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Robin Garr

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Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:48 pm

I can't remember the last time we've turned our Wine Focus attention to wines of the United States, but it has certainly been a while! So it seems appropriate during the month of Independence Day (July 4) that we give a little attention to the wines of the US. In addition to exploring wines from the handful of states with significant wine industries whose products are distributed nationwide and beyond, let's feel free to report on wines from the other states as well. In particular, for those of us who don't live in California, Oregon or Washington, this might be a good time to find out - and share - where our locally produced wines stand.

I hope this rare excursion won't lock out our friends in other countries. How about it, Canadians, Europeans, folks Down Under and others: What is the availability of American wines like wherever you are?
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:21 pm

Last week I took notes of a South African tasting I'd given intending to post on June's Focus, but when I got home I couldn't find those notes.

But just been to a tasting presented by the California Wine Institute - the body responsible for marketing California wine sin the UK and I've got my notes!

This tasting was to show case less usual varieties and highlight that California needn't mean big alcohol.

Good US wines have always been expensive here (in a UK/European context) and the recent GBP/USD exchange rate hasn't helped. All wines are available retail in UK, with prices mostly in the 20s & 30s. Cheapest is Obsession at £11-12 and most expensive is Slacker Wines at around £60.

(edited to correct typos and prices)
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WTN: Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Albarino 2015

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:22 pm

Marimar Estate
Don Miguel Vineyard
Albarino 2015
Russian River Valley

Owned by Amarimar Torres, of the famous Spanish wine family, the vineyard is named after the Torres patriarch. 13% abv and 100% Albarino. Clean fresh and crisp, neutral in mid palate, but with a persistent finish, lingering and zingy
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WTN: Birithino Malvasia Bianco 2014

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:24 pm

Birithino
San Bernabe vineyard
Malvasia Bianco 2014
Monterey County
(95% Malvasia Bianca, 5% Muscat Canelli)
13% abv

Malvasia Bianca was planted in early 20th Century from cuttings brought from Calabria.

Enticing aromatic nose, bone dry with peach flavours and a tangy finish. Not a wine I thought I’d enjoy but I found it delicious and full of interest. Its tropical fruit nose tells you it should be sweet yet it’s totally dry with good acidity.
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WTN: Idlewild The Bee 2015

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:25 pm

Idlewild
Fox Hill Vineyard, Mendocino and Lake County
The Bee 2015
(35% Muscat Canelli, 35% Friulano, 20% Arneis, 10% Cortese0
11.5% abv.

The Muscat is from Lake County. Clean, refreshing but neutral. Seems to me the components are suppressing the characteristic of each other. Maybe it's too subtle for me, but I didn’t get this wine.
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WTN: Smith-Madrone Riesling 2913

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:27 pm

Smith-Madrone
Spring Mountain District, Napa
Riesling (100%) 2013
12.6% abv.

Golden colour, oily with muted petrol and lychees…..
But host declares wine is ‘over developed’ and a fresh bottle is opened.
Second bottle is pale gold, brighter flavoured but, IMO, less characterful and interesting.

(cork closed)
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WTN: Ironstone Obsession Symphony 2015

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:29 pm

Ironstone
Mokelumne River, Lodi
Obsession
Symphony 2015
(85% Symphony, 15% Chenin blanc)
12% abv

I’ve had this wine in the past at lunch at Ironstone winery in the Sierra Hills, and it was also sold for a short time in Waitrose supermarket in the UK.

Very flowery nose, muscat like, mouthfilling and sweet tasting but finishrd clean without cloying. A well-priced honest crowd pleaser for those who like sweeter wines. I enjoyed it.
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WTN: Stolpman Carbonic Sangiovese 2016

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:30 pm

Stolpman
Ballard Canyon
Carbonic Sangiovese 2016
12% abv

100% whole bunch cluster fermentation with 40% pressed after one week and the rest after three weeks.
Pale red, could be a dark rosé. Very soft and juicy, smelling of roses, softly sweet finish, very attractive. Would have benefitted from a brief chilling before opening
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WTN: Broc Valdigue 2015

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:32 pm

Broc
Frei Vineyard and With RanchSolano County Green Valley
Valdigue (100%) 2015
12% abv

