2004 Mitchell Riesling Watervale (SE Australia). Shows a deepened golden color while still youthful enough, clear even as it layers into the glass. Heavy duty rubber component to the nose, smells like a tire right off the assembly line, diesel and smoky oil too, eventually balances this against whipped cream, apple and pear fruit notes, wonderfully pungent. Medium-bodied, plenty of dry extract and tacky mouth feel. The acidity more interested in flexing brawny muscles than pinpricks. Odd toasted coconut accent here along with the aforementioned vanilla. Otherwise, it’s more of the same rubber and gas fumes. Nice tangerine to lime citrus bite added here. The orchard fruit lean, moments of tart pineapple but wouldn’t consider the fruit tropical. Showing no signs of slowing down as it ages. (Screwcap)
2007 Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Spanos Berberian Vineyard. Crimson lightens the purple core but it’s still more or less opaque, vivid sunset red rims, fine clarity throughout. The nose has a big initial thrust upwards, fueled by grill smoke, bell pepper and crushed stone, muscular in a subtle way not just rippled biceps and abs all over the place, cedar, sandalwood incense, spiced orange peel, easy to overlook the currant, cherry scents but nothing wimpy about them, nothing is perfect yet it’s all in its place. Medium-bodied, spicy, the oak toast present without getting anywhere near distracting. If anything, someone would find the herbaceousness a flaw but to me it adds to the verve. Peppery tannin flexes at will. A savoriness permeates the currant, cherry, plum fruit, ripe without sugariness. Leaves the palate tingling at the end. Like a young king recently ascended to the throne, in power, no clear threats, deciding what the hell to do with it all.
2016 Big Basin Syrah Gabilan Mountains Coastview Vineyard. Moderate purple core yields to more blood red, clay hues, nice array of colors without seeming unduly saturated. The nose is one big swirling dance of pink grapefruit, violets and beef jerky, oily texture in the nostrils, doesn’t smell “underfruited” but no particular fruit scents emerge, aromas persist very well. Medium-bodied, the tannin provides a wiry skeleton yet there’s no drying sensation so it’s able to proceed silky smooth. Stony and gamey prior to a more floral ending. Had me expecting a pepperiness which didn’t take hold. The currant, cherry fruit perhaps losing some freshness, turning syrupy. The grapefruit element most obvious as a lingering aftertaste. Gorgeous nose, I’d personally consider this at peak.
2001 Lagier Meredith Syrah Mount Veeder. Light filmy opacity to the purple core, wide sunset to brick red rims, looking its age. In the nose the black currant, plum fruit has taken on a sour leanness, any floral lift replaced by beef jerky and charred grill fat, zero oak presence, black olives and a light tarriness, has reached a point where it’s about the total effect rather than the parts. Medium-bodied, extreme linearity makes it seem lighter. Moment of violets before erased by tar, tapenade, pulped white grapefruits. Here as well the fruit has receded back into the whole. Beef blood, iodine, slight herbaceous twist at the end. Tannin all but fully resolved whereas the acidity still looking for something to stomp. Has matured way beyond my prior experience back in May 2015, no excess flesh left. Bountiful energy, requires fatty meat to soften the blow.
2018 Sandlands Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands. Shiny purple to magenta coloration, in keeping with the general saturated look. Stony, sandy nose, tilled brown earth, all this makes for an inert olfactory experience, minimal sense of movement which diminishes what mixed black fruit is there, didn’t budge by the end of the bottle. Light to medium-bodied, at first has a sort of foamy mouth feel like it is going to expand beyond your lips and dribble down your chin. Which is odd because it has pretty good acidity, just can’t induce sustained linear progression. More stoniness, to its credit here the surfeit of lavender and violets creates a pretty perfume. Hints at meatiness, perhaps too young to deliver. Cherry, red currant fruit more than berries. By the time the spiciness accrues it has gotten lean. Disjointed, going to go with shutting down.
