Review: 2018 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Martin Ray

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Martin Ray.

Bright rich ruby color. Beautiful nose out of the bottle characterized by wet sandy loamy leather. This quickly pulls to the back and gives way to berries and sweet cherries. There are faint tertiary herbal notes as well as a touch of sweet cola and the faintest hint of warm cedarwood. Swirl vigorously to revisit the whole affair. Nice!!!

Body shows good balance up front with a slightly milder acidity. Oak quickly moves to the front, as tannins introduce good structure. The oak is just enough to tease out a velvety, buttery, mouth feel. Berries and sweet cherries play secondary notes. It is fairly dry but this is initially masked by the oak play and fruit notes. A graceful transition to finish culminates in slightly dry tannic grip and a noticeable dose of spice.

This is a well made wine. My favorite part is the nose. I absolutely love that Sonoma dirt, and it shines through in this Pinot. I’m not the least surprised coming from this winemaker. At this price point (currently listed for $19.99 on wine.com) it punches above its weight and presents good value. It is a pleasant (and slightly playful) wine to sip and should appeal to a broad spectrum of palates. For the advanced palate, the nose and finish should tickle your fancy. Buy 6, buy a case. You can’t go wrong having a solid every day Pinot on hand. Nicely done Martin Ray.! 🍷😁👌🏽

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Reserve: 2014 Pinot Noir (Sanford & Benedict Vineyard) by Sanford

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (Sanford & Benedict Vineyard) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.

Subtle aromatic nose characterized by rich fine leather of slightly damp loamy terroir intertwined with faint sweet berries, touch of dark cherries and vanilla. This wine commands a clean palate and clear mind.

Body is balanced right down the middle, front to back. An attack with suggestion of acidity is quickly counterbalanced by subtle tannin in the form of dark cherries. This creates just the right amount of background structure and foundation for a silky, whispy mouth feel. Oak vanilla and berries continue their gentle interplay as they carry over from the nose, introducing yet more whispers of musical harmony. Body and finish appear as one through a seamless transition culminating with gentle whispers of dry tannic grip and faint spice.

This is a terroir driven wine. An exercise in restraint and balance. A strict adherence to core principles. It reads like a thesis in Pinot Noir excellence. You cannot explore wines from the California central coast without indulging in this specific Pinot Noir by this storied founders’ vineyard. I keep this particular Pinot Noir on hand in my cellar as a benchmark and reference.

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Wine Review: 2014 Cabernet Franc (Chinon) by Remy Pannier

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Cabernet Franc (Chinon) by Remy Pannier, Loire, France.

Dark plum color. Warm restrained nose with a lovely leather of slightly mineral, sedimentary terroir. You get a punch of mushrooms right out of the bottle. This quickly dissipates and is replaced by dark plum and blackberry. There’s a bit of a smokey cocoa essence. I like the nose on this one.

Haha this is definitely a Cab Franc by all accounts. Body is balanced. It has a plum mouth feel with lots of crisp clean tannic structure. The mineral leather carries over here as well as it’s smokey cocoa essence. Once opened the already graceful body softens around the edges for a smooth gentler feel. The finish is rather unceremonious, fading away, leaving behind a dry moderate tannic grip.

This is a Cabernet Franc after all. A great example too. I don’t expect too much drama or dimension from this varietal but what it does, it does it well. At 12.5% ABV this is one you can take your sweet time and eek out every nuance without any palate fatigue. I don’t think I’ve tasted Cab Franc from Loire before. I like how the terroir is so nicely expressed.

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Wine Review: 2019 Grenache Blanc by Skinner Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2019 Grenache Blanc by Skinner Vineyards, El Dorado, California.

Clear light color. Out of the bottle a gentle burst of floral notes, a touch of honey. This slowly dissipates to suggestions of tart stone fruits and a slate-like minerality punctuated by a touch of leather and citrus notes. Swirl vigorously to unlock the whole experience all over again. Very cool!

Body is very nicely balanced retaining moderate acidity while presenting a smooth, creamy and rounded mouth feel. The winemaker struck a perfect balance here. Stone fruits pull forward as floral notes fall back. You could almost miss the faint mineral leather. Transition to finish is seamless, only briefly punctuated by subtle dry tannic grip and a touch of spice which leaves the lips tingling. At 12.8% ABV, the palate can really explore this nuanced wine without being overwhelmed or fatigued. I like that.

I have been tasting some amazing white wines this summer from this region. This Grenache Blanc exposes the palate to new levels of excellence. There has been a clear attention to detail and forethought put into this wine. It is showing well now and should further integrate nicely over the next few years. I’d get a few, have some now and save some for later. Very nicely done Skinner!

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Wine Review: 2011 Nebbiolo (TreVigne) by Travaglini Gattinara

Tonight’s occasion: 2011 Nebbiolo (TreVigne) by Travaglini Gattinara (@travaglinigattinara), Italy.

Clear, rich ruby color. Out of the bottle you are greeted with a lovely herbal bouquet with wet wood undertones. Fruit plays secondary and tertiary notes with subtle hints of berries and red cherries with a certain crisp character. A touch of spice and mineral. Once opened up, a hint of caramel permeates the nose.

Body is bigger and bolder than it looks. You are greeted immediately with bold acid and broad well rounded tannins. This provides great structure. The wet wood and fairly neutral terroir take second stage. Subtle hits of cedarwood conspire with black currants to create a faint Absinthe-like locorice. Finish is brisk, quickly giving way to fine grained tannins and rendering the palate parched.

