A Few Recent Tastes XXXIII

2016 Groom Shiraz Barossa Valley. The purple dark enough to verge on black, razor thin scarlet rims, above average surface shine. The nose is dull, hardly any lift at all, mostly plum to cassis fruit that evokes more sugar than ripeness, to its credit not getting a lot of oak presence, stronger leather and poor brown dirt, air time didn’t help. Medium to full-bodied, if the former it’s due to the nicely high level of acidity with more pronounced tannin at the end. Citrusy than twiggy, the oak a notch higher here without becoming tiresome. The black fruits are ripe with contour and better than expected snap. The more I sip the more I feel something is out of whack with the phenolics. But it is labeled as 13.8% alcohol which for Barossa is quite rare so maybe the effort to rein in alcohol plays a role? Also kinda think it may be in an awkward place on the aging curve.

2014 Wind Gap Syrah Sonoma Coast. More of a crimson to black coloration than standard purple, very good clarity throughout. Plenty of thrust into the nostrils, fueled by green grasses, charred beef, grapefruit, and tar, the greenness verges on bell pepper, rounded out by cranberry, blueberry scents, comes across as it has lost some plumpness since release. Light-bodied, the acidity might be a tad too strong for the primary material resulting in a stunted finish. Leathery, loses the smokiness of the nose. The more you sip the more it seems like you can finger tannins for the short finish too. Has a high energy level yet without more flesh on its bones the more you drink the more it starts to turn shrill.

2010 Ty Caton Syrah Sonoma Caton Vineyard Ballfield. Dusky purple core, muddy sort of translucency, full bricking a good half inch in from the rims, looks its age if not more. Dense nose of plum, cassis fruit with a solid layering of molasses on top, minor spiced orange and eucalyptus notes, something akin to plastic appears now and then otherwise an inoffensive and unremarkable nose. Medium to full-bodied, the presentation rescued in part by better than expected acidity. The oak more toast and vanilla bean here, better woven into the whole. The fruit tart and veering into blueberry, blackberry as much as currant. Glimmer of leather and beef jerky. Yet, dries out too quickly through the finish so it never sinks in enough for maximal enjoyment. Just past peak while decent enough for everyday “I need a drink” after work consumption.

2014 Aril Syrah Sonoma Kick Ranch Vineyard. Opaque flat purple core, hazy red bricks rims, looks maturing while at the same time expect it didn’t look all that different right out of the chute. Floral nose with bright, angular fruit scents of blueberry, raspberry, boysenberry, not much else going on but fine enough for what it is. Medium-bodied veering to light but could be just trailing off through the finish. Feels clean enough, minimal discernible oak. Similar fruit, add in sour Italian plum. Decent level of acidity able to bring a spark to the white citrus element. Pleasant in the most pedestrian way, in the end foursquare and not especially memorable.

2015 Peter Michael Chardonnay Ma Belle-Fille. Slight green tint to the otherwise immaculate, shiny yellow gold color, visually showing no age. Finely woven nose of lime zest, mint, bubblegum, as well as toffee and caramel from what I assume was very expensive oak, just becomes more prominent as it warms, the peach, pear, apple fruit scents sort of lost in the mix. Medium-bodied, feels like it has stronger acidity than you might think but then there’s an astringency which elevates through the finish which suggests that sensation was wood tannin. Caramel, molasses, butterscotch, you name it, stays classy but me no likey this much oak. Lime, tangerine citrus, much more floral here, or could be that bubblegum thing. Same basic fruit profile. Allowing for the fact that I’d much prefer, for example, Grand Cru Chablis hard to deny the excellent craftsmanship evident here. If this is indeed your kind of wine it would probably bowl you over.

2005 Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieilles Vignes. Dark scarlet red pretty much throughout, slight orange tint at the outermost edge, squeaky clean and fully transparent, hardly any sediment. The nose showed funk at first but with some time it on the main blew off in favor of Indian spices, mukhwas, clean brown dirt, pressed flowers and an abundance of cherry, red berry fruit. Medium-bodied, impressive from the first sip with both the tannin and acidity in balance with the whole. The juicy blueberry, raspberry, boysenberry fruit sweet before ending with a pleasing tartness. Cedar, stones and that dry dirt. Orange peel. Little bit of wood spice remains. Can’t call it particularly complex but it is quite satisfying. Cannot imagine it getting better while in no danger of fading soon.

1995 Ch. Lynch-Bages Pauillac. Purplish black more than the converse, wide rims of vibrant brick to rust red, looks vigorous. Rich plum, cassis fruit fills the nose, slowly give way to dry earth, tobacco leaf, sandalwood, and the quintessential pencil lead. Medium-bodied, the tannin ground down to a fine grit, could use a touch more structure. Mocha, cedar, tobacco, slate, kindling smoke, even a quick citric tang at the end. The mixed black fruit getting close to prune level concentration. Consistent mouthfeel start to finish yet overall loses some clarity at the end. A steady drop, nothing revelatory, well made claret, generally in keeping with impressions upon release. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.

