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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.

Crane Cyn & Old World - January 12, 2011

We tasted last week (1/12/11) mostly wines of Crane Canyon and Old World Wnry:

  1. OldWorldWnry SauvBlanc BonTemps LeBlanc TwoVnyds/NorthCoast (14.6%; CarraroVnyd/DCV + ColombiniVnyd/RedwoodVlly/Mendocino) Grandfather: LinoMartenelli 2008: Med.gold color; strong ripe/fruit cocktail/apple juice some nutty/caramel/oxidized slight herbal/SB bit old Rhone blanc rather exotic nose; tart rather oxidized/nutty/toasty somewhat ripe/fruit cocktail/apple juice some old Rhone rather exotic/strange flavor; long rather oxidative/nutty/toasty hazelnuts rather ripe/fruit cocktail/apple juice tart exotic finish; somewhat like an old-style Spanish white from the '70's that were made in an
    oxidative style; rather interesting/exotic but atypical of SauvBlanc; maybe a skin contact/orange
    style of wine but hard to tell. $18.00
  2. TheScholiumProject SauvBlanc The Prince In His Caves FarinaVnyd Calif WW (14.6%) 2009: Med.dark gold/mineral/metallic/gun flint Gravner-style very aromatic very exotic/bizarre complex nose; soft very lush/ ripe/resiny/retsina perfumed/metallic/oxidized/minerally very intense flavor; very long some minerally/ oxidized very ripe/apple juice/fruit cocktail/resiny very exotic/complex finish; very much in the Gravner/orange wine style; very exotic & bizarre for SauvBlanc. $55.00
  3. OldWorldWnry Chard TweekBlock/WeeksVnyd/SonomaCoast (14.9%; www.OldWorldWinery.com) DarekTrowbridge/Fulton/Healdsburg 2008: Med.gold color; slight oxidativeripe/melony/Chard/ appley lightly spicy somewhat minerally/earthy interesting nose; tart ripe/melony/appley/minerally somewhat earthy rather ripe/lush flavor; very long tart ripe/melony/appley rather minerally/earthy slight oxidative complex/exotic finish; lots of ripe fruit character but good minerality; pretty interesting rendition of Chard. $20.00
  4. CraneCanyonCllrs Mourvedre NobleVnyd/KnightsVlly (13.8%) 2000: Med.light color w/ slight bricking; slight funky/earthy nose that cleared to interesting garrigue/herbal/sage earthy some what old/Rhonish fairly complex nose; soft slight bretty/funky gentle/light herbal/pungent/garrigue/sage/spicy slight plummy/ Mourv some complex/old Rhone flavor; med.short some bretty/funky some herbal/pungent/sage/garrigue very slight plummy/Mourv finish w/ little tannins; starting to seem a bit timeworn but interesting old-Rhone character.
  5. Jory Zin MimbresVlly/LunaCnty/NewMexico (12.5%) 1999: Med.light rather bricked/browning color; slight musty/corked/TCA rather earthy/funky slight raspberry/Zin/smokey nose; tart some tired/dried out bit corked/TCA/musty/cardboardy rather earthy/funky very slight raspberry/Zin flavor; short musty/corked slight raspberry/Zin ratherr earthy some dried out/tannic finish; slightly corked and just clinging to life.
  6. CraneCanyonCllrs Zin RRV (14.1%) 1997: Med.light color w/ no bricking; very strong appley/fruit cocktail some blackberry/boysenberry/complex bit overripe/cherry cola interesting nose; soft slightly dried out/tannic very ripe/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry slight stewed fruit light toasty/oak some complex flavor; long some blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/very ripe light toasty/oak bit dried out/tannic finish; a rather overripe character but still good fruit therein; some past its peak but still some pleasure; good shape for 13 yrs old.
  7. CraneCanyonCllrs PinotNoir RRV (14.1%) 1997: Very light color w/ slight bricking; lovely smokey/black cherry/Pinot some pencilly/oak fairly complex/old Pinot nose; rather tart spicy/black cherry/PN fairly pencilly/toasty/oak some earthy/complex bit tannic/dried out flavor; long strong pencilly/toasty/oak some black cherry/RCCola/PN bit tannic/dried-out fairly complex finish; lovely mature Calif Pinot nose but starting to dry out a bit on the palate; some like older Siduri Pinots; still hanging in there and a pleasure to drink but don't wait any longer.