From dry-farmed vines planted in 1948 and 1950. Medium red colour, tasting of sour cherries with a sour finish. Not for me. I’ve enjoyed J Lohr Valdigue in the past, but sadly I didn’t enjoy Broc’s interpretation
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WTN: Lioco Sativa Carignan 2013

by Peter May » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:33 pm

Lioco
McCutchen and Rebottaro vineyards
Medocino County
Sativa
Carignan (100%) 2013
13.1% abv

From 75+ year old vines, whole cluster fermented. Full bodied, ripe and mouth filling, tasting of berries. Really nice wine with delicately spicy tannins and a sweet finish.
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Patchen Markell

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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Patchen Markell » Sat Jul 01, 2017 5:23 pm

I'll chip in with last night's rosé, even though it was still technically June:

Frog's Leap 2016 Napa Valley Rosé, "La Grenouille Rougante," "PINK." $20. I believe this is a blend, in varying proportions each year, of Carignane and Valdiguié (Napa Gamay). Light electric bubblegum color in the glass, pleasant but varietally indeterminate, a little flabby and perhaps not quite bone dry. This wasn't bad, but it was the least satisfying rosé of the summer so far, and doesn't hold a candle to other US rosés we've enjoyed in the last couple of years, including Edmunds St. John, Unti, Stolpman, and A Tribute to Grace (though the last was also questionable QPR at around $30). Any favorite USican pink wines out there?* And a trivia question: has Ridge ever produced -- excuse me, sold -- a rosé?

*Since Robin recently mentioned something about pink wine getting more serious, I will note that I recently saw an offer for a bottle of 2006 rosé of Syrah from Sine Qua Non for $1990. That's pretty serious!
cheers, Patchen
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Robin Garr » Sat Jul 01, 2017 5:52 pm

Patchen Markell wrote: I recently saw an offer for a bottle of 2006 rosé of Syrah from Sine Qua Non for $1990. That's pretty serious!

Pretty serious and pretty stupid. :twisted:

Actually, I don't know about the past decade, but I had occasion to taste several of Sine Qua Non's offerings - not pink, though - during the middle '00s, and I hated them every one.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Patchen Markell » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:10 pm

I was at a tasting last year where some was open, but I skipped it. I was pleasantly surprised by some other California cults at that tasting, though, so I try to keep an open mind. Not about $2K rosés, though.
cheers, Patchen
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Rahsaan » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:26 pm

Patchen Markell wrote:...something about pink wine getting more serious, I will note that I recently saw an offer for a bottle of 2006 rosé of Syrah from Sine Qua Non for $1990. That's pretty serious!


That is pretty serious. In all the wrong ways.

Another way rosé can be 'serious' is when it's as dark as red wine. I had some this afternoon, 2015 from Minervois, a crazy combination. Maybe I'll come back to rosé in a few years!
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:50 pm

Peter,

As a huge fan of Idlewild, I have to say that I was also unimpressed by the 2015 The Bee. A rare misstep for Sam at Idlewild.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Peter May » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:54 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Peter,

As a huge fan of Idlewild, I have to say that I was also unimpressed by the 2015 The Bee. A rare misstep for Sam at Idlewild.


I mentioned at the tasting I was pleased to taste an Idelwild wine at last after having I'd read several TNs of Idlewild on this board, and I said every time I saw Idlewild in the subject line I'd thought the wine came from New York, near the airport.

I was told I was just showing my age..
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WTN: Clos Saron The Pleasant Peasant 2014

by Peter May » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:02 pm

Clos Saron
Sierra Foothills
The Pleasant Peasant 2014
(Carignan 100%)
13%

110 year old dry farmed bush vines on own roots.
Medium red colour, beautifully balanced, clean berry and cherry fruit flavours, spicy tangy finish, delicious.
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WTN: Birichino Old Vine Cinsaut 2015

by Peter May » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:05 pm

Birichino
Mokelumne River, Lodi
Old Vine Cinsaut 2015
13.5% abv

From vineyard planted in 1886 – world’s oldest Cinsaut (?)

