Home | Wine Reviews | Wine Journals | Updates

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.

Idle Hour Wines - October 17, 2012

We tried this week (10/17/12) the current IdleHour Wines:

  1. IdleHour Viognier SimpsonVnyd/MaderaCnty (14.5%; www.IdleHourWinery.com) Oakhurst 2008: Med.light gold color; strong ripe/peach/Viog/pear some toasty/oak slight nutty/mature Rhonish very attractive   nose; soft lovely very ripe/peach/Viog/pear some toasty/oak slight nutty/mature Condrieu slight   candied/peppermint ribbon candy flavor; very long ripe/peach/Viog some toasty/oak slight nutty/mature   Rhone finish; lots of very ripe peach character and a bit soft w/ noticible oak but developing some   of that interesting nutty character of an older Condrieu; very attractive Viognier. $22.00
  2. IdleHour Roussanne LoveRanchVnyd/Coarsegold/MaderaCnty (14.8%) 2009: Med.light gold color; perfumed/fragrant ripe/honeyed/honeysuckle/Rouss almost GWT-like/floral/hair oil slight oak/smokey bit tangy/grapefruity/metallic quite aromatic nose; soft quite lush/rich/ripe honeyed/honeysuckle/Rouss slight tangy/grapefruity some perfumed talc/hair oil/GWT-like/floral flavor; long honeyed/honeysuckle/ Rouss slight herbal/grapefruity/ metallic very perfumed/perfumed talc finish; unusually fragrant for Roussanne; a bit on the ripe/soft side but nicely done Roussanne at a good price. $22.00
  3. IdleHour VinBlanc LoveRanchVnyd/MaderaCnty (60% Roussanne/40% Viognier; 14.4%) 2010: Med.gold color; lovely classic Roussanne/honeyed/honeysuckle light floral/perfumed talc/baked apple/spicy very fragrant nose; soft very strong ripe/honeyed/honeysuckle/classic Rouss some candied/cotton candy bit perfumed talc/spicy quite aromatic flavor; long/lingering soft slight toasty/oak very strong ripe/honeyed/honeysuckle/Rouss slight candied/cotton candy very fragrant/perfumed finish; almost a DollyParton rendition of Roussanne; a bit on the soft side but terrific perfume. $22.00
  4. IdleHour CuveeBlanc (56% Viog/44% Roussanne; 14.1%) 2010: Med.light gold color; slight toasty/oak very fragrant/ripe peach/Viog/floral/pear slight honeyed/Rouss very fragrant/floral/ aromatic/spicy nose; soft rich/lush ripe/peachy/Viog slight honeysuckle/Rouss quite floral/perfumed flavor w/ very slight oak; long honeyed/floral/Viog/ripe/peachy/peach pie bit spicy very perfumed/aromatic finish; a very fragrant/aromatic white that speaks mostly of Viog; alcohol is in check and it avoids straying over the line into DollyParton Viognier territory. Great price at $22.00
  5. IdleHour PinotNoir LuciaHighlandsVnyd/SLH (Clone 667; 14.3%) 2010: Med.color; beautiful/aromatic black cherry/PN slight herbal/peppery/SLH strong tobaccoy/smokey/pungent/oak quite complex nose; tart bright/   black cherry/PN/black cherry cola slight herbal/peppery strong tobaccoy/smokey/oak quite spicy lovely   flavor; very long black cherry/PN/black cherry cola strong tobaccoy/smokey/oak finish w/ modest tannins; doesn't have that tutti-fruiti character of some SLH Pinots and lots of deep black cherry character; the   smokey/oak character is in check and gives it a slightly Burgundian character; you can see Josh there in   the background nodding his approval; fairly priced at $34.00.
  6. IdleHour Tempranillo HeringerEstateVnyd/Clarksburg (14.5%) 2009: Dark color; very strong black cherry/ cherry/chocolate covered cherries/CherryMash slight toasty/vanilla/oak slight earthy/loamy quite attractive   nose; soft strong cherry/chocolate covered cherries/bright/Temp slight toasty/smokey/oak flavor w/ light   tannins; very long cherry/chocolate covered cherries/bright/Temp light earthy/spicy slight vanilla/toasty/   oak finish w/ light tannins; a bit on the soft side and lacking structure and would not be mistaken for a   Rioja but quite an attractive and pretty Temp at a very fair price. $24.00
  7. IdleHour CuveeRouge LoveRanchVnyd/MaderaCnty (57% Mourv/43% Syrah; 14.6%) 2009: Dark color; strong plummy/ blackberry/mushroomy slight licorice/earthy/spicy/cinammon slight alcoholic attractive nose; slightly tart strong plummy/licorice/blackberry/earthy some spicy/cinammon slightly hot/ alcoholic flavor w/ light tannins; long bit tart strong plummy/Mourv/blackberry some spicy/cinammon/ licorice/pungent finish w/ light tannins; a thoroughly pleasant CdR-level kind of red. $26.00
