2018 Viognier by Polynesian Girl, Sierra Foothills, CA
Beautiful aromatic nose out of the bottle with gentle notes of stone fruit (peach, apricot), white cranberry and touch of red apple and citrus. It’s pretty!
Body greets with a gentle citrus. Slight viscosity. Very little of the other fruit carry over. If there is any oak, it certainly is indiscernable if not for the slight silky mouth feel. As it opens the lips seem to become coated with a slight sweet citrus aftertaste. The minerality of this region and its terroir plays nicely. There is no finish per se, as the body slowly fades away.
This wine is bone dry, crisp, clean. At 11.9% ABV you can take your sweet time and indulge. The more I think about it, it feels very deliberate, especially considering what I have come to expect from this region in general. This understated winemaker set out to explore the upper bounds of this varietal and elevate it’s above the norm. The result is a mature, classy, execution. I recommend for the intermediate to advanced palate.
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2015 Sauvignon Blanc by Sanford, Santa Ynez Valley, California
On the nose. Soft peach nectarine and lime zest. Subtle wet wood leather. Faint butter.
Body is dry, shows good balance, greeting with citrus up front quickly followed by a faint barely noticeable refined caramel. This creates a slightly viscous mouth feel. A touch of minerality further accentuates this and moistens the lips ever so slightly. Finish is characterized by citrus zest, and subtle spice warmth.
This is a classic Sauvignon Blanc. Subtle. Unsurprising from this Winemaker who’s wines tend to read like a thesis of what is possible in this region. The folks at Stanford have been great stewards of this legendary and historically significant vineyard. If you’re ever in the area I recommend stopping by to baseline your palate and establish a reference point. Nicely done folks.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2021 Viognier by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, CA
White gold color. Out of the bottle, slightly restrained notes of ripe cantaloupe and fresh mellon. Hints stone fruit as it settles. An underlying rocky, slate leather lingers in the background, barely noticeable but unmistakable for this vineyard and region at large. As it breathes, the mellon develop a subtle honeysuckle. This is Viognier.
Body is light with a touch of viscosity. Fruit carries over nicely with more stone fruit. Apricot and ripe peach pull forward. There’s almost a mango-like essence. A gentle spice warmth slowly emerges midway. As it opens up, notes of sweet citrus and cedarwood linger. The whole show slowly fades, leaving the palate warm.
This is Viognier done right. Not too overpowering on the aromas. A little restraint goes a long way. It’s what you get when you take good fruit, put it through a clean standard program and stay out of the way. Wine should be this simple. Unfortunately that’s rarely the case.
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2019 White Blend by Peterson Winery, Healdsburg CA
Equal parts Vermentino, Verdelho, Vernaccia.
Nose is a little shy up front with primary earthy notes of damp, grassy fields. slightly under-ripe strawberries, white cherries, citrus. Swirling vigorously intensifies the old dusty sedimentary leather. I like a white wine that shows earth notes like this.
Body is dry, slightly viscous and greets with a touch of crisp acidity which adds good tension. These complement each other nicely. Slightly under-ripe strawberries and white cherries carry over nicely. A touch of white pepper. A certain tartness emerges towards the finish. I can’t tell if it’s minerality or from skins. Almost like a lemon zest. It slowly coats the palate. Good mild to medium finish.
This is a slow sipper. The blend brings great dimension and body. An understated, dry, terroir driven blend. This winemaker presents a serious, straightforward wine, without frills or pretenses. Well worth a look for those curious to understand this region and its expressions.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Chardonnay by Panther Creek Cellars, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Soft, restrained nose with primary notes of mild citrus and under-ripe peach. There is a prominent damp slightly mineral leather which dominates as soon as you begin swirling. White cherries linger.
Body is ever so slightly acidic, greeting with firm but restrained citrus. A viscous slightly weighted mouth feel counters this tension quite nicely. A buttery shortcake lingers in the background. Mineral leather carries over, rendering the palate slightly moist. White pepper permeates the stage. A subtle bitter zest emerges is it transitions to finish. Under-ripe white cherries, crisp, refined caramel and a spice tingle are all that it left.
If I were to open a Chardonnay on any given day, this would be it. It is a well executed Chardonnay that achieves good balance through subtle contrasts; a little buttery body with a little acidity and tension, retrained fruit with subtle minerality and spice. I like it!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 White Blend (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon) by Panther Creek Cellars, Woodinville, WA.
Bright and light up front with soft notes of citrus, peach, green apple, subtle damp old dried grassy leather, and a hint of butterscotch so faint you’d likely miss it. It’s a bit shy on the nose and needs to be teased out.
Body is dry, balanced right down the middle. White cherries burst onto the stage, aloof, as a slightly silky mouth feel follows closely, filling the stage. A crisp refined caramel suggestion is barely noticeable, more like nectar. This then rolls over to a very light slightly bitter citrus, like lemon zest. This marks the transition to finish as the entire stage vanishes, leaving behind a subtle warm spice tingle and faint tannic grip.
