2011 Horsepower "The Tribe Vineyard" Walla Walla Valley Syrah, 13.6% alcohol. 4 hour decant. Similar to the 2012 Sur Echalas Vineyard I tasted well over a year ago, but more intense. Dark red. Almost bricky in color, but opaque. Nose of berries, olives and bacon fat with some pleasant floral undertones. Gamey palate with black fruits, olive tapenade, smoked meats and fresh herbs. Lengthy finish with a slightly bitter edge. Plush with a silky mouth feel. Great depth and richness. Having now tasted through all of wines of Christophe Baron, from No Girls to Cayuse to Horsepower and hopefully someday, Hors Categorie (I didn’t happen to be sitting at my computer when the offer arrived so I was shut out. Can you tell I’m a might peeved? Seriously, there has to be a better way), I can see Christophe’s vision. Are they worth the ever-rising tariff? To be fair, it’s probably too soon to make that call. — 12 days ago
2015 Sami-Odi Mahe & Ribo Syrah. I’ll sum it up in one sentence. This wine rivals the SQN Piranha Waterdance I tasted last night. I believe that the Fraser McKinley train has officially departed from the station. My condolences to all left standing on the platform. Very much looking forward to the new release! @Fraser McKinley — a month ago
Herman Story 440 Days. 100% Grenache from Paso Robles. Chelle Mountain and Terra Bella vineyards. Aged in 100% in new French Oak Foudre for 440 days, followed by 1 year in 100% New French Oak barrels. 380 cases made. 15.5% alcohol. Medium garnet color with a highly perfumed nose of smokey strawberries, figs and leather with a little hoisin and/or teriyaki in the background. It’s the explosive back-loaded palate that really impresses. Dark fruits, blackberries, spice cake, figs, olive brine, smokey bacon fat and cola with slightly gritty tannins. Rich, exotic and hedonistic. Downright delicious actually. I only bought a couple of these. Now wish I had a few more. Highly recommended. Nice job Russell. — 2 months ago
2010 SQN Stockholm Syndrome Grenache. So I wasn’t planning on posting any notes from my New Year’s Eve selections because sometimes you just need to enjoy the evening, but this wine is just so unbelievably phenomenal, I quite honestly just can’t stop thinking about it. I found myself just continually going back to this wine over the course of the evening. This supermodel immediately draws you in with her enticing nose of cassis, exotic spice, soy and purple flowers. Now that she has your full attention, she teases you with a rich and seamless palate of sweet blueberry pie, blackberry liqueur, liquid smoke, incense, licorice, black pepper and smokey duck sauce. Finally, she grabs you by the lapels and plants a seductive finishing kiss that just won’t quit. Im in love. I know I sound like a broken record, but I think this Krankl guy may just make it if he can keep this up. — 3 months ago
“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). I’m pretty sure Manfred took Wolfgang’s advice and that’s why I absolutely love the man. Vintage after vintage, wine after wine, pure perfection. Manfred’s wines demand your attention. Manfred’s wines stimulate your senses. Manfred’s wines force you to think. Manfred’s wines make you smile. It just doesn’t get any better! (That’s big Ivan in the background. Love and miss that big guy.) — 13 days ago
You know what I like about Manfred Krankl? (“I’m going to go out on a limb and say ‘everything’?” is my wife’s sarcastic answer to my posed hypothetical). Well yes, but that’s not where I was heading tonight. What I was going to say is that I like that Manfred’s wines are thought provoking. And not just the wine itself, but also the ever-changing labels and names. Take this evening’s selection. Entre chien et loup is one of my favorite French expressions from my college French class days. Literally translated, it describes a specific time of day, just before night, when the light is so dim you can’t distinguish a dog from a wolf. But like most good French expressions, it delves much deeper. It’s all about that limit between the familiar and the unknown, the comfortable and the dangerous. Pushed to the extreme, it’s that fine line between hope and despair. Layers of meaning.
