Reserve: 2015 Riserva Sangiovese by Vino Noceto

Tonight’s occasion: a side-by-side with the 2015 Riserva Sangiovese and the 2015 Sangiovese by Vino Noceto.

This winemaker from Plymouth, Amador, California has been putting out an amazing Sangiovese with surgical consistency for as long as I can remember – well over a decade.

The Sangiovese alone is a benchmark by which I measure all other Sangiovese, regardless of where it’s from. I cannot overstate how well made it is. There is a more limited companion, the Riserva Sangiovese. I have been meaning to open both at the same time and explore them together, side-by-side.

Sangiovese

My previous notes hold. It is very well behaved. A mild mannered nose with hints of raspberry and cherry which become more prominent in a very well structured and balanced body. There is a subtle creamy under layer to the body. The finish is unmistakably peppery. The spice lingers long after the finish has faded away, like the tannins of a Syrah. It doesn’t take long to open up but when it does a light buttery, oak undertone permeates the entire experience. I consider this Sangiovese a prime example of what is possible with this varietal, in this region and the greater California wine region.

Riserva Sangiovese

Color has a hint of brown and a touch darker compared the Sangiovese. Nose on the Riserva has unmistakably a more oak. This is expected as it is barrel aged 6-8 months longer than the Sangiovese. This has the effect of smoothing out the edges and giving it a velvety mouth feel. It seems a tad more acidic.

Like any Sangiovese, I think it’s meant to be paired with food, especially meats. The Riserva even moreso. They both paired well with the New York Steak but it was pretty obvious this is where the Riserva really shines. It instantly cut through the steak, creating one seemless cohesive, creamy, buttery smooth experience. Wow. Hints of caramel, cocoa and tobacco emerge when paired. I’m not one to pair my wine as I like to fully immerse myself in all it’s nuance and complexity but this wine absolutely must be paired appropriately. The Riserva makes a great treat for any guest with a discerning palate. The Sangiovese is very approachable and an accessible price point, easily making it a very high quality every day wine.

I always keep several bottles of this Sangiovese in my cellar as a reference and to show fellow WineSnobs what is going on off the beaten path.

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Wine Review: 2017 Sonoma Pinot Noir by Pali

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Riviera – Sonoma County) by Pali Wine Company.

Shy nose. A little plum and dark berries. There’s a hint of that Sonoma dirt in the back. Body is fruit forward but shows good balance overall with mild acid and moderate tannins. A good overall mouth feel with notes of cocoa and cherries. Smooth finish which quickly dries out with a touch of spice. The wine paired excellent with smoked BBQ ribs.

This is a great EDC (Every Day Consumption) wine. It presents good value at an approachable price point. It’s definitely what I call a pleaser. Wine is all about mood and if you’re in the mood for a good well made wine without necessarily over analyzing the experience or breaking the bank, you should consider this wine. It is still a little on the young side. I think it just might surprise you 2-3 years from now.

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Reserve: 2016 Carmenere by Lapostolle

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Carmenere (Cuvée Alexandre) by Lapostolle

Deep, dark, opaque color. Warm, thick heavy nose out of the bottle. Lots of black berries, hint of raisin, and an unmistakable black licorice reminiscent of Absinthe. Some good earthy leather underlies it all.

Wow! Just from the color and nose, I was prepared for a massive body. I am however taken back by how restrained the body is from start to finish. Greeted immediately by a good melange of mild acid and moderate tannins, both forming a well orchestrated chassis which guides you to all the way through the finish. Fine grained tannins reveal themselves towards the back. The fruit and licorice carries through from the nose albeit with a healthy dose of restraint. The body is more dry than not. A little minerality emerges. I suspect this may be contributing to the fine grained texture on the palate. Transition to a quick finish is almost seamless, dominated by this chewy, fine grain texture, dry tannic grip and a touch of spice which diminishes as the wine opens up.

This is more of a medium bodied wine posing as a heavy big bodied wine. It carries the hallmarks of a unique special wine. It is unconventional and makes no pretenses. It is clearly young and I can imagine how beautiful and nuanced it would be 5-10yrs from now. This is my first wine ever from the Colchagua Valley in Chile and I must say I am impressed and intrigued. I am reminded that somewhere in that corner of the world, someone is toiling away creating something remarkable.

