Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 SCMWA South Bay Trade Tasting

This year's SCMWA spring trade tasting was held at the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell. Around 40 wineries crammed into two small conference rooms pouring a wide array of wines. As usual I managed to hit around half of the wineries in the three short hours allocated, making an effort to reach those I've missed at previous tastings. And as usual, my apologies to those that I missed.

Because the focus of these tastings is on trade customers several of the wineries choose to pour blends aimed at restaurants with by-the-glass programmes, so some of these wines may be hard to find at retail. Wines are Santa Cruz Mountains unless stated otherwise.

Some of the standouts were the Torront├ęs from Downhill, Sauvignon Blancs from Kathryn Kennedy and Martin Ranch, and Chardonnays from Beauregard and Odonata.
In the reds I particularly enjoyed Odonata's Grenache, Pleasant Valley's Pinot Noirs and all of Kennedy's range.


2007 Pinot Grigio, California
The nose is nice, with floral notes and stone fruit. But on the palate it's simple and bland with low acidity and some residual sugar. 80
2007 Chardonnay
Good nose; smoky lemon and stone. Sweet tropical fruit, melon and vanilla, with a nice finish. 87
2007 Zinfandel, Lodi
Oak and raspberry on the nose. Sweet raspberry syrup and oak on the palate. 84
2007 Merlot
Now we're talking. Nose is on the lighters ide with smoky plum notes, but on the palate it's rather concentrated with good tannin, good fruit and a long finish. Needs time. 89+
2004 "La Vita"
A blend of 60% Dolcetto, 24% Refosco and 16% Nebbiolo.
Gamey, smoky and oaky nose. Lots of tannin and camp fire with some black fruit underneath. Still needs a few years in the cellar to show well. 89+


2006 Chardonnay
Nose shows lemon, cereal, vanilla and some smoke. Concentrated flavours of stone fruit, lemon and lime. Long finish. 91 $25
2007 Pinot Noir, Estate
A light nose evoking walnuts and cranberry. Rich cherry flavours with some spicy oak. 88

Big Basin

2007 Syrah (no AVA stated)
A blend of Santa Cruz and Monterey County fruit.
Tasted last so unfortunately this was rather rushed, which is a shame because I rather liked it.
Smoky, black fruit on the nose; rich, smooth black fruit on the palate. 90++

Dancing Creek

2008 Pinot Noir, Regan Vineyard
An atypical Pinot Noir with a nose of black cherry, menthol and eucalyptus. These come over on the palate too, adding some cassis. Interesting. 89 $26
2008 Reserve Merlot
Light and fruity 'Starburst' nose. Full bodied with good structure and flavours of sweet plum and tobacco. 88


2009 Torront├ęs
Powerful floral, citrus nose. Light weight and refreshing with great citrus flavours and a crisp mineral finish. Terrific value, and even better than the excellent 2008. Highly recommended. 91 $16
2008 Pinot Noir, Carneros
Earthy nose. Good cherry fruit and an earthy, tannic finish. Fairly priced at $18. 87
2007 Barbera, California
A blend of El Dorado and Amador fruit. Has a meaty nose, followed by sweet black fruit. A little on the flabby side. 87
2007 Cabernet sauvignon, Andersen Vineyard
Smoky, brambly nose. Soft and rich on the palate, with smooth black fruit and an oaky, tannic finish. Good value at $22. 88

Heart o' the Mountain

2006 Pinot Noir, Estate
Rich cherry nose with some oak evident. Lovely spicy cherry fruit; drinking really well right now. 91
2007 Pinot Noir, Estate
Nose has pear drops and smoke. Rich black cherry, plenty of tannin and a longish finish. Needs time. 90

Kathryn Kennedy

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, California
Blend of three organic vineyards. The nose is lively; citrus and stone fruit just pour out. On the palate there's great acidity and loads of fruit - citrus, guava, melon and more - and a long finish. Outstanding, my favourite white of the day. 93
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate
Nose shows that gorgeous soft Saratoga fruit with some smoke. This carries on to the palate; it's huge with rich black fruits; brambles, blackcurrants and blueberries. The finish goes on and on. 94
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate
Almost an anticlimax after the 2003; the nose is in the same vein but much lighter. On the palate there's lots of tannin, blackcurrant and berry with a smoky tannic finish. Needs plenty of cellar time. 91+
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, "Small Lot"
An earthy, funky nose. Rich blackcurrant fruit, intense tannins and a long finish. Another wine offering great value for money. 92+
2005 Syrah, Reserve. Maridon Vineyard
Nose shows black fruit and underbrush. It's deep black fruit on the palate too, with lots of tannin. Another candidate for long cellar time. 92+

King's Mountain

2007 Chardonnay, Estate
Smoky lemon and wet stone. Rich and buttery, with creamy stone fruit. There's good acidity and a long, oaky finish. Needs some time for that oak to integrate properly. 88
2006 Pinot Noir, Estate
Nice spicy, black cherry nose. Rich, smooth fruit, well balanced. 89
2005 Meritage
Barnyard nose with hints of black fruit. Good blackcurrant and brambly fruit flavours with a medium length finish. 90

