TN: Another Day, Another LWS (Jarvis, Guigal, some values)


Yesterday, my wife and I braved the very cold weather to go to a local wine store for a tasting. The tasting was a bunch of wines offered for under $20 but there were a few other bottles opened as well. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The wines were sampled non-blind in a store setting. Cheese and crackers were served.

  • 2015 Charles Smith Riesling Kung Fu Girl - USA, Washington
    I think this is around $12. Great value. Light golden in color. The nose is nice. White grapefruit, what is similar to lychee, some sugary notes and a hint of minerals. Nice. On the palate, this is good. Slightly cloying sweetness for my tastes but others had no issue. Countered by a tart white grapefruit. Nice finish. Very enjoyable. (89 pts.)
  • 2014 Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc Clarksburg - USA, California, Central Valley, Clarksburg
    Not my favorite expression of Chenin, I grape I really love. Seemed to be consistent among the crowd as well. Light golden in color. There is noticeable oak on the wine. The nose has vanilla, and slight peah, but not very strong. On the palate, the vanilla continues but not a lot of fruit. Some generic citrus notes. Really showing vanilla on the finish. Just seems lacking to me. Not really bad, just lacking. I have liked this in other vintages much better. Screw capped. Around $15, so probably fairly priced. (83 pts.)
  • 2015 Fess Parker Pinot Noir Parker Station - USA, California, Central Coast
    A blend of Pinot from Monetery, SLO and SB Counties. I think this was under $15, which is a hard place to find a Pinot. This was solid and showed some varietal characteristics. Ruby in color. The nose has cherries and some macerated cherries. On the palate, there is some complexity here. Cherries and slight earthiness. Not much acidity but it works ok. (87 pts.)
  • 2014 Santa Ema Merlot Reserva - Chile, Maipo Valley
    This was introduced as not your typical Merlot. I certainly would not guess Merlot drinking it blind. Purple in color. The nose has a slight pepper, cranberries and cherries. Maybe some roasted herbs. On the palate, pretty straight forward cherry/generic red fruits. No faults. Nothing special. Under $20, a nice party wine. (86 pts.)
  • 2013 SLO Down Wines Stand Out - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Its a silly wine and the kind of wine a lot of geeks would dis. The crazy wine label lists 1% Magic as an ingredient. Its ripe and sweet. A blend of Cab and Merlot. You get the picture. I think this was slightly over $20. At the end of the day, its about the wine though. Purple in color. The nose shows some cassis, black cherries, slight coffee/dark chocolate and a some spice. On the palate, this is ripe but I think there is some residual sugar left. It tastes a bit artificially sweet but there is nice fruit here too. Easy. Not for long term ageing. I liked it. (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Jarvis Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
    I am told this is around $150. Purple in the glass. On the nose, there is some cassis, coffee grounds, spice and a slight bell pepper. On the palate, this is medium bodied. Not a monster wine, but not elegant either. It has nice cassis, some bell pepper, plenty of oak. There is a nice texture. I bet this will actually age well for ten years, eventually drinking like a nice Bordeaux. It is a very good wine, but the price/hype made me hope for me that I got. (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Jarvis Winery Lake William - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Now, this kicked it up a whole bunch of notches. I believe it is a Bordeaux blend that retails for $170. Gorgeous wine. Whether its worth the money depends on your budget. Purple in color. The nose has depth. Cassis, dark cherries, leather, slight earthiness and spice. On the palate, great juicy texture. Lush. Lots of fruit but not over done or blowzy. There is depth and a nice layering of complexity already. Pretty strong tannins still, but they are not harsh. Great balance. Long finish. The bottle I tasted had been open for a while and was at least half gone, so this saw a lot of air by the time I tried it. It was drinking well, but given the price, vintage and tannins, i would cellar this for another five years at least. There is still some upside I think. (94 pts.)
  • 2012 SonkinCellars Unmasked - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands
    Obviously, I am biased but it was good to check in on this. Take my notes with a grain of salt. I post them as a convenient way (I don’t know how to put them on our web site directly) to track the wines. 2012 is an upfront and open vintage, but Halcon vineyards produces intense grapes that need time. This was true on this wine on release, but it does seem like it is finally starting to open. Of all the vintages of Unmasked, this is the most open right now. Purple in color. The nose has boysenberries, some black pepper, and a bit of charcoal. A slight black olive note with air. On the palate, this, for a CA Syrah, is not a fruit bomb, but there is plenty of juicy fruit there. Black raspberries. Some tannins. Plenty of depth. Still quite young IMO, I think it would benefit from a few more years of ageing. If you have a few, no harm right now, I would give it 8 hours of slow-ox or a couple of hours in a decanter. Again, JM2C and I am biased.
  • 1999 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
    I was looking for something else earlier in the week and found this. I thought I had drunk these up. Time to open. Pop and pour, it was a bit cold (it had been in my car on a 15F day). It warmed up gently. Most of the crowd found it at least somewhat tired with some oxidation. That has always been something I am not sensitive to and even enjoy (Jura, Sherry, etc.) so I will defer to the crowd on that. Purple in color. The nose has some oxidation but also black raspberries, dried flowers, slight beef jerky note and pepper. On the palate, a nice texture. Some vibrant black raspberry fruit. Not much complexity which I would have thought it should. Probably never will. It is a very nice wine, but for a 18 year old Cote Rotie from a great vintage, one hopes for more. That said, this never had that kind of greatness young, so it was not going to develop now. IIRC, this was the first year or so of the Chateau de Ampuis bottling, so I would presume, this does not get even the second best grapes (after the La La’s and Ampuis). Not sure if that is true or not though. Maybe just other negociant grapes? Anyone know? (89 pts.)

Its always good to try new wines and all price points. Plus its fun. Thanks.
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