A Few Recent Tastes LXXXVII

2021 Bedrock Carignan, Contra Costa County, Evangelho Vineyard. Saturated purple-magenta, bursting with color, unblemished, nice surface shine. Dusty, sandy nose, focused but not lean blueberry, cranberry, blackberry scents, except for the parched dirt there’s some leather notes but not much else, sort of primary by default. Light to medium-bodied, acidity like an electrical current running through, plenty of excess energy. Here that mixed berry fruit presents a compelling interplay of sweet and sour, the latter winning out through the finish. More pulverized stone and sand, hint of dried grass. Air time allows white citrus to come through. While not all that complex it is quite harmonious with clarity of purpose which makes it very easy to drink. And drink I did. (Composite Cork: Diam10)

2019 Lagier Meredith Syrah, Mount Veeder. Deep purple as expected, stops short of opacity, wide scarlet red rims, clean and spotless throughout. Nice angularity to the nose, allows it to seep in better, olive tapenade, leather, tobacco, campfire smoke at first, as it opens the blackberry, boysenberry, red currant scents take over, light cleansing sensation which might be attributable to the 15.0% alcohol. Full-bodied, smooth and not quite soft but close to it, melts into the palate. Here you get a solid punch of white grapefruit, pairs with the fruit to create a pleasingly tart profile. Molasses notes evoke bacon but it’s still more “olivey” than “meaty.” In turn more floral than smoky. Excellent length on the finish without feeling forced or “too much.” Opened it by myself while the wife was away because I get greedy with Lagier-Meredith and it transports me back in time to when I was first getting into wine.

2021 Bedrock Syrah, Santa Barbara County, “Ángeles de Arena.” Clean ruby-violet, not too dark, not too light, nice shine, nothing really to note. The nose is compact but has some lift, pressed flowers, lavender, white pepper, not especially gamey, fruits scents on the dark side, black currant, blackberry. Medium-bodied, closer to light than full, polished tannin, feels structured but not that dry. The florality remains the biggest attribute as well here, more dapper than sauvage. Lightly peppery with a nice herbal touch. Composed finish, graceful dissolve. To me not yielding any signs of where it might go with age. Right now good flavor and neutral enough to pair with a variety of dishes. Lighter weight helps in this too. Grapes sourced from White Hawk, Presqu’ile, Nolan Vineyards.

2020 Edaphos Petite Arvine, Mendocino County, Alder Springs Vineyard. Glowing yellow color, neither especially dull nor bright, looks like transparent wax. Oily to smoky nose, graphite, lanolin, white grapefruit, pear to apple fruit scents, adds a whipped cream note once warmer, pushes muscularly through your nostrils. Medium to full-bodied, spicy as much as oily here. Blunt force type of acidity, “pushing” applies here as well. The white grapefruit brings in some tangerine as the presentation turns tropical. In turn you get pineapple, star fruit, passion fruit flavors rather than orchard fruit. Still has that vanillin, whipped cream thing going on. Allowing for that, tangy finish. This is the only domestic Petite Arvine I have yet sampled and it is generally true to type. Were one to ever do a blind tasting of European bottlings of the grape this would be a credible ringer. (Composite Cork: Diam10)

2020 Maître de Chai Cabernet Sauvignon, San Benito County, Gala Mountain Vineyard. Nothing visually out of place, standard dark purple core and crimson red rims, looks clean. Earthy nose with tobacco leaf, leather, lighter herbal quality, oak toast there but subdued, the cherry, red currant scents lively without overpowering, no one element sticks out as the leader of the pack. Medium-bodied, expected more a “mountain roughness” to it, however, it shows polished tannin and an abundance of smooth and juicy plum, cherry, currant fruit. Maybe as a result the presence of the oak toast elevates some. Introduces a mentholated edge. Tobacco to tea leaf. Odd to me in that when I taste it and take it as a whole it seems like “Cabernet Sauvignon.” Yet the usual hallmarks of the grape don’t leap out at me. Ready to drink, a few more years might soften it further, can’t really guess at tertiary development.

