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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.

A Stroll Down Limerick Lane - December 11, 2013

Last night (12/11/13) we took A Stroll Down Limerick Lane:

  1. MariettaCllrs Zin SonomaCnty (TW) Healdsburg 1983: Med.light color w/ much bricking; rather cedary/pencilly/oldZin slight raspberry/Zin/spicy somewhat tired nose; tart/tangy/metallic/dried out/tired slight raspberry/Zin flavor w/ light/drying tannins; med.long tart/tangy/metallic rather oldZin/cedary/pencilly very slight raspberry/Zin finish w/ light/dried out tannins; on the tired/dried out side but still a bit of Zin fruit hiding in there; more an intellectual pleasure than anything. $6.95
  2. Marietta OldVineRed Calif RW Lot #60 (Since 1978; Mostly Zin of Sonoma&Mendo Cnty; 13.5%;
    www.MariettaCellars.com) Chris/Jake/Scot, Geyserville NV: Med.dark color; strong Zin/spicy/raspberry bit
    vanilla/Am.oak strong cracked black pepper bit earthy slight Mendo/tomatoey rather rich/rustic nose; tart
    rich/rustic/earthy some vanilla/oak strong raspberry/Zin/spicy bit cracked black pepper some rough very
    tasty/Zin flavor w/ light tannins; med.long earthy/rustic spicy/Zin/raspberry bit peppery/PS light vanilla/
    Am.oak finish w/ light tannins; a rustic/lip-smacking/old-timey Zin at a great price. $13.00
  3. Marietta AngeliCuvee AlexVlly (Zin/PS/Carignane; Father: Chris, Sons: Jake/Scot/Sam; 15.4%) 2010: Very dark color; light toasty/oak quite spicy/raspberry/Zin/licorice very spicy slight earthy/dusty some complex nose; tart/rich/lush strong Zin/raspberry/blackberry/high-toned/licorice very spicy light toasty/oak structured/polished flavor w/ some lean/hard tannins; very long bit tart/tangy/grapefruity bright/raspberry/Zin/very spicy light toasty/oak structured/polished flavor w/ some hard/grippy tannins; needs several yrs and should go out ten yrs or more; lost of high-toned Zin character and very structured; lovely Zin at a more than fair price. $26.00
  4. LimerickLane PinotNoir Estate/RRV (13.5%) 2011: Med.light color; some toasty/oak strong cherry/black cherry/
    PN slight dusty bit smokey/pungent rather attractive/pretty nose; bit tart bright/cherry/PN/black cherry
    light smokey/toasty/oak flavor w/ light/smooth tannins; med.long bit tart/tangy bright/cherry/PN/black
    cherry cola light toasty/smokey/oak finish w/ light/smooth tannins; a bit on the simple side but a rather
    pretty/drinkable Pinot; bit pricey at $43.00 (SFW&S)
  5. LimerickLane Zin RRV/SonomaCnty (15.1%) 2011: Dark color; strong very spicy blackberry/Zin/licorice rather dusty/OV fairly intense light toasty/oak fairly complex nose; bit tart/tangy rich/intense very strong
    blackberry/black cherry/RRV Zin very spicy light toasty/oak rather dusty/OV quite balanced/structured
    flavor w/ modest/smooth tannins; very long very spicy strong blackberry/black cherry/Zin light toasty/oak
    rather dusty/OV structured finish w/ modest tannins; needs a few yrs and will probably go out 10 yrs or
    more; a classic RRV old-vine Zin at a very fair price. $32.00
  6. LimerickLane Zin 1910 Block/RRV/SonomaCnty (103 yr old vines; 15.4%; 190 cs) 2011: Dark color; strong very spicy blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/licorice bit peppery/black cherry cola light toasty/oak quite
    dusty/OV complex nose; very tart very strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/very spicy rather peppery/licorice/pungent quite dusty/OV some toasty/oak quite complex flavor w/ fair tannins; very long/lingering incredibly spicy intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/peppery/licorice/pungent quite dusty/OV some toasty/oak complex finish w/ fair/smooth tannins; a terrific example of an OV Zin. $48.00
  7. LimerickLane Zin RockyKnoll/RRV/SonomaCnty (+ Mourvedre/PS; 15.3%; 190 cs) 2011: Dark color; less spicy more plummy/blackberry/Zin/chocolaty/blueberry bit alcoholic rather dusty/OV bit riper lovely nose; softer some spicy rather dusty/OV strong plummy/blackberry/Zin/blueberry/chocolaty light toasty/oak complex flavor w/ some hard tannins; very long dusty/OV ripe/plummy/blackberry/Zin/ blueberry/spicy light toasty/oak finish w/ ample/hard tannins; seems riper and not as spicy and a bit morew hard/angular tannins than the 1910 but still a great example of OV Zin. $45.00
