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Tasting Notes for StraightnoChaser

(524 notes on 444 wines)

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1/5/2024 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
Benefits from a long decant or in this case day 2
Muted nose of equal parts red and black fruits
Silky smooth entry
Otherwise it’s a very nice, typical Napa Valley cab that was well worth the $45

75 cases
4/6/2023 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
88 points
Crazy good QPR
Raspberry - cherry - plum - leather
Not a show-stopper in terms of it being a great wine with the nose being thin and an average mid-palate but the entry is smooth, fruit-forward, and the finish is of decent length and,
It’s 8 BUCKS!
4/1/2023 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
89 points
I like it but didn’t fall in love with it.
Beautiful bottle of serious weight. The nose is enticing with raspberry and Bing cherry and a hint of allspice and drinking it the same flavors are present with a bit of red delicious apple on the finish.

But that’s about it.
Everything else is pleasant but not very memorable.
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3/13/2023 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
90 points
Nose of black fruits - primarily plum and black cherry with a scent of sage and damp forest trail.
Velvet mouthfeel of considerable weight and density.
Light tannins at this age, even so it takes a lot of air to get going - this wine is far from being over the hill.

Flavor is plum dominant with secondary notes of leather and cedar.
Medium+ length on the off-dry finish.

Purchased directly from the winemaker (Bruce Devlin) at the Ballantine Winery.
1/21/2023 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
89 points
Very impressive for a 32 year old half bottle (purchased from K&L)
I bought this half and a 750 which we gave to our daughter who was born the same year as this vintage.

Vibrant and fresh at first pour and a little air kicks the light red fruits up for a short while but turns a bit sour after an hour or so.
Strawberry. Raspberry, and some sour Jolly Rancher cherry as a secondary note.
Very light bodied.
Not nearly the best Calera Jensen I’ve had but that’s a pretty high bar.
1/1/2023 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
Takes time to develop but that’s what I love about these is the progression from subtle and simple to complex and rewarding.
Dried cherries, cedar, graphite and a bit of allspice on the nose.
Plum, dark cherries and leather flavors with a dry finish of good length.

If you have any there is no rush as this bottle is showing plenty of vibrancy
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12/15/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
82 points
Too much oak and vanilla. It has the components of Cabernet Sauvignon but you have to think too hard to find them under the oak and vanilla which are still dominant after several hours of air.

This may eventually become something great in 10-15 years but for now it’s a tough one to swallow.
12/14/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
92 points
Big, tannic, comes right at you even after a 3 hour decant.
A bit less fruit and more of a feral vibe at the 11 year mark but definitely not mellowed.
Blackberry, plum and cola on the nose.
Dark plum and black tea with undertones of mushroom and wet oak leaves.
The strange part is the surprisingly short finish - 20 seconds at best and then,
Like Keyser Soze,
11/29/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
92 points
Fresh & vibrant. At 2 hours it really hits its stride. The nose is pure RRV cherry with baking spice. Same for the flavor with a silken mouthfeel and a slight citrus (blood orange) note.
The one very minor drawback is a strangely short finish
11/23/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
Nicely balanced between the red/black fruits and the herbal/earthy flavors I prefer in a Pinot Noir.
Drank over 3 hours and the last hour was where it shined.
Nose of cherry, plum and anise
Flavors of raspberry, cherry, plum and allspice.
Short off-dry finish
11/7/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
88 points
Light body and moderate fruit profile
Drink now or over the next few years
11/2/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
89 points
A slightly above average wine that I was able to pick up for 20 bucks which makes for good QPR.

A good mix of red and black fruits with a herbal element on the nose. Plum finish of decent length.
If you can find these at a price similar to what I paid they make for a great mid-week pour.
11/1/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
89 points
A pretty expensive 89 point wine.

At half the price the Black Kite "Kite's Rest" and Drew "Mid-Elevation" are better representations of Anderson Valley.

At 1 hour, 3 hours, and the following day the 2019 Les Larmes is an "almost" wine. All of the components are there for a very good wine but there isn't enough of them and the finish is a blast of sour cherry.
We're hoping this is an outlier in the Littorai portfolio.
10/1/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
We were surprised when they brought this out at the Brown Downtown tasting room (highly recommended),
and delighted when 2 bottles were part of our shipment.

