2019 P.C.H. Rosé by Pali Wine Company

Today’s occasion: 2019 P.C.H. Rosé of Pinot Noir (Central Coast) by Pali Wine Co.

Some of the best Pinot I’ve had comes from the Central Coast. Light, crisp, subtle and nuanced. One of my favorite winemakers I track in my cellar is Pali Wine Co. Particularly for their signature Pinot Noir. I love how they channel the region at large. So while I may not indulge in Rosé very often, I had to try their Rosé of Pinot Noir – and I am happy to report that it does not disappoint.

Crisp bright nose with a hint of leather, bright crisp berries, touch of strawberry and a whiff of clean crisp oak. This nose fully translates into the body, bright, dry, strawberry, subtle oak and leather conspire to create a soft, rounded mouth feel. This complements a slight acidic punch very well. The whole experience fades away nicely with little drama.

It’s a great Rosé for the intermediate to advanced palate. It’s interesting to see how the subtlety of this varietal drives this Rosé’s expression especially with the subtle earth notes and berries typical of the region at large. You don’t get that often in this style of wine. It is very reminiscent of Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir – which as it turns out is precisely where the grapes are from.

To the entire crew at Pali Wine Co. Nicely done!

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2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds) by Roger Roessler Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Pinot Noir (Red Birds – Sonoma Coast) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, California

Out of the bottle notes of damp forest floor and ripe cherries. As it opens up, the leather and earth notes only intensify. Dark cherry turns plummy. Swirling unlocks subtle bursts of sweet cherry cola. A very faint black licorice emerges in the distance. You’d almost miss it. I absolutely love the way terroir is expressed here. That signature Sonoma dirt really shines through and I cannot get enough of it!

Body has really come of age. It has had time to beautifully integrate. A soft balanced attack quickly ushers a smooth silky body. Light dark plum and berry essence carries over. Leather notes are equally represented. Crisp, restrained tannins provide great structure without dominating the palate. Body and finish are one with a linear fade. As it tapers off, notes of cola re-emerge as tannins reach out, gently clasping the palate rendering it slightly parched. But the real victor here is a gentle spice which grows with a subtle intensity after the finish.

I have been following Roger Roessler’s wine for well over a decade. Their all small batch production offering reads like a compendium of Pinot Noir from all up and down the pacific coast and makes for a great study for the curios and enlightened palate. There are many reasons we picked Roger Roessler Wines as our 2020 Winemaker of the year. This wine is one of them.

To the entire crew at Roger Roessler Wines, thank you for the great wines all these years!

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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2018 Aglianico by Passaggio Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Aglianico (Heringer Estates, Clarksburg) by Passaggio Wines

The color is mesmerizing. Nose is a little shy out of the bottle with subtle hints of dried tart fruit. Swirl vigorously to unlock crisp plum, slightly ripe cherries and a wet loamy soil and driftwood underlayment typical of Clarksburg. Distant floral notes I can’t pinpoint, dance in the background. Gorgeous!

Body is crisp. Mildly acidic. That tart fruit carries forward, immediately accompanied by an unmistakable clean, crisp, refined caramel. Crisp, clean tannins provide a sparing framework without dominating. This is a massive beast of a varietal and I have never seen it tamed like this. Terroir is almost neutral. Transition to finish is seamless and ends in a subtle spice heat while those restrained tannins finally show themselves in the form of a long, dry enduring grip.

This winemaker took a chance with this beast of a varietal and I think it paid off. She also has another Aglianico made in the more typical/traditional style. I highly recommend getting them both together. They make a great study of this grape’s broad potential.

Cindy is a small artisan winemaker to follow closely. Her wines are all amazing if not head-scratching at at times.

Nicely done Cindy! 🍷😁👌🏽

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!

2013 Syrah by Skinner Vineyards, El Dorado, California

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Syrah by Skinner Vineyards, El Dorado, California.

