2017 Mariner (Meritage / Bordeaux Blend) by Dry Creek Vineyard, Sonoma County

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Mariner (Meritage / Bordeaux Blend) by Dry Creek Vineyard, Sonoma County CA

Dark opaque color. Nose is thick, slight intensity. Dark plums, blackberries, none too ripe, non too tart. A pleasant woody leather lingers in the background, along with a very subtle bee’s wax. Swirling vigorously adds a touch of cola to the mix as well as a ripeness to the berries.

Body greets with a touch of acidity. This has the effect of drawing a very gentle tension across the palate. Thin, firm, dry, chiseled tannins add clean, crisp structure while a refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak gently cloaks an otherwise fairy dry body while softening the mouth feel. This quickly evaporates leaving behind a firm dry tannic underlayment, bitter cola, and a smattering of spice as the palate slowly drifts between moist and dry grip.

Very interesting. When I think Bordeaux Blend from this region I immediately expect big peppery, jammy tannin bomb. However this wine is anything but that. Very clean, crisp well executed. It feels like a fair amount of care, thought and consideration went into it. It is subtly unique in its expression. I think this winemaker has made a great Meritage in the Mariner. Nicely done folks!

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2017 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Amrita Cellars

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Amrita Cellars, Santa Rosa, CA

Nose is very shy. Every note is little more than a whisper. Crisp raspberry, bright red berries overlay a subtle wet woody grassy turf. Red vines licorice eventually emerge as it breathes.

Body is balanced from front to back. Greeting with a very soft, silky mouth feel. Berries carry over albeit very restrained. Subtle citrus and cola like linger. Faint shadows of structure precipitate as the body fades into clouds and whiffs of the different notes. This show continues, slowly diminishing until there’s very little left on the palate but faint dusty grit and candle flames worth of warmth on winter night.

This is an very nice take on the classic Burgundian style of Pinot. It is very subtle. The average palate would likely find this too abstract and nuanced. However for the intermediate to advanced palate, it should prompt focus and quiet appreciation. I can also see this showing well as a chillable red. I think it’s impressive that such a small artisan wine can show such nuance and subtlety. Nicely done Sunny!

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WineSnob Discount

Sunny, owner/winemaker would like to invite you to taste his small batch production artisan wines. I think you should too, especially if you enjoy California Pinot Noir. You can order yours via their website Amrita Cellars (amritacellars.com) and use Promo/Discount Code WS2022 to get 10% off your order. A great opportunity to support a small artisan winemaker and explore another hidden gem off the beaten path. Be sure you share your thoughts and tasting notes with me.

2017 Pinot Noir (De Ponte Vineyard) by Panther Creek

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (De Ponte Vineyard – Willamette Valley, Oregon) by Panther Creek Cellars, Woodinville, WA

Crisp nose with slightly tart berries, and a touch of red cherries. Subtle secondary notes of creamy vanilla and minerality interplay, filling the stage with bitter sweet essence. Tertiary notes of wet wood leather linger in the back. Nice.

Body is restrained. A silky smooth body greets with a touch of sweet citrus. Mild tannins quickly precipitate, adding subtle structure. Thin, crisp, refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak along with a touch of minerality fill the body in faint broad strokes. These quickly dissipate, leaving thin tannic structure, and mineral essence. This fades away into a subtle dance between sweet and bitter over thin crisp tannic grip.

I’m enjoying exploring the Panther Creek lineup this winter. I remember visiting the tasting room earlier in the spring and I liked every wine they poured. I can’t wait to revisit, hopefully this coming spring, for an in depth look at what they are all about. If you are like me an love the complexity and nuance that comes with small batch production artisan wines, I highly recommend checking out their wines. Visit WineSnob.blog for more and updated reviews of Panther Creek wines.

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2017 Pinot Noir (Maverick Vineyard) by Panther Creek Cellars

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Maverick Vineyard – Willamette Valley) by Panther Creek Cellars, Woodinville, WA

Beautiful aromatic nose greets with raspberries up front and a mild leather of sedimentary soil essence. Swirling vigorously unlocks blackberry and sweet cherry and a faint cedarwood in the back, so subtle you’d likely miss it.

Body is balanced from front to back, greeting with a touch of acidity in the form of a mild citrus. This creates good tension. Cherries and blackberries quickly bring good balance and mouth feel along. Mild but crisp tannins provide good unobtrusive structure. Transition to finish is seamless as body evolves, developing a subtle, crisp caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak. This accentuates the cherry essence, turning it slightly sweet. This one note lingers over the palate through the finish. The palate is rendered slightly dry with just the faintest hint of cola.