I will be adding this wine to my cellar and very much look forward to how it develops over the next several years.

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Wine Review: 2008 Nebbiolo by Ca’Nova

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Nebbiolo by Ca’Nova, Ghemme, Piedmont, Italy.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I am obsessed with Nebbiolo especially from Italy. They are hard to come by in this part of the world and fetch a premium. So while browsing wine.com for this month’s Explore & Taste selection, I decided to try a Nebbiolo off the beaten path.

Big warm aromatic nose permeates the space as soon as you pop the cork. This wine is still swing for the fences after 12 years. Upon closer inspection, nose is full of black berry, subtle sweet cherry notes, marshmallows and tart plum with faint slate rock undertone.

Body has a moderately acidic attack. Slightly chalky, minerality carries through. Tannins are slow to wake up, finally making their presence known towards the back. When they do, they conspire with the chalk to completely rob the palate and lips of all moisture and render dry. Body and finish feel to be one cohesive unit culminating in parched lips with a tingling of spice as you attempt to pry your parched lips apart.

This wine isn’t messing around. I think it is just now becoming approachable. For a 12 year old vintage it is appropriately aged for a Nebbiolo. It will likely drink like this for the next decade. It presents a very compelling value at around $36.

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Wine Review: 2016 Cab Sauv by Canvasback

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon by Canvasback, Red Mountain [AVA], Yakima Valley [AVA], Columbia Valley [AVA], Washington State.

Dark rich color. Long dark legs. Crisp, clean nose with lots of berry and plum. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of good fruit up front along with a healthy dose of restraint. A hint of oak in the back.

Body has very good crisp, clean structure and balance. Not as fruit forward as the nose would suggest. The oak while still restrained, is a touch more pronounced. Expression of the terroir is muted and more mineral if anything. I think this may be the reason for its crisp, clean posture.

It has a great mouth feel. It’s so easy for a Cab to get out of hand and overbearing. This one is extremely well behaved and tamed. I suspect the climate in the region may have something to do with it. Firm tannins lead to a smooth finish dominated by their ever tightening grip. A hint of tobacco, smokey oak and moderate enduring dry spice wrap up the experience.

Most wines have a certain aristic flare to them. This wine feels like it was made with a healthy dose of OCD. It feels like there was great attention to detail and a strict adherence to core principles. This is my first time tasting wine from this little know region. I am very impressed by the quality of the wine and craftsmanship.

Nicely done Canvasback!

Reader Notes

Opened it 10 minutes ago and poured it into the glass. It has a dark ruby red color with viscosity. Its shy on the nose initially but I get some spicy fresh aromas of dark currants, plums, dried herbs. It has mild acidity and good fruit with some roundness on the palate but it has peppery notes on the palate. It has mild to moderate tannins but a smooth very long finish.

My wife has an incredible palate. She is going to taste it soon. Its definitely drinkable without food but I can see it as food friendly. I’ll let you know when I have it with food.

The tannins are not intense. It’s a very well balanced wine. Definitely approachable young compared to Napa cabs. Wifey felt it also has a taint of tobacco leaf and I agree. I think that comes once it’s open longer.

~ Dr Cruz-Romero

 

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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!

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Wine Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Artesa

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Los Carneros, Limited Release) by Artesa.

Restrained, delicate, subtle are its hallmarks. The nose greets you with that all too familiar Carneros dirt. It’s very subtle but unmistakable. If you’ve had quite a few wines from this region, then you know what I’m talking about… LOL. I love it! There’s an even fainter hint of manure. It’s a very pleasant leather overall. The terroir is very nicely expressed through the vine and into this wine. Aside from that there are subtle sweet berry, cherry and floral notes.

Body is crisp. Clean. Balanced. This is a Pinot in the traditional sense. Light buttery tannins create a very easy laid back mouth feel. A hint of oak and cherry pull through into the body. A seamless transition to an otherwise dry, smooth finish, followed moments later by gentle spice.

This is a very clean, well made Pinot Noir. A textbook Carneros Pinot Noir. If you’re looking for a good starting/reference point, you can’t go wrong with Artesa. Treat yourself to the view from the estate at the top of the ridge. Take some time to go over their mouth watering assortment of representative wines. Well done Artesa!

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