This past week I had the distinct pleasure of joining bottling efforts at Bumgarner Winery in Fair Play, CA.
I have been following winemaker’s work for well over a decade and have been collecting some of his oldest vintages. Brian Bumgarner’s style is more traditional. His are best described as dry, terroir-driven and age-worthy.
On this day we bottled the Many Hands Cuvee, his award winning Bordeaux style blend. You can read my review of the Many Hands Cuvee here. A a reward for helping out, the Winemaker grilled sausages and prepared a delicious charcuterie board for us.
Winemaking is not a glamorous affair. It is real. It is raw. It takes lots of hard work, patience, tenacity and diligence. It also takes family and community, both of which Brian has in relative abundance around him. This shows through his work. Brian’s wines have been the perfect punctuation to many moments over the years. Thank you for sharing your amazing wines with us all these years. I very much look forward to all your future vintages. This was definitely a moment to cherish.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (3BBL) by Roger Roessler Wines (@rogerroesslerwines), 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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Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak) by Gustavo Wine (@gustavowine), Napa Valley, CA
Dark semi opaque color. Out of the bottle, intense dry plums. As it breathes, it develops a fine, dusty, sandy leather essence, almost granite in nature. Hints of berries pop in and out of the back, eventually turning to dark, slightly sweet cherries. Notes of herbs and eucalyptus emerge. It’s a bit rustic. I feel like the nose will continue to evolve for hours if left alone. Very nice.
Oh wow. Okay! So the body is unexpectedly smooth. Balanced, front to back. There is little to no attack. Fairly light for a Napa Cab. It leans more on the delicate side. It is dry. Plums carry over with a measured amount of tannins quickly arriving at a harmonious compromise. A soft old wood, leathery mushroom essence tempers the stage, adds a little weight as the body slowly develops. Plums ripen slightly and tannins develop a dusty, fine grained texture. This marks the transition to finish as the palate slowly begins to dry, leaving behind gentle but firm tannic grip, leather and a touch of warmth.
I love the story behind this winemaker and even more that he continues to make wine. His generation were the ones who’s craft put Napa on world stage. These are the kind of winemakers I seek out, off the beaten path.
Bien hecho Gustavo! I had a blast visiting the tasting room!
I’m reminiscing about my last visit to their tasting room downtown Napa at the beginning of last year with my friend (2020, right before the pandemic hit). We had a blast tasting and handing out with Gustavo’s wife at their understated tasting room. I highly recommend a visit whenever you’re in Napa.
Big bold intense color for a Pinot. Nose is shy out of the bottle. You can definitely pick up hints of that all too familiar Sonoma dirt. Nose develops a little more weight, berries and ripe cherries as it opens up. Damp woody dirt and red vines licorice move forward. Nose is very subtle and gentle.
Body is not as big as the color suggests but very much in line with the nose. Subtle, gentle, smooth expression. Ripe cherries greet the palate with a hint of acidity more in the form of a sweet citrus that is quickly smothered by a full, plush, soft mouth feel. Transition to finish is seamless leaving the palate slightly dry under an enduring spice warmth.
This Pinot is showing nicely right now. It is clean, well executed. It feels like a classic Pinot Noir, subtle, nuanced, smooth and balanced. It channels the terroir very subtly, gracefully retaining it’s sense of place. Now I’m curious to see how the 2018 vintage is showing now. That should be an interesting vintage right about now. Stay tuned!
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!
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 Terre Rouge wines delivered to your doorstep.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Napa Valley Sangiovese (Eliza Jane), by Dawn’s Dream Winery, Carmel Valley, CA.
Rich ruby color. Thick, warm nose with lots of dry berries, red cherries, and a wet woody sandy leather. As it breathes, bursts of dried, dusty mushroom and red vines emerge. Swirling vigorously only intensifies these leathery terroir notes. Wow! This is right up my alley!
Body shows good balance off the bat. Greeting with just a touch of bright acidity in a citrus expression. This is quickly balanced out getting gentle tannins in the form of dry, dark, tart plums, blackberries and currants. The wet wood and slightly mineral expression emerges and conspires with a faint crisp (neutral) oak to create a soft, silky, palate-wetting overlayment. Transition to finish begins with a fade to subtle bitter as its dry dusty tannic foundations are laid to bear once again, only this time with a gentle spice tingle.