This Pinot is on the lighter side of medium bodied. A well built wine that offers a familiar while different look at this region. I have come to expect a certain caliber of Pinot from this region in general and Panther Creek delivers here again with great complexity without being overly abstract. It remains approachable and should please the intermediate to advanced palate. Nicely done Panther Creek!

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Be sure to check the out the Panther Creek Cellars, website for occasional bundles, specials and opportunities. They are currently offering a Holiday Bundle. It’s a great opportunity to explore their signature wines. See link below.

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2017 Pinot Noir (Kalita Vineyard) by Panther Creek

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Kalita Vineyard – Willamette Valley, OR) by Panther Creek Cellars, Woodinville, WA

Dark intense ruby color. Subtle aromatic nose with bright cherries, raspberries and a hint of sweet cola. An underlying wet mineral leather permeates the nose. This is its sense of place – Willamette Valley.

A bright body greets with a touch of acidity in the form of a slightly sweet citrus reminiscent of a Meyer Lemon. This is quickly counterbalanced with a slightly viscous weighted body. Crisp tannins add great structure midway through as crisp caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak and red cherries fill the palate. A taught mineral leather carries over. This marks the transition to a finish characterized by a firm, dry tannic grip over a wet mineral leather.

This is a well built Pinot with a touch of personality. This small understated boutique winemaker was one of the highlights of my visit to Woodinville. Their small batch production artisan wines are just the type of wines I obsess over and constantly seek out, off the beaten path.

Read more Panther Creek Cellars on WineSnob.

Be sure to check the out the Panther Creek Cellars, website for occasional bundles, specials and opportunities. They are currently offering a Holiday Bundle. It’s a great opportunity to explore their signature wines. See link below.

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2017 Tannat by William + Chris Vineyards, Texas Hill Country

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tannat (Hye Estate) by William + Chris Vineyards, Texas Hill Country.

Dark intense ruby color. Out of the bottle, nose is slightly restrained. This is a Tannat and as expected, that signature dry dark plum greets. This is followed closely by ripe blackberries. In the back, a buttery almost shortcake lingers interspersed with a smokey wood essence. First thing that comes to mind is “Texas Brisket!”. It’s a bit haunting in its expression. Swirling vigorously unleashes a veritable symphony of notes. Ripe dark cherries, more blackberries, a bold thick leathery essence, red vines licorice and dirt. … Oh Boy! The nose on this is AMAZING!!!

A creamy, slightly weighted viscous body greets the palate immediately. Little of the fruit carries forward other than some blackberry and black currants. A subtle bitter cola permeates. For a Tannat, it appears mild mannered at first blush. But as it breathes, dark, bold, dusty tannins start to dominate every aspect of the experience, providing a firm but loosely bound granular structure. Leather plays second fiddle. Finish?? I have no idea. Let’s ask the incessant, massive, dry, dusty tannic grip holding my parched lips shut. This is the show you came to see and you’d be foolhardy to expect anything else.

You don’t drink this wine. It drinks you. If you’re lucky, it won’t spit you out. This wine has so many years, perhaps even decades of vibrant life ahead of it. For as young as it is, it is very expressive and rich. I keep wondering what this Tannat would look like 10 years from now. This is a Gem. Get it now and forget about it. I’ll be expecting an invitation. To Chris and the entire crew at William Chris, nicely done folks!

My good friend and fellow Texan WineSnob, Jenn brought me a bottle of their Tempranillo this summer. Check out her guest review on WineSnob. After reviewing the William Chris Tempranillo on here I knew I absolutely had to visit this winemaker. not long after I was on my way to Austin, TX to explore wine country with Jenn. Our visit to William Chris did not disappoint. It exceeded my wildest expectations. The warmth, hospitality and shared enthusiasm for the art form, legacy, terroir and pride in craftsmanship was refreshing. We spent our entire day at the winery. I couldn’t have hoped for a better host than our Sommelier Francisco. He was a veritable wellspring of knowledge not just about the wines but the estate, winery, vineyards, their long history and the region at large. Oh, and the Charcuterie was to die for! Stay tuned for a WineSnob TV segment on my visit.

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2017 Grenache (Rogue Valley) by Willamette Valley Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Grenache (Rogue Valley) by Willamette Valley Vineyards, Southern Oregon

Intense clear ruby color. Aromatic nose with bright ripe fruit, cherries, raspberries and red vines licorice. A white pepper permeates the stage. Hints of crisp refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak.

