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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some New Wines - February 20, 2008


We tasted last week (2/20/08) Some New Wines:

  1. Fortitude Semillon NapaVlly (LuvisiFamilyVnyd/Calistoga; 13.5%; www.FortitudeWines.com)EtudeWines/Napa 2006: Very pale color; rather fragrant/figgy slight
    earthy/waxy nose; tart bit lean earthy/figgy slight green olive/metallic simple flavor; med.long some
    lean/metallic slight earthy/figgy finish; pleasant enough white but doesn't speak much of Calif Semillon and on the simple side. $18.00
  2. Etude PinotGris Carneros (14.2%; www.EtudeWines.com) 2006: Pale gold color; very
    attractive floral/PG perfumed nose; soft/lush rather floral/pear/PG somewhat Alsatian-like flavor; med. soft/lush off-dry(?) floral/pear/PG finish; a pleasant PinotGris in an Alsatian style; attractive if a bit undistinguished. $24.00
  3. EdmundsStJohn Bone-Jolly GamayNoir WittersVnyd/ElDoradoCnty (12.8%) 2006: Light/ bright red color; very attractive bright/strawberry/cherry/Gamay light earthy/mushroomy Beaujolais
    nose; tart very bright/strawberry/cherry/Gamay light earthy/ElDorado flavor; med. bright
    cherry/strawberry finish w/ little tannins; a pretty/bright BeaujolaisVillages-level of Gamay. $18.00
  4. Brick House RibbonRidge GamayNoir (Biodynamic Wine; 14%;www.BrickHouseWines.com)
    : Med.dark bit murky/cloudy color; deep floral/violets/black cherry slight yeasty/funky nose; some toasty/oaky bit hard/tannic fairly rich/attractive/floral/violets/black cherry slight funky/earthy flavor; med.long floral/violets bit smokey/oaky/toasty finish w/ some tannins; needs several yrs; more like an OR Pinot than a Gamay; interesting rendition of Gamay. $24.00
  5. HugCllrs CentralCoast ElPape (14.6%; www.HugCellars.com, 52% Grenache, 17% Syrah,
    31% Mourvedre; 190 cs) 2006
    : Med.light color; attractive floral/spicy/strawberry/Grenache
    light toasty/oak quite perfumed/fragrant big fruit nose; tart very pretty/strawberry/kirsch slight earthy light toasty/oak flavor; med.long bright/spich/floral/kirsch/strawberry finish w/ light tannins; a bright/vibrant Rhone blend w/o the jammy character of PasoRobles can sometimes have; terrific drinking wine at a great price. $17.50
  6. Neyers Mourvedre PatoVnyd/ContraCostaCnty (14.8%) 2006: Very dark color; big/deep ripe/
    plummy/licorice/bit tarry rather smokey/charred/oak slight earthy/mushroomy/ContraCosta nose; soft rich/lush tarry/licorice/plummy/Mourvedre slight black cherry/bing cherry some toasty/oak flavor; long bit tannic licorice/plummy some earthy/mushroomy some toasty/oak finish; needs 2-6 yrs; very good Mourvedre w/ lots of classic ContraCosta character. $30.00
  7. Neyers Zin HighVllyVnyds/ChilesVlly/NapaVlly (15.3%) 2006: Very dark color; big/rich spicy/blackberry/raspberry/Zin/boysenberry some toasty/oak bit floral/lilacs nose; tart fairly rich blackberry/boysenberry/Zin slight earthy bit toasty/oak/pencilly flavor; med. long ripe/blackberry/ boysenberry/spicy/Zin light toasty/oak finish w/some tannins; needs several yrs; a very attractive NapaVlly Zin. $30.00
  8. Consilience Zin RhodesVnyd/RedwoodVlly/MendocinoCnty (16.5%) 2005:Very dark color;
    intense boysenberry/raisened/pruney very ripe quite alcoholic/hot/fumey very much over-the-top nose; soft ripe/very ripe pruney/jammy/raisened/late harvesty framboise liquer very hot/alcoholic flavor; med.long hot/fumey overripe/boysenberry/framboise/jammy finish w/ light tannins; waaay to over-the-top/hot/fumey for my tastes. $30.00
  9. Verdad Tempranillo Ibarra-YoungVnyd/SantaYnezVlly (13.5%; 15% Syrah/ BienNacidoVnyd,10% Grenache/PurisimaMtnVnyd; www.VerdadWines.com; 720 cs) 2005: Very dark color; some toasty/oak quite cherry/sour cherry/Temp quite spicy/fragrant slight bretty lovely nose;tart/acid very spicy bright/cherry/sour cherry light toasty/oak slight dusty flavor; long
