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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 - September 29, 2010

We tried tonight Some New Wines:

  1. SQN AutrementDit Calif Rose (15.6%; 55% Grenache, 45% Syrah; 11 ConfessionsVnyd/
    Sta.RitaHills) 2006
    : Light red color; fragrant grapey/strawberry/cranberry bit simple nose;
    soft some grapey/strawberry/cranberry bit alcoholic/hot flavor; med.short soft grapey/strawberry/
    Grenache pleasant finish w/ rather hot/alcoholic aftertaste; not your parent's rose. $58.00
  2. SansSouci PinotNoir SantaBarbaraCnty VinoSapien Wine Co. (15.2%; www.VinoSapienWines.com)
    MattBrady/ P&B by Jaffurs WineCellars 2009
    : Med.light color; rather earthy/dusty some cherry/
    Pinot light toasty/oak slight Burgundian pleasant nose; soft bit earthy/dusty rather cherry/
    Pinot light oak/toasty/smoky pleasant flavor; med.long earthy/dusty rather cherry/Pinot/Cheracol
    light oak finish w/ light tannins; tastes like a Pinot from SolomonHills/SantaMaria; some like
    the FlyingGoat Pinots; pleasant/attractive Pinot w/ an earthy streak.
  3. Dashe LesEnfants Terribles Grenache DCV NativeFermentation (14.4%) Oakland 2009: Med.light color; slight earthy/funky light Grenache/strawberry bit appley nose; soft light tannic some earthy/ horsey/funky light cherry/strawberry/Grenache flavor; med.short funky/earthy/horsey light Grenache/ strawberry bit tannic finish; bit on the funky side; reminds me of the old Parducci/Pedroncelli Zins aged in redwood tanks. Pricey at  $27.00
  4. Dashe LesEnfants Terribles Zin McFaddenFarm/PotterVlly/MendoCnty NativeFermentation (14.2%; OrganicallyGrownGrapes) 2009: Med.light color; rather earthy/tomatoey light raspberry/Zin slight horsey/funky nose; soft earthy/dusty/tomatoey/Mendo light raspberry/Zin/spicy slight oak flavor;
    med. tomatoey/earthy/dusty/MendoZin light raspberry/Zin bit funky/horsey finish w/ light tannins;
    rather underwhelming like an old Pedroncelli Zin; pricey at $27.00
  5. EhretFamilyWnry CabernetSauvignon BavarianLionVnyd/KnightsVlly (14.5%; Drk: now-2020-2025; 1000 cs) P&B by BavarianLionWnry/Healdsburg 2006: Dark color; some minerally/ozone/ WWII beacon nose clears to somewhat herbal/blackcurranty/Cab light toasty/charred/ oak/vanilla slight pungent/ ozone interesting nose; soft rich/lush herbal/blackcurranty/ Cab slight minerally/chalky/ pungent light toasty/charred/oak light tannic flavor; fairly long lush/blackcurranty/ Cab/herbal light oak/ toasty finish w/ modest tannins; needs several yrs yet; an attractive/solid/4-square Cab at a more than fair price. $34.00
  6. EhretFamilyWnry RedWine Bellas'sBlend BavarianLionVnyd/KnightsVlly (14.5%; CS/CabFranc/
    Merlot; Drk: now-2018-2020; 400 cs) 2006
    : Very dark color; stronger more complex/subtle strong
    black cherry/blackcurranty/plummy/chocolaty/Cab slight herbal rather pencilly/oak  attractive/
    interesting nose; soft/smooth/polished balanced rather black cherry/black curranty/Cab/chocolaty/lush
    light pencilly/oak/vanilla flavor; long smooth/polished black cherry/black curranty/Cab/chocolaty
    light herbal light pencilly/oak finish w/ light tannins; a very attractive polished/elegant Cab whose
    balance should take it out 4-8 yrs; much like the DryCreekVnyd Cabs in style; fairly priced at $40.00
  7. Ridge Calif MonteBello (85% CS/8% Merlot/4% PetiteVerdot/3% CabFranc; SantaCruzMtns; 12.9%; 172 tons from 83.5 acres; 45% Selection; Bttld: May '99; Drk: 3/99-3/2014: PD) 1997: Very dark color; beautiful smokey/pungent/complex slight minty slight herbal/earthy/mineral  strong blackcurranty/Cab well-integrated/pungent/oak beautiful/complex nose; somewhat tart light minerally/earthy slight minty pungent/smokey strong blackcurranty/Cab slight herbal complex somewhat tannic flavor; very long/lingering some herbal/chocolaty strong blackcurranty/Cab some smokey/pungent finish w/ fair tannins; beautiful/ complex MB Cab that can go another 5-10 yrs yet. $70.00
  8. EhretFamilyWnry Syrah BavarianLionVnyd/KnightsVlly (14.7%; Drk: now-2020-2022; 168 cs) 2007: Very dark color; very strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/spicy slight earthy/minerally very light oak lovely nose; strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/ripe/lush light toasty/oak/coconut slight chalky/mineral flavor; long strong/lush/blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/ripe light chalky/mineral light toasty/oak finish w/ smooth/polished tannins; can use 2-5 yrs; a very attractive Syrah at a very good price. $28.00
  9. Jaffurs Syrah SantaBarbaraCnty (15.2%) 2009: Very dark/black color; slight milk of magnesia quite perfumed/aromatic intense blackberry/Syrah/lush slight pungent/licorice light toasty/oak bit floral beautiful nose; soft big/blackberry/Syrah/licorice pungent light toasty/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; very long intense/ blackberry/Syrah/licorice/pungent some toasty/oak lush finish w/ some tannins; carries the alcohol very well w/ no noticible heat; terrific Syrah at a great price. $25.00
  10. Boheme Syrah QueSyrahVnyd/SonomaCoast  (13.1%; 185 cs; www.BohemeWine.com) KurtBeitler/ Rutherford 2006: Dark color; strong spicy/blackberry/Syrah rather cracked black pepper/cold-climate some Rhonish/roasted light toasty/oak slight floral/violets lovely/complex nose; tart very cracked black pepper quite spicy/blackberry/Syrah/licorice some Rhonish/roasted/floral/violets light pungent/toasty/oak somewhat tannic flavor; very long some cold-climate/peppery very spicy/blackberry/Syrah/licorice bit coffee/Rhonish/ roasted finish w/ fair tannins; needs another 4-6, maybe 8 yrs; a terrific Rhonish-style Calif Syrah. $40.00
  11. BodegaRancho Syrah QueSyrahVnyd/SonomaCoast (13.7%)  2007: Dark color; some herbal/ rosemary/piney strong spicy/blackberry/Syrah some toasty/charred/oak lighter peppery/cracked black pepper lovely complex nose; tart but a bit softer light cracked black pepper some charred/toasty/oak strong blackberry/Syrah/spicy light herbal/rosemary flavor; long light cracked black pepper strong blackberry/Syrah/spicy some charred/toasty/oak finish w/ fair tannins; needs 3-6 yrs; a bigger/more extracted/more oaked less Rhonish/cracked pepper character than the '06; more Calif in style than the '06 and a bit less interesting at this pont in time. Very fairly priced at $35.00
  12. BodegaRancho Syrah VivioVnyd/BennettVlly (14.5%; www.BodegaRancho.com) D&K Wines/ Rutherford 2007: Very dark color; very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah slight pungent/licorice very light cracked black pepper/cold-climate light toasty/oak nose; fairly tart light cracked black pepper strong ripe/blackberry/Syrah/spicy bit pungent/licorice some toasty/oak bit tannic flavor; very long strong blackberry/Syrah/spicy some toasty/oak light pepper/pungent/licorice finish w/ some tannins; needs 3-6 yrs yet. $40.00
  13. BodegaRancho Syrah ThierotVnyd/SonomaCoast (13.5%)  2007: Very dark color; light menthol/minty slight cracked black pepper rather black cherry/blackberry/Syrah more elegant/spicy almost Pinot-like complex nose; softer more lush black cherry/blackberry/Syrah some toasty/oak bit simpler/more elegant/perfumed almost Pinot-like light tannic flavor; very long perfumed/floral/black cherry/blackberry/ Syrah light toasty/oak finish w/ modest tannins; more perfumed/elegant/floral almost like a Pinot rendition of Syrah, like some of the Radio-Coteau Syrahs; lovely Syrah at a fair price. $35.00

