By califusa

My first stop at the grand tasting this year was, appropriately enough, with the
Garretson Wine Company

George Heritier's tasting notes (and more photos) are here


Yves Gangloff












Mark Miller with his "Appreciation Plaque" awarded during the luncheon on Saturday















Francois Villard 


Pierre Gaillard






Henry & Lauren Harris 


Garretson Wine Company: 1999 “Fat Bastard Viognier” from the Fralich Vineyard - as per its name - a large, viscous and alcoholic Viognier - lovely apricot and honeysuckle aromatics - full and mouth filling with noticeable alcohol and a hint of bitterness in the finish - but, all in all, very delicious. 

Garretson Wine Company: 1998  Syrah  Paso Robles  “The Aisling” - smoky roasted coffee and cocoa bean over dense black stone fruit aromatics - is very successful on the palate, showing sweet dark purple and black stone fruits - still has some relatively smooth tannins that will require some time to resolve, but it has wonderful intensity, and is enormously satisfying.

Equus is the Rhone varietal incarnation of Wild Horse - 1999 Rousanne  Paso Robles - pleasant light peach and wildflower aromatics - slightly sweet in the mouth, but pleasantly so, with sensual viscosity and a clean finish. 

1998 Wild Horse Viognier Central Coast - light aromatics of fruit cocktail and wildflowers - pleasant enough in the mouth, but the flavors are a bit nondescript – a not terribly exciting wine. 

1997 Wild Horse Syrah Paso Robles - good dense color - slightly dusty and muted dark plum aromas in the nose - very sturdy in the mouth - slightly sweet finish - still some moderate long chain tannins that need to resolve – but a relatively well put together effort. 

1997 Wild Horse Syrah James Berry Vineyard - more dense and distinctive fruit in the nose, leaning more towards focused plum - all around a more pleasant wine - more focused fruit flavors - a slight sweetness and a longer finish – quite nice. 

Yves Gangloff  1998 Condrieu - very light pale straw color - delicate aromatics of wildflowers with a hint of nectarine, quite lovely - lightish fruit flavors with surprising viscosity and weight in the mouth - very nice wine. 

1996 Yves Gangloff Cote Rotie - absolutely fascinating and effusive nose of wonderful spicy black stone fruits with hints of leather and an intoxicating perfume with nuances of bacon fat and sun baked stones - this is what makes these wines so fascinating for me - the aromatic profile is simply extraordinary. 

1997 Yves Gangloff Cote Rotie from young vines - and still shows those gamey and meaty characteristics that make these wines so much fun - a bit more Viognier perfume in this wine - smooth and pleasant on the palate and a good entry-level wine.

1997 Yves Gangloff Cote Rotie - not as impressive in the nose as the 96 - more muted fruit flavors without the spice and meaty perfume and complexities, but nevertheless, a good Cote Rotie flavor profile.  

1997 Yves Gangloff Condrieu Late Harvest - picked in the middle of November - no botrytis, but the grapes were quite raisined - lovely sweet peach, apricot and nectarine, as well as pretty honeysuckle and wildflower aromatics - the wine is hugely successful in the mouth, showing good balance - concentrated white stone fruits along with very well-balanced sweetness, and just the right acidity to hold it altogether. 15 percent residual sugar, according to the wine maker - as they allowed the grapes to concentrate, the lack of botrytis made it easier for them to balance the sweetness and acidity. An absolutely wonderful Late Harvest Condrieu. 

Novy Family Winery – with Adam Lee – this is a joint venture with another family member – 1999 Syrah Rose - a pink, dry and utterly refreshing rose of Syrah - interesting aromatics and a longer and cleansing finish. 

1998 Novy Family Winery Syrah  Sonoma County  Stagecoach Vineyard - located between Petaluma and the town of Sonoma - dense color - subdued aromatics - sweet and pretty fruit up front with significant tannins that will need some time, but a nicely structured wine with good intensity that should turn out quite well with a little bit of patience. 

1999 Novy Family Winery Syrah – this sample is from the Page Nord Vineyard, one of three vineyards that will go into the final blend.  Inky dark color - great intensity on the palate that is matched by the astringency of the tannins - this barrel sample wins Madame L’Pour’s Saliva Sucker Award of the Day. And it do… 

Linne Colado – their entree into the barrel auction fetched a surprisingly high price, and was purchased by Mark Miller (of Coyote Café and Red Sage fame.) 1998 Willow Red - medium color - very pretty entry with sweet and ripe Grenache fruit - medium weight on the palate - it still has some tannins that need to settle down a bit, but a well-balanced medium weight wine that will pair very nicely with a wide variety of foods. 

1998 Linne Calodo James Berry Vineyard - a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre - slightly darker color - mostly Mourvedre in the aromatics - quite delicious in the mouth, showing sweetness from ripe fruit - very clean and well structured wine with a good broad mouth feel and a long follow. The wine needs a little more time in bottle, but right now is very promising. 

1998 Linne Calodo Cherry Red - a Zinfandel and Syrah blend - the bright aromatics of the Zinfandel are quite apparent with a slightly syrupy sweetness - a very pleasing wine on the palate, showing good intensity.  This will be an eminently drinkable wine - all it needs is a little time to settle down. 

Jasper Hill 1998 Shiraz Georgia’s Paddock - their 1996 vintage of this wine was among my very favorites at yesterday's library tasting. This wine shows an incredibly dense color - smoky perfume that changes to garrigue and road tar with hints of roasted coffee and cocoa beans. On the palate the wine is extremely successful, with dense and layered flavors and a finish that just goes on and on and on.  A most impressive pair of wines from Jasper Hill. 

