Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases)

Earlier (ok… much earlier) this year, I had the opportunity to hit up an in-person, sit-down tasting media dinner (the idea of which seemed almost too quaint to even contemplate during COVID) with Rodney Strong‘s Director of Communications Chris O’Gormon and head of winemaking Justin Seidenfeld. I’ve now known these guys for a long time, so it was an easy (and vaccinated/boosted) call to jump at the invite.

Despite having a lengthy history with the Rodney Strong brand (who longtime 1WD readers will recall were pretty much at ground zero of the whole online wine influencer thing), they continue to surprise me. Every time I think that I have them pegged stylistically, they more or less prove me wrong. What they are truly consistent about these days is offering consistently rich, very high quality Sonoma action for the money.

RS recently expanded Seidenfeld’s role, placing him in charge of oversight of the vineyards, and asking him to do a soup-to-nuts audit of their winemaking and winegrowing practices. Seidenfeld is opinionated, thorough, and decisive, and that’s resulted in RS retooling hundreds of acres of plantings. And resulted in a wine that’s now become an almost ridiculous, case-buy bargain…

Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases)2019 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, $30

First, let’s talk about that bargain. At $30, RS’ 2019 Alexander Valley Cab is a screamin’ deal. Powerful and poised, it ought to feel bigger considering its ABV, ought to smell oakier considering its 24 months in barrel, ought to seem flabbier given its breadth and opulent plummy fruitiness. Nope, nope, nope. It’s rich, rewarding, and yet structured, tight, earthy and mineral. Some of that, I suspect, comes to an exceptional vintage in the region in general. But clearly the production ship at RS continues its slow, steady turn towards a fresher backbone to support their modern, silky style. This red is a minor triumph in that regard.

 

Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases)2019 Davis Bynum Dutton Ranches Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $58

Just about 50 years ago, Davis Bynum became the first winery to produce a single-vineyard Pinot from Russian River Valley. It’s basically been a can’t-miss sourcing site ever since, which helped prompt RS to buy them in the first place. Delicious, spicy, and supple, this red screams “top-shelf” and “steakhouse” and I suspect would be as “can’t-miss” a pick from the wine list as its vineyard source is for great RRV fruit. In other words, RS is continuing to do the Bynum name proud here.

 

Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases)2018 Rowen Wine Company ‘600 L’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, $150

This red (along with 600 R, more on that in a minute) is part of a limited production project to show off the highest end of RS’ portfolio prowess, and one that I’ve been fortunate enough to follow for a few years now. It’s Left Bank Bordeaux inspired, blending Cab with Petit Verdot. For the Cab, they sourced from the most vigorous vines at high elevation on Cooley Ranch (one of western Sonoma County’s most impressive vineyard sites). This is intense, deep stuff, with ample spiciness, and fantastic structure. It is long, powerful, and means business, revealing what it wants to when it wants to do it. The glimpses you get, however, show great promise: cedar, leather, blackcurrant, and swoon-worthy headiness that’s equally elegant and showily impressive.

 

Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases)2018 Rowen Wine Company 600 R Red Wine, Sonoma County, $150

600 R acts as a sister wine to 600 L, taking inspiration from Bordeaux’s Right Bank (being composed of over half Merlot, with 29% Cabernet Franc and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon). This blend came about as Seidenfeld and winegrower Ryan Decker became more and more enamored with the fruit coming from certain blocks on Cooley Ranch, including Sky High, Thompson and Prune Orchard. Figuring that they had to do something to showcase those blocks’ collective potential, they came up with the idea of an ‘R’ to the 600’s ‘L’. The Merlot component is immediately assertive here, giving the wine a round, plummy feel. Peel away that fruit-forward layer, and things get very complex very quickly. Graphite-like minerality, freshness, and delightful herbal spices enter the fray, followed by clay earthy hints, tart cherry fruit flavors, and an intermingling of wood spices and blackcurrant action. Gorgeous.

 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)

(images: Wines of Chile)

Ever wake up thinking, “I wonder what’s going on with coastal Chilean Sauvignon Blanc these days?”

Me, neither, but I’m not one to turn down virtual samples tastings that provide deep-dives into the unfamiliar, and so I found myself recently taking part in a round-up tasting of Sauv Blancs from Chile’s coastal areas, guided by of Vinous.com’s Joaquín Hidalgo, and Julio Alonso (Executive Director of Wines of Chile US).

Despite multiple visits to said areas over the years, there’s much about Chilean Sauv Blanc that I found surprising, if not downright shocking. SB Landed in Chile in the 1800s (ok, I did know that part). It’s now Chile’s second most widely planted variety (behind Cabernet Sauvignon – didn’t know that), accounting for roughly 40% of the white grapes grown in the country. SB joins Cabernet as grape pair that makes up the highest volume of Chilean wine exports to the USA (SB in general above $11/bottle is growing in sales in the U.S., by the way).

The SB grown in Chile’s coastal area is influenced by both the Humboldt current and the Coastal Range, promoting the development of more herbal, floral, and zestier sides of the variety’s expression. Morning mists filter sunlight until the afternoon, and the current cools the air up to 50km inland (until the Coastal Range effectively shuts down the influence). Summer temperatures average around 77F, with few “peaks.” Ripening is gradual, so freshness is more easily preserved in the grapes. Coastal Range soils (which are even older than the nearby Andes) contain clay, quartz, schist, and iron, making for a complex mix in which the vines take root.

