A blend of 50% Montepulciano, 25% Aglianico and 25% Sangiovese, the first two from Suisun Valley. Mikael Wargin fermented the three varieties as separate lots using different yeast strains. He then blended and aged them a total of 8 months in 20% new Hungarian oak. This wine opened with aromas of pepper and jammy briary red fruit. Initially present dill dissipated fairly quickly. In the mouth, cherry flavors were backed by hibiscus and oak notes. Supple smooth tannins, good acids, punctuated this well-balanced upper medium-bodied wine. The finish offered briary fruit and some heat. On the second day, the wine settled into aromas of black cherry, licorice notes and hints of hibiscus. Cherry flavors and hibiscus and oak notes persisted unchanged. A plush texture, supple, slight, dusty but finely grained, tannins led into a slightly drying finish focused around cherry and ending in some warmth. This wine was a pleasant companion to the mushroom pizza and went surprisingly well with the blackened salmon. (15% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unavailable)
Grown in Carneros and blended with about 10% Sangiovese, started with aromas of pepper, a mélange of oak and dill with briary, jammy fruit. Lighter in the mouth, the flavors were dominated by oak. The wine finished with light red fruit and some heat. On the second day, the wine fleshed out and displayed spicy, licorice notes above all. In the mouth, black cherry flavors were most distinct. Medium bodied the wine had good acids and supple, fine, slightly drying tannins. It was an unobtrusive food companion and did not compete with the mushroom pizza or the blackened salmon. (13.7% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unavailable)
This Central Valley Montepulciano with a small amount of Petite Sirah or Merlot—depending on the year—is whole cluster fermented in open top fermenters with frequent punchdowns and extended maceration. It offers aromas of macerated ripe strawberry with piney, dill notes and maple leaf hints. In the mouth, it is lighter bodied, sleek, with slight tannins, a silky texture and jolly rancher-like strawberry candy flavors. The finish is creamy, but a bit hollow. Overnight, it takes on dried rose petal and vague cherry aromas and floral hints in the mouth. This forward, mature-styled wine is an unobtrusive food companion with good acids and does not compete with food flavors. (14% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 256 cases made)
This Zinfandel-based blend is upper medium depth garnet in color with a medium opacity, becoming ruby at the rim. Rich plum and berry aromas up front. Pleasantly piney notes soon emerge, backed by hints of sweet oak. More time in the glass brings out subtle char and espresso aromas. It quickly becomes very tangy and ends very, very racy with a steely, scalpel-sharp note. Very fine tannins are slight, velvety textured, smooth and have a tea-like astringency. The 15.7% alcohol is well-carried and perhaps tamed by the racy, high acidity, which lifts the tone of the plum and berry flavors but also tends to overshadow them. The lingering finish is a dynamic kaleidoscope of acidity, plum and berry flavors, heat and mild, velvety astringency. For the time being, it can be paired with high-acid foods. Paired with Greek salad (grilled chicken, feta, Persian cucumbers and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing).
In preparation for Open That Bottle Night (live, only on Palate Press; Saturday, February 26 from 7 pm - 10 pm EST), contributing editor Howard Hewitt shares some information on the bottle he plans to open for the event.
Lively, translucent, light purple color. Gorgeous nose of strawberry and blueberry, pepper, slight smoke, meat, and that classic Grenache hint of hard candy. The red fruit continues on the palate with delightful notes of strawberry, rhubarb, and cranberry, that shine through the oak. Silky in the mouth, excellent body, and delivers front and mid-palate, with a pleasant, lingering finish. Very versatile food pairings—poultry, pasta, grilled veggies.
In preparation for Open That Bottle Night (live, only on Palate Press; Saturday, February 26 from 7 pm - 10 pm EST), Gary Thomas, Palate Press Wine Review Editor and Editorial Board Member, shares some information on the bottle he plans to open for the event.
Red Rhône blend. Dark red/purple color. Nose of blueberry, black fruit, touch of smoke, and meat. Bright red berry fruit on the palate. There are times when I want something layered and complex, to pull apart and mull over. Other times I want a wine I can just open, quaff and enjoy. Pleasant, fruit expressive, enjoyable red blend that goes down quite nicely alone, sitting on the couch with a book or a movie. Straightforward, easy to drink, and balanced. Its versatility would pair it well with most meats, many pastas, or even a burger or BBQ. Read the extended review on Simple Hedonisms.