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TomHill

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WTN: Six WineSmith Wines...(long/boring)

by TomHill » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:08 pm

We tried last night (2/26/14) some of ClarkSmith's WineSmith Wines:
1. WineSmith Chard NapaVlly StudentVnyd/NapaVllyCollege (12.9%; www.GrapeCraft.com) Sebastapol 2003: Deep golden
color; rather smokey/toasty/oak quite spicy/old Chard/bit herbal bit funky/dirty feet/pungent/resiny slight
earthy/melony/Chard/tropical fruit/spicy complex nose; rather tart/lean rather smokey/pungent/toasty/oak slight
piney/resiny spicy/pungent/old Chard rather complex flavor; very long tart/tangy/grapefruity/austere some
smokey/pungent/toasty/resiny/old Chard bit melony/tropical fruit/Chard complex finish; shows no signs of
oxidation nor tired fruit; a pretty unusual/bizarre rendition of NapaVlly Chard w/ lot of savory character;
sorta liked this wine but few others did. $30.00
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2. WineSmith FauxChablis NapaVlly StudentVnyd/NapaVllyCollege (12.9%) 2004: Deep golden color; quite smokey/charred/
toasty/oak more ripe/molony/Chard/tropical fruit/herbal bit pungent/aged Chard/resiny rather complex nose; quite
tart/grapefruity/tangy bit aged Chard/resiny some melony/lemony/Chard slight butterscotchy rather complex flavor;
long very tart/tangy/austere/grapefruity slight aged Chard/resiny/piney light melony/lemony/Chard slight earthy
austere/savory complex finish; the only resembelance to Chablis I get is the lean/austere character but none of
the minerally/chalky character of Chablis. $30.00
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3. PennyFarthing DryRoseWine Calif (12.5%) NV: Light copper/salmon/orange color; rather earthy/dusty little fruit
bit stony/mineral rather light/low-key nose; very tart/sour somewhat earthy/dusty little fruit some stony/tangy/
metallic quite sour flavor w/ little tannins; med. very tart/tangy/metallic somewhat savory stony/earthy/dusty/
mineral little fruit quite sour finish w/ light/sharp tannins; strange rendition of a rose. $10.00
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4. PennyFarthing Barbera Calif (14.5%) 2007: Med.dark color; rather earthy/dusty slight fumey/alcoholic somewhat
spicy/Italian Barbera d'Asti/Italian sausage bit metallic/pungent/graphite strong oak/smokey nose; rather
tart fairly earthy/dusty/loamy somewhat spicy/Italian Barbera/Italian sausage/fennel flavor w/ some bitey
tannins; long somewhat tart/tangy/metallic rather earthy/dusty some ItalianBarbera/Italian sausage/spicy/
fennel rather smokey/oak finish w/ some sharp/bitey tannins; lots of oak and not a lot of fruit; reminds some
of a sharp Barbera d'Asti; rather savory & tangy & needs food. $20.00
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5. WineSmith CabSauv MokelumneRiver/Lodi (13.5%) 2006: Med.color w/ slight bricking; rather earthy/mushroomy/
Lodi some toasty/Fr.oak slight fumey/alcoholic strong plummy/blackcurranty/Cab/chocolaty fairly classic
Lodi Cab nose; tart bit sour spicy/Fr.oak/toasty/cinammon/clove strong chocolaty/blackcurranty/Cab some earthy/
mushroomy/truffly/pungent flavor w/ modest/firm tannins; long rather spicy/Fr.oak/toasty/cinammon/cloves
strong blackcurranty/Cab/chocolaty somewhat earthy/loamy/mushroomy finish w/ light/firm tannins; needs more
age; quite a good expression of Lodi Cab and more structured than most; my favorite of the reds. $40.00
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6. PlanetPluto Meritage Calif RTW (13.5%) WineSmithCllrs/Sebastapol 2006: Med.color; slight funky/herbal strong
toasty/Fr.oak somewhat blackcurranty/Cab/chocolaty/boysenberry/ripe bit earthy/loamy rather exotic/complex nose;
bit tart strong toasty/Fr.oak rather ripe/blackcurranty/boysenberry/Cab/chocolaty slight herbal/earthy/dusty
rather exotic flavor w/ some hard/firm tannins; long slight herbal/dusty/earthy strong toasty/Fr.oak rather
ripe/blackcurranty/Cab/boysenberry/chocolaty quite structured quite exotic finish w/ some firm/hard tannins;
quite an unusual & exotic rendition of Calif Cab. $24.00
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A the usual bloviations from TheBloodyPulpit:
1. ClarkSmith: Clark became well-known by his founding of VinoVation in Sebastapol. He was an early proponent
