2020 Garnacha by Lechuza, Spain

2020 Garnacha by Lechuza, Spain

Another great wine recommendation from one of you!

Clear, purple-ruby color. Bright nose with prominent crisp ripe red berries, red cherries, over a dusty hay leather. Secondary notes of beeswax and rose petal perfume linger in the background. Swirling vigorously intensifies the floral notes. Pretty!

Slightly firm ripe body greets with a touch of tension and burst of ripe berries and cherry. Mouth feel is fuller than expected, smooth, and a slight touch fruit forward. A old damp barnwood joins the party shortly after along with and every more boisterous dusty fine grained tannic grit and warm spice. Soon after, the ones left – a dry grip on simmering, parched lips.

This is a very respectable party wine. I like it!

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2020 Nebbiolo by Cantine Elvio Tintero, Langhe, Piemonte, Italy

2020 Nebbiolo by Cantine Elvio Tintero, Langhe, Piemonte, Italia

Bright, clear ruby-purple color. You get that rocky slightly dusty leather essence up front typical of this region. Nose is very shy overall. As it breathes a smoky tobacco emerges. Subtle berries linger in the back. Swirling vigorously intensifies the tobacco leaf. How is this a 2020 vintage??

Body is nicely balanced. Upfront crisp dark plum skins greet the palate with a subtle tension. This tension quickly relaxes as the already medium body thins and stretches out opening up for a good dose of oak vanilla. Plum turns to raspberry, oak softens what would otherwise be a very dry, lean, masculine expression. Fully integrated tannins begin to precipitate upon the palate in thin layers of coating grip which endures through the finish. Gentle spice warmth lingers. My lips are parched.

On the spectrum of Nebbiolo (especially from Langhe), this falls on the lighter side. It is arguably a chillable red. Nicely composed, mature execution, and built to be enjoyed now. This reminds me of the Nebbiolo by Haarmeyer. It shows a much more approachable side of this varietal.

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2021 Albarino by Bodegas La Caña, Rais Baixas, España

2021 Albarino by Bodegas La Caña, Rais Baixas, España.

Rais Baixas as is situated in the Galicia region of northwest Spain.

Bright floral aromatic nose with notes of jasmine, peach, nectarines and sweet citrus. Very pleasant.

Body is nicely balanced. That sweet Meyer lemon zest really pulls forward, drawing a mild tension and lending a little body to a smooth mouth feel. Slightly under-ripe peaches, white plums are followed by a decent amount of minerality that coats the lips in increasingly moist layers. This defines the finish. Warm, moist lips.

This is a nice, well executed Albarino. For the price, an exceptional value and if you’re like me, can’t think of a better introduction to Basque Wine Country. Bien hecho!

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2017 Grey GCM (Garnacha, Cariñena, Mataro) by Viña Ventisquero

2017 Grey GCM (Garnacha, Cariñena, Mataro) by Viña Ventisquero, Colchagua Valley, Chile.

Damp hay, dark plums and cherries. Hints of cola and root beer. Subtle touch of buttery oak. Overall mildly restrained on the nose. Swirling vigorously releases more cherry cola.

A thin, light, shy body greets the palate. A mere suggestion of crisp acidity quickly pulls back leaving a dry almost wispy body. Cranberries and red cherries followed by a very light touch of oak then by crisp, fully integrated tannins. This marks the transition to finish as the tannins proceed to dominate the palate, only to be challenged by a warm spice heat that slowly roars back up from the chest. Both eventually settle for a truce over dry parched lips. Such subtle drama.

This wine is a sleeper. Delicate, subtle, clean, crisp, nuanced. It is likely peerless at this price point and is deserving of far better company. I’m not the least surprised as this winemaker has consistently amazed me over the years. This reminds me why I am going all the way to Chile to visit them. I can’t wait! Bien hecho amigos!

