TN: Claibourne&Churchill Wines...(long/boring)

We tasted last night (3/10/10) the wines of Claiborne & Churchill:

  1. Claiborne & Churchill CentralCoast PinotGris (13.4%; BarrelFrmtd;" onclick=";return false;)
    ClaiborneThompson & FrederickaChurchill 2008
    : Light gold color; very lovely melony/floral/PG/spicy
    very perfumed/Alsatian slight pencilly/oak nose; tart dry ripe/melony/floral/PG very spicy/floral
    quite Alsatian-like flavor; very long ripe/melony/PG/spicy/floral very Alsatian finish; easily the
    best US PG I’ve had; doesn’t have the lean/austere character of OR or AndersonVlly PG and is
    totally dry w/o being hard & lean; great price at $18.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill CentralCoast DryRiesling (12.6%) 2007: Med.light gold color; beautiful fragrant/
    spicy/floral/R slight piney/pineapply some gout de petrol/valve oil/Mosel/slatey classic R nose; tart
    near-dry very floral/aromatic/R some minerally/spicy bit petrol/valve oil lovely fairly rich quite Alsatian
    flavor; very long/lingering quite spicy/floral/R some minerally/slatey/petrol finish; ripe but great
    acidity & balance; very Alsatian-like; one of the best Calif R I’ve had; great price. $18.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill CentralCoast Dry GWT (13.4%) 2007: Med.light gold color; lovely very spicy/Alsatian/
    GWT slight valve oil/petrol bit nutmeg/spicy very aromatic nose; tart rich/lush very spicy/hair oil/GWT
    Alsatian-like slight minerally/petrol flavor w/ very slight bitterness; very long/lingering very spicy/GWT/
    nutmeg aromatic finish; more of the subtle/spicy character of GWT and less of the cheap hair oil;
    beautiful balance & acidity and very Alsatian in style; one of the best Calif GWT I’ve had since the David
    Bruce Mendo '77; great buy at $18.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill MontereyCnty Dry GWT VentanaVnyd (13.4%) 2008: Med.light gold color; intense cheap
    hair oil/floral/spicy/lychee/GWT very perfumed/aromatic nose; tart bit softer/riper intense cheap hair oil/
    lychee/floral/spicy ripe GWT flavor; very long ripe/cheap hair oil/lychee/GWT some spicy rather lush/ripe
    finish; very intense chaep hair oil style of GWT and less Alsatian but more Z-H in style; a real floozy
    of a GWT at a very good price. $20.00

  1. AlbertBoxler Riesling Reserve (13%) 2004: color; strong stoney/minerally light floral/R slight
    petrol/valve oil some complex/interesting nose; tart slight off-dry stoney/minerally light floral/R bit
    gout de petrol flavor; long some stoney/minerally light floral/R somewhat austere finish; a rather
    old-timey style of Alsatian R that needs some age; good value at $22.50

  1. Claiborne & Churchill EdnaVlly PinotNoir (13.8%) 2007: Med.color; strong plummy/black cherry/PN light
    vanilla/oak slight herbal/leafy bit peppery attractive nose; soft plummy/sour cherry/PN light toasty/oak
    bit herbal some grapey/lush/ripe flavor; soft bit tannic/astringent ripe/plummy/grapey/some cherry light
    herbal/toasty/oak finish; needs a yr or two; unusual Pinot w/ a lot of grapey character. $26.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill Runestone PinotNoir EdnaVlly BarrelSelect (13.9%) 2007: Med.color; strong plummy/
    bit black cherry/PN slight rubber/reduced light vanilla/oak slight herbal/leafy/peppery interesting nose;
    soft plummy/sour cherry/PN light toasty/oak some grapey/herbal flavor; soft bit tannic/astringent ripe/
    plummy/sour cherry light herbal/leafy light toasty/oak finish; needs yr or two; pleasant rather unusual
    Pinot but just that; rather pricey for what it is. $40.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill CluelessRed RW (3 Rhone varietals; 13.8%) 2008: Med.dark color; strong plummy/
    strawberry/Grenache slight herbal/dusty/earthy rather spicy/fragrant fairly aromatic nose; tart spicy/
    plummy/bright/strawberry/Grenache quite spicy light oak flavor; med.long plummy/strawberry/Grenache bit
    tannic/astringent light oak finish; pleasant Rhone blend but just that. $25.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill Syrah CentralCoast (13.9%) 2008: Dark color; rather spicy/plummy/blackberry/Syrah/
    black cherry light peppery/cold-climate light oak nose; tart slight cold climate/peppery strong black
    cherry/Syrah/plummy light oak flavor w/ some tannins; med.long somewhat hard/tannic light peppery some
    black cherry/Syrah/plummy finish; good cold-climate character; some like a Peay w/o the aromatics;
    good/interesting Syrah at a fair price. $24.00