2018 Ganevat Vin de France J’en veux encore!!!. Gauzy watermelon red, can’t say it darkens much at the core. Touch of sous bois to the nose, curious saline note, subtle menthol, unless you are really concentrating on it the vast majority of what you smell is strawberry, raspberry, pear fruit. Medium-bodied, chubby in a jolly way, after a couple of sips “structure” isn’t on the radar. Lavender, spiced orange peel, maybe anise. Fleshy raspberry, strawberry fruit, juiciness lasts fully through the finish. Punctuated by some bite at the end. As they say, glou-glou. The 2017 vintage was 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Pinot Gris. Cannot locate 2018 data.

2004 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parcé) Collioure Clos du Moulin. Blackish purple core, brick red rims with a slight remainder of ruby. Spicy nose with some grilled meat fat, odd mix of red berry all the way to plum/prune fruit scents, dewy floral perfume, doesn’t smell youthful but wouldn’t say it smells very aged either. Full-bodied, velvety texture with no rough spots, only complaint is finish could be longer. Wool and leather, mesquite smoke, ginger spice. The pulverized tannin leaves a drying residue on the tongue. The red currant, blackberry, cherry fruit satisfyingly juicy. Nothing profound, met all expectations. 90% Mourvèdre, 10% Counoise.

2005 Domaine Laurens Marcillac Cuvée de l’Écir. The dark purple core reaches opacity, broad sunset rims, maybe a slight fine silt throughout. Herbaceous nose with bright cherry, dark berry scents, small swipe of leather, this bottle coming off more primary than one sampled May 2018. Medium-bodied, savory attack featuring saline, minerally earth, bell pepper, tobacco wrapper, flavors more “rugged” than the texture. Sappy currant, blackberry fruit. Really glues itself to your mouth pores. Finish shortening some suggesting its nearing the end of its plateau. This is the only bottling of aged Fer Servadou I’ve had, quite compelling and makes me want to find some younger bottles with which to experiment.

2016 Domaine Montlobre Pays d’Oc La Chapelle Vieilles Vignes (100% Merlot). Sort of washed out purple core, easy to see through, broad brick red rims which brighten at the edge. Nose starts off plump but slims down for clarity, suggests an echo of leather and earth, mix of cherry and dark berry, no noticeable oak presence, neutral to its credit. Light-bodied, quite smooth without lacking in shape. Even ends with some acidic pucker. Here there is a twiggy, leafy aspect that I find complimentary. This evokes a mild oak toast but would not be surprised to learn there’s no oak in its élevage. As it opens getting more citric bite. From memory it strikes me that I have had more than a few credible entry level Merlot wines from the Languedoc and this is one more. Would drink again without reservation. (Composite Cork: Diam3)

2019 Famille Perrin Côtes-du-Rhône Réserve Rosé. Faint salmon pink that yellows out to onion skin, decent shine. Semi-blunt nose, red berry fruit, powdered sugar, the florality tends to get cloaked by grassiness, didn’t soften much closer to room temperature. Medium-bodied, tends to slosh around, lacks the acidity to give it a spark. The level of the berry fruit is fine, no citrus to complement. Smattering of cocoa alongside weak florality. Boring wine, enough said. Unspecified percentages of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah. (Screwcap)

2015 Palivou Estate Peloponnese Nemea Terra Leone Ammos (100% Agiorgitiko). Mostly scarlet purple, pure red at rims, satisfactory shine and cleanliness. Concentrated, semi-candied cherry, raspberry fruit with a layer of prune on top, what little space left over filled with lavender, caraway, milk chocolate, and wool notes, very good overall staying power. Medium-bodied, velvety in feel while the tannin adds needed dryness and spine, end result being a slower paced progression across the palate. Darker fruited, black cherry, cassis, plum/prune. Ginger root, leather, less expressive than the nose. Fruity and sturdy at once, for the sub $20 price a reminder to check in on more Greek reds as a value play.

2015 Perusini (Ronchi di Gramogliano) Friuli Colli Orientali Rosso del Postiglione. The purple in the core washed out in favor of crimson, strong brick red into the rims. While the nose has an ashen and grassy nature, there’s a core of sappy black cherry, blackberry fruit, more lathery as it opens, tempted to call it unevolved but it’s more likely this will be all you get. Medium-bodies, nicely streamlined while also arguably more complex. Offers a mentholated, kind of minty element. Vague white citrus. Tannin gives shape but not unyielding. Wood spice enlivens the finish. throughout it all is that steady as she goes cherry, mixed berry fruit. This is very well done and an argument to remember to buy some Friulian reds. 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Refosco.

2002 Galardi Roccamonfina Terra di Lavaro. Black core, sunset orange and red fashion wide rims, sleek shine across the surface, good deal of sediment on the shoulder. Extremely funky nose upon opening, rife with peanut shells, merde, plastic which slowly yield to tar and campfire ash without seeming volcanic, hard to pin it down but might be some oak toast left as well, if there’s any fruit there it loses to struggle to be heard. Medium-bodied, waited this long to tame the tannin and that was successful albeit no lack of tingle to it. Cedar, smoke, tar, you might as well have dropped an ashtray in a tar pit. White citrus lurks in the background. Crushed, dried herbs. Cocoa powder. Over time some black fruits come out. Having really liked this on release was psyched to see where it was. One more bottle left and that is going to get a full day decant in hopes of altering the outcome. 80% Aglianico, 20% Piedirosso.