And the usual stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. SQN Rose: This is not your usual rose. If you want your rose to be perfumed, tart, clean, crisp
and something you can slam back at poolside; this is not your wine. I've seen some revues that
totally slammed this wine as undrinkable. As a rose...perhaps. As a light red wine, probably
not. But I can find little to write home about this wine, especially at the price. If you just have to have a SQN to drink, then this should fill the bill. But I can think of no context in which you could drink this wine with much pleasure. Interesting interpretation of rose but certainly not undrinkable as some assert.
2. SanSouci: This is a Pinot made by MattBrady, asst winemaker at Jaffurs. The somewhat earthy character made me think the grapes came from the SolomonHills area of SantaMariaVlly. I liked the wine...just that. It had pretty cherry/Pinot fruit and very low-key oak. It reminded me a lot of NormYost's FlyingGoat Pinots from the SolomonHills area. No idea what the wine sells for. It was gifted by Matt to Larry to try, who shared it with our group. BTW....the VinoSapienWines site is bogus.
3. LesEnfants Terribles: I generally like MikeDashe wines quite a lot. These two were the exceptions. These LesEnfants Terribles wines are the darlings of AliceF***ing and the natural wine crowd. They are advertised as as native yeast fermentations and minimal SO2 usage; made in an "old world" style (whatever that means). I found the wines pleasant enough, but nothing compelling enough about them to make me want to try them again.