This wine is a gentle reminder that white blends really need to be a thing. I have never quite enjoyed white wines as much because they generally lack this kind of body, balance and expression. This wine embodies the best both varietals and their highly complementary characteristics. The body, subtlety and nuance of Pinot Noir with the bright crisp of clean expression of Chardonnay. A great, well executed combination.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Viognier (El Dorado), by Skinner Vineyards, Fair Play, CA
Peach, cantaloupe, subtle honeysuckle, faint strawberry over a granite leather underlayment. Swirling vigorously intensifies the nose especially the peach and cantaloupe which turns slightly sweet. Leather develops a mineral character. Beautiful!
Light body is precisely balanced right down the middle, front to back. Greeting with not so much as a suggestion which gently reveals a soft, plush somewhat creamy mouth feel. Stone fruit and cantaloupe carry forward ever so slightly. It is fairly dry but a masterful play between crisp caramel, mineral leather and citrus create a pleasing effect. Transition to finish seamless as body slowly fades into the sunset leaving the palate slightly dry, under a gentle spice heat. You’d likely miss it but there’s a sweet nutty after taste, not unlike coconut and walnut. It’s very faint.
I just love it when visiting a winery and the first wine you are greeted with is a wine of this caliber and finesse. That’s what caught me about this wine. For me, Skinner Vineyards is a solid reference for the region and California at large. You won’t find any compromises here. I love what they are doing. Winemaker Adam Smith brings a complementary perspective to the region. You cannot go wrong with Skinner. A Vineyard and organization with a great story, people behind it. Always a treat! To the entire team at Skinner, Thank you!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Pinot Grigio (Albini Vineyards, Sonoma) by Passaggio Wines, San Francisco CA
Clear hypnotic copper color (skin fermented). Bright, slightly weighted nose which immediately presents a beautiful aromatic bouquet of passion fruit, honeysuckle and stone fruits especially ripe sweet cherries that remind me of Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills. Swirl vigorously to intensify the nose.
Precisely balanced body greets with a touch of acid and a touch of tannin in the form of white cherry skins going hand-in-hand. This quickly segues into a soft, plush, creamy body. A dash of clean, crisp neutral oak further softens an otherwise bone dry body. After the 3rd or 4th sip, a slight minerality makes it presence known through a slight mouth watering effect. Faint white cherries and cranberries frame the transition to finish that eventually leaves the palate otherwise slightly dry, with tart citrus notes and a gentle warm spice.
I fell in love with the first time saw this wine. A white wine with the personality of a sophisticated, Pinot Noir. The extra skin contact does wonders for its personality, character and expression. You can sip this wine at room temperature, slightly chilled or super chilled. The color draws you in and holds your attention while it gently convinces you, that this is the way Pinot Grigio was meant to be.
This is a one-time vintage. It may already be gone. I don’t think this winemaker will make another like this. Get a few and explore something truly unique and special.
Cindy you’re killing me!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Thracian Valley) by Bulgariana, Bulgaria.
Clean, bright yellow gold color. Up front, passion fruit, cantaloupe and a subtle wet earthy leather. Swirling vigorously gently intensifies the nose, rendering it somewhat mineral in expression. Tart white, stone fruit emerges towards the back (mostly plum). The faintest honeysuckle you’d likely miss. Very classy.
Body balanced, front to back. Dry. Without attack, a soft, plush, slightly weighed, mild mannered body greets and slowly blankets the entire palate. I can tell it’s dry but yet it’s mineral underpinnings have a mouth watering effect. Stone fruit carry forward and linger in the back. Leather turns from slight wet wood to mineral as it falls into the background. Transition to finish with very little fanfare, marked by emergence of a warm gentle spice, mineral leather with long enduring moist lips.
What a class act. At around $13, this wine is proof positive, not all good wine is expensive and not all expensive wine is good. Like the Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc, it punches several levels above its weight for a fraction of the price. My first wine from the Thracian Valley, second wine from Bulgaria. It gives me pause as I sit here sipping – there is someone in Bulgaria making world class wines. I feel compelled to travel to Bulgaria.
Nicely done folks!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 D’Oro (Riserva di Vermentino) by Via Romano, Sierra Foothills, CA
Rich aromatic nose. A bouquet of tropical fruit. I pick up notes of passion fruit, pomegranate, citrus, mild honeysuckle and an underlying mineral leather that greets the palate initially but quickly falls back as soon as you swirl vigorously. The nose is this wine’s hallmark. Massive, colorful, intense, beautiful.
The body is light. In complete juxtaposition with the nose. Smooth. Balanced from start to finish. A viscosity in the mouth feel. A light sweet citrus carries over, like Meyer Lemon as well as faint pomegranate. Subtle minerality has a slight palate wetting effect. White pepper emerges midway and gently frames a graceful, slightly dry finish that slowly fades off the palate.
This winemaker’s reds, particularly his Primitivo and Fiasco, have been my biggest distractions from exploring his whites. They are just as fun, dry, light, almost playful, light hearted and full of expression. If you’re ever in the El Dorado area, plan on spending some time at their tasting room. Take a few hours to go through both flights of red and white. You won’t be disappointed.
Molto bene Jon! 🍷😁👌🏽