TN: Some New Calif Rhones...(long/boring)

We tasted tonight (4/25/18) Some New Calif Rhones:

  1. Arnot-Roberts OldVine WW HeinsteinVnyd/SonomaVlly (13%; 7 brls; 64 yr old vnyd; Sylvaner/R + others)
    Healdsburg 2016
    : Light gold color; quite fragrant fairly floral/R/slight mango light earthy/OV fairly
    attractive nose; quite tart/tangy/lean bit steely/stony very light R/floral somewhat eviscerated/pinched
    flavor; med.long very tart/tangy/lean/austere some stony/metallic light floral/mango/R some earthy finish;
    a somewhat old-timey Calif white; pleasant enough but on the lean/eviscerated side; provides some
    intellectual interest but not a lot of sensual pleasure. $35.00

  1. Turley TheWhiteCoat Calif WW (13.8%; Roussanne from RattlesnakeRidgeVnyd/GrenacheBlanc from
    PesentiVnyd + Vermentino) StHelena 2015
    : Light gold color; low-key pear/GB/earthy slight Rouss/floral/
    honeysuckle rather quiet nose; fairly tart light pear/GB slight floral/Rouss rather lean/tight flavor;
    very long quite tart/tangy pear/GB/floral/Rouss/honeysuckle finish; a rather quiet/low-key Rouss way
    far from DollyParton territory; a pleasant enough lean/wiry/nervy white but just that. $35.00

  1. FoldedHill FH August RW SantaYnezVlly (13.90%;; Winemaker: AngelaOsborne; 36% Syrah/
    64% Grenache; Vnyds Farmed: Ruben Solorzano; Vnyds: 16% Rancho Boa Vista Syrah/20% Stolpman Syrah/
    32% Jack McGinley Grenache/32% Kimsey Vineyard Grenache; 29% whole cluster) Kim&AndrewBusch/Orcutt
    : Med.color; very strong strawberry/Grenache/rather spicy light garrigue/herbal quite fragrant rather
    attractive nose; fairlt tart bright/spicy/Grenache/strawberry light earthy/garrigue some complex flavor w/
    light brittle tannins; very long bright/strawberry/Grenache slight garrigue/herbal/earthy finish w/ light
    brisk tannins; quite a perfumed/fragrant/interesting Grenache that avoids the tutti-fruiti character of
    many. $29.00 (Cured)

  1. Arnot-Roberts Syrah QueSyrahVnyd/Occidental/SonomaCoast (12.2%; 4 brls; 24 yr old vines) 2016: Dark color;
    very dusty/root cellar bit loamy/earthy some herbal/bit Cornas-like very slight black pepper/graphite rather
    interesting/complex nose; very tart/lean/austere quite dusty/bit earthy/loamy/root cellar slight peppery/
    c-c Syrah/bit Rhonish flavor w/ some hard/rough/gritty tannins; long earthy/dusty/loamy some herbal/
    Cornas-like very slight black pepper/c-c Syrah quite lean/austere finish w/ ample hard/gritty tannins;
    lots of Rhonish/Cornas-like w-c character but not very expressive of QueSyrah; badly needs age but not
    sure where it will go. $70.00

  1. Arnot-Roberts Syrah ClaryRanch/PetalumaGap/SonomaCoast (11.8%; 17 yr old vines; 100% whole-cluster; 6 brls;
    10 brls) 2013
    : Dark color w/ slight bricking; fairly fragrant spicy/peppery/black pepper somewhat Rhonish/
    smokey slight funky/wet wool some complex nose; very tart/lean/austere bit peppery/w-c/Rhonish/smokey bit
    earthy/dusty little fruit flavor w/ some hard/brisk/bitey tannins; very long strong w-c/peppery/Rhonish
    finish w/ modest bitey/brittle tannins; not showing much evolution or development nor softening of tannins;
    interesting but not very pleasurable to drink. $50.00

  1. Arnot-Roberts Syrah ClaryRanch/SonomaCoast (10 brls; 12%) 2014: Very dark color; rather metallic bit Rhonish/
    smokey very slight blackberry/Syrah some w-c/peppery bit complex nose; very tart/tangy/lean/austere some
    Rhonish/smokey/w-c/peppery very slight blackberry/Syrah flavor w/ some hard/crunchy tannins; very long tart/
    austere strong w-c/peppery/Rhonish/smokey bit earthy/dusty very little fruit finish w/ ample hard tannins;
    interesting w-c/Rhonish nose but a bit brutal on the palate. $50.00

  1. Arnot-Roberts Syrah ClaryRanch/PetalumaWindGap/SonomaCoast (12%; 10 brls; 20 yr old vines) 2015: Med.dark color;
    about the same character as the '14 w/ a bit more blackberry/Syrah fruit and strong w-c character;
    interesting Rhonish nose but painful on the palate. $50.00

