Browse Tag


Still butterfly

[dashe grenache blanc]Dashe 2014 Grenache Blanc Monarch Mine (Sierra Foothills) — My adoration for Dashe is so wide-ranging that I’m surprised just how boring I find this wine. Maybe time will help? There’s nothing at all wrong with it…perhaps a touch of heat, but nothing unmanageable…but it just sits there; grenache blanc in weight and palate density but not in aromatics. One of the more surprising, even absurd, conclusions I’ve come to over the years is that Paso Robles — quite possibly the least interesting region in California for my palate and preferences — is the source of the most interesting grenache blanc. And yes, I include France in that tally. (9/16)

Made by Cori’s daughter

[corison]Corison 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) — Advancing more quickly than I’d have guessed, though it’s still far from home. All the dust and minerality one could want, with fine-grained wood seamlessly integrated with tobacco and dark particulate fruit. Lovely and balanced, as Corison almost always is. (7/16)

Hounds, unreleased

[esj bassetti]Edmunds St. John 2001 Syrah Bassetti (San Luis Obispo County) — The reason I work out: I want to be old enough, one day, to say that I’ve had an ESJ made from syrah or the Southern Rhône grapes that was over the hill. Leather and dried blackberry jerky, powdery soil, firm structure, but mostly just about force without excess. Let it age. (7/16)

Mary Lincoln

Dashe 1999 Zinfandel Todd Brothers Ranch (Alexander Valley) — Some of these are fruitier than others, some are more resolved than others, but they all have this in common: dirt and a hard-edged structure. This is one of the gentler, more aromatically generous versions, and it’s eminently approachable. (7/16)

Drawing out a blanc

[tablas creek blanc]Tablas Creek 2004 “Côtes de Tablas” Blanc (Paso Robles) — Dried honey, wax, amber, a bit thuddy (but then what does one expect from these grapes, in Paso, at age 12…even from Tablas Creek?), but elements of this wine have certainly rewarded aging. If you like it prettier, drink it earlier. I like both. (8/16)

Louvau riche

Dashe 2012 Zinfandel Louvau “Old Vines” (Dry Creek Valley) — Big, bold, fruity, young. So very young. Nothings resolved here; it’s just a delicious cacophony. (7/16)

Oak Boys

[geyserville]Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) — The second-to-last bottle of what was, once, a mighty two-case stash. This wine rounded into form somewhere between five and ten years ago, but I let the supply linger, ever mindful of the surprising ageability of many of the older Ridge zins and zin blends. There has been no clear pattern to those uncorked since; some were full of energy, others decidedly tired. (We all remain incredibly thankful for the unpredictability and inconsistency of natural cork, right?) This bottle was an interesting statistical outlier in that its structure was as dusty as old tomes in an abandoned library, but its fruit was far less advanced than any bottle of recent memory; plenty of sous bois, yes, but also many-layered wild berries atop that forested baritone. I couldn’t really recommend holding it any longer, but I admit that curiosity urges me to bury the last one for another decade, just to see what happens. (6/16)

You give love a bad name

[dashe zinfandel]Dashe “Les Enfants Terribles” 2014 Zinfandel Heart Arrow Ranch (Mendocino County) — 13.8%, native yeast. I remember the first vintages of this experiment, which were usually tasty, but rather loose and a bit wild…nudging into the natural realm without seeming to feel confident in any particular world. Since then, control (of a sort) as been reasserted. I think it would be fair to call Mike Dashe a structuralist — certainly the rest of his zinfandels are firm, unquestioned candidates for aging — and while this remains unlike the “normal” zins, it adds just enough structure and form to its boisterous (but not explosive) mélange of berries, barks, needles, and dusts that it feels entirely cohesive and self-possessed. Another wine I’d like to have on permanent, free-flowing tap. (6/16)

Evangelho Lilly

[carignane]Dashe “Les Enfants Terribles” 2014 Carignane Evangelho “Old Vines” (Contra Costa County) — 12.9%. Fun, bubbly fruit of the dark-skinned variety. Glou-glou without the irritating volatility and carbonic Beaujolais sameness that pervades the genre. I would like to order several kegs of this, please. (6/16)

Copain, no gain

[copain]Copain 2014 Chardonnay “Tous Ensemble” (Anderson Valley) — Confident, bright, straightforward. Slightly underripe white apricot and pollen. Good structure, well-balanced. (5/16)