For us this is the perfect wine for when we don’t want the muscle of a cab but something with more weight than a Pinot Noir or Grenache.
Plenty of red and black fruit up front but it’s the secondary flavors that keep me coming back for more with leather, vanilla bean, and medium roast coffee.
9/22/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
92 points
Fantastic at open - a big hit of cherry in a smooth, chuggable way where you need to slow down and not smash this bottle in the first hour.
After 2 hours it does throttle down to reveal more complex, lighter fruit flavors and a tart cherry finish of medium length.
Lots of life and energy left in this bottling
9/20/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
88 points
Tart mix of mild cherry, raspberry, and watermelon.
The warmer it gets in the glass the more a sour cherry note emerges.
This is a thin-bodied Pinot best served with a chill and in warmer weather but definitely not built to be paired with any dish of weight like roast meats or stews.

Worth what I paid for it but not an ageable wine.
Drink now through 2024
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2020 PaZa Placer County Grenache Blend, Grenache (view label images)
9/16/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
92 points
2020 Cotes Du Placer GSM
53% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 9% Mouvedre, 9% Petite Sirah

Intoxicating nose of red fruits (cherry, raspberry, red delicious apple).
Soft entry and a mouth-watering acidity that begs for meat and cheese accompaniment.
As it warms in the glass the more robust elements come to the fore with plum, pomegranate, and a touch of white pepper on the back end.
Off-dry finish that lingers during the short span between sips as this is a very easy drinking wine that showcases what the Sierra Foothills are capable of in the right hands
9/6/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
A genetic cousin to Pinot Noir with a lighter body and brighter acidity.
Paired very nicely with Tuscan Chicken (rice, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion)
Also brilliant as an after dinner drink when chilled to 55-60.
Floral nose of light red fruit and gained a more pronounced cranberry note as it warmed.
Tart finish of medium length
8/25/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
92 points
A much bigger wine than I’m used to from the RRV.
Jeff really extracted a lot of the darker components from this fruit and comes close to that KB profile that some love but I’m not a fan of.
A very layered and enjoyable wine with dark, dense plum, rhubarb and overripe cherry.
Also leather and a bit of a smoke note initially veering near Syrah profile.
If you have them they take a while to clam down, 1 hour at a minimum but 4 is ideal. These can also go much longer in the cellar if you have a stash
7/16/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
On the heavy side and was a great accompaniment to our salmon straight from the grill.
There was a funk from open that I liked but expected to blow off but was persistent.
Lemon zest up front but I got Mandarin Orange as it warmed.
A truly great summer food wine that has years left
7/3/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
85 points
Heavy on the plum and too much oak.
No nuance at all
Far better 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs out there.

I picked these up on the cheap and now I know why
5/25/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
Big but balanced
A good mix of red fruits and more earthy elements.
Some caramel and a burnt cherry note on the back end
Got a corked one.
It happens
5/15/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
92 points
Elegant and approachable at this point
Soft red fruits and great structure.
So easy to drink the the bottle is emptied quickly.
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5/12/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
Not a remarkable wine.
I’ve enjoyed the lineup of RM Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays for well over a decade but have kept a “hands-off” policy on the cabs until recently.
Maybe that’s a mistake.

This is a better than average Cab but not nearly as good as a 2017 we opened recently which, while young, was a real joy to drink.
The 2008 seems a bit tired.
All the elements are there with tobacco, dried herbs, plum, leather and cedar but they seem to be a bit separate rather than in harmony - as though they evolved at differing paces.

At the 2 hour mark it is slightly improved.
Drink em if you got em
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A Zin-dominant blend that from initial pour through 30 hours never got there.
It’s brambly and too full of blackberry and a rustic taste and texture that is best suited to blackened ribs or some other overcooked BBQ fare.
Terra d’Oro makes some good wines, notably their Barbera, but this is not one of them
5/9/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
90 points
Not as feral as past vintages.
It’s still very obviously a Zinfandel with the fresh-picked blackberry and turned earth component but this version seems dialed back to where it’s very pleasant from 15 minutes after open to the following day.
Enjoyable on its own this wine really shines when paired with dishes like gumbo, fajitas, and paella
4/27/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
90 points
2 more knocked down in the past week.
Consistently good value at $35 and not really a candidate for long-term cellaring.
Easy one to enjoy when you don’t want to open a more expensive/expressive bottle but just want something that gets you there
Flawed bottle.
Not much fruit and had a tired feel to it.
Re-corked and set in the fridge for a day but that didn’t help.
After drinking about 100 of these it was bound to happen
4/15/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
A pretty good pour on Day 1.
Massive improvement on Day 2
This has more than a slight similarity to more expensive Westside of the Russian River Pinot Noirs.