  1. Claiborne & Churchill CentralCoast Tempranillo (13.2%) 2008: Med.color; strong bright cherry/black cherry/
    Temp slight pungent/smokey/ozone light pencilly/oak bit earthy interesting nose; tart bit lean/hard/tannic
    bright cherry/black cherry/Temp earthy/dusty slight herbal light pencilly/oak flavor; long earthy/dusty
    some black cherry/cherry/Temp/spicy light oak finish; needs some age but a bit on the hard/tannic side.

  1. Claiborne & Churchill Nektar CentralCoast SauvignonGris (13.4%) 2009: Pale yellow slight gray color;
    some herbal/Sauvignon some ripe/melony/fruit cocktail/canned pears fairly fragrant nose; tart rather sweet
    canned pears/fruit cocktail bit simple/grapey flavor; med.long rather sweet (6%-8%) canned pears/juicy/
    grapey/fruit cocktail finish; pleasant juicy dessert wine w/ fresh fruit. $20.00/hlf

  1. Claiborne & Churchill DouceAmie CentralCoast SweetOrangeMuscat (10%) 2008: Pale yellow color; light
    fragrant/hair oil/muscatty slight orange blossom/perfumey attractive nose; quite sweet somewhat soft/fat
    light muscatty/hair oil flavor; med. rather sweet some muscatty/hair oil finish; little orange blossom
    character and lightly muscatty; more like a Malvasia than anything; pleasant dessert wine. $14.00/hlf

  1. Claiborne & Churchill PortObispo Dessert Wine (18%) 2008: Very dark/black color; very strong grapey/
    boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah light toasty/oak bit porty/alcoholic some complex nose; slightly sweet
    (5%-8%?) intense grapey/boysenberry/blackberry slight alcoholic/porty rather tannic fairly tart flavor;
    very long licorice/boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah slight pungent/licorice some complex finish; needs
    5-20 yrs; huge fruit/good structure/not that alcoholic; much like some of JimOlsen’s early JWMorris
    Ports; fairly priced at $14.50/hlf

Some gems of wisdom & outright nonsense from the BloodyPulpit:

  1. C&C: This wnry started out w/ the goal to make Alsatian-style whites. BrianBabcock also started out w/
    that same vision…but the realities of the marketplace soon beat that notion from Brian’s head.
    Apparently it has not for the C&C folks.
    I’ve tried a number of the C&C Riesling/GWT/Muscats over the yrs and generally liked them, but didn’t
    think they held a candle to their equivalently-priced Alsatian brethern. They had nice aromatics, but
    they often seemed on the lean & pinched side w/ a bit of bitterness to them (which is why most Calif
    producers leave a little or a lot of RS in those varietals). But they were, to their credit, dry; unlike
    many domestic examples.
    Since there seems to be a growing appreciation for these varieties down in the CentralCoast area
    (as with Tercero, Ojai, and Curran) and because I was mightly impressed w/ DonSchroeder’s Chien
    Edelzwicker; I thought maybe it was time to revisit C&C. So I ordered up a mixed case of their current
    I was blown away by the four whites. Dramatically better than the ones I recall tasting in yrs gone
    by. Very Alsatian in style and, best of all, dry. I get irriated by Calif GWT and R that are labeled
    “dry”, but then have 1% RS or more. Not good w/ my weenies & kraut. The folks at C&C have got GWT/R/PG
    figured out. Too bad so many others are so clueless. Would love to see what they can do w/ Gruner or
    The reds were less impressive. Good/solid wines but not nearly as distinctive as the whites. OTOH,
    the Port was one of the finest recent Calif Ports I’ve had; reminded me of JimOlsen’s ones.

Glad to see some love for Claiborne & Churchill. They’ve been a local favorite of ours for a few years, particularly the recent Riesling & Gewurz bottlings. (It doesn’t hurt that they’re located about 5 miles from my office…)

I’ve been trying C&C whites off and on for over 15 years and they’ve almost always been very nice - sounds like the ones you tasted are a step up. On the other hand, their reds have never done anything for me.

Another one I’ve been wanting to taste to expand my developing interest in central coast ABCs (anything but Chardonnays).