Reserve: 2011 L’Autre by Terre Rouge.

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 L’Autre by Terre Rouge. This is a GSM – Grenache, Syrah, Mauvedre. A red blend from one of our favorite winemakers. Warm rich nose, with lots of cherry and plum wrapped in just the right amount of oak. Earthy mineral terroir is nicely expressed. Body is all business. Very structured, complex and balanced. Just the right amount of acid, tannin, fruit, oak, and terroir. A vibrant finish plays back and forth with tannin and spice, finally relenting to long lasting tannic grip. Once opened up, the tannins begin to spread from the finish to the back of the body, slowly dominating the entire experience reminding you that even though this is the 2011 vintage, it is still young and nowhere near it’s fullest expression.

We opened a 1992 GSM by this winemaker earlier this year. It was a true honor to partake in such a well built well preserved wine. So tonight we continue to explore this winemaker’s craft and how it evolves. There are moments where we feel fortunate to indulge in such art in a bottle. This would be one of them.

Reserve: 2008 Red Label Pinot Noir by Roessler

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Red Label Pinot Noir, Sonoma County by Roger Roessler of Roger Roessler Wines. After opening up for at least 15 minutes it reveals a well balanced nose with that signature Sonoma earth, a little oak and berry. The body remains vibrant with a hint of fruit, good acidity and ever so faint spice heading into the finish which fades away into the sunset from there on.

I am down to just one of these Red Labels. It amazes me every time how his Pinot ages oh so gracefully all the while remaining so approachable over such an unusually long life span. This vintner’s wines may be drinkable now, but the real reward is years or even a decade later. This is a bittersweet occasion but one I’m so grateful for.

Reserve: 2008 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir by Hitching Post

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Hitching Post, Bien Nacido, Pinot Noir. Yes folks. I had to stop by the Hitching Post while exploring Santa Barbara wine country last year. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to really sit down and do this place justice. I ended up literally rushing through on my way out at the end of my visit. If you’ve never been to the Hitching Post, they have a mouth-watering assortment of Pinot Noir. Staggering. You would need an all-day visit to do it justice.

The Bien Nacido came highly recommended. This 2008 does not disappoint. Great earthy nose, smooth, buttery, well balanced body (especially for a Pinot of 14.5% ABV), a testament to the winemakers skill. It’s obvious this wine started off big and bold for a Pinot but has had time to balance out. It’s deep dark blood red color is the first indicator. I think a lot of folks such as myself take this place for granted until you open up your first bottle. This is my second and it is simply exquisite. Great job guys!

Reserve: 2015 Resolute by Iron Hub

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Resolute by Iron Hub, Amador County, California. This wine inched ever so slightly ahead of their Esola Zinfandel. Both capping a respectable lineup of well built wines. It has a restrained nose with a suggestion of oak. If you don’t like big earthy noses, but like a big wine, you will like this one. It is somewhat fruit forward but not as much as one might expect from the region.

The body has a really good balance of acid, spice and fruit, quite impressive when you consider it has a 14.7% ABV. A testament to the winemaker’s craft. The finish is smooth with a healthy amount of tannic grip. It’s a great sipper, a high quality conversation wine. Several days ago I explored the obscure Italian varietal Aglianico. Little did I know I would encounter it this weekend. This is a refreshing, surprisingly approachable take on that grape. Well done guys!

Reserve: 1999 Syrah by Terre Rouge

Tonight’s occasion: 1999 Syrah by Terre Rouge of Shenandoah Valley, California. It has an elusive nose with a hint of oaky chocolate, maybe a little plum.

Once opened it almost vanishes. Body has a mature late stage balance with a hint of acidity that gently and patiently segues into the finish which is introduced by a very brief bite of spice before riding into the sunset with a final gentle wave of mild tannic grip. This wine is ripe and has been ripe for a while.

After 20 years of patiently waiting, it came right out of the bottle ready with the posture of an old sage. It needs no decanting. It is absolutely beautiful. I cannot say enough about a winemaker whose craft shows so well after so long. A bottle like this is a distinct honor, privilege and true occasion. Where were you in 1999? Now imagine where this winemaker was at the same time.

Reserve: 2012 Aglianico del Vulture by Tenuta Del Portale

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Aglianico del Vulture by Tenuta Del Portale. Prior to just a few days ago I had no idea this varietal existed. This came as a suggestion from my newest winesnob som friend Nikki. According to Wikipedia, Aglianico is a black grape grown in the southern regions of Italy, mostly Basilicata and Campania. The vine originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers. The name may be a corruption of vitis hellenica, Latin for “Greek vine”.

This one comes with a rich nose full of terrior minerality, leather, dirt and tobacco. It may be a bit much for some but once it opens up (for about an hour) it becomes a good conversation piece with a hint of fruit, balanced body and long lasting finish. I like wines that draw my palate off the beaten

path and prompt me to rethink my perception of what an honest wine truly is. This experience comes as no surprise from an Italian wine. Salute!

Reserve: 2012 Touriga – Nacional by Quinta Dos Carvalhais

Tonight’s occasion is a 2012 Touriga – Nacional by Quinta Dos Carvalhais. Touriga has been a mystery varietal for me for a while now. It is an obscure grape from Portugal. The closest varietal out here (common in California) I can think of is Cabernet Franc. Most Touriga read very similar. Like Cab Franc, they aren’t overly complex but what they do, the do exceedingly well. This one came out swinging and needed to open up. The nose is surprisingly subtle with 2 or 3 hidden floral notes I cannot pinpoint. Licorice, vanilla, and jasmine come to mind. Once opened up, the body becomes elusive and finish completely dominates. My kind of wine. This wine is still young with a hint of green. Get this and forget about it for another 5-10 years.

We did a side-by-side with a Touriga based Red blend by the same winemaker. It’s a bit more of a bargain, definitely more of a pleaser too. A fantastic second bottle with lots of fruity oak/vanilla, jasmine, fuller body and much more subdued tannins. Makes perfect sense for this 57% Touriga Nacional. The only way you’d be able to stomach a 2017 Touriga Nacional is if you blend it down. Nonetheless both fantastic wines in their own right. However my heart is with the 2012 Touriga. It is so much more mature and an hour after opening, it really dominated our tasting.