The nose opened up considerably with a over a half bottle recorded and left in the cellar.
Layers of red fruit, a cola element, a touch of vanilla and light spice.
If you like your RRV on the sweet side this hits the mark.
A little harsh in the middle but a good length finish.
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3/30/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
I always think: “Why didn’t I buy more of these?”

Such a great wine for the price.
We’ve had several vintages and they are so easy to drink.
Cherry and raspberry are what hits you on entry followed by a soft landing of mixed red fruits and berries.
In a great spot now.
Lovely texture. Medium length finish
3/28/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
90 points
Of the past 6 vintages this one is right in the middle of the pack.
2014 & 17 - meh
2015 - Big and still needs time to uncoil
2016 & 18 - Outstanding and ready to drink.

This 2019 version is good just a short time from pour because it was made to be enjoyed early.
Softer and a little more sour than the 16 & 18 but the stylistic difference is one I found appealing.
High ABV is apparent at open (14.9%)
As much plum as cherry on the nose and a nice pomegranate and spice middle.
Finish is an impressive length for a $35 bottle.
One of our regular case buys.
3/21/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
89 points
Too much like Belle Glos for my tastes.

We’ve been buyers of Rivers-Marie since the 2010 vintage so it’s not like we’re new to his style, and that’s the problem. We were judging it through the lens of our experience with the winemaker and not the vineyard.

The nose was heavy at open so I left the glass on the counter and decanted the remainder.
I came back to the glass after an hour and while the high-octane nose blew off it was still a lumbering, clumsy wine.
Day 2 it had settled down but I prefer my Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to be layered and to change over the course of the session.
Maybe these will get better now that TRB owns the label outright.
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3/21/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
89 points
Echoing notes by ICEMANMB and other recent reviews it has lost what made it a great pour just 2 years ago.

I thought it was just bottle variation but reading notes here it seem unanimous that this wine is over the hill.

Mild bricking at edges but otherwise a slightly cloudy deep red.
Nose is muted cherry and pomegranate.
Flavors are also muted red fruits and a bit of tea but otherwise uninspired.
Very short finish.

Odd, because we have been running through a series of 2004-2012 WS bottlings of Rochioli, Westside, and even the Sonoma Coast that have ranged from great to WOW!.

Calegari is an outlier
2020 Walter Scott Rosé Bois-Moi Willamette Valley Gamay-Pinot Noir Blend, Gamay (view label images)
3/17/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
Tasted alongside a 2019 Myriad Rose’ (Napa) and a 2020 Betelgeuse Rose’ from Brown Estate (also Napa).

The Bois Moi was the clear favorite as a glass by itself with its refreshing watermelon and strawberry flavors but it lost out as a food wine to the Betelgeuse.

The one advantage the BM had over the offers was it took the heat of the Mexican sun much better. Where the other too became a bit flat as they warmed in the glass the BM held up.
3/17/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
89 points
Enjoyed alongside a 2019 Myriad Rose’ (Napa) and a 2020 Bois Moi Rose’ from Walter Scott (Willamette)

The Betelgeuse was the best food wine of the three with a crisp acidity that refreshed the palate with each sip.

By itself is was a bit reserved and performed better at fridge temp but lost some luster as it warmed.
3/15/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
86 points
In a tasting where it went up against a 2020 Betelgeuse Rose from Brown Estate (Napa) and a 2020 Bois Moi from Walter Scott this wine was a clear 3rd.

While still drinkable it was the most expensive but had the least flavor (Bois Moi) and the least crispness (Betelgeuse).

