Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 San Francisco SCMWA Trade Tasting

The SCMWA holds a couple of annual trade tastings, open to wine buyers, restauranteurs and media. It's a good opportunity to taste the new releases. The most recent event was held last month at the Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco. I deliberately skipped Ridge as I knew I'd get the chance to taste them at the Monte Bello event, and by the time I got to Kathryn Kennedy they had stopped pouring. In all I think I hit most of the tables. Here are some rather brief notes, alphabetically by winery, in the order poured.

2009 Chardonnay, Central Coast
A fairly typical example of Monterey county Chardonnay. Not over oaked; creamy apple and vanilla with just enough acidity. 86
2009 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, Regan Vineyard
Bright cherry nose; flavours of cherry, cranberry and cinnamon, with a hint of sweetness. 90
2009 Lodi Zinfandel
Ripe nose of raisin and prune are matched on the palate by raspberry and date, with some woody tannins. 85
2007 La Vita
A blend of three Italian varieties - Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Refosco.
The nose is smoky and rustic. The first thing that you notice are the chewy tannins, but there's good dark fruit and plenty of acidity behind that; it just needs time. 91+
2010 Gewürztraminer, Viento Vineyard, Monterey County 
No surprises here; a typical floral, spicy nose and flavours of lychee and honeysuckle. Some sweetness and quite a long finish. 88

Clos LaChance 
2010 Sauvignon Blanc 
Nice tart grapefruit nose. Crisp, light citrus flavours - refreshing, but the finish is a little quick. 87
2008 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Nose showed butterscotch and toffee apple. Flavours of butter, vanilla and apple, perhaps some slight oxidation. 86
2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
Great nose - allspice, clove and cherry. Lovely clean, sweet fruit, nice dash of oak. 91
2009 Estate Zinfandel
Aromas of raspberry syrup and star anise. Concentrated raspberry flavours, earthy and spicy. Good value. 89
2007 JoLi Meritage 
Dusty currant and earth on the nose. Quite intense fruit - bramble, cassis, some tobacco. Good structure. 91

Clos Tita
2009 Estate Pinot 
Unusual nose; glacé cherry, dried herb, asphalt. Flavours of cherry liqueur, blueberry, herbs and something else that I just couldn't quite identify. Yeah I know, some use that is in a tasting note. 87

2009 Viognier 
Lively floral honeysuckle nose. Flavours of peach, pear and apricot. 89
2007 Cabernet Franc, Francville Vineyard
Brambly, leafy nose. Blackcurrant with notes of cigar and earth. 89
2007 Syrah, Finley Vineyard
Nose showed smoked meat and earth. Black fruit, salty bacon, plenty of tannin. 89+

La Rusticana d'Orsa 
Marilyn and Frank Dorsa have around 4 acres of up to 10 year old vines, with all five Bordeaux varieties represented. The wines are made at Mount Eden, but with only a couple of hundred cases made they are very hard to find at retail
2007 Cinque
Enticing nose of black fruit with a hint of eucalyptus and licorice. Plenty of rich fruit and cocoa, with soft tannins. Very drinkable. 91
2008 Cinque
The nose is a lot less forthcoming than the 2007. Good black currant and bramble fruit, with a touch of bell pepper and a good finish. 90
2009 Cinque
Not yet released. Light, smoky fruit on the nose. Lighter weight than the other vintages, but with lithe fruit and nice fine tannins on the finish. 90+

2008 Hammer Syrah
Gamey nose, with bacon and plum. On the palate there's bright, sweet fruit - pomegranate? 89
2008 Petite Sirah, Mendocino
White flowers and black currant on the nose. Surprisingly balanced and elegant for a Petite, with good depth of fruit and a hint of earthiness. 90

Mount Eden 
2009 Chardonnay, Wolff Vineyard, Edna Valley
The Wolff Vineyard chardonnay always represents pretty good value at around $15, and this is no exception. Light, crisp apple nose; flavours of sweet green apple and citrus. 88
2008 Chardonnay, Saratoga Cuvee
Lots of toasty oak on the nose. Apple and vanilla flavours, with a prickle of tannin on the finish. 89
2009 Estate Chardonnay
Shows some interesting tropical fruit on the nose; pineapple and guava. Rich and creamy yet complex with lots of fruit and a long finish. 92
2009 Estate Pinot Noir
Black cherry and smoke on the nose. I don't think this was aerated much if at all; it seemed very tightly wound. Taut cherry fruit, orange peel and spice. 92++
2010 Domaine Eden Pinot Noir
The Domaine Eden wines come from the old Cinnabar vineyard in Saratoga. Personally I found the early vintages disappointing, but it looks like Jeffrey has finally got things the way he wants them. This is a real winner. Although the nose seems lighter than the estate it still shows some nice spice, which follows through to the palate where it's matched by lovely cherry and berry, and supported but not dominated by some oak. At around $35 this is a terrific value; I plan to load up on it. 94
2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Nose shows eucalyptus and great black fruit. Rich flavours of blackcurrant and bramble; there's good tannin on the finish, but it's approachable now - if you must. 94
2008 Domaine Eden Cabernet Sauvignon
Like I said above, I've found the early Domaine Eden vintages disappointing, though maybe that's largely a case of having too high an initial expectation. This isn't a bad wine, it's just such a long way away from the Estate. The nose is softer, with berry and iodine notes. The fruit is lean and the finish is quick. 89
My understanding is that most if not all of the Cabernet vines are gradually being grafted over to Pinot Noir.

