Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Pinot Noir (O’Brien, Eola-Amity Hills) by Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon
Intense ruby color. Slightly restrained nose with crisp, slightly sweet cherries, raspberries, and a touch of pomegranate. There’s a certain faint bitter essence in the distant background. This is typical of the region and its terroir at large. I love it when a wine shows good sense of place. In this case a subtle mineral leather. Swirling vigorously adds a little more raspberry and leather. Classic.
Slightly crisp greeting on the body with cherries and refined caramel reminiscent of neutral oak. A very mild sweet citrus adds great mouth feel not unlike Meyer Lemon. Crisp tannins provide unobtrusive structure. This slowly morphs into a mild spice heat as it transitions to finish. A prickly spice tingle takes over the lips as raspberries, cherries and cola quietly debate who exists the stage last.
I love what these folks are doing with their wines. Their tastings are more of an education on the region and it’s wines. Execution is clean, crisp and highly terroir driven. I have a soft spot for Pinot from this region and Willamette Valley Vineyards channels that very nicely in all their wines.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon by Windwalker, El Dorado, CA
Dark opaque color. Out of the bottle nose is a little shy but there is an unmistakable honeysuckle and beeswax essence. As it opens up, the nose fills up, thickens into a melange of lemon zest, tangerine, ripe, red berries, and a sharp star anise, it’s sense of place, a hallmark of the Sierra Foothills. Pine, cedar-wood and dusty granite linger in the background. This wine is ripe!
Body is nicely balanced up front. It is slightly fruit forward but nowhere near as much as the nose would suggest. A mild acidic attack quickly hands off to a bold spice heat that intensifies through the body. Ripe plums and Dark cherries add a thick chassis of soft tannins. Oak accentuates the berry and citrus notes nicely. Transition to finish is seamless as the body slowly soaks into the palate leaving behind a slightly moist lips, a fine grained, dusty tannic grit a warm but firm heat. Faint notes of cocoa and caramel linger. This is how this wine was meant to be enjoyed.
There’s endless ways to make a wine. What I find interesting about this winemaker is their willingness to embrace what is most characteristic of this region – hang time. They have a longer ripening season which yields higher sugar, and more intense flavor profiles. At 13.9% ABV it is fairly restrained for this region but the flavors are intense. At 13 years of age, it has had time to integrate very nicely. This is a beautiful wine.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Petite Sirah by Paza Estate Winery, Sierra Foothills, CA.
Dark opaque color. Ripe dark plum, ripe dark cherries and a touch of sweet oak vanilla. A damp wood and old leather essence lingers in the background. Swirling unlocks hints of licorice, spice and unmistakable granite dust.
Body is on the softer side of balanced. Dark plum, cherry skins, greet the palate immediately. Wet wood, granite leather and oak provide a great plush mouth feel while accentuating the fruit. Blackberries, and black currants provide great structure underlayment. As it opens up, seemingly restrained tannins roar to life, completely dominating the entire experience with a firm dry grip. Spice gives way to more black currant. Finish leaves the palate dry, lips parched shut with a mild spice tingle.
This is my favorite of the Paza lineup. It’s a nice Petite Sirah. It shows good creativity while maintaining its sense of place. The other wine that stood out was their sparkling wine. It is pretty good. We will be taking a look at it here soon. If you’re looking for nice, little, quaint winery off the beaten path, this is a great, fun little, chill experience with great views. There’s also a good chance you will be hosted by the owner/winemaker. Nicely done Paza!
Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard) by William Church and Tinte Cellars, Yakima Valley, WA
Dark inky color. Thick intense nose greets with wet slate gravel, ripe plum and blackberries. A bright sweet citrus lingers in the background sort of like Meyer lemon. Very pretty nose. Swirling vigorously intensifies the whole experience. As it opens up, a faint anise makes an appearance in the distant background.