2019 Bedrock Zinfandel RRV Limerick Lane Vineyard. Clean, unblemished violet to ruby-magenta, plenty of color but no eerie glow. The nose a mashup of raspberry, blackberry juice with menthol and vanilla fudge, has a smoky touch yet it never quite catches and sustains, stripped down to its primordial essence, no interest in complexity. Medium-bodied and closer to light, this arguably makes the vanilla, caramel oak flavors more pronounced. Concentrated sweetness in the mixed berry, cherry fruit, hint of golden raisin, however, it peters out some by the end. Thick floral dew. Not as mentholated as the nose suggests. Overall, feels scaled down like “Honey, I Shrank the Kids” or something. Everything is in place, just smaller. Find it odd that the finish comes off as tannic.
2020 Arnot-Roberts Gamay Noir El Dorado County Witters Vineyard. Gauzy watermelon pinkish red in color, warm and hazy glow to it. Herbaceousness nose complemented by sandy dirt, white pepper, and slightly sweeter tea leaf, the strawberry, raspberry fruit doesn’t make much of an impact. Light-bodied, dry and tart, the puckering starts with the first sip. The first word which comes to my mind is “underripe” and the red fruits here too maintain a tenuous presence at best. As sour as the white grapefruit citrus component is, it’s welcome because at least it fills a hole. More stone, sand and poor Okie dirt. To be fair, unclenched an iota over time. Only other experience with this bottling was the 2017 which I loved. I believe it was the same vineyard source but may be incorrect.
2020 Arnot-Roberts Sauvignon Blanc Yorkville Highlands Randle Hill Vineyard. Watery yellow-brown straw color, nice shine, nothing unusual to look at here. The first thing to register in the nose is an odd bubblegum, powdered sugar thing, some minerally stoniness with very minimal herbaceousness, touch of lemon and lime, not much going on but what’s there is inoffensive. Medium-bodied, good grip on the tongue. More of a fruit presence here, apricot, pear, apple. By the mid-palate this has faded in favor of minerality, a vague twigginess and a dash of jalapeño pepper. Close to no residual flavors nor retronasal action. If it can be said in such a way it’s neutrality is a negative. A plethora of absences rather than flaws.
2019 Hall Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley. Pale straw color, shint and transparent, the pour leaves a hint of effervescence on the glass walls. Heavy nose of licorice, mint, and floral dew, while there’s an impression of “ripeness” it doesn’t translate to distinct fruit aromas. Full-bodied, round and pliable like a water balloon. Spicy start turns nutty with mild asparagus notes. Here you get peach, apricot, melon, pear fruit but only moderately more distinct than found in the nose. Wouldn’t say it’s from any acidity, there’s a tingle throughout akin to the aftereffects of mouth wash. For all of its energy it goes unfocused. But, hey, my sister really liked it. (Screwcap)
2020 Fabien Jouves Southwest France Vin de France You #%$& My Wine ?! (100% Jurançon Noir). Transparent and unblemished, a luminescent violet-magenta, dances in the glass. There’s a sandy, crushed stone element to the nose, however, it’s all about the super-juicy berry fruit with a hint of white citrus zest, pleasingly simple. Light-bodied, just enough tannin to frame it and give it shape. Then, as expected, a gusher of strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry fruit. Here, though, the stone, ash, sand makes for hard punctuation and by the finish it’s all “terroir” in profile. Easy drinker which can easily stand up to lighter dishes. My only previous experience with the bottling ws the 2018 and this one feels firmer and more structured. Good value.
2018 Rostaing Languedoc “Le Vassal.” Clean and trim bright violet to watermelon red color, transparent, just looks fresh. Definitely showed da funk after popping the cork but blew off speedily enough. Then it was blueberry, strawberry, raspberry scents, flowers and a stony earthiness, sort of surprised it was so “berryish” given the blend. Light to medium-bodied, noticeable tannic skeleton, falls short of spoiling the fun. Lemonade, violets, lavender keep it bouncy. If you keep looking there’s some leather and beef jerky. Never had the bottling before and didn’t have firm expectations. I appreciate its directness and cleanliness. Would treat it as a versatile dinner table wine rather than something to sip and ponder. Would buy again, price is right. 70% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache.
