Big Basin Vineyards

Homestead Syrah 2014

Jörgen Lindström Carlvik

In a sweet spot at present, where ripeness meets freshness, complimented by positivity rough tannins and vivid fruit. Well balanced. — 9 days ago

Riddley, Eric and 6 others liked this


Ballard Canyon Harrison Clarke Vineyard Red Wine

This is a 50 50 blend of Syrah and mourvedre, the latter of which was added because it doesn't ripen as quickly, a problem the growers ran into growing Syrah on their soil.

It's a very dark, opaque, purple wine. The aroma is full, raspberry, tar, rose petals, vanilla. It's really tasty, chalky and b vitamins (which I like), bright, broad tannins (if that's a thing).
— 8 hours ago


G17 Monterey Syrah 2015

Winemaker Sam Smith used grapes from from northern and central Monterey County to create the 2017 G 17 Syrah. It’s one of those only-in-America blends featuring two grape varieties of the Rhône Valley and one from Spain. The mix is 87% Syrah, 9% Grenache and 4% Tempranillo. It was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels, a quarter of which were new. The grapes came primarily from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Arroyo Seco Appellations of Monterey County. Alcohol hits 14.4% abv and it retails for $22. Just under 1200 cases were made.
The first whiffs of this medium dark ruby wine are pretty boozy, but they're loaded with black berries, tobacco, smoke, leather and spices. The palate picks up black cherry and a ladle of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. The wine drinks surprisingly gentle, with enough tannic structure for roast or pork. A medium finish is noteworthy and is missed when it fades away.
— 12 days ago

Trixie, Tom and 10 others liked this

Tablas Creek Vineyard

Patelin de Tablas Blanc White Blend 2015

Shay A

During the month of January, the Wednesday Wine Committee has a unique format...the sparkler, whites and dessert wines can be from any vintage and any location, but the reds must be from the 2007 vintage. It was my first time providing a wine for a lunch, so I was excited to see how it showed. As always, all wines were served blind.

My guess here was Alsatian or German pinot Gris. This was fairly oily on the palate. Small bit of petrol. Some guessed Sauv Blanc, but it wasn’t tart or acidic enough in my mind. Unique.
— 6 days ago

Jason, Severn and 18 others liked this

Rusack Vineyards

Santa Catalina Island Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014

Bright, clear and very slightly tangy fruit. Seamless, expressive bright cherry, back end smooth as a baby’s bottom. Structure for age. Seek this out. — 12 days ago

Eric, Phil and 20 others liked this

Williams Selyem

Vista Verde Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012

Began as a dream of 2 friends, Ed Selyem & Burt Williams, who pursued weekend winemaking as a hobby in 1979 in a garage in Forestville, CA, and made their first commercial vintage in 1981.
Dark Ruby with complex aromas of black and red berries with spice scents. On the palate cherry and strawberry with citrus, cacao, vanilla spice and toasty notes. Aged on French Oak, well balanced, savory, round tannins, lingering nicely ending with some earthy mineral tones. Has room to age. Very nice!
— 3 days ago

David, Jeff and 1 other liked this

Sandhi Wines

Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2014

Blind tasted. Nose is very tight; star fruit, green apple, hints of poolside vapors. First sip is intense, acidic and tight as well, a few chews revealing structure and contained complexity. A nice buttery and ripe fruit retro really shows the quality of the wine, in conclusion. Very hard to describe - a thinker - that's for sure. Still very young - a sleeper - that's no doubt, pleasure was partly intellectual. I'd recommend to carafe for half a day or to taste the bottle over a few days. Taste around 14 degrees. — 6 days ago

Marco Bergevin
with Marco
Riddley, Phil and 9 others liked this

Miner Family

Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2013

Founded in 1988 by Dave Miner, along with his wife Emily and his parents, Ed and Norma. Aged for 15 months on French oak (60% new), from a 50-acre vineyard planted in 1995 by Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni along the terraces of the Santa Lucia mountains. Aromas of fresh dark berry fruit and wonderful baking spice. On the palate flavors of blackberry, cranberry and cola with toasty notes, well balanced. Fine tannins on lingering finish ending with a burst of fruit. Very nice. — 5 days ago

Jeff, David and 1 other liked this

Austin Hope Winery

Troublemaker Paso Robles Red Rhone Blend

Dark Inky in color with a short reddish rim.