Of the three bottles opened at the same time it was the last finished off
3/14/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
91 points
Fantastic and easy drinking.
Superior to most other RRV appellation blends but still reasonable considering where prices are trending
3/14/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
92 points
Incredibly rich and every bit as heavy in the red fruits as the Kanzler Estate version.
A little boozy but consumed over a two night window it didn’t make much difference.
N.V. PaZa Scrappy Red Sierra Foothills Red Blend (view label images)
2/10/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
88 points
A field blend that with an hour or so of air gives up a nose of blackberry and anise.
Very smooth entry with flavors of blackberry, raspberry, black licorice and green olive.
Moderate length finish of leather and plum.
1/22/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
90 points
On the big, juicy, extracted side.
Exactly what my wife likes with a bit of sweetness and baking spice wrapped around a cherry core, even if the spice takes it time (2 hours) to announce its presence.

I don’t know if the Walala will calm down in several years so we don’t feel bad about drinking them early.
Very easy to enjoy but one dimensional
1/20/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
94 points
Simply gorgeous.
It’s a hedonistic wine that has never gotten its due compared to other Sonoma Coast producers.

Even at this age it bursts out of the glass upon open and it takes a bit of willpower to let it breath for an hour because it is so bright and powerful with superconcentrated cherry and other black & red fruits that it’s hard to put down.

At 2 hours the components do start to become more defined. The ripe cherry is still up front but the flavors of the True Sonoma Coast emerge with a mushroom/feral/dank forest melange in the middle and a finish that lingers.
Throughout the session the viscosity of the wine coats the palate.
1/18/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
In the first hour this showed a lot of funk for a Russian River PN. Blind I would have called this as being more coastal. Lots of cherry and more oak than I'm used to from this wine.

Day 2 is where it's at.
More pronounced raspberry and cranberry to compliment the cherry. Still too much oak which keeps it from scoring higher. I'm wondering if this particular barrel had an excess of char because there is a persistent smoke note that was not present in previous bottles.
1/14/2022 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
90 points
I agree with Oberhau
This is a brilliant wine for $17.
We originally purchased a bottle at the winery for $29 and thought it was good (not great) value.
At close to half that price at Costco it’s makes for a great midweek pour.
Cherry & pomegranate in a light frame with no hard edges. Best with about an hour of air but not as good on day 2
1/14/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
94 points
Makes a strong argument for holding CA Pinot Noir back as long as you can. We’ve had several wines from from this estate by Rochioli and WS and this has been the oldest & best by far.
Layer upon layer of red berries & fruit flavors and a light, pleasing entry.
If you have these wines cellared have no fear as this was fresh and vibrant over two hours after we opened it.
1/14/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
91 points
I was expecting a little more muscular wine than this proved to be. It’s worth what I paid for it. No more - no less.
Drank over 2 days and day 2 was clearly superior.
I didn’t pop n pour but gave the first glass a little over an hour of counter time while prepping dinner.
Day 1 - Muted plum and leather on the nose - same for flavor with tobacco on the back end. No middle to speak of.
Day 2 - More vibrant plum and pomegranate flavors with tobacco. vanilla bean, and a minimal oak influence
1/1/2022 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
90 points
I tried this out as part of the epic quest to find a sub-$30 wine for both weekends and weekdays that works both with or without food.
This wine checks the boxes.
These can be had at retail for $25 and they represent what I love about Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

The nose is subdued dried cherry and pomegranate with a touch of eucalyptus.
Flavor is underripe cherry, cranberry, and mushroom.

Long finish for a wine at this price.
12/27/2021 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
86 points
I got a $15 wine for $15
You’re basic Tuesday night wine
12/21/2021 - StraightnoChaser wrote:
86 points
Just not up to the quality of previous vintages or even the 2018 which is much fuller in body and flavor.

An off vintage for this brand.
Thin, stemmy, and a tart plum finish

Still a drinkable wine but not worth the $36+ asking price
11/27/2021 - StraightnoChaser Likes this wine:
92 points
1 hour decant and enjoyed over 2 more hours.
A delightfully balanced version of Russian River Valley that kind of hits the "Goldilocks" spot - not too sweet, not too tart. The cherry aspect is spot on.
Nose is cherry/raspberry. Mouthfeel is on the light side but with a little acidic tang that begs for another sip.
The wine gains a bit of weight after a 2 hour decant and switches gears to a less fruit-forward and more Sonoma Coast style with an earthy quality that wasn't there at open. Long finish.
I don't know what these go for at the winery but if you see them, (or Brendan Malm) at your local Costco - Grab a few. A definite bargain
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