SYRAH, GRENACHE, VIOGNIER, ETC
- Item #: i_276190Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 98ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "These latest releases from Charles Smith check in at the top of the pyramid and are flat out incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste."
"A candidate for the wine of the vintage, the 2013 Syrah Royal City is as expansive, sexy and voluptuous as they get in the vintage, hands down. It's deep ruby/purple color is followed by incredible notes of wild herbs, lavender, gamey meats, olive paste and sweet dark berry fruits. Full-bodied, relatively forward and charming, it still packs a wealth of material and has building tannin, all suggesting it will drink nicely for 10-15 years."
- Item #: i_230220Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 98ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "The 2015 Syrah Sur Echalas Vineyard is just as striking as its Grenache sibling, unfurling with an equally complex nose of sweet cassis, beef blood, bitter cocoa, peony and violets, with notions of grilled meat and truffle emerging with time. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and amazingly intense, with a deep and multidimensional core framed by remarkably satiny, layered tannins, concluding with a long, saline finish."
- Item #: i_230210Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 98ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "Of these three offerings from Horsepower, the 2015 Syrah The Tribe Vineyard will require the most time, as it's the most tight-knit at this early stage, slowly unwinding in the glass with savory aromas of raw cocoa, tapenade, nori and ripe blackberries. On the palate, it's full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a rich chassis of satiny structuring tannins and a layered, umami-laden core of fruit. At 13.6% alcohol, it's also beautifully balanced."
- Item #: i_232480Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94Jeb Dunnuck: 99 PointsJEB DUNNUCK 99 POINTS - "It's always a fun tasting with winemaker Matt Dees and his team, and they continue to keep this estate at the top of the hierarchy in Santa Barbara County. Located in Ballard Canyon AVA, they pull only from their estate vineyard (planted on incredibly sandy soils) and make a wide range of cuvées, from a red and white Bordeaux blends, to a 100% Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and a number of terrific Rhône blends. The common thread is incredible quality."
"Unquestionably the star of the show is the 2014 La Sangre de Jonata, and it's a more finesse driven, elegant, cool climate example of the cuvee than normal. Reminding me of an Hermitage from Bessards, it offers gorgeous notes of blackberries, cassis, leather, scorched earth and pepper. Possessing full-bodied richness, firm, polished tannin and a focused finish, it will be more approachable that most vintage of this cuvee, yet I still wouldn't touch bottles for 3-5 years. If you must drink a bottle over the coming couple of years, give it a 2-hour decant."
- Item #: i_277500Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93-95Vinous Media: 95ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 95 POINTS - "(raised in a combination of new and used French oak barrels, concrete tanks and amphoras) Deep brilliant ruby. An assertively perfumed bouquet evokes fresh black and blue fruits, Moroccan spices, vanilla and smoky minerals, while a suave floral pastille accent builds in the glass. Deeply concentrated yet surprisingly lively on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry, boysenberry, spicecake and mocha flavors that unfold slowly, picking up licorice and vanilla notes on the back half. Shows outstanding clarity and thrust on a supple, strikingly long finish shaped by smooth, building tannins."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93-95 POINTS - "One of the reference point estates in Paso Robles is unquestionably Stephan Asseo's l'Aventure."
"Leading off the reds from barrel, the full-bodied 2015 Cote a Cote (60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah) has an elegant, cool climate feel (which can be common in the vintage) as well as pretty, elegant notes of violets, raspberries, peppery herbs and black cherries. The final blend will be a mix of roughly 60% barrels and 40% in concrete and amphora, and it should have a decade of longevity."
- Item #: i_277520Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92Jeb Dunnuck: 94 PointsJEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "Consistently thrilling wines come from l'Aventure, which is run with incredible talent and passion by St. Emilion native Stephan Asseo. His 2016s are incredible efforts, and the 2017 more Rhone blends are certainly in the same ballpark. Due to the heat spikes at harvest, Bordeaux varieties were much more difficult and hit or miss."
"Moving to the wines from bottle and starting with the 2016 Optimus, which is always a great introduction into the wines of this estate, it's a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Petit Verdot that spent 14 months in 60% new barrels. This full-bodied, rich yet also elegant and lively red gives up a big, sweet nose of crème de cassis, toasted spice, licorice, and graphite. With good acidity and impressive finesse and elegance as well as richness, it’s a no-brainer purchase to drink over the coming 7-8 years." ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 93 POINTS - "Brilliant violet. Ripe dark berries, licorice, woodsmoke and candied violet on the deeply perfumed, spice-accented nose. Concentrated but lively as well, offering intense blackberry, cassis, cola and spicecake flavors that show impressive delineation and back-end lift. A very long, sappy finish features slow-building tannins, a hint of mocha and lingering smokiness." ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "A blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Petit Verdot that checks in at 15.4% alcohol, the 2016 Optimus reveals a lavish bouquet of crunchy berries, anise and creamy new oak. On the palate, it's full-bodied, spicy and richly tannic, with generous, oak-influenced flavors and a crunchy core of fruit. The finish is long and youthfully chewy. Bottled barely one month before I tasted it, this is already quite expressive and should begin to drink well after just a few years. The Optimus is Asseo's longest-running cuvee, realizing an ambition to blend Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon he nurtured in his native Bordeaux."
- Item #: i_277540Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 93Jeb Dunnuck: 91 PointsJEB DUNNUCK 91-93 POINTS - "Consistently thrilling wines come from l'Aventure, which is run with incredible talent and passion by St. Emilion native Stephan Asseo. His 2016s are incredible efforts, and the 2017 more Rhone blends are certainly in the same ballpark. Due to the heat spikes at harvest, Bordeaux varieties were much more difficult and hit or miss."
"Starting with the wines from barrel, the 2017 Optimus (55% Syrah, 41% Grenache, and the rest Petit Verdot) will certainly be a charming, sexy, outstanding bottle of wine. It gives up lots of cassis and jammy dark fruits in a primary, full-bodied, layered style."
- Item #: i_258900Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94-96Jeb Dunnuck: 97 PointsANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 97 POINTS - "According to Justin Smith, in 2016 'just about everything that could go right, did.' A relatively rainy winter helped boost groundwater supplies, and a warm spring set the stage for normal budbreak and fruit set, with no weather events to spoil the party. The summer was warm but not hot, and sugar levels rose steadily while acid levels held firm. The resulting wines are rich and fruit-driven, for sure, but they are remarkably fresh as well."
"Brilliant purple. A complex, intensely perfumed bouquet displays candied black and blue fruit, vanilla and musky earth qualities, while violet, licorice and dark chocolate nuances build in the glass. Sweet and expansive on the palate, offering impressively concentrated, mineral-laced cassis, cherry compote and fruitcake flavors that are given spicy bite by a peppery flourish. Tightens up slowly on a wonderfully long, chewy, floral-dominated finish that's framed by talc-y, well-knit tannins."
JEB DUNNUCK 97 POINTS - "Speaking about the 2016s, these are the strongest set of releases since the 2007s, and I suspect at maturity these wines will