A big nose of smoky, peppery, licoricey blackberries and violets introduce you to the 2017 Belharra Las Madres Syrah. Berries galore in the mouth, yet Syrah’s distinctive character is the star: bittersweet chocolate, smoked strip steak, leather handbag and anise. This cohesive, intense, “very Syrah” Syrah is a delicious, rich red wine. French oak aged…20% new. 14.5% alcohol. From Belharra: “Sonoma had an ideal growing season in 2017, and Las Madres showcases a fantastically rich Syrah. Rendered fat and beef broth intensify the classic crushed violets on the nose. The richness and roundness continue on the pallet with elements of […]
100% 100+ year old vine Mourvedre from the Sacramento Delta (vineyard is near the town of Pittsburg). Generous amounts of dark plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit, nicely complemented by Mourvedre’s black licorice, earthy truffle, crusty cigar wrapper and black pepper flavors. Good, brightening acidity and fine, firm tannins. Ready to enjoy now…fantastic choice for a “house wine” because of its versatility with food as well as its tastiness on its own. The value speaks for itself. One of my highest ever Value Ratings of 5.6 – Hall of Fame Value. If you know Mourvedre a little bit or a lot, […]
Peppery spice (helped by 6% Syrah in the blend) and dark wild strawberry nose proudly announces this Grenache. Taste is those dang strawberries, bit of pomegranate, lavender, candied ginger and cocoa. Medium body, medium/low acidity, fine tannins and spice galore in this tasty little number. 601 Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Brian Doody and Laura Larson. Their focus is on Napa Valley Sangiovese but they “dabble” in other regions (like their Sierra Foothills Sangio) and other grapes. I’m impressed with the quality of the wines particularly because they (particularly Brian who heads the winemaking) is self-taught. For all my 601 […]
I was taken with the 2018 Hudson Grenache “Pick Up Sticks” at first smell. Grenache’s dark strawberry compote, licorice, cinnamon and lavender are sweet and sexy. In the mouth it’s medium bodied, both fruity & savory and spicy with firm tannins at first – resuscitation in the glass or a decanter soften those tannins in about 15 minutes. This tasty little number reminds me of a cooler-microclimate Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or high end Côtes du Rhône (Château Fonsalette, anyone?). 10% Syrah in the blend. Aged in really big (500 Liter) practically neutral French oak barrels. Lee & Cristina Hudson and the entire […]
Begins with dark, brooding smells of blueberry and blackberry compote, bittersweet chocolate, cumin and grilled sweet red chili peppers. At first taste the wine is soft and a little too smooth, and with 15 minutes of air the wine expands and gains texture. Tannins linger in the background like a distant chorus. After an hour the extra-ripe berry fruits, dark cocoa, anise and black pepper flavors elevate and come together. It’s hard to do I know, but you can’t judge this wine until it’s had at least half an hour of breathing (decanter or big wine glass, lots of swirling). […]
Brooding nose of dark chocolate, roasted tarragon & thyme, black olives and roast coffee beans. Big yet light-footed, to the credit of the limestone/granite based “Enz Vineyard” and obsessive vineyard monitoring by Dirty & Rowdy co-owner/winemaker Hardy Wallace, the wine is a joy to drink now and will get much better with time. How much time? Depends how you like killer California old-vine Mourvedre wines. I suggest short term, like 2023. If you drink it now, decant it 2 hours before drinking or enjoy it over 3 or 4 days and notice it blossoming. It’s rare to find a wine […]
A beautiful, albeit very youthful, Syrah from the spectacular “Las Madres Vineyard” southeast of Sonoma. Like myriad Las Madres Syrahs, it is expressive and true to the grape. Dark deep cherry, dried blueberries, olive tapenade, lavender, fine black pepper and tamarind smells and flavors are strong yet cooped up in its infancy. I love the texture: full, fit and suave with healthy acidity. Excellent example of Norther Rhone-Style Syrah from California. Buy 3-6 bottles, drink your first one at the end of 2020 then make a plan for the rest. You can wait to imbibe 10-15 years easy if you […]
This GSM (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) from Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley is big-time winner for $25. A rich and spicy red through and through, get dark strawberry preserves, cocoa, cinnamon, black pepper, licorice, lavender and smoked beef jerky. It’s round and luscious in the mouth with a long finish that combines ripe, dark fruitiness and spice. Not to be confused with a Rhone Valley, France GSM as the California sunshine shows in the Andrew Murray Esperance 2016.