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You can access Ventisquero wines directly from the Ventiquero Wine Club website as well as on wine.com, both linked below.

https://ventisquerowineclub.com

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2018 Pinot Noir by Mac Forbes, Yarra Valley, Australia

2018 Pinot Noir by Mac Forbes, Yarra Valley, Australia

Leathery nose greets with a good dose of loamy sedimentary and mineral dirt. Reminds me of that signature Loire Valley terroir. Once you get past this terroir driven nose, a subtle but bright cherry cola emerges. Hints of sweet citrus linger in the back. Swirling vigorously intensifies the leather and red berries. As it opens up, red vines licorice and mineral slate. I like it already.

Body is all business. A subtle zest greets the palate. Bone dry. Subtle hints of oak vanilla provide a counter note while enhancing the cranberry and under-ripe cherry expression. Mouth feel is thin, silky, almost wispy. It’s mineral underpinning reveals itself as a bitter cola as it transitions to a dry finish characterized by thin, crisp tannic grip, lemon/lime zest and white pepper.

This is a proper Pinot Noir. A highly terroir driven wine with a mature execution. I recommend for Pinot lovers with an advanced palate. At 11% ABV you can sit back and enjoy every nuance over and over with little to no palate fatigue. It is light enough, it can easily be enjoyed chilled.

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2020 Chardonnay by Morgan Winery, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA

2020 Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas, CA

Supple, slightly crisp nose with notes of damp hay, light citrus, cantaloupe, pomegranate white cranberry .as it opens up these notes turn into more of a peach stone fruit. Take your time because hours later this becomes a truly magnificent wine.

Body is beautifully balanced from front to back, greeting the palate with a soft silky if not viscous mouth feel immediately. Sweet citrus up front with a touch of zest. Hints of white cranberries. There’s a noticeable minerality that lends a slight bitter in the background and renders the palate moist through the finish. The body quickly fades across the palate leaving hints of honeysuckle, ripe cantaloupe and cola.

This a very gentle, terroir driven Chardonnay with a beautiful, full bodied expression. I love this wine maker’s work. Great philosophy and execution.

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2012 Syrah (Double L Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Syrah (Double L Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas CA

Deep dark intense semi-opaque color. It appears clear and free of suspension. Out of the bottle nose is a little restrained for a syrah but very much present. Up front ripe dark plums, blackberries, dark cherries over a backdrop of old dusty, woody leather. Hints of black licorice punctuate the nose. Fruit and earth go hand in hand here. A deep, dark, brooding syrah.

Body is balanced from front to back. Bone dry. Thin plum skins carry over to greet the palate . Tannins are crisp, fairly restrained and fully integrated into the body. Slightly under-ripe blueberries. Barely noticeable acidity provides a gentle tension across the palate. Towards the back a gentle spice warmth slowly takes over the transition to finish, along with thin black currants. With each sip, a gentle grip builds upon the lips one delicate layer at a time. As it breathes, old barnyard woody leather and licorice intensify.

Following the nose I expected a massive beast of a Syrah however this is the complete opposite. Body is very delicate and gentle on the palate. There is a certain classic, understated simplicity to its expression and execution. This should make for a great benchmark Syrah in any cellar/collection. It is now that I have to remind myself that this is Santa Lucia Highlands and what a difference this climate/terroir makes with this otherwise massive varietal. This winemaker has done a great job of shepherding these grapes and chanelling everything that is great about this vineyard, and region at large.

Tech Sheet

2012 Double L Syrah by Morgan Winery

From Winemaker: 2012 Double L Syrah Tech Sheet.pdf
Terroir: Vineyard: Double L
Appelation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Soils: Arroyo Seco & Chualar Loam
Climate: very cool, Region 1 (UCD)
Composition: Rootstock: 110-14, 420a
Clones: 383 & 470
Aging: 1 3 months in 100% Bordeaux barrels
Analysis: Alcohol: 14.4%
Acidity: 6.7 G/L
PH: 3.54
Total Production: Approximately 75 cases
I would also like to say a Special Thank You to the Morgan Winery family and crew for digging into their limited library and making this limited production and beautifully crafted wine available. It’s truly a pleasure and honor to explore your life’s work.

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2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Louis Martini, Napa Valley

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) by Louis Martini, Napa Valley, California

Deep dark ruby color. Out of the bottle, ripe plums, and blackberries over a subtle backdrop of sawdust. Swirling vigorously unleashes bursts of sweet pinewood, ripe dark cherries, licorice and a faint freshness akin to mint/eucalyptus. Yummy.

