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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.

Some Older Misc Wines - February 16, 2014

We tasted yesterday (2/16/14):

  1. Mayacamas Calif Mtn Zin (15%) 1973: Med.light color w/ some browning; rather cedary/pencilly/old Zin fairly earthy/loamy/mushroomy/truffly slight menthol bit fumey/alcoholic complex nose; tart dried-out/ astringent cedary/pencilly/old Zin tangy dried out rather earthy/loamy/mushroomy no fruit flavor; short same finish; quite interesting old Zin nose but not much left on the palate. $26.00
  2. LyttonSprings Zin SonomaCnty (14.4%) 1987: Totally shot/corked/TCA-laden wine. $10.00
  3. Callaway PetiteSirah Temmecula (13.5%) 1974: Med.dark color w/ some bricking; very exotic herbal/rosemary slight peppery/PS bit earthy/mushroomy/smokey somewhat delicate very complex nose w/ no oxidation whatsoever; soft rather cedary/pencilly/oldRed some smokey/mushroomy bit earthy/dusty slight peppery/loamy quite complex flavor w/ soft/gentle/smooth tannins; long slight herbal/rosemary/spicy some earthy/dusty/mushroomy/loamy bit smokey slight peppery/PS some pencilly/cedary/oldRed very complex finish w/ delicate/smooth tannins; an elegant/quiet/gentle/complex old wine that still offer up much pleasure. Blair's wine.
  4. Antinori Tignanello (12.5%) Mercatale Val di Pesa 1983: Med.dark color w/ some bricking; rather earthy/dusty slight Chianti/cherry/smokey some pencilly/cedary bit complex nose; fairly tart smooth/velvety strong pungent/pencilly/dusty/smokey some oldRed/cedary/pencilly complex flavor w/ a bit of a tannic/ drying/astringent bite; med.long rather earthy/dusty pencilly/cedary/oldRed slight cherry/ smokey/ oldChianti some complex finish w/ some drying/astringent tannins; rather interesting oldChianti nose but drying out on the palate. Steve's wine.
  5. Mayacamas Zin LateHrvst (17%) 1978: Light quite browning color; rather alcoholic/fumey strong raisened/pruney/overripe somewhat earthy/smokey/dusty somewhat complex nose; soft rather sweet very raisened/pruney/overripe/late harvesty bit alcoholic slight pencilly/cedary/oldZin flavor w/ light/ smooth tannins; med.long fairly sweet somewhat alcoholic/hot very raisened/pruney/overripe/late harvesty bit earthy/dusty finish; still alive and not drying out but dominated by the overripe/ raisened/pruney flavors. $18.00
  6. Ch. de Fargues LurSaluces AC: Sauternes (11%-14%) 1976: Deep golden color w/ no browning; very intense botrytis/peachy/apricotty beautiful old Sauternes/complex slight dusty nose; tart slightly sweet very strong botrytis/peachy/apricotty caramel/butterscotchy slight toasty/cedary very complex old-Sauternes nose; very long/lingering strong botrytis/peachy/apricotty slight earthy/dusty slightly sweet light caramel/butterscotch slight cedary/pencilly/tobaccoy very complex old-Sauternes; a stunning example of an old Sauternes tat'll live another 20 yrs or more. Blair's wine. $23.00

And a wee BloodyPulpit:

1. MayacamasZin: This '73, which had lain in my cellar since 1975, had over 1/4'th the bottle ullaged away. Should have been totally gone, but it was not. Tasted pretty much about where I thought it would be; still clinging to life, still having some interesting things to offer, but getting pretty frail. I've had btls that have been more than half ullaged away that have still some life in them. When I see some folks sweating bullets because some favorite wine has ullaged away a half inch down to the bottom of the neck and have their knickers in a knot because they're worried it will have turned to vinegar, it always makes me chuckle.

In 1968, Mayacamas made one of the first (along w/ Ridge & DavidBruce) LateHrvst Zins in Calif, using Napa grapes that were obviously harvested pretty ripe. It had little, if any, RS. When it was released in 1970, it was quite a sensation amongst the wine critics of the time. Parker gave it an 86, the highest score to date for a Calif Zin, as I recall.

They did not make another LateHrvst Zin until 1972, going up into AmadorCnty and using Ed&Kay Baldinelli's old-vine grapes (a vnyd now owned by BillEaston). The '73, though over 15%, was not labeled LateHrvst because it fermented out dry. I believe the '78, same grape source, was the last Mayacamas LateHrvst.
2. Callaway: ElyCallaway was the founder of BurlingtonIndustries, an early textiles giant, until he retired. He then went on to found CallawayWnry in Temecula. Ely did his homework and realized that Temecula, betwixt LosAngeles and SanDiego, was fairly cool for being that far South in Calif because of the cooling breezes thru the TemeculaGap.

He grew CheninBlanc/SauvBlanc/Chard for whites and PetiteSirah/CabSauv/Zin for the reds. His first winemaker was KarlWerner, who left to go establish RennasianceVnyds up in the Sierras. He was followed by TerryClancy, who raised the wines to a higher level until it was sold to Hiram-Walker. It's been downhill for Temecula ever since, probably/hopefully bottoming out w/ the proliferation of "couger juice".

Karl's winemaking called for the use of large German oak barrels, back in the '70's, which gave the reds a rather unusual character, unlike the Fr.oak that was then in vogue. The wines were acknowledged to be well-made and rather unique, but never seemed to get much traction in the marketplace.

The reds were always black as the ace-of-spades and pretty extracted and seemed destined for a very long life. This, their innaugral PS release, clearly indicates such. At nearly 40 yrs of age, it was still quite a pleasure to drink; a gentle/quiet old lady sitting off in the corner regaling people w/ her stories.
3. John: JohnBalagna was one of my original members of my wine group back in 1973. He went on to establish his own wnry here in WhiteRock (maker of the LaBombaGrande wine w/ the Trinity-shot mushroom cloud on the label, as featured in Newsweek magazine) until he closed it down some 10 yrs ago.

John's getting pretty frail at 93 and cannot come to my tastings anymore, but still enjoys a glass of wine ("DagoRed" he calls it) w/ every dinner. So some of us take the tasting to John and convene periodically at his home to taste a few oldies from our cellars. This was one such tasting.
4. LyttonSprings: This wine (alas, corked) was one of the first LyttonSpringsWnry Zins; under the ownership of DickSherwin (http://www.gangofpour.com/homage/reflection/sherwin.html). He was the publisher of WineWorld magazine, along w/ his wife, DeeSindt. The ValleyVista first rose to fame when Ridge produced their first LS Zin in 1972. Dick continued to sell to Ridge for a number of yrs, but founded his own wnry there on the property about 1977 os so.

Ridge continued to make LS Zin until they finally bought the property from Dick in 1991. They continued making a (non-Ridge) LS Zin for a few yrs because the slightly bretty/funky Zin had a definite following. But finally they abandoned that market.


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