La Rusticana d'Orso

A 4 acre vineyard in Los Gatos planted with all 5 Bordeaux grapes and producing just 200 cases a year of one wine. The winemaker is Jeffrey Patterson at Mount Eden. The bottles are unusually long and thus fail my cellar test.
2005 La Rusticana d'Orso, Santa Cruz Mountains
Nose is earthy, with violets and nice black fruits. Rich, sweet fruit; blackcurrants and brambles, with soft tannins. 89 $50
2006 La Rusticana d'Orso, Santa Cruz Mountains
Mint and black fruits on the nose. Flavours of blueberry, blackberry and coffee. Compared to the 2005 it shows better balance and structure, with nice tannins. Medium finish. 90
2007 La Rusticana d'Orso, Santa Cruz Mountains
Nose shows spicy, brambly fruit and toasty oak. Flavours of smoky black fruits. Initially seems more concentrated than the 2006, but the finish is quicker. Perhaps needs time to show well. 89+

Martin Ranch

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Clara Valley
Nose has grass, lychee and gooseberry notes. Bright grapefruit and citrus flavours with a good, crisp finish. 90


2006 Chardonnay
Nose shows oak, buttered toast and apricots. Smooth flavours of apricot and citrus, with some butterscotch and an oaky finish. The oak needs to integrate better 87+
2005 Merlot
Smoky plum nose with a hint of pear drops. Rich smooth fruit - tangy brambles and plum, soft tannins and a good finish. 89


2008 Chardonnay, Peter Martin Ray vineyard
Some straw and pear notes on the nose. Good apple and pear fruit, with a salty mineral finish. Nice use of oak. 90+
2008 Grenache, Alta Mesa
The Alta Mesa AVA is located within the Lodi AVA.
This is a fascinating wine. Tasted blind, I'd have sworn this was Pinot Noir; it had lovely spicy cherry on the nose. Flavours of dried, sweet cherry and baking spice, with a long finish. Delicious. 93
2007 Malbec, St. Olof Vineyard, North Coast
Aromas of tangerine and blackberry jam. Black fruit flavours with bright acidity. Tannins seem a little angular at this stage; give it a year or two. 90+
2007 Durif, McDowell Valley Vineyard, Mendocino
Smoky black fruit on the nose and palate. Tannins are pronounced, though not by the grape's usual standards. 91+

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

2007 "Brittany Morgan" Chardonnay, Estate
Didn't seem up to the usual standard. Nose showed apple and aldehyde notes; the aldehyde showed on the palate too. Bright acidity, notes of pastry and mineral, and a sour finish. 84
2008 "Erika Anna" Viognier, Hansen Vineyards, Paso Robles
Barrel fermented. Lovely honeysuckle nose. Rich, rounded mouthfeel. Flavours of honey, grapefruit, guava and spice. Acidity is on the light side. 90
2006 "Dylan David" Pinot Noir, Estate
Lovely fragrant spicy cherry fruit. Rich cherry and cinnamon flavours, nicely integrated oak, long finish. Drinking very well now, but will improve over the next few years. 92
2008 "Dylan David" Pinot Noir, Lester Family Vineyards, Thelma Henrietta Block
Made from Dijon Clone #115. Earthy with raisin/dried cherry notes. Lively, sweet black cherry and strawberry, some liquorice on the finish. 91+
2007 "Sean Boyle" Syrah, Lester Family Vineyards
Lots of oak on the nose which rather masks the underlying fruit. Gamey and smoky with flavours of blueberry and fresh 'flame' grapes. Tannic finish. 89+
2007 "Casey Alexander" Merlot, Edsell Vineyard
Nose has plum and smoke, with perhaps a touch of VA. Smooth plum fruit, bright acidity and an oaky finish. 86+
2007 "Abby Madison" Cabernet Sauvignon, Martin Ranch
Good brambly, blackcurrant fruit. Rich, smooth black fruit, good balance, nice fine tannins. 90

Poetic Cellars

2007 Chardonnay, Chestnut Hill Vineyard
Green apple, lemon, vanilla and floral notes. Lightweight, with good acidity and light use of oak. Nice apple and lemon flavours. Touch of bitterness on the medium length finish. 89
2006 Mourvedre, Muse Vineyard, Livermore Valley
Musty and gamey on the nose, with some black fruit. Balanced and smooth with soft tannins and dark fruit flavours. 88
2006 Petite Sirah, Pentameter Vineyard, Livermore Valley
Faint nose shows just a little dark fruit. Smooth with fine tannins and some black fruit. 87
2006 Syrah, Stanza Vineyard, Livermore Valley
Smoky black fruit, toasty oak on the nose and palate. Nice acidity, fine tannins. 88

Roudon Smith

2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County
Nose has grapefruit and gooseberry. Light acidity; the fruit is pleasant but it finishes rather quickly. 86
2007 Chardonnay
Cider/aldehyde notes on the nose. Rounded, smooth apple flavours and a quick finish. 86
2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Nice nose of lemon and vanilla ice cream. Rich and creamy with good tropical fruit flavours. Lightly oaked. 88
2007 Pinot Noir
Rich chocolate and cherry nose. Good ripe cherry flavours, some floral and herbal notes, nice tannins. Good value at $30. 90+
NV Claret
Blend of 2005 and 2006 vintages, including Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot. Brick red colour suggests it's older than it really is. Light, citrus-y nose, soft red fruit and a hint of leather on the finish. Nice acidity. 87
2006 Cabernet Franc, Monterey
Earthy, barnyard nose. Flavours of tobacco and black fruit; good tannins, particularly on the finish. 89
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Nose is light, with dusty blackcurrant. Medium bodied with good blackcurrant/blackberry fruit and a little oak on the finish. Well structured; I wouldn't have guessed it was from Paso Robles. Good value at $24. 90