2014 Syrah (Pangea) by Ventisquero Wine Estates, Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile

2014 Syrah (Pangea) by Ventisquero Wine Estates, ChileWine Estates, Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Felipe and his team of prolific winemakers are quietly putting out wines of head scratching quality, complexity and fidelity, down in Chile. You have to taste for yourself.

Dark semi opaque color. Uncorking releases a punch of ripe fruit aromas. Ripe plums, blueberries and blackberries up front, intertwined with a sweet cedarwood essence reminiscent of Japanese cedar. Granite rocky leather lingers in the back. A subtle bright freshness permeates the stage, closest thing I can think of is sweet minty herbs.

The nose and color are deceiving as this wine does a double-take, pulling back considerably. A medium-light body greets, balanced right down the middle with slightly dry plums and blackberries. Fully suspended fine grained dusty tannins begin precipitating upon the palate immediately, building up thick layers of dusty, chewy grit. Mid-way through a warm spice emerges and slowly builds up to an eventual crescendo in the finish. A thick, weighted mouth feel accompanies the whole experience till the very end, eventually leaving the palate slightly parched, gripping and tingling.

This is a well executed Syrah. I’m not the least surprised, coming from our 2022 Winemaker of the Year. Winemaker Felipe Tosso and his team deliver a fine example of what so great about this region. I recently toured this Vineyard with Angel, the Viticulturist (Ranger of Apalta) last month. I recognize it’s sense of place. Both Felipe and Angel’s synergies really shine here.

Bien hecho amigos!

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2014 Syrah (Jay Wilderotter) by Terre Rouge Easton Wines, Plymouth, CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Syrah (Jay Wilderotter) by Terre Rouge * Easton Wines, Plymouth CA

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.

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2014 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands) by Belle Glos

Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (Las Alturas – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Belle Glos, Monterey County, CA

Intense, ruby color. Out of the bottle, nose is all terroir up front with an intense damp wood leather. This note is unwavering as subtle dark cherries peek through from behind the scene. As it breathes bright berry expression typical of this region pulls forward nicely. Hints of red vines licorice and soft buttery oak linger in the background. Beautiful nose. This wine is alive.

Body is slightly creamy up front. A viscous body is framed by soft tannins in the form of dark cherry skins lending unobtrusive structure to this full bodied Pinot. Soft buttery oak lends a nice creamy mouth feel, further accentuating the fruit and softening the tannins. Towards the back, a warm spice heat emerges along with a firming of tannic structure. This marks the transition to finish characterized by a long slow tango between an intensifying spice heat and tightening tannic grip over a backdrop of subtle bitter cola. Both eventually settling for a truce.

This is my first Belle Glos wine. Even at 7 years of age (long for a Pinot), it feels like it could still use more time to further integrate. I recommend decanting for at least 30 minutes. It is a well built, terroir driven wine, faithful to its origins. I’m not sure what took me so long to explore their wines but I very much look forward to exploring the rest of their lineup. Nicely done Belle Glos!

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2014 Zinfandel (Salvador Vineyard) by Turley

Tonight’s Occasion:ย  2014 Zinfandel (Salvador Vineyard – Contra Costa County) by Turley Wine Cellars, Plymouth CA

Dark opaque color. For a Zin this big, nose is a bit shy out of the bottle. Up front, lots of red berry, touch of sweet cherry cola, hints of red vines licorice over a backdrop of damp sandy soil. As it breathes, the wet sand develops a leathery quality. I like it!

Body is fairly restrained, balanced, very well integrated for a Zin, monolithic in expression. You are greeted with soft tannins. Hints of berry tell you this is Zinfandel without overpowering the experience. A light vanilla cherry cola follows. Shortly after all fruit vanishes leaving behind as it takes a more serious note leaving the palate bone dry with a bitter cola and firm dusty tannic grip. At this point we are well into the finish. The third act begins as an intensifying spice heat slowly consumes the palate from back to front, reminding you, this is in fact a California Zinfandel.

I think of Turley as a Zin House. If you like Zinfandel, I think you should pay them a visit. They were gracious enough to make this Library wine available on my last visit. It is a masterful representation of the quintessential California Zin without completely altering its expression.

Nicely done Turley!

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2014 Pinot Noir (3BBL) by Roger Roessler Wines

Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (3BBL) byย Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma CA.

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.

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2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Grey – Glacier) by Ventisqero, Chile

Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Grey – Glacier) by Ventisquero , Maipo Valley, Chile

Warm earthy nose with damp woody leather. Hint of mushroom. Dark plums characteristic of Cabernet Sauvignon linger in the back.

