2017 Year Wines McLaren Vale “Serge”. Scarlet inflected purple core, washed out red rims, transparent, average shine. Wooly, floral notes register first in the nose, clean earthiness, all competition eventually occluded by thick mixed berry scents, overall no bombast while not demure either. In the mouth it’s light-bodied with sufficient acidic and tannic structure to abbreviate the finish. Before that it is again mostly berry, cherry fruit with a citrus garnish. Not getting any meaningful oak off it. More stone, clean earth, mild dried grassiness, can’t decide between purity or simplicity. The fruit renews with ease after each sip. Easy enough to drink, bought it on sale and probably not worth whatever the real frontline price is. 42% Mataro, 38% Syrah, 20% Grenache. (Screwcap)
2007 John Duval Wines Barossa Valley Shiraz “Entity”. The liquid has good cleanliness and clarity even as the black purple core reaches opacity, rims a sort of rust to brick red, looks about middle-aged. There’s this artificial plastic note to the nose which I tend to unfortunately associate with Australian Shiraz, slowly this gets run down by menthol/mint, stewed tomatoes, the plum/prune, cassis, black cherry scents sugary yet somehow lack staying power, there’s hardly any lifting perfume either. Medium-bodied, tangy with a good amount of undirected energy. Orange, tangerine citrus, menthol, damp leather with a suggestion of olive pit, leans heavily on the black fruits to fill out the mid-palate. By the finish this is exhausted and as a result the heat shows more. It needs to be said that this does come across as a wine that thought and care was put into, it’s by no stretch something slapdash. (Screwcap)
2015 Sandlands Chenin Blanc Amador County. Faint gauzy glow to the basic yellow color, that glow extends the hue into the otherwise diminished rims, good layering appearance into the glass. Even today the oak toast is the first thing I notice in the nose along with lime juice and a damp smokiness, the whipped cream and butterscotch of its youth have subsided, peach/apricot scents with a pineapple to passion fruit embellishment. Medium-bodied, sweet like powdered sugar not overripe fruit. Kumquat, kiwi, passion fruit to pineapple and nectarine, more sour than juicy but not weak. To me the oak is better knit in here, probably because the acidity shows good oomph. Then there’s the big question, is it “Chenin”? I have drinken boatloads of Loire Chenin and this is a close cousin but not a real comparison. Of the Sandlands Chenin wines I have had this one is near the top in my book, the sourness not a decided turnoff.
2016 Turley Zinfandel Paso Robles Ueberroth Vineyard. The brightness is fading in the purple core, not quite opaque, in turn the rims making a slow segue to red brick, looks maturing. For 15.9% the nose is not as alcoholic as one might expect, abundant meatiness and smokiness, the menthol to eucalyptus element inconsistent, more like licorice, getting very little oak off of it, the fruit a plum/prune to blackberry jam mix yet still wouldn’t characterize it as “fruity.” Medium to full-bodied, more the former as it tends to trail off at the end. The black fruits richer, sweeter here and definitely have a dried fruit concentration. A dash of orange to grapefruit citrus adds pep. Here too expected more menthol for lift. The grill smoke and charred meat fat become more prominent towards the end. While I generally love the bottling was not crazy about the 2016 on release and this is only marginally better.
1999 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville. The core is opaque and remains more purple than black, heavy crimson rims which don’t look that aged, overall I wouldn’t guess its age. Sweet and smoky nose of cedar, caramelized molasses, cassis to plum fruit, and a whiff of potpourri, there’s a touch of alcohol but finding it if not demure than not bombastic. Medium-bodied, only a mild tannic grittiness left, here it runs hotter than the nose. Very well-fruited, plum/prune, cassis to blackberry. No evident sense of terroir, conversely the oak is knit in and not bothersome. More cedar, some leather. Even after giving it some air time it’s all about the fruit. So, thankfully, there’s a lot of that and all-in-all served as a traditional pairing with a steak dinner.
2020 Bedrock Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County. The resonant purple core falls short of opacity, strong glow through the equally dark magenta rims, spotless and fairly shiny as well. Sweet sappiness to the nose, cassis, blackberry jam, candied cherries, minor tobacco leafiness and twigs and bark, the oak is creamy and not overt, extremely primary and fruit-driven today. Medium-bodied, light of touch with “dusty” tannin which makes the most impact through the finish and as residue. Floral with some orange zest, here the oak displays some more toast and pop albeit ends with a vanillin echo. The fruit is no less juicy and buoyant on the palate. To its credit stiffens up with some air. All this said, I’d have to break a sweat to blindly identify this as Cabernet Sauvignon. I suspect that age will firm up its personality some, have one bottle in storage.
