The 2015 Kutch Wines....Done Blind With The OC Gang

2015 KUTCH WINES…DONE BLIND WITH THE GANG - Maro Wood Grill in Laguna Beach, CA (4/11/2017)

Thank you to Jamie for as I call it ‘bringing the winery to us’. In recent years, I simply have not been able to make my annual visit to Nor Cal to taste with people that I follow/support. To solve for this, I have been able to partner with wineries like Jamie’s to have the new releases shipped down so we can bring the winery to Orange County. Not only do we get to taste the wines with care and conversation, we can put a meal around them as we did last night, and we used a blind format to help us focus on what was in the glass. In sum, Jamie sent me these wines to try, I assembled our regular tasting group to drink them. And a final caveat…I am a regular customer of Jamie’s wines and buy them just like many others do. I don’t get his wines for free, other than this box of 2015s which we used for the raw material for this tasting.

As with any wine review I have written and continue to write into the future, I call the wines as I see them. Do I write negative reviews? Not often, as I choose to stick to the swim lanes of wines that I enjoy and drink wines that mirror the things I like. Candidly, I don’t have a lot of time to drink a wide array of things and as my wife doesn’t drink red, it’s usually me and a single bottle over a few nights a few times a week. In that way, I usually end up with stuff in my glass that I want to drink–stuff I buy year over year, adding to the experience and culture of really understanding the sites and craft of the people I support. In the end, maybe you will see me as narrow-minded or lacking in curiosity to try other things. That’s fine to say but in my view, I would rather drink things that bring me joy and feed my passion for this great hobby. Thanks for reading.

  • NV Camille Savès Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé Bouzy - France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
    This bottle showed a distinct sour green apple quality, along with a light note of caramel. Not as red fruited as the previous bottles, more Chard-like this time.
  • 2015 Kutch Chardonnay - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Second time I have tried this. The previous time was a few months back during Falltacular when I found the wine to be excellent. Fast forward then to last night, we opened the meal with this wine. Jamie had told me ahead of time to not serve this too cold and his counsel was spot on. Initially, this was too chilled and after it had sat out, it really came around. The first impressions were of a wine that was pretty disjointed, showing some light vanilla, a lemon juice quality and little complexity. But, letting the wine warm up to something more into the high 60s F, it transformed. Crushed rock aromatic, light smoke and loads of green apple, lemon oil and minerality. The complexity and balance is what came forward with the air and proper temp. Fantastic chardonnay.
  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Served blind, as part of our detailed look at all of the Kutch 2015s. Man, was this showing really good last night. My guess was Falstaff, as it just seemed to be drinking with that level of complexity and intensity but when revealed, it was the Sonoma Coast. Wow. Some stem and crushed rock in the aromatic, blue fruited, with plenty of coil and a hard cherry candy note. My last taste of this before we ended the meal, my notes say ‘rocky, intense, gorgeous intensity’. This drinks now with so much potential and promise, for me this could turn out as good as the SV wines that Jamie is making. For the AVA blend this time out, Jamie nailed it. Outstanding.
  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Served blind, as part of our detailed look at all of the Kutch 2015s. I always love Falstaff, and it’s a wine that needs time, air and patience to really show. This was evident last night, too. Aromatics of purple flower and potpourri, always like I’d get in a really good whole cluster syrah. In the glass, this showed with intensity, reflecting saline, a savory quality and lightly crunchy. There is a liquid-like minerality here–stony and lithe. Beautiful.
  • 2016 Kutch Pinot Noir Sans Soufre - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Served blind, as part of our detailed look at all of the Kutch 2015s. This was a 2016, the only on the table, and randomly I placed this in the center slot in terms of when we tasted it. So, it kind of sat center of the tasting flight, with the 2015s on either side of it. This matters because this wine was the least complex of the night, reflecting the style that Jamie had made it–done in stainless, no sulfur added and a low ABV of just over 11%. It drinks like a Bo-Jo, with red fruits, gentle. I enjoyed it.
  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Served blind, as part of our detailed look at all of the Kutch 2015s. Good 'ol McDougall, what I call Dougie for short. Here is where Jamie and I differ on the wine, as I think he tends to see Dougie and Falstaff being similar in how they reflect power. They both for me have intensity, yet I continue to find the Dougire more approachable when young, and even last night, I had thought that the Dougie was in fact the Sonoma Coast. Why? It showed the same approachable quality, was flashy and generous. It did share the same kind of aromatic as the Falstaff too, with the dried purple flower note and the whole cluster aromatic but it wasn’t coiled like the Falstaff, which led me to think Sonoma Coast. And funny as it may seem for those who know the Kutch wines, I actually like the Sonoma Coast better in 2015 than the Dougie, at least for what I found last night. The Dougie today lives to its pedigree, as it is dark and quite present in flavors. Delicious.

