"That's what I do. I drink and I know things."—The Imp
Friday night vibes... The Hossfeld’s aptly named Coliseum Vineyard was planted by the late Henry Hossfeld during the 1980s. The rock is so solid at this terraced vineyard that he literally had to frack the vine holes with dynamite. Late last year, the Hossfeld’s suffered significant damage from the Atlas Fire, including their homes and 15 of the 20 acres under vine, not to mention most of their 2017 crop. I knew this bottle would be special, but had no idea of the impact of the fires on this family.
Mark Carter founded his eponymous label in 1998 with the help of Nils Venge. Mike Smith would later become winemaker after Thomas Rivers Brown introduced him to Carter. Carter’s 2015 Hossfeld Coliseum is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and easily rivals Duckhorn’s 2014 Three Palms. Decadent black fruit leads the way, but it’s loaded with dates, fig, clove, spice cake, baking spice, and just the right edge of underbrush. This is best described as a gravy train of hedonism. — 18 hours ago
Drawn back to this again. I can see why Antonio Galloni would call this “one of the most distinctive Chardonnay in the Central Coast and California more broadly.” Replete with paradoxical tension, it’s just as enticing intellectually as it is hedonistic. The only certainty is the intensity. Fabulous. — 11 days ago
While the 2012 was impressive last week, it also had me nervous that the 2014 might need some time. This is not the case. Immediately approachable, with generous crème de cassis and blackberry ganache, and stopping just short of being a fruit bomb. Sourced from several small Napa vineyards, each vineyard lot is fermented separately and then spends a year in American oak before blending and then another year in barrel. The lush, ripe fruit is ever so lightly tinged with a pyrazine patina, reining-in the otherwise boundless fruit. ZD’s 2014 has received numerous gold medals at such competitions as the San Francisco Chronicle Int’l, San Diego Int’l, and TEXSOM, but if I’m really being honest, most of my attention is on the Curling tonight. 🥌 🥌 🥌 🥌 — 16 days ago
Pillow Rd. Vineyard is situated to the southwest of Sebastopol, not far from the southern tip of the Russian River Valley, and planted to two acres of Chardonnay and seven acres of Pinot Noir. Clones 777, 115, and Pommard made up the first plantings in 2000, with Calera and Swan being added later (replacing Gravenstein apple trees). The vineyard has courted her fair share of suitors, originally being one of Duckhorn’s sources for its Goldeneye Pinot Noir. The first commercial vintage under the Pillow Rd. label was 2006. I’m not sure whether Ladera had entered the scene at that point, but it was definitely in time for their release of the 2009 vintage. In 2016 PlumpJack Group acquired Ladera’s Howell Mountain vineyard and winemaking facility, and while it appears the Pillow Rd. Vineyard wasn’t included in that sale, I haven’t seen anything that spells that out explicitly. Regardless, what is certain is that Napa Cab makers can’t quit this Russian River Pinot vineyard. It had some kinks to work out, but ultimately it’s built for pleasure and not complexity, and it eventually got there. Cherry cola, sassafras, baking spice, butterscotch, and just enough of a citrus edge to keep from losing its balance. — 2 days ago
The 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay from Hilliard Bruce is quintessential Greg Brewer Chardonnay. Jay McInerney describes them as “almost paradoxical in their juxtaposition of ripeness and acidity, of voluptuousness and bone structure—in other words, wines that speak French but also know how to shake their booty on the dance floor.”
Almost a caricature of what a White Burgundy from California is... Lemon and rocks on full blast, and backed by the rhythm of floral infused butter and d’Anjou pear. — 21 days ago
While it’s not quite their La Closerie du Pic, Le Prestige from Château Puech-Haut has been one of the best bang for your buck bottles going back to at least 2009. The 2013 is a blend of 55% Grenache, 45% Syrah and, again, a stunning value. Rich blackberry and lush raspberry, licorice, peppered meat, and smoked mesquite, with a backdrop of Herbes de Provence. — 23 days ago
From head-trained vines planted in 1886, possibly the oldest Cinsault on Earth, and yet still farmed by the same family. It’s hard not to compare to Cru Beaujolais, with its tart, bright red fruit, lively acidity, and aromatic firework display of floral minerality. Even harder is setting down your glass. — 9 days ago
My original intention today was to find something old world, but also progressive... thinking pet-nat or maybe Cru Beaujolais... but instead I came across this at one third its list price. Sourced 100% from To Kalon Vineyard, so Mondavi it is. Considering what To Kalon reds command, it’s fascinating that the vineyard still has blocks planted to white varietals. The 2014 Oakville District Fumé Blanc is a blend of 79% Sauvignon Blanc and 21% Sémillon. Lots of history here... The name Fumé Blanc was actually a creation of Robert Mondavi in the late 60s. Needing a pseudonym to distinguish his dry, Loire-inspired style of Sauvignon Blanc from the mostly sweet, mostly bad versions that dominated the market at the time, he borrowed from Loire’s Pouilly-Fumé, famous for its dry Sauvignon Blancs. Mondavi never trademarked the name, actually encouraging other producers to adopt the nomenclature as an association with higher quality. Several of these producers continue to bottle the varietal under Fumé Blanc, including Dry Creek Vineyards, Grgich, Ferrari-Carano, and Benziger.
An immediately appealing nose features the signature lemon verbena of Mondavi’s Fumé Blancs. Carries surprising restraint in regard to the fruit and level of manipulation, and is an indication of the superb balance it maintains. Lime zest, stone fruit, slate, and fresh thyme. I wouldn’t pay $40 for it, but this is better than everything under $20. — 10 days ago
Jack: If they want to drink Merlot, we're drinking Merlot.
Miles: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any F%$&ING Merlot!
The Miles Raymond I know would order a second bottle of this and then call his ex-wife from the restaurant pay phone... it’s that good. — 14 days ago