2017 Chardonnay by Panther Creek Cellars, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Chardonnay by Panther Creek Cellars, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Soft, restrained nose with primary notes of mild citrus and under-ripe peach. There is a prominent damp slightly mineral leather which dominates as soon as you begin swirling. White cherries linger.

Body is ever so slightly acidic, greeting with firm but restrained citrus. A viscous slightly weighted mouth feel counters this tension quite nicely. A buttery shortcake lingers in the background. Mineral leather carries over, rendering the palate slightly moist. White pepper permeates the stage. A subtle bitter zest emerges is it transitions to finish. Under-ripe white cherries, crisp, refined caramel and a spice tingle are all that it left.

If I were to open a Chardonnay on any given day, this would be it. It is a well executed Chardonnay that achieves good balance through subtle contrasts; a little buttery body with a little acidity and tension, retrained fruit with subtle minerality and spice. I like it!

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Merlot by Acheson Wine Company, Sacramento CA

Tonight’s Occasion: Merlot by Acheson Wine Company, Sacramento CA

Do you have those moments when you can’t help but wonder, how did we get here? How did wine become such a complicated affair? Why do we always invariably gravitate towards overbearing, obsessive, hyperbole? This wine makes me want to set it all down and just be content with what is. If there is such a thing as “Plenty Good Enough”, this would be it.

Slightly ripe dark plums and dark cherries. Touch of crisp refined caramel. Faint hints of sweet minty eucalyptus. Rocky, dust dirt.

Rich clear blood red color. Soft gentle body. Balanced. Rich, restrained ripe dark plum. Fully integrated suspended tannins add weight, viscosity and body. Through each sip, they slowly coat the palate and lips with a thin, firm, lingering, dry grippy layer. Warm spice emerges and lingers long after the finish. Hints of bitter leather linger in the distant background, complementing the fruit and caramel quite nicely. As it opens up that minty eucalyptus and slightly bitter turns into a subtle root beer.

Why obsess over what this bottle/vintage would look like someday. Just let go, pop the cap and enjoy an honest to goodness, well made Merlot. When you’re done, head back down to tasting room for a refill. The time to live is now…

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2019 Pinot Noir (Wholer Vineyard) by Sojurn, Sonoma

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Pinot Noir (Wholer Vineyard – Russian River Valley) by Sojourn Cellars, Sonoma, CA

Dark ruby color. Aromatic nose with red berries, raspberries and that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt up front. This is where my mind goes every time I think of Sonoma Pinot – the dirt. Damp earth mixed with dry grass/hay. Sometimes more forest floor, sometimes more mushroom, open field as is the case with this one. Swirling vigorously adds a touch of red vines licorice. The entire bouquet intensifies. Almost intoxicating. Love it!

Body is balanced right down the middle, front to back. A soft plush mouth feel greets the palate with light raspberry, touch of strawberry all wrapped in a weighted, silky texture. Tannins are barely noticeable and secondary, providing just enough structure. A gentle spice warmth gradually emerges towards the back as the body fades, leaving behind subtle bitter cola. The two gently coating the lips. And just like that, with little fanfare, the show is over. Time for another sip!

I love what Sojourn is doing with their Pinot Noirs. You can’t go wrong here. Great, faithful Pinot from Sonoma. Highly recommend. You won’t be disappointed!

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2016 Malbec by Cella Wines, Kingman, Arizona

Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Malbec (Private Reserve) by Cella Wines, Kingman, Arizona.

Clear intense color. Out of the bottle a fairly bold, aromatic nose dominated by ripe fruit, red berries, touch of honeysuckle. This creates a sweet cherry cola prominence. Faint herbal notes, eucalyptus comes to mind. Swirling vigorously, this bold fruit dissipates ever so slightly as a dusty rocky earth pulls forward.

Nose is a bit misleading. Body is like a medium to light, almost crisp. Bold ripe fruit characteristics are further accentuated by barely noticeable oak. Thin crisp unobtrusive tannins lend good structure. Herbal notes carry over but move further back. Faint barely noticeable banana peel, usually a play between ripe fruit and minerality. Body is somewhat restrained overall and quickly fades. A firm, white pepper emerges as it transitions to finish leaving the palate fairly dry and tingling with spice.

This is my first wine from Arizona! Since this lesser known region was brought to my attention, I have been wondering how it this possible? Just like Texas, specific terroir, topology and high altitudes have made this niche possible. This brings some serious hang time and it shows in the fruit expression. Coming from California, this wine shows more like a Grenache from the Sierra Foothills with even more intense fruit. It’s very interesting to see how various varietals express themselves in different regions. I very much look forward to seeing what owner/winemaker Micah does with his Estate Malbec in coming vintages. Thank you Micah and the crew at Cella Winery for sharing this with us!

2017 Chardonnay by Pali Wine Co

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Chardonnay (Charm Acres – Sonoma) by Pali Wine Co. Lompoc, CA

Another quick look today at a nice little Chardonnay. Sometimes simple done right is all you need. Clean, crisp, shy nose, good fruit, and a touch of that iconic earthy Sonoma leather. Great slightly weighty, slightly creamy body. Restrained acidity, zesty finish. Unpretentious. Not abstract nor extreme. Modest doses of complementary characteristics. Good balance. Serve this one super chilled. A great go-to Chardonnay by a team known for some really great wines! Nicely done folks!

