2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma

Tonight’s Occasion: 2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma CA.

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.

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2011 Pinot Noir (Black Pine) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2011 Pinot Noir (Black Pine) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma CA.

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!

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2011 Syrah (Monarch Mine) by Terre Rouge Easton Wines

Tonight’s Occasion: 2011 Syrah (Monarch Mine Vineyard, Sierra Foothills) by Terre Rouge * Easton Wines, Plymouth CA

Dark semi opaque color. Looks unfiltered. Out of the bottle nose is warm and weighted. This wine is all terroir up front. Reminds me of Beaujolais Gamay or Loire Cab Franc in its expression. Big leather up front with unmistakable wet wood and dusty granite. This wine asserts its origins with a keen sense of place. Within minutes it’s full identity reveals itself in the form of a rich, creamy anise. An unmistakable hallmark expression of the Sierra Foothills. Just beautiful. As it settles, ripe dark cherries, sweet berries and plum reveal themselves with hints of herbs I can’t pinpoint, a sort of eucalyptus.

There is no attack. You are greeted by a long, wide and fairly deep body from start to finish. Dry dusty tannins provide a thick chassis upon which a well integrated melange of leathery notes, dark plum, blackberries and hints of mushroom slowly play. As it finally transitions to finish, the stage clears, leaving black currants and anise and warm gentle spice. The palate is rendered slightly dry and tingling with spice and the chest warms.

There are many reasons why Terre Rouge * Easton was our first inaugural Winemaker of the Year for 2019. This bottle reminds me of all of them. A fine example of what is possible in this region, California and the world at large with a relentless commitment to the art form and excellence. I am just tickled every time I open one of these wines.

Nicely done Bill, Jane and the entire crew at Terre Rouge Easton Wines!

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2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds) by Roger Roessler Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds – Sonoma Coast) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, California

Out of the bottle notes of damp forest floor and ripe cherries. As it opens up, the leather and earth notes only intensify. Dark cherry turns plummy. Swirling unlocks subtle bursts of sweet cherry cola. A very faint black licorice emerges in the distance. You’d almost miss it. I absolutely love the way terroir is expressed here. That signature Sonoma dirt really shines through and I cannot get enough of it!

Body has really come of age. It has had time to beautifully integrate. A soft balanced attack quickly ushers a smooth silky body. Light dark plum and berry essence carries over. Leather notes are equally represented. Crisp, restrained tannins provide great structure without dominating the palate. Body and finish are one with a linear fade. As it tapers off, notes of cola re-emerge as tannins reach out, gently clasping the palate rendering it slightly parched. But the real victor here is a gentle spice which grows with a subtle intensity after the finish.

I have been following Roger Roessler’s wine for well over a decade. Their all small batch production offering reads like a compendium of Pinot Noir from all up and down the pacific coast and makes for a great study for the curios and enlightened palate. There are many reasons we picked Roger Roessler Wines as our 2020 Winemaker of the year. This wine is one of them.

To the entire crew at Roger Roessler Wines, thank you for the great wines all these years!

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2011 Nebbiolo (TreVigne) by Travaglini Gattinara

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Nebbiolo (TreVigne) by Travaglini Gattinara (@travaglinigattinara), Italy.

Clear, rich ruby color. Out of the bottle you are greeted with a lovely herbal bouquet with wet wood undertones. Fruit plays secondary and tertiary notes with subtle hints of berries and red cherries with a certain crisp character. A touch of spice and mineral. Once opened up, a hint of caramel permeates the nose.

Body is bigger and bolder than it looks. You are greeted immediately with bold acid and broad well rounded tannins. This provides great structure. The wet wood and fairly neutral terroir take second stage. Subtle hits of cedarwood conspire with black currants to create a faint Absinthe-like locorice. Finish is brisk, quickly giving way to fine grained tannins and rendering the palate parched.

I have been following this winemaker for a while and absolutely love what they do with Nebbiolo however this is my first time trying the TreVigne (Three Vineyard) and I could immediately recognize its layered structure and complexity, relative to the others. They have managed to take such a big, massive grape and turn it into a refined experience, it’s impressive.

Molto bene Travaglini! πŸ·πŸ˜πŸ‘ŒπŸ½

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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

Read more about my first visit to Dierberg * StarLane here.

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2011 L’Autre (GSM) by Terre Rouge.

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 L’Autre by Terre Rouge * Easton Wines. This is a GSM – Grenache, Syrah, Mauvedre.

A red blend from one of our favorite winemakers. Warm rich nose, with lots of cherry and plum wrapped in just the right amount of oak. Earthy mineral terroir is nicely expressed. Body is all business. Very structured, complex and balanced. Just the right amount of acid, tannin, fruit, oak, and terroir. A vibrant finish plays back and forth with tannin and spice, finally relenting to long lasting tannic grip. Once opened up, the tannins begin to spread from the finish to the back of the body, slowly dominating the entire experience reminding you that even though this is the 2011 vintage, it is still young and nowhere near it’s fullest expression.

We opened a 1992 GSM by this winemaker earlier this year. It was a true honor to partake in such a well built well preserved wine. So tonight we continue to explore this winemaker’s craft and how it evolves. There are moments where we feel fortunate to indulge in such art in a bottle. This would be one of them.

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