Two valleys and a mountain
A short-form San Francisco travelogue; part 7
by Thor Iverson
13 April – San Francisco, California
West Coast Wines (continued)
Terroir Napa Valley 2002 “Centa” (Napa Valley) – A left bank-style blend, showing dense herbed blackberry, cedar, and tobacco. A touch green and soupy despite pretty good structure, with a black pepper finish and drying tannin. Balanced, but it will have a difficult middle age, and always be a bit on the green side.
Terroir Napa Valley 2002 “Dusty Red” (Rutherford) – Blueberry, black cherry, cassis, tobacco, and graphite. All the classic elements in a dense, hard, but balanced package. Tannins edge towards dusty coal and burnt redwood, but the finish is incredibly long. A very good wine.
August Briggs 2003 Pinot Meunier (Napa Valley) – Black cherries dominate a sweet and simple midpalate. This is a good example of why pinot meunier is an excellent blending grape, and it’s intellectually interesting to taste, but as a standalone wine…no.
August Briggs 2003 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) – Sweaty black plum and blackberry with juicy blood orange and a persistent light sweetness, then drying to basil and fennel on the finish. There’s some potential here, but only a little.
August Briggs 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso (Napa Valley) – Leather, black cherry, blackberry, and cassis syrup with green weeds and hard, ripe tannin. Thick, with only a cursory nod towards acidity, long, and sticky. When did wine reduction sauces become desirable drinks?
August Briggs 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – Leathery plum, dark cherry, and dusty earth with a stony, graphite-dominated texture. Long and incredibly dense with some interior complexity, this seems like a really excellent wine…until the finish, which is like sucking on a cherry Life-Saver. A shame, because what precedes it is rather impressive.
August Briggs 2002 Syrah (Napa Valley) – A very light funk (which blows off), fragrant violets and blueberries with a chewy walnut palate. Hollows out on the finish, showing rhubarb, dried plum, and rancid fig. Drink soon, or suffer the consequences, because this wine has the raw materials to age about a week.
August Briggs 2003 Zinfandel (Napa Valley) – Blackberry and burnt cherry tree bark with roasted nuts, peanut butter, and zingy coconut-infused goat cheese. Texturally gritty, thick, and tongue-sticking, with a sweet-tart finish.
Auteur 2002 Pinot Noir Hyland (Willamette Valley) – Shy on the nose, showing lightly herbed grapefruit and graceful crushed roses passed through a filter. Builds towards a really pretty finish, but needs better aromatics upfront, and a little more assertiveness.
Auteur 2003 Pinot Noir Montasi (Willamette Valley) – Slightly hot nose, with plum, fig, and dark, dusty mushroom. Chewy and balanced, with good structure. The best pinot I’ve tasted today. Balance and potential count for a lot.
de Sante 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley) – Clean bright greenness – desirable in a sauvignon – showing lime, lemon, grapefruit and grass with a dose of crisp gooseberry. Ripe, fun, and balanced, and probably the best California sauvignon blanc I’ve ever tasted. They have on display, but do not open, an “old vines” version (the “old” isn’t very, of course) which is a shame, considering how well they’ve done with this one.
de Sante 2002 “Calder” (Napa Valley) – Cabernet franc, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. Vanilla and herb dust with cassis, blueberry, black earth, and bruised black cherries with hints of black licorice, dark and dusty throughout, and showing a lovely, soft yet balanced structure and a great deal of complexity, with a long, lovely finish. A very nice wine with a solid future.
Serdonis 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain) – How could this possibly come from the same winemaker? Graphite and tar with a chewy, vanilla-infused structure, herbality, and dark plum residue that shows almost sugary despite a wall of hard tannin which clamps down on the synthetic finish. This shows the most unflattering aspects of Howell Mountain fruit, unfortunately.
Serdonis 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain) – Very dense and impenetrably tannic, with dark, peppery black fruit and bell pepper peeking out for a moment before being body-slammed by overwhelming bitterness. Not as synthetic on the finish as the previous wine, but completely indecipherable right now. Those who munch razor blades for fun might find some pleasure in this.
David Arthur 2003 Chardonnay “Reserve” (Napa Valley) – Full and fat, with pear, melon, and soft, tangerine-dominated citrus. Gentle and fun, and blessedly underwooded, but there’s no complexity.
David Arthur 2002 “Meritaggio” (Napa Valley) – Sweet strawberry and juicy plum; pretty fruit all dressed up with no place to go, except as a simple (and tasty) quaffer. Which would all be fine, except that the price doesn’t exactly reflect quaffability...
David Arthur 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – Sweet cherry, strawberry, and cranberry flavored with Juicy-Fruit™ gum, dressed with very light chocolate, and held up by some pretty decent acid and a bit of structural tannin. Not bad at all, if a little confectionary.
Copyright ©2005 Thor Iverson.