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2018 Mourvedre by William Chris Vineyards, Texas

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Mourvedre (Texas High Plains) by William Chris Vineyards, Hye, Texas Hill Country.

Slightly opaque color. Unfiltered. Out of the bottle bright ripe dark cherries and plum fill the air along with dusty dirt terroir. There’s a bit of a rocky somewhat granitic essence. Not sure if this is a play between dirt and fruit. It is quite pleasant, resulting in hints of red vines licorice. Swirling vigorously intensifies the nose very nicely. As it breathes, faint grassy notes along with cola emerge in the back.

The body is ushered in by a slightly acidic attack, immediately drawing good tension across the palate. A slightly silky body follows immediately. It is. Light if not somewhat restrained compared to most Mourvedre which tend to be on the big, heavy monolithic end of the spectrum. A good dose of oak complements and further accentuates the bright fruit in this otherwise fairly dry wine. A grassy old wood leather moves forward midway through. As the body fades it gives way to a bitter cola which lingers well past the finish. Tannins are fully integrated in the form of a fine dusty suspension that does not precipitate, slowly coating and rendering the lips parched. A touch of spice warmth punctuates the experience. Pairing with salami (cured meats) and tart cheeses really highlights the fruit and vanilla. Fun!

Mourvedre is a terroir driven varietal and this one is faithful. It feels raw, oddly familiar but at the same time different. Rich fruit notes, prominent terroir, light, tight if not firm. This winemaker offers a great glimpse into how this varietal expressed in this region. I now remember why this one stood out of their eye watering lineup of amazing wines. Nicely done Chris!

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2019 Cabernet Sauvignon by Acheson Wine Company, Sacramento CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (Overlord) by Acheson Wine Company, Lodi Apellation, CA

Full bright berry nose with lots of Ripe plum and cherries. Wet oak wood and subtle fine dusty terroir.

Body is soft, mild, restrained. Not as fruit forward as the nose would suggest. Subtle dark plums, and cherries and a noticeable, and pleasant crisp refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak. A very subtle bitter cola permeates the experience. Thin crisp tannins round out the affair.

This is a great refreshing chillable red. Simple, clean, crisp without being overly abstract. A pleaser of a wine that should appeal to a broad spectrum of palate. One of the latest and welcomed additions to the local wine scene here in Sacramento, I think Acheson is onto something. Serving well made wine exclusively on tap, via refillable 1 litre growlers/pop-cap bottles is just one of the many ways they are challenging the norms, rethinking convention, driving sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint from vineyard to table and keeping their wines accessible.

I was very much intrigued during my recent visit and will be exploring more of this emerging trend. Nicely done Acheson!

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2019 White Blend by Panther Creek, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 White Blend (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon) by Panther Creek Cellars, Woodinville, WA.

Bright and light up front with soft notes of citrus, peach, green apple, subtle damp old dried grassy leather, and a hint of butterscotch so faint you’d likely miss it. It’s a bit shy on the nose and needs to be teased out.

Body is dry, balanced right down the middle. White cherries burst onto the stage, aloof, as a slightly silky mouth feel follows closely, filling the stage. A crisp refined caramel suggestion is barely noticeable, more like nectar. This then rolls over to a very light slightly bitter citrus, like lemon zest. This marks the transition to finish as the entire stage vanishes, leaving behind a subtle warm spice tingle and faint tannic grip.

This wine is a gentle reminder that white blends really need to be a thing. I have never quite enjoyed white wines as much because they generally lack this kind of body, balance and expression. This wine embodies the best both varietals and their highly complementary characteristics. The body, subtlety and nuance of Pinot Noir with the bright crisp of clean expression of Chardonnay. A great, well executed combination.

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2017 Carignane by Reichwage Winery, Russian River Valley

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Carignane (Mancini Ranch – Russian River Valley) by Reichwage Winery, Sebastopol CA.

Soft gentle nose with ripe cherries and raspberries up front. A sweet floral nectar like essence permeates the nose. A wet wood leather undertone. Very nice, if not luxurious.

Nose can be a bit misleading. Body is bone dry. Greeting with firm, slightly acidic attack. This has the effect of stretching and opening up the palate, bringing good tension. This quickly gives way to red berries and cherries, albeit restrained, light and crisp. An unobtrusive wood further softens the expression, giving it a somewhat plush, luxurious mouth feel. Thin, crisp, firm but unobtrusive tannins quickly precipitate upon the stage, holding firm across the entire experience. Hints of cola, and citrus lemon linger about as the stage fades away leaving my lips dry, edges tingling ever so subtly with white pepper.

We continue exploring this Winemaker’s work. What caught me from the beginning was the level of finish his wines show. This one is no exception. A lighter bodied Carignane. Subtle, nuanced, perhaps a Pinot lover’s interpretation. I like it! Nicely done Max!

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2019 Rosé of Tempranillo by Passaggio Wines, Treasure Island, San Francisco

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Rosé of Tempranillo (Clarksburg) by Passaggio Wines, Treasure Island, San Francisco

Crisp, clean, slightly weighty, viscous mouth feel. Crisp dry, firm finish. Good balance. Dry cherries, raspberries and gentle floral aromas.

Perhaps my shortest review yet but for good reason. I was under the illusion I could actually pull it off in the hot tub. Needless to say it’s a challenge to do anything other than just kick back with this Rosé by one of my favorite winemakers off the beaten path. A perfect way to end the week. Nicely done Cindy!

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