The results? Pleasantly unexpected…

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Viña Morandé Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Casablanca Valley, $20

Fermented in French oak, and sourced from a single vineyard. Mineral, intense, assertive, grassy, and citric, this SB has nice roundness on the palate, with spices, herbs, peppers, and a long freshness. A great call for white fish and/or scallops with lots of butter. LOTS of bang for the buck happening here. BAM!

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Matetic Vineyards EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Casablanca Valley, $20

Grapes for this little elegant gem are sourced from organic/Biodynamic vineyards in Rosario Valley, just five miles from the ocean, in low fertility soils (so vigor is naturally lower). Flinty and herbal, it stays a bit smoky, mineral, salty and spicy throughout. Fresh, and long, with plenty of jalapeno, under-ripe papaya, and lemon rind action.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Casas del Bosque La Cantera Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Casablanca Valley, $18

From the La Cantera vineyard, situated in a natural depression that collects the ample cooling influence from the sea. You get lime and lime blossom, green herbs, and pepper on the nose. Plenty of punch on the palate, but also some nice roundness and good length. Refreshing, this one really ‘pops’ in the mouth, with textural, interesting acidic verve.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Montes Wines Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Ledya Valley, $15

Leyda enjoys direct sea breezes, often with a line-of-sight right to the ocean. This one comes off as a very cool-climate SB on the nose—herbal, citric, and floral, with plenty of green notes. It isn’t deep, but it cuts like a knife with great acidity and a lively, almost lighthearted feel. Hope you like jalapeno, though!

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Viña Koyle Costa La Flor Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Casablanca Valley, $18

From San Antonio Valley, made from organically grown grapes, this white comes off a bit understated on the nose—but the spices, herbs, and exotic touches are all there. Nice palate balance here, with smoothness (thanks to some four months on the lees) and vivacity. Tangy lemon is the dominant force , and it’s tasty (if not super long).

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Viña Garcés Silva Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Ledya Valley, $25

Also sourced San Antonio Valley, this sultry SB is definitely more tropical and floral on the nose than its tasting lineup counterparts. The palate is richer, rounder, but has a very nice sense of minerality that adds texture to the broadness. Bigger, for sure, but also quite bright.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Ventisquero Wine Estates Grey Single Block Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Atacama, $25

Herbs, apples, chilies, and minerals hit fast and hard on the nose on this aggressive white. Sourced near the Atacama dessert, from calcareous soils, it’s supple, with saline, freshness, and big tropical fruit flavors. I loved the texture, it feels more substantial than its 13% abv might suggest.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)Viña Tabalí Talinay Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Limarí Valley, $24

The high proportion of Calcium carbonate in the soils (which are drier in general) seems to imbue this SB with something extra. Wet stones, white flowers, green pees, green chili, limes, flint, saline… it’s sporting a quite complex nose. The palate gets exotic with starfruit, papaya, citrus, and mandarin. And it is absolutely JUMPING in the mouth. Talk about mineral… and the tension is fantastic. Elegant stuff that’s worth seeking out.

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)

(image: Librandi)

Italy’s Calabria has been a bit of a victim of its own success.

The ancient Greeks dubbed Enotria Tellus—”Land of Wine.” Sporting a diverse terroir that features plenty of ocean influence and even more sunshine, wine grapes have thrived there for eons. Which led to the modern Calabrian wine market becoming co-op heavy, focused on maximizing production above all else. Queue the subsequent reputation crash during the wine quality revolution of the last few decades.

The subject of one of my more recent virtual sample tastings—Librandi—has been a bit of an outlier in Calabrian terms, helping to usher in a new quality-focused renaissance for the region by focusing on lower production of international grape varieties. Their success, and that of a handful of other such producers in the region, somewhat ironically led to more purchases of estate vineyards, and a revitalization and re-planting of native Calabrian varieties.

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)
(image: Librandi)

What comes around, goes around. And in this case, it literally goes around: Librandi has what they call a “varietal garden” of 200 autochthonous grape varieties planted at their Rosaneti estate planted in (what I imagine must be a rather difficult to farm) spiral.

Third generation vintner Paolo Librandi led our tasting, first explaining the history of his family’s operation. Librandi started bottling their own wine in the 1950s, and Paolo’s grandfather had six hectares (one for each of his kids) that eventually was grown by his uncle Antonio into over 430 hectares. Paolo’s father was a math teacher, who circled back to the family business in the 1970s. They call Cirò home, where about eighty percent of all Calabrian wines are made. Winemaking there dates back at least 2,500 years, but is still finding its footing in the modern wine market (“Surely it’s our fault,” that high-end Calabrian wine isn’t yet more well-known globally, Paolo noted). Maybe we can help rectify that just a teeny tiny bit today…

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)2019 Librandi Segno ‘Librandi’ Cirò Rosso, $15

Paolo told us that the aim for this 100% Gaglioppo red is for “immediate pleasure and drinkability.” It doesn’t see any wood, instead going for a fruit-forward display of brambly red berry action, violet notes, and dried herb aromas. This is very fresh for a Calabrian red, offering poise and delicacy as well as bright cherry flavor and hints of game. Very friendly stuff.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)2020 Librandi ‘Segne Librandi’ Cirò Bianco, $15

Speaking of friendly, there’s the white counterpart to that Cirò Rosso, made from Greco Bianco (a grape found pretty much only in Calabria). “It’s a peculiar grape,” according to Paolo. “It needs extra stressful conditions, it’s a variety that needs to suffer a little bit to get really ripe.” It’s hardship is our gain, in the form of tasty citrus notes with white flower aromas, Mediterranean herb notes, and zesty mouthfeel that’s fruity, fine, and fun.  

