Thurs (7/24) Tasting w/ Lars
Whilst up in the NapaVlly, I was staying w/ MollyHill/SequoiaGrove winemaker and LarsBjorkman/Saddleback
winemaker. Molly is Susan's neice and they were visiting us in SantaFe a few weeks earlier. Whilst there in
SantaFe, Lars noted my interest in some of the obscure Italian varieties and mentioned that at Saddleback
they are making some unusual varietals, mostly for their wine club members and tasting room sales and
suggested I might like to try them. How could I not try them??
Lars mentioned that some of the Italian varieties come from a Gallo experimental vnyd on the north edge
of the RRV. I'd not heard of that vnyd and could find no information of it on the Web. I do know that Gallo
uses Teroldego in their ApothicRed blend.
Got down to the OakvilleCrossRoad a bit early, so drop into the SilverOak tasting room. NateWeiss,
formerly of AnticaWnry, is their new winemaker and I asked if he was available, but the tasting room attendant
was unable to track him down. The tasting room staff seemed rather disinterested w/ my presence there and,
not being a big Cabernet fan, I decided to beat a hasty retreat. The tasting room was very/very glitzy and just
didn't give off much in the way of warm/fuzzy feelings. Too rich for my plebian blood.
Headed down MoneyLane and pulled into the Saddleback wnry. NilsVenge & I go waaay back, to the early days of ZAP.
He recognized me, so I (re-) introduced myself and recounted our background. After a short walk-around to track down
Lars, we retreated to the tasting room. The wnry was pretty cramped and I had no idea how small it actually was..
this being my first visit there. With Lars cracking the btls, we tried:
1. Saddleback Vermentino LasBrisasVnyd/Carneros/Napa (14.2%; frmtd in old oak barrels) 2012
: Some pencilly/
oak quite spicy/floral/carnations Vermentino nose; bit soft/lush/ripe strong floral/Vermentino/carnations some
pencilly/oak flavor; reminds me some of the Antinori Bolgheri Vermentino.
2. Ryme Vermentino "Hers" LasBrisasVnyd/Carneros (11.2%) 2012
: Very strong perfumed/fragrant Vermentino/
floral/carnations slight earthy lovely aromatic nose; rather tart/lean slight mineral/earthy very strong
floral/Vermentino/carnations/honeysuckle/peach blossom flavor; powerful classic Vermentino aromatics and more
in the style of Ligurian Vermentino.
3. Saddleback Albarino LasBrisasVnyd/LosCarneros (14.2%) 2012
: Rather stony/mineral lightly floral/apple
blossom quite aromatic nose; fairly tart/stony/mineral somewhat rich/lush very perfumed/floral/apple blossom/
honeysuckle flavor; reminds me some of the Drew Albario; quite an attractive rendition of Albarino.
4. Saddleback PinotBlanc OakvilleEstate/NapaVlly (13.5%) 2012
: Rather stony/earthy/mineral some pear/melony
bit Chard-like very light pencilly/oak nose; some tart/lean light stony/earthy rather melony/pear/pear blossom
slight pencilly/oak flavor; shows the stony character of Alsace PB w/ the lushness of Calif Chard.
5. Saddleback Chard 2012
: Some toasty/pencilly/Fr.oak strong melony/Chard/lemony nose; fairly rich/lush
strong melony/Chard/lemony some toasty/charred/oak; an pleasant mainline NapaVlly Chard.
6. Grow Chard RuhlVnyd/MtVeeder (14.4%) 2013
: Ripe melony/pear/Chard somewhat floral/perfumed nose w/ very
light oak; fairly rich/lush tart/balanced strong pear/Chard/melony very light pencilly/oak slight earthy/chalky
flavor; quite a lovely/perfumed/aromatic Chard.
7. Saddleback SangioveseGrosso RoundPondVnyd/NapaVlly 2012
: Very dark color; strong black cherry/cherry
rather earthy/dusty rather aromatic nose; pretty hard/lean/tannic strong black cherry/black cherry cola/RC cola
somewhat earthy/dusty quite aromatic flavor w/ ample hard/angular tannins; needs much age; quite attractive
Sangio aromatics but a pretty hard/structured/rugged wine.