2009 Chardonnay
From a vineyard in Saratoga. Nose showed Asian pear and wet stone.
Sweet apple and pear with a saline, mineral note. Light acidity. 88
2007 Merlot 
Good nose of damson, bramble and oak. Rich, chewy fruit and a longish finish. The oak needs some time to integrate, but a decent value. 90
2009 Tre Rosso Cali
Blend of estate Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Dusty nose, with some blackcurrant. Powerful bramble and currant fruit, with good structure. The best wine Naumann has produced to date, and good value at under $30. 93
2007 Late Harvest Merlot
Lots of sweet, ripe fruit on the nose, also oak and a hint of VA. Lots of black fruit, raisin, date and oak. Some residual sugar, but not overpoweringly sweet. 90

Denis was also introducing his second label, Damselfly

2011 Rose of Petite Sirah
Barrel sample; Floral and fruity nose, Crisp and fruity with flavours of boysenberry. 88
2009 Pinot Noir, Domani Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
Complex nose - rose petal, earth and cherry. Good rustic cherry fruit backed with nice acidity. 91
2009 Malbec, Silvaspoons Vineyard, Alta Mesa
Aromas of blueberry pie. Fruity - blueberry and bramble - with firm tannins on the finish 91
2009 Syrah, Zayante Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
Smoky, meaty nose. Interesting gamey flavours, with black fruits. 92
2009 Petite Sirah Machado Creek Vineyard Santa Clara Valley
Black fruit, liquorice Great rich fruit. Nice controlled tannins. Caramel herb prickle if tannin 92
2009 Damselfly Sangiovese Santa Clara Valley
Earthy, herbal nose. Rather tannic with a hint of tar and some floral notes. 88
2009 Damselfly Petite Sirah, Monterey County
Mineral (sulphite?) note on the nose, Good fruit, smooth and easy drinking. 88

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard/Quinta Cruz
Jeff had a wide selection of wines from both his brands.

2010 Verdelho
An aromatic, acidic grape native to Madeira and perhaps best known as the primary component of one of the island's classic wines. It's also grown extensively in Portugal where it's used in white port and to make dry wines. Internationally it is increasing in popularity, particularly in Australia. It's slowly growing in popularity in the US with around 100 acres planted, mostly in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties.
Crisp, floral nose. Dry, floral and lemony, with light acidity and a good finish. 89
2009 Tempranillo
100% Tempranillo. Redcurrant and caramel nose. Chewy and concentrated with red and black fruits, and ganache. Medium finish. 91
2008 Tempranillo Reserve
The reserve spends longer in barrel and is blended with some Touriga and Graciano.
Nose of fireplace and earthy fruit. Lots of smoky, earthy black fruit. 91
2009 Touriga
A blend of Touriga Nacional & Touriga Francesa - two of the main port varieties.
The nose is a little faint, with some black fruit, but on the palate it's rich and plush. While dry, it clearly shows the characteristic fruitiness of port. 90
2009 Graciano
A Spanish grape which is a component of Rioja, Graciano is rarely bottled alone which is a shame.
Bright, floral nose with a hint of smoke. Rich red fruits on the palate - raspberry, currant and strawberry - intense yet lithe, with a tannic finish. 93
2008 Baileys Branciforte Ridge Pinot Noir
Nose of woodland and cherry. Good cherry fruit, with some herbal notes and a rich, earthy finish. 92
2009 Branciforte Creek Pinot Noir
Shows cherry and cranberry on the nose. Bright flavours of cherry and raspberry, also with a rich, long finish. 92
2009 Grenache McDowell Valley Vineyard, Mendocino 
Light berry nose, Rich raspberry and pepper. 89
2009 Petite Sirah, Pierce Ranch, San Antonio
Light, smoky nose. Rich black fruits, well managed tannins and a chewy finish. 89
2008 Bobcat Red
Aimed at the restaurant by-the-glass market, this seems to be a blend of leftovers that weren't good enough for the regular bottlings. There's a light pot-pourri nose and smoky fruit cocktail flavours with a hint of band-aid and a quick finish. 81

2009 Muns Vineyard
Nice smoky, floral nose. Lithe cherry and berry flavours, with some earthy notes. 89
2009 Tondre's Grapefield
Nose reminds me of cherry liqueur. Rich fruit flavours - raspberry and cherry - with a long finish. 90

2009 Viento Vineyard Gewürztraminer
Floral, lychee nose. Good spicy flavours with lots of lychee and a hint of residual sugar. 88
2010 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Creamy vanilla, lemon and lime, with soft acidity. 87
2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
Smoky, slightly medicinal nose. Spicy cherry - clove and cinnamon - and a long finish. 91
2008 Petite Sirah, Santa Cruz Mountains
Cider and oak on the nose. Rich, concentrated black fruit and good structure, only slightly marred by some heat. 90
2006 Rusty Ridge Zinfandel Santa Clara County
I'm normally a big fan of the Rusty Ridge Zinfandel, but this didn't quite measure up to previous vintages.
Earthy, raspberry nose, concentrated yet rustic raspberry flavours with chewy tannins. 89