Domaine Francois Villard – 1998 Condrieu - pleasing light peach and wildflowers in the nose with hints of mineral - pleasant on the palate, albeit a touch astringent - the wine is clean and well focused and would probably pair better with shellfish, rather than rich or creamy dishes - a bit austere, but a very nicely made wine. 

1998 Domaine Francois Villard Gigondas - black plum and roasted coffee with hints of licorice on the nose - very exciting on the palate - it's loaded with very expressive fruit - it still needs to two or three years in bottle to come around a bit, but a beautifully structured wine with great promise. 

1997 Domaine Francois Villard Condrieu Late Harvest  “Quintessence” - beautiful golden hue - pretty honeyed white stone fruits in the nose - delicious balance with acidity, sugar and fruit in harmony - the wine drinks very, very easily.  Although I tasted several wonderful dessert wines, this one may be my favorite. 

Pierre Gaillard – 1998 St. Joseph  Clos de Cuminaille - lovely spice and bacon fat aromatics over dense black plum - the wine is enormously appealing in the mouth - the aromatics follow through on the palate perfectly - beautifully structured and well-balanced with a broad flavor palate and a clean finish.  The wine needs a little time but is quite delicious. 

1999 Pierre Gaillard Condrieu Late Harvest  d’Automne - gorgeous aromatics of sweet apricot with hints of honeysuckle - very pleasing in the mouth with peaches and sweet nectarine. Not cloying or syrupy to my palate - clean, although somewhat abrupt finish. I thought I detected some smooth wood tannins in the mid-palate, so I asked the winemaker if the wine had seen any wood. He told me it had spent time in all new French oak – he thought the wine was so concentrated that it would pick up just a kiss of the oak. 

Cold Heaven – 1997 Viognier Late Harvest Sanford & Benedict Vineyard - first pour was from a corked bottle - second taste from a new bottle showed very clean, pretty and concentrated peach and nectarine flavors - good balance with just a hint of stem tannins, but no bitterness on the finish - really quite lovely. 

Curtis Winery 1998 Viognier Santa Barbara County - the first pour had nuances of wet gym locker sweat sock, so we opened a new bottle and poured another taste. Second try from a rinsed glass and a fresh bottle yielded identical funk as the first pour – a flawed wine in my book. 

1997 Curtis Winery California Heritage Old Vines - a Rhone styled blend of six varietals made in an early drinking style - aromas of super ripe fruit bordering on over ripe - very dense on the palate with some drying tannins - the wine has good weight, but I don't know if it will ever quite come into balance - not terribly impressive. 

1997 Curtis Winery Syrah Santa Ynez Valley  Ambassador’s Vineyard – there is some acetyl volatility in this wine - medium weight, fairly generic Syrah flavor profile in the mouth - pales in comparison to some of the very fine wines here today - a rather disappointing showing from this winery. 

Yesterday, the Andrew Murray barrel sample was the last wine I tasted as I went out the door, and I neglected to take tasting notes.  I won't make that same mistake today.

1999 Andrew Murray  Enchante – 40% Marsanne, 40% Rousanne, 20% Viognier - I think I'm probably beginning to suffer from palate fatigue - I've probably tasted some 50 wines or so, and none of these are really exciting me right now. This wine has a nice broad mouth feel and medium weight fruit flavors - bone dry with a very crisp palate cleansing finish. This would be my oyster wine of the day. 

1999 Andrew Murray Marsanne - I tasted this wine at Mustard’s Grill just a week or two ago and was quite impressed with it.  Smokey peach and apricot aromatics - very pretty peach fruit across the palate with medium weight and a very clean finish. 

1999 Andrew Murray Syrah “Les Coteaux” - shows smoky and dusty fruit, and is far too young to be enjoyable now. 

Alban Vineyards 1999 Viognier Estate - very faint suggestion of oak char in the nose that is followed and complemented by fairly rich nectarine fruit, although the aromatics are generally restrained.  Clean and well balanced, and I think the fruit will come up a bit with a little more time in bottle.  It is a satisfying wine. 

1998 Alban Vineyards Rousanne Estate - a hint of funk or perhaps TCA that renders the wine undrinkable for me. 

1998 Alban Vineyards Grenache Estate – very small production, and the last pour from the last bottle. A little funk in the nose, but glorious in the mouth with sweet and ripe Grenache fruit - very focused wine with a long follow.  This is absolutely delicious stuff.  I imagine that with airing the funk in the nose may blow off, but in the mouth this is a tremendously pleasing wine. 

1998 Reva, John Alban’s Estate Syrah - again, that little hint of funk in the nose - dense Syrah fruit that is a little drying on the front of the palate - but I don't consider that a negative at all - the wine simply needs a little bit of time to come around - it's quite delicious and well focused.  It finishes deep and rich on the palate. 

Arrowood - today, their table is manned by Carlos, who, for more than 10 years was the resident chef at Kenwood Vineyards, and created some wonderful food and wine pairings for special events there. There has been a change in ownership at Kenwood and for reasons we do not need to discuss, Carlo has left.  He’s a very nice man as well as a talented chef, and we wish him well wherever he winds up. 

1998 Arrowood Viognier Saralee’s Vineyard - rather muted citrus and light peach aromatics with just a hint of soap - very clean and pleasant on the palate, rich and full with a very pleasing astringency – this will be a  very nice wine paired with the proper foods.  

1995 Arrowood Syrah – ‘accidentally’ opened by Carlos - just lovely perfume in the nose that transcends mere Viognier aromas – lavender and wildflowers highlight a fascinating aromatic profile. The wine is smooth and the spreads easily across the palate, with dense Syrah flavors and a slight dusty astringency that is quite pleasant. 

George Heritier has tasting notes too or move on to the Farewell Barbeque


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