8. Saddleback Zin FriedianiVnyd/Calistoga 2012
: Rather strong Am.oak/vanilla strong blackberry/boysenberry
somewhat ripe bit earthy nose; strong Zin/blackberry bit dusty/OV rather vanilla/Am.oak flavor w/ some soft/
round tannins; shows some dusty/OV bit complex character; some like the Biale Zins but more structured and not
9. Saddleback Teroldego DelRioRanch/RRV (barrel sample) 2012
: Very dark color; some light/toasty/oak strong
blackberry/black cherry/black cherry cola bit licorice/pungent rather classic Teroldego nose; bit soft/lush/ripe
strong Teroldego/black cherry cola/blackberry light toasty/smokey/oak slight licorice/earthy/pungent flavor w/
modest/hard/angular tannins; not to far from the Foradori basic Teroldego but a bit more oak; quite an
10. Saddleback Charbono FriedianiVnyd/NapaVlly (barrel sample) 2013
: Very dark/black color; quite earthy/dusty
slight licorice/pungent/peppery light toasty/oak nose; strong earthy/dusty/OV light licorice/pungent slight
peppery/PS-like flavor w/ light/hard/rough tannins; pretty classic Calif Charbono and some Languedoc-like in
11. Saddleback Refosco DelRioVnyd/RRV (barrel sample) 2013
: Very dark/near black color; strong earthy/dusty
slightly herbal/rosemary/thyme nose w/ light blackberry fruit; rather rich/lush strong earthy/dusty/loamy
light herbal/rosemary/thyme/pungent slight licorice flavor w/ some hard/rough/coarse tannins; quite an interesting
rather big/rugged red.
12. Saddleback AlicanteBouschet RenwoodVnyd/AmadorCnty (13.5%) 2012
: Very black/inky color; quite earthy/dusty
slight boysenberry/licorice somewhat clunky nose w/ little fruit; strong earthy/dusty/loamy slight blackberry/
boysenberry bit coarse flavor w/ some hard tannins; more fruit than AB tends to show; bit on the coarse/loamy side.
13. Saddleback Primitivo Lodi (30 yr old vines) 2012
: Very strong blackberry/boysenberry/ripe/Zin slight
earthy/mushroomy/Lodi rather fragrant nose w/ light Am.oak; some soft/ripe/lush very strong boysenberry/ripe/
blackberry/licorice/Zin light earthy/loamy/mushroomy light vanilla/oak flavor w/ light/soft tannins; more
brightness than usual from Lodi Zin; lots of rich/ripe/boysenberry/Zin fruit w/ light Lodi terroir.
14. Nils SauvBlanc LateHrvst (20% Semillon; SaH: 36%; RS: 17%) 2007
: Deep golden color; very intense peachy/
apricotty/botrytis slight earthy rather honeyed/fragrant slight toasty/butterscotchy/oak some complex quite
Sauternes-like nose; quite sweet slightly tart bit butterscotchy/oak/toasty/caramel very intense botrytis/peachy/
apricotty slight earthy finish w/ a very long/lingering aftertaste; dominated by intense botrytis/apricotty
character; pretty reasonable facsimile of Sauternes and very fairly priced at $45/500ml; lovely dessert wine.
15. Saddleback Aleatico Rose 2013
: Light purple fairly dark color for a rose; beautiful aromatic/perfumey
Aleatico light muscatty/musky very floral/roses slight earthy powerfully fragrant nose; bit tart/lean/hard
rather dry powerful/perfumed/Aleatico/muscatty/floral/roses flavor w/ light/angular/bitey tannins; a lovely
perfumed/aromatic Aleatico; beautiful stuff if rather big for a rose.
A wee BloodyPulpit:
1. The Ryme Vermentino is one I brought from home. The "Hers" is Megan's rendition of this wine; destem/crush/
ferment in SS, age in SS. It is one of my favorite Calif Vermentinos.
The Grow is the label that Molly & Lars use for the tiny amounts of Chard they make there at Saddleback.
) I've had earlier vintages of their Grow and this one seemed the best one yet w/ reigned in
oak and stringer floral aromatics.
The AleaticoRose is my note from the btl that Molly brought to the RibollaFest event. It's a pretty big
wine for a rose but the aromatics are amazing. This is the kind of wine they should be making all over Calif.
2. Refosco: Known in Friuli as Refosco dal PeduncolaRosso. For a fair number of yrs, FPS distributed what they
called "Refosco" in Calif. It was transplanted from the abandoned Jackson Experimental Station vnyd in Amador
Cnty, based on an old vnyd map that was discovered in the UC/Berkeley library archives. Turns out the vnyd
map was not that accurate and what they thought was "Refosco" turned out to be, in fact, by DNA, Mondeuse.
So a lot (if not all) the "Refosco" planted in Calif turned out to be Savoie's Mondeuse. Which is actually not
a bad thing. The only true Refosco dal PeduncolaRosso planting I know of is on SteveMatthiasson's Napa vnyd.
I tasted his Refosco at RibollaFest and was quite impressed with it. Lots of high-toned aromatics that
speaks of Friuli Refosco and some of DryCreek Zin. Lars' Saddleback Refosco from Gallo's DelRio vnyd in
upper RRV has some herbal notes that suggests, to me, that it is actually Mondeuse...which is not a bad thing.
Though I could be wrong...it is not as strongly herbal as the Lagier-Meredith Mondeuse nor DarrelCorti's
Mondeuse from the last crop of "Refosco" of the Antinori's AtlasPeak vnyd.