2001 Knoll Riesling Loibner Ried Loibenberg Smaragd. Fully bronzed color, looks like someone poured strained apricot juice into the glass, has a solid blockish look with minimal shine, but in its own way not unattractive. Following up on the visuals the nose is apricot to peach paste, pineapple, warm rubber, not as much citrus as I’d prefer, there’s milkiness but not yet fully formed. Full-bodied, not fat but no doubt has heft and a big sense of forward momentum. Weak acidity. Here there’s a consistent coconut milk aspect. Fruit way more tropical with plenty of sour bite. Vague petrol fumes through the finish. Tangerine citrus. The palate is its most attractive asset. First temptation is to say it’s getting OTH but I kind of suspect it wasn’t that stellar before either. In the end a nice, if simple, drink and consumed it without a problem.
2011 Prager Riesling Weissenkirchen Wachstum Bodenstein Smaragd. Maturing yellow gold color, darkening, buffed shine still evident, vividly fills the glass. Pineapple, guava, passion fruit to melon bubble up generously in the nose, very ripe and fruity, milky with something in the licorice to mint family of herbs, tangelo citrus, violets, doesn’t edge itself into your nostrils, more of an ice cream scoop plop. Full-bodied, very good palate coverage with just enough acidity that it doesn’t soak in unduly. Still, as in the nose lacks edge and so the tropical fruit doesn’t translate into a “slasher flick” experience. The milkiness more present here whereas florality drops off. Soft stream water, pebbles aspect. Not close to classic but as I often find it to be the case Prager manages to make something tasty out of whatever nature delivers. Would not push this much further if that.
2019 Bedrock Sonoma Valley Pagani Ranch Heritage. The glowing purple core just shades into opacity, further out dark red magenta fashions broad, muscular rims. Big and layered nose of plum, cassis, black cherry to berry fruit, not a lot of movement, minor notes of dark chocolate and caramel but wouldn’t typify it as “oaky,” some menthol to mint, needs to shed a whole lot of baby fat to discern much more. Medium to full-bodied, more tannic spine than expected and while its density does most of the structuring it does have the stuff to age. Orange citrus, leather and a vague twigginess appear over time. Similarly to the nose, soft oakiness. Liked it better close to opening, air time seemed to shut it down. Not entirely sure what to think, previous experience with bottlings from this vineyard generally more gregarious and easy to grasp. Unspecified percentages of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Lenoir, Carignane, Mourvèdre, etc.
2014 Big Basin Syrah Gabilan Mountains Coastview Vineyard. Sufficient blackness in the core to get the purple core into no see-through land, the thinnish rims a weird coloration, sort of maroon into more fresh red brick. Texturally speaking the nose whooshes you in and then flies away, at first there’s solid currant, cherry fruit with even some white grape added, violets, clove, appreciated subdued oak, but then it’s gone for no apparent reason. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, fluid and very open for business so don’t think the wine per se is in a dumb phase. Floral, no much citrus nor meatiness. More so clean stoniness. Ripeness without “splash” in the cherry, blackberry, red currant fruit. It’s neutral when you mean that in the good way. Might be found lacking on its own but as just mentioned should be quite versatile at the dining table. 96% Syrah, 4% Viognier.
2019 Bedrock Sonoma County Carignan. Violet to plum red in hue, quite sleek in appearance with a vivid saturation which helps hold light. Nose shows a dusty, sandy earth profile, the cherry, blackberry to grape fruit scents conversely feel sort of sticky in the nostrils, a mix of citrus and pressed flowers lurks in the background, on the whole clean and forward. Light-bodied, sappy here as well thus it clings well right on through the finish. Maybe some tannic grip but doesn’t come off as especially structured while in no way anything but understatedly firm. Solid juiciness in the blackberry, blueberry, cherry fruit, hint of apple. Simple florality. Very much in keeping with the grape variety broadly construed, could be a ringer for a bottle of Les Hérétiques (at three times the price, hehe). Grapes sourced primarily from Teldeschi Ranch (Dry Creek Valley) remainder Bedrock Vineyard (Sonoma Valley).
