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Mostly American Wines

Tasted July 2, 2014 - July 6, 2014 by isaacjamesbaker with 412 views

Introduction

Here comes the Independence Day weekend. A time of food, celebration and, of course, American wine. I tasted through a bunch of American samples blind, and also opened a few wines from the cellar.

Flight 1 - Blind Whites (11 notes)

A few Cali wines snuck into this Oregon Chardonnay lot. Some real goodies in here.

White
2011 Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
88 points
Pale yellow color. Nose of dried apricot and pineapple, some serious honeyed tea and green herb elements, a kick of minerals, Tangy and lively on the palate, the green and yellow apples taste tart and crunchy. Also some lime and pineapple, a taste of lime peel, saline, white tea, chalk and herbal tea aspects. A much more tart and mineral-driven style, and quite impressive if you’re into this kind of Chardonnay. Aged in old oak with no maloactic fermentation.
White
2012 Bergström Chardonnay Sigrid USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
91 points
Aromas of white peach, rich honey and orange marmalade, but also some fresh cut flowers and ocean spray notes. Medium+ bodied with fresh acidity and bursting fruit: lime, white peach, honeydew, green apple, all thrown in together. Some sweet honey and crushed almond notes, but they’re matched with intense minerality and some interesting oceanic elements. Deep, long, complex, a forward Chardonnay but one that offers a lot to contemplate. A bit steep at $85, but a beauty.
White
2012 Boedecker Cellars Chardonnay USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
87 points
On the nose: saline, white peach, lime, orange blossom, some buttered crackers. On the palate: creamy and juicy with nectarine, white peach and green apple. Tangy acid, bright mineral notes, fresh but not weak.
White
2013 Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer Estate Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
90 points
Light yellow color. Nose of white peach, papaya, lime juice drizzled on top, a bit of river rocks and mineral notes as well. Bursting with lime and white peach on the palate, it has a creamy mouthfeel but the acid streaks through from start to finish. Complex notes of lychee nut, dried honey, ginger tea, but there’s an underlying sense of stony minerality. Dry, bracing, nervy and complex. An example of what can be done with this grape in the right place at the right time.
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White
2012 Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay Carneros USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
88 points
Nose of bright white peach, honeysuckle, green pear and sea salt, Tangy and bright with lemon verbena, orange peel, apricots and crunchy white cherries. Lemon tea, margarita salt, whipped honey and graham cracker notes, but it’s still very floral and bright.
White
2012 Piña Cellars Chardonnay Low Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll District
90 points
Nose of white peach, green apple, orange peel, some honeycomb and white flowers. Creamy and nutty on the palate, with apricot, white peach and glazed pear, but tangy acid cuts through. Some dried honey and white tea, along with complex nutty notes, drizzled with lime. Some minerals, sea salt and stones linger onto the finish. Balancing itself out well. Fermented in 38% new French oak.
White
2011 Willamette Valley Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
90 points
The nose bursts with lemon, yellow flowers, honey, and an element that reminds me of roasted butternut squash. Rich texture on the palate but the acid is precise and cutting. Flavors of tangy green apple and lime blend in with rich yellow apple and glazed pear. I get some honey and toasted almond notes, but it’s still clean and fresh and balanced. Lingering sea salt and minerals on the finish. There’s something in here for every kind of Chardonnay lover. Aged 10 months in 53% new French oak.
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White
2012 Adelsheim Chardonnay Caitlin's Reserve USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
92 points
Light yellow color. Notes of crushed sea shells and chalk on top of sweet yellow apple, apricot and a touch of honey. Complex, evolving aromas. Creamy body, but the high acid streaks across the palate. Lime and green apple mix with apricot and papaya, and the fruit is accented by a whole range of non-fruit flavors: sea shells, limestone, oyster brine, minerals and gentle touches of hazelnut and honey. Long, complex, I’m interested in cellaring this for three or four years. Very pretty stuff, nervy yet full. Aged on the lees 10 months in 36% new French oak.
White
2012 Chehalem Chardonnay INOX USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
88 points
Nose of apricot, green and yellow apples, some flowers and baby’s breath. Creamy body, medium acid, juicy apricot and yellow apple fruit mixed in with some lime and honeycomb. I get some white tea and ginger notes along with some orange marmalade. Clean, refreshing this unoaked Chardonnay is pure summer-sipping goodness, and very good for the price.
White
2012 Lange Chardonnay Three Hills Cuvée Willamette Valley USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
88 points
Medium yellow color. Lots of white peach, guava nectar along with some lighter, fresher notes of honeysuckle and lemon tea, some sea breeze. Creamy and ripe on the palate with apricot and white peach but the acid is clean and refreshing, and I also get some key lime and margarita salt notes. Peachy with balanced nougat and honeyed tea flavors. Some quinine, pear skin and honeycomb elements on the finish.
White
2012 Anam Cara Chardonnay Reserve Nicholas Estate Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
90 points
Medium yellow color. On the nose, I get sea salt, lime, some grapefruit and green melon, bright dandelion and honeysuckle. Creamy palate, medium acid, I like the mix of white peach, apricot and lemon-lime fruit. A good amount of limestone and oyster shells. Bright and fresh but richly textured with balanced notes of toasted almonds and honeycomb. Minerals and sea shells linger on the long finish. Impressive in its freshness and depth.