  1. Arnot-Roberts Syrah ClaryRanch/PetalumaWindGap/SonomaCoast (12%; 10 brls; 21 yr old vines; 100% w-c;
    neutal Fr.oak for 10 mo) 2016
    : Dark color; stronger blackberry/Syrah some w-c/peppery/Rhonish/smokey bit
    complex nose; very acid/screechy/brutal some w-c/peppery/Rhonish some blackberry/Syrah slight earthy/dusty
    bit complex flavor w/ ample crunchy/brutal tannins; very long some blckberry/Syrah strong w-c/peppery/Rhonish
    very acid/screechy/austere finish w/ ample hard/crunchy tannins; again an interesting nose but quite brutal
    on the palate. $50.00

  1. Bedrock Syrah AlderSpringsVnyd MendoCnty (14.4%; StuBewley) 2013: Dark color; somewhat herbal/forest floor/
    woodsy very strong c-c/blackberry/Syrah/bit peppery light Fr.oak some pungent fairly complex nose; somewhat
    tart some rich/lush c-c/blackberry/peppery/Syrah slight herbal/woodsy rich light toasty/oak rather complex
    flavor w/ light graceful tannins; very long/lingering c-c Syrah/peppery/blackberry light toasty/oak bit
    herbal/woodsy complex finish w/ modest smooth tannins; quite an interesting woodsy/foest floor strong c-c
    Syrah; terrific unique Calif Syrah w/ still more yrs to go. $38.00

  1. Bedrock Syrah AlderSpringsVnyd/MendoCnty (14.4%; EmeraldPool&SpiritRock blocks; Farmed: StuBewley)
    : Dark color; strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/very spicy bit Rhonish/peppery/minty slight herbal/
    woodsy fairly complex beautiful nose; rather tart some herbal/woodsy strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/
    spicy bit Rhonish/peppery fairly rich/lush some complex flavor w/ modest ripe/smooth tannins; very long/
    lingering strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/spicy bit Rhonish/peppery some herbal/forest floor light
    toasty/oak bit complex finish w/ modest smooth tannins; a beautiful Syrah w/ yrs ahead of it. $42.00

  1. Bedrock Syrah Griffin’sLairVnyd/PetalumaGap/SonomaCoast/SonomaCnty (14.2%; Farmed: Joan & Jim Griffin;
    80% whole-cluster; 10% Viog co-frmtd) 2016
    : Dark color; fairly strong c-c/peppery/blackberry/Syrah/very
    spicy bit Rhonish light oak beautiful complex nose; some tart/tangy rather c-c/peppery/blackberry/Syrah
    slight Rhonish/w-c/raosted/peppery fairly complex flavor w/ some smooth/round tannins; very long/lingering
    classic c-c Syrah/peppery/blackberry/Syrah some Rhonish/roasted/w-c peppery finish w/ some ripe tannins;
    a pretty classic expression of c-c Syrah w/ lots of w-c/Rhonish character; beautiful Syrah. $42.00

  1. Bedrock GibsonRanch Heritage McDowellVlly/MendoCnty RW (Plntd: 1880’s; 14.3%; Tended by Jake&Scott
    Bilbro; Syrah/PetiteSirah/Peloursin/TrousseauNoir/Grenache) 2015
    : Very dark color; loads of dusty/OV very
    strong blackberry/Syrah some earthy rather complex nose; lightly tart dusty/OV rather blackberry/Syrah/bit
    peppery slight oak fairly complex flavor w/ light gentle tannins; very long/lingering quite dusty/OV
    somewhat blackberry/boysenberry/blueberry/Syrah finish w/ light smooth tannins; not as much Syrah character
    as I expected but loads of dusty/OV character; a beautiful Bedrock Heritage. $39.00

More snarftwit from TheBloodyPulpit:

  1. Arnot-Roberts: This is a wnry that frustrates the hell out of me and I continue to be perplexed by their
    wines. They use a lot of w-c fermentation, which gives them a rather interesting Rhonish character. Harvested at
    low sugars, they usually are quite tart, even screechy, and austere on the palate w/ a paucity of Syrah fruit.
    The wines have an interesting nose but can be quite brutal/austere on the palate. Certainly wines that
    need some age but if they will ever come around to be a enjoyable wine to drink is a legitimate question.
    Certainly, these Claryanch Syrahs didn’t show much in the way of evolution. Are these IPoB wines…don’t think
    so at all. Still, I’ll probably keep trying.

  1. Turley WhiteCoat: Followed this wine from the very first one that EhrenJordan made. Was not a big fan of
    them as the were on the fat/porky/low-acid side. I’d not had a WC for several yrs, but this one was vastly
    different in style from those old one. Pretty high in acid and almost eviscerated in character…

  1. FoldedHill: This was a new wnry for me. Winemaker is AngelaOsborne, who has developed quite a reputation
    for her SV Grenache under the Tribute to Grace label.

