by Tom Hill
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.
Odisea Wines -
August 5, 2009
We tasted last night (8/5/09) Odisea Wines:
- Odisea Angele Calif (35% Marsanne from HerzogVnyd/Clarksburg; 35% Roussanne from Amorosa
Vnyd/Lodi, Tablas & Alban clones; 30% Viognier from SuenoVnyd/ClementHills/Eastern Lodi;
Organically Grown Grapes; no M-L; 14.3%; 196 cs) 2008: Light gold color; very strong fragrant/
floral/honeyed/very ripe/canned peach syrup-fruit cocktail quite perfumed/intense nose; soft
very lush/honeyed/floral/peach syrup/honeysuckle flavor; long soft/lush honeyed/floral/peach
syrup huge fruit finish; almost a Z-H style of wine; lots of ripe/overripe character but not
over the top into the fat/porky realm. $21.00
- Odisea VeritableQuandry Calif (219 cs; 14.2%; www.OdiseaWineCo.com; 50% Roussanne from
AmorosaVnyd/Lodi, Tablas & Alban clones; 25% Marsanne from HerzogVnyd/Clarksburg;
20% Viognier from SuenoVnyd/ClementHills/East Lodi, farmed by MarkusBokisch;
5% GrenacheBlanc from VistaLunaVnyd/ClementHills; no M-L) AdamWebb/MikeKuenz 2008: Med.
gold color; lower key/more subtle ripe/appley/floral slight honeyed/earthy some spicy nose;
tarter/leaner ripe appley/pear/floral/lush bit spicy/nutmeg/apple pie flavor; med.long appley/
ripe some floral/peach/pear/peach blossom finish; more restrained & subtle than the Angele and
not so ripe in character; speaks more of Marsanne than anything; a lovely RhoneBlanc at a
very attractive price. $18.00
- A Donkey&Goat GrenacheRose Isabel'sCuvee/McDowellVlly/MendocinoCnty (14.1%;
www.ADonkeyAndGoat.com) 2008: Loaded w/ fine/delicate tartrate crystals; pale salmon color;
slightly reduced/gunpowder/ozone strong cranberry/fruity clean bit simple nose; tart/lean/crisp
cranberry/floral/fruity slight earthy/metallic bit Rhonish/earthy/austere flavor; med.short
fruity/cranberry/watermelon finish; tart/lean and a bit lacking in flavor. $16.00
- Odisea Muse Rose Calif (97 cs; 14.5%; 77% Grenache from LewisVnyd/ClementHills/East Lodi,
29 yr old vines grafted over in 2001, Tablas & Caldwell clones; 20% Mourvedre from
JohnWetmore/AmorosaVnyd/Lodi; 3% Viognier from SuenoVnyd/Lodi) 2008: Light red color, dark for
a rose; strong Grenache/strawberry/watermelon/fragrant nose; softer bright/strawberry/Grenache/
watermelon very fruity flavor; med.long strawberry/Grenache/fruity slight earthy finish; bit
soft for a rose but loads of exuberent strawberry/Grenache fruit. $18.00
- Odisea TwoRows Garnacha Lodi (168 cs, 146 cs; 85% Grenache from GregLewisVnyd/ClementHills/Eastern Lodi, Tablas & Caldwell clones, grafted on 28 yr old rootstock in 2001;15% Tempranillo from 28 yr old vines in LewisVnyd, Ribera del Duero clone, suitcase cuttings;13.9%; Unfltrd) 2007: Med.color; very attractive spicy/strawberry/Grenache slight earthy/minerallybit Priorat-like nose; tart very spicy/strawberry/Grenache/alpine strawberry/Nehi strawberry sodapop slight Spanish/rustic/earthy flavor; long bright/spicy/strawberry/Grenache light earthy/minerally finish w/ light tannins; lots of Grenache/strawberry fruit & a slight earthy/rustic character. $25.00
- Odisea UnusualSuspects Lodi (270 cs; 55% Carignane, 100+ yr old vines of JonathanWetmore's
vnyd/Lodi; 35% Tempranillo from LewisVnyd/ClementHillsLodi, 28 yr old vines;
10% grenache from SuenoVnyd of MarkusBokisch/ClementHills; 13.9%) 2007: Med.color; earthy/dusty black cherry/Carignane/spicy slight Pepsi/DrPepper/cola nose; tart very attractive black cherry/Carignane/cola some dusty/earthy/old vines slightly sour flavor; long black cherry/Carignane earthy/dusty finishw/ light tannins; lots od Spanish/Carignane character and lots of Carignane fruit. $21.00
- Odisea TemporaryInsanity Tempranillo ClementHills (188 cs, 125 cs; 90% Tempranillo from
LewisVnyd/ClementHills/Eastern foothills/Lodi, 28 yr old vines grafted to Bokisch clone/
Ribera del Duero; 5% Grenache, Tablas & Caldwell clones; 5% Mourvedre from BelleCollineVnyd/
ClementHills of Markus Bokisch; 14.2%; Unfltrd) 2007: Dark color; strong cherry/black cherry/Temp/
spicy slight toasty/oak/vanilla rather Rioja-like/earthy nose; tart bit tannic/hard strong cherry/
black cherry/Temp/black cherry cola some earthy/Rioja-like flavor; long tart very spicy/cherry/black
