Browse Tag

shenandoah valley

In front of the camel

Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) — This is the first (from a once-mighty stash) that I’d call fully mature, though I say that believing it’s a bit of an outlier. A thicker, pastier version of the classic Rhône “meat liqueur,” here more texturally hide-like than the norm. It’s in a really, really good place…or, at least, this bottle is. (5/16)

Sentinental reasons

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5. Rich, ripe, round. Fulsome baked fruit, sun, arbor, and antique desk. While this has definitely matured, in some ways, I think its very far from anything resembling a demise, and so I continue to drink mine slowly. (8/12)


Domaine de la Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) – This is really singing at the moment. Very early maturity, but still enough maturity to have made it worth the wait. The wine is brown. Not in color, but in tone and aroma. There’s lingering purple, but mostly it’s brown. Baritone. Incipient autumnal. Late afternoon. I’m glad I have it in quantity, though the dozen bottles I wasted over the years hoping for the slightest bit of development…well, I wish I had them back. (10/11)

Guard do-tree

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. I bought a pretty fair quantity of this wine, a long while back, from a store that was closing (well, moving) and clearing out full cases of whatever it didn’t want to move at pretty extraordinary prices. This was one of the offerings, and I acquired it for a song. That song, however, has been playing the same tune over and over for about a decade, to the point where I had almost given up on the wine ever moving from its highly primary and decidedly uncomplex starting point. Well, things have changed, and in a hurry (at least based on this bottle). Wonderfully mature, though early in that period, with smoke and dust eddying bacon, dried quince, and hedgehog mushroom aromas into a low-atmosphere helix of deliciousness. The structure has not fallen away, but is well-resolved enough to really let these lovely aromas through. I have little confidence that the rest of the bottles will be identically expressive – that’s how bottle (really, cork) variation works – but there is, at last, a glimpse of this wine’s delicious endgame. (10/11)


Easton 1998 Zinfandel “Estate” (Shenandoah Valley) – 15.1%. I drank through a fair quantity of this in lingering disappointment, as it never seemed to budge from its youthful expression of fulsome, arboreal fruitiness no matter how many years passed. Well, I think I’ve found the magic number, or at least this particular bottle has. Well into a developed stage of autumnal arbor, with meat and herb waving from the horizon. It’s still fruity, but the wild black juiciness is tempered by an encrustation of black pepper. And frankly, the alcohol is virtually unnoticeable; so much so that based on organoleptic evidence alone, I’d have guessed something much lower (looking at the wine’s adhesiveness to a glass tells a different story, but that’s cheating). This is a lot more interesting now than it was. (5/11)

Here’s the wind-up

Amador Foothill 2006 Zinfandel Clockspring (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. Very straightforward zinnish fruit: generous wild berries, a little feral, some pepper, a brief spike of alcohol on the encephalograph. Simple. Could be more of…something. Anything. (Hopefully not alcohol.) But OK. (6/10)

The Young’s & the restless

[vineyard]Young’s 2000 Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley) – 13.8%. Light and coconutty. The wild-vine intensity, often expressed as something almost piney, of the region is nowhere to be found, except in a vague suggestion of fresh spring bush growth. Fresh, friendly strawberry (seeds intact) comprises the entirety of the fruit. I’m not sure aging did anything for this wine. In fact, I’m convinced holding on to it was a mistake, as it was much better, richer, and more textured in its youth. (1/09)


Easton 2002 Barbera (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. Receding under a looming shark bite of coconut and vanilla, and though the neon red fruit holds for the moment, it’s not getting any better, and soon there’s going to be maraschino and heat left in its wake. So drink up. (12/08)


Easton 2002 Barbera (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. Massive fruit, perhaps too dense for its structure, with a bit of nagging volatility and a brief, angry snarl at the end. I’m not sure where that’s coming from, but all doesn’t end well with this wine. And certainly, it’s unrecognizable if one’s lens is Piedmontese barbera, though it fits nicely into the dominant Sierra Foothills expression. Maybe it’s just a little bit too old? (10/08)

I long to see you

[label]Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2003 Viognier (Shenandoah Valley) – There’s a metallic edge here, along with more typical peach skin and apricot. Surprisingly, the acid is prominent…not something one always finds in viognier, especially from the New World. The finish is shy, showing only a little thyme honey. It all seems a little less than it should be, so I try moving the wine to a bigger-bowled glass. This does make a difference, bringing out more of the floral aspects and seemingly expanding the wine’s overall profile. (5/07)

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