  1. GibsonRanch: This is the vnyd up in the McDowellVlly AVA planted mostly in the late 1800’s. In the late '70’s,
    McDowellVllyVnyds, owned by BillyCrawford, wines made by JohnBuchenstein, released a PetiteSirah that was terrific.
    They later found the much of that vnyd was Syrah, not PS, and started labeling it as Syrah. Some of those Syrahs
    in the early-mid '80’s were as fine as any ever produced in Calif. When John left McDVV, the quality of the
    Syrahs never achieved the levels of John’s. I’ve long hoped for the return of great Syrahs from McDVV, under the
    Bilbros, but have not yet seen that. This Bedrock GibsonRanch is great OV Heritage red, but not yet great McDVV
    Syrah. But make no mistake, GibsonRanch is one of Calif’s great OV vnyds.

  1. AlderSprings: This is a very interesting vnyd run by Stu Bewley. Located way the hell & gone in Northern MendoCnty,
    near the town of Laytonville. CaseyHartlip & I did a visit w/ Stu several yrs ago. Fascinating guy. The vnyd mostly
    hillsides nesteled in heavily wooded forests. Grows Chard and Pinot to pay the bills, but also grows all sorts
    of interesting varieties, most of them Italian. Makes a little bit of wine under his own label. I find that many
    of his Syrahs display a somewhat herbal/woodsy/forest floor character. Maybe the AlderSprings garrigue?
    Both of the Bedrocks showed that distinctive character.

  1. Bedrock Syrah: Though they’re best known for their Heritage red blends, I think Morgan is killing it these
    days w/ his Syrahs. As good as any being made these days in Calif.

Sylvaner is Rhone now? What’s the other mix with it?

Nope, Markus, nothing Rhone about it. But I was tasting the new Arnot-Roberts Syrahs and just threw that one in there
so we could try it as well.

thanks for the notes!
i have tried a few times to wrap my brain around AR’s syrahs, but have just realized they are not my cup of tea. I do enjoy the whites, pink and pinots

I had a Bedrock Griffin’s with about 6 years on it. Spectacular.

I agree the Chards are delicious, the syrahs are tough.

I’m all in favor of the retreat from IPOA (In Pursuit of Alcohol), but sometimes it does seem that the pendulum is swinging too far the other way. I mean, who in the Northern Rhone succeeds with syrah at 12%, or even 12.2%?

I have yet to open any of my AR Clary Ranch bottles, but can tell you that the standard blended “North Coast” bottling, while lean, is soft and easy to drink, with just enough fruit to give some pleasure. Sounds like the single vineyard bottlings are more punishing. The question of when to open these single vineyard wines then, sounds challenging.

FYI, I believe the new release 2014 Edmunds St. John Syrah, also single vineayrd, is around 12% as well. May just be a characteristic of the vineyards, rather than picking artificially early?

Yup, Justin…I find the NorthCoast bottlings much more pleasurable on the palate as well.

Nice, I scored an ‘09 that is “on deck” for sometime this month. Looking forward to it.

The one I drank was a '12, but it seemed like it would go 20 years.

The Arnot-Roberts Syrahs have always been harsh to me. Used to be on their list but quit as I couldn’t stand the Syrahs.

John makes a good point. Most French people chaptalize to 13 or 13.5…not many succeed at 12, esp in California with conventional grape varieties.

And in most recent vintages I doubt they’ve had to chaptalize to get to 13% or 13.5%

The chaptalization point is a good one - but the ‘difference’ is that it is the winemaker’s choice to pick when they do. In parts of the Northern Rhone, for instance, their harvests are cut short by rain, etc but that is usually not the case here.

My guess is that the fruit will continue to ripen in some of these vineyards that AR and others work with and would get ‘riper’ but would then not fit into their ‘philosophies’ so to speak. This is not always the case, but it seems to be that many of these picks are relatively ‘early’ in harvest.

Just my $.02 . . .

John makes another good point. Recent developments in the climate–which were created by Chinese rumormongers–have given French winemakers cause to switch bags of sugar for bags of tartaric. Soon they will be adding Jesus units to the must.

There is that as well . . . :wink:

Tom, I take it that your latest foray into alt California did not pan out so well. Hard to believe when Bonne says this is the path to salvation

Though restrained this wine is really lovely and not at all harsh or green.

Not quibbling, but natural alcohols of 11.5% - 12% used to be reasonably common in Côte-Rôtie. Would be amazed if the 1991 Gentaz, for example, hits 12.5%. According to the old literature—and I think JLL—Hermitage would normally run 1% higher than Côte Rotie, and Cornas another 0.5% above that. But of course, those wines could be pretty herbal and austere when young—and even when old too.