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)2019 Librandi ‘Duca Sanfelice’ Cirò Rosso Riserva, $20

Another Galioppo red, this time aged in both steel and concrete vats (still no oak), into a form that Librandi described as “our idea of our benchmark and the philosophy behind it.” The vines are trained in traditional “alberello” (head-trained) style, from the Greek system that promotes radiant heat reflecting back onto the grapes from the ground. While the nose is similar to its little Rosso brother, there’s far more concentration, depth, and minerality here. The tannin structure is lovely, with an elegant streak framed by freshness and a hint of astringency, all supporting a brambly fruit palate that’s refined, and replete with sour cherry, leather, tobacco, and dried violets.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)2019 Librandi ‘Gravello’ Val di Neto Rosso, $30

First produced in 1988, “this was always our flagship” noted Paolo, a red crafted to appeal to international tastes, and a wine that helped Librandi (and Calabria) gain attention on the global wine stage. A blend of 60% Galioppo and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s sourced from a calcareous, clayey vineyard that is roughly bifurcated by the plantings of the two varieties. 12 months aging in 50% new French oak make this Librandi’s more showy red. It’s juicy, with dried flower petal, herb, red berry, and blackcurrant aromas and flavors swirling on a big, meaty, and structured palate. There’s more power than poise here, but there’s also no lack of refinement. Bring steak, and you’ll be happy.

 

Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 62: ‘Round & ‘Round (Tasting Librandi Calabria Recent Releases)2021 Librandi ‘Critone’ Val di Neto Bianco, $19

Named for Socrates’ pupil, this peachy, flinty Chardonnay (with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc) is more overt than it is philosophical. Originally crated by Paolo’s father for the local market (they were among the first to plant Chardonnay in the area), it became “by far the best seller in all of our markets” according to Librandi. “This is the wine that pays the bills.” Plenty of apricot, tropical fruits, flowers, and herbs are happening here for you Chard lovers, with saline and spicy hints on the back end of the palate keeping things interesting.

 

Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)

(images: Sella & Mosca)

Wow.

We’re now at the point where the Covid-era virtual visits/tastings for producers who have previously been doing virtual visits/tastings are coming around yet again, with new rounds of vintages to explore. We’ve officially lapped in the “wine in the time of Coronavirus” series.

Holy sh*t.

Back in part 41(!) of this series, I got to taste some samples alongside the folks from Sardinia’s Sella & Mosca. For the 61st post in this series, we’re back with Sella & Mosca. And I think my head is going to explode, in both the good (these are some very tasty wines) and bad (for f*ck’s sake, this pandemic has been looooooong) senses.

For this round, we were joined (virtually) by Giovanni Pinna (their Winery Director) and Alfonso Gagliano (who handles the American market for Sella & Mosca). For those of you who, like me, have been robbed of travel to Sella & Mosca’s home turf of Sardinia, here’s a quick primer:

Sardinia sits south of Corsica, and is on of Italy’s largest islands, though it’s much less populated than its other large island, Sicily. During the Summer moths, things really get into swing on Sardinia—its population of 1.2 million or so roughly doubles at t hat time. There are usually twice as many goat and sheep on Sardinia than there are people. Geologically, it’s more similar to Provence (from which it once detached) than to, say, Tuscany. Its isolation birthed uniqueness in several forms, including in culture, language, and gastronomy.

Now that we’re up to speed, let’s drink…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2020 Sella & Mosca Torbato Spumante Brut, Alghero, $25

Vines for this bubbly are “very near the sea, and the Mistral brings the salt on to the vines” according to Pinna. Interestingly, the Torbato grapes develop a sticky film that tends to capture a crust of salt on the skins. Iodine, white flower, white grapefruit, saline and citrus pith all greet you here. It’s almost delicate in flavors but not in texture or in aromatics (hello, Charmat method!), and it feels ultra-refreshing in the mouth. Herbal hints send it off on a long finish. You could do SOOOOO much worse in terms of a beachside sipper.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2021 Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna, $14

Citrus, tropical fruit, wet stone, saline, jasmine, and herbs… ahhh, Vermentino, how I love thee. Especially this one, which is both generously tropical in the mouth and also excitingly vibrant, showing just enough structure to be intellectually interesting as well as just plain ol’ delicious. This is a perennial overachiever and remains a white not to be missed (especially for the $) by Vermentino fans. There’s good reason this is one of the best-selling Vermentino labels in the U.S.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2020 Sella & Mosca Monteoro Vermentino di Gallura Superiore, $28

Sourced in the Gallura area, on the slopes of the south side of Mount Limbara on sandy soils derived from granite, this white sees 4 months of lees contact in stainless steel. The extra lees activity make this perfumed and heady, richer in the nose and the mouth and more exotic in its tropical fruitiness. Herbs and underbrush, lively acidity, salty hints… It makes me want to kiss the glass, and not in an entirely ‘just-friends’ way.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2019 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, $15

Aged for 2+ years (with 6 months in wood, though none of it is new), this red is showing its Grenache family connection with all of those dried violets, pepper, and bright red fruits on the nose. Fresh and balanced in the mouth, with some spice notes, lots of friendly cherry and plum fruit flavor, this vintage might not be quite as elegant as previous releases, but is uber-friendly (and is going to make a lot of drinkers quite happy).