Flight 2 - Blind Reds (4 notes)

Red
2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
89 points
Clear cherry color. Smells of dark cherries, spicy herbs (oregano, pepper), a bit of jammy fruit but lots of earth and savory tones as well. Silky but rich on the palate with medium acid and fine tannins, combining to form a lip-smacking, chewy texture. Flavors of tart red cherries and juicy blackberries mixed with pipe tobacco, earth and soy notes. Could age in the near term, but this seems ready to go now. A blend of 53% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre and 2% Counoise.
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Red
2011 Emblem Cabernet Sauvignon Oso Vineyard Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
A medium purple color. Beautiful nose of currant jam, fleshy black cherries, sweet lavender and cedar, some dark roast coffee and forest floor. Very complex and evocative on the nose. Full on the palate but some tanginess and grippy tannins. Tart black currants and blueberries, mixed in with notes of peppered steak, mushroom, some sweet and savory spices, spearmint, tobacco. A bit tightly wound, a good decant could help, but perhaps four or five years in the cellar would yield an even more harmonious wine. Includes 13% Petite Verdot, this wine is aged 20 months in 77% new oak, 13.8% alcohol.
Red
2011 Long Shadows Wineries Saggi USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
91 points
Notes of sweet blackberries and currant jam mix with charcoal, dark coffee, caramel and some sweet cedar. Full on the palate, dark but tart as well with crispness from the acid and fine but structured tannins. Cranberries and red currants, some blackberries as well, add to that some graphite, pencil shavings, red pepper jelly, anise and tobacco. Big but tart, well-structured and complex, this could develop quite a bit in the cellar. 43% Sangiovese, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah.
Red
2011 Long Shadows Wineries Syrah Sequel USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
92 points
Dark purple color. Smokey and bold on the nose with black currants, black cherries and blueberries, all of it dark and deep, with a bit of beef jerky and charcoal thrown in as well. Solid tannic backbone, tamed by medium acid, the wine shows some chewy aspects but it’s also quite smooth (if that makes any sense). Black currant and blueberry fruit is juicy and rich and mixed in with an interesting combination of cedar, pencil shavings, teriyaki sauce and beef jerky. Bold but showing some restraint, a good decant and this could be enjoyed now, but I’d love to cellar it for three or four years to see what those meaty, earthy tones do. Aussie icon John Duval nails it with this Columbia Valley Syrah.
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Flight 3 - From the Cellar (2 notes)

Tasted sighted from my cellar.

Red
1983 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
Light ruby color. Nose of black and Kalamata olives, green and black pepper, spiced black tea, pickles, but I still get some tangy cherries and dried currants, also notes of dark chocolate. On the palate, fined down tannins, the acid is crisp and pronounced. Flavors of soy, pickle, tobacco, wet leaves, leather and charcoal with lots of spicy earthy tones. Sour cherries and sweet dried currants linger in the background. Elegant, complex, with pronounced earth and herbal tones. In my mind, this is still holding up, but the fruit isn’t exactly front and center. Three years since my last bottle, and I think I hold off another two or three until I open my last one.
White - Sparkling
N.V. Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier France, Champagne
88 points
Bright and fresh with lots of honeycomb, key lime pie, sea breeze, crushed chalk and nuts. Brisk but juicy, with tangerine, flowers and nuts. Solid cut, medium+ finish. On the 4th, I always add in some bubbles to toast to the French. For the price, this is always a good call.

Flight 4 - Rose (2 notes)

Samples, tasted sighted.

Rosé
2013 Château Grande Cassagne Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
86 points
Light strawberry color. Bright roses and dandelions on the nose along with McIntosh apple and wild strawberries. Crisp and clean with bright white cherries and strawberries on medium-bodied frame. Some roses, white pepper and minerals give this complexity, but it’s lip-smacking and easy to drink.
Rosé
2013 Mas Carlot Costières-de-Nîmes Cuvée Tradition Rosé France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
88 points
Bright salmon color. Spicy, peppery nose with some nettle and rose hips on top of watermelon and wild strawberry. Juicy and ripe with lots of watermelon, cranberry and McIntosh apple flavors, but I’m really enjoying the level of spice and minerals in this wine. I get white pepper, nettle, lemon verbena and some interesting oyster shell and limestone notes. Delicious, crisp and fun but showing a lot of complexity. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
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