Dark opaque color. Popping the cork releases a bouquet of dark berries and herbal essence. Eucalyptus and mint comes to mind. As it settles, a heavy tart plum is accompanied by a touch of sweet cherry. Secondary leathery granite terroir quickly makes its presence known. Swirl vigorously and unlock a burst of star anise unmistakable with this greater region. It is particularly reminiscent of a sweet Absinthe and lingers in the background. I love this. As you swirl, the nose turns sweeter.

Heavy, viscous, dark plum dominates the body. Firm acidity and bold tannin go hand in hand. Neither yielding to the other. Body is bone dry. Woody, berry, and earth notes combine to create a soft slightly creamy overtone. One of my favorite Snobs, Guy (@wine.alchemy | FootHillsWino) best describes it as Bacon Fat. Massive, deep rooted, fine grained tannins permeate the entire experience. Transition to finish is fairly seamless as tart plums cede to a relentless dry, dusty tannic grip. Black currants and a smoldering heat are all that is left to see your palate off on its journey to its long dry finish in the desert.

Skinner makes some of the best Syrah in my cellar. I keep several cases of various vintages as reference wines. They serve as fine examples of mature, well built, wines from the Sierra Foothills. I highly recommend Skinner for the intermediate to advanced palate especially. This 2013 is just now coming of age and should show especially well over the next 5 years and beyond.

Well done Skinner!

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 Skinner wines delivered to your doorstep.

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2012 Petite Syrah by Loxton Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Petite Syrah by Loxton Cellars, Sonoma, California

Dark opaque color. Nose is a little shy out of the bottle but quickly comes alive with ripe plum, blackberry, caramel and that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt. A wet mushroom leathery essence. It’s a bit subdued here but still very present. Swirl vigorously to release a burst of dark cherry, anise and hints of green peppers.

A viscous, spicy, slightly acidic attack greets the palate. This rapidly subsides as crisp, clean tannins move in front and center. Hints of oak vanilla soften the blow, temporarily wetting the palate. By the halfway point, the fun and games are over as a dry crisp tannic grip, black currant and cola completely dominate the experience. This marks the transition to a finish, turning even dryer. The palate experiences a brief sweet relief as black currant and cola give way to a long spicy dry finish.

My goodness this is a massive wine yet surprisingly nuanced. It feels very natural, terroir driven and unaltered. I thought it might be a good time to open 2012 vintage but dare I say, it’s still early. Chris Loxton has been quietly and meticulously crafting his life’s work from the vines to the wines. One of my favorite Sonoma winemakers, I’ve been enjoying his wines for at least a decade. Every time I open a bottle, I wonder if I bought enough…

Nicely done Chris Loxton! Cheers Mate!

2008 Napa Cab (Cloud’s Nest, Mt. Veeder) by Trinchero

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Cloud’s Nest, Mt. Veeder) by Trinchero Family Wines, Napa Valley, California

Dark opaque color. Nose is very shy out of the bottle. Once it breathes a little, you can recognize ripe plums. Sweet dark cherry caramel comes second. Out of the bottle, hints of red licorice and amber wood dot the background. These quickly dissipate as it opens up. Terroir is fairly neutral and if anything, is expressed as a faint woody leather.

Body is perfectly balanced from attack to finish. Ripe, plums, dark cherries and blueberries play nicely on the palate. This conspires with a touch of wood/oak to create a slightly silky, weighted, wet mouth feel. Dusty, fine grained tannins provide an ever present substructure. Eventually the body gives way to expose this dusty tannic underlayment. This marks the transition to finish as dry spicy tannic dust storm engulfs the palate. Black currants, caramel make sporadic appearances as spice and a dry tannic grip wrestle for control. This duel continues with no end in sight for a very long protracted finish.

This wine may not be so old after all. It has had time to integrate. As it opens up, it comes even more alive as opposed to mellowing out. At 13 years old, I feel like this is how it was meant to be enjoyed. Here’s a little secret: if you visit Trinchero, ask for the list of library wines. Explore your favorite wine and how it progresses.

Nicely done Trinchero!

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.