2019 Landmark Pinot Noir, Regional Blend, “Overlook.” The ruby-violet coloration isn’t light as in diminished, it’s more fully transparent throughout in a natural way, nice strength into the rims. Surprising amount of earthiness in the nose, not to “overlook” the florality and light menthol edge, the raspberry, strawberry, cherry scents are adequate but just, airy but also alcoholic. Light to medium-bodied, curiously tannic which seems to make it lurch rather than provide a solid cornerstone. Fruit shows better here, bolstered by cinnamon, menthol, potpourri notes. The waters are a bit choppy but navigable. Back in the late 90’s I used to like their Chards a lot. Went to a trade dinner tasting of their wines in the late aughts but haven’t tasted anything since. This more or less dovetails with my impression of the house: solid restaurant wine when you can’t find anything truly interesting to order. Grapes sourced 53% Monterey County, 46% Sonoma County, 1% Santa Barbara County.

2022 Bernard Baudry Cabernet Franc, Loire, Chinon, “Le Rosé.” Extremely pale onion skin pink yet with enough glow to fill the glass, transparent yet with shine. The nose is like a fistful of stream stones with strawberries crushed into them, grounded and juicy at once, rose water, lemon zest, airy but not evanescent, hovers in your nostrils for a lengthy period. Medium-bodied, same general profile here, loose and openly knit without ever seeming to lack direction. Strawberry, raspberry, peach, green apple fruit flavors with that bright lemon citrus. The acidity is a plus level, doesn’t take things into tart territory. In fact softened by a light powdered sugar touch, in no way to be construed as making the wine “sweet.” There’s nothing to “valorize” here, it’s just on point and doing what a superlative rosé should be doing on a hot summer day. (Composite Cork)

1997 Coutet Bordeaux, Barsac. Flat if clear, just about fully amber orange in color but in no way tired, no lack of visual vibrancy, impressive. Mildly smoky, honeyed with moderate botrytis, orange marmalade, mint, caramelized brown sugar, dried fruit level pineapple, guava, peach, more herbal as it warms, finish is somewhat blunt, no dapper dissolve. Medium-bodied, very nice fluidity with enough supporting acidity to keep the sweetness in check. Tangerine, orange naval to pink grapefruit citrus, along with the mintiness keeps it alert. Florality and botrytis not dominant allowing the relative freshness of the apricot, peach, pineapple, mango fruit to stride to the lead. An exercise in intellectual complexity, no. Yet, well-harmonized and displays versatility. 75% Sémillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Muscadelle. 375 ml bottle.

1999 Nicolas Potel Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Volnay, Clos des Chênes. While clear, the coloration clearly shows age, brick red as much as purple core, rust orange rims with a touch of yellow. Strong cleansing sensation in the nose, camphor, potpourri, spices, subtle accent of mushroom, the cherry to plum fruit scents thick and musky, extended dissolve, in no rush to vacate your nostrils. Full-bodied, heavyset potpourri, lavender notes alongside squeezed blood orange. There is a roasted quality to the cherry, blackberry, plum fruit yet lots of sweetness. Comes across as more tannin than acidic with the former in a resolved, softly chewy state. Tangy unto zesty finish. I liked a bottle in October 2020 better but this is no slouch. Wouldn’t say it’s a cerebral version of Burgundian Pinot Noir, however, stupidly easy to drink.

2021 Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Gamay Noir, Beaujolais, “l’Ancien Vieilles Vignes.” Sparkling, clean plum red to violet, in spite of the clarity on the dark side. Nose of ginger, cinnamon sprinkled on red cherry, raspberry fruit, dry gravel and lemon zest, shows some floral musk after opening, overall more power than lift. Medium-bodied, framed very well by mouthwatering acidity, brings out a sour crunch in the red berry, blueberry, cherry fruit as well as accentuates the white citrus component. Earthier here but not enough to slow down its energetic pacing. Uses its weight well to stay nimble while with forward motion. Sappy, fruity finish. Wines like this are why I fell in love with Beaujolais, complex without trying, easy to drink, refreshing, flavorful. And clean. And $20. (Synthetic Cork: Nomacorc Select Green 100)