  8. LimerickLane 1023 50% Zin/45% Syrah/5% Grenache RRV/SonomaCnty (14.8%; 90 cs) 2011: Dark color; some spicy/Zin/blackberry/boysenberry bit earthy/dusty light toasty/oak slight plummy/peppery quite attractive/complex nose; soft bit lean/hard/tight some spicy strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zin light earthy/dusty/OV light toasty/oak some complex structured flavor w/ ample/hard tannins; long some spicy/Zin/blackberry/boysenberry light earthy/dusty slight peppery/plummy light toasty/oak finish w/ ample/hard tannins; loads of powerful Zin fruit and not as well delineated as the Zins; speaks more of Zin than Syrah; a big/powerful wine that doesn't seem worth the $ premium but may very well evolve into something outstanding. $56.00
  9. LimerickLane Syrah(63%)/Grenache(37%) RRV/SonomaCnty (14.5%; www.LimerickLaneWines.com) 2011: Dark color;very strong blackberry/Syrah/licorice slight strawberry/Grenache/floral bit dusty/earthy light toasty/oak slight spicy/peppery very classic Syrah nose; soft very strong blackberry/Syrah/strawberry/floral slight earthy/peppery/spicy light toasty/oak flavor w/ modest/smooth tannins; very long strong blackberry/blueberry/Syrah slight floral/strawberry/Grenache light peppery/spicy light toasty/oak finish w/ modest/smooth tannins; a solid/attractive/mainstream Sonoma Syrah at a fair price. $36.00
  10. LimerickLane Syrah HeadPruned Block RRV/SonomaCnty (14.0%; 150 cs) 2011: Dark color; very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah bit more spicy/peppery light smokey/toasty/oak bit more complex lovely Syrah nose; bit more tannic/hard/structured very strong blackberry/blueberry/Syrah some spicy/peppery slight earthy/dusty light toasty/smokey/oak bit complex flavor w/ ample/hard tannins; very long very strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/ripe some peppery/spicy/cold-climate light smokey/toasty/ oak bit complex finish w/ ample/hard tannins; loads of Syrah character and needs some 3-6 yrs of age; very well-done Syrah. $44.00
  11. LimerickLane HailMary 92% Syrah/8% Grenache RRV/SonomaCnty (14.3%; 100% whole cluster; 180 cs) 2011: Very dark color; strong black pepper/blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/spicy slight Rhonish/roasted/espresso slight floral/perfumed/violets rather complex nose; tart bit hard/tannic strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry some spicy/peppery/cold-climate light toasty/oak some Rhonish/espresso/roasted/violets complex flavor w/some hard tannins; very long/lingering very strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/spicy slight peppery/earthy some Rhonish/roasted/coffee/espresso/pungent light toasty/oak finish w/ some hard tannins; needs 3-8 yrs of age yet; not as much Rhonish character I would expect from 100% whole-cluster, like you get from WindGap or Neyers or Bedrock, but certainly lifts the complexity of the wine; my favorite of the LL Syrahs; a wonderful example of RRV Syrah. $48.00
  12. Cedarville {Syrah} ElDorado (EG; 13.5%) 2011: Med.color; rather earthy/mushroomy/ElDorado light blackberry/Syrah/licorice slight smokey/oak/Rhonish lightish/mature nose; soft some earthy/mushroomy light blackberry/Syrah bit smokey/Rhonish flavor w/ light tannins; med.long light blackberry/Syrah bit Rhonish/smokey some earthy/mushroomy/ElDorado finish w/ light tannins; a pleasant/smooth/balanced/ understated Syrah that speaks mostly of ElDorado terroir. $25.00
  13. Novy Syrah SantaLuciaHighlands (14.5%) 2005: Very dark color; very strong roasted/smokey/espresso/Rhonish strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/bit herbal/peppery strong toasty/smokey/oak quite complex nose; soft bigrich/lush herbal/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/ripe some roasted/coffee/Rhonish/smokey rather toasty/charred/oak flavor w/ light/smooth tannins; very long/lingering soft/rich/lush/textured strong herbal/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some Rhonish/smokey/espresso/peppery complex finish w/ light/smooth tannins; wonderful drinking and probably at its peak and should go another 3-5 yrs; a classic
    SLH Syrah. $18.00