I absolutely love Dawn’s wines. The Pinot Noirs capture so much of the spotlight that is easy to miss this gem. I wasn’t expecting this but not the least surprised. Dawn’s wines tend to catch the focused palate off guard and prompt reflection. What a lovely take on the humble Sangiovese.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Gamay Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Reichwage Winery, Sebastopol CA.
Semi opaque color. Supple aromatic nose with notes of cherries, strawberries, wet soil, subtle oak and hints of butterscotch. Swirling vigorously adds hints of eucalyptus, herbs and mushrooms in the back. It is very reminiscent of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Very interesting. I love this region and how the terroir is expressed in this wine.
Body greets with a slight bright (read acidic) attack. This is quickly matched and superseded by a full, plush, creamy, integrated, medium bodied mouth feel. Prominent notes are mushroom, wet wood, dark cherries, and hints of sweet citrus (think Meyer Lemon). Fascinating that I pick up earth notes at the front like this. The only Gamay I have explored were from France (Loire Valley I believe) and I do recall them being highly terroir driven. This one falls very much in line albeit not as heavy, slightly more expressive fruit but more subtle overall – think more of a big California Pinot. Tannins are very restrained, almost unnoticeable, providing good seamless and integrated structure. After a long and wide body, transition to finish is seamless and swift, leaving the palate under a subtle dusty, buttery, fine grained grip and modest spice tingle.
I like this wine. It is rich. I can taste the dirt. This is a Gamay and a terroir driven one at that. This wine absolutely pairs well with itself but if you must, mild artisan cheeses should do just fine. A hidden gem for sure. I am impressed with Max’s work and I look forward to following him.
Tonight’s Occasion: Sierra Midnight – Lot #1 by Windwalker, Fair Play, CA.
Dark opaque color. Thick aromatic nose out of the bottle with firm notes of dark plum, sawdust and a subtle but unmistakable tangerine peel. I remember while barrel tasting with Zach this spring, owner Jim opened one for us to try, this one note was haunting. We both obsessed over it for a while until we finally pinned it down – tangerine skins with a distant hint of all spice. As it breathes a soft licorice emerges, this wine’s sense of place. It only intensifies from here on.
Big, bold and beautiful. The body greets with a thick, somewhat viscous, silky if not slightly chewy mouth feel. Big fruit, matches bold fine grained dusty tannic structure. Ripe dark plums, blackberries and blueberries dominate. A subtle old wet wood leather permeates the entire experience. Gentle spice emerges midway, slowly intensifying through the finish. Transition to finish is seamless, ending with a slightly creamy, dusty, enduring tannic grip and spice heat.
Unshackled from time, this unique signature cross-vintage blend is an exercise in shunning the rules of rigid conventional thinking. Why not? Lot #1 is the first of its kind by this winemaker. After 10 or more years it has had time to integrate very nicely. Layers blend and transition together nicely. It is showing really well. It makes no apologies and embraces what this region is all about.
If you can get your hands on any of the Sierra Midnight lots, I highly recommend you lay them down for at least 10 or more years.
Nicely done Jim, Zach, Ryan and the entire crew at Windwalker.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 D’Oro (Riserva di Vermentino) by Via Romano, Sierra Foothills, CA
Rich aromatic nose. A bouquet of tropical fruit. I pick up notes of passion fruit, pomegranate, citrus, mild honeysuckle and an underlying mineral leather that greets the palate initially but quickly falls back as soon as you swirl vigorously. The nose is this wine’s hallmark. Massive, colorful, intense, beautiful.
The body is light. In complete juxtaposition with the nose. Smooth. Balanced from start to finish. A viscosity in the mouth feel. A light sweet citrus carries over, like Meyer Lemon as well as faint pomegranate. Subtle minerality has a slight palate wetting effect. White pepper emerges midway and gently frames a graceful, slightly dry finish that slowly fades off the palate.
This winemaker’s reds, particularly his Primitivo and Fiasco, have been my biggest distractions from exploring his whites. They are just as fun, dry, light, almost playful, light hearted and full of expression. If you’re ever in the El Dorado area, plan on spending some time at their tasting room. Take a few hours to go through both flights of red and white. You won’t be disappointed.