Body shows great balance from front to back. A dry plum and damp old wood greet the palate immediately. Ever increasing tannic structure follows. This progresses though the entire experience all the way through the finish ending with a slight spice tingle and warm heat lower towards the chest. Subtle oak soften the body. A mild acidity dances in the back. As it opens up, a dry tannic grip grows even more massive and dominates the finish rendering the palate dry and parched shut.

I absolutely love what this Winemaker and his team are doing down in Chile. A recent entry into the US (and global) markets, it presents great value, punching way above its weight. I highly recommend following them closely and seizing any opportunities as they come up.

Bien hecho amigos! ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ

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2014 Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains) by Lachini Vineyards, Oregon

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains) by Lachini Vineyards, Oregon

Beautiful clear ruby color. Bright nose out of the bottle, with subtle berries, dusty slate-like mineral essence and a honeysuckle so faint it could be missed. Swirling vigorously unlocks even more mineral leather, red berries and sweet cherries. Just gorgeous!

Bright body with good acidity on the attack. Dry berries, cherries and subtle, crisp, clean oak vanilla follow closely, adding great dimension, a pinch of structure and lush mouth feel. This quickly exits the stage, leaving behind a slightly bitter, dry mineral underlayment. This marks the transition to finish which results in thin but firm, dry tannic grip, slightly moist tingling lips and an ever increasing heat in the chest.

This Pinot has lots of personality. A very classy execution without being boring or predictable. It is a beautifully made Pinot. I love it!

See more about my visit to their location in Woodinville below.

2014 Pinot Noir (Sanford & Benedict Vineyard) by Sanford

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

Subtle aromatic nose characterized by rich fine leather of slightly damp loamy terroir intertwined with faint sweet berries, touch of dark cherries and vanilla. This wine commands a clean palate and clear mind.

Body is balanced right down the middle, front to back. An attack with suggestion of acidity is quickly counterbalanced by subtle tannin in the form of dark cherries. This creates just the right amount of background structure and foundation for a silky, whispy mouth feel. Oak vanilla and berries continue their gentle interplay as they carry over from the nose, introducing yet more whispers of musical harmony. Body and finish appear as one through a seamless transition culminating with gentle whispers of dry tannic grip and faint spice.

This is a terroir driven wine. An exercise in restraint and balance. A strict adherence to core principles. It reads like a thesis in Pinot Noir excellence. You cannot explore wines from the California central coast without indulging in this specific Pinot Noir by this storied founders’ vineyard. I keep this particular Pinot Noir on hand in my cellar as a benchmark and reference.

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2014 Cabernet Franc (Chinon) by Remy Pannier

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Cabernet Franc (Chinon) by Remy Pannier, Loire, France.

Dark plum color. Warm restrained nose with a lovely leather of slightly mineral, sedimentary terroir. You get a punch of mushrooms right out of the bottle. This quickly dissipates and is replaced by dark plum and blackberry. There’s a bit of a smokey cocoa essence. I like the nose on this one.

Haha this is definitely a Cab Franc by all accounts. Body is balanced. It has a plum mouth feel with lots of crisp clean tannic structure. The mineral leather carries over here as well as it’s smokey cocoa essence. Once opened the already graceful body softens around the edges for a smooth gentler feel. The finish is rather unceremonious, fading away, leaving behind a dry moderate tannic grip.

This is a Cabernet Franc after all. A great example too. I don’t expect too much drama or dimension from this varietal but what it does, it does it well. At 12.5% ABV this is one you can take your sweet time and eek out every nuance without any palate fatigue. I don’t think I’ve tasted Cab Franc from Loire before. I like how the terroir is so nicely expressed.

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2014 Petite Sirah by Peterson

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Petite Sirah by Peterson, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. Courtesy of Casemates who invited me to review tonight’s offering. I am writing this as I begin my review.

Dark opaque color. Warm intense nose full of big plum and dark cherry. I pick up secondary notes of berries tertiary notes of cedarwood and wet sand sedimentary earth.

Body is mild mannered with just a touch of acidity accompanied by big buttery plummy tannins creates a very nice full mouthfeel. Body has good fruit but remains dry (not sweet). The sandy terroir makes an appearance towards the back with a hint of minerality. Finish is smooth, crisp and brisk ending with a dry tannic grip that leaves the palate parched.

This is a surprisingly mature wine that is showing really well right now but should further develop nicely over the next few years. At $159.99/case from Casemates (as of this writing), I would buy a case, enjoy half now and lay the rest down. This winemaker is onto something. I have been consistently impressed with the quality of their wines and the head scratching value. This is without doubt a good deal on a great well made wine!

Also by this winemaker: Wine Review: 2013 La Stupenda, Barbera by Peterson

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