The McFaddenRanch is located in the upper end of PotterVlly and a relatively cool site. MikeDashe's Riesling from this same Ranch is absolutely stunning. Would like to see how his LesEnfants Terribles regime translates w/ his Riesling. His regular DryCreekVlly Zin is much more to my liking; w/ loads of blackberry/raspberry fruit. And his LateHrvst Zin is very/very impressive as well. But I'll leave LesEnfants Terribles to sweet Alice.
4. EhretFamilyWnry: This is a new winery for me. SusieBynum is the marketing director for Ehret. When I found out she was coming to SantaFe Wine&Chile Fiesta, I asked her to bring a btl of their Syrah for us to try. She also brought the two Cabs as well. Ehret is owned by Susan & Pierre Ehret, who also own the iconic Flamingo Resort in SantaRosa. Their BavarianLion vnyd is located up in the KnightsVlly. Their winemaker is NickGoldschmidt. Though not a big Cabernet fan, I liked both of these a lot and thought them very fairly priced. But I particularly liked the Syrah as first rate.
5. MonteBello: Not a lot more that you can say about MonteBello; truly one of the world's great Cabernets.
6. Jaffurs: This is the just released basic Jaffurs Syrah. It is one of their best, maybe the best, SBC Syrah yet. It has far less of the somewhat Oz character the previous 2-3 vintages showed. Apparently, several of the vnyd-designate barrels of Syrah were added towards the end to boost the quality of this wine. Another terrific Jaffurs Syrah.
7. Boheme/BodegaRancho: This is the label of Kurt & Derek Beitler. Kurt is an in-law of the Wagner/Caymus family and manages their Pinot vnyd on TaylorRidge, west and a bit north of Sebastapol. I believe he advised VinceRago, Al's son, on their Pinot/Chard just up the road a bit and down the road from Al's QueSyrah vnyd. As they started to make Pinot and Chard under the Boheme label, they decided to reserve the Boheme label for those wines, and put their Syrah program under the BodegaRancho label, using other vnyds than just QueSyrah. The '07 vintage is their first release under that label.

The VivioVnyd is in the BennettVlly, another cold-climate Syrah vnyd, but would guess it's a bit warmer than the QueSyrah vnyd. I've never heard of this vnyd, but apparently HighFlyer uses those grapes as well for a Syrah. And the ThierotVnyd is a well-known Chard/Pinot vnyd in the PetalumaGap. Didn't know they had Syrah planted there.

Kurt and Derek's focus with their RanchoBodega label is cool-climate Syrah from the extreme SonomaCoast. Of these three first-releases; my preference was the QueSyrah for its stronger/ more interesting Rhonish character; followed by the Vivio, then the Theriot. But all three are very strong  Syrah that respect their respective terroirs. A pretty awesome debut for BodegaRancho...a wnry to watch in the future.
8. QueSyrah Vnyd: This is one of the first (after Ventana) certifiably cold-climate Syrah vnyds in Calif. In fact, it is so cold-climate that they're not sure it will ripen a crop this year. Owned by long-time friend, from a Summer at ArgonneNationalLaboratory in 1967, Al Rago. The first QueSyrah Syrahs were made by EhrenJordan under his Failla-Jordan label. They were most impressive; showing lots of cold-climate/cracked black pepper character w/ a strong roasted/Rhonish character. Kurt started using those grapes under his Boheme label in 2004. The wines have gone
from strength to strength since that very first one. One of Calif's great Syrah vnyds.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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