  8. IdleHour VinRouge (52% CS from SturnGardnerVnyd/Maripose; 48% CabFranc from SilvaspoonsVnyd/Lodi; 14.5%) 2009: Dark color; very strong blackcurranty/Cab bit herbal/leafy/tea very light toasty/oak pretty classic CalifCab nose; soft rather strong/blackcurranty/Cab/plummy some herbal/leafy/tea light toasty/oak classic CalifCab flavor w/ modest tannins; very long classic Cab/blackcurranty/plummy slight peppery/spicy light toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; can use several more yrs; very good value at $24.00.
  9. IdleHour Syrah LoveRanchVnyd/MaderaCnty (14.6%) 2009: Dark color; strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah very spicy/cinammon/cloves slight peppery/plummy/chocolaty/licorice light smokey/pungent/oak very attractive Syrah nose; bit soft rich/lush strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry bit chocolaty/plummy light smokey/oak slight tannic/structured bit minty/menthol/spicy/savory flavor; very long soft strong blackberry/Syrah/ boysenberry light plummy/chocolaty/licorice light smokey/oak balanced/structured/some tannic menthol/savory/ spicy finish; no signs of any alcoholic heat; a lovely balanced Syrah that can use a few more yrs. Reminds me a lot of many WashState Syrahs, a bit of some Paso Syrahs. Very fairly priced at $24.00
  10. IdleHour Syrah OwlBoxBlock/LoveRanchVnyd/MaderaCnty (14.2%) 2010: Dark color; beautiful blackberry/Syrah/ spicy some smokey/peppery/roasted/slight Rhonish/Hermitage quite perfumed/spicy/aromatic complex nose; slightly tart rich/lush strong blackberry/Syrah/spicy some smokey/roasted/pungent/earthy/Rhonish slight peppery light pungent/smokey/oak flavor w/ some tannins; very long/lingering strong blackberry/Syrah/spicy light roasted/ pungent/licorice light smokey/toasty/oak rather spicy/perfumed/earthy finish w/ some tannins; needs 2-6 yrs yet; a really lovely slightly Rhonish Syrah that reminds me some of the Cabots, some of a toned-down Cayuse; a great price at $24.00
  11. IdleHour TourigaNacional SimpsonVnyd/MaderaCnty (13.8%) 2008: Med.light color; very strong toasty/charred/ oak/smokey bit earthy/chocolaty/herbal rather bright raspberry/cherry/perfumed slight earthy/mushroomy/spicy quite interesting nose; soft light earthy/spicy some raspberry/cherry/chocolaty strong toasty/charred/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; long strong toasty/charred/burnt/oak bright cherry/raspberry/chocolate some earthy/ spicy/mushroomy finish w/ light tannins; most Calif wineries make Touriga in a big/extracted/dry Port style; this is not that...a much more lighter/perfumed/exotic rendition of Touriga that resembles some the lighter reds of the Dao or Alentejo wines; quite exotic & interesting Touriga at a great price. $16.00
  12. IdleHour PetiteSirah HeringerEstateVnyd/Clarksburg (14.4%) 2010: Very black color; very intense
    blackberry/PS/blueberry/huge fruit/boysenberry light vanilla/toasty/oak nose; soft bit fat huge fruit/
    blackberry/boysenberry/PS/jammy fairly tannic light toasty/vanilla/oak flavor; long intense boysenberry/
    blackberry/PS/jammy light vanilla/oak finish w/ strong tannins; a big/mouthfilling/rich/lush PS that needs
    some 2-5 yrs of age but lack of acid may hurt for the long haul; easily the best wine I've ever had from the Clarksburg Delta. $24.00
  13. BonnyDoon Recioto of Barbera Ca'delSoloVnyd/MontereyCnty (14.5%; RS: 7.2%) 2004: Black color w/ slight bricking;beautiful intense chocolaty/boysenberry/framboise/huge fruit/intense late harvesty/ very ripe rather alcoholic very perfumey nose; tart very intense jammy/blackberry/boysenberry/framboise huge fruit chocolaty bit alcoholic some tannic rather sweet flavor; very long/lingering very intense/jammy/very ripe/ blackberry/framboise/boysenberry/chocolaty very sweet flavor; much like a Ridge Zin Essence flavored w/ boysenberry syrup; hugely intense absolutely delicious wine. $15.00/500ml

And the usual gibberish from the BloodyPulpit:

1. IdleHour: So who the heck is IdleHour and why are they making such good wines? AnnaMarie dos Remedios is the mind-behind.