2014 Trinity Hill Syrah Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels. Crimson red lightens the purple core, rust red rims, clean and transparent throughout. Some reductive rubber, muddy earth destabilizes the nose at first, finally develops a higher toned profile which featuring violets, pork rinds, blueberry to boysenberry fruit, crests right when it should then draws you back into the next sniff. Medium-bodied, closer to light, while there’s yet some tannic grit the flow is unimpeded. Fresh until the last moment when it kind of both scrunches up and disintegrates. That said, loaded with white citrus, violets, beef jerky and iodine. The dark berry fruit in no danger of falling off, sour and biting. Nice wine, to me never going to improve beyond this. (Screwcap)

2018 Soho Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Stella. White gold straw color, pleasing shine and visually true to type. Biting lift to the nose, invigorating, pink and white grapefruit to lime citrus, shale smoke and oil, asparagus, passion fruit, star fruit, nectarine, and melon scents, no nuance but plays well upon familiar expectations. Light to medium-bodied, speedy pacing while maintaining a mostly consistent presence attack to finish. More herbaceous here, if the acidity were not so sharp and citrus not so omnipresent it might appear vegetal. Which, again, in this idiom is not really unexpected nor “bad.” Requisite jalapeño box checked off. Tangy tropical fruit. I used to drink a lot more New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and generally speaking still find it appealing. But zee wife she no like (Sancerre yes) so I no buy. Felt good to sip this. (Screwcap)

2017 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay North Canterbury. Has sufficient glow to compensate for the lack of shine, the basic gold color peters out towards the rims. Even if ruled by the oak, the nose has a prettiness to it, vanilla, baker’s dough, nutmeg, mint, Brazil nuts, filled out with ripe peach, apricot, melon fruit scents, length without malingering. Medium-bodied, much toastier here, firms it up in a manner which brings more snap to the white pit and papaya fruit. Solid perceptible acidity. Extended lees aging does result in a yeasty element. The florality is short-lived but nice when there. Naval orange citrus, some lime. To me it’s “Chardonnay” and this not meant as a slam per se, just outside of really high end stuff (and maybe some cheaper Chablis) Chardonnay seems to revert to the mean. That said, liked it well enough. (Screwcap)

2015 Weisinger Family Winery Malbec Rogue Valley Gold Vineyard. Glowing purple, thin blood red rims, colors very intense, good surface shine. The nose is slathered and then slathered again in creamy oak, butterscotch, whipped cream, caramel, sugary plum, black currant, cherry scents, orange pekoe tea leaf, minor mint, as “red wine” there’s nothing wrong here per se, just this could be from anywhere in the world. Medium-bodied, soft and sappy, insinuates itself into every mouth pore. No tannin or acidity that I can find. Ginger spice, cedar, mint, candied orange peel. Err, oak. Superripe plum, blackberry, currant fruit. As with the nose no paucity of visceral pleasure but in no way escapes being generic.

2016 Adegamãe Lisboa Dory Reserva. As reddish black as it is purple, fully transparent throughout, saturated crimson rims. Nose of roasted cocoa and coffee beans followed on by the jarring contrast of menthol, layered black fruits, that’s about it, still what’s there is pleasant in a comforting way. Medium-bodied, made sleek by a shock of acidity, in turn reducing the sweetness level. A redux of the nose with caramel, mocha alongside plum, black currant, blackberry fruit. A bit spicier with leather undertones. Very nice cold winter night sipper, akin to a guilty pleasure “comfort food.” 38% Touriga Nacional, 25% Petit Verdot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Touriga Franca.

2018 Bodega Sierra Norte Valencia Utiel-Requena Fuenteseca. Lustrous ruby-violet core stretches out into red magenta, spotless transparency. In spite of cigar ash, saddle leather, and matted wet straw the nose buoyed by cranberry, blueberry, red cherry fruit scents, has a cleansing menthol-like aspect as well. Light-bodied, framed well by acidity and to a lesser extent tannin. Surprising minty burst on mouth entry, clean leather and earth, no funk in the trunk. Its basic unadorned profile allows the sour red berry, cherry fruit to last adequately into the finish, extended further by a white grapefruit swipe. Out of all the Bobal and Cabernet Sauvignon blends I have had throughout my life I’m putting this one near the top. 60% Bobal, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon (Screwcap)

as always Marc, impressive breadth and detail. Thanks for these.

Your comments on the 2014 Wind Gap mirror my experiences with most of the late (post 2013) Wind Gap wines, and many of the Pax 2.0 wines. Unfortunately Pax has lost his way. Instead of IPOB, it’s IPOA.

I recently had two 2014 Wind Gap Soif which I had the same experience with and to add to it… They had effervescence like second fermentation was taking place. Which has made me pause on those wines too.