2003 Lagier-Meredith Syrah Mount Veeder. Dark purple core, wouldn’t say it’s opaque, plenty of bricking around the rims but on the whole clean and doesn’t look diminished by time. Good part of the nose made of an eucalyptus lift, some toffee traces, meaty like a well done to slightly charred steak not beef jerky, the black currant, plum scents tend to glue it together so there’s not much clarity among the aromas. Full-bodied, the first thing across the radar is mint, vanilla and caramel. Then that smoky meatiness. Not getting much by way of tannin nor acidity, just a whole lot of momentum as it moves across the palate. This surprising as I made a note of strong acidity on release. The sweet dark fruits edging towards prune territory. For its age really packed with flavor so just enjoyed it for that, wasn’t any sense in further analysis.
2013 Levensohn Cabernet Sauvignon Saint Helena. Blackish purple core, wide rims which are turning a deep brick red, good clarity and such. Tobacco, leather and eucalyptus bloom first in the nose, quickly followed on by cassis, cherry, blueberry fruit which verges on candied, a little smokiness on the back end, would not be hard to peg this as a Napa Cabernet if tasted blindly. Medium-bodied, noticeably smooth and polished, silky mouthfeel. If there’s tannin it comes across as wood tannin, albeit it’s not excessively oaky. Same array of dark and super-sweet fruit here too. Touch of burn on the roof of your mouth. Minty. Seems less developed than the nose. No real development with air time. In a roundabout way if this was what you were looking for you’d be pleased. 1.5 liter bottle.
2020 Arnot-Roberts California Rosé. Displays a high degree of shine and brightness alongside a very pale, diminished salmon pink hue, metallic orange tint. Berryish sort of nose but its main calling card is transparency to stone, pebble, stream water aspects, that said there is an offputting milkiness to it which can’t explain. In the mouth it’s about medium-bodied, competent acidity, not much sense of progression from attack through finish, very consistent. Raspberry, strawberry to blueberry fruit, good brightness above and beyond raw juiciness. Stony of course, some sort of white citrus there for punctuation. Put together with thought and care, most of the time I want “fun” out of a rosé wine and this is not so much that. But that’s my bias. 68% Touriga Nacional, 16% Gamay Noir, 11% Cabernet Franc, 5% Grenache. (Composite Cork)
2016 Ser Sparking Riesling Wirz Vineyard. Dark golden color, extremely strong effervescence with the glass all but overflowing with bubbles, modest buff to it. The nose has an apple to pear skin quality, orange peel, finding more breadiness than chalkiness or stoniness. Medium-bodied, just slightly sweeter than expected, this more pronounced if left to warm. Fine pétillance, fits the whole. Citrus level raised here and a basic stoniness added as well. Apricot, pear, apple fruit does what it should, of no special distinction. More toasty than bready here. There’s a nutty and bitter aftertaste which is distracting. Strong preference for it while close to ice cold. (Bottle cap)
2019 Mas Coutelou Languedoc Vin de France La Buvette à Paulette. Bright violet to ruby-magenta coloration, nice visual buoyancy in the glass, good clarity in spite of relative darkness. Fart, peanut shells, witch hazel throw the nose off balance from the start, underneath is a bucketful of juicy currant, dark berry fruit, a light floral breeze, hint of citrus, this could be a much more enjoyable experience if they cleaned up their act, literally put. Medium-bodied, has a very attractive smoothness to it and you feel it sliding across your tongue. Citrus, florality, ginger spice, plenty of nice elements to adorn the juicy and not overly ripe black fruits. But here too a lingering funk hocks a loogie in the punch bowl. It sometimes amazes me how many acceptable wines could be really good if the winemaker dropped the natural shit. This producer is a great case in point, I should love their wines but just hope to find one a wee bit cleaner than the last. 34% Merlot, 33% Mourvèdre, 33% Syrah.
2019 Lapalu Côte de Brouilly. The violet core yields with ease to red magenta, saturated but not “super” saturated to the point of exaggeration. Crushed blueberries and raspberries drip into the nose, however, not enough to offset the horsehide and merde stinkiness, the underlying florality stays underlying, moments of something akin to eucalyptus. Medium-bodied, immediately starts expanding like a balloon, not as much weight as sheer pressure/presence. Naval orange to lemon citrus, stony after a certain fashion. Then semi-pickled. Blueberry, blackberry flavors gain the upper hand over red berries. Not unstructured but would like a little more of an acidic shock to it. Still, if they are not sold out next time I visit this store will buy one bottle to throw in the cellar. “Just to see.”