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2018 Sella & Mosca Tanca Farrà 2018, Alghero, $32

A 50/50 split of Cannonau and Cabernet Sauvignon that Pinna describes as “a really good marriage.” Indeed, it is. Savory with red and black cherry, balsamic, sweet tobacco leaf, there’s also plenty of cassis, earth, and just-ripe black plum. The Cabernet comes out in the mouth, where it brings some funk, dried herbs, and blackcurrant action. Quite long in the mouth, with a nice balance between savoriness, vibrancy, structure, and textural tension.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2016 Sella & Mosca Marchese di Villamarina, Alghero, $70

Cabernet Sauvignon, all on its lonesome here. Mature and quite earthy, with leather, funk, game, stewed red fruits, cigar box, sweet herbal spices and licorice, yet still young in the mouth, and feeling silky. Lots of dark fruit is served up with plenty of savory balsamic drizzle. Soooo fresh, and that freshness does NOT let up despite the great length of the finish. Elegant stuff, and you might think that you’re sipping on a well-crafted 3rd Growth Bordeaux if you had this one blind.

 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)

image: Tenuta Carretta

It’s hard to shake the pressure of 555 years of history.

Just ask Tenuta Carretta (with whom I recently enjoyed a virtual Zoom samples tasting, guided by CEO Giovanni Minetti and Technical Director Paolo Scaiola).

It was on 28th of November, 1467 that a sharecropper concession was drawn up that officially kicked off the estate’s history. Their name originates from noblewoman Domina Careta Constanzi, who lived in Alba in the 14th Century. Today, Caretta is in the hands of the Miroglio family (who purchased it in the 1980s). But the estate’s history still looms large.

Carretta seems downright terrified of doing anything that might screw up their historical terroir. The vines never see herbicides, and only get treated with limited insecticide use (in keeping with their “Green Experience” certification); the big focus is on creating “perfectly ripe grapes” according to Minetti. Those grapes being primarily Nebbiolo, which was the main ingredient in all of the releases that we tasted together that day, and remains Tenuta Carretta’s bread-and-butter variety. Nebbiolo is notoriously finicky in terms of the exposure it demands and and soil types it prefers (mainly calcareous and tuffaceous, with a “Goldilocks” balance of sand, silt, and clay). It buds early, is sensitive to rapid temperature changes, and otherwise gives winegrowers headaches that aren’t (at least, not primarily) related to hangovers.

Carretta has little to fear based on our tasting: their vines are in excellent hands. Here are my dime-store thoughts on six of their current Nebbs…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)Tenuta Carretta Langhe DOC Nebbiolo “Podio” 2020, $22

Historically, in 1467 the estate’s then owner specified that the entire Podio harvest be reserved for him alone. The modern incarnation of this crowd pleaser includes 20% Barbera, and is absolutely bouncing with lots of tart red cherry, wild strawberry, and rose petal action out of the gate. Delicious, food-friendly, and very, very fresh, a bit of structure mitigates the tartness, and the whole thing goes down about as easy as Nebb can.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)Tenuta Carretta Roero DOCG Riserva “Bric Paradiso” 2017, $50

From Piedmont’s most tragically overlooked designation. The name means “Paradise hill,” a description of the vines that grow in the amphitheater-shaped vineyards right by the winery. This Nebb is spicier, with more pepper and dried herb notes. It’s also more supple and broader, with hints of elegant cedar peeking through. Fresh and earthy, with a complex, intense texture and cherry jam flavor, this is quite Elegant (while still being approachable and delicious).

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)Tenuta Carretta Barbaresco DOCG “Garassino” 2017, $NA

This powerful red is sourced from the north side of Alba, with compact soils that force more effort by the vine roots to find water. Vanilla bean, dried roses, tart red plum, dried cherries, dried orange rind, a gorgeous earthiness, and a hint of leather… You’d at first think you were dealing with Barolo, but the austere and concentrated expression betrays the Barbaresco origin. The finish is very long and the freshness never quits from start to end. And Wow. I mean, VERY long. “A more nervous Nebbiolo” according to Scaiola. Maybe, but don’t confuse its nervous energy for a lack of confidence!

