Reserve: 2012 Touriga by Bumgarner

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Touriga by Bumgarner, El Dorado, California.

In my opinion one of the most understated winemakers in this region. I have followed this humble winemaker’s work for well over a decade now and have always been struck by the level of quality of his wines. I last reviewed this wine just a little over a year ago and my notes then are still spot on. This region is not known for Touriga and that is perhaps what makes this one-time vintage special.

Massive heavy nose out of the bottle. Starts off with some cherry but opens up to plum with a play between oaky licorice and heavy tobacco when swirled vigorously. I feel this wine is shining brightest right now. I expected it to have lost some of its character by now but I must say it is experiencing a very long peak. It is very much alive and evolving as I taste right now. A real treat and somewhat bittersweet moment as I am now down to what may be the last bottle in existence.

Brian Bumgarner, you already know this but I really love your life’s work and look forward to many more amazing vintages. Cheers my friend! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿท๐Ÿท๐Ÿท

Reserve: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by MV Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Reserve) by MV (Miller Vineyards), Fair Play, California.

Last year our search for Winemaker Of The Year took us on an unexpected journey. We toured various California wine country but none left a an indelible mark like the Sierra Foothills. We were on the road almost every weekend of the year and tasting several times a week. We encountered so many amazing winemakers toiling away at their life’s passion. About half a dozen emerged as hands down in the class of their own, not just on a local or California stage but on a world stage. MV Vineyards was perhaps the most notable in this respect.

Tonight we look at a Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a distillation of what a big California Cab is all about. A true artisan work of art by a craftsman with absolutely no compromise and every possible attention to detail. Batches are so small you will never find this masterpiece anywhere else but in the little cottage at the end of the road in Fair Play.

Dark inky color. Big, warm, intense nose with caramel and marshmallows which quickly dissipate once it opens up. Subtle plum, blackberries, bramble bush and wild herbs take center stage. Terroir is very restrained an leans on the mineral sandstone side of the spectrum.

Body is measured. Well balanced from front to back. A measured dose of blackberries and plum carry over while retaining its dry overall posture. Herbs and wild bush remain in the back while bold well structured fine grained tannins take over the transition to a firm but restrained finish, capped with a healthy dose of spice. Simply amazing!

You cannot speak of California Wines and not have immersed yourself in art like this. This is the frontier, the leading edge of what made California wines what they are today. You will never find a corporate mass production wine that comes even close to this. This, like the others we have reviewed on here are worth a trip to California and the Sierra Foothills. Well done Mr. & Mrs. Miller!

Wine Review: 2011 Syrah by Skinner

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Syrah (El Dorado) by Skinner Vineyards.

Deep rich color. Crisp nose greets you with lots of plum, a little cherry, subtle oak, and slight mineral. The heat and spice in this wine is more pronounced in the nose and diminishes through the rest of the experience. In the body, a subtle acidic attack is quickly overwhelmed by big buttery tannins giving it a noticeably chewy mouth feel. The finish takes an interesting turn with an abundance of wood as oak and vanilla turn into cedar with a hint of licorice.

One of the things that I like about this winemaker, is the wines are appropriately aged before release. They are not rushed to the glass. This way you can expect a quality, mature wine whenever you visit the winery. This vintage is almost 10yrs old. It is showing really well right now. I think this is what it was meant to be. It has just entered its peak and should be perfect any time over the next 4-5 years before its more nuanced characteristics start to fade. It is a great example of what is possible in this region. If you are looking to explore the most current frontier of California wine country, this is where I recommend you start. 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.

Shop Skinner wines on Wine.com icon

 

Reserve: 2008 Merlot by ParaVi Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Merlot by ParaVi Vineyards, Camino, Sierra Foothills, California.

Very warm tight nose. The heat is immediately obvious. It needs to be decanted for an extended period. Swirling vigorously unlocks bursts of sweet cherry, vanilla, subtle mineral terroir and faint licorice. You would almost miss that signature Merlot berry which is very restrained and buried beneath all the layers.

Body is moderately acidic. It is surprisingly dry, especially given its nose. Only subtle Merlot berry carries through from the nose accompanied by an equal dose of oak vanilla. Both work well to tame the otherwise massive tannin and spice which quickly dominate the body, unveil solid structure and balance. Black currant makes very brief appearance just before a finish characterized by a dry, firm tannic grip. Heat and spice is unmistakable and very much present throughout the entire experience.

Nothing about this wine says it is 12 years old. This is why I stay mostly off the beaten path. I don’t think there are any bottles of this wine left as the Winery closed many years ago. This well built wine from the humble Merlot grape has always been a shining example of the hidden talent you can find in this region if you look hard enough.

Every one of my last few bottles will be a bittersweet affair ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

Wine Review: 2016 Cabernet Franc by Medeiros Family Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Cabernet Franc (Santa Clara Valley) by Medeiros Family Vineyards.

Late last year as we wrapped our year long rediscovery of the Fair Play and greater Foothills and South El Dorado Hills region we stumbled upon this humble winemaker as he was just moving into his new humble estate in Fair Play. After sharing some wine with him and hearing his story, I couldn’t be happier to welcome another talented winemaker to the region.

Nose is thick and full of berry, plum and an intense sweet cherry. Atypical for a Cabernet Franc. A subtle hint of leathery terroir lingers in the back. The body is fruit forward however not as much as the nose would suggest. The plum carries over into the body. This is a Cab Franc and I don’t expect more than two or three dimensions in the body. This one is no exception. However like a well built Cab Franc, what is does, it does really well. Excellent chassis provides good structure. Massive crisp tannic grip begins to dominate the affair before it’s over. Other than its ever tightening tannic grip the finish is dry, clean, and smooth. Great contrast. No spice. This is a classic California Cabernet Franc.

I look forward to following his work closely. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿท๐Ÿท๐Ÿท

Reserve: 2017 Pinot Noir by Bumgarner

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (El Dorado) by Bumgarner.

Bright ruby color. Upon opening there’s a noticeable burst of sweet licorice on the nose. Sweet cherry joins in the ensemble. A hint of oak and at least one other floral aroma I cannot pinpoint at the moment. Body is moderately acidic, dry, tart plum, slightly tannic, showing good structure and balance. Once it’s opened up, the transition turns creamy. A slight mineral leather makes an appearance right before transitioning to a subtly floral finish. A gentle, spicy tannic grip caps the whole experience. This is a clean, well executed Pinot Noir.

While very approachable right now, it is nowhere near it’s fullest expression. I would give this Pinot at least another 5-10 years. I have been following this winemaker’s work for the better part of the past two decades. I have never seen him make a Pinot before. As a matter of fact I have never seen a Pinot Noir from the El Dorado region. I couldn’t think of a better craftsman to undertake this task. His style is more traditional old world wines that lend themselves to graceful aging. Pick up a few bottles and forget about them. Thank me later. I’m looking forward to more amazing Pinot Noir Brian!๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ

Reserve: 2008 Merlot by ParaVi (Primus)

Tonight’s occasion we are checking in on this 2008 Merlot by ParaVi (formerly Primus) from the Sierra Foothills. This was one of my all-time favorite winemakers until they closed several years ago. Their top end flagship was a Merlot, very unusual and a testament to the winemakers skill and craft. This Merlot has lots of character, mild, subdued fruit, good oak, nice pepper and a finish with boat loads of tannin. My cellar is full of hidden gems like this that I’ve collected over the years, never to be seen again. Every sip bittersweet. Thanks to Coravin I’m able to save these gems and open them when they are peaking.