2015 Bedrock Alexander Valley Nervo Ranch Heritage. Core as black as any purple, rims crimson to a fresh brick red, clean, looks like it has some age on it but nothing serious. Meadow scrub, lavender and anise give the nose an airy lift, notes of caramel and buttered popcorn persist yet, there’s some alcoholic fumes in there which distract from the blueberry, blackberry, red currant fruit, can’t say that time has brought forth much by way of tertiary aromas. Medium-bodied, dry and moderately tannic, trails off quickly. The mixed black/blue fruits have more sugar than flavor. Oak more creamy and vanillin than toasty. Sweet herbs, licorice, as with the nose there’s no handful of elements which underscore a maturing/matured wine. Fine enough for pounding it back but not compelled to explore it. Unspecified percentages of Zinfandel, Negrette, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Grenache, Carignane, Trousseau Noir, Cardinal, Burger, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc.
2020 Bedrock Zinfandel Lodi Noma Vineyard. Trim spotless and shiny with a purple core which remains more transparent than you’d think based on the hue, the rims a brick to crimson red, fresh and inviting. While the nose runs a bit hot the syrupy blackberry, blueberry, cherry scents more or less put out the fire, eucalyptus, BBQ grill smoke, hint of citrus, oddly lacking the plump nostril texture this level of fruit usually brings. Medium to full-bodied, the sweetness of mixed black fruits doesn’t gum up the works and it’s actually gone just when you start settling in with it. This also in spite of a semi-dusty mouth feel. More floral and minty here. Did not open nor change much with air. After sniffing and the first couple of sips I expected (and wanted) more of an old school fruit bomb but not what I got.
2008 Etude Pinot Noir Carneros. Moderately clear purple core, hasn’t darkened that much, the rims, however, show a good amount of bricking. Cola and floral dew infused nose, orange marmalade, oregano, the fruit scents concentrated and close to plummy, not unbalanced yet by the same token doesn’t strike one as harmonious. Medium-bodied, on the thick side with more perceptible tannic grit than acidity. The palate marred some by a leathery, smokestack element, minor notes of rubber. Conversely, it is super-sweet with syrupy blackberry, blueberry, raspberry flavors. Potpourri, orange peel, tea leaf. Semi-abrupt finish, the aftertaste favors the smokiness. Consider this on the downside from the peak, must have been a fruit bomb earlier in its life.
2019 Metrick Cabernet Franc Santa Barbara County Los Olivos District Rock Hollow Vineyard. Violet to plum red color, fine brightness and shine, would consider it transparent throughout. The blackberry, boysenberry fruit scents are high-pitched and pair well with the sandy dirt and tobacco ash notes present, no discernible bell pepper, there’s a stripped down cleanliness to it which makes investigation moot. Light-bodied, arguably seems tannic only because of the light body. Not getting much acidity. While there is a liqueur like level of sweetness to the raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry fruit the overall impression is dry. Here you get some greenness, including but not limited to bell pepper. Texturally releases well at the finish with the fruit lingering. Recognizably Cabernet Franc but wouldn’t confuse it with anything from the Loire, its own beast. (Composite Cork: Diam10)
2017 Sandlands Trousseau Sonoma Coast. Transparent, if not watery, tea rose red to zinc orange, does offer a very nice surface shine. There’s a sandy, ashen grit texture to the nose, tends to obscure the potpourri, raspberry to strawberry liqueur notes as well as the candied orange peel, length is adequate, roughness never subsides. Medium-bodied, on the one hard there’s some tannic dryness while on the other it has a soft rubber like feel, like squeezing a Spaldeen. Eventually sappiness wins and it clings well to the palate. The mixed red berry fruit sweet with a hint of sour green apple. Lightly twiggy, leafy with that sandy soil echo. Sour finish, accentuated by citrus nuances. Has budged a little since release and might yet smooth out more but no regrets on having pulled the cork today.
2002 Domaine du Clos Naudin (Philippe Foreau) Vouvray Demi-Sec. Fully orange with a healthy glow, wouldn’t call it shiny, wouldn’t call it dull. Pronounced smokiness to the nose, metallic, then Genoa salami and apricot paste, an odd pairing for sure, no doughiness, muscular lift. Medium-bodied, the acidity is killer and pretty much pummels the palate. Which lessens the sweetness of the peach, apricot, pineapple flavors. Here you get the mixed grapefruit, blood orange citrus missing in the nose. Tea leaf, sauna stone smoke, dried garden herbs, there’s a bitterness to it around the edges. Not finding any oxidation and there’s solid tertiary development, do sort of wish there was a little more juiciness left. Would be surprised if anyone found it “sweet” per se.
2004 Bruno Desaunay-Bissey Vosne-Romanée Les Rouges “Vieilles Vignes”. Sunset to rust red core, barely any purple to be seen, rims mix in orange and yellow hues, clarity and shine are both quite nice. Overarching dustiness to the nose, matched with dried grass and stone powder, you are on the verge of sneezing, lightly medicinal, there’s a hard candy concentration to the red cherry, red berry scents, takes on a dried beef note after it opens, the textural dryness is kind of amazing. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, steady start to finish, still has plenty tannin to anchor it in place. Again, it’s quite grassy in a dried meadow brush way, no greenness. The fruit a shade darker here and makes a very credible showing. Shades metallic at the end with a hint of stewed tomatoes. Wines like this confound because I’m never sure you got what was supposed to be expected or if it’s a subpar version of the wine per se. Anyway, I liked it well enough, no complaints.