  8. CraneCanyonCllrs PinotNoir RRV (14.1%) 2000: Med. some cloudy color w/ slight bricking; attractive black cherry/PN/cola some pencilly/oak/smokey slight Burgundian rather complex nose; softer black cherry/PN/cola rather smokey/ pencilly/Fr.oak some complex flavor w/ light tannins; very long light/black cherry/PN/cola somewhat pencilly/ smokey finish w/ light tannins; probablly about perfect drinking now; lots of pencilly/oak character w/ good black cherry character; some like older Siduri or Dehlinger Pinots; very attractive drinking right now.
  9. OldWorldWnry RW TwoVnyds/NorthCoast (13.3%; LoneRedwoodRanch + RockinR Ranch; 28% Zin/5.5% PS/2.5% Carignane + ?4% Syrah) 2006: Dark color; strong toasty/oak strong blackberry/boysenberry/spicy/peppery/PS bit earthy/dusty lovely nose; tart bit lean/tannic/hard/blocky rather blackberry/boysenberry/peppery/PS somewhat rough/rustic Languedoc-like/tough some toasty/oak interesting flavor; long rather rough/tannic/hard/blocky strong blackberry/PS/peppery some toasty/oak finish; speaks mostly of a rough/rustic/blocky/tannic PS w/ strong toasty/oak; needs age; some like old-timey field blends of Bedrock or Buklin; interesting red that needs some time. $25.00
  10. OldWorldWnry TwoRock RW Bei du Rocchi Ranch/SonomaCoast (15.1%) 2004: Very dark color; very strong herbal/peppery/Syrah/RCCola slight bretty/rustic/earthy/dusty light toasty/oak rather complex bit rustic nose; softer some herbal/blackberry/Syrah/peppery/RCCola/root beer some toasty/oak slight bretty/rustic/old-timey flavor; very long blackberry/Syrah/peppery/RCCola/herbal very light toasty/ oak some earthy/dusty bit rustic/rough/bretty/old-timey finish w/ some tannins; needs 2-5 yrs; a very interesting rather rustic/old-timey sort of red that speaks mostly of Syrah; quite an interesting red. $28.00
  11. ElMilagro Carneros/Sonoma CS 2000: Black color; intense toasty/charred/Fr.oak intense blackcurranty/Cab/ chocolaty slight herbal/earthy beautiful Cab nose; soft some tannic/smooth intense blackcurranty/Cab/plummy/chocolaty strong toasty/charred/Fr.oak rather lush/mouthfilling smooth lovely flavor; very long/lingering intense plummy/blackcurranty/Cab/chocolaty some smooth/tannic  rather toasty/charred/Fr.oak rich/mouthfilling Finish; quite rich/lush w/ smooth/polished tannins; good structure and should go another ten yrs or more; as good as most $100+ Cabs I've had this year.
  12. OldWorldWnry Syrah Rockin'R Ranch/MendocinoCnty (13.7%; PatRodgers/RockinR Ranch/AckermanCreek/LakeMendocino) 2005: Very dark/black color; intense spicy/blackberry/Syrah bit peppery slight earthy/dusty beautiful/complex nose; tart intense blackberry/Syrah/spicy/peppery slight roasted/pungent/cracked black pepper beautiful flavor; very long very strong blackberry/spicy/ peppery/Syrah slight pungent/roasted/mocha finish w/ modest tannins; lots of peppery/spicy character very much like BillyCrawford's early McDowell Syrahs; one of the best Mendo Syrahs I've had of late; amazingly good Syrah at a great price. $25.00
  13. Vitruvian Red Syrah BennettVlly (14.2%) 2004: Very dark/black color; very strong toasty/Fr.oak
    strong blackberry/Syrah/very spicy some peppery/cracked black pepper/cold-climate rather perfumed/
    aromatic lovely nose; fairly tart strong blackberry/Syrah/very spicy rather toasty/oak somewhat
    cracked black pepper/cold-climate some tannic finish; very long some cracked black pepper/cold-
    climate strong blackberry/blueberry/Syrah rather toasty/oak somewhat tannic finish; reminds me
    a lot of the Carlisle Syrahs in style; good cold-climate/peppery character; excellent Syrah.
  14. TheScholiumProject PetiteSirah Gardens of Babylon TenbrinkVnyd/SuisunVlly (www.ScholiumWines.com; 16.8%) 2006: Black color; quite funky/mouse nest nose that clears to strong toasty/oak rather herbal/hay mow slight boysenberry/PS peppery/earthy rather strange nose; big/hard/tannic/extracted quite charred/toasty/oak slight earthy/peppery some herbal/boysenberry/PS unusual flavor; med.long big/extracted/tannic/hard strong toasty/charred/oak slight peppery/boysenberry/PS bit herbal/haymow finish; carries the alcohol rather well; a very strange/unusual PS loaded w/ charred oak; very high extraction level and not sure how this will ever come together. $34.00