of ReverseOsmosis for lowering the alcohol level in wines and MicroOxegenation, a procedure that slowly
bubbles O2 into wines for tannin manipulation. Because of offering these manipulation services to wineries
who recoiled at the thought they might be found out, many felt Clark was the Devil Incarnate. I did a vist
w/ Clark at VinoVation early on, a bit sceptical of the use of RO on wines. That visit, combined w/ my
tasting of the FresnoStateU RO'd Syrahs and the Ridge RO'd YorkCreekZin, convinced me that RO is not the
evil that some would have us believe. It's a tool...nothing more. Manipulation?? Yea..but BFD.
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2. WineSmithWines: I was totally befuddled on what to expect from these wines, given Clark's background. On
one hand, given his embracing of high-technology tools, I thought the wines would be varietally-correct,
totally clean, unthrilling, a bit sterile; much like the "correct" wines you find on the aisles of TJ's.
OTOH, given Clark's bit eccentric nature, I had no idea what to expect.
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3. Chards: These two 10-yr old Chards are what's available currently on Clark's WebSite. 10 yrs old?? That's
pretty strange.
These were very/very unusual renditions of Calif Chard. They had some hints of old Chard to them; but they
were not at all tired and nowhere near what I'd expect for old Calif Chard. No oxidation character that I
could identify and a certain sort of fresh quality to them. Rather lean/austere on the palate and a sort of
savory character that I get in some skin-contact whites.
Most of my group actively disliked these two Chards, probably because they were not like any Calif Chards
they'd had before. I rather liked the savory character they showed and found them quite interesting
("interesting" in the sense they fully engaged my mind & I was trying to figure out if I liked them or not;
not "interesting" used as a code-word for "bad" but didn't want to call them "bad").
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4. Rose: This was my least favorite of these wines. It was not a typical Calif tutti-fruity rose and had a real
paucity of fruit. That I could live with. But on the palate, it had not the tingle of a sharp acidity, but a
distinctly strong/sour character that you felt on the edges of your tongue and was a bit off-puting. I reminded
me a bit of some of the roses that come from the Languedoc/Rousillon area.
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4. Reds: Again, these were sort of a mixed bag and not to everyone's taste. I liked the Lodi Cab the best of the
lot. The Meritage I found quite exotic & unusual and different from most Calif Meritage's, but actually
liked it quite a lot. The Barbera was rather Italin Barbera d'Asti in character w/ its sharpness, but I kinda
liked it. The rose I just couldn't bring myself to like because of the sourness on the palate.
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5. Soulful: One of Clark's big schticks is to make wines that are "soulful". That's a term I've been having a
hard time wrapping my arms around. His book has not done a whole lot for me to clarify that term. When asked
about the term, he characterized SteveEdmunds wines as some that are "soulful". Well..OK...that's a step in
the right direction and certainly helps. On the WB forum, I asked Clark to rate these wines on the famous
ClarkSmith 100-pt Soul scale. Alas, he refused to take my bait.
I'm assuming that these wines are what he refers to as "soulful" wines. I guess I'd like Clark to identify
which of these six mostly display "soul". My guess would be the FauxChablis. Maybe oneday I'll understand
the term.
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6. All in all, this was a pretty unusual tasting. These are not your usual renditions of these varieties from
Calif. At the end of the tasting, I went back and retasted them all. Again, they pretty much left me
scratching my head and wondering what the heck is this wine and what's Clark trying to say here. These are
not wines for everyone and certainly not gonna play well in Monktown. But they are all worth trying if you
want to try things outside the box and get your intellect fully engaged. And maybe that's just Clark's
goal in making these wines.
Tom

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