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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.

Wines with Al & Virginia Rago - August 12, 2011

We had Friday afternoon (8/12/11) some Wines With Al & Virginia Rago:

  1. RichardGrant PinotNoir Blanc de Noir NapaVlly Sparkling Wine (Wrotham Clone; 12.5%; Reserve;
    MethodeChampenoise) 2004
    : Pale salmon color; light yeasty/leesy slight appley/musky/earthy nose;
    tart/tangy light yeasty/leesy slightly bitter/tannic appley/musky flavor; med.long yeasty/leesy
    appley/musky finish; not the fineness of most PinotNoir BdN and a bit on the coarse side.
  2. Friedrick-Wilhelm Gymnasium OckfenerGeisberg (Riesling; Auslese; A.P.Nr. 3 561 024-30-77; EA; 9%) 1976: Med.deep gold color; strong Mosel valve oil/petrol slight piney/resinous very complex nose;
    off-dry lush piney/resinous strong Mosel valve oil/petrol slight tangy very complex flavor; very long/
    lingering Mosel valve oil/petrol piney/resinous/pungent off-dry tart very complex finish; very little
    fruit left but a lot lot of other things therein; a classic old Mosel Auslese that will probably go
    on another 10-20 yrs.
  3. Hoffman-Simon PiesporterGoldtropfchen (Riesling; Spatlese; A.P.Nr. 2 596 119 015 00; GA; 8%) 1999: Med. gold color; lovely Mosel valve oil/petrol lovely pineapply/floral/R slight cabbagey some slatey/Mosel flinty very aromatic some complex nose; fairly sweet tart/tangey light Mosel valve oil/petrol fairly lush/pineapply complex flavor; very long Mosel valve oil/petrol lush pineapple/R somewhat complex finish; still lots of baby fat and should go another 10-15 yrs.
  4. Bonaccorsi PinotNoir FiddlestixVnyd/StaRitaHills (14.1%) 2002: Dark color w/ slight bricking; very strong toasty/charred/burnt/pencilly/oak slight smokey/pungent bit plastic/ozone little fruit strange nose; quite tart very hard/tannic rather dried out no fruit bit plastic/strange somewhat tired flavor; either not coming together well or compromised by a dried-out/crumbly cork; not in good shape.
  5. TreViti PinotNoir Anno di Lucia StoloFamilyVnyd/SLOCnty (13.4%) 2008: Med.light color; lovely very fragrant/perfumed/bright/cherry/PN slight earthy/Burgundian some pencilly/oak light herbal/cold-climate beautiful nose; quite tart racy/bright/cherry/PN/earthy some pencilly/Burgundian/oak very spicy/cold-climate light herbal flavor; very long tart/cold-climate very bright/cherry/PN/spicy light pencilly/oak finish w/ modest tannins; needs another few yrs; classic cold-climate Pinot along the lines of the Peays, but a bit less oak.
  6. NoelVerset Cornas (12.5%) 1987: Med.light color w/ some bricking; quite dusty/iodine very smokey/pungent/roasted/espresso/mocha little fruit complex nose; tart rather hard/lean/tannic/some dried out very smokey/pungent/charred/espresso/mocha no fruit complex flavor; long somewhat hard/tannic/dried out very smokey/roasted/espresso/mocha very complex finish; terrific classic NorthernRhone complex nose but drying out on the palate; seen better days.
  7. TreViti Syrah StoloFamilyVnyd/CentralCoast/Cambria (14.6%) 2005: Very dark color; very strong cracked black pepper/pungent some smokey/oak strong blackberry/Syrah quite spicy complex cold-climate Syrah nose; rather tart bit tannic/hard very strong cracked black pepper/roasted/pungent/cold-climate strong blackberry/Syrah bit smokey/oak flavor; very long bit tannic/hard strong cracked black pepper/pungent strong blackberry/Syrah/blueberry some smokey/oak bit complex finish; a lovely cold-climate Syrah w/ strong peppery character.
And a wee BloodyPulpit:

1. Al Rago & I go back....way back. I worked at ArgonneNationalLaboratory the summer of '67 in
the ReactorPhysics Division, as a graduate student. Al worked down the hallway on a fuel cell code. We usually went to lunch together at the nearby cafeteria. Beverage of choice was milk or tea. Al went on to work at IBM/SanJose. They bought property up in the extreme SonomaCoast out to the NW of Sebastapol, on TaylorRidge. For some crazy reason, Al decided to plant Syrah out there. Maybe the oldest Syrah vnyd in all of Calif. It's tough to get those grapes ripened in some years.

Al & Virginia were in SantaFe with friends for a long weekend. After a personal tour of the LANL
Science museum, we invited them over to Susan's for some apps and wine. Joining them were their RRV friends, Jerry & Lynn McIntyre. They own the StarCreekVnyd in Windsor; growing Pinot & Chard mostly for GaryFarrellWnry.
2. WrothamClone: Some years ago, a lonely vines was found growing against a wall near the English town of Wrotham. Of unknown origin and variety, it appeared to resemble PinotNoir. But looked rather different than most PinotNoir vines elsewhere. It was propagated into a vnyd and used to make this English Sparkling wine. Subsequent DNA work indicated this Wrotham clone was none other than Pinot Noir...but with a difference. It was totally resistant to mildew in the humid climate of England. It is conjectured that this WrothamClone evolved in England over many yrs from Pinot vines that the Romans brought to Wrotham many a yr ago; where it developed its resistance to mildew.

Richard (Dick) Grant Peterson was visiting England, liked the Sparkling wine a lot, and brought back cuttings which were cleared thru Davis. He planted them in his vnyd in the NapaVlly. He makes a sparkling Blanc de Noir and a still PinotNoir from the grapes. He notes that they never need to be sprayed for mildew.
3. The theme of the wines I pulled from my archives was roughly cold-climate wines. Except for the Germans; which I just wanted something good to drink. I thought (except for the '76) the TreVitis were the best of the bunch; though Al & Jerry appeared to think the Syrahs strong cracked black pepper character was pretty strong. Maria still has the TreViti Syrah '05 on sale for $20/btl (www.TreViti.com). It's dishonest to buy a wine that good at that sort of price.


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