A few weeks ago, Heimhoff had a stupid post on his blog expressing his utter disdain for Calif Syrah. One of the responders who gave a very cogent/reasoned rebuttal to his inanities was AnnaMarie, who indetified herself as winemaker, IdleHour. Who be that wnry..never heer'd of it??? Took a look at her WebSite (www.IdleHourWinery.com) and it looked interesting. So ordered a mixed case to try w/ my group. These are those wines.

AnnaMarie was the publisher of the Hollister Pinnacle newspaper. Which happens to be not far from MtHarlan. And JoshJensen/Calera. She eventually got drawn into wine and bitten by the bug. With Josh as her mentor, she started Panoche Valley Vineyards there. She then moved to Oakhurst (Sierra foothills about 15 miles south of the SouthEntrance to Yosemite), took over the Queen's Inn B&B & wine bar, and relocated her wnry to Oakhurst. If you're headed to Yosemite, it's right there on the path. If you're a wine geek touring in Calif, it's way to hell & gone off the beaten track.

In all honesty, I went into this tasting w/ pretty low expectations; expecting the wines to be pleasant, maybe a bit on the amateurish side, but just that. I've been down that same/dismal road too many times before. Other than the SLH Pinot, the grapes were not being sourced from particularly prestigious areas. Madera/ Coarsegold/Lodi/Clarksburg/Mariposa??? Not exactly the hotbeds of Calif's most prestigious wines.

So...what did I really like? The two '10 blancs were delicious and very fairly priced. My favorite of
the whites was the VinBlanc for its classic Roussanne character. Of the reds, I very much liked the Pinot and the OwlBox Syrah. Both very/very well-made, very interesting/nuanced and balanced wines. The CuveeRouge was the least interesting wine to me. It was pleasant enough but just seemed a bit unfocused. With my group, the PS was the huge hit. A very black/extracted wine but the low acidity makes me wonder about its long-term ageability. However, sometimes great balance can trump lack of structure, so we will have to see.

So....did I see JoshJensen's guiding hand lurking in the background? Not really, because he doesn't make most of those varietals. I didn't really see a strong resemblance in their Pinots. AnnaMarie's had a bit more bright, slightly herbal, fruit and didn't have the deep base notes I see in Josh's Pinots.

So....what did I really think of the IdleHour wines?? The greatest thing since sliced bread??? Well... probably not. Stunning/profound wines that'll score big points in Monktown?? Probably not...it'll be yrs afore Galloni discovers these wines...if ever. But, on the whole, I was very/very impressed w/ these wines from a producer I'd never heard of. Usually/oftentimes these unknown producers are unknown for a reason... the wines are not very good. That's a fur piece from being the case for IdleHour.

These are not big/bombastic/extracted/in-your-face wines that will play well w/ Laube/Parker/Galloni and the point whores looking for the next big thing. These are very well-made/balanced/nuanced wines that speak strongly of their varietal character and...maybe...of their terrior...which I wouldn't be able to recognize if'n it hit me over the head. The alcohols and the oak are held in check. These are wines that offer up very good drinking at extremely fair prices. If I would fault these wines for anything, they (mostly) seemed to have a certain softness on the palate that characterizes high pH wines...though the actually pH's don't seem to support that. I don't sense that these wines are very long lived wines, but, like many of the Ridge Zins, their impeccable balance may carry them out further in time than one would expect. They reminded me a lot of Aimée Sunseri's NewClairvaux wines, but with a bit more pizzazz. Some of the very good Bokisch wines out of Lodi, a bit of AdamWebb's/Odisea wines from Lodi, and a bit of some of MattRorick's/ForlornHope wines from the SierraFoothills. That's all pretty good company.

So...I guess IdleHour is my wine discovery of the year. That's my story & I'm stickin' to it.
2. BonnyDoon: This is a wine I bought some 5-6 yrs ago from BonnyDoon. I wanted something to have w/ my chocolate brownies I served, so here it is. My sense is that it was not made from grapes dried on mats like a ReciotoValpolicella, but simply some Barbera grapes left on the vine well after harvest. Whatever....it was an absolutely delicious dessert wine. Friggin' BonnyDoon wines.....after having one boring BonnyDoon wine after another...I hit something like this and get sucked back in to Randall's Universe once more.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


Home | Wine Reviews | Wine Journals | Updates

Copyright © 1993 - 2012, Tom Hill- All rights reserved
No original material may be reproduced without written consent
Mail & Comments
- Grape-Nutz
Updated 4.01.12