2017 Texas GSM Melange by Pedernales Callars

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Texas GSM Melange by Pedernales Callars, Stonewall, TX.

43% Maurvedre, 25% Grenache, 14% Cinsault, 10% Carignan, 4% Syrah, 4% Petite Sirah.

Intense clear color. Aromatic nose, out of the bottle with bright, sweet cherries, plums. A noticeable damp wood leather permeates the nose. It’s dominant Maurvedre underpinnings are well represented. A subtle licorice lingers in the back.

Oh the body is beautifully composed. A buttery and viscous attack greets the palate. That crisp Grenache influence makes an appearance. Cinsault and Carignan bring great woody notes and bright fruit while Maurvedre, Syrah and Petite Sirah fill out the base with good structure and cassis. As it opens up a subtle bitter cola emerges towards the back. Transition to finish is seamless as the various layers interplay harmoniously. Warm spice emerges midway though and lingers long after, warming the lips and back of the palate. The entire experience fades gracefully leaving the palate dancing between dry and moist, with a bitter cola after taste. As it opens a soft creamy caramel lingers in the back.

Okay. This is a very nice GSM. I’ve had my fair share of amazing GSM but I don’t think I’ve had one with such delineation between its constituent varietals – each very clear in their expression. This tells me each of them were very well made and would easily stand on their own. Now I’m curious. I think the folks at Pedernales are up to something.

Nicely done!

Check out other wines from Texas!

2017 La Bohème by Naggiar Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 La Bohème (Bordeaux Blend) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, CA.

Deep dark rich ruby color. Out of the bottle, nose is a bit restrained with crisp dark plum and a wet granite essence, and touch of sweet cherry cola you’d likely miss. Swirling vigorously releases more cherry cola and wet granite reminiscent of a mid-summer rain on a hot day – that essence that rises from the first drops as they hit the warm gravel. As it breathes, an unmistakable anise emerges in the back and moves forward. This is expected of a terroir driven wine from this region. I love it.

Body is clean, crisp, dry and balanced from front to back. Restrained tart plum ushers a well mannered expression providing crisp, thin but firm tannic structure. A clean crisp oak elevates the fruit essence. It is so subtle you’d likely miss it. I suspect neutral oak was used here. It has a precise, measured mouth feel. Crisp tannins turn dusty as body slowly gives way to its mineral underpinnings, black currants and a gentle, warm spice which emerges through the finish, descending down the chest and leaving the lips parched shut under a gentle but firm tannic grip.

This Bordeaux blend comes across as an exercise in balance and restraint. It is a well crafted example I can easily recommend for the intermediate to advanced palate who is curious to explore the Sierra Foothills and what it has to offer. A masterful showpiece.

Tres bien fait! Je l’aime beaucoup!

2017 Pinot Noir (Elton) by Willamette Valley Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Elton, Eola-Amity Hills) by Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon.

Slightly warm weighty nose with a noticeable albeit restrained minerality in the form of a wet slate accompanied by a hint of caramel butterscotch and damp wood. Swirling vigorously unlocks subtle bursts of black licorice, sweet cherry and very distant honeysuckle you would almost certainly miss.

Light, slightly dry and viscous body shows great balance. Crisp tannins provide firm, lean structure. Dark, tart plum a crisp, clean oak vanilla provide creamy mouth feel. This quickly gives way to a subtle cola as it fades away into a slightly dusty finish culminating in a gentle spicy heat at the back of the palate.

This is an very well built Pinot. It represents its origins very nicely without being overly abstract. It is measured, clean, slightly bold with a touch of flair, especially in the nose. I love this region and I was very pleased to find that this Winemaker decided to open a tasting room in my own backyard – an authentic taste of Willamette Valley, here in Sacramento, California.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Willamette Valley Vineyards wines delivered to your doorstep.

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2017 Malbec Reserve by Polynesian Girl

Today’s occasion: 2017 Malbec Reserve by Polynesian Girl, Somerset, CA

Dark opaque plum color. Thick, warm, weighty nose is a little shy out of the bottle with plum up front. Swirling vigorously releases a subtle crisp oak caramel/vanilla followed by an equally subtle star anise. As it breathes, it’s granite underpinnings start to reveal themselves. Very fain herbal notes linger in the distant background.

