TNs--Mike on Tour--California 22--SB Day 3--Visits at Dragonette and Tercero


With much thanks to Phil Carpenter for helping to set this up. I had a great visit here, lots of fun geek talk with the servers (Kevin and unfortunately didn’t get the other fellow’s name).

2021 Dragonette Cellars Santa Ynez Rose

All told for production of all wines, about 5-6k cases normally. This is 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 5% Graciano and the fruit is from Vogelzang and Two Wolves. Bright pink grapefruit and raspberry here. Expectedly tingly, very clear raspberry and sour crabapple fruit. Good sustain. This was direct press with 6 hours of skin contact.

2021 Dragonette Cellars Happy Canyon SB

9 months in neutral oak, 60% from Grassini vineyard, the rest from Vogelzang and Grimm’s Bluff. Clay loam and serpentine soil for all but Grimm’s which is more red clay and cobblestone. Fruit salad nuzzie, particularly citrus mixed with kiwi. Replays but threaded through with tinges of mustard seed and plenty of acidity. Really quite yummylicious for the fruit style and zero sign of the 14.2% alcohol. This is very good wine and my 2nd favourite here, I think.

2019 Dragonette Cellars Duvarita Chard

Clone 76 and one other. 16 months in foudres with full malo and full bio treatment, 30% new oak. Light vanilla and honeycomb around pear and binned apple. To taste, good fruit, oak and creaminess are there but clear they will integrate, probably in another year or two. Dead-on guess of 14.5%. Pleasant toasted rice afterbreathe, this is good overall wine.

2020 Dragonette Cellars SRH PN

Bentrock and Radian were the vineyards for this, All destemmed and all neutral oak for 16 months with no stirring or racking. Aromatics contain touches of roses to pomegranate, cranberry and rhubarb. This catches my attention texture-wise, as it’s front and back-end loaded with a thinner but savoury middle. Acidity is there, it’s present and actually may be missing a trace more sweetness for balance.

2019 Dragonette Cellars Black Label Chard

Not quite a best barrels thing, but on that path, with fruit from Bentrock, Radian and Rita’s Crown, this sees 75% new oak for 17-18 months. And this is some bouquet! Tarragon and grilled pineapple (apparently that’s a signature of Rita’s), with pear underneath, such a lot going on. Silky, yet the acidity is there too. Citrus adds to the replays. 14.3%. This is a grand chard and a great example of Cali white. It’s one of those that tastes you and I felt bad pouring any of it out. I said that I have a full suitcase right now but that I don’t live a life of regrets. If I’d left this behind, there would be regrets. Best wine and took a bottle.

2020 Dragonette Cellars Duvarita PN

Up to 30% new oak used. Very baking spice here over top of sweet raspberry and a little plum. Again, plenty of pop and thrust, raspberry and cranberry in the main. Solid with a good future.

2020 Dragonette Cellars Radian PN

Radian may be my favourite Pinot vineyard in this part of the world. It’s just a bit reductive—they did use some sulphur–but blows off quickly enough. A great lot of red fruit underneath. This has more fruit and to me, more likely longevity, than the Duvarita or SRH. Super-pretty, lovely strawberry jam and I like the bounciness already present.

2020 Dragonette Cellars Peake Ranch Grenache

“typical” (at least for me) herbs and strawberry combination in the sniffer. It flows across the tongue fine, pleasant enough but no real further impression.

2020 Dragonette Cellars Seven Syrah

Mostly Stolpman with Spear, Larner and Kinsey vineyards mixed in. 18+ months in oak. Surprising olive component and some tar nuances too but plenty of fruit. Lovely mouthfeel here, Meaty with black fruit, touch of roasted herbs and present tannins.

Again, big thanks for a great tasting.


Next door I go to my wonderful friend Larry. I treasure my friendship with you—we get to interweave deep discussion about the wines with deep discussion about life and all manner of parts of that. It’s a friendship I can only hope continues to intensify as we share years together. OK, enough wedding speech! :slight_smile: But I do mean it.

