks subtle bursts of sweet cherry cola. A very faint black licorice emerges in the distance. You’d almost miss it. I absolutely love the way terroir is expressed here. That signature Sonoma dirt really shines through and I cannot get enough of it!

Body has really come of age. It has had time to beautifully integrate. A soft balanced attack quickly ushers a smooth silky body. Light dark plum and berry essence carries over. Leather notes are equally represented. Crisp, restrained tannins provide great structure without dominating the palate. Body and finish are one with a linear fade. As it tapers off, notes of cola re-emerge as tannins reach out, gently clasping the palate rendering it slightly parched. But the real victor here is a gentle spice which grows with a subtle intensity after the finish.

I have been following Roger Roessler’s wine for well over a decade. Their all small batch production offering reads like a compendium of Pinot Noir from all up and down the pacific coast and makes for a great study for the curios and enlightened palate. There are many reasons we picked Roger Roessler Wines as our 2020 Winemaker of the year. This wine is one of them.

To the entire crew at Roger Roessler Wines, thank you for the great wines all these years!

2012 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) by Easton

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) by Easton (@terrerougeeastonwines), Plymouth, Amador, California.

Deep dark clear ruby red color. Pouring right out of the bottle fills the air with crisp plum. Closer inspection reveals this Zinfandel’s faint raisin/berry underpinnings and a very unmistakable star anise, a hallmark of this region’s terroir. The nose then recedes until swirled again. Hints of wet wood leather linger in the back. This is surprisingly restrained for a Zin

Body is precisely balanced from front to back. Clean crisp and measured. Plum turns more ripe dark cherry, wet wood and oak become more refined crisp caramel. Crisp tannins provide precise frame as they quickly turn buttery, and render the palate moist. Mouth feel is clean, light. Transition to finish is characterized by subtle black currant as the body fades gently, revealing a gentle spice, moist lips and slight dusty tannic grit.

This Winemaker’s work is some of the best I’ve seen yet. This zinfandel is no exception and should easily stand as a reference, an example of everything Zinfandel could be, not just in this region but California and the world at large. NOW! is the time to indulge in his work.

Thank you Bill, Jane and the entire crew at Terre Rouge Easton wines for bringing us world class wines.

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2015 Terra – Don Luis by La Cetto

2015 Terra (Bordeaux style blend) – Don Luis by La Cetto, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico.

Out of the bottle an unmistakable, crisp plum and caramel which as it settles, develops more of a cedarwood note. Ripe dark cherries emerge eventually, as tart plum falls back. Faint hints of anise make an appearance along with a fine dusty soil you’d almost miss. Notes are firm, crisp, clear and fairly delineated.

Body is all business, with a bold albeit brief and restrained acidic attack. Dark tart plum quickly rushes over the entire palate setting a big broad stage. Wood notes add a slightly, soft, silky mouth feel. This has the effect of wetting the palate ever so slightly. Terroir is almost neutral if it weren’t for the dusty soil essence that goes almost unnoticeable. Bold, dark plummy tannins add structure and weight, dominating the entire experience front to back. This soon washes away leaving behind black currant, hints of licorice and dry dusty tannins that slowly parch the lips while at the same time wetting the palate. A delayed spice ignites and rises up from the chest.

A little over a year ago I looked at my first Mexican wine. It was a Nebbiolo by this winemaker – LA Cetto. It immediately caught my attention. Not only was I unaware of Mexican wines, I was impressed with the execution. Tonight I have the pleasure of looking at one of their signature founder’s reserve wines and I am floored. It is everything I expected. This Bordeaux style blend is crisp, bold, dry, faithful to the style, and representative of the region. At 6 years it is clearly still young. While it may show very well now, it will surely be a beauty at 10-15yrs.

Some wines are humbling to taste. Bien hecho Don Luis / La Cetto. Ha sido un placer.

More on Don Luis wines here
https://lacetto.mx/en/categoria-producto/don-luis-private-selection/
https://lacetto.mx/en/producto/terra-2/

https://www.iswusa.com/wines (USA)

Previous look at this winemaker
https://winesnob.blog/tag/la-cetto/

2013 Syrah by Skinner Vineyards, El Dorado, California

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Syrah by Skinner Vineyards, El Dorado, California.

Dark opaque color. Popping the cork releases a bouquet of dark berries and herbal essence. Eucalyptus and mint comes to mind. As it settles, a heavy tart plum is accompanied by a touch of sweet cherry. Secondary leathery granite terroir quickly makes its presence known. Swirl vigorously and unlock a burst of star anise unmistakable with this greater region. It is particularly reminiscent of a sweet Absinthe and lingers in the background. I love this. As you swirl, the nose turns sweeter.

Heavy, viscous, dark plum dominates the body. Firm acidity and bold tannin go hand in hand. Neither yielding to the other. Body is bone dry. Woody, berry, and earth notes combine to create a soft slightly creamy overtone. One of my favorite Snobs, Guy (@wine.alchemy | FootHillsWino) best describes it as Bacon Fat. Massive, deep rooted, fine grained tannins permeate the entire experience. Transition to finish is fairly seamless as tart plums cede to a relentless dry, dusty tannic grip. Black currants and a smoldering heat are all that is left to see your palate off on its journey to its long dry finish in the desert.

Skinner makes some of the best Syrah in my cellar. I keep several cases of various vintages as reference wines. They serve as fine examples of mature, well built, wines from the Sierra Foothills. I highly recommend Skinner for the intermediate to advanced palate especially. This 2013 is just now coming of age and should show especially well over the next 5 years and beyond.

Well done Skinner!

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2012 Petite Syrah by Loxton Cellars

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…

Nicely done Chris Loxton! Cheers Mate!

2017 Elle (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault) by Bumgarner

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.

2016 Grenache Noir (Reserve) by Amador Cellars

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.

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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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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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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