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)Tenuta Carretta Barolo DOCG “Cascina Ferrero” 2017, $50

I’m not quite sure how they pulled off a Barolo this elegant in such an infamously warm vintage. They claim that this is their most classically structured Barolo, being a vineyard blend. There’s tobacco leaf out the ya-ya, followed by red plummy fruit aromas, forest floor and then dried herbs. Spicy, toasty, structured and yet so supple in the mouth, with a broad palate profile, it’s long and graceful and still a mere puppy.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)Tenuta Carretta Barolo DOCG “Cannubi” 2016, $100

Here’s the Barolo money shot, folks. Unfolding in layers and taking its sweet time about it, this red is incredibly elegant, and quite reserved at the moment. It’s going to take some time (and then some more time) to fully come around. But as the earth, leather, rose petal, and red fruit action develops, it will turn into an absolutely understated beauty.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases)Tenuta Carretta Barbaresco DOCG Riserva “Bordino” 2016, $50

They describe this as an outlier, from 1981 and 1999 plantings on the eastern side of Treiso in Sant’ Alessandro. The plot sees high exposure, with steep slopes and silty marl soils. It’s the last Nebbiolo they pick during the harvest, producing very thick skin grapes. It spends 36 months in large barrels (mostly Slavonian). And Whoa – all kinds of floral action happening on the nose here. The palate is absolutely classic: equal parts austerity, red plum plumpness, and electrifying acidity. The finish is long, spicy, balsamic, intense, and begs for another sip. F******k, this is good.

 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 60: Nebbiolo, Six Ways (Tenuta Carretta Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)

Have old map of Treviso, will taste…

“We always wanted to break the rules.”

So mentioned Prosecco family producer Bellenda owner Umberto Cosmo and his daughter Lucrezia during an online samples tasting I attended (relatively) recently.

If ever an outfit in Valdobbiadene embodied the Italian spirit of flaunting convention, it’s this one. Founded in 1986 by Umberto and his brothers and father, Bellenda came about due to Umberto being “almost disgusted” by the industrial nature of his family’s animal breeding business. For generations, his family owned vineyards and sold their fruit to local producers—forming a small estate/boutique winery was, at the time, relatively unheard of, particularly in Italy’s Prosecco region where larger brand labels dominated. Detractors told Umberto’s father “‘you are going to lose a lot of money, because Italian wine is dead forever.'” Given the immense success of Prosecco bubbles since then, that piece of advice seems to have aged about as well as milk.

It’s not just in approach and size that Bellenda bucks the trends; as you’ll read below, they take every chance they can get to turn the conventional notion of Prosecco firmly onto its proverbial ear…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)2021 Bellenda San Fermo Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, $22

This delightfully elegant sparkler takes its name from the county church that sits adjacent to the limestone-clay vineyards that source it. It’s one of the more precise Prosecco incarnations you’re likely to encounter, offering up pear (with the skins) and wet stone notes. The palate is fresh, fresh, FRESH, with ample green and red apple flavors that are both crisp and over-ripe. It’s hard not to love this wine’s vibrant mouthfeel and fantastic length, ending with citrus pith notes.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)2018 Bellenda S.C.1931 Pas Dosé, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, $NA

Named after Sergio Cosmo (Bellenda’s founder) and the year of his birth, this kick-butt Superiore sees partial oak barrel fermentation without temperature control, resting on the lees for three months and then again in the bottle for up to eighteen months, finally being disgorged without liquer d’expédition. Sugar levels are ultra-low (about 1g/L). Apple bread, white flowers, ripe pears, apples, and toasted nut all hit from the nose, along with earthy notes among the more evolved fruit flavors. On the palate, it feels substantial and austerely serious, coming off as reserved and tightly wound—a serious ‘head-fake’ when it comes to what we conventionally think of with respect to Prosecco. Lip-smacking and almost chewy, this is an age-worthy bubbly that might have you rethinking your entire Prosecco mindset.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)2018 Bellenda ‘Sei Uno’ Brut, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, $25

Multiple plays on words going on here, with “61” being Umberto’s birth year, and “you are…” being a phrase that apparently his wife like to use (use your imagination to fill in the blank). This classic method sparkler from Rive di Carpesica also spends several months sur lie, with a further six months of bottle aging in Bellenda’s cellar. And… wow… this has nose reminiscent of am excellent non-vintage Champers, with pear, apple, filbert, and brioche action all over the place. The texture is complex, bouncing between richness and vibrancy, all the while dominated by lovely apple flavors. Refreshing above all else, you won’t mistake this for a Champagne in the mouth, but you wouldn’t dare dream of turning this elegant sipper away, either!

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)NV Bellenda ‘Così È’ Col Fondo, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco, $20

“As it is” is a fitting name for this Vino Frizzante. Umberto had to convince his brothers to let him craft this one. The tradition of local farmers taking unfiltered Prosecco with their meals lives on in this bubbly, which is bottled with natural yeast sediment, giving it an appealing hazy appearance. Sourced from a south-southwest facing vineyard near Carpescia, this has a classic Valdobbiadene nose but is less boisterous about it. A palate cleanser to its core, this is profoundly fresh in the mouth, there being pretty much no residual sugar in the mix. Consider it a “more modern” take on the current semi-sparkling craze (well, the craze among wine geeks, anyway)—it’s elegant AF, but you’d better like your bubbles on the zesty side!