A bottle of Dirty & Rowdy Mourvèdre is a look into the future of California winemaking. A champion of the grape, co-owner and winemaker Hardy Wallace has put the grape on his shoulders and introduced it to the next generation of wine lovers through his engaging use of social media. “Familiar” Mourvèdre tastes like ripe smoky raspberries and dry French herbs. Lightness a la Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Hardy says it’s “like yacht rock for space pirates.” Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing! I haven’t nailed down my perfect food pairing but it includes roasted eggplant and cremini […]
Smells and tastes of fresh raspberries, red cherries, pomegranate, lavender, rosemary, black pepper and anise. Medium bodied…like a stronger Pinot Noir. Fine tannins cover the gums and palate, giving the wine body and force. Neither heavy nor light, this is right in the middle, making it ideal with a broad range of foods from roast chicken, pork loin, burgers, red sauces and even red-fleshed fish like salmon. Neyers Sage Canyon is a Rhone-style red blend of 45% Carignane, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah. Napa vintners Bruce and Barbara Neyers and their winemaker Tadeo Borchardt get grapes for “Sage Canyon” from the Sierra Foothills, Contra Costa County, […]
Rich, lush, smooth and tastes like Syrah. Blackberry liqueur, smashed up black cherries, dark chocolate, a little black pepper and woodsmoke in there. This is a mouth-filling, medium-full bodied, seductive, easy for all to like red wine. Crazy you can get something this good from California for $15. This is a DDWA “Hall of Fame” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
Already delicious at a very young age, the 2017 Newfound Carignane Colombini Vineyard is full of dark raspberry and plum flavors with lots of support from white pepper, tarragon and lavender sensations. This medium-bodied, structured, very flavorful and food-friendly red wine is very good now and will get even better with short term aging. Check out all the wines of Newfound, the creation of husband & wife Matt Naumann and Audra Chapman. They produce small lots of intriguing, provocative and very tasty “alternative wines” like this Carignane as well as Mourvedre, Semillon and more. This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. […]
This GSM is 70% G (Grenache), 20% M (Mourvedre) and 10% S (Syrah). A gorgeous wine, full of spice, sweet & uplifting strawberry and plum fruits, sweet earth and cured olive smells and flavors. The smell reminds me of Southern Rhone with its potpourri, fennel, musk and minty qualities. Perfectly ripe red fruits with a harmonic tang of acidity on the mid palate, followed by more savory spice at the end. I must admit I’m a little bit biased here because I love quality GSMs from anywhere, and I so enjoy the Benevolent Neglect wines as a whole. This is […]
If it’s true that the best vineyards grow in extreme circumstances, Halcon Vineyard gets high marks for extreme-ism alone. 2500 feet altitude (very high for California vines), rocky, windy, wild, remote (southern Mendocino, many miles from a highway), vines planted super-tight. Paul and Jackie Gordon, owners of Halcon, sell their grapes as well as make wine from them. For their “Alturas” Syrah, they ferment half whole cluster with no yeast addition, age with a little bit of new French oak, unfined, unfiltered. This is so Northern Rhone-like you might say it’s a Cal wine but you wouldn’t say so with […]
A decadent wine, the Lampyridae Grenache 2017 tastes of dark ripe blueberries, strawberry liqueur, melted chocolate, licorice and cracked black peppercorns. It’s mouth-coating and smooth from start to finish. Enjoy this with stronger far like braised beef short ribs and rich tomato sauce-heavy dishes. Drink it, and food match it, as you would a Napa Cabernet, which at $50 makes it a particularly good value! More Information Near the top of Mt Veeder and on the Napa/Sonoma border is “Lampyridae,” as remote a vineyard that you’ll find (or not find) in Napa Valley. It’s owned and farmed by the owners of Lampyridae […]
69% Mourvedre, 31% Syrah, from El Dorado County vineyards in the Sierra Foothills (1800-2800 feet elevation, granite & volcanic-heavy soils.) This has a fruity, ripe, juicy berry character, complemented by the two grapes’ natural spicy/earthy character. The spice: black pepper, anise, cinnamon stick. Earth comes across as black olive and forest floor. Medium bodied, soft tannins, medium acidity. This is ready to enjoy anytime and goes particularly well with pork and stronger fish dishes as well as dishes with mushrooms, olives and lots of herbs. Winegrowing notes from The Withers: The Withers In Hand was fermented with 30% whole clusters and […]