I recently got to sit down for a tasting with one of my all-time favorite winemakers Brian Bumgarner of Bumgarner Winery.
We tasted a three vintage vertical of Cabernet Sauvignon from across the El Dorado region, from their library.
Best part was, I got to share this very special moment with some of you, my favorite WineSnobs. It was one of those moments that make me feel very lucky, fortunate and blessed!
Thank you all for coming along for the ride, joining the fun on WineSnob and sharing your journey through wine discovery with me. Can’t wait to taste with you again soon!
Thank you Jennifer and Brian Bumgarner for this opportunity!
This is a long uncut recording of our virtual tasting. I recommend you open a bottle and watch along. Below are tech sheets for the wines we tasted.
Bumgarner 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is made from two high elevation vineyards within El Dorado. The Cabernet Sauvignon is from an old vine Cabernet Block in a Pleasant Valley Vineyard just under 3000 feet. The Malbec is from a Camino vineyard at 3100 feet. The alpine breezes flowing down off the Sierras cool these high elevation vineyards and allow the grapes to mature slowly while retaining their natural acidity.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Rhapsody by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma
Grenache (42%) Carignane (38%) Mourvedre (20%) Santa Ynez Valley.
Subtle red cherry, blackberry, subtle raspberries, hint of cocoa, subtle moist earthy wood, mushroom so faint you’d likely miss it. The bouquet is definitely floral in expression. As it breathes, cherries intensify, along with red vines licorice and touch of cedarwood. Red cherry turns to ripe dark cherries.
Body is balanced from front to back. Bright sweet cherries, raspberries are further enhanced by crisp refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak. A slightly viscous mouth feel. A touch of sweet citrus develops towards the back reminiscent of Meyer lemon with a drop of honey. By this point the body dissipates completely leaving the palate and lips slightly moist.
I have been following this vintners collection for well over a decade. I think of their tasting room as a library. Always and exercise in wine education. While I mostly obsess over their age worthy Pinot Noirs, it’s always nice to indulge in his vision with other varietals. I highly recommend stopping by our 2020 Winemaker of the Year next time you’re in Sonoma. You won’t be disappointed.
Clear, ruby red color. Bright aromatic nose out of the bottle with lost of raspberry, red cherry and pomegranate. Drooling. Cola and damp earth leather lingers in the background. This my friends, is Sonoma. Swirling vigorously intensifies ripeness, berries, leather and adds a touch of caramel. Just beautiful.
Beautifully balanced body from front to back, greets with a soft symphony of berries and silky mouth feel. A fresh crisp overlay hovers above the palate. I’m not sure what it is but it’s very nice, maybe herbal in nature? Soft, gentle and fluid tannins add structure hardly distinguishable from the body. As it fades, that minty almost eucalyptus freshness emerges marking the transition to finish. Along with cola, this gentle crisp freshness follows through a lingering finish capped by a gentle tannic grip, wet wood and subtle spice tingle.
My goodness. This Pinot Noir is absolutely gorgeous right now! I have perhaps one or two bottles left. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. The 2011 vintage is beautifully embodied here. I have come to appreciate so much about Pinot Noir and its expression of different regions and their terroir, thanks in no small part to our 2020 Winemaker of the year. A visit to their understated tasting room is a must for the enlightened palate. Carefully curated wines from far and wide to help baseline your palate and provide you with a solid reference point. This is why I believe this winemaker is worth following. Their wines easily occupy a quarter of my cellar going back to 2006 vintages.
I am pleased to present you with the 2021 Winemaker of The Year – Bumgarner Winery, Fair Play, El Dorado, CA. There’s a WineSnob TV segment coming but for now we look at one of their current releases.
2018 Tempranillo by Bumgarner Winery, El Dorado, CA.
Dark semi-opaque color. Big black plum and blackberries on the nose. A touch of buttery vanilla and anise lingers in the back. Great sense of place. Swirling vigorously intensifies the star anise, old wet wood and dusty granite leather. As it breathes a subtle ripeness develops in the background likely due to oxidation/caramelizing of those big tannins.