Fruity nose with black currants, blackberries, ripe figs, wood, spices, licorice, chocolates, mocha, caramel, light vanilla, tobacco, light alcohol and peppercorn.

Full bodied and smooth with medium acidity and long legs.

Dry and fruity on the palate with blackberries, plums, cherries, currants, oak, vanilla, licorice, spices, chocolates, coke, coffee and peppercorn.

Long finish with very soft tannins and tangy cranberries.

This California Red Blend is always enjoyable. Well balanced and enjoyable by itself or with food. Still showing nice acidity and complexity.

It's a non vintage, but I held it for a couple of years so it must be 4 or 5 years old by now.

Good right out of the bottle and better as it opens up.

14.5% alcohol by volume.

— 2 days ago

Jason, Jim and 16 others liked this

Lucia Vineyards (Pisoni)

Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012

David T

A wine I’ve enjoyed mostly upon release or near it. I vowed to wait six years and nearly made it. At least it is 2018...just! It’s worth waiting this/that long for it to develop. On the nose; sweetly, baked fruits of; dark cherries, strawberries, black plum, plums, blackberries, and notes of blue fruits. Cinnamon, vanilla, very light clove & nutmeg, caramel, soft, medium, beautiful spice, black fruit tea, limestone minerals, loamy, dry, brown top soil, fresh dark florals and violets. The mouthfeel is full, rich & lush. The tannins are round, still have some teeth and possess velvety round edges. It’s fruit driven but not a bomb and showing elegance & grace. Fruits are perfectly ripe; dark cherries, strawberries, black plum, plums, blackberries, notes of blue fruits and dry cranberries dip in and out. Cinnamon, vanilla, very light clove & nutmeg, caramel, soft, medium beautiful spice that is more pronounced on the palate, black fruit tea, touch of melted brown sugar/molasses, limestone minerals, touch of rich dark sweet turned soil, loamy dry brown top soil, soft understated eucalyptus/mint, dry fresh florals and violets. The round acidity is just right, just a slight very small alcohol burn, the length, structure, tension and beautifully balanced finish are in a very good place. Even better in 2-3 more years in bottle; which is when I’ll have my next one. Photos of; the winemaking duo of Gary Franscioni (left) and Gary Pisoni, Rosella’s Vineyard on the right. As well as, Garys’ Vineyard at the bottom. Producer notes and history...The Santa Lucia Highlands appellation is known for its rich, vibrant Pinot Noirs. However, that wasn’t always the case. The first Pinot was planted in 1973, but results weren’t all that great. Chardonnay was the appellation’s early star. Much of the area’s current fame for Pinot Noir arguably can be traced to Gary Pisoni, a free-spirited wine enthusiast who grew up in a Salinas Valley vegetable farming family. Pisoni decided to plant a few acres of Pinot Noir in 1982 on his family’s horse ranch, at the southern end of what was to become the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation but his horses started eating the grapes. So, they had to go. His initial planting were limited by a lack of water until he dug a well on the property. Pisoni started planting even more Pinot Noir. The vineyard is now around 45 acres and nearly all of it Pinot. By the late 1990s, word had spread about the success of his vineyard, and a number of Pinot specialists from around California had started lining up to buy his grapes. He started producing his own wine in 1998. Pisoni isn’t the only Gary who has become a force in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Gary Franscioni, a childhood friend, followed Pisoni’s lead by planting grapes and started Roar Wines in 2001. The two of them now have five vineyards between them...all farmed meticulously with the same crew. They are best of friends...sort of a Mutt & Jeff. They have become a formidable presence in the Highlands, attracting interest from top winemakers and Pinot Noir lovers from all over. Franscioni is also from a vegetable farming family; Pisoni figures they’ve known each other since they were 3 or 4. Franscioni saw his friend’s success and once he got some money together, decided to plant grapes of his own. Franscioni’s property is farther north and cooler as it’s closer to the Monterey Bay. He