cherry/Temp slight vanilla/oak very Rioja-like some tannic/hard finish; needs several yrs; not quite
the bright Temp fruit of the Verdad, but lots of spicy cherry/Temp fruit and a slight Rioja-like
earthiness. Lovely Temp w/ potential. $30.00
- Odisea VeritableQuandry RW (285 cs; 14.3%; 35% Tempranillo from 28 yr old LewisVnyd/
ClementHills/Lodi and LibertyOaksVnyd of MarkusBokisch; 30% grenache from SuenoVnyd;
13% Carignane from 100+ yr old vines of JonathanWetmore's ranch/Central Lodi;
10% Syrah from MassaRanch/NapaVlly/Yountville; 6% Mourvedre & 6% PetiteSirah from BelleCollinevnyd in Eastern Lodi; Unfltrd; 14.3%) 2007: Med.dark color; strong raspberry/Zin-like light vanilla/oak bit dusty very attractive/bright/spicy nose; tart bright raspberry/Zin-like slight MendoCnty/
tomatoey light earthy flavor; long bright/raspberry/Kool-Aid/Zin-like/spicy light vanilla/oak finish
with light tannins; resembles a MendoCnty Zin more than anything; a lovely/bright/raspberry wine
at a very good price. $18.00
- Odisea Devil'sShare Calif (125 cs; 40% Grenache from SuenoVnyd/ClementHills from Rioja and
LewisVnyd/ClementHills, Tablas & Caldwell clones; 30% Syrah from MassaRanch/Yountville/
NapaVlly and SuenoVnyd of Estrella & SyrahNoir clones; 20% Mourvedre & 8% PetiteSirah from
BelleCollineVnyd/ClementHills; cofermented with 2% Viognier of SuenoVnyd; 14.9%) 2007: Dark color;strong earthy/pungent SouthernRhone/herbal/rosemarry/garrigue slight blackberry/Syrah bit spicy almost Paso-like/jammy warm-climate nose; soft/lush RCCola/blackberry/jammy/Syrah bit herbal/earthy/garrigue flavor; med.long ripe/jammy/Paso-like some blackberry/Syrah bit earthy/rustic finish w/ light tannins; some SouthernRhone character, some Paso/jammy character; very nicely done Rhone blend at a very attractive price. $21.00
- Odisea TheWanderer NapaVlly (80cs; 87% Syrah from MassaVnyd/Yountville; 10% PS;
3% Viognier; 14.2%; 80 cs) 2006: Very dark color; strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah slight peppery
light toasty/pencilly/oak slight DrPepper lovely nose; tart very strong/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/
DrPepper light toasty/oak slight peppery some tannic quite structured flavor; long bit perfumed/floral
somewhat tannic/structured strong blackberry/Syrah/DrPepper light toasty/oak finish; needs another
2-5 yrs; a very/very good Napa(up-)Vlly Syrah in the mold of L-M/Rocca; well-priced at $29.00
And the usual blather from the BloodyPulpit:
1. Odisea: When I was back in KC a few weeks ago tending to PapawHill duties, I wandered into Gomer's/MidTown as I am wont to do back there. I stumbled across a few labels of a wine called Odisea that lookedkinda interesting. Never heard of them. Their wine guy noted they had a local connection and that I should try them. So I bought a couple of btls to schlep back to NM. Tried the VeritableQuandry '07 and thought it pretty good RhoneBlanc blend, though a bit on the soft/fat/ripe side. Took a look/see at their WebSite (www.OdiseaWineCo.com) and found a bunch of wines that certainly picqued my interest. So ordered a mixed case to try with my group.
Odisea is a joint venture of AdamWebb and MikeKuenz. They met in Oklahoma when the were both in the wine biz. Adam left for Calif and was eventually winemaker at Elyse. Mike went into the sales side in OR with WillametteVllyVnyds. They then rejoined forces in Calif to found there Odisea label;
focusing of hand-crafted wines of the Rhone & Spanish niche from unique growing areas in Calif.
Because of the Spanish focus, and because Lodi seems to have the leg up on most of the rest of Calif, they focused on sourcing these grapes from the Eastern side of Lodi; ClementsHills and AltaMesa AVA's.
As they expanded their Rhone program, Lodi had these grapes and allowed them to keep their prices in check as they became established. In the future, they'll be sourcing more & more grapes from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino (good choice I say).
I was quite taken by these Odisea wines. I had fairly low expectations, given their Lodi origins.
Forget the Lodi origins. The wines are very well made, very drinkable, and quite fairly priced. They're not the next SQN or Carlisle, but they're good/solid wines that deserve a look-see. I'm looking forward to trying their newer efforts.