Posted from CellarTracker

Great job, Frank. Nice of Jamie to extend your crew that consideration. I just got my own 2015s and can’t wait to try. According to your note, it seems I may have to get more SC…

Great notes. I have been enjoying recent vintages more than some of the earlier ones. Its been fun to track the style evolution over the years. Just wish there was AV PN in the lineup, Signal Ridge will have to do for my AV fix.

Thanks Frank. My Kutch bottles have arrived at Schloss Bueker, but I have not gotten to them yet. Probably going to try a Sans Soufre soon.

KUTCH 2015 LINEUP - Maro Grill, Laguna Beach (4/12/2017)

Mr Kutch sent this box of toys for the boys gratis (just the 2015 Pinot Noir) with the regular Falltacular shipment and said “have at them”. He also sent along write ups and his perspective on the wines which Frank read to the group. Nice touch and interesting.

My overall thoughts in no specific order.

  1. The 2015 chardonnay is amazing, it showed well in a Pinot tasting. LOL
  2. The line up is solid across the flight
  3. I like tasting all the wines at the same time versus serially.
  4. Nordhoff has a good palate, when I got stumped he’d blurt out the descriptor
  5. Good people make for good times
  6. Falstaff, best vineyard in California…

Glasses - All 5 wines poured together. It’s crowded but the best way to do it. I brought 5 different stems for 5 different wines.

The Crew - Me, Andrew, Steve, Richard, Frank, and Sean



Mixed bag - Chef always brings out something for fun

Empanada - a staple when we eat here. Chicken and Mushroom

  • NV Camille Savès Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé Bouzy - France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
    Light pink color, as usual. Lots of green apple aromas. Really showing more of the chardonnay component of the wine this time. Plenty of sour dough/ toasted french bread flavor. Very good but interesting that over the years the bottles have varied yet all solid.
  • 2015 Kutch Chardonnay - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Weighing in at 12.72% ABV Light yellow color. Nose is initially burnt popcorn but later warmed up to beautiful floral bouquet. Attack starts with vanilla and then a big heaping spoonful of acid that makes the mouth immediately water. Very sharp edges. Strong lemon component and texture, very bright. As this warmed up it really took off. FMIII asked me what was my wine of the night for the pinot noirs and I said jokingly the chardonnay. It was that good.

Skirt Steak - I took this of Andrew’s meal. Looks good, huh?

Lamb Chops - Sean and I split the lamb chops as we snacked way too much beforehand. Chimichurri, put that $!@# on everything.

  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Signal Ridge Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino Ridge
    Nose is sweet strawberry, almost candied or jammy. First of all, this wine is young and shows that way, fair enough. Palate reveals medium plus oak and lots of stem flavors. An underlying foundation of gritty tannins is omnipresent. The flavor isn’t sweet strawberry though, just a light sprinkling of nearly ripe strawberry with dark raspberry and cranberry. Very good wine.
  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Nose is REALLY muted on this one compared to all the other 2015’s. There’s some red berry but it’s minimal. The flavors are stem and oak with berry, blue and raspberry. Goodness this wine is coiled up like a spring. I assumed it was a single vineyard wine. Nope, just little old SC AVA… impressive. Don’t open this thinking you’ll wait to drink the SV stuff, this wine needs time (probably more than the others in the lineup). As a side note, this really screwed people up as nobody that it was SC.
  • 2016 Kutch Pinot Noir Sans Soufre - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    I thought this was Gamay. Looks like it and taste like it. Others did as well. Nose is candied and it’s light bodies. Color is an interesting cloudy magenta, different than the other PN’s. Wine dances on the tongue, very distinct. Good mineral note and fine rounded tannic structure.
  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    This was blind and showed darker than the others. Initially the wine smelled like weed, the kind people smoke… Very interesting. That blew off later, reduction? Don’t know. Also had a touch of molasses. Nimble on the palate despite looking rather large. Very good chalk basis with dark fruit and perfect balance. I love the sandelwood and black incense at the finish. I suspected this was Falstaff or my just hoped it was. My WOTN.
  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    This was dark colored, maybe not as dark at the Falstaff but it was close regardless. More magenta color here, though. Mild cherry nose and red raspberry. Taste young, no problem, and the tannins a drying. Much more so than all the other wines. It would scrape your tongue clean. medium plus mouthfeel. This changed with air towards the end of the night as it began to open up. Very nice wine, just young. It and the SC AVA are just too tight and disjointed right now to even mess with, why ruin a great wine by opening before it can blossom.

The reveal. We tasted these blind but knew they were all 2015 Kutch. Is that 1/2 blind or one eyed?

Posted from CellarTracker

Brig, thanks for the additional comments, as I can always count on you to add perspective. I also appreciate that you got photos of people into our post, not just wine bottles. I wish more people in the forum here would add photos of real people from their events, not just bottle photos and TNs! It’s easy here to pound on people when they can disappear behind avatars and typed posts. Real photos keep all of us connected.