2020 Baudry Chinon Rosé. This is what they mean by “limpid,” transparent, shiny and dances in the glass, palest of pink hues available. Stony and dusty nose but not in a decisive manner, actually it’s an earthy merde like smell which for some reason doesn’t let go, switches over to orange marmalade, mint and red currant, cherry scents, lot going on but needs an editor. Medium-bodied, feels much broader than deeper, all front of the tongue and cheeks with little in-between. Ditches the barnyard in favor of bread, a telepathic burst of bell pepper, and lemon juice. Minerals swoop in through the finish to give it some angularity. Which in turn can appear to hollow it out. In any event, I am okay with it but not loving it and think the “KISS” rule might have been worth putting into play. (Composite Cork)
2020 Olga Raffault Chinon Rosé. The metallic sheen seems to bring out more orange in the pink hue base, consistent and without much loss at the rims, fills the glass nicely. The nose is full and errs towards sweetness, dusting of cocoa powder, red berry to cherry scents, the lemon element sort of soft drink-esque, too dense to be blowsy, I wouldn’t characterize the nose as “classic” but liked it well enough. Same script in the mouth, fleshy and full-bodied, clarity of structure obscured by its density. Adds in chalky to minerally accents with a sour brine touch, welcome in the general scheme of things. The fruitiness mostly dissipated by the finish. Perhaps this assists in accentuating the citrus. Preferred the 2019 but this is perfectly serviceable, especially with something creamy like chicken salad or such. (Composite Cork)
2018 Clos Cibonne Tibouren Côtes de Provence “Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes”. Brightly luminescent salmon pink to orange in hue, consistent throughout, youthful. The nose has a saline edge which borders on sandy at times, smoky in a tar pit on fire way, not getting much citrus from it, the cherry to red berry scents mostly lost in the mix, more unique than viscerally pleasing. Medium-bodied, spreads itself fully across the palate so by the finish it has more presence and sort of feels heavier. Again, it’s salty in a sea salt manner. The fruit shows best through the attack. Orange peel added into the mix, in a marmalade vein. Has much more grip when warmer but preferred it colder. Muscularity demands food, no casual sipper. Can see it holding with ease over years to come more than improving.
2020 Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Demi-Sec. Sort of autumnal yellow with a light tannish brown hue mixed in, clear if no particularly shiny. Nose of apple juice, not cider, pear, quince and apricot too, no bite, hint of orange peel, only starts to show a honeyed side once it warms, then ends on a pickle brine note. Full-bodied, flavorful and fruity but for my tastes close to sloppy, albeit in a gregarious manner. Acidity sneaks up on you through the finish but still consider it perceptibly on the weaker side of things. Good smokiness, sort of caramelized brown sugar supports this too. Adds in some florality absent in the nose. Not putting any in the cellar, would treat this as a pop and pour wine. And as it is not in my pop and pour price range future encounters will depend upon the kindness of strangers.
2016 Rings Spätburgunder Pfalz Kallstadt. Thin purple core, more garnet red to even scarlet, full rims. Spicy nose with notes of quinine, brine, good stoniness, something like powdered violets, maraschino cherry fruit, no flab on it. Medium-bodied, very good tannic backbone. Was a bit shrill on opening and needed air. Incense, ginger and a hint of cola bean. Unsure of élevage but not getting any real oak presence. Very tingly mouthfeel. Cherry, rhubarb to blackberry fruit, nowhere near strawberry. One could fashion a plausible argument that it remains young and in need of time to soften further. While admitting it might, I would not bet on the fruit long term and see this as a consume during next 2-3 years tops wine.
2020 Seehof Pinot Noir Rheinhessen Rosé. Pale pink coloration, attractive brightness, maybe a kind of onion skin yellowness mixed in. Open nose, chalk dust, seashell, raspberry to apple fruit, a touch of whipped cream (particularly warmer), could go with skinny or clean but leaning towards the latter, it’s not “missing” anything it promised to offer. Medium-bodied, rather than lift into a breezy perfume it basically sits right down in the middle of your tongue to maximize time spent with you. Strawberry, rhubarb, red cherry fruit with a lemon zest dousing. The wet chalk to pebbles element contributes well to its freshness. Turns smokier through the finish. Similar to my experience with the 2017 but more focus in this version and as a result greater potential versatility. (Screwcap)
2000 San Luigi Cabernet Sauvignon Tuscany “Fidenzio”. Core has darkened into a blackish bruise surrounded by fiery orange and yellow hues, average cleanliness, looks its age. Fully matured nose of leather, cedar and mothballs, close to smoky at times, the plum to currant scents washing the glasses and putting the chairs up on the tables to mop. Medium-bodied, while the wine was pushed beyond its prime it’s more balanced and integrated here, the fruit has a good deal more richness. Conversely, there’s a merde like funk and plenty of peanut shells which were absent in the nose. Potpourri, grill smoke, incense. While it’s not horrible there’s a clear preference for the previous bottle consumed in 2012 and thereabouts was likely its peak.
