2019 Giocoso (Red Blend, Paso Robles) by Lusso Della Terra, Fiddletown, CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Giocoso (Red Blend, Paso Robles) by Lusso Della Terra (Luxury of the Land), Fiddletown, Amador County CA

Equal parts Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Dark semi opaque color. Out of the bottle, thick nose with lots of black plum and ripe blackberry. Secondary notes of cola and crisp vanilla caramel. Tertiary notes of thin crisp anise and wet wood leather linger in the back.

Body is nicely balanced from front to back. A slightly silky, viscous body greets the palate. Unobtrusive tannins provide good structure and counterweight to crisp caramel and anise, both framing ripe plums. The more temperate climate of this region shines here as the fruit is well expressed while remaining fairly dry. Restrained acidity goes almost unnoticed. No one characteristic is off balance. The finish is characterized by subtle dry tannic grip ripe fruit, caramel. This big blend channels the Paso Robles region and its characteristic restraint quite nicely while also remaining very approachable for a broad spectrum of palate.

I caught up with Edward, owner, winemaker and Assistant Winemaker Clare, earlier this winter and had a unique opportunity to explore an eye watering lineup of their creations. He recently relocated his operations and established his estate in Fiddletown, just outside Plymouth CA. I very much look forward to following his interpretation of the terroir out here in the Sierra Foothills. Welcome to the foothills Edward and Lusso Della Terra!

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2016 Proprietor’s Blend by CG DiArie

Today’s occasion: 2016 Proprietor’s Blend by CG DiArie, Shenandoah Valley, CA.

Tonight we are again lost in the hills, off the beaten path.

Clear intense ruby red color. Nose is a little shy with notes of plum and butterscotch. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of its granite underpinnings. Ahhhh. Like home. This all too familiar essence gets me every time. It’s a nice mix of dusty granite mineral and earthy leather. As it breathes, a gentle star anise emerges further asserting its origins. The nose warms. Red berries dot the backdrop as the butterscotch falls backstage. I could sniff this all day.

A bright attack greets hand in hand with thin, crisp tannins in the form of dark plum. Both quickly fall to the floor, creating thin unobtrusive crisp structure. Subtle, crisp, clean oak makes an appearance, ushering dark plums and dark cherries across the stage. Mineral leather starts to wet the palate. This marks the transition to finish. This conspires with the plum to create a subtle cola eventually ending in a grippy, slightly moist palate. Spice tingle and heat win this battle finale. A slight drool may ensue.

What makes this wine even more fascinating is the winemaker’s story. It is a masterful blend, well crafted, balanced. A polished representation of the region. At the 10yr mark it should be even more magnificent! I need to get a few more for the long haul…

Nicely done Chaim, Elisheva, Sivan and the entire crew at CG DiArie!

2012 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) by Easton

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) by Easton (@terrerougeeastonwines), Plymouth, Amador, California.

Deep dark clear ruby red color. Pouring right out of the bottle fills the air with crisp plum. Closer inspection reveals this Zinfandel’s faint raisin/berry underpinnings and a very unmistakable star anise, a hallmark of this region’s terroir. The nose then recedes until swirled again. Hints of wet wood leather linger in the back. This is surprisingly restrained for a Zin

Body is precisely balanced from front to back. Clean crisp and measured. Plum turns more ripe dark cherry, wet wood and oak become more refined crisp caramel. Crisp tannins provide precise frame as they quickly turn buttery, and render the palate moist. Mouth feel is clean, light. Transition to finish is characterized by subtle black currant as the body fades gently, revealing a gentle spice, moist lips and slight dusty tannic grit.

This Winemaker’s work is some of the best I’ve seen yet. This zinfandel is no exception and should easily stand as a reference, an example of everything Zinfandel could be, not just in this region but California and the world at large. NOW! is the time to indulge in his work.

Thank you Bill, Jane and the entire crew at Terre Rouge Easton wines for bringing us world class wines.

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2016 Grenache Noir (Reserve) by Amador Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Grenache Noir (Reserve) by Amador Cellars, Plymouth, CA

Summary: Watch this Winemaker closely.

Rich, ruby color. Crisp nose with a subtle tart plums, hints of granite mineral terroir, licorice. Swirl vigorously to release puffs of sweet cherry, and a distant minty/eucalyptus herbal essence so subtle you’d likely miss it all together.

A vibrant crisp body greets with cola, cherries and a suggestion of oak. Thin, crisp tannins provide good structure without overpowering the palate. This combines to create a soft, silky slightly weighty mouth feel with lots of dimension. Transition to finish is characterized by the emergence of a crisp spice which together with the crisp tannins, hold the palate hostage for the duration of the experience while pops of cherry, licorice and cola fade away.

This is a Winemaker who’s work I will be following closely. His work I only simply describe as understated. Creating such complex, layered balanced wines at such an early stage in his journey, one can only imagine what his craft will look like a decade or two from now. I am looking forward to every single vintage…

Nicely done Mike, the Long Family and the entire team at Amador Cellars.

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2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by CG DiArie, Shenandoah Valley

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Estate) by CG DiArie, Shenandoah Valley, CA.

A slightly restrained but aromatic nose greets out of the bottle. Subdued dark, dry, plum at the front, a touch of dusty, woody, leathery oak, faint tertiary notes of spice, black licorice, and granite very typical of this region. Swirl vigorously to amplify tertiary notes. I love it. It’s rare that a Cabernet shows this much restraint and nuance. As it opens up a hint of sweet cherry emerges in the back.