2021 Tercero Clairette Blanc

Oak fermented but neutral, 4 months. Larry calls this his oysters-and-mussels wine. Mixed nut aromas join with bits of pear. Good and crisp with touches of pineapple and lemony.

2021 Tercero Outlier Carrari Vineyard White

100% gewurtz and there is perfume and floral to get at here. Larry picked at the end of September at about 22-23 brix. This is very good–fresh and fruity with peach and white grape.

2022 Tercero Outlier White

This is a tank sample that has just finished fermenting. Some sulphur added, now at 0.2 RS. I think this will end up more intense and tastier still than the 21. There is already a fine gingerbread finish,

2020 Tercero Grenache

Emboldened by reading about my experience at Tribute to Grace, Larry dared another Grenache with me. As with the other reds, 100% whole cluster, from Spear vineyard here. Some strawberry but also other red fruit, including plum. This is light and very nice indeed–look at that! Difference here is the lifted acidity and plenty of baking spices. This will be released in December or early next year. Good wine.

2021 Tercero Kessler-Haak 115 clone barrel sample PN

We had a lot of fun with this and the next 3, all single-clone barrel samples. This will be the base of Larry’s planned blend for PN, what he calls the “treble”. Nice, lifted darker berry with a slash of minty on the nuzzie. Early days, but plenty of force and focus—Larry’s very good in picking off tea leaf. The mint did continue, adding interest. Bottling will probably be February-April. Remembering that these are barrel samples and may obviously change with time, but I do love assessing a wine in its embryonic stage.

2021 Tercero Kessler-Haak 777 Clone barrel sample PN

Slight citrusy with raspberry. Already has a silky element, lilting and sweet with raspberry and cranberry, already expressive.

2021 Tercero Kessler-Haak 114 Barrel Sample PN

Larry calls this the “reverb” part of the blend. Much shyer with bits of sous-bois and earth. Everything is sort of hidden here–hidden acidity, hidden fruit, just a little nutmeat. But I can see how this makes a critical part of a blend.

2021 Tercero Kessler-Haak Pommard Barrel Sample PN

Larry only is using 4 clones for his pinot. This is the “bass and drums”. And it is–it presents now the most structured and woodsy–cedar and sandalwood. Almost coffee too, but cherry fruit is definitely there. Aggressive, feels like the highest acid right now, sour cherry and raspberry.

2020 Tercero Kessler-Haak 114 Single Clone PN

So Larry did bottle this one. This is quite nice–still foresty but now the fruit has come forward. This is really characterful to taste, with citrus and berry and still some earth. It shows how the clone can develop with time.

2020 Tercero Kessler-Haak 115 Single Clone PN

Baking spices, very bright berry and cherry fruit. This has pleasure, has pretty presence, but has some complexity hiding as well.

2014 Tercero Larner Mourvedre

3 years in neutral oak. Out of bottle, scents are of chocolate and precise damson plum. Strong but beautiful on the palate, with coffee, plenty of fruit and stays in your mouth a long, long time. When choosing a bottle to buy and take with, this was what I selected.

2014 Tercero Zaca Mesa Mourvedre

Quite different from the Larner, spiced cocoa and ripe fruit, but it peeks out at you, not showing full yet. Taste texture is sort of silvery, all at the front for me. Stops right at the back. I prefer the Larner by a bit, but this is a fascinating comparison

2018 Tercero Larner Syrah

4 years in barrel, will be released soon. Tight and surly, even after a day open. nose gets some meats and even dabs of motor oil in among the black fruit. On the tongue, this is going to be great. Beautiful purple and black plum, excellent almost elegant structure and fine long finish. It will only get better with years in the bottle—I’d leave for at least 6 of those.

2015 Tercero Larner Syrah

Blackberry and boysenberry, roots and earth underneath. Juicy, still young, but further along (of course) than the 18. Cassis, sour blackberry and nick of charcoal at the end. This is good, but the 18 is my preferred, even at this stage.

Marvelous to have the time to spend, thank you so, so much!