And the wine? Layers of flavor. As usual for an SQN white, a blend. Mostly equal parts Chardonnay and Roussanne with a touch of Viognier and Petite Manseng thrown in. Vibrant gold color. A vigorous four hour decant reveals a huge nose of peaches and apricots with a yeasty, buttery brioche note that just rings the bell. Palate of tropical fruits and a hint of burnt toast with that unctuous silky texture only Roussanne can provide. A butterscotch finish of great length. Dense concentration. Full-bodied. Wonderful structure. Positively elegant. Personally, I prefer my SQN whites with several years of cellar time, but hey, sometimes you just can’t wait. This is excellent now, but will get nothing but better with age.
Finally, that label? I’ll just say that the TTB approves and so do I and leave it at that. And speaking of the TTB, check out that banned label in the background. — 25 days ago
2006 Saxum Bone Rock from the awesome James Berry Vineyard in Paso Robles. 76% Syrah, 18% Mourvèdre and 6% Grenache. A whopping 16.7% (and no, that is not a typo), alcohol! 3 hour decant, and it needs it. Motor oil black in the stem. Aromatic nose of exotic spices, roasted game and pepper with some Spring flowers lurking in the background. Explosive monster of a palate of Morello cherries and brambly fruits. Notes of baking spices and loamy earth. Soft tannins and nice acidity. I’d be lying if I said there is no noticeable alcohol, but I don’t think anyone would guess almost 17%. Rich and pure with that silky texture that I do crave. Strong finish. I always enjoy that rustic/tannic component that Mourvèdre contributes to the equation. Years ahead of this one. I would never guess this was an ‘06. Well worth the wait to join the Saxum mailing list. @justinsmith has the touch. One addendum: This wine is just begging to be joined at the table by a beautifully frenched and denuded, garlic-crusted rack of lamb like the Food & Wine recipe authored by my friend, the very talented Kenny Rochford. Maybe not the traditional pairing, but sometimes you just gotta push the envelope. — 3 months ago
NO GIRLS Grenache, La Paciencia Vineyard 2010 (Christophe Baron autographed edition). 14.4% alcohol. No Girls Wines is a collaboration between Cayuse Vineyards' owner and vigneron Christophe Baron and general manager Trevor Dorland. This is a 100% Grenache from the La Paciencia (patience) vineyard. I think it’s right next door to Armada Vineyard which is the source for Cayuse “God Only Knows” Grenache. And like Cayuse, it’s all about those rocks with aromas of wet stone, mushroom, black olives, smoked meats and a hint of lavender. On the palate, berries, cherries, olive tapenade and fresh herbs. There’s an attractive salinity present that I find appealing. Silky texture with a nice, lingering finish of black olives. I find these No Girls wines to be far more approachable than the same vintage Cayuse varietals. And I would say they’re a bit more elegant, as in less in your face than Cayuse. I’m a fan. — 19 days ago
2014 Sine Qua Non Piranha Waterdance Syrah. 15.8% alcohol. Inspired by @bobbythechamp, I thought that it was about time that I re-tasted this wine. The first, last, and in fact the only other time I’ve ever had it, I was spurred on by some over-anxious friends and I believe had already pulled the cork before the UPS driver had left the driveway. Can you say bottle shock? Well, patience is indeed a virtue. Nothing short of perfection tonite. A wonderfully expressive nose, I actually thought I was smelling the roses in the photo before I realized that the perfume was coming from my glass. Add a dash of menthol. Palate of sweet blueberry pie with an endless finish of espresso and chocolate. The absolute perfect balance of unequaled depth, stunning power and weightless elegance. The hallmark of SQN. A little preview of Touriga Nacional And Graciano in the blend. Stay tuned for more from The Third Twin Manfred Krankl fans! — a month ago
Evil Twin Brewing Double Barrel Jesus. Yet another masterpiece from my friend, brewmaster Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. Inky, coal black, ebony color. Aromas of espresso, mocha fudge brownies and the darkest of dark fruits. The absolute creamiest of textures. Gives a whole new meaning to “Mocha Cappuccino.” Positively chewy. Those oak barrels are magic. I’ve never really been a “beer guy.” I could appreciate a good stout, but Jeppe just knocks the cover off the ball. I find his work as contemplative as a fine wine. I’m serious when I say that I’d like to bottle some wine with this guy. Start thinking of a good label name Jeppe! — 2 months ago