A Few Recent Tastes XXXIV

2017 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Phoenix. Transparent throughout, brilliant surface shine, basic violet core with broad scarlet red rims. Heavy dose of menthol to the nose, whisper of incense, still very much in the primary stage with ample cherry, currant fruit. Medium-bodied, unexpectedly fluid, just about glides through the mouth. Here the eucalyptus somehow able to become even more dominant. Leather, cedar, tobacco smoke. Wow, the eucalyptus is distracting. Same brawny dark fruits. Given how it got there the finish is somewhat abrupt. In the end for the sub $20 list price I’d take this over most similarly priced Californian offerings. Not expecting meaningful evolution. (Screwcap)

2015 Bedrock Carignan Vineyard Under The Mountain. Very dark purple core but not quite black, equally heavyset ruby-magenta rims, visually not showing much age. Keenly brisk and penetrating nose of blueberry, cranberry fruit, kindling smoke, leather to dried grapefruit pith, texture slightly more captivating than array of scents. Medium-bodied, the tannin cruising along and providing shape with the acidity as an able sidekick. The red to blue fruits stick to character here, sour and wiry but in no way lacking. Getting more raw stoniness, less smoke. The grapefruit aspect more obvious. Mentholated finish. Well-balanced. Too much energetic personality for a casual sipper but an excellent wine.

2014 Harrington Lagrein Paso Robles Pelletiere Vineyard. Glowing violet core, ruby-magenta saturated rims, extremely sleek and shiny surface. The primary ripeness of youth has not abated one iota, the nose all plum, blueberry, boysenberry fruit with some room saved for mint, menthol notes and potpourri, the peanut shell aspect shown on release now gone. Medium-bodied, firm in a fleshy way, not so much structure per as the tannin has knit in well. More of a damp floral musk here, lifted in part by white grapefruit to naval orange citrus. Light leathery element, cloaked by that dark berry, cherry fruit. Unsure what kind of tertiary development may come down the road, one more bottle to find out. Not worried about the fruit fading anytime soon.

2016 Nalle Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley. Scarlet purple in hue, youthful. Berry, green apple, cherry fruit topped off with warm caramel, mountain airiness. Medium-bodied, some pucker yet the acidity and tannin in the mood to have fun. Well-fruited in a compact and fluid manner. Similar to bottle consumed and noted January 2020 so no need to go further, just enjoy. 88% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane.

2018 Bedrock Nervo Ranch Heritage. Brightly transparent throughout, the purple core fades quickly to cranberry red to magenta hues, very good shine. Bowl of mixed berries in the nose topped with whipped cream and a spoonful of caramel, eucalyptus and lavender round it out, to me comes across like a teenager getting used to applying makeup. Medium-bodied, the acidity establishes itself right off so the attack pushes forward well. Conversely, there’s a drying pucker through finish. In between taut blueberry, blackberry appears with menthol and Indian mukhwas. The presence of oak better knit in here with a certain butteriness as the calling card. Entirely unevolved with minimal hints of what’s to come. Unspecified percentages of Zinfandel, Negrette, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Grenache, Carignane, Trousseau Noir, Cardinal, Burger, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc.

2016 Turley Zinfandel Turley Estate. The purple core weakened by scarlet red, wide sunset red that looks soon to be full on bricking. Nutmeg and ginger spice along with menthol spices things up enough in the nose to deflect the brunt of the plum/prune, cherry compote scents, has a decided meaty side as well which I didn’t get on release, while the fruit only slightly diminished would not push things further looking for more development. Medium-bodied, smooth enough and not finding any troublesome alcoholic heat. Floral with some tangerine zest, lower level of cooking spices. Fruit fresher here, rich dark berries. Some cocoa. Most basic complaint is that the flavors smushing together, losing clarity. But not every Zinfandel becomes a claret in drag with age.

2019 Bedrock Zinfandel Shenandoah Valley Esola Vineyard. Brilliant shine to it, transparent violet core segues to magenta and watermelon pink. Nice stony frame to the nose with its abundant mixed berry scents, soft grapefruit accent and some baking spice, noticeably unadorned. Light-bodied with a syrupy texture which plays up the juiciness in the blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb to green apple flavors. Same level of stoniness, perhaps blunted by a molasses component. Uptick in the perceived tannin through the finish. Extremely consistent presentation so not much more to say.