Body is firm. Bold acid greets the palate along with equally bold, broad, weighted dark plums. This creates a thick slab-like structure that permeates the entire experience. Crisp oak dances around the palate while granite, anise and blackberry create a thick almost viscous integrated mouth feel with an unmistakable albeit restrained Bacon Fat. Body and finish are one monolithic expression, culminating in a dry palate with a fine grained dusty tannins, a firm grip and a slightly restrained spice heat that lingers well after the fact.

The reserve is the first free-run off the press. I must say, I think this is how this wine was really meant to be. It has such a poised personality this young. I can’t help but wonder where it will be given another 5 years or so. This Polynesian Girl’s work has been lingering on my list for a couple years now. This is the kind of winemaker I love. So far off the beaten path, toiling away at their life’s dream, making little hidden gems. From Vineyard to bottle, Tatiana’s mastery shows here.

WineSnob Calendar: International Tannat Day

Tonight we celebrate International Tannat Day – April 13th. I wasn’t tracking this date on my calendar so it kind of snuck up on me. I went back into the cellar and couldn’t find any Tannat to review for you tonight. So my last resort was to look through my archives and notes for any Tannat I have looked at before and I found two I had not yet posted. They are both by the same winemaker, Pisano from Uruguay. This was my first time exploring wines from this part of the world and I was thoroughly impressed. I did go back and buy more of the Reserva for long term review, however I must have opened it at some point. I guess it was too good to resist…LOL.

2015 Tannat Reserva

2015 Tannat Reserva Personal de la Familia, by Pisano from Uruguay. Unlike the last Tannat I opened from the same winery, this one is built big and strong. It is clearly made for the long haul. Laying this down for a while won’t hurt it. It reads like a classic Barolo or big Barbaresco with deep inky rich colors. The nose is prominent with dirt, and a hint of oak and berry. The nose quickly fades, giving way to a big body of notable acidity. Once opened up the finish turns buttery with lasting spice and tannin. Tannat is an interesting varietal. I only became aware of it mere weeks ago. Like Cab Franc, it is rare to find a single varietal Tannat. It takes personal passion to commit to it. love it! Go Uruguay!!! 🇺🇾😁🍷🍷🍷

2017 Tannat

2017 Tannat, Pisano, Rio De Los Pajaros, Uruguay. This one came as an interesting suggestion by my winesnob friend Nikki. We’ve been talking a lot about obscure varietals lately. She had been sampling this one and suggested I take a look at Tannat and what folks were doing with it. You know I still can’t get past the fact that I am enjoying a wine from Uruguay. It’s amazing! I’m tasting an honest wine. It’s well made. I cannot fault it. If this is representative of the varietal and the region, then I fully intend to explore it further. We are really living in the the Golden Age of wine, viticulture and oenology. It’s fascinating. There is so much good wine everywhere and it is so accessible. I feel very fortunate. This one has a nose of caramel and oak, balanced medium body and tannic finish. This varietal reminds me of others like Cab Frank, Touriga and Aglianico. They are not particularly complex but what they do, they do exceedingly well. I love it! Go Uruguay!!! 🇺🇾😁🍷🍷🍷

2017 Pinot Noir (San Saba Vineyard), Monterey, by Wrath Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (San Saba Vineyard), Monterey, by Wrath Wines

Clear bright ruby color. Dry nose is more mineral leather biased out of the bottle. Berries and fruit fall back and play second fiddle. Swirling unlocks more crisp dark berries, and cola.

Body has a pleasant balance from front to back starting with a bright attack, followed by light, crisp berries and a refined caramel. This has the effect of rendering a slightly silky mouth feel which wets the palate. Transition to finish starts with a subtle handoff of the caramel to cola and crisp, light tannins. The palate drifts between moist and dry as the finish progresses. This finally ends is a slightly dry spice tingle. An unmistakable leather lingers throughout the entire experience from start to finish. I like it.

I stumbled upon this Winemaker’s work thanks to one of you WineSnobs. I thought she did a fantastic job with their entire offering – a great selection of highly terroir driven wines. Nicely done Sabrine and the entire crew at Wrath Wines.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Wrath wines delivered to your doorstep

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2017 The Red (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 The Red (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, California

Composition: 32% Syrah, 32% Tempranillo, 27% Malbec, 9% Grenache.