And the usual bloviations from the BloodyPulpit:

1. LimerickLane: I have, of course, followed LLVnyds from the very start when MikeCollins bought the
property way back when. The early Zins he made were classic RRV Zins and some of my favorites. At
some point along the way, I just sort of lost track of LL and seldom tried their wines.
In 2009, Mike sold the property & wines to the Bilbros (dad Chris; sons Jake & Scot, not sure of Sam's
involvment) of MariettaCllrs fame. Somewhere along that time, they also bought the old GibsonRanch up in McDowellVlly in MendoCnty. That vnyd is, too, like Collins, a national treasure. These 2011 wines
are the first LL wines made under the Bilbro regime.
The LimerickLane refers to the road, south of Healdsburg, on which the CollinsVnyd & wnry is located.
It is not Limerick...as in "There once was a man from Nantucket...". The Limerick refers to the lime kilns
that once were in that area. But, as best I can tell, most people pronounce it as "limmerick", not
"lime rick". I think it would be a neat idea for LL to have a contest to come up w/ the best limerick
for the wnry. Just a thought.

I've known Chris & Jake for a good many yrs, mostly from their travels to NM for the Taos WWF, where
they've been known to cut a curve or two on Al'sRun. Chris/Jake/Scot will be here next month for the
2014 TWWF and will be doing a dinner at RestaurantMartin in SantaFe the Tues before (Jan 28). Jake wanted our group to try their new releases afore so sent me a selection of samples.

The Zins were very/very impressive. They had a brisk acidity to them you don't get very often in
RRV Zins. They are, IMHO, Zins that can stand up to the best in Sonoma (Bedrock/Carlisle/Bucklin/
Ravenswood...any of them). Stylistically, the probably resemble WillBucklin's more than anything.
All three show some of the strongest dusty/OV character I've seen in old-vine Zin. For my $$'s, the
regular LL Zin is what I'll be buying, but the other two are more profound Zins and, maybe, worth the
extra $'s.

The Syrahs also impressed me. Very good/solid/interesting/well-made Syrahs that I think are worth
buying. They strike me a lot like Bedrock Syrahs; very good but not quite of the stature of profundity
that they're getting from their Zins and red blends. I don't know what the age of the Syrah vines are
in the CollinsVnyd, but that may be the reason. For me, MikeOfficer's Syrahs are my benchmark for RRV.

Anyway, it was fun to take a stroll down LimerickLane w/ these wines. It's clear to me that Jake &
Scot have lifted LL back into the big-leagues of RRV reds.
2. These LL wines were are from the '11 vintage, a vintage that has been widely trashed for showing
a lot of mold & rot problems from the rains during harvest by some wine critics. I was particularly
looking for this sort of problems in the wines. There were no such signs. Whatever Jake & Scot did
to deal w/ those problems of the '11 vintage, they did it very well. If this is what they can do in
a (supposedly) miserable vintage like '11, then I can hardly wait their '12's.
3. One of the things that MikeCollins did at LL some 10-15 yrs ago was to plant Furmint, the grape
of Hungary's Tokaji. Probably w/ the intent to create a Tokaji-style sweet wine. Whether he ever
did such, I've not seen any. The two that I've tasted were dry wines, some yrs ago. They reminded
me of some of the dry Furmints that come from Tokaji today. It took the Hungarians a while to figure
out how good dry Furmint can be. It's not clear what Jake & Scot will be doing w/ the Furmint...but
I've made it clear to Jake there will be hell to pay if they pull those vines. Old-vine Calif Furmint?
The possibilities boggle the mind.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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