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  • 2012 Fess Parker Viognier Rodney's Vineyard

    We got this bottle from Fess’ wine club in September, 2013. The bouquet is very floral and pretty, exhibiting elements of white fruits, oak, and creamy oak.
    As usual, this is a fantastic alternative to Chardonnay. There is indeed mostly white and pitted fruits up front (like peach, apricot, pineapple, and quince). The “nose” suggested creamy oak and sure enough, this is indeed a VERY rich, creamy, unctuous, mouth-coating (and VERY delicious) white. In addition to the fruit and oaky cream, there are dried herbs and white pepper in the background as well. This wine is VERY well-balanced, with delicious fruits, creamy oak (which adds a tiny bit of cinnamon to the mix as well), savory/dried herbs and white pepper, along with wonderful structural elements (the perfect amount of acidity and tannins, which makes this wine VERY food-friendly). Yes, the wine is slightly high-octane (14.2% alcohol), but the beautifully-balanced elements all co-mingle and exist in the bottle harmoniously. This white exhibits nice depths-of-flavors, with delicious ripe fruits up front, followed closely by the oak and spice elements, leading to a long, creamy, elegant, lingering finish that (thanks to the acidity and tannins) delicately cleanses the palate.
    Speaking of which, I paired this wine with one of my all-time favorite proteins: scallops sautéed in curried butter. This wine paired PERFECTLY with the scallops and would also pair well with most chicken and medium-bodied white fish dishes as well. This wine is drinking perfectly well right now and has the “legs”/structure to continue to age and mature gracefully (like Sophia Loren) for another 2-to-5 years. Personally, I would drink this wine right now and for the next year or two.
    Are you sick of drinking Chardonnay day and night?!?! If you LOVE Chardonnay and would like to try something similar but different, this varietal (and this bottle in particular) would be a PERFECT alternative/choice. This Rhone varietal is one of my favorite white varietals in the world, and Fess and Tablas Creek (one of California’s best wineries (based in Paso Robles)) pretty much always knock it out of the park. Winner winner, chicken dinner!!!!

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  • 2011 Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc de Tablas

    We got this wine from Tablas’ wine club in September, 2013. This wine is ALWAYS fantastic and is, in my humble opinion, one of the best white blends from California (year-in and year-out).
    The bouquet exhibits mostly white and stone-fruited elements (with a hint of a suggestion of tropical fruits as well), along with almonds, honey, dried herbs, and a minerally/stony essence as well.
    Sure enough, the 2011 vintage is right in-line with all of Tablas’ other/recent white blends (previously named Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (named/inspired after the co-founding winery in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Chateau de Beaucastel) when T.C. renamed their signature red and white blends as Esprit de Tablas beginning with their 2011 vintage)). This fabulous white blend consists of 64% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Picpoul Blanc.
    Flavor-wise, the wine exhibits more of an essence of white fruits like quince, lychee, pear, and apple. There is indeed (as the bouquet suggested) a slight presence of stone fruits (especially apricot) as well as a very suggestive element of tropical fruits as well (pineapple, mango, and papaya). In addition, there’s a very subtle profile of dried herbs and white pepper in the background. The wine is very rich and creamy, with a palate-smothering richness that is beautifully counter-balanced by the wine’s out-of-this-world structure (zingy tannins and acidity, making the wine VERY food-friendly). The Roussanne contributes most (if not all) of the wine’s richness and creaminess while the Blancs (Grenache and Picpoul) add food-friendly acidity, tannins, and crispness.
    The thing I LOVE about blends (when they’re “done” right) is that they have such varying layers of complexity and sophistication that makes them intriguingly delightful and complicated. This beauty is VERY delicious and shows fabulous depths-of-flavors and complexity. I paired this wine with one of my standard “White Wine Usual Suspects” (CostCo chicken thighs spiced with CostCo’s “Simply Asian” spice blend (if I remember correctly, mostly dried ginger, salt, pepper, dried bell peppers, and sesame seeds, to name just a few of the prominent ingredients)). This wine paired PERFECTLY with the chicken thighs and would also pair well with turkey at Thanksgiving, a whole oven-roasted chicken, and most medium-bodied white fish dishes.
    This beauty is drinking pretty well right now (according to T.C.’s vintage chart on their website, this wine is in an “Early Maturity” stage) but should continue to age/mature gracefully for another 5+ years (if not 10). The wine is the personification of the advantages to making blended wines. Each/every varietal brings something unique and interesting to the “party” going on in the bottle. As previously mentioned, the Roussanne adds creaminess and richness while the Blancs (Grenache and Picpoul) add gorgeous structure and acidity and tannins that make this wine a paragon of food-friendliness. Looking forward to trying the 2012 Esprit de Tablas later this year (2012 was, generally speaking, a fantastic vintage throughout California; we’ll see…………..).

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  • 2013 Fess Parker Riesling "Dry" Rodney's Vineyard

    We received this bottle from Fess’ wine club in June, 2014. This Riesling was sourced from grapes grown on Fess’ estate vineyard (named after Fess’ late son-in-law, Rodney).
    This wine exhibits classic Riesling aromatics, including stony minerality and suggestions of white and stone-pitted fruits.
    Flavor-wise, this is a fabulous Santa Barbara-area Riesling, exhibiting typical minerality and stoniness, along with crisp, clean tannins (making this wine VERY food-friendly). As the bouquet suggested, there is indeed a crisp green apple essence, along with hints/rumors/suggestions of peach and apricot elements. There is a VERY slight essence of white pepper and dried herbs playing peek-a-boo in the background, but the flavor profile is mostly apple, stoned fruits, and a Yosemite Valley’s worth of granite stones/boulders/pebbles. This wine is beautifully well-structured, showcasing fantastic balance between the fruits, stones/minerals, white pepper and herbs, and the wine’s structural elements (slightly zingy tannins and (typical for a “dry” Riesling) a light alcohol level of only 12.0%).
    This wine is PERFECTLY food-friendly. I paired this beauty with fatty salmon steaks spiced with CostCo’s “Simply Asian” spice blend (salt, ginger, sesame seeds, bell peppers, etc.). This Riesling was a PERFECT match with the fatty, well-spiced salmon steaks. The tannins and acidity perfectly cleansed my palate after every sip. This wine would also pair well with just about any/every other light, white fish, as well as scallops, just about any chicken dish, as well as an asparagus soup and/or just about any other vegetable dish. Wish I had 25 cases of this beauty!!!!
    This wine is drinking PERFECTLY right now and should continue to drink/age/mature well for another 2-to-3 years. This Riesling is SO good that it competes (if not surpasses) some of the best Rieslings from Washington (Kung-Fu Girl, Chateau Ste. Michele, etc.).

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