Body is very nicely balanced, front to back. You are greeted by ripe plums and touch or dark cherry. Measured amount oak softens the body ever so slightly, giving it a nice, almost silky mouth feel that wets the palate almost immediately. Tannins are reined-in on a tight leash. This provides a crisp structure while allowing the other subtle notes room to play on the palate. Impressive. Licorice and granite sandy terroir persist in the background. A gentle spice echoes throughout the experience from nose to finish and down to the chest. Seamless transition to finish leaves the palate dancing between moist and dry as the whole symphony fades away. As it opens up, the cherry becomes more pronounced and black currants make an appearance towards the finish.

I’m smiling. I actually love this Cab. If there ever was a Pinot Lover’s Cab, this would be it. This Winemaker understands how powerful this grape is, has cultivated and mastered it such that he sees no need to submit to its brute nature (as many relent) but rather show how beautiful and nuanced it can be. There are more ways this could go wrong than right. A testament to the winemaker’s skill.

Very nicely done Chaim and the entire Di Arie crew! I look forward to exploring more of your wines! 🍷😁👌🏽

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2016 Resolute by Iron Hub, Amador County, California

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Resolute (Aglianico) by Iron Hub Wines, Amador County, California.

This region may be known for its Zinfandel, Barbera and others, but I must say, the way Aglianico expresses itself here is more than noteworthy. This Winemaker’s take on the varietal does not disappoint.

Dark rich color. Nose is slightly shy, with intense dark plums and dark cherries. The slightly mineral granite leather typical of this region is unmistakable. Distant notes of berries and a crisp herbal expression linger in the back, reminiscent of minty, eucalyptus freshness.

Body is nicely balanced and greets you with a thick, viscous, slightly weighted, spicy, mouth feel. Reastained acidity makes a delayed appearance while bold crisp tannins provide solid structure. Transition to finish is seamless and characterized by a slightly sweet berry expression, spice heat and enduring tannic grip.

The Resolute is a gorgeous wine. Just like the 2015, this vintage evokes the same sentiments. I love it! I added this wine to the cellar and very much look forward to following its progression.

Nicely done Tom and Beth!

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! 

2015 Riserva Sangiovese by Vino Noceto

Tonight’s occasion: a side-by-side with the 2015 Riserva Sangiovese and the 2015 Sangiovese by Vino Noceto.

This winemaker from Plymouth, Amador, California has been putting out an amazing Sangiovese with surgical consistency for as long as I can remember – well over a decade.

The Sangiovese alone is a benchmark by which I measure all other Sangiovese, regardless of where it’s from. I cannot overstate how well made it is. There is a more limited companion, the Riserva Sangiovese. I have been meaning to open both at the same time and explore them together, side-by-side.


My previous notes hold. It is very well behaved. A mild mannered nose with hints of raspberry and cherry which become more prominent in a very well structured and balanced body. There is a subtle creamy under layer to the body. The finish is unmistakably peppery. The spice lingers long after the finish has faded away, like the tannins of a Syrah. It doesn’t take long to open up but when it does a light buttery, oak undertone permeates the entire experience. I consider this Sangiovese a prime example of what is possible with this varietal, in this region and the greater California wine region.

Riserva Sangiovese

Color has a hint of brown and a touch darker compared the Sangiovese. Nose on the Riserva has unmistakably a more oak. This is expected as it is barrel aged 6-8 months longer than the Sangiovese. This has the effect of smoothing out the edges and giving it a velvety mouth feel. It seems a tad more acidic.

Like any Sangiovese, I think it’s meant to be paired with food, especially meats. The Riserva even moreso. They both paired well with the New York Steak but it was pretty obvious this is where the Riserva really shines. It instantly cut through the steak, creating one seemless cohesive, creamy, buttery smooth experience. Wow. Hints of caramel, cocoa and tobacco emerge when paired. I’m not one to pair my wine as I like to fully immerse myself in all it’s nuance and complexity but this wine absolutely must be paired appropriately. The Riserva makes a great treat for any guest with a discerning palate. The Sangiovese is very approachable and an accessible price point, easily making it a very high quality every day wine.

I always keep several bottles of this Sangiovese in my cellar as a reference and to show fellow WineSnobs what is going on off the beaten path.

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2014 Cabernet Franc by Easton

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

From the 2019 WineSnob.blog 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.

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 Easton wines delivered to your doorstep.

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2008 Syrah (Sentinel Oak) by Terre Rouge

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Syrah (Sentinel Oak Vineyards) by Terre Rouge * Easton Wines, Plymouth, CA.

Deep inky color. Rich nose with lots of plum, blackberry and a hint of caramel on the back. Big, beautiful and bold structured body with great balance. That plum and blackberry carries through into the body accompanied by a little acidity. Massive finish dominates the palate as those big tannins roar to life and demand your attention. This is a fantastic wine. A well built wine that punches above it’s weight. The winemakers’s tireless attention to detail, commitment to excellence without compromise and decades of practice in the art and science of wine making really shows here.

This wine is just now becoming approachable in my opinion and has easily another decade of expression ahead of it. At 11+ years old, it is nowhere near its peak expression.

Well done Terre Rouge * Easton! 😁🍷🍷🍷

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