Eucalyptus permeates many Sonoma vintages

February 11, 2013

Implore your wine pal at a local store to bring in a case of Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling. The most fun would be six 2010 and six 2011. You know I sampled it due to the name. I also adore Riesling that has lots of apple. My read is: 2010, loads of apple, hints of pineapple, lime peel and quinine. Fruity, but dry with a touch of residual sugar, good minerality and palate-cleansing acidity. The 2011 has a nice clear straw color, with aromas of lime, apricot and nectarine; this is more acidic than the 2010, and has an extremely long mineral finish. These are very nice 90-point Washington state Rieslings that should be brought in under $150/case to allow your store buddy to make a living as well. Very nice food wines and porch sippers for summer.

Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is tough to get, but worth the effort for those who enjoy terroir-driven Sonoma Cabs. Dark wine color opens to a bouquet of cherry, plum and currant with eucalyptus, lavender and toasted oaken nuance. Evolves on the palate to ripe berries, cedar, earth and oak-driven vanilla. Plenty of tannin and acid backbone tells me this will improve with cellaring. Drink in 2015 or later; it will last 20. I found Old Hill reminiscent of the old-line cabs from the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. As a side note, one reason we see eucalyptus in Sonoma nose is there are giant eucalyptus trees everywhere, and the smell permeates the grapes. You will find the aroma in many of the whites and the reds. Sometimes this is mistakenly described as mint. There is a great deal of discussion concerning whether the trees cause the smell. Anyone who visits will have their doubts dissuaded immediately, as the lovely aroma is pervasive. St. Helena among many others is known for this characteristic. Saw it advertised under $35.

Sampled a $12 bottle of Kline Cellars Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2009. I cannot understand why this lovely wine is not more highly praised. Parker always whacks it. The 2009s were given an 83. Eyewash, says I. Hot on opening, says he. Of course it is hot on opening; it says right on the label 15 percent abv. Let it breathe a bit. I’m a guy who loves hearty red sauces with my pasta and bitey barbeque; hold most of the sugar, please. Zins are up my alley and the QPR on Cline Ancient Vine is worth two points to me. I rate it 90 at least. After the alcohol dispelled some, a pleasing bouquet of blackberries, chocolate and oaky vanilla rose from my glass with just a hint of smoked meat or maybe soy sauce. On the palate, blackberries and raspberries, chocolate, a little black pepper and oak-driven vanilla. Slightly alcoholic finish put a nice little glow on. Drink this winter. Unsure if it will last through 2014.

Another nice three-part series in Snooth by GDP named Wines Then and Now. Must-read for cellarers and those who indulge in lamb haunches and $50 bottles of wine. Follow the winemaker. After reigning supreme over the production of Penfolds Grange, Australia’s most famous Syrah, John Duval has been doing his own thing. Recently he has made a foray into Washington state to continue his exploration of Syrah. Few know more about Syrah, so watch him carefully. Duval teamed up with Long Shadows vineyard in 2003, and this iconic Aussie winemaker is adding more stars to his walk of fame. The following offering is findable and a rare treat: A three-bottle package of the Long Shadow Sequel 2005, ‘06 and ‘07. All are rated above 92 points by WE, WA, WS and Tanzer. This is a very rare confluence indeed. They are on the money, and the wine is remarkable. Generally they share black cherry, ripe plum and blueberry enhanced by tea and incense. Lush, layered, depth, rich, vibrant and textured are among the descriptors allocated by that renowned coterie of critics.

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