Body greets with a slightly acidic attack, introducing good firm tension to the palate. This is quickly countered by tart dry black plums, blackberries and a crisp caramel, immediately lending firm structure and full mouth feel. A slow burning spice heat works its way through all corners of the palate and down to the chest. Dusty, fine grained tannins precipitate, further anchoring the palate and asserting this wine’s character. Subtle, crisp caramel re-emerges momentarily signaling curtain call. Transition to finish is swift, leaving the palate bone dry, lips parched shut, tingling.
This a massive wine that shows some restraint. Good balance and execution renders it approachable to a broad spectrum of palate. However the finish give its youth away. This wine, while beautiful now, is just barely getting started. Another decade should reveal the true gem within. Get yours now but don’t drink it all. Lay the rest down and forget about it. You’ll thank me later. Nicely done Brian, Jennifer and the entire Bumgarner family!
Dark inky opaque color. Out of the bottle, nose is a bit shy. Dry, tart plum skins, blackberry and a touch of ripe dark cherries take center stage. A woody leather permeates the background. Swirling vigorously unlocks ripeness, licorice, a hint of crisp eucalyptus wood, herbal notes and granite mineral essence (a subtle bitterness that usually accompanies anise/licorice).
Body is firm, greeting with a touch of acidity and spice. This is almost immediately balanced by heavy dusty fine grained tannins dropping deep down and creating a solid monolithic base structure. Midway through, dry dark plum, and blackberry, conspire with crisp oak to create a slightly softer mouth feel. This quickly gets absorbed by the monolithic structure beneath, leaving black currants and a bitter mineral essence on the palate. At this point the entire palate is under a warm spice heat. Massive tannins and granite minerality sway the palate momentarily from slightly moist to dry and grippy and back again. This act continues until there is little left but parched lips and a spice tingle.
Also affectionately referred to as The Wildebeast, this wine is stands as yet another fine example from our 2019 Winemaker Of The Year. With great sense of place, and crisp execution, this wine is a faithful representation, a world class wine from this highly understated region. No journey into California wines is complete without venturing into Amador and the Sierra Foothills. This Winemaker’s wines stand as solid reference point for what this region and California at large has to offer.
Nose is very shy out of the bottle with hints of dark cherry skins. Swirling vigorously releases a bold leather of damp fine sedimentary soil and wet wood. Hints of sweet cherry and cola linger in the back. A citrus so faint you’d likely miss it.
Body is balanced right down the middle, front to back. Wet wood leather carries forward almost immediately. Dark tart skins also emerge, bringing firm structure. Bitter cola, black berries and black currants paint a dark, dim lit stage. It is dry, somewhat serious in its expression. Earth notes wander about the palate throughout the experience. The body softens slightly as it transitions to finish as dark berries and hints of oak elevate slightly before falling back into the darkness and leaving the palate slightly moist and under the spell of a gentle but crisp tannic grip and spice tingle. As it opens up over an hour or two, subtle caramelization of those tannins lend a subtle pleasing sweetness to the body and suppleness to the mouth feel.
This is a flagship wine by our 2020 Winemaker of the year. Intended to introduce the world to their more limited signature wines. Roessler Pinot tends to be on the medium to full bodied side of the spectrum. This means, unlike traditional Pinot Noir, they actually benefit from cellar time. They tend to age gracefully. I opened the 2010 Vintage a year or so ago and this 2011 vintage is definitely more robust with more years ahead of it. It has had time to integrate very nicely. Both should be a real treat. The newer vintages are even more vibrant and should be very interesting to follow over time. Nicely done guys!
Tonight we paired the Black Pine with a pear, prosciutto, arugula pizza and truffle fries. Delicious!
Today Off The Beaten Path we are looking back in retrospect. We pay a visit to one of my all-time-favorite winemakers. I have been following Brian Bumgarner’s work for well over a decade now. His wines are some of the longest lived, oldest vintages in my cellar.
I spent the day chatting with Brian at their Estate, getting caught up and filling in the blanks on his story and journey up to that point. It was an honor, distinct pleasure and I am thrilled to take you with me.
