2018 Farmhouse Red by Amador Cellars, Plymouth CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Farmhouse Red by Amador Cellars , Plymouth CA

Almost opaque color. Out of the bottle, slightly under-ripe dark plum, star anise (very typical of this region), prominent berries (it is 43%Zin after all). In the back a subtle granite. The notes conspire to create a bubble-gum essence. Subtle floral notes of sweet rose petals, easily overshadowed by the star anise.

Balanced body is balanced, slightly restrained. Ripe dark plum up front quickly turns to fine dissolved and fully integrated tannins that stay suspended. A hint of oak vanilla accentuates the fruit in an otherwise fairly dry wine. The discerning palate would appreciate this. A smooth mouth feel gives way to an unceremonious finish leaving the lips slightly moist with a touch dusty tannic grit.

No secret here. I love this Winemaker’s work. Truly a family affair. This winery is family owned and operated. While Mike may have many more prized vintages under his belt, it’s always nice to take a look at his interpretation of the porch pounder and every day sipper. I love what he’s done here. It shows his versatility as a winemaker. If you read between the lines, you’ll find this is the type of wine that introduces the beginner palate to what great wines are all about. I believe among many-a-purpose, wine should also serve as an opportunity for enlightenment and education. This wine does just that.

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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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2014 Syrah (Jay Wilderotter) by Terre Rouge Easton Wines, Plymouth, CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2014 Syrah (Jay Wilderotter) by Terre Rouge * Easton Wines, Plymouth CA

Dark inky opaque color. Out of the bottle, nose is a bit shy. Dry, tart plum skins, blackberry and a touch of ripe dark cherries take center stage. A woody leather permeates the background. Swirling vigorously unlocks ripeness, licorice, a hint of crisp eucalyptus wood, herbal notes and granite mineral essence (a subtle bitterness that usually accompanies anise/licorice).

Body is firm, greeting with a touch of acidity and spice. This is almost immediately balanced by heavy dusty fine grained tannins dropping deep down and creating a solid monolithic base structure. Midway through, dry dark plum, and blackberry, conspire with crisp oak to create a slightly softer mouth feel. This quickly gets absorbed by the monolithic structure beneath, leaving black currants and a bitter mineral essence on the palate. At this point the entire palate is under a warm spice heat. Massive tannins and granite minerality sway the palate momentarily from slightly moist to dry and grippy and back again. This act continues until there is little left but parched lips and a spice tingle.

Also affectionately referred to as The Wildebeast, this wine is stands as yet another fine example from our 2019 Winemaker Of The Year. With great sense of place, and crisp execution, this wine is a faithful representation, a world class wine from this highly understated region. No journey into California wines is complete without venturing into Amador and the Sierra Foothills. This Winemaker’s wines stand as solid reference point for what this region and California at large has to offer.

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Harold’s Reserve (Red Blend) by TKC Vineyards, Plymouth, CA

Tonight’s Occasion: Harold’s Reserve (66% Syrah, 33% Zinfandel) by TKC Vineyards, Plymouth, CA

Dark opaque color. Crisp intense nose with lots of dry plum and blackberry. Swirling unlocks a burst of sweet dark cherries, red vines licorice and a hint of soft oak vanilla. A touch of dry dusty granite lingers in the distant background. Good sense of place.

A bright, fresh, crisp attack greets the palate. Moderate acidity creates good tension up front. This is quickly followed by thin, crisp and firm tannins, which add great structure. A crisp oak vanilla adds more dimension to a very structured body, further enhancing dry fruit expression. Body quickly dissipates, leaving behind tart blackberries, bitter cola and a slightly dusty dry tannic grip. A gentle spice punctuates the whole experience.