2019 Fabien Duveau Saumur-Champigny Les Bas Poyeux Chacé. Transparent throughout, purple core melds into scarlet to brick red hues, clean if a touch dull. Good penetration to the nose, semi-oily texture, damp earth with solid minerality, spicy edge to the dried bell pepper, no funkiness, stinging red currant, plum fruit scents. Medium-bodied, widely set tannic skeleton, no lack of structure. Not sure if this is to blame but does have a hollow mid-palate. Earthy in a smoky way, tends to lift and swirl away. Acidity is a plus level and freshens the finish. The red currant, blackberry, cherry fruit comes with a topping of green apple. More tobacco leaf as it opens. Of its place but not horribly impressed, first time with the producer so general assessments reserved.
2020 Domaine du Possible Côtes du Roussillon “Le Fruit du Hasard.” Basic purple to ruby, scarlet red, clean and not especially glowing. Nose brings the funk, peanut shells and merde, mixed black fruit underneath. Medium-bodied, slight volatile turbulence at first before moderating into a smoother ride. Not getting much tannin, acidity level high enough to lend form without demanding attention. White grapefruit and garden herbs put some zing in the blackberry, currant fruit, the latter not reaching brighter blueberry or red berry notes. Getting more leather and animal fur with each sip. I think if you could decant it and give it a couple of hours it would drink pretty well but by the same token I don’t think many people regularly put that level of effort into a $20 bottle of wine. 75% Carignan, 25% Syrah.
2018 Eric Texier Côtes du Rhône Brézème (100% Syrah). Purple core yields to blood red and scarlet, somewhat ponderous looking. The nose is dense and difficult to unpack, charred grill meats, violets, iodine, the black fruits reticent but not lacking, does slowly unclench some with air. Medium-bodied, fluid, moves across the palate easily enough. Tannin showing some bite. Blue and black fruited with nice supporting florality. Would call it more it more stony and earthy than gamey. Revisiting since previous taste of October 2020, more or less on par, maybe a notch behind the first go-around. Like it but not putting any in the cellar.
2010 Domaine Robert et Raymond Jacob Ladoix Rouge. Advanced color of scarlet to blood red, similar to previous bottle in May 2021. The nose might even be muskier with serious sous bois and damp leather notes, burnt kindling wood, even mushroomy, a treat for anyone who likes funky aged Burgundy. Full-bodied, round and plush with fully resolved tannin and not that much acidity. Decent amount of black cherry, blackberry fruit left, dry finish. Again, nothing much more to say that wasn’t already covered previously.
2018 Olga Raffault Chinon [basic bottling]. Light violet to ruby hue, more bright than glowing, clean. Dense nose of earth, twigs, fallen leaves with minimal bell pepper presence, thick currant, plum scents, there is a light floral perfume for contrast. Medium-bodied, the tannin is strong but doesn’t interfere too much with the red currant, blackberry fruit. Develops that same vague florality while the bell pepper comes through much more clearly. Chewy if not a little uncouth. Expected to like it more. (Composite Cork)
2020 La Pépière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie “Briords.” Pale white to yellow straw in hue, neither especially shiny nor dull, transparent but not washed out. The nose shows composure and a slow, steady lift, noticeable ripeness in the apricot, pear, melon, yellow apple scents, very light chalkiness, not getting any meaningful citrus notes but there is a sort of powdered sugar dappling. Medium to full-bodied, the acidity level feels high and there is an energetic “charge” to it, however, it comes with a bluntness. Same murmur of chalkiness or mineral water rather than out-and-out stone and sea shells out the wazoo. Finding more restrained ripeness in the fruit here. More like it clenches prematurely. I don’t think it is a stretch to call Briords an old school paragon similar to Monte Bello or Montelena Estate so it’s worrisome when recent vintages underperform and perhaps an augur for the future. (Composite Cork: Diam5)
2020 Falkenstein (Soilpimp Selections) Mosel Saar Ruwer Rosé (Spätburgunder). Transparent metallic pinkish orange color, still manages to pool some into the glass, what hue is there remains strong into the rims. The immediate appearance in the nose of smoky minerality forestalls what appears to be perfectly ripe cherry, red berry scents, overlay of lilacs and lavender, not quite “floral” in a robust sense, flirts with a briny element but relents. Medium-bodied, gains good traction and grip on the palate, a dryness builds on the tongue with each sip and the acidity seems inclined to let it do so. Still, there is an upwards swell to create a sense of movement, if falling short of inner mouth perfume. The fruit as well as citrus show best through the finish subsequent to some general unclenching. Purposeful wine, to me too much energy for casual sipping, needs an opponent.
