1. WrothamClone: This is a vine that was discovered in the '50's growing in Wrotham, England along a brick wall. The vine age was estimated to be 200 yrs old. It looked a lot like PinotMeunier, but was resistant to downey mildew. No one knows how this vine got there. It was speculated that it was from vine brought into England by the Romans over 2,000 yrs ago (no...I was not there to take notes!!) and over the centuries it adapted to the English climate (wet...they tell me) and developed a resistance to downey mildew. Interesting details here: www.richardgrantwine.com/wrotham-story.html In the '80's, DickPeterson, a Calif icon, brought cuttings of it to Calif and planted it in his 2 acre vnyd. He makes both this still wine and a sparkling wine from it. Later DNA analysis has shown the vine to be identical to PinotNoir. I thought it was quite a lovely & interesting wine made in sort of an old-timey style.
2. Vitis Allobrogica: Vienne was once the capitol of Allobrogia and there was a highly-regarded vnyd in Seyssuel that made a legendary wine. This would be Syrah. At one time, there was speculation that Syrah was not one of the European vitis vinifera varieties, but of a different species of grape. But DNA analysis destroyed that myth and it was identified as a Duerza X MondeuseBlanche cross that evolved up in the Savoie.
3. KevinHamel: Worked for a number of yrs for DarrellCorti in the wine department. He then went on to make wine at PrestonFamilyVnyds, and then was winemaker at PelligriniFamilyVnyds for a few yrs. Where he is now, I don't know. In the late '90's, he made some pretty exceptional Syrahs, mostly from TimbervineRanch grapes. There is also a HamelFamily wnry in the area but they are, as best I know, not related to KevinHamel.
The original Hamel Syrahs were priced in the low $30's. And very good Syrahs and fairly priced. The '00 showed up at SunflowerMarket in SantaFe about 2 yrs ago at a stupid/silly price of $3.99. Some in my group loaded up on it. Obviously being dumped by the distributor. I had 4-5 of them over the yrs and they were very/very variable. Some were so bretty as to be undrinkable. Others were just sort of funky & unclean. This btl we had was easily the best btl I've had since the wine was dumped.
The two younger Hamel wines were two that DarrellCorti featured in his latest newsletter. They were pretty typical of the wines that Darrell likes...interesting/drinkable wines at a good price.
4. JCCllrs: This is, of course, JeffCohn. I have, of course, followed Jeff from the very start, from his early days w/ KentRosenblum. Located in lower JackLondonSquare of Oakland. Mostly, I was attracted to his Syrahs, but have pretty much liked everything he makes. Many of his early reds were a bit over-the-top, quite a lot of charred oak, and somewhat alcoholic. I sense that he's back off a bit on the oak and the alcohol in recent yrs. His blends sometimes mystify me and seem a bit muddled. He makes Syrah from Ventana that is an excellent example of Calif cold-climate Syrah and one of his most interesting reds.
This was the most of Jeff's Zins that I've had in one setting. I was expecting them to be pretty
monolithic in character and speak mostly of JC winemaking. They were actually quite diverse in character... maybe even expressive of the terroir. He should get more recognition for his Zins than he does. They're as good as any being made in Calif.
5. Tensley: I have, of course, followed JoeyTensley from the very start...from his early days as asst winemaker at FessParker. I've been such a slacker in following his wines over the last few yrs. This was SteveCostigan's mystery wine. Every time Steve brings another Tensley, I kick myself for not being more religous in following Joey's wines.