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)NV Bellenda Fratelli Cosmo Carpesica Metodo Rurale, Veneto, $NA

The most unconventional of all of the unconventional wines in the Bellenda lineup, there’s no added SO2 here. This wine is allowed to ferment for fifteen days on the skins, in non-temperature-controlled wooden vats, and secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle. Bellenda state that they “made this wine with our heart as well as with our head,” in a throwback to the “accidental” bubblies that gave birth to sparkling wine in the region. It’s slightly hazy in appearance, with an inviting nose of flowers and grape notes, just-ripe pear, and a mild bit of funk. Balanced and fresh in the mouth, you get flavors of toast, peaches, and banana. The structure comes off like apple skins in a delicious, ambling way that’s about as crowd-pleasing as Pet-Nat gets. It makes a strong argument for putting more Glera-based Pet-Nat on the market…

 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)

Herdade do Esporão is a producer that is close to my Portuguese-loving heart, having worked closely with them in the past, visited on a few occasions (including taking what I think is the only Terrible Towel photo atop of their ancient tower, just before Superbowl XLV…), and even recently catching up with them during one of the many (many, many) virtual samples tastings during COVID.

So it was nice to dip my Portuguese-loving toes back into their vinous waters and see what else they’ve been up to lately, courtesy of yet another virtual samples tasting, our 58th such feature since the onset of the pandemic. Jeeeeeeebussssss…..

Anyway…

This time, we got to taste their wares alongside Esporão Group Chairman João Roquette, and Herdade do Esporão lead winemaker, Sandra Alves. Sandra joined Esporão back in 2001, overseeing white wines production, and then extending her responsibility to reds as well in 2016, working alongside her mentor and longtime Chief Winemaker David Baverstock.

A bit of backgrounder on Esporão: they are basically the biggest thing going in Portugal’s literally and figuratively hot ALentejo winegrowing region. They farm 600 hectares of estate vineyards, started all now 100% certified organic, and crank out about 40 million bottles of wine per year (80% of it being red). In recent years, they’ve been pushing the pedal down on promoting the Portugal’s and Alentejo’s autochthonous grapes; as Roquette put it, “Moving towards native Portuguese varieties is a trend and will continue driven by search of identity/differentiation and climate change.”

Here’s what my Portuguese-loving palate thought of some of their more recent wares…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)2020 Herdade do Esporão Colheita Branco (Alentejo, $18)

Esporão has a knack for taking grapes that you can’t spell or pronounce as a non-Portuguese speaker and making you want to learn to spell and pronounce them, and that’s the case with this crowd-pleasing blend of Antão Vaz, Viosinho, Alvarinho, and “others.” Tropical, buoyant, exciting and inviting, hints of green tea leaf citrus greet you at first. There’s good balance for such a warm region (though it leans to the fuller/richer/riper side) and a pleasing minerality, closing with a complex hint of astringency/structure.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)2018 Herdade do Esporão ‘Esporão’ Reserva Branco (Alentejo, $20)

Primarily built on Antão Vaz, Arinto, and Roupeiro, from older vines that were planted even longer ago than my first visit to Esporão (feeling old… are those liver spots on my arm?!??). I’ve always viewed this label as an overachiever and that trend continues with this fine vintage. The nose is tropical, but definitely spicier than its less expensive Branco cousin, with ginger, and hints of dried herbs and toast. Pink grapefruit, lemon, pith, and peach and apricot flavors weave in and out. This has depth, freshness, and very good persistence, with a finish that feels almost as long as the COVID pandemic.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)2019 Herdade do Esporão Colheita Tinto (Alentejo, $18)

Here, the native Touriga Nacional, Aragones, and Touriga Franca are co-fermented in concrete tanks with Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon into another easy-to-love result. Dark red plums, light tobacco spice, dried herbs, vanilla, and pepper all add to a modern-feeling entry. In the mouth, there’s great balance and ‘punchiness.’  The finish isn’t that long, but the food-friendliness of this sipper will make it a hit with pretty much anyone who likes their meat and their wines red.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases)2018 Herdade do Esporão ‘Esporão’ Reserva (Alentejo, $25)

A kitchen sink of awesomeness that includes Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca along with Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon (all harvested and fermented separately by variety, then receiving a mix of American and French oak aging). The vineyards that source this red are nearing 50 years of age, and the resulting depth and structure makes this a deep, sultry experience. Lots going on here… toast, oak, caramel, sweet tobacco, dried herbs, cola, and ripe, plummy fruit (red, black and blue). The size and power are kept in check with pleasant dusty tannins, fresh red berry flavors, and an overall sense of deliciousness. The cola extends on a long finish with a bit of heat and a lot of character (and fresh and stewed plum fruit flavors).

 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 58: Going Native, Again (More Esporão Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)

Antonella Corda (image: Antonella Corda)

When I joined a media tasting (back in January… f*ck you, we just had a baby!!!) to go through samples of recent releases from Sardinia’s Antonella Corda, we were missing one important attendee: Antonella Corda.

Corda was unable to join the tasting of her namesake’s wares because she was about to give birth, making her motto “di madre in vigna” particularly apt. And so, as they say, the proceedings were pregnant with more than just possibilities.

Antonella herself has never been a stranger to the wine world, as she is related to one of the most important wine families on the island, the Argiolas. Located in Serdiana (about 20 kilometres north of Cagliari in the southern part of Sardinia), Antonella Corda (the estate, not the lady) was founded in 2010. Producing about 60,000 bottles/year (along with some olive oil) from their sand, clay, and loam soils, their vines are influenced by cooler northern winds (which helps mitigate the infamous Sardinian Summer heat in the vineyards), restraining maturation and retaining acids.