2010 La Pépière Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine “4”. Wouldn’t call it amber but rather a very dark yellow with a strong luminescent glow. The nose expresses a great deal of yeast along with lemon zest, no surprise given the extended less contact, a touch minty as it warms, apricot to peach pit, there’s a weightiness to it in your nostrils, persists but no lift. Full-bodied, lots of dry extract and your mouth feels bruised after a few sips. The acidity is strong in a blunt fashion. Moderate amount of fruit, pear, apple, apricot. Citrus less obvious here. Maybe the yeastiness dampens the palate. Black licorice through the finish. Has not changed much since first encountered February 2015. Suspect the élevage cemented its character early on. (Aged four years on the lees before release. Grapes sourced from Clisson and Château Thébaud.)
2020 Giachino Savoie “Frères Giac”. Heavily saturated violet to a mix of scarlet and magenta, sleek surface, shines in the glass. Extremely peppery nose with an herbaceous twist as well, the notes of ash and pulverized stone continue the bright angularity, raspberry to blueberry fruit drops in as a last minute guest, lots of lift. Light-bodied with spider web of tannin, quite dry. Here the volcanic ash, mineral dust takes the lead and never relinquishes. Adds in a burst of white grapefruit zestiness, enough to outpace the pepperiness. That mixed berry fruit stays taut and snappy. Over time develops an animal fur element without ever seeming unclean. It’s got punch. Unspecified percentages of Persan, Gamay Noir.
2004 Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Porrets-St. Georges “Monopole”. What was a purple core lightened by a red clay influence, rims dusky sunset reds and oranges, mild haze to it. Potpourri, rose petals, incense lend the nose an exotic patina, licorice, the reddish fruit hits you at once, can’t parse out things, given its fullness it does not linger all that long. Full-bodied, semi-dry with a tannic echo that keeps it at attention. Sufficient sourness in the cherry, raspberry, blackberry fruit to give it momentum, otherwise it does clump up some. The potpourri is there but it’s not particularly fresh and musky, adds in spiced orange peel and leather. Can you consider it integrated it there’s not much to weave together? No lack of aftertaste. In the end plods along genially enough and can easily match up with heartier fare.
2014 Heymann-Löwenstein Riesling Mosel Saar Ruwer QbA Trocken Schieferterrassen AP #6. The deep golden color slowly moving into even darker territory, clear and glowing but without much shine. Effusive nose of warm rubber, whipped cream, orange creamsicle, coal tar, jalapeño, passion fruit, pineapple, apricot, stiffens up as it warms. Medium-bodied, blunt mouth entry almost like it doesn’t want to go in. Coconut custard, white grapefruit, pine, the rubber less overt. Acidity has force yet not a lot of cut. Kind of get the slate but it’s not dominant. Moderate fruit inclines towards sour tropicality. Has firmed up in the four years since I last had a bottle and it might be in an awkward phase but not as viscerally enjoyable as when first encountered. (Screwcap)
2019 Forge Cellars Riesling Finger Lakes Seneca Lake “Classique Dry”. Deep golden color with a glow to it, clarity is average and shine moderate at best. The nose marked by a powerful rubber element, hard to get past it, lemon peel, mildly floral, no particular fruit scents leap out at you, mixed orchard fruit, overall more forceful than elegant, bluntness impairs length. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, the acidity brawny and broad, about as “road grader” as Riesling can get. Lemon, lime, grapefruit citrus gives it a major jolt and the rubber takes a short step back. Pear, apple, apricot fruit, not lean but perfunctory. Sort of stone dust appeal rather than out and out stoniness. Sour finish. To me this is not a casual sipping wine and needs something to balance out the acidity, no need to account for any residual sugar which is all but nonexistent.
2008 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Dundee Hills Two Barns Vineyard. Clean and unblemished, the core an opaque blackish purple, red clay to brick rims, good shine, looks about its age. Ginger spice, cola, pressed flowers, no lift to it, there’s a tautness to the cherry, red berry scents so they don’t stretch out, you draw it in deeply then feel it evaporating in your nostrils. Medium-bodied plus, holds its weight consistently through to the finish. Some mint, anise notes, the citrus a mix of grapefruit and orange with only mild sourness. The blueberry, boysenberry, rhubarb flavors have retained depth of flavor and linger well enough through the finish. Some coffee, caramel notes but doesn’t seem that oaky. Perfumed, nothing distinct. This is very intelligently made and there’s little out of place, I wouldn’t call it soulless but it is lacking in personality, good or bad (and sometimes it’s nicer to taste something that takes a stance even if you don’t 100% agree).