This is a long form, free-flowing conversation. I recommend opening a bottle (I recommend, Bumgarner wine), kicking back and following along. I have added time-stamps below to help you navigate or skip ahead:
00:15 – Intro and background
03:58 – The beginning, chat with Brian Bumgarner
13:40 – Bumgarner Estate
17:08 – Winery dog Figgy
17:20 – A family business
19:09 – Greece and the journey through Europe
21:46 – What I love about Bumgarner Wines
22:26 – A look at 2018 Alicante Bouschet
23:56 – The story of Alicante
25:50 – Tasting notes
27:14 – Bumgarner Apple Cider
28:55 – Bumgarner Bumbly
30:28 – Always relishing the New
31:50 – 2020 Harvest
33:05 – The Pandemic and aftermath
34:49 – Reinventing and adapting to adversity
37:54 – Artisanal production
39:49 – Winemaking is challenging
40:46 – Exploring older vintages
46:54 – Walking the Semilion
51:00 – Walking the Sauvignon Blanc
51:30 – New graftings
52:50 – Aerial views of the Estate
53:25 – Sunset views with Brian Bumgarner
53:35 – My thoughts in closing
55:03 – A look at the 2016 Tempranillo
Clear light ruby color if not slightly dark. Not surprising as I believe this is primarily Merlot after all. Think part Rosé of Merlot, part Black Bubbles. Crisp bright albeit shy nose with subtle berries, slight sweet cherry cola. With a little strain you’ll pick up a wet woody granite.
Body goes straight to a weighty, slightly viscous mouth feel. A touch of bubbles makes light of an otherwise fairly serious expression featuring restrained tart dark cherries, blackberries and crisp caramel reminiscent of neutral oak. As it opens up a slightly leathery granite emerges. Finish is defined by crisp tannins, caramel and a palate moistening minerality. Every note is but a suggestion.
This is a playful side of a winemaker whose wines otherwise take a more serious expression. I have been following his wines for well over a decade and love his versatility, creativity and pursuit of the craft. Be sure to save your Bumgarner pop tops for a credit on your next purchase.
Nicely done Brian and Jennifer Bumgarner! Love you guys!
This past week I had the distinct pleasure of joining bottling efforts at Bumgarner Winery in Fair Play, CA.
I have been following winemaker’s work for well over a decade and have been collecting some of his oldest vintages. Brian Bumgarner’s style is more traditional. His are best described as dry, terroir-driven and age-worthy.
On this day we bottled the Many Hands Cuvee, his award winning Bordeaux style blend. You can read my review of the Many Hands Cuvee here. A a reward for helping out, the Winemaker grilled sausages and prepared a delicious charcuterie board for us.
Winemaking is not a glamorous affair. It is real. It is raw. It takes lots of hard work, patience, tenacity and diligence. It also takes family and community, both of which Brian has in relative abundance around him. This shows through his work. Brian’s wines have been the perfect punctuation to many moments over the years. Thank you for sharing your amazing wines with us all these years. I very much look forward to all your future vintages. This was definitely a moment to cherish.
Clear ruby color. Gentle, plush, aromatic nose. Earthy notes take center stage with wet wood, damp forest floor, a touch of that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt and Mushroom. As it breathes, slightly ripened cherries creep forward. Swirling vigorously intensifies, fruit and floral notes. A sweet cola makes an appearance. Beautiful!
Body is nicely balanced, greeting with a gentle touch of acidity which is quickly replaced with a smooth, silky, slightly viscous body. Paper thin layers of crisp tannin are laid down beneath layers of thin wisps of cherry cola, faint crisp caramel and viscous leathery essence. Transition to finish is characterized by the emergence of a gentle but firm spice towards the back. Body vanishes, leaving behind slightly bitter cola as crisp, clean tannins assert themselves amidst a gentle warmth.
This 3BBL is a blend of this vintner’s top Pinot from that vintage. Each vintage unique in its own expression. This vintage is a beautiful representation of the greater Sonoma region. It preserves this identity very well in an all around classy expression. If you haven’t explored Roger Roessler wines, I highly recommend them. They make for a great study, a compendium of Pinot Noir from up and down the Pacific Coast. I have been following their wines for well over a decade now.