Body is fairly balanced up front. A touch of acidity and fine grain dusty tannins greet the palate with mild tension. This is quickly followed by slightly ripe plum, dark cherries and red apple skins so faint you’d likely miss it. The fruit quickly dissipates as the fine grained tannins precipitate into an ever thickening coat of grit upon the palate. Hints of cola, currants and spice emerge as it transitions to finish. Lips are rendered parched shut under a thick dusty tannic grip and smoldering spice heat.

I seldom indulge in Napa wine country but when I do, I stop by Louis Martini. You’ve likely driven by this unassuming and understated Napa Winery. Its custodians have done a great job of documenting, preserving and continuing its legacy. It’s grounds and experience follow form and function, the tastings focused but casual and thoughtful. Louis Martini should provide a great benchmark for the Modern Day Napa Cab in any cellar.

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2018 19 Block Mountain Cuvée by The Hess Collection, Napa Valley

2018 19 Block Mountain Cuvée, The Hess Collection, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley

Slightly ripe plums and dark cherries over a backdrop of sawdust and subtle pinewood. Swirling vigorously intensifies these notes, adding hints of black licorice. Overall the nose is fairly restrained. As it breathes, a soft butterscotch emerges along with a subtle eucalyptus both so faint you’d likely miss them.

Body greets with a subtle tension in the form of slightly unde-ripe blackberries. This is quickly taken over by herbal freshness which is in turn overlaid with a noticeable oak (reminiscent of new oak). It’s not off balance but fairly prominent. This compensates well for its relative dryness while accentuating the fruit. Tannins are fully integrated into the body, and slowly precipitate layer by layer eventually coating the entire palate with an almost waxy dry lingering grip. A gentle of spice tingle caps the finish.

This is a medium bodied Cuvée with a desirable composition that should appeal to a broad spectrum of palate while still remaining enjoyable if not interesting to the more discerning snob. It has more of a new world modern style and execution. A well made, quality wine.

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2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, CA

Deep dark ruby color. Nose is shy. Greets with dark plum, old sawdust, and a touch of beeswax. Swirling vigorously adds a slight rocky essence, hints of licorice, shortbread and flutter of minty, herbal freshness toward the back.

Up front, thin, slightly under-ripe dark plum. This is quickly followed by restrained currant, black licorice and a noticeable old, woody leather. Acidity is fairly unobtrusive and could be easily overlooked but for the precise amount of tension it lends to this understated body. Crisp, clean and fully integrated tannins roll off the palate in short order, transitioning to black currants and subtle bitter cola towards the back. Transition to finish is seamless leaving the palate slightly parched with a gentle spice tingle. The cola and currants develop a subtle sweet dimension as the palate resets. As it opens up, a firm tannic grip develops over the entire palate as some of tannins caramelize to add a slight sweet aftertaste. This wine is very much reminiscent of a classic old world style Bordeaux. I can’t help but wonder how amazing a Meritage/Bordeaux blend from Mayacamas would be.

This is a mature, dry, old world look at Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, California and the World at large. I highly recommend it for the advanced palate. If you want to get an appreciation for the kind of wines that put Napa on the world stage decades ago, Mayacamas is a great place to start. Their program has gone largely unchanged over several generations of custodians. Their work provides a great reference point and study for the enlightened and curious palate.

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the estate for a private tasting last fall and the experience exceeded all expectations. For many years I have come assume there were little left in the Napa region in the form of true, single estate, artisan winemakers with small batch production wines. It’s an expensive proposition these days, especially for a highly sought-after region as Napa. This is why I was even more excited to realize that this small team of custodians (as they refer to themselves) are passionately preserving and continuing the legacy of this storied region with absolutely no room for compromise. This alone is reason enough to explore their wines.

No big, spicy, jammy, fruit bombs here. No overbearing manipulation, additives, or blending down [with Lodi grapes]. It’s simply wine from a vineyard in Napa, made the same way it always has been for generations, clean crisp, true… and there is a lot to said about that these days. It’s so refreshing for a WineSnob!

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