Reserve: 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Astral) by Dierberg Star Lane

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Astral (Cabernet Sauvignon) by Dierberg * Star Lane, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.

As expected, dark rich opaque color. This is mostly Cab and Cab Franc. Out of the bottle nose is slightly restrained but big and heavy with lots of plum and a touch of dark sweet cherry up front. In the back, anise lingers over a fairly neutral terroir and is accompanied by black licorice as it opens up. There is good separation. This had to have been massive, if not barely approachable 5 years ago.

Unlike your quintessential big jammy California Cab, the body shows good balance front to back. Moderate acid goes hand-in-hand with dry, restrained, fine grained tannins and black currants. Plum and herbs carry over from the nose providing a brief diversion in an otherwise highly structured body. Transition to finish is brief, culminating in a firm and spicy tannic grip that leaves the palate parched and tingling.

This is by all accounts a solid, well built, delineated, wine for the advanced palate. It will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them. At almost 10 years old, it is just now becoming approachable and should be a magnificent work of art in 5-10 years time. It is built for the long haul, is a fine example of the winemaker’s attention to detail and strict adherence to core principles. It presents a zero compromise view of what is possible from an already storied region. I highly recommend this for those seeking solid example of what a California Cabernet can be. It presents a solid reference point for anyone looking for some perspective on the venerable California Cab. Well done Dierberg * Star Lane!!!

Almost two years ago while exploring for the first time, the Santa Barbara county region of the Central coast (read about it here: Dierberg, Santa Barbara) Dierberg came highly recommended by my all-time favorites and very savvy vintner, Roger Roessler. It did not disappoint. I have since gradually been exploring their selection of outstanding quality wines and very much look forward to following their works moving forward. Several racks will remain dedicated to their wines in my cellar. You can also view all their wines I have reviewed and highly recommend here or by using the search.

Tech Sheet

2011 Astral by Dierberg Star Lane

From Winemaker: 2011 SLAST Tech Sheet.pdf
Cellar Life: 12-15 years
Composition: Cabernet Franc 76%, Cabernet Franc 22%, Syrah 2%
Aging: 20 months French oak, new 80%
Analysis: Alcohol, 13.7%
Harvested/Bottled:
Oct-Nov 2011 / Aug 2013
Total Production: Approximately 400 cases

 

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 Dierberg Star Lane wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2015 Octagon by Barboursville

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Octagon by Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia.

Dark rich color. Nose is characterized by caramel, warm wet earth, blackberries and tart plums. As it opens up it develops notes of coffee and cocoa.

Body is well balanced, has good structure and composition. With every sip, you are greeted with fine grained tannins, a touch of acidity accompanied by creamy tannins gives it a full mouthfeel. A nice leather permeates the entire experience along with black currants. Finish starts off smooth and creamy. As it opens up an increasingly dry tannic grip emerges, reminding you this wine is still young, built for the long haul. I am tickled by the fact that I am sipping such a precise, quality wine from Virginia.

This is a dry wine on all accounts. Made in the classic old world Bordeaux style. It is surprisingly accurate. Well done folks!

Few things please me like a winemaker/winery maintains an extensive library of their wines and makes them readily available to any wine enthusiasts who wish to explore their wines. Barboursville does an amazing job of this. If you visit the product page for this wine, scroll to the bottom, you can see an extensive library available for purchase. I cannot overstate how awesome this is for any WineSnob!

https://www.bbvwine.com/wine-shop/octagon

Tech Sheet

2015 Barboursville Octagon

Fermentation:  6-10 days on the skins in stainless steel
Maceration: 15 days
Composition: Merlot 50%, Cabernet Franc 20%, Petit Verdot 30%
Aging: 12 months French oak barriques, new 40%, used 60%
Analysis: Alcohol, 13.5%
Residual Sugar:
0.0%
Total Acidity: 0.57%

 

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 Barboursville 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%

 

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 Barboursville wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Barboursville wines on Wine.com

Wine Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Dawn’s Dream

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Rachael) by  Dawn’s Dream Winery.

Shy nose out of the bottle. Deep rich ruby color. Once unlocked reveals a crisp bright bouquet of aromas. A hint of mellon, cherry, very subtle mineral terroir. There’s at least one or two other herbal/spice aromas I cannot pinpoint at the moment. It could be a play between the oak and other characteristics.

Body follows suit. Starting with a crisp acidic suggestion on the attack, followed by tart plum. And equal suggestion or tannin brings good balance to the body while transitioning to a slightly creamy finish. A delayed gentle but noticeable spice makes and encore well past the finish.Once opened up, this is accompanied by a hint of caramel. It is overall dry, and restrained. At 12.8% ABV it makes no fuss of the experience. It’s refreshing. I like that.

This is a clean, crisp example of a Pinot from this region. It demonstrates the winemaker’s ability to make a Pinot as such – that is representative, with wider appeal while still preserving the expression through the vine. I can see why this value proposition would be a favorite.

I highly recommend this Pinot. Enjoy it side-by-side with their signature Bel Sogno. That Pinot is a unique, beautiful, imperfectly perfect, all on its own. It provides a great contrast to the Rachael.

Well done Dawn! Thanks for sharing your Dream with us!

Tech Sheet

2017 Rachael Pinot Noir

Vineyard: Escolle, Santa Lucia Highlands
Clones: 777 & 115
Harvest Date: August 29th to September 1st 2017
Harvest Brix: 23.5
pH: 3.57
Titratable Acidity: 6.3
Fermentation: Stainless Steel Open-Top with manual Punch-Down
Oak: 12 months 30% new French Oak
Filtration: cross-flow
Production: 370 cases

Wine Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Dawn’s Dream

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Bel Sogno) by Dawn’s Dream Winery. Total production of 250 cases.

The nose is very restrained. Off the bat, you pick up a gentle sweet cherry and marshmallow which feels more like an interaction between berry and vanilla from the oak. I pick up another aroma far in the back I initially thought was floral but it does have a herbal quality. You have to strain to pick it out. It’s obvious this wine will not reveal itself easily. As it opens up, the nose develops a subtle creamy undertone.

Body is even more elusive. A very subtle tartness greets the palate. However just as you expect a hit of acidity, a noticeable chalky texture takes over and dominates the rest of the experience. Remember these are all whispers. I’ve never actually felt (not just tasted) this type of chalky minerality in a wine. An interesting expression of the terroir through the grape, unhindered by the winemaker. A testament to their skill and craft. None of the fruit is carried forward. Towards the back gentle but very present tannins bring good structure as they guide you to a fairly dry finish capped by a hint of spice that doesn’t linger very long.

This wine should not be paired with anything. You will miss the whole affair with a tainted palate. It is different in it’s own way yet very familiar in its elusive expression. I’ve seen this before from this region. Bel Sogno is a very mature Pinot, made more in the traditional style with a little Coastal California flare. It is showing really well right now and should be perfect over the next several years. I wonder what it’s progression over time will be like. It is an elegant, graceful, wine that prompts reflection.

As I follow this bottle through the evening, I keep thinking I should start a vertical in my cellar to better follow its evolution. I can think of only one other wine in my cellar that this reminds me of.

Nicely done!

Tech Sheet

2017 Bel Sogno Pinot Noir

Vineyard: Pelio Vineyards, Monterey County
Clones: 828, 667 & 115
Harvest Date: September 13th 2017
Harvest Brix: 23.3
pH: 3.43
Titratable Acidity: 6.6
Fermentation: Stainless Steel Open-Top with manual Punch-Down
Oak: 12 months 100% new French Oak
Filtration: cross-flow
Production: 250 cases