Body greets with a bright acidity. This quickly transitions to a thick, slightly creamy body. It is fairly dry. Tannins are surprisingly restrained, providing just enough structure without dominating the experience. That wet, gravel carries over alongside slightly ripe plum and blackberry. A subtle burst of oak further softens the edges. A bold spice heat emerges towards the back marking the transition to finish characterized by black currant, a moderate dusty tannic grip and spice tingle. After an hour the anise dominates. Wet gravel develops an unmistakable old wet wood leather and hints of tobacco so faint you’d likely miss it.
I just love how Syrah can be so gentle in this region. This winemaker has done a fantastic job with this one. It is far more interesting than a Syrah should be. A pleasant, multi dimensional, interesting interpretation of this otherwise monolithic varietal. I picked this up at Tinte Cellars (@tintecellars) while exploring the Woodinville outside Seattle. Now I understand why I absolutely had to bring it back with me.
Nicely done folks!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Viognier (El Dorado), by Skinner Vineyards, Fair Play, CA
Peach, cantaloupe, subtle honeysuckle, faint strawberry over a granite leather underlayment. Swirling vigorously intensifies the nose especially the peach and cantaloupe which turns slightly sweet. Leather develops a mineral character. Beautiful!
Light body is precisely balanced right down the middle, front to back. Greeting with not so much as a suggestion which gently reveals a soft, plush somewhat creamy mouth feel. Stone fruit and cantaloupe carry forward ever so slightly. It is fairly dry but a masterful play between crisp caramel, mineral leather and citrus create a pleasing effect. Transition to finish seamless as body slowly fades into the sunset leaving the palate slightly dry, under a gentle spice heat. You’d likely miss it but there’s a sweet nutty after taste, not unlike coconut and walnut. It’s very faint.
I just love it when visiting a winery and the first wine you are greeted with is a wine of this caliber and finesse. That’s what caught me about this wine. For me, Skinner Vineyards is a solid reference for the region and California at large. You won’t find any compromises here. I love what they are doing. Winemaker Adam Smith brings a complementary perspective to the region. You cannot go wrong with Skinner. A Vineyard and organization with a great story, people behind it. Always a treat! To the entire team at Skinner, Thank you!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Grenache by Robert Oatley, McLaren Vale, Australia.
Pretty nose. Slightly restrained with slightly ripe raspberries up front and fine dusty leather in the back along with hints of anise. As it opens, it develops a white pepper spice, over red cherries.
Body is buttery smooth from front to back. A soft light and plush body greets with hints of cola. Raspberries carry over ever so slightly. A subtle wet wood leather as well. This conspires to lend a faint banana peel essence to the body which persists through the finish. After a long body, the finish comes fairly abruptly characterized by a thin but firm, crisp, dry tannic grip and a moderate but very noticeable spice heat. After about an hour, it develops a slight tobacco and the anise becomes a little more prominent.
What I love about Grenache is that, not unlike Pinot Noir, it doesn’t lie. Channeling terroir, it lays to bear what happened in the Vineyard and offers little forgiveness for what happens in the cellar. This is a great, well made wine, offering a glimpse into both. I love this region especially for its Pinot. This Grenache is welcomed diversion. Nicely done Mates!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Pinot Noir (Pomarium) by Peay Vineyards, Sonoma Coast, CA
A burst of Rose petals hits the nose. Oh my! Beautiful floral aromas. Soft sweet cherry cola. Faint leather and red vines licorice lingers in the background. Bright, translucent ruby color.
Silky smooth body shows good balance with a touch of acid on the attack. Dark cherry skins lay down a paper thin structure over which a light, thin, soft almost silky body of cola, subtle blackberries and crisp (neutral) oak. This act quickly vanishes leaving the palate dry, crisp, and slightly grippy with a faint spice tingle. As it opens up, the cola intensifies. This wine is dry but this does not become evident until the finish.