To round out my earlier comments, I decided to call it a day early and turn off my laptop and finish the remaining Chardonnay from last night’s bottle. As I just noted in CT…“I let the wine warm up this time, after last night’s learning! When the right temp is on this stuff, the wine picks up a suave quality, and I also notice a pretty saline underpinning today, too. And, the lemon core of this wine is just striking to me, a real treat for us who prefer acidity in their wines, and you’re gonna find plenty of it. Brig called it ‘mouthwatering’ in his note from last night, I’d say he is spot on. This is intense Chardonnay, pure.”

Gracias por compartir Dr. Hope to share a glass soon.


I recognize that restaurant!!

Maro just sold it. Rumors are the new owner is keeping the chef and staff but they’re all a little concerned. But nobody more than FMIII, that is his favorite place. No corkage for us and they let us run wild.

Ouch! Fingers crossed.

Look at all those nice photos!

I think everyone thought the SC was the Falstaff, the Falstaff was the McDougall and the McDougall was the SC. The SC was really excellent for an appellation bottling and the Falstaff was the best of the bunch.

The shocker to me was these were all picked between August 15th and September 6. It is an early year for sure, but when Pinot is picked on days reserved for sparklers and SB, you know it is a REALLY early vintage. Plenty of hangtime and complexity though as flowering was early too.

Thanks for having me.

Interesting take on the 15 Falstaff. I much enjoyed the 2014 version.
I have only 1 of the 2015 Falstaff and based on the notes, I will hold off opening that one for a while.

Looking forward to the 2015 McDougall when that is released to the rest of us - the non-insiders, the plebeian mass.

As a postscript: I enjoy the pictures; they add another dimension to the site and the notes.

Thanks for the notes and pics. I agree that pics of people make it a better community. Did you get any info from Jamie on the Chard as to production and vineyard sourcing?

Jeff - I know Trout Gulch grapes are in the chard, just not sure of the other source. This wine definitely needs cellar time or lots of decanting. I’m very excited about Jamie’s first chard.

For the 2014, no idea on the 2015

A 60% 40% blend from Zayante & Trout Gulch in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The vines at Zayante are 45 year old vines, dry farmed and planted on their own roots. Trout Gulch vines are 35 years old. Whole cluster pressed, native yeast & native malolactic fermentation.

I love the 2014 Chard and wish that I could have gotten more than six. I’m hoping that the 2015 is sourced from the same vineyards, but just more produced…so I can get a bigger allocation.

Bummed to miss this(I would have made it but they moved the original date by a week in order to stiff me)! Sounds like a fun line up and I am intrigued by Brig’s take on that chard.

I’ve had one or two Sonoma Coasts very young that act like that, all wound up, really complex, out of character, and then sit on them only to find out they subdue themselves and act like an appellation after a couple years. It’s tempting to just catch that lightning in the bottle.

Revisiting the 2015 'Staff and updating one of my notes from back in 2017. Decided to pull this tonight and give it a look. Delicious wine, with some age to go but drinking pretty well now, too.

  • 2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (7/17/2019)
    2 years since the last bottle, decided I would check-in and see if the structure had begun to soften from 2017’s note. I opened tonight’s bottle about 30 mins ago, poured the first glass at cellar temp. 12.3% ABV. For the aromatics, there is the same big, effusive floral note, joined by a very light note that is stemmy/woodsy. The palate shows a juicy, purple fruit (for me, this means red and blue, together). The weight of the wine is squarely medium, more elegant than heavy or powerful. There is some residual structure here but it’s supportive now, giving the purple fruit some lift but overall, this wine for me is ready to go. As with the best of Jamie’s wines, the purity and balance, they always shine brightest. This wine does that for me.

Posted from CellarTracker

Reading this thread was the catalyst for me to open my 2015 Kutch Falstaff.
I have a fair amount of Kutch wines in the collection and have enjoyed seeing Jamie’s development in his winemaking.
An additional catalyst was FM3’s comment on my CT note on the 2015 Kutch Sonoma Coast appellation pinot where we expressed different impressions on the wine; my view is that the whole cluster was heavy, out of balance with the fruit, and detracted from the wine.
So I was curious to see how the Falstaff carried its stems.

For what it is worth, my note:

2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (7/18/2019)
Pop and oour and initially tasted with food and then on its own.
Ruby-purple color. Clear.
The bouquet on this is wonderful. Lovely herbal note mixing in with black cherry and black raspberries, and pipe tobacco. Think borkum riff flavored tobacco. Ocassional saline note is in there too.
Good dark fruits with a slight bitter and herbal note similar to what you might find in a light amaro. The texture is rich and velvety yet weightless. This has a stated 12.3% abv and shows its cool climate source. Delicious.
Re-corked and refrigerated the remainder and will update if second day impressions are different.

I enjoyed this wine. A big difference between the Sonoma Coast and the Falstaff is the Falstaff has fruit to carry the whole cluster. Plus, i get a sense the stems were riper in Falstaff and the stems in the Sonoma Coast were a bit green.

Cool. Thanks for piggybacking on my TN. See what you think tomorrow, T.

I am revisiting the wine tonight and the finish picked up some grip/structure. Like it.