Antiquum Farm, Pinot Noir – 2016

  • Basic info: Antiquum Farm “Juel” Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon – 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $40
  • Look: Inky. Dark Purple/plum in color.
  • Smell: fresh tobacco, red berries, grape jam and leather.
  • Taste: Cherry, blackberry and a little tart. Notes of pepper, spice and jam with a velvety texture. Coco and pepper on the finish.
  • Conclusions: Amazing. Completely blown away by this one.
  • Other notes: We opened this bottle one night when I didn’t care that it was mid-90s in October as I just really wanted a red wine. I figured Pinot Noir is a lighter red wine and would be fine. We had this bottle for a little while and we just decided to open it. I was a little worried when I smelled the wine, but holy cow the taste! I added this one to my (very short) list of wines that were completely exceptional and just about perfect – the 95 plus wines if I was into giving numbers. This one was complex, fruity without being sweet, and was one of the best wines I think I’ve had. Yes, it is on the expensive side, but I have to say – worth every penny.
  • From the bottle: “Antiquum Farm’s high elevation, thin soil site is a place of anomaly. Perhaps an oddity. This site is capable of consistently producing a balance of extremes between luxuriously ripe fruit and high-toned rippling acidity. Our farming preserves the unique attributes of this site. No off-farm fertilizers are used. native cover crops are encouraged and graze year round with a menagerie of livestock. Exhaustive measures of meticulous hand labor embody our love of farming. These old world methods create one of the region’s most unique and intensely personal wines. This is more than a way of growing wine. This is a way of life.”  14.3% alcohol by volume.

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Machin Breaker, Pinot Noir – 2012

  • Basic info: Machine Breaker “The Innocents” Pinot Noir, Eloa-Amity Hills, Oregon – 2012
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $45
  • Look: Opaque ruby in color turning to rose at the edges
  • Smell: Tiny bit of cherry, some mineralogy and a touch of blackberry
  • Taste: Soft. Slightly sour cherry, some bramble and stone fruit. Medium finish with peach pit and a nice tart taste.
  • Conclusions: This was okay. Both Bob and I liked it, but it didn’t live up to the description or the reviews. I liked the wine just fine, but it wasn’t phenomenal.
  • Other notes: We opened this bottle to celebrate me new job and I kind of wish I had picked a different bottle. It is definitely a well structured wine, but it wasn’t really to my taste. A little too sour and maybe a touch too much wood to be truly enjoyable.
  • From the bottle: I completely forgot to look at the back of the bottle on this one. 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Fattoria La Ripa, Chianti – 2010

  • Basic info: Fattoria La Ripa, Chianti Classico Riserva, Sangiovese (90%) & Canaiolo (10%),Tuscany, Italy (Chianti Classico DOCG) – 2010
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $35 (Somm Select)
  • Look: Garnet in color with some orange and brown at the edges
  • Smell: Oak, trees, and a little hot/alcoholic
  • Taste: Cherry, hint of smoke, baking spices. This was a really complex wine, but I had a hard time identifying or naming specific flavors. Dry, red fruit and a little earth in the middle. Pepper on the finish.
  • Conclusions: Both Bob and I really liked this wine. He isn’t a huge Chianti fan, so when he liked it, I knew it was a winner. I think this is my first aged Chianti and while I think I prefer them a little younger, this one was just beautiful.
  • Other notes: I will fully admit, when I saw the edge of this in the glass, I was worried. In my mind (the unsophisticated wine person I am) brown at the edge means not good – oxygenated and less than perfect. This definitely was not the case here – despite the age on this bottle (yes, I know for real wine people 8 years is not old, but for me it is) it was fantastic. I can’t wait to break into the other bottles of this – I may have picked up a few.
  • From the bottle: (From Somm Select tasting notes) ” La Ripa 2010 Riserva is a medium garnet-red moving to pink and brick-red at the rim, with aromas of ripe black cherry, raspberry, red currant, and a hint of blood orange peel mixing with more savory notes of underbrush, turned earth, wood smoke, and dried rose petals. Medium to medium-plus in body, it is exceedingly pretty and energetic on the palate, with fine-grained tannins and well-integrated acidity.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Esztebauer, Kadarka – 2016