2011 Black Kite Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Redwoods’ Edge. Looks advanced, the ruby transitioning into rust red, fine clarity and transparency. The nose requires some time to open and come into its own then it’s an initial splash of creamy oak before zippy blueberry, raspberry fruit, forest brush and pebbles, caraway seeds, cola, quite buoyant. Medium-bodied, here the oak remains too prevalent for my tastes, maybe adds to a mild astringency. Acidity level nothing special. Comes off as mixed together more than woven together. Light metallic ring to it too. All that said, lots of fruit and spiciness and no weakness through the finish. At this juncture will come down on the side of this is all you’ll get. Black Kite is like Anthill Farms to me, too expensive on release but if something affordable pops up on the secondary market I’ll take a chance and win more often than lose.

2013 Wind Gap Mendocino County Fox Hill Vineyards Red Wine. Has a filminess to it, like the finest silt possible, light purple core then an odd combination of brick red and watermelon pink, I guess it’s showing its age. There’s an inertness to the nose, takes its time handing out scraps of strawberry, raspberry fruit, charred meat fat, pressed flowers, stone, waited awhile but it didn’t come around. Light-bodied, palate presence enhanced by both a tannic blanket and whiplash acidity. Sour white grapefruit, tar, stone, cedar, gritty mouth feel. The raspberry, cranberry, blueberry fruit quite biting. Not especially floral. If this had more fruit out of the gate, it’s gone now. Satisfactory but just, kudos for the blend. Unspecified percentages of Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Dolcetto.

2010 Peay Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Estate Scallop Shelf. Somewhat gauzy, the ruby-violet core shrunken in favor of rust red, showing age. The nose rife with incense and baking spices, at times medicinal, a mushroomy element developing, the mixed berry scents holding on credibly enough, starting to lose thrust and staying power. Light to medium-bodied, spreads nicely across the mouth albeit with a semi-hollow mid-palate. Caramel to butterscotch residue helps at this point to bolster the blueberry, raspberry to strawberry fruit. Acidity okay, seems like it could have been tannic in its youth. Ginger, blood orange ring variety then turns twiggy. The constitutive parts work in harmony, however, to me this is clearly on a downward trajectory.

2000 Boxler Riesling Sommerberg Vendanges Tardives. Fully bronzed, pools deep into the glass with good surface shine, lots of presence. Strong warm, soft rubber component to the nose, glazed orange slices, oil slick, brown sugar, the pineapple, nectarine, green apple scents don’t achieve tropicality, no lactose, no lack of youthful brawn. Medium-bodied, its flesh hung on a strong, gangly skeleton. The acidity kicks ass and takes name, a major reason why this is now a table wine rather than dessert wine. Quite dry, leaves the bones alone. Sinewy papaya, pineapple, mango to nectarine fruit all tropical now. Pink grapefruit and tangelo citrus. Caramelized brown sugar then all that rubber and a reserved smokiness. This is pretty much killing it.

2005 Domaine de l’Oustal Blanc Languedoc Vin de Table Naïck 5. Deep purple core, burnt red to brick red rims, doesn’t really look that old. Overripe nose, like you passed out and woke up in iHop on Sunday morning, all blueberry and strawberry syrup, candied ginger, spiced orange peel, no nuance or subtlety, cozies right up to you with its hand on your thigh. Medium-bodied, same story here (which is not a bad story if you’re looking for it) but the residual tannin shaves off enough sugar to get some flow going. Floral dew, milk chocolate, orange juice. Monochrome yet not minding it at all. No development, was it expected, can’t say. 60% Cinsault, 20% Carignan, 20% Syrah and Grenache.