I have been following this winemaker for a while and absolutely love what they do with Nebbiolo however this is my first time trying the TreVigne (Three Vineyard) and I could immediately recognize its layered structure and complexity, relative to the others. They have managed to take such a big, massive grape and turn it into a refined experience, it’s impressive.

Molto bene Travaglini! 🍷😁👌🏽

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Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Lapostolle

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Valle De Colchagua) by Lapostolle, Chile

Dark opaque color. Slightly restrained but still fairly big, warm and heavy nose. Lots of dark plum and blackberry secondary notes. Swirl vigorously and unlock tertiary notes of oak which conspire to create the faintest hint of licorice which turns to more of a cedarwood vibe as it opens up.

Body is very balanced and greets you with good acidity accompanied by a mouthful of tannins in the form of plum skins. From there everything quickly simmers down as the body becomes restrained. Big, massive and dry tannic grip ushers a transition to a slightly warm and spicy finish leaving your lips dried shut – a dead giveaway this wine is young and while it shows sush poise and character, I believe in 5-10 years it will be a a beautiful gem of a wine that will surprise any palate. It is a fantastic wine now but with a little more time to develop it will be a remarkable piece.

I have reviewed some amazing wines by this Chilean winemaker before and this one does not disappoint. Not only are their wines extremely well crafted, they present tremendous value. Bien hecho amigos!

Reviews of wines by this winemaker

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Reserve: 2016 Pinot Noir (Cork Dancer) by Hitching Post

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Cork Dancer) by Hitching Post , Santa Barbara Country, Califronia.

Today we take a look at an understated everyday Pinot for the everyday wine enthusiast. This wine presents great all around value. If your are looking for a great EDC (Every Day Consumption) wine, I recommend adding this to your cellar.

Deep ruby color. Crisp nose with notes of berry, subtle stone fruits and caramel stand out most. Body shows good balance with a mildly acidic attack followed by creamy tannins in the form of plums and dark cherries. Transition to finish is seamless, capped by mild, dry tannic grip and a hint of spice.

At 12.5% ABV it is a very mellow laid back experience. You can open a bottle by yourself and work your way through it over the course of your evening with minimal fuss. All this conspires to make this a very approachable and enjoyable wine. This is most definitely a pleaser. Nicely done guys!

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2016 Pinot Noir (Drum Canyon) by Dierberg * StarLane

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Drum Canyon) by Dierberg * StarLane

Deep ruby red color. Nose is restrained, well mannered, slightly warm, with notes of oak, berries, hint of sweet cherry all conspiring to create a very subtle red vines licorice. Terroir is also represented in the form of wet dusty leather. It maintains a classy posture overall. Interesting.

Body is representative. A very mild restrained acidic attack that is quickly accompanied by buttery smooth tannins. Very subtle oak and blackberry emerge towards the back to create a full mouth feel. A very faint black currant lends good structure and balance as it transitions to a brief finish capped by a hint of spice.

I reviewed the Dierberg Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir a while back and was absolutely enamored with it. One of my top California Pinot Noirs. Looking back at my notes I can some similarities and some differences. First this one is more medium bodied, slightly dryer more structured body. Where they resemble is the result of the winemakers attention to detail, commitment to excellence and adherence to core principles. The result is a world class California Pinot. I highly recommend this Pinot, particularly for the advanced palate, especially side-by-side with the Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir for a good perspective on this winemaker and his craft. Well done folks!

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Wine Review: 2010 Carignan (Cordillera) by Miguel Torres

Tonight’s occasion: 2010 Carignan (Cordillera) by Miguel Torres, Valle Del Maule, Chile.

Dark inky opaque color. Massive, nose out of the bottle. Big, bold, brash with loads of dry plum, black cherries wrapped in heat. A hint of leather and caramel lingers in the back.

Body is surprisingly restrained in stark contrast to the nose. It is moderately acidic throughout, accompanied by subtle buttery tannins. Tart plum carries through into the finish characterized by a persistent, acidic spice that bites, simultaneously drying and torching the palate down to the chest. After about an hour it becomes an even more subtle experience overall.

This is a big wine by all accounts even for a Carignan. It is a well made wine. It has had sufficient time to develop and it shows quite nicely right now. It presents a tremendous value at $23.99 and is proof positive that not all good wine is expensive. It could easily lay down another 10 years. I will surely be watching this winemaker and the region in general. We’ll done!

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Wine Review: 2007 Rioja by López de Heredia Viña Tondonia

Tonight’s occasion: 2007 Rioja by López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Spain.

Bold warm nose with plum, blackberry and a hint of caramel on the back. Swirl vigorously to unlock a sandy mineral leather.

Body is noticeably acidic. It is mostly Tempranillo after all. A very prominent black currant underlayment permeates the experience as moderate tannins make an appearance midway. Mineral terroir occupies a tertiary layer along with hints of caramel and spice. A tart plum dominates the finish capped by a dry, spicy tannic grip.

This is a really good wine. A welcomed diversion from California wines. Like most Spanish wine it is big, bold, dry, masculine and makes no apologies. It is honestly just now approachable at 13 years of age and I shudder to imagine what it was like at 5. It shows good structure and delineated complexity. It should serve as a good reference point for wines of this style and region. Bien hecho amigos! 😁🍷

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