Wine Review: 2018 Empathy Red by Empathy Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Empathy Red by Empathy Wines of the most notable Gary Vaynerchuck.

Dark rich color. Full fruit forward nose with a lot of intense aromas. Intense berry, mild plum, draped over moderate oak and slightly mineral leather. Swirl and the leather momentarily releases an essence of wet forest floor.

Big jammy fruit forward body mirrors the nose. Dominated by berry and hint of plum. Minerality is more pronounced. You have to search for it but, hint of licorice takes the place of the wood. A black currant emerges towards the back. Just before a healthy dose of tannin begins the transition into a very spicy lasting finish.

At 14.9% ABV, this wine embodies the big fruity California red. It benefits from and represents diverse regions through fairly delineated characteristics. It is still young and could benefit from some aging. I will let the rest of the case age for another 4-5 years to let the fruit break down into simpler sugars and allow the other layers to fully develop. I think it will only get more interesting.
Great job on this multi region blend. I look forward to following it’s progression.🍷😘👌🏽

Wine Review: 2014 Langhe Rosso by GiA

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Langhe Rosso by GiA, Langhe, Italy.

Nose is restrained overall however the introduction of mineral terroir is clear and unmistakable. This is followed by subtle secondary cherry and tertiary oak caramel upon vigorous swirling. The body is moderately acidic, dry, further restrained. It feels like this wine does not appreciate being disturbed. Minerality carries through the body. I am reminded by what enchanted me about this wine many years ago. Towards the back of the body, clean, crisp tannins begin their relentless rise to dominate the palate and transition into an otherwise smooth finish, overshadowed by powerful dry grip that leaves the palate parched and craving more.

This is the wine that started my obsession with Nebbiolo and more specifically the Langhe region. It is a relatively inexpensive wine. It comes in very manly looking 1 Litre bottles and a case will typically set you back well under $200. Keep in mind that more than a typical case of standard 750ml bottles. It’s a great way to introduce the region to guests and curious wine enthusiasts.

A very understated wine. Molto bene! 🍷😘👌🏽

Reserve: 2014 Estate GSP by Loxton

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Estate GSP (Grenache, Syrah, Petite Syrah) by Loxton, Sonoma County, California.

Dark rich color. Thick, warm, full nose, full of caramel, sweet cherry and plum and hint of slightly mineral terroir. Body has good structure and even greater balance. Not as fruit forward as the nose would suggest. Terroir is carried through into the body. A little berry, and plum. A very full, weighted mouthfeel from start to finish. Slightly creamy tannins take over the transition to a slightly tart plum finish. A slightly dry tannin lingers on the palate. Moments later a hint spice warms deep further down inside the chest. This is an interesting trick I haven’t seen before. Usually spice is expressed in the body or finish. This one seems to have a delayed effect.

This is a well built wine. I think it is showing really well right now and should be enjoyed over the next 3-5yrs. The benifits of the blending process really show here. I will surely be adding newer vintages to my cellar and following them.

I highly recommend visiting this Aussie for an authentic taste of what Sonoma has to offer. -Nicely done Mr Loxton! 🍷😁👌🏽

Reserve: 2014 Pinot Noir by Sanford

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (Block 6) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.

Clear ruby color. Nose of crisp berry, sweet cherry and caramel with a hint of leather. Mildly acidic is attack quickly overwhelmed by a creamy, buttery expression. The caramel follows through the body along with a hint of plum, berry and a more pronounced leather. The terroir is well expressed. A seamless transition to a very subtle finish with very little fanfare. This is after all a traditional style Pinot Noir. Once opened up, gentle tannins and a hint of spice linger.

I keep a stash of Sanford Pinot in my cellar as a reference wine. It is a textbook example of what is possible when it comes to California Pinot. From grape to glass, they are delicate, layered, exquisite wines of the highest quality. For me they serve as an fine example for the central coast. You simply cannot speak of California Pinot Noir and not try their wines. It’s refreshing to see a Vineyard with such a legacy stay true to its craft after so many decades.
Keep up the great work guys! 🍷😁👌🏽

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Wine Review: 2014 Nebbiolo by La Cetto

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Nebbiolo by La Cetto, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico.

Yes folks. You read that right. Someone in Mexico is making a Nebbiolo. So tonight we are taking an oenological journey to find out. It’s always interesting to see how a region influences the expression of the grape. Nebbiolo outside of Italy is a rarity and often a passion project of the winemaker.

Lots of berry and oak in the nose. I suspect this has to do with the barrel aging process. A technique often used to tame a massive wine and make it a little more approachable in its younger years. The drawback is the risk of over-oaking the wine. I don’t think that’s the case here however I have to strain to pick out a subtle mineral terroir in the background. It is there nonetheless and a familiar pleasure. There is at least one more floral note I cannot pinpoint.

The body shows really good balance and restraint for a Nebbiolo especially. It’s expression sits somewhere between a classic Barolo and a crisp Barbaresco. Mineral terroir is more pronounced. Gives it more of a dry mouth feel. Firm, crisp tannins dominate the back, leading into a tart almost bitter finish. The palate quietly dries out with a tingle of spice lingering in an Iron clad tannic grip.

Once opened up it presents itself with a much more mature and refined posture. Out of the bottle the oak and berry were a bit distracting, however after letting it breathe, I must say I am impressed. The body also turns creamy.

