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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Tonight’s occasion is a 2014 Syrah by Dierberg Star Lane Vinyard. I posted a while back about my visit last year here. I wanted to try something special tonight so I reached for the Santa Barbara region in my cellar. Any mildly savvy palate should be able to identify the terrior in the nose alone. Very nice and rich. It prompted visuals of the vigneron (the one who tends to the vines) and contemplated all he/she put into those vines for the terrior to be so pronounced in the nose alone. A great, buttery, well balanced body (especially for a 14.2% ABV wine) a testament to the winemaker’s skill and craft. The finish is not as massive as your average California Syrah, but still has that signature tannic grip albeit restrained for a Syrah. This region is most known for it’s amazing Pinot Noir, so it’s always a treat to see what Syrah – a typically big bold wine – would taste like. I like what they’ve done with this Syrah. Great job!
Tonight’s occasion is a 2007 Syrah by Rusack from Santa Barbara County. I posted a while back about my visit here. You know whenever I feel like tasting something truly special, this region never fails and Rusack is a must. This region is most known for its rich exquisite Pinot Noir, which is precisely why I picked up their Syrah. This 12 year old vintage is drinking perfect right now. Full of gentle subtle aromas, a wide body devoid of any overbearing character and a finish that’ll make you do a double-take as it starts fading and then quickly gets overwhelmed with a long gentle, enduring tannic grip. This is my kind of wine! Great work Rusack!
This wine is a great candidate for your term reserve. You can pick up their current vintages and lay them down for another 5 years or more. I have some 2014 I picked up on this trip as well and I very much look forward to opening them 7 years from now. The good news is they have an extensive list of well priced library wines you can pick from. These will give you an idea of how they will age.