This very small boutique winemaker has been making little gems for over 40 years. Not far off Shenandoah road in Plymouth, Amador, you’ve likely driven by many times and missed it. This past weekend I was only tickled to stumble upon it and even better, Karina the winemaker was pouring our tasting just outside the cellar. I liked every one of her wines. They were all well built, balanced, and fairly dry, especially for this region. She has a very mature style. Have you tried TKC wines yet? What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

2014 Zinfandel (Salvador Vineyard) by Turley

Tonight’s Occasion:ย  2014 Zinfandel (Salvador Vineyard – Contra Costa County) by Turley Wine Cellars, Plymouth CA

Dark opaque color. For a Zin this big, nose is a bit shy out of the bottle. Up front, lots of red berry, touch of sweet cherry cola, hints of red vines licorice over a backdrop of damp sandy soil. As it breathes, the wet sand develops a leathery quality. I like it!

Body is fairly restrained, balanced, very well integrated for a Zin, monolithic in expression. You are greeted with soft tannins. Hints of berry tell you this is Zinfandel without overpowering the experience. A light vanilla cherry cola follows. Shortly after all fruit vanishes leaving behind as it takes a more serious note leaving the palate bone dry with a bitter cola and firm dusty tannic grip. At this point we are well into the finish. The third act begins as an intensifying spice heat slowly consumes the palate from back to front, reminding you, this is in fact a California Zinfandel.

I think of Turley as a Zin House. If you like Zinfandel, I think you should pay them a visit. They were gracious enough to make this Library wine available on my last visit. It is a masterful representation of the quintessential California Zin without completely altering its expression.

Nicely done Turley!

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2011 Syrah (Monarch Mine) by Terre Rouge Easton Wines

Tonight’s Occasion: 2011 Syrah (Monarch Mine Vineyard, Sierra Foothills) by Terre Rouge * Easton Wines, Plymouth CA

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!

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2013 Sangiovese (Hillside) by Vino Noceto

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Sangiovese (Hillside) by Vino Noceto, Plymouth, CA.

Intense ruby color. This is a Noceto after all. Out of the bottle, a slightly warm, damp nose full of sweet cherries, subtle leather and a hint of wet mineral. This dissipates but quickly returns with a swirl along with hints of licorice, sweet cherry cola and a chalky granite. What a treat.

Body greets with a pinch of acidity. This is quickly smothered by a smooth, silky ,velvety body not unlike the Riserva, maybe a touch lighter. One subtle but noticeable characteristic is a hint of bitter cola that permeates the background. This lingers long after the body has faded away. This has a slight mouth watering effect in the finish as it turns to subtle sweet cherries and a touch of spice.

I wanted a treat today and I got it. This Sangiovese is has really come along nicely. If you have any, I recommend opening it now. Everything is restrained, and gentle while retaining much of its character. A great wine from an understated winery and one of my favorite winemakers. Rusty and the entire crew at Vino Noceto, nicely done!

Molto bene!๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ

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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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2019 Touriga by Amador Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2019 Touriga by Amador Cellars, Plymouth California.

Very aromatic, floral nose as soon as you open the bottle. Wow. Reminds me of spring blossoms, wild tropical flowers, passion fruit, a touch of jasmine and honeysuckle. Is this really Touriga? Wow. Closer inspection reveals ripe berries, sweet cherries, wet granite leather and touch of licorice. As it opens up it reveals subtle notes of baker’s cocoa. I can pick up the nose from two feet away on the patio outside. What an entrancing bouquet.

Body is light, plush, soft, and chock-full of subtle layers. My goodness. I have never seen a take on Touriga like this. Crisp caramel lingers in the back, thin whispy tannins provide an ever shifting structure. Transition to finish is seamless as the whole set shifts and fades. Various notes from the nose carry through, constantly rotating over the palate.

I remember Michael the winemaker telling me this was a not the typical Touriga. It was made to be enjoyed now, even chilled. Touriga is such a massive varietal, it’s shocking to see it in this form. I have never seen a Touriga (or a red for that matter) done like this. Very creative. This is a conversation piece. I need to get more for my cellar!

Nicely done Mike and the entire crew at Amador Cellars! Wow!

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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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