2020 Vajra Nebbiolo Langhe Claré J.C… Super light and transparent tea rose red, pinkish at the rims, high degree of reflectivity keeps catching your eye. There’s a persistent dustiness to the nose, like someone tried to pour sand in it, then very sour red fruits, tar and licorice, some pressed flowers, if you sniff too deeply the alcoholic fumes really start to take over. So don’t sniff too deeply. Light-bodied with more than enough tannic grip to keep it in the forefront of your thoughts. The hard candy sweetness of the strawberry, raspberry, cherry fruit found to be appealing. Generalized earthiness rather than tar, substitution of tea leaf. There’s very little which is “pretty” about it so you have to enjoy the “honest” wine vibe instead. Which works if you are smart about when you pull the cork. (Composite Cork: Diam5)
2018 Goodfellow Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Durant Vineyard. Light and bright ruby to watermelon pink hue, nice sparkle in the glass, no real loss around the rims. Nose of cola bean to root beer with lighetr vanilla and floral accents, the red cherry to red berry fruit scents guileless and direct, overall attractive without needing any gussying up. Medium-bodied, displays a lot of grip and you feel it hug the tongue from entry through finish. More spicy than sour, for its volume it at the same time can play high in the register. Here that root beer thing is clearer, more citrusy than floral too. Blueberry, blackberry to raspberry fruit. Slightly curious about to me lack of perceptible acidity or tannin, albeit the latter more present. I like its forcefulness but at the same time this may limit its versatility at the dinner table. (Composite Cork: Diam10)
2018 Vincent Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Temperance Hill Vineyard. It’s darker than ruby-violet, getting into lighter scarlet territory, credible clarity but doesn’t really sparkle. Nose high-pitched with cranberry, rhubarb, apple fruit, menthol and cola, lemon peel, not finding much earthiness, lots of angles. Medium to full-bodied, gets heavier with each successive sip, seems to accrue weight over time. More citrusy here. Tannins show punch and suck out a good bit of moisture. Spicy rather than mentholated. Fruit a couple of shades darker. Prolonged finish. This has a lot of stuffing to it and popping the cork is close to infanticide, not to say there’s no enjoyment today. Two bottles left, not to be touched for a few years minimum.
2019 Vincent Gamay Noir Eola-Amity Hills Bjornson Vineyard. Light gauziness to the plum red to violet coloration, more glowing and vivid when viewed with a bit of distance. The nose imbued with snap and attitude, bursting with white pepper and white grapefruit, mildly herbaceous and this balanced out by a raspberry liqueur note, over time both leather and lilacs come out but it’s all about the zing. On the palate it’s not that dissimilar with a wiry spine of acidity to get the mouth watering. The overall sourness might turn some off but it’s not for lack of fruitiness. Citrus and stone dust lead the way, the pepperiness woven in more, less noticeable. Long, puckering finish. Fabulous wine, impossible to not know it’s dancing around your mouth. (Composite Cork)
2012 Quinta do Pégo Douro Grande Reserva. The scarlet to purple core not fully opaque, wide rust red rims, looks like it has some age on it. Very minty nose, plum to cherry fruit stuffed alongside, milk chocolate, café au lait, the cleansing sensations help prevent it from getting ponderous. Full-bodied in an overripe way, that is it’s fluffy and lifts/expands across the mouth roof but there’s little exertion down into the tongue. Thus, any “weight” is transitory at best. Here the fruit definitely crosses the threshold into raisin and prune, yet this can’t be entirely unexpected. Mentholated but not to the extent of the nose. Tangerine citrus. Oak less obvious which at least brings the fruit more to the fore. Soft finish. Decent everyday wine but over $20 is pushing it. Unspecified percentages of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão.