I was in a bit of a rush this morning as I have several articles “due” and my son was being, well, a bit of a pain in the butt. After I dropped him off at school, I raced home to get this post up before I got to work on those other articles. Well, while backing up, my foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator. And I ended up smashing into…
So yeah, the day is off to a rip-roaring start.
I had planned to post another set of “Random Samples” this morning, but instead, I decided to cherry-pick some of the best wines I have been ever-so-fortunate to try over the last couple of weeks. Looking at this list, while it may be clear that I am a complete idiot, I am also a rather fortunate one. Looking over this brief list, it is hard to be too upset about my car, until I found out that it won’t be able to be fixed until February.
2019 10000 Hours Red Blend, Red Mountain, WA: Retail $35. Big. Ass. Bottle. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. From the Aquilini family in Canada, this mammoth bottle dispels the myth that all Canadians are environmentally conscious. Deep rich color, with blackberry pie à la mode a go-go on the nose along with spice (clove) and a touch of earth. Close to a whoa before the first sip. The palate is also rich and luscious without being overbearing. The initial fruit is joined by the zingy tartness and a bit of heat on the mid-palate, then by some subtle tannins right before the lengthy finish. At thirty-five bucks? This is a steal. You also get a free murder weapon once you have finished the wine. #DoBetter Outstanding. 93 Points.
2020 Cattleya Chardonnay Alma de Cattleya, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $28. Under DIAM5. This marks the fourth vintage of this wine that I have sampled and it may be, at least in my opinion, the best of the four. Considerable color here, well on its way to “yellow” if not “golden” with aromas of lemon curd, vanilla, and oak. While that last descriptor might trip many an alarm bell across the country, I assure you that here, at least, it is a very “outstanding” thing. The palate is rich, if not decadent, with fantastic fruit, an incredible tartness, and, yes, an oaky (albeit subtle) foundation. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an “oak bomb.” In fact, I would not even consider it “oaky.” At. All. What I would consider it, however, is an Outstanding American Chardonnay. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2021 Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc Alma de Cattleya, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $22. Under DIAM5. I have gone through several vintages of the Alma de Cattleya wines and there is no doubt in my mind that the wines, while stellar from inception, have noticeably improved over the past couple of vintages. Close to colorless in the glass with intense citrus (lemon and grapefruit) as well as a lovely floral aspect. The palate is quite rich with an incredible zinginess from the jump, balanced by a bushel of fruit. Holy cow, and a whoa. One of the more powerful Sauvignon Blancs I have had in a while. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2018 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $60. 86.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 7.5% Cabernet Franc. There are few wines that I receive as samples every year about which I get more excited than those from Smith-Madrone. And I know I am not alone in the wine writing/blogosphere when it comes to that sentiment. All it takes is one encounter with Stu Smith over a glass of Smith-Madrone and it is easy to become hooked. Let’s just say that Stu does not shy away to share an opinion, which is so refreshing in a wine industry that seems much more focused on “message” and “image.” I scheduled an hour interview with Stu a couple of years ago, which lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours. And it was one of my absolute favorite interviews I have ever conducted. And the wine? Whoa. Medium to dark color with intense fruit aromas of blackberry, plum, and cassis. Whoa. There is a hint of oak (21 months in 50% new French), a dash of spice (clove, black pepper), and a sliver of herbs (sage, mint, basil). Whoa. The palate is even more worthy of remark as the fruit initially dominates, followed by a perfectly balancing acidity, and then the potpourri of flavors: spice, oak, sage. The lasting finish reveals that wonderful balance and just a hint of nearly integrated, soft tannins. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2020 Tongue Dancer Chardonnay Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $45. Big ass bottle. Under cork. At my age, the number of times I actually get “excited” are limited. Even close to non-existent. Been there. Done that. But when the wonderful folks at Tongue Dancer come out with a new wine? And that wine is a Chardonnay? Yeah. Giddy-up. While I am not crazy about the weight of the bottle, the wine? Gangbusters. Lovely lemon curd with a hint of oak on the nose, impeccable balance (great fruit, intense zinginess, just the right amount of oak), and a lengthy finish. Yet another winner from the Tongue Dancer team (and one more chardonnay to buy by the case)! Outstanding. 93 Points.
2017 Tongue Dancer Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $50. Under DIAM10. I first tried this wine a few years ago and it was great; closed and terribly shy, but great. Then, in a box of samples sent to me by Kerry MacPhail, the Knowledgeable One at Tongue Dancer, I decided to give it another try. Whoa. Black cherry, clove, a bit of sweet strawberry on the back end of the nose, just delightful. The palate is even more impressive with great, but balanced fruit, an exciting tanginess, and a near-endless finish. Whoa. I know I must sound like an absolute shill for Tongue Dancer Wines, but I am confident in stating that these wines are at or certainly near the top of the list of best Pinot Noirs produced in the U.S. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2020 Tongue Dancer Chardonnay Pratt Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $42. Big. Ass. Bottle. (I have been assured by Team Tongue Dancer that the bottle weights are being reduced). It has been several years now that I have sampled Tongue Dancer Wines but it always feels like Christmas morning when I get to pop a cork from what has become perhaps my favorite Sonoma producer. Considerable color in the glass as I would consider it more “yellow” than “straw” with lemon meringue and a touch of vanilla on the nose. The palate is, no surprise, impeccably balanced with a brilliant acidity equalling out the fruit. The oak, while present, is certainly in the background here with only a hint coming through on the finish. Another Outstanding wine from TDW. Outstanding. 94 Points.