And the usual stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. I, of course, followed CraneCanyon from the very start. Made by GardnerBritt. Way back in the '90's, really liked what he was doing with Zinfandel. Did a visit w/ him sometime in the mid-'90's. His son, David, was quite interested in science (or, as we do it at LosAlamos...Science) and so they made a visit to LosAlamos a yr later. I arranged a tour of the LosAlamos MesonPhysics Accelerator and some talks w/ several other scientists. As I recall, there was wine involved. Anyway, David went on to get his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at UCLA and now works at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the CO2 sequestration program. Who'd have thunk, back then, this squirrly little teenager would go on to becomne a world-class scientist!!

Anyway, a chance encounter w/ MikeOfficer led Gardner to reconnect w/ me and bring me up-to-date on CraneCanyon and kids. I'd not seen CraneCanyon in the marketplace for yrs and had been curious. Like many small wineries, business has not been booming over the last few yrs. But still in business and making small lots of things that interest him. He wanted us to see what his wines were doing, so sent us a 6-pak to try.

The older wines were still holding up fine and interesting to drink. None yet on their last legs.
The younger wines were very impressive, especially the Vitruvian/Syrah. Not generally much of a
Cabernet fan, but the ElMilagro was also impressive; one of the best I've had this year, which I
must admit is a big data base.
2. As reported by Gardner:

Vitruvian Red, Bennett Valley Syrah - This is my own small label. This is the most handmade little wine I've ever made. After putting it through the crusher-stemmer, it never again went through any electric tool. I picked all of the grapes myself from 5 different vineyards in 7 different pickings. All from Bennett Valley. After each fermentation, I chose a barrel for that lot according to its characteristics. All new French oak, 5 barrels. 125 cases. Blended with 2% cabernet from Sonoma Mountain appellation. Alcohol at 14.1%. Created a new label for it. Decant and let breathe an hour if possible.

2000 El Milagro  Carneros Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon - This is the bottle with only the bright red wax seal, nothing else. It may be my favorite wine of the bunch. I did only a large puncheon barrel (90 gallons) of this wine. Great grapes from a historical old vine lot in Buena Vista's old vineyard. I
was close friends with the COO, and he got me half a ton of primo stuff. Super handmade, great new French oak barrel, bottled by hand. It is really gorgeous now. I hesitate for you to put it in a tasting. You should just have it with your lady and a really good dinner. This is the bottle I had the most difficulty parting with, but I wanted you to taste it. Warning- this is not some brooding monster of a wine. It is a seductive velvet beauty that goes down so easily it'll be gone before you know what happened. Decant and let breathe an hour, then consume. And in the middle of it all, take a moment to really study the nose.
3. OldWorldWnry: This was a new wnry for me run by DarekTrowbridge, whose grandpa was
LinoMartinelli, long of the RRV. I would often see Darek's comments on SteveHeimoff's blog, finally took a look at his Site, seemed interesting in what he was doing, so ordered a mixed half case to try. There was someting nagging me in the back of my mind about the name when I realized I'd had some of his wines he'd made for private label for RyanSciar's CellarRat shop back in KansasCity and remember Ryan raving about Darek.

I, across the board, liked the wines. The whites had a bit of oxidative character to them that reminded me of PaxMahle's. Would guess that they were made w/ skin contact in the style of an orange wines. The reds had a sort of old-timey quality to them some like the early Rafanellis. The Syrah was one of the best Mendo Syrahs I've had in quite awhile; very much like the early McDowell Syrahs, back when Billy was making very impressive wines.
4. Scholium: This is cutting-edge/pushing-the-envelope/eccentric wines made by AbeSchoener.
As usual, they are always an adventure to taste. Certainly require you to think outside the box
when you try them. I always enjoy the opportunity to try them, but they sometimes leave me
shaking my head in puzzlement at what Abe is trying to say to me.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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