||And a Bloody Pulpit of interest:
Ridge StoneRanch: I was quite impressed w/ this wine; one of the best ATPs
I can recall. It had more tannins and structure than many of the recent
Ridge releases; perhaps a bit more rusticity and less svelte/polish than
many. Almost like some of the Ridges from the early '70's in style. A change
at Ridge or just a fluke??
CoroMendocino: This is the joint project of Mendocino winemakers to draw
attention to the quality of their wines. This EaglepointRanch version is
a pretty impressive debut for the label, I must say. It's one of the finest
new Mendocino reds I've had (save some Anderson Vlly Pinots) in many a
year. It had a unique minerality to it that I've never seen in a wine that
I can recall. EaglePoint terroir?? Mendocino terroir?? Winemaking tricks
& gimmicks?? I haven't a clue. But it gave the wine a certain something
I found quite compelling.
I've been following Mendocino wines from the very start when Barney Fetzer
started making some pretty terrific single-vnyd Zins in the early '70's.
Then along came JedSteele at Edmeades and JimMilone/GregGraziano at Milano
in the late '70's to make some Zins & Cabs that were every bit the
equal of anything made anywhere in Calif. Then, in the early '80's, Mendocino
sorta vanished from the face of the Earth for premium wines and became
sort of a backwater growing area. But the quality of the grapes has always
been there. Insiders and winemakers have recognized that, What puzzles
me is that so few outside-Mendo winemakers have been so slow to exploit
these grapes. Kent Rosenblum has made some mightly impressive Zins from
the Rhoades Ranch over the last 10 yrs or so. Recently Wells Guthrie (Copain)
and Sean Thackry have started making some world-class wines from there.
I'm hoping the Coro project will raise the profile of Mendocino and make
others, other than us old-timers, recognize the quality of Mendocino grapes
and the potential of their wines.
One of the more controversial aspects (from the consumer standpoint) is
the pricing strategy, all the wines at $35/btl. The Coro intent is to show
to the world that Mendo is making world-class wines that can compete in
the upper price range; that Mendo's just not only a source for "value"
wines. Whether that's the right strategy or not, I'm not sure. I am certain
if that some of those wines taste like only $20 btls, they'll have shot
themselves in the foot and the Coro project will be for naught. Alas, I
think many consumers will look at that btl on the shelf and say "What...$35
for a Mendo wine??" The real question should be "Is this wine interesting
and unique and say something about Mendo grapes and wines"? and then ask
the question is it worth $35. I'm looking forward to someday tasting all
8 Coro wines together.
Montepulciano: This is apparently a grape that is indigenous to Abruzzo.
There is some suggestion that the variety is a clone or related to Sangiovese
brought South from the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany, but DNA typing
indicates no relationship to Sangiovese whatsoever. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo are totally unrelated wines. The Rosso Conero
wines are also based much on the Montepulciano variety, although their
WebSite seems to imply theirs is somehow superior to mere Montepulciano.
CalItal varietals: It's certainly been a struggle over the yrs since the
big Sangio plantings in the '80's and the market has struggled and never
caught fire the way folks expected it to. But there's light at the end
of the tunnel. I've seen an remarkable progress in the last few yrs with
them. Steve Clifton's Palmina wines, both white & red, are very impressive
across the board. Sashi Moorman/Stolpman has some impressive ones
in the works as well. Clearly, Barbera is the flagship varietal. I've had
some Calif versions that are world- class, as good as any Barbera anywhere.
The Sangios are getting much/much better, especially from the SantaBarbara
area. They're getting that beautiful floral/cherry aromatics right and
getting more texture & richness in them, w/o that mean acid/tannic
streak on the palate the early ones had. The Nebbs are showing much more
aromatics, but tannin management is still a problem. But they'll figure
it out. Like they did Pinot. As SteveEdmunds points out, Nebbiolo is another-worldy
grape that is not easily mastered. And then there's a $hitload (Kansas
colloquialism) of other stuff: Toreldego, Montepulciano, Lagrein, Refosco,
Primitivo, Ruchet, Freisa.... it goes on and on. And Amarone/Recieto is
a genre that should be pursued. It's exciting times.
Palmina Barbera: It's seems rather strange to be growing a high-acid variety
like Barbera in Pinot country. And it shows...one of the most acid Calif
wines I've had. It had a bit of funk to it, but lots of interesting things
going on in this wine.
Eberle Barbera: I've followed Gary's Barberas from the very start...the
'78 at Estrella River. When I first visited Gary there about '79, when
he'd been getting lots of good press for his Chards and Cabs; I announced
that I'd like to try his Barbera and Syrah. He gave me this weird look
and knew right then he was dealing w/ somebody whose elevator didn't go
all the way to the top. I was mightly impressed by the Barbera, especially
for the price ($6 as I recall) and my group wound up buying some 20% of
his production of 5 barrels. He expected it to be a very tough sale &
was delighted to find a buyer. After it came out & started attracting
attention, I suspect he regretted so much of it went to LosAlamos. I had
my last btl about 10 yrs ago & it was still wonderful.
Lagrein: Grown mostly in the AltoAdige for it's dark pigmentation (though
not a tenturier), I've had some pretty impressive ones from there. Seems
to be a rather earthy/licorice/cola character to the wine. This Terlan
was probably the most impressive one yet. The first Calif Lagrein was the
one from Chris Whitcraft. Grown in far EastSidePaso/FrenchCampVnyd; it
was pretty decent, though more in a Pinotish style. This Santa Barbara
Winery version, from a vnyd near LosOlivos, is far more impressive, nearly
as good as the Terlan I thought. Santa Barbara Winery & Bruce MacGrath
are really on a roll these days. Terlan Site is located at www.kellerei-terlan.com/eng
As anyone had experience with the many other wine from this cooperative??
Dornfelder: A German cross (Heroldrebe x Helfensteine) developed in 1956
to boost the pitifully anemic color of German red wines. Grown mostly in
Platinate and Wurttenberg regions. Early ones I've had were not too exciting.
I've had a couple that Howard&Rhoda have brought back from Germany
that were impressive, though very much in the international/ modern style
w/ skads of NewFrenchOak. The SantaBarbara version from Norm Huber is a
pretty amazing wine. The SantaRitaHills is not a likely spot to be growing
Dornfelder, but here it is. I first tasted this at Peter Cargasacchi's
SRH Tour two yrs ago & was mightly impressed. Tasted from the btl,
even more impressed. Pretty amazing wine.
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