2. Lodi: After my senior yr in high school (not THAT long ago), my Dad took me on a cross country trip to Calif, Sacramento being the endpoint. Middle of July. Miserable/miserable hot weather in Needles. Hardley any better in Bakersfield. And when we hit Lodi in late afternoon, wasn't a whole lot better. This was in a '58 FordFairlane. No air conditioning...you just rolled down the windows and let the wind blow. So Lodi (the town) did not leave a favorable impression. But I was impressed by the miles and miles a vnyds all the way up the Valley; beautiful/lush/green.
When I got interested in wines, one of my first trips to Calif took me up the CentralVlly to the
Lodi area once again, in late June. Visited PapagniWnry in Madera and thought the wines pretty awful.
But AngeloPapagni's vinegar was actually pretty good. He should have focused on that probably.
But my impression of Lodi was that it was blazingly hot and nothing good in the way of wine could
possibly come from there.
Then, back in the early '70's, PaulDraper made a couple of Ridge Zins, including an Essence, that
were actually pretty decent. And then RobertMondavi returned to his roots and opened his wnry in
Woodbridge. This further cemented in my mind that no good, winewise, would ever come from Lodi. But, then, in the late '70's, Turley sourced fruit from Lodi for their Dogtown Zin. It was pretty decent
wine; though rather on the soft/fat side and had that distinct earthy/mushroomy/loamy character that speaks of Lodi wine.
Then, in the early 2000's, at commercial tastings, I would occasionally come across a Lodi red, like
from KlinkerBrick, or MichaelDavid, or ClayStation, that I thought was pretty...decent. They still had
that Lodi terroir, were big/ripe/chocolatey but loads of fruit and even a bit of structure to them.
I could see that things were stirring in Lodi, but, still, in the back of my mind was the idea that I'd
seldom find anything from Lodi that'd stir my passions.
This tasting of Odisea wines dramatically changed my perspective on Lodi wines. This was, by far,
the best collection of Lodi wines I've had the opportunity to try. The Angele'08 fit the mold of Lodi
whites I've had. Lots of very ripe fruit, soft/fat. But the VeritableQuandry was totally different,
with an acidity and a brightness I've never seen in a LodiWhite.
Many of the LodiReds I've liked have lots of ripe fruit, a taste of Lodi terroir that I describe as
chocolatey/loamy/earthy/mushroomey, and somewhat of a lack of structure on the palate. These Odisea reds were not that at all. Blind...I would have never identified them as Lodi wines. They had a brightness of fruit, an acidity, and a zippy/vibrant character that belies Lodi..at least what I thought I knew Lodi to be.
Clearly, things are astir in Lodi. When I see "Lodi" on a btl, now, I'm not going to simply give
a shrug and place the btl back on the shelf. I'm looking forward to trying other wines from this area
now. Prejudices sometime are hard to put aside.
3. Old/grafted vines: One of the things that is apparently flying below the radar in Calif is to graft
new plant material onto old/established. I first became aware of this practice when a CienegaVlly wnry was advertising Viognier from a vnyd planted in the '20's...old-vine Viognier!! This was well before Viog was brought into Calif. Turns out...it was a vnyd that was planted in the '20's, but grafted over to Viog around '00. "Old vine Viognier"??? I don't know....skeptical.
Odisea sources Grenache from the LewisVnyd. It's an old vnyd (28 yrs), but was grafted over to
Grenache in 2001. They're not touting it as "old vine" Grenache, but just relate that it was grafted
over in 2001. I queried Adam on the subject. He feels that older/deeper rootstock is more integrated in to the soil (not sure what that means) and will show the soil and the surroundings better, the terroir, than grapes from young vines. He qualifies that as his "opinion". Fair enough...I can believe that...absent any hard data. More interestingly, Adam asserts that an older vnyd will have had a longer time to build up an indigenous yeast culture and that, since they rely on natural fermentations, will give an added sense of place. That does make sense to me.
Newly grafted/old-vine vnyds is something you don't see much discussed. Does this make them "old vine" vnyds?? Good question, on which I'd like to know more. I've suggested to JonBonne this would make a good story topic. Maybe a bit too geeky, though.
4. Rose: Been trying much more roses this Summer than before. Starting to enjoy their social aspects more and more....becoming a real party animal. My favorite is still the EdmundsStJohn BoneJolly Gamay Rose; closely followed by the Bedrock Mourvedre rose.
5. Caldwell: The identification of the Cladwell Clone (Selection) of Grenache was a new one for me. Turns out JohnCaldwell/NapaVlly ran a nursery operation up there in the '80's and some of the French stuff he brought in in that era is regarded by many as some of the best plant material around. This Caldwell Clone reportedly came in to the country in a Samsonite and he had some kind of "encounter" with the people at customs. Reportedly, it came from Ch.Rayas....smaller berries & darker color than other clones.
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