2019 Domaine Gouron Cabernet Franc, Loire, Chinon. The purple bruise core reaches opacity, the dark scarlet rims are fresh and show off the wine’s cleanliness. Firm nose of pepper, leather and crisp herbal matter, not getting any bell pepper, the steady lift helps keep the black fruit scents taut and racy. Medium-bodied, just as firm if not more here as there’s powerful acidity pulsing throughout with a solid tannic punch at the end. Red currant, blackberry, mulberry fruit flavorful and tart at once. Undercurrent of leather, tobacco, twigs, never gets to “forest floor” level but not all fruit. Little burst of white citrus at the end. Clean finish. To me another example of how great Loire Cab Franc is right now as every day reds. Taken as a whole, for all wines under $25, the basement is pretty high. (Synthetic Cork: Nomacorc Classic Green)

2009 Duhart-Milon Bordeaux, Pauillac. Decanted for a little over two hours. Blackish purple core, fully opaque and a touch filmy, heavy blood red rims. Fruity nose that leans towards roasted, the plum, black currant, black cherry scents overshadow the oak toast at this stage, pencil lead, camphor, tobacco leaf, scrubbing sensation in the nostrils even though labeled as 13.5%. Full-bodied has a velvety texture which doesn’t feel entirely normal and in contrast to the rustic tannin. This creates an uneven experience where those ripe black fruits take centerstage almost by default. Cedar and tobacco on the sweet side. Pencil lead and gravel about the only thing standing in contrast. It’s easy to consider it just entering “middle age” and there’s some argument for it being in an awkward phase. Right now I’m not feeling it. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot.

2021 Antoine Sunier Gamay Noir, Beaujolais, Régnié. Filmy ruby to deep watermelon red then takes on a curious orange aura, looks “natural.” Loamy earth and forest floor matter blossom in the nose, sour lemon pulp, gets tarry as it opens which makes the red cherry, berry fruit scents come off as smoky, overall more intense than graceful. Close to full-bodied, bottom heavy and tannic, kind of sloshes across the palate. Plenty of fruit, general volatility detracts from enjoyment of it. Quite citrusy and stony to smoky. Left it alone for a bit then came back and didn’t like it to any greater extent. The visual assessment kind of gave it away and to me it turned out a “natural wine” the whole way. Borderline mousy but not undrinkable. Oddly, my first wine from the producer and perhaps the…

2021 Comm. G.B. Burlotto 100% Pelaverga, Piedmont, Verduno Pelaverga. Limpid ruby to rose red, full rims with and a great bit of shine. Just wanted to say limpid. Nose of raspberry jam infused with white pepper, subtly grassy with a white citrus kick, shows very nice energy while allowing for an airy lift, nothing too dense. Light-bodied while sappy, clingy texture. Which extends each sip well. That pepperiness is the main ingredient. Juicy strawberry, raspberry fruit. Acidity is solid, however, it’s the flavors that give it motion. Citrus leaning to grapefruit. More overt fresh grassiness with some underlying poor earthiness. Does very well in terms of balancing sweetness and sourness. There’s no guile nor wile here, just a highly enjoyable wine. Somewhat reminiscent of Pineau d’Aunis. Yummy.

2019 Guímaro Mencía, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra, “Camiño Real.” Fine clarity throughout, basic purple core with darkish scarlet red rims, has the appearance of a slightly older wine. The nose displays some loamy funk and flatulence, tarry with a shock of white grapefruit, generally black fruits, it’s not heavy per se in the nostrils but there isn’t much lift. About medium-bodied in the mouth with both brawny tannin and acidity, more so the latter. Tar and bitter black tea leaf, more grapefruit. The blackberry, raspberry, cherry fruit isn’t unusual but sour enough to come across as “tropical.” The structure tends to stunt the finish. Honestly, I am not a fan of the Mencía grape. So, to me, this is drinkable and without major flaws, however, it’s not wowing me even if well made and such. (Composite Cork)


Thank you for the excellent notes. We are 100% aligned on the Lagier Meredith and the Angeles di Arena, and I appreciate the insight on the Evangelho Carignan, which I have not yet tried.


More for me!

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Hey, I tried it, right?

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2018 was killer. I actually haven’t tried the 2019 yet as I’m just not buying new wine — although I did cheat today for the first time in about 6 weeks by buying 1 bottle of wine, a Pineau D’Aunis, for scientific purposes of course.

When I last had a Brun l’Ancien it was the 2018 vintage, and I felt it really kept improving over a few days open. Lots of nice notes and interesting wines, and a reminder to chill some Beaujolais for the next pending heat wave arriving in a couple days…

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