A gift from my little boy. I have never heard of this winemaker before. I think they’ve done a great job with this wine. I like it and will have to pay them a visit. Nicely done Peay!
Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tempranillo (Last Draw Vineyards) by William Chris, Texas High Plains
Dark, semi-opaque color appears unfiltered. Not surprising the nose greets with leathery essence of wet wood and damp fine almost loamy sand soil with hints of granite. Restrained plum skins submit to this terroir expression, almost becoming secondary. An unmistakable licorice is clearly secondary. Swirling vigorously unleashes a punch of licorice, slightly ripe dark cherries, spice and wet soil. Let it sit a moment and pick up a minty eucalyptus herbal essence. A banana peel lingers so faint you’d likely miss it. Impressive.
Body greets with a punch of acidity in the attack. Plums lazily roll in, bringing good balance and structure. Shortly after, ripe dark cherries and a touch of oak vanilla bring volume and a warm soft mouth feel. A spice heat then emerges to dominate the experience gradually intensifying through transition to finish. This has the effect of raising the heart rate and warming the chest. The palate is left under an endless rotation of tingling spice, firm tannic grip, bitter cola and slight palate watering effect likely due to minerality.
This is a powerful Tempranillo. Highly terroir driven. Bold in its expression. It feels a bit wild, untamed, pure, an exercise in fundamentals. This wine should keep the intermediate to advanced palate occupied for a while. Well done!
Thank you sharing this gem off the beaten path with me Jenn.
Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Tempranillo by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains.
Dark, rich semi-opaque color. Firm nose with crisp tannins in the form of dry, slightly ripe plum and subtle licorice all wrapped in a slightly mineral leather. Swirling vigorously adds hints of cherry cola, more star anise and leather turns dusty, not unlike decomposed granite. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Sierra Foothills here in California, one of my favorite regions, albeit more restrained. Nice.
For a Tempranillo, the body is crisp, dry, restrained. It fairly mild mannered. Plum skins and gentle citrus greet the palate. It is balanced front to back. Tart plums and dark cherries provide a crisp, lean, restrained mouth feel over a firm but unobtrusive structure. Faint hints of licorice, citrus, vanilla and sand leather round out the body. This marks the transition to finish marked by a clean, crisp firm tannic grip and a fairly bold spice heat leaving the palate dry and lips parched shut.
This is a classy Tempranillo. Well executed. It is uncommon to see one this well behaved. It leaves me wondering how much of this expression is the winemaker and how much is the region and terroir. Fascinating. I look forward to learning more during my upcoming trip to TX. Nicely done!
Thank you for sharing Angela!
Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Pinot Grigio (Albini Vineyards, Sonoma) by Passagio Wines (@passaggio_wines), San Francisco CA
Clear hypnotic copper color (skin fermented). Bright, slightly weighted nose which immediately presents a beautiful aromatic bouquet of passion fruit, honeysuckle and stone fruits especially ripe sweet cherries that remind me of Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills. Swirl vigorously to intensify the nose.
Precisely balanced body greets with a touch of acid and a touch of tannin in the form of white cherry skins going hand-in-hand. This quickly segues into a soft, plush, creamy body. A dash of clean, crisp neutral oak further softens an otherwise bone dry body. After the 3rd or 4th sip, a slight minerality makes it presence known through a slight mouth watering effect. Faint white cherries and cranberries frame the transition to finish that eventually leaves the palate otherwise slightly dry, with tart citrus notes and a gentle warm spice.
I fell in love with the first time saw this wine. A white wine with the personality of a sophisticated, Pinot Noir. The extra skin contact does wonders for its personality, character and expression. You can sip this wine at room temperature, slightly chilled or super chilled. The color draws you in and holds your attention while it gently convinces you, that this is the way Pinot Grigio was meant to be.
This is a one-time vintage. It may already be gone. I don’t think this winemaker will make another like this. Get a few and explore something truly unique and special.
Cindy you’re killing me!
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