We truly are living in a global wine making golden age. A time where I can sit in the comfort of my own home, explore and indulge in some amazing obscure vintages from around the world.

Bien hecho amigos! 🍷😁👌🏽

Reserve: 2008 Pinot Noir by Roger Roessler

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands) by Roessler of Roger Roessler Wines.

I have been following this vintner’s work for more than a decade. His style of Pinot lend themselves to long graceful aging. They are absolutely gorgeous wines after about a decade. This is a bittersweet moment to match the bittersweet day I just had. It is my last bottle. I will never indulge in this vintage again.

It has a very rich, aromatic nose full of sweet cherry, caramel/marshmallow, hint of licorice and leather undertone. Each swirl unlocks a burst of aromas. It’s a neat little trick. I’m grinning with every sip. Body is very balanced, opening with a hint of acidity which quickly gives way to a chewy, creamy structure. Transition to a brief finish is seamless. The whole experience quickly fades away from the palate before you have a chance to catch up, leaving you wondering if the wine is trying to tell you something. Very gentle spicy tannic grip lingers long after its over.

Wines like this are the reason I have a cellar. I want to catch it when it is peaking. When a wine is at its fullest expression. This wine is perfect right now. I certainly feel blessed and fortunate right now.

Thank you for always pursuing your passion Roger 😌🙏🏽🍷🍷🍷

Wine Review: 2016 Cabernet Franc by Medeiros Family Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Cabernet Franc (Santa Clara Valley) by Medeiros Family Vineyards.

Late last year as we wrapped our year long rediscovery of the Fair Play and greater Foothills and South El Dorado Hills region we stumbled upon this humble winemaker as he was just moving into his new humble estate in Fair Play. After sharing some wine with him and hearing his story, I couldn’t be happier to welcome another talented winemaker to the region.

Nose is thick and full of berry, plum and an intense sweet cherry. Atypical for a Cabernet Franc. A subtle hint of leathery terroir lingers in the back. The body is fruit forward however not as much as the nose would suggest. The plum carries over into the body. This is a Cab Franc and I don’t expect more than two or three dimensions in the body. This one is no exception. However like a well built Cab Franc, what is does, it does really well. Excellent chassis provides good structure. Massive crisp tannic grip begins to dominate the affair before it’s over. Other than its ever tightening tannic grip the finish is dry, clean, and smooth. Great contrast. No spice. This is a classic California Cabernet Franc.

I look forward to following his work closely. 😁🍷🍷🍷

Reserve: 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo by La Sacrestia

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo by La Sacrestia. Langhe, Italy.

I am completely enamored with Nebbiolo from Langhe. This lesser known region offers great value and massively intense wines.

Crisp clean nose. Subtle tart berry with a hint of marshmallow/caramel in the back. Terroir is without a doubt all dusty mineral. Very characteristic of this region. The nose is very tight – even after aerating requires vigorous swirling to unlock the aromas – without doubt this wine has a long journey ahead of it.

Body is all business. First thing you notice is a bit more leather along with the mineral terroir. Mild acity is noticeable but restrained over a firm chassis. Good structure and balance for a Nebbiolo this young. It’s difficult to separate the body from finish as massive tannic grip emerges midway and dominates the entire experience. The more it breathes, the bigger the grip. A subtle spice makes an appearance after the fact, leaving your lips tingling.

It may be lesser known but it is no less of a Nebbiolo than its peers. It is a great bargain at around $16 from Total Wine. It presents a great opportunity. Pick up a bunch now and forget about them. Thank me in 5-10 years. 🍷😁👌🏽

Wine Review: 2014 Cabernet Franc by Easton

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Cabernet Franc (Monarch Mine Vineyard) by Easton.

From the 2019 Winemaker of the year. I have been looking forward to exploring his work with Cab Franc.

Deep inky color. Aromatic nose for a Cab Franc. Big plum and blackberry on the front and mineral earthy terroir on the back. Big bold fruity body dominated by tart plum and blackberry. Heavy chewy tannins make a delayed entrance and turn slightly creamy once it breathes a little. Nice seamless transition to a long woody, tannic finish capped with moderate spice.

This wine is well built and very approachable now. It should age nicely over the next few years. Wines like this are why I choose to stay off the beaten path.

Thanks you Bill & Jane. I’m looking forward to many more great vintages.

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Wine Review: 2014 Pinot Noir by Bulgariana

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir by Bulgariana. This one comes from the Danube Plain in Bulgaria. Yes, you read that right!

Wine is an art form. To truly appreciate it you have to constantly seek it out. You have to venture off the beaten path. You can’t just stagnate with what seems popular. You will miss out on some of the greatest wines you never knew about.

I’m impressed with this wine. It has an aromatic nose rich in cherry, plum, a hint of leather and tobacco. A subtle bitter reminiscent of cocoa. The body is fairly full for a Pinot, introducing more plum and a hint of licorice on the front. Earthy terroir and tobacco conspire to create an intriguing expression in the back. Once opened up, bold creamy tannins dominate a long lasting finish capped with a healthy note of spice.

I picked this wine up at out of curiosity. I wanted to explore that corner of the world and I certainly am surprised. Furthermore at $14 a bottle it definitely punches above it’s weight. This is how you find good value. It is far superior to some of the Pinot I had last weekend in Napa and Sonoma, for a fraction of the price.

What’s the most obscure region you have explored?