was going to plant Chardonnay. He woke up and Franscioni recalls imitating Pisoni, and shouted, “plant Pinot!” Franscioni planted what became Rosella’s Vineyard, named for his wife, in 1996. He took Pisoni’s advice and planted four acres of Pinot Noir, although he still planted 12 acres of Chardonnay. It’s now a total of around 50 acres with three-quarters of it Pinot Noir. The next year, they decided to become partners and planted Garys’ Vineyard, a 50 acre parcel where they grow Pinot and a little Syrah. Since then, Franscioni has developed Sierra Mar, 38 acres of Pinot, Chardonnay, Syrah and a tiny amount of Viognier. The two teamed up again to establish Soberanes Vineyard, 35 acres of mostly Pinot Noir, with a little bit of Chardonnay and Syrah. That last vineyard was developed by Pisoni’s son Mark. The Garys might seem an unlikely pair. Pisoni is colorful character to say the least and has an outspoken manner. Franscioni comes across as more serious- minded. However, the collaboration between the two, who often address each other as “partner,” clearly works well. The two are good on their own, but better together. Pisoni being more gregarious acts as the frontman. He is the Ambassador. He’s a check on the rest to keep the quality high. Franscioni and Mark Pisoni run the farming on their own vineyards and work together on the joint ventures. The family involvement doesn’t stop there. Jeff Pisoni makes his family’s wines, which are under the Pisoni and Lucia brands. Franscioni’s son, Adam, joined the family business in time for the 2011 harvest. He handles sales for Roar and helps his father manage the vineyards. The grapes from all five vineyards are in huge demand, because the two families are such careful farmers, constantly tweaking and improving. Prominent customers include; Testarossa, Siduri, Kosta Browne, Copain and Bernardus. When a new vintner approaches them about buying grapes, the partners examine the winery’s track record and the Winemaker. If they like what they see, the winery is put on a waiting list. There’s not very much movement in their vineyards. When Franscioni planted Sierra Mar, he and Pisoni had 62 wineries waiting to buy fruit. Soberanes was developed with the idea of working with some new winemakers. There was some concern, even among the two families, that quality might suffer as the vineyard operations grew. However, there’s no indication that’s the case. In fact, with each new venture, they build on what they’ve learned in their older vineyards. Eventually, there will be even more vineyards. The Pisonis and Franscionis have purchased a 100 acre cactus farm in the Santa Lucia Highlands. There’s still a lease on the property. So, prickly pear cactus will continue to be grown for five more years. But at some point, the land will be planted with vines. Both families understand the importance of continuing to build for the future. The Garys looking back tell a story of being in the same spot some years ago and looking at a field of broccoli out back. He told Franscioni that the field would look a lot better with Pinot Noir vines. Now that parcel is part of Rosella’s Vineyard, and it’s planted with Pinot. Everybody thought he was crazy...most people usually think that when someone makes a bold decision. He’s a person who has always had vision and creativeness. He also has tremendous passion. Good things only happen when a person possesses all three of these qualities. Their wines are primarily available by mailing list. However, Nepenthe in Big Sur, CA acts as a quasi tasting room for some of their wines. — 18 days ago

Paul, Severn and 21 others liked this
Eric Shanks

Eric Shanks Premium Badge

@David T i do not or I would most certainly share! A very memorable bottle.
Peggy Hadley

Peggy Hadley

I feel like I just read a novel. Nice write up. Thanks.
David T

David T Influencer Badge

@Peggy Hadley Thank you. As a Sommelier, it’s important know as much as you can about beverages and their producers. Delectable is my tool to record my wine notes and the producers I research and visit. Delectable is a great App to keep them handy in my pocket. As much as I love wine etc., I have the utmost respect for the people that make them and really do it well. I believe the Garys’ do it right and really thought they were a great success story.