Purple red, wonderfully approachably drinkable with rounded sweet fruit flavours, hints of dark chocolate and a long long finish. Lovely friendly drinkable wine.
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WTN: Idlewild The Bird 2015

by Peter May » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:06 pm

Idlewild
Fox Hill vineyard, Mendocino County
The Bird 2015
(35% Dolcetto, 35% Barbera, 30% Nebbiolo)
13.5% abv

Inky red colour, full bodied with sweet fruit and herby flavours – garrigue? – and a ‘twang’ on the palate (is there a little VA?). Very enjoyable
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Slacker Wines Computer Geek 2014

by Peter May » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:21 pm

Slacker Wines
Willow Creek, Paso Robles
Computer Geek 2014
(20% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, 10% Syrah)
14.79% abv

Murky red colour, rounded full bodied, mouthfilling, dense lush black plum and berry fruit flavours, very enjoyable. Unusually, this wine was deliberately inoculated with ‘controlled-levels’ of brettanomyces. I didn’t tast brett, but here was a mid-palate complexity that it could have contributed to.

This was the final wine of the 12 wines in the tasting and the one that was the least 'unusual' in varieties and blend and it was highest in alcohol, and it was the one that, I think, was the one most enjoyed by all. It was alos the most expensive, priced at £45 in Bond, i.e.without any taxes. Thus wine tax and duty must be added, then 20% VAT applied to that total, and I think one has to buy a case and pay for shipping, so around £60 per bottle plus shipping.
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Thoughts on the California Wine Institute TastingA!

by Peter May » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:54 pm

I’m a sucker for ‘oldest vineyard’ wines and I liked the Cinsaut. As it was stocked by Philglas and Swiggot- the venue where the tasting was held - I bought a bottle to take home. I would have bought one of the Carignans if they also had been stocked.

After we tasting the Cinsaut one of our group, Quentin Sadler, mused that he’d like to taste the Cinsaut blended with some Carignan. I suggested a glass blend, so he poured a glass of the Cinsaut and added about 30% of Clos Saron Carignan. And we did it again at the lunch that followed in a neighbouring restaurant. The glass blend was brilliant, the result greater than the components.

I’ve been very taken with Carignan. Last year I attended a tasting of old vine Carignan from Chile promoted under the banner Vigno which is a combination of VIN for wine and IGN from Carignan.

Last week I opened one of the Vigno wines - Garcia Schwaderer Carignan Vigno 2013 (Maule Valley, Chile) – for Francois Naudé, a top South African winemaker who recently planted a block of Carignan at a winery he’s working with. He was most impressed – as was I.

Many thanks to Justin Knock, MW and Damien Jackman of the California Wine Institute for hosting the tasting
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Re: WTN: Idlewild The Bird 2015

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:22 pm

Peter May wrote:Idlewild
Fox Hill vineyard, Mendocino County
The Bird 2015
(35% Dolcetto, 35% Barbera, 30% Nebbiolo)
13.5% abv

Inky red colour, full bodied with sweet fruit and herby flavours – garrigue? – and a ‘twang’ on the palate (is there a little VA?). Very enjoyable


Love that wine. You are the second person to mention VA. I asked the winemaker. He sent me a lab test that showed zero. Go figure,
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:32 pm

2013 Fox Run Vineyards Riesling Dry, Finger Lakes NY.

My second bottle, cellared close to 3 yrs, 11.5% alc, $27 Cdn.

Still a nice pale to medium straw color. Citrus, mineral on the nose with hints of peach and apricot..all appeals.
Initial entry thought is medium-bodied, big mineral finish over the 2 days. Firm acidity, held up well, yes dry! Wish I could find more NY riesling up here.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2017: The USA!

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:14 pm

2014 Matthiasson Cabernet Franc Matthiasson Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley (7/8/2017)
This is an interesting rendition of Cabernet Franc that has one foot in California, and the other in the Loire. Spicy and floral tones (from the 50% whole cluster perhaps) combine with ripe red fruit. There is not a ton of structure, but what there is seems mostly from the soft acids. I picked up a hint of green tobacco, but none of the more aggressive green that some Loire Franc can have. Easy to drink, this is worth following over the short to medium term. I will be interested to see what happens as the vines mature a bit.
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