They farm two main vineyards. First, there’s Mitza Manna, the favorite vineyard of Antonella’s grandfather (Antonio Argiolas), sitting at about 200 meters in elevation, and growing Vermentino and Nuragus (which benefit from the calcium deposits of the soils there). Next, there’s Mitza S’ollastu, located on the border of the town of Ussana, where they primarily grow Vermentino and Cannonau. Soils are mainly riverbed influenced, with pebbles, sand, loam and clay (making it a great spot for developing structure and balance in the grapes, according to them).

As longtime 1WD readers are already aware, I am a total sucker for Vementino, so you probably already know where this one is going…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2020 Antonella Corda Vermentino di Sardegna, $20

I’m like a broken record when it comes to Sardinia’s Vermentino (well, the well-executed examples, anyway). White flowers, minerals/wet stone, citrus, light herbal notes, yellow apple, white peaches, and freshness… It makes me want to buy several bottles, and I almost never actually buy wine with my own money any more. Notes of oranges, citrus zest, and mild hints of earth add complexity to this hand-harvested little delight. This is Elegant without sacrificing deliciousness, juiciness, or fruitiness.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2020 Antonella Corda Nuragus di Cagliari, $19

This variety was typically used in the south of the island as a low-brow house wine; here it gets the premium treatment. One hectare of plantings produced just 5,000 bottles of this one. It’s quite floral, and heady, with a saline note and also some savory elements. And Fresh!, with stone fruits, pear, and lime zest. Consider this one lighter/medium bodied and just friggin’ delicious. It’s the kind of white that evokes the seaside and makes you want to drink all day. That interesting pithy note on the (very long) finish will wake you up from your nap.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2018 Antonella Corda ‘Ziru’ Isola dei Nuraghi, $NA

Ziru is a skin-fermented Vermentino, aged in amphora for 24 months. Just 2,500 bottles were made. Unfiltered because why not. The name comes from the traditional term for amphora used to store wine and oils in Sardinia. Almost neon lemon in color, it offers a savory, mineral, salty nose, with dried white fig, lemon peel, peach, apricot, and orange rind. Matured notes of dried tropical fruits emerge on the palate, with roundness but also tons of vibrancy. Almost smokey, with lemon drop hints and great structural elements. Super long. So, yeah, the love affair with this grape variety continues unabated.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2019 Antonella Corda Cannonau di Sardegna, $30

10% Syrah, 90% Grenache, 15% abv, 100% sexy. It’s a lovely light red in color, but don’t let that fool you. Little hints of game and leather show up, but this red is dominated by fresh, ripe red berries, rose petals, red cherries, white pepper, and mint. Equal parts smooth and fresh, with good length, it holds the alcohol level well, though you do feel it on the long finish. Sultry stuff that goes down dangerously easy. Hangover warning!

Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour)

Sooooo close to my goal of taking a Zoom screenshot where I’m t he only one looking at the camera!

To give you a sense of just how much of a time commitment having both a teenager and a newborn can be, witness this very post, which is merely four months or so late!

I was fortunate enough to have been invited to share in one of the periodic Virtual Happy Hours hosted by the stellar team at Wine Spoken Here, a small-but-mighty wine PR group headquartered in California, this one being their now-annual year-end holiday celebration in which they supply samples of wines that they just personally enjoy. Given that they’re seasoned wine pros all, the picks tend to be absolutely stellar in these events, and last December’s (!!) picks were no exception.

There are some rather interesting selections in this lineup, so if you’re in the mood for something a bit outside-the-conventional-box, you’ll want to pay particular attention to what we got seriously, seriously buzzed on sampled during our Zoom call…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour)2019 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, $65

Hailing from one of the oldest and largest estate of Châteauneuf du Pape this blend (Grenache Blanc 40 %, Roussanne 34 %, Clairette 20 %, Bourboulenc 6 %) is the real deal. Christophe Bristiel (their Export Manager, who joined our call) told us that “Water is key. The property was built because it has water. Those natural springs are a key element on the style of the wine.” They’re one of the largest producers of white in CdP (at one point, half of the production was white wine according to Bristiel – currently it’s just over 15%). Most of the white vines are planted close to the water table, so they get enough moisture even in the driest CdP vintages. The white wines of the region in the late 1700s sold for a premium over the reds to Boston and Philly merchants (according to their records). Today, “it remains a hand-sell; even in France, many people don’t know that we make white wine in Châteauneuf. It’s a blend of terroirs, and a blend of grape varieties.” The Clairette vines are well over 90 years old, and are still bush trained. The percentages vary each vintage, but the most important component is always the Roussanne (which is picked first), fermented in oak on its own.

Honeyed, heady, and hedonistic, this is all round and generous in the mouth. There’s a very long floral, mineral, flinty finish with white peach and just-ripe pear action, and bits of bees wax, too, and just a hint of ginger. Delicious. Sexy AF. Love it.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour)2019 Beckstone Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $20

This is Bill Leigon’s new project, made at Pacific Rim’s winery – working with the Mariani family (of Banfi fame). Horse Heaven Hills is 25% of the planted acreage in Washington State, and one of WA’s warmest areas. “Beck” is an archaic New England word for a “swift flowing stream.” appropriated here as  description for the ancient Missoula Floods that largely created the area. Technically a single vineyard wine, 1500 cases were made (with plans to grow). 4% of the fruit comes from Red Mountain. Small bits of Merlot, Muscat Cannelli, and Malbec are thrown in as well.