Body is balanced from front to back. A soft, lush, slightly weighted mouth feel greets the palate immediately, usually a mineral expression. This quickly dissipates into a thin, wispy cloud. Contrary to what the nose would suggest, it is dry. Cherry and raspberry carry forward as mere suggestions. A crisp caramel accentuates the restrained fruit. Thin, crisp tannins provide a restrained, unobtrusive but firm structure. A bold, crisp spice emerges midway and intensifies through the finish. Transition to finish is seamless, culminating in a subtle bitter tannic grip, hints of crisp caramel, and a warm spice heat. For the sensitive/advanced palate there is a touch of bacon fat so faint you’d likely miss it. Can you pick it out?

Grenache is fast becoming one of my favorite varietals. As with Pinot Noir, it is highly terroir expressive. I love exploring how it channels different regions and their terroir. In this case – Southern Oregon – it presents a more subtle, nuanced even muted expression. This region is known for some very nuanced wines and tamed big varietals. This is a well executed Grenache that opens the window into this region with a view the intermediate to advanced palate should appreciate. Willamette Valley Vineyards has done a great job with this wine.

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2017 Le Grand-Pere by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Le Grand-Pere (The Grandfather, Rhone Blend) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, CA.

Warm nose, with ripe dark cherries, plum and berries. Together with a secondary anise this ripeness creates a red vines licorice essence. Good sense of place. This expression is typical of a faithful wine from this region. Subtle oak vanilla blends in and accentuates nicely.

Body greets with a touch of acidity lending some good tension. This is quickly smothered by ripe plum and cherry. A punch of oak vanilla further elevates the fruit, morphing into a crisp, refined caramel. Thick, bold tannins provide a slightly restrained structure but as it opens up they pull forward and dominate the experience from front to back, giving this wine’s youth away. Definitely recommend decanting. Transition to finish is seamless, characterized by blackberries, black currants, and a fine grained dusty but firm tannic grip.

Fall Sunrise over Naggiar Vineyards

This region is known for its longer ripening season. This extended hang time results in more intense fruit flavors and a bigger bolder wine overall. This is its identity. It’s sense of place. Slightly fruit forward, shows good balance. I think with more cellar time this wine should further integrate very nicely. Recommend at least 5 to 10 more years. Get yours now and lay them down.

2017 GSM by Passaggio Wines, San Francisco

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 GSM by Passaggio Wines, San Francisco CA

Deep ruby color. Bright aromatic nose with lots of red berries, raspberry, ripe strawberry and a touch of sweet mellon. A backdrop of sweet cedarwood leather, hint of eucalyptus, and red vines licorice. Yummy!

Bright body greets with a touch of acidity. This quickly gives way to a smooth silky, viscous body with hints of citrus, pomegranate and crisp caramel. Dark cherry skins provide a thin firm structure that permeates the experience. A slightly creamy mouth feel fades away leaving behind crisp tannins, a hint of cola and mild spice.

What a vibrant melodic interpretation of the iconic GSM blend. I love every single one of Cindy’s wines. Words that come to mind are: precise, crisp, subtle, rich, balanced, humble, unassuming. This blend embodies all of those. It reminds me of the Fiona GSM by Bumgarner I have previously reviewed on here.

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2017 Petite Sirah by Paza Estate Winery, Sierra Foothills, California

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Petite Sirah by Paza Estate Winery, Sierra Foothills, CA.

Dark opaque color. Ripe dark plum, ripe dark cherries and a touch of sweet oak vanilla. A damp wood and old leather essence lingers in the background. Swirling unlocks hints of licorice, spice and unmistakable granite dust.

Body is on the softer side of balanced. Dark plum, cherry skins, greet the palate immediately. Wet wood, granite leather and oak provide a great plush mouth feel while accentuating the fruit. Blackberries, and black currants provide great structure underlayment. As it opens up, seemingly restrained tannins roar to life, completely dominating the entire experience with a firm dry grip. Spice gives way to more black currant. Finish leaves the palate dry, lips parched shut with a mild spice tingle.

This is my favorite of the Paza lineup. It’s a nice Petite Sirah. It shows good creativity while maintaining its sense of place. The other wine that stood out was their sparkling wine. It is pretty good. We will be taking a look at it here soon. If you’re looking for nice, little, quaint winery off the beaten path, this is a great, fun little, chill experience with great views. There’s also a good chance you will be hosted by the owner/winemaker. Nicely done Paza!