2016 Château Beauregard Mirouze Languedoc Corbières Campana. Luminescent ruby-violet, the deep saturation doesn’t mar the overall cleanliness. Superripe mixed berry fueled nose, grill smoke a touch of olive pit, still extremely primary while showing signs of coming development. Medium-bodied, smooth and not as sappy as expected based on the nose. Mixes in some meadow scrub and lavender here, the citrus element never gains hold. Smokiness lingers in the background. Sufficient tannic brawn to keep the berry, red currant fruit in check. Actually, maybe a bit too tannic at the end. This strikes me as very intelligently made, perhaps the kind of purity which could strike one as overly crafted. But I don’t think that’s the case. 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache. (Composite Cork)

2018 Guillaume Clusel Coteaux du Lyonnais Traboules (100% Gamay Noir). Dapper crimson to purple, a sort of brooding darkness, flush to the rims with clean transparency. Now, the oddest thing of all. At first there’s no nose, like barely anything there. A muted whisper of strawberries, parched earth. At a very slow pace some florality but that’s it. In the mouth everything returns to normal, medium-bodied and close to sappy. Sour cranberry, cherry with some trailing strawberry. Craggy earth, stone, hint of dried blood. Stays gluey through the finish, extending things well. Satisfying and in keeping with previous vintages tasted, particularly 2016. Neutral enough to serve with a variety of food.

2013 Domaine Jean-Louis Tribouley Languedoc Côtes Catalanes Orchis. Lustrous and youthful ruby-violet, rims just beginning to brick. The nose does have a poopy side, however, there appears to be little fall off in the raspberry, blueberry fruit scents, rounded out by leather, dried fallen leaves and twigs, innocuous. Medium-bodied, on the gritty side but you could say it’s a good sort of texture, woolly even. Redder fruit with strawberry and maraschino cherry added to the aforementioned. Cleaner here but the poop still around retronasally. I drink a fair amount of inexpensive Southern France wines of similar cépage and this is solidly in the middle of the pack, good everyday wine. Approximately 75% Grenache, 25% Carignan.

2017 Domaine Fouet Saumur-Champigny l’Amarante. Well saturated ruby-violet core with red magenta rims, reflective surface, pretty. Peppery, stony nose with a solid core of bell pepper, not for the pyrazines averse, thick black currant, cherry fruit as well, cigar ash, not much else going on. Light-bodied as well as light of touch, fills out the attack well but the finish is noticeably short. Spicier than expected, the black fruits show that thickness upfront. Fairly tannic, sufficiently deadening to lessen the presence of the bell pepper. Moment of white grapefruit. Checks all the boxes as it were yet can’t avoid seeming foursquare with little to add to the conversation. Just a wine to drink. (Composite Cork)

2012 Domaine Anne Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot Languedoc Vin de France La 50/50. Ruby-purple throughout, transparent with a vague haze like staring into the sun, youthfully hued yet. Taut nose, almost buttoned up, light poop at first, red berries and cherry, quiet stoniness, difficult to ascertain if it’s closed/reticent or fading. Medium-bodied, credible expansiveness across the palate, no immediately evident structure while at the same time clearly contoured. Sour blueberry, cranberry, cherry fruit, moderate juiciness. Grapefruit zest and a complementary grassiness pair with the stoniness to positive effect. Tree bark to tea leaf nuances. This and that going on yet doesn’t cohere for me. Unspecified percentages of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan. (Composite Cork: Diam10)

2014 Domaine Jaulin-Plaisantin Chinon l’Enfer. Light purple core then crimson red, no saturation, more like an array of sunset reds. Shoe polish, bandaid, good deal of volatility to the nose, flattens the black fruit scents, quite dull. Medium-bodied, while it has admirable focus the volatile acidity does a hatchet job here too. Animal notes if not feral, close. Ripe and round cherry, red currant to plum fruit. Not much bell pepper. Good length. Cannot get past the volatility, not sure if this is part of the “house style” or what.

2002 Closel Savennières Clos du Papillon. Continuing to clear out some older Closel wines, my final 2002 Papillon. Full amber, a tad cloudy, looks its age and then some. While there’s ample dough and yeast in the nose what grabs your attention is the smokiness then wax and spiced orange, some quince or nectarine but time has flattened the fruit, overall awkwardly angular, I see an old man whose sleeve hangs off his thinned wrist. Based off this the palate is fairly revelatory, medium-bodied with energetic acidity yet. I am much more tolerant of flaws than many of my wine geek pals but I’d call this semi-oxidized by age not premoxed. The yeast put in its place, especially with air, while pineapple, papaya, nectarine, apricot fruit shows vigor. As stony as smoky. Tangerine, blood orange sour and juicy. I find the finish dulls if you drink too fast, some time between sips and it lengthens. Popped the cork on a random Monday night expecting drain fodder. But appreciably better than the previous bottle May 2020. Luck of the draw that I saved the best for last.