    bright/cherry/sour cherry/vibrant tart/acid light oak finish w/ some tannins; loads of Tempranillo/ bright/cherry fruit; a zippy/vibrant wine that should go out 10 yrs or more; great price at $20.00
  10. Spencer@Roloson Tempranillo MadderLakeVnyd/ClearLake (15%) 2003: Very dark color; very strong toasty/charred/oak licorice/tarry/boysenberry almost Syrah-like nose; soft/fat ripe/ boysenberry/blackberry very strong toasty/charred/oak flavor;long quite toasty/oak soft/fat quite ripe/boysenberry/black cherry finish w/ light tannins; none of the bright cherry character of Tempranillo; just another overblown red wine w/ a ton of oak. Not well-priced at $30.00
  11. EdmundsStJohn Syrah Wylie-Fenaughty vnyds/ElDoradoCnty (14.6%) 2005: Very dark color;
    beautiful Phonish/roasted/spicy/peppery rather Graillot-like intense blackberry/Syrah/blueberry slight earthy/ElDorado nose; tart quite roasted/Rhonish/coffee rather blackberry/Syrah some floral/violets lovely flavor; very long spicy/peppery/roasted/Rhonish/coffee strong balckberry/blueberry/Syrah slight earthy finish w/ some tannins; drinkable/balanced and Rhonish now and will undoubtedly go out another 10 yrs and beyond; another terrific W-F Syrah and a steal at $26.50.
  12. EdmundsStJohn Syrah BassettiVnyd/SLOCnty (14.2%) 2005: Black color; slight reduced/
    sewer gas nose that clears to a very intense spicy/blackberry/Syrah/blueberry slight peppery/ roasted/herbal some pungent/roasted/coffee/smokey beautiful big fruit nose;tart big/blackberry/ blueberry/Syrah pungent/coffee/roasted slight herbal/cracked black pepper some tannic complex flavor; very long intense blackberry/Syrah/blueberry some pungent/smokey/roasted/Rhonish/cracked pepper finish w/ fair tannins; ho-hum...just another killer Bassetti Syrah at the office. $44.00
  13. EdmundsStJohn Syrah Wiley-Fenaughty/ElDoradoCnty (14.1%) 1999: Very dark/black color;
    very cracked black pepper/pungent/roasted slight herbal/earthy some blackberry/Syrah rather pungent/smokey/coffee/roasted/Rhonish pretty complex nose; tart earthy/dusty/ElDorado some cracked black pepper/herbal/smokey/pungent some blackberry/Syrah smooth/elegant/balanced complex flavor; very long smooth/elegant some pungent/cracked pepper/roasted/herbal some blueberry/Syrah finish w/ some tannins; a lovely/mature complex Syrah that still will go another 4-8 yrs I suspect; terrific Syrah. James mystery wine.
  14. EdmundsStJohn LesCotesSauvage "Fin de Siecle" Calif RTW (14.5%) 1996: Dark color w/
    slight bricking lovely very complex smokey/pungent/coffee slight toasty/pencilly/cedar slight blackberry nose; smooth/complex pencilly/cigar box slight strawberry/blackberry/Grenache slight smokey/pungent very complex/mature flavors; long cedary/cigar box/pencilly slight strawberry/berry smooth/complex/mature slight earthy/dusty finish w/light tannins; smooth/elegant/polished old Calif red. Larry's mystery wine.
  15. Novy Garys'Vnyd/SantaLuciaHighlands Syrah 1999: Dark color w/ very slight bricking; slight funky/Burgundian/oak some blackberry/Syrah/herbal lovely/complex nose; soft/lush coffee/pungent/ toasty/oak/Burgundian some herbal/SLH/blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry smooth/rounf/lush flavor; long soft/plush rather toasty/smokey/Burgundian/oak some herbal/blackberry/Syrah smooth/round/ plush finish w/ light tannins; very nice lush drinking that speaks as much of Calif Burgundy as it does Syrah. Sterbenz mystery wine.
  16. Novy Syrah JudgeFamilyVnyd/BennettVlly (14.1%) 2005: Very dark/black color; intense
    blackberry/blueberry/Syrah huge fruit quite peppery/spicy rather toasty/oak some charred/
    roasted lovely nose; soft very rich/lush very spicy/peppery intense blueberry/blackberry/Syrah somewhat toasty/oak flavot; very long/lingering lush ripe/blackberry/Syrah some spicy/peppery rather toasty/smokey/oak/pungent finish w/ some tannins; loads of Syrah fruit w/ a nice peppery undertone; terrific Syrah at $25.00