  • Basic info: Esztebauer “Nagyapam” Kadarka, Szeksard, Hungary – 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $28 (Somm Select)
  • Look: Ruby red in color with some translucence at the edges.
  • Smell: (Stay with  me, this is a little weird) Smoke, herbs, trees and plums (yes, really)
  • Taste: Red berries, especially almost ripe or under ripe raspberry. Cola and a little rose.  Nice finish.
  • Conclusions: This was one of the most unique wines I’ve ever had. It ranks up there with the strange Sicilian wine with had in December that totally changed flavor with food. This was good, very good, but unlike anything I’ve tasted before. All of the flavors were there, but hard to identify. When looking at what we said it tasted like, it sounds bad and the wine should be bad (based on those flavors) but it was good – very good. This was one of the few times I wished I had a really good palate so I could accurately describe this wine.
  • Other notes: I was intrigued by this bottle and since I had never heard of the grape varietal, I decided to try it. I like trying new varietals and while I am sometimes disappointed, this was not one of them. Both Bob and I lingered over our glasses and sipped and contemplated because we had a hard time describing the wine. The smell and the taste were also so different that it was hard to believe they were the same wine.
  • From the bottle: “Above all other wines, my grandfather (Nagyapam) loved to drink the Kadarka of Szekszard, still cool, straight from the barrel. Harvested from our oldest vines, this exuberant, jasmine and raspberry scented rendition was made in his honor. Our family has farmed the chalk and loess hills of Szaksard since 1746.” 12.5% alcohol by volume.

Folktale Winery, Pinot Noir – 2017

  • Basic info: Folktale Winery “Golden” Pinot Noir, Monterey County, CA – 2017
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $20 (local wine shop)
  • Look: Dark ruby red almost opaque even at the edges.
  • Smell: Fresh raspberry and cherry pie. (Yes, I know those two things seem incompatible, but that’s what I got.)
  • Taste: Very ripe raspberry, blueberry, black cherry. This was a pretty smooth wine and easy to drink. Notes of chocolate and a little oak in the middle with a tart finish. with lots of cherry and a tiny bit of chocolate.
  • Conclusions: I liked this wine. It was easy to drink and went with dinners as well as sipping by itself when watching tv. It isn’t really memorable, but it was definitely pleasant.
  • Other notes: I had this wine over the course of a few days and while I liked it when I first opened the bottle, it was better the second and third days. Bob thought this was “fine” but it wasn’t his favorite.
  • From the bottle: “Our Monterey Pinot Noir is a classic style of red fruit, spice, floral, and great acidity. A background of toasted oak and a soft supple texture on the palate create pure enjoyment.” 14.2% alcohol by volume.

Cloud Break, Petite Syrah – 2016

  • Basic info: Cloud Break, Petite Syrah, California – 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $9.50 (Total Wine)
  • Look: Dark red with some staining on the glass. Good legs and almost opaque in the glass.
  • Smell: Wine. Nothing very discernible on the nose.
  • Taste: Dark berries. Smooth and very fruit forward. Really short finish with a hint of leather on the back end.
  • Conclusions: Eh. I drank most of the glass with my dinner (it went pretty well with grilled cheese, but not well at all with the cucumber salad) but didn’t end up finishing the wine.
  • Other notes: This was a bottle I picked up because Petite Syrah is one of the few “major” varietals that I haven’t tried since I started keeping track. I remember really not liking Petite Syrah – too woody, too earthy and a bit bitter – so it wasn’t one that I was trying to get to. However, when at Total Wine, I broke down and picked up a bottle. If you had put the glass in front of me with no indication of the wine, I would have called it as a Merlot. It had the fruitiness of Merlot and none of the heavy characteristics I generally associate with Syrahs of any kind. After about half a glass, it also tasted a bit like doctored wine. The kind of wine that has so much chemistry added after nature does its thing that it is very generic. I want to say there is nothing wrong with that, but really, it didn’t taste great.
  • From the bottle: “From the last rains of winter to the flowing of spring vines, nothing is as exciting as the cycle of the vineyard and the promise of new wine. This year’s near perfect combination of long warm days and cool evenings produced a gorgeous wine with ripe, concentrated fruit flavors, a rich texture and a great length.” 13% alcohol by volume.

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Louis Latour, Pinot Noir – 2015

  • Basic info: Louis Latour Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Cote D’Or, France – 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: unknown
  • Look: Garnet colored that is slightly translucent at the edges. Light legs evident in the glass.
  • Smell: Raspberry and cola
  • Taste: Raspberry, black cherry, tart with a little oak. Nice acidity. Mid palate has a little candy cola flavor (think bottle caps) and some chocolate. Long finish with a black forest cake taste (chocolate and cherry).
  • Conclusions:Really good wine. Pleasantly surprised and I would have thought this was a new world pinot since the fruit is so present. It doesn’t have a lot of the earth I usually associate with French reds.
  • Other notes: This wine was a gift from a family I worked with this year. I was surprised not only that they gave me wine, but that it hit all the right notes for me.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the website, “This Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015 has a bright ruby color. The nose reveals notes of Morello cherry, liquorice and moka. The mouth is round and supple with a delicate woody taste.”

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