2004 Vacheron Sancerre. Long ago a collector acquaintance chided me on drinking Sancerre young so I tried to lay some down to see what was what. Since I don’t pour Cotat or Vatan over my Wheaties it was the next tier down for me. Following the generalized “rule of 15,” here is a data point. Really liked this on release and was impressed by its structure. Decent amount of gold left in the otherwise light amber color, semi-dull surface. Touch of butterscotch and whipped cream to the nose then a kind of sea water brine, no citrus presence with minimal white pit fruit scents. Medium-bodied, here the acidity still carries a big stick and pushes whatever is there to the finish line. Sour orange citrus, crushed white stone a nice touch. Clearly present oxidative dough notes. More fruit here but mostly shot. A worthy enough experiment for the $20 paid but not my cup of tea. Have a 2002 as well as 2007 Vacheron left to pull, this one was the easiest to get to.

2017 Società Agricola Russiz Superiore Sauvignon Blanc Friuli-Venezia Giulia Collio. Bright white to yellow straw hue, curiously the shine adds depth to the pooling effect too. The nose is sort of a tease, crisp than seems sprinkled with powdered sugar, basically getting stream washed pebbles, snap peas, pineapple, guava, peach fruit, almost like you filled an empty decanter with half a bottle of Sancerre and half a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Medium-bodied, whiplash acidity, not always in control of itself. Pink to white grapefruit, maybe some lime, the citrus takes up an outsized portion of the bed. Traces of mint or anise. Riper papaya, mango fruit here, some pineapple. Generally speaking I like it yet feel like it’s of two minds.

2018 Vincent Wine Company Pinot Noir Tardive. Pure violet core segues to garnet and then a slim rim of magenta, vivid but not necessarily saturated. Texturally your nostrils feel well-stuffed, good punch in the cranberry, blueberry scents, filled out by crushed stone, floral dew and cinnamon, in a youthfully pure state without seeming fruit-driven per se. Medium-bodied, the structure slows progression down to a measured pace while remaining fluid. Mixed grapefruit, orange citrus takes an early lead and does not relinquish. That pleasing stoniness continues with a brown dirt undertone. Nutmeg and a hint of clove. Slightly truncated by a pervasive sourness in the raspberry, blueberry, blackberry fruit. Leaves the mouth feeling scrubbed but not raw. Needs 4-6 years, just long enough to lose some structure.

2018 Vinhos Fitapreta Touriga Nacional Alentejano Signature Series: A Touriga Vai Nua Unoaked. Glowingly vivid core, deep scarlet rims, good clarity throughout, warm glass presence. Velvety texture to the black cherry, dark berry scents, crisp floral dew, cinnamon stick, cleansing denouement, unadorned as would be expected from a rare experience of unoaked Touriga. Medium-bodied, spreads out quickly, displays a quick tannic jab, structure doesn’t poke out like a sore thumb. More red berry to cherry here with moments of green apple. Mentholated aspect brings added lift. Maybe some orange peel. Attractive purity, high marks for drinkability.

Thanks for these, Marc. I think this is the first time I see a TN on the forum for a Fita Preta wine (other than my own) and I will mention for the upteenth time what a huge fan I am of António Maçanita’s work (Fita Preta being his Alentejo project). It takes a nut like him to plant Touriga Nacional down south and make it unoaked, fresh and balanced, which all of his wines are.

I did really like this, ordered it online, were it local I’d pick up a couple more for general pounding. Tempts me to order from the retailer and round out the order with more wine I do not need.

None that I officially noted. Might have had one at a trade tasting back in the day when I was a habitué of such things. Generally like Vacheron, sticking to them young from here on out. They aren’t sexy so still priced well.

Only tried one (different) vintage of the Boxler Sommerberg VT Riesling, not sure how much the style varies, but wasn’t that sweet indeed and boy, what a cool style. Not cheap but a really high level Alsatian Riesling.