Out of the bottle the nose is filled with a dusty Cedarwood with a hint of redwood. This subsides a little but remains prominent throughout. It’s oak underpinnings is revealed ever so slightly while it eventually turns to black licorice as it opens up. I expect this from a terroir driven wine of this region however not as a primary note. Ripe plums and dark cherries take a secondary stage. An almost oily granite minerality lingers in the back. Another distant floral note eludes me. Interesting.

Body greets with a dash of acidity. Ripe plums, cherries, berries blue and straw quickly usher the palate in followed by a dash of oak. This immediately sets a fuller, more tamed stage. Slightly thin, crisp tannins provides good structure and balance while remaining largely in the shadows. Body as a slightly whispy mouth feel. Interesting, considering how massive this wine is otherwise. At 14.7% ABV this very well balanced and restrained. Transition to finish starts with dry tannins and a gentle but intense spice heat moving to the front. The duel is quick, as both quickly settle for a truce, leaving the lips parched shut and tingling.

This wine was made in the Vineyards. The winemaker shows great stewardship of their transformation. The hallmark of a great winemaker.

Nicely done Naggiar!

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, California

Dark opaque color out of the bottle. Rich dark plum essence on the nose. A granite rocky mineral essence comes second. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of sweet, dark cherry and red vines licorice as a distant leather disappears into the background. Notes are crisp, unmistakable, and very highly delineated.

Body is precisely balanced from attack to finish. Fruit carries through, and is well represented without overwhelming the palate. Oak is measured, almost unnoticeable as it conspires with dark plum and berries to create a slightly silky mouth feel. This has the effect of taming this fairly dry wine. Firm tannins provide broad structure across the palate while remaining fairly restrained. Transition to finish is marked by a the unleashing of massive tannins that, in short order, completely dominate the palate, revealing its relative youth. Blackberries and currants linger as an ever tightening grip seals your lips shut, parched. At 14.7% ABV you would hardly notice but for a slightly bold spice towards the finish which easily dissipates as it opens up. A testament to the winemaker’s craft.

This is a big bold Cab by all accounts. It is full of character, balanced and shows a good amount of restraint. It will only become more interesting as it further integrates over the next 5-10 years. This is a winemaker to watch closely. Well built, impeccably executed wines.

Very nicely done Naggiar Vineyards!

2017 Elle (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault) by Bumgarner

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Elle (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault) by Bumgarner, El Dorado, California.

Crisp nose is a little shy out of the bottle. First thing that hits you is a dry dusty granite with a hint of old weathered wood. Intertwined are hints of berry and faint vanilla. Swirl vigorously to unlock a burst of sweet cherries, more dusty leather and very distant mushrooms, you would easily miss.

Body is very nicely balanced front to back. It is mostly dry, subtle cherry carries forward, together with the wood notes and a sparing amount of oak, all conspire to create a slightly silky, lush mouth feel, moistening the palate. Thin crisp tannins provide great structure and grip. The granite, minerality, cherries and leather morph into a cola essence towards the back. This marks the transition to finish as a crisp dry tannic grip eventually triumphs over the experience, leaving your lips parched shut.

I previously reviewed the Fiona, a companion/sister wine to this one. I have followed this Winemaker for well over a decade. He is no stranger to big, bold, dark, dry, structured wines. However this wine is clearly an exercise in nuance and subtlety. I really like what he has done here. This is a very well built, high quality, understated wine.

To Brian and Jennifer Bumgarner, thank you for sharing your dreams and passion with us. Here’s to many more vintages.

2017 Montagñaro by Bella Grace Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Montagñaro by Bella Grace Vineyards (@bgvineyards
), Amador County, California.

This Winemaker is known for many of her amazing wines, most notable of which is her Barbera. However this modest red blend really piqued my interest during my visit. What may come across as an afterthought and value proposition, turns out to be a lovely, layered, pleaser of a wine.

Nose is initially a little shy but quickly reveals plum, vanilla, sweet cherries, and licorice on a granite undertone typical of this region. This is the beauty of a blend. I bought a case, and this is the last bottle. It went quick!

Nicely balanced, medium body greets with vanilla. Dark cherries add moderate tannins, introducing good structure. Sandy, granite mineral leather moves forward, bringing great dimension. Finish turns slightly buttery, revealing hints of pomegranate and spice.

I love this wine! It makes me smile. I love how understated it is. When a great winemaker has a little fun, and blends already great wines, this is what you get – a hidden gem. Do yourself a favor and buy it by the case. Thank me later.

Nicely done Michael and the Bella Grace team!