2019 Calabretta Terre Siciliane (100% Nerello Cappuccio). Crystal clear purple to plum red, displays about as much saturation as possible given the complete transparency. Twin bursts in the nose, the one crushed stone and volcanic ash, the other syrupy blueberry, raspberry fruit, both supported by pressed flowers and lavender, manages a pretty profile given the “rugged terrain” it evokes. Light-bodied, it’s only because the tannin feels like netting against the tongue that it doesn’t overpower. That said, it does dampen the natural exuberance of the mixed berry fruit. In addition to the stoniness, edge built through some lemon peel. The florality remains more dried than dewy. I can’t imagine this changing much with more bottle time, the tannin might soften but the flavors feel etched in stone as-is. (Synthetic Cork: Nomacorc Select Green 100)
2020 Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto d’Alba. Fat, glowing violet to ruby-magenta, stains the glass with color, unblemished. Ripely sour nose of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry fruit, touch of clove among the more lingering leathery notes, direct, gets in and out quickly. Medium-bodied, attack comes across as tannic but the acidity adds the punctuation. Fully delivers on the sourness promised in the nose yet didn’t get any unnecessary pucker. Blood orange to tangerine citrus. A little floral after it opens some. Less leather and earth, very fresh. For me the tannin is too strong and maybe even slightly underripe which diminishes the fun, otherwise it could be close to just what I’d want from a Dolcetto. Don’t think aging will resolve much.
2018 Guido Porro Langhe Nebbiolo “Camilu.” Light in color, violet to pinkish-red rose, some orange at the rims. Leathery, earthy nose punctured by anise, rose petals, maraschino cherry, leans to rough hewn, the basics are there but there’s minimal expressiveness. Medium-bodied, tannic to the point of hardness, chewy throughout. That said, plenty of candied sweetness in the raspberry, cherry fruit. Tea leaf, orange peel, licorice, ginger, that leatheriness outlasts most else. Bitter aftertaste.
2018 Ronco dei Tassi Gewürztraminer (“Traminer Aromatico”) Friuli Isonzo “Vigna del Lauro.” Very pale golden hue but so brilliantly shiny it maintains strong glass presence. While there’s an overall crispness to the nose, there’s no denying the powerful litchee element, nutty with apricot, pear scents, it’s mostly missing the florality which makes wines from the grape so musky. Medium-bodied, not heavy but it has extract and grip so you feel your mouth pores get squeezed. Acidity is average for the grape, maybe better than average. Dose of orange marmalade. Much nuttier here, lends a bitterness to the finish. There is a food friendliness here yet, truth be told, I tend to prefer such wines more opulently arrayed. (Composite Cork: Diam3)
2017 Quinta de S. José Touriga Nacional Douro Valley. The glowing purple core falls just short of opacity, thick garnet to magenta rims, no lack of saturation here. The nose displays a solid chunk of coconut oil, vanilla fudge and mocha before this gets succeeded by blockish blackberry, cassis scents, underneath are legit notes of asphalt and tarry earth, in spite of the makeup it does possess a sense of place. In the mouth it’s full-bodied, manages a round and fairly supple feel in spite of its tannic punch. Clove and nutmeg spice sprinkled on well layered currant, blackberry, cherry fruit. Mild astringency at the end. Comes across as a wine that wants to be “serious” without ever showing any sign of that desire. Solid wine that’s overpriced for what you get.
2019 Luís Seabra Douro Valley “Xisto Ilimitado.” Heavily saturated magenta-violet, looks like you could see it in the dark from how it glows. Nose showed a little animla fur funk at first but quickly resolved in favor of mixed dark and red berries and a cleaner stony earthiness, twist of white citrus at the end. Light to medium-bodied, powerful tannic skeleton which pushes back that berry, cherry fruit to deep into the mid-palate. Leather, stone, twigs and woody like driftwood, outside of that citrus there’s little here to charm. Which is odd because I found the 2016 and 2017 of this wine very approachable. Nothing flawed or really offputting but definitely needs food to soften its rougher edges. 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Amarela, 20% Tinta Roriz, 10% Rufete, 10% Tinta Barroca, 5% Malvasia Preta, 5% Donzelinho Tinto.