Random preachings from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. BoneJolly: The BoneJolly GamayRose that Steve released last summer was one of my
favorite Calif roses. Not quite sure why he waited to the Fall to release this red version, as this is a great summertime wine as well. His previous BoneJollys I recall as being a bit bigger/richer, more on the target of a BeaujGrandCru, w/ more earthy/terroir flavor you get from ElDorado. This '06 edition seems more about bright Gamay fruit and more on the level of a simple BeaujolaisVillages. Nonetheless, quite a pretty Gamay.
2. BrickHouse Gamay: This is another authentic GamayBeauj, made by DougTunnel. We had him for dinner at the Taos WWF last month and that is where he told me he was making real
Gamay. Managed to track down a few btls of the one case that came to NM.
3. Gamay: Beauj GrandCru, made from true GamayNoir a jus Blanc, is one of my favorite
wines. Gamay in Calif has a very checkered and unsavory past. What was originally labeled
as GamayBeauj in Calif turned out to be plantings of Valdiguie or a feeble PinotNoir clone. I believe GamayBeauj is no longer a permitted term.
4. Consilience: Just don't get this wnry at all. Nearly all their wines are over-the-top and too alcoholic. A pain to drink.
5. Verdad: The Verdad label is Louisa Lindquist's venture into winemaking. And she obviously
knows a thing or two about making wine. Her Albarino is maybe the best made in Calif. This Tempranillo is equally impressive. This is the wine Calif Sangiovese wants to be. I see no reason that this wine won't go out 10+ yrs and longer.
6. EdStJohn Syrah: This '05 W-F struck me as Steve's best W-F young yet. Oodles of Rhone
character much like a Graillot C-H. And it's only going to get better. We went back for another case & a half. The Bassetti struck me as not so intense cold-climate Syrah,
a bit more balanced & forward at this point in its life, then previous Bassettis. Not quite as big/extracted/tight on release as before. But, have no doubts, this is one of Calif's great Syrahs. Shoulda bought more...the classic EdStJohn lament I hear from everyone in my group.

I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and feel horrendous pangs of guilt for
buying Steve's wines for so cheap a price. So I jump out of bed & start to write another
check for the fair price...but always stop short. I figure when you're a famous winemaker, then fortune just follows right along behind like a goofy/slobbery GoldenLab.
7. EdStJohn LesCotesSauvage/R&G: The LCS was the name Steve used for his CdP Rhone blend. The R&G is the name he currently uses for his CdP blend. The LCS wines always struck
me as bigger/richer and more NorthernRhonish then the R&G's. The R&G are more closer
in profile to my palate to CdP...which is not a compliment IMHO. A lot of pretty Grenache
character, but I'm usually underwhelmed when I taste a young one. But..then...the R&G's
have this uncanny knack of sneaking up and biting you on the a$$. I'll try one 3-5 yrs
down the road and it's really evolved into a beautiful old Rhone-like wine. Frustrating as hell...it is. Not sure what the blend on the '96 LCS was nor the source of the grapes. But it has turned into a lovely old Calif red, not very old CdP-like IMHO, at right about the point
that it's probably going to dry out on the palate and not be such a pleasure to drink. But...then...I could very well be fooled once again by a SteveEdmunds wine...it's
happened plenty of times before.
8. Novy Syrah: The '99 was in wonderful condition and a classic Siduri Syrah. Because of the
oak treatment, the Novy Syrahs and the Siduri Pinots start to converge in character as
they mature it seems to my palate. The JudgeFamily was a simply dynamite classic-Novy
Siduri. The BennetVlly his producing grapes, particularly Syrah & Grenache, that's as
good as anything in Calif.


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