Evoking cocoa powder, black and blue plummy fruits, oak spices, and sweet tannins, this has a nice dusty edge to it, and surprising length (full of black fruit and wood spice) for the money. Absolutely a crowd pleaser.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour)2015 Tom Eddy Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $160

Wine Spine Spoken Here partner Rusty Eddy’s brother Tom crafts this beauty. Tom was at Wente in the `70s, was General Manager at Souverain, and crafted the first vintage at Tom Eddy Winery in the early `90s. His property literally straddles the Napa/Sonoma county line. “We really strive for concentration with the challenge to make an elegant wine,” Tom noted when he joined the Zoom. “You can have power, you can have structure” and still be age-worthy. “We kind of go against the grain. We’re not Parker-philes. 2015 was a really unique vintage. We kind of got fooled. We thought that the harvest would be on the lighter side. We didn’t realize how small the berries would be.” About 1/2 consists of Stagecoach Vineyard fruit.

There’s soooo much going on in this one. Still young and even a tad oaky due to its youth, there’s juicy blackcurrant action all over the place. Black plum, cedar, graphite, hints of smoked meat/game, along with great texture, silkiness, and just enough freshness and red plum action to keep it perky. Authentic, and has serious “mojo” and character. Great, great balance. Just 285 cases produced.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour)Imayo Tsukasa ‘Black’ Extra Dry Junmai Sake, $120

This was an odd one, in the best ways possible. The very modern (and more or less all-black… queue the Spinal Tap quotes) label clues you in on what to expect in the bottle from this 16th generation producer. One of the driest Sakes you can ever find at +15 (basically the max), it has a crazy interesting nose, with earth, truffle, dashi, and umami. Savory, potent, powerful, and long with a commanding style, it feels like Sake going to war (with Iron Madien’s Senjutsu blaring in the background.) Tough to find, but one of the most unique Sake experiences you’ll EVER have if you do find one of the 30 or so cases that were imported.

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks)

What a treat to virtually revisit Napa Valley’s Scattered Peaks (virtually, in this case—which is fitting, given that tasting their wares was one of the last things I got to do in a public wine-media-type setting before Covid hell broke lose). This tiny outfit’s cellar is helmed by living winemaking-legend-type Joel Aiken, who, when asked about what makes this label special, replied “The dirt doesn’t hurt.”

You can fill yourself in on the Scattered Peaks backstory from our pre-Covid tasting. The TLDR version is that it involves some excellent Napa terroir, Joel’s extensive experience, and the resources of Purple Wine Company’s Derek Benham.

When you’re done, let’s dive right into the juice…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks)
Winemaker Joel Aiken and PR maven Tim McDonald

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks)2020 Scattered Peaks Napa Valley Fume Blanc, $20

An interesting choice to go with given their pedal-to-the-medal Cabernet debuts, this white is 100% Usibelli Vineyard (Pope Valley) sourced, and was made by Joe Tapparo with Joel consulting. The aim, according to Joel, was “trying to make a wine with good acidity in it and real complexity.” You can hardly tell that this one sees any oak, it’s so vibrant and lively. Starfruit, melons, grapefruit, lemongrass, citrus, all of which are doing just fine, thanks. This one delivers a lot of tastiness, and heck of a lot of value.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks)2019 Scattered Peaks Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $40

Almost entirely Cabernet (a smattering of 4% Merlot made its way in), this red is also made by Joe Tapparo with Joel in a consulting role. Aiken practically beamed when talking about this one. “It’s a baby. Lots of power, lots of color. That part of Pope Valley makes killer wine. It’s got a lot of life ahead of it and a lot of intensity. I’m pretty happy with this.” He ought to be—There’s SERIOUS bang for the buck here. This can easily give Napa Cabs in the $60-$75 range a run for their money. Plums, ripe blackcurrants, dried herbs, mint, and a sultry deliciousness that’s basically irresistible… No way I would have pegged this for under $70 in a blind tasting. At this price, we are in case-buy territory.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks) 

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks)2019 Scattered Peaks Napa Valley Sage Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, $125

Sage Ridge Vineyard is in the eastern hills of Napa, not too far from Pritchard Hill and south of Howell Mountain. Joel describes the fruit form this loocation as “lush.” Soils are of fractured shale with red clay, which he claims reduces vigor (so, very small, concentrated berries). He favors the Cabernet clone 169 plantings there, which still retain pyrazines but “only well-behaved pyrazines” according to Aiken. “It tends to have this lush, creamy [nose]. Even though it’s mountain fruit, with tiny berries. I love this ranch.”

The operative word here is DEEEEEEEP! This is so young, the panoply of oak flavors and aromas have yet to integrate fully. BUT… Blackberry, blackcurrant, graphite, warm baking spices… it all just keeps coming and coming in waves on a smooth-as-silk palate. The tannin chains are Alaskan-pipeline long. It’ll keep you coming back for (a lot) more. For mountain fruit, this is as sexy and accessible as they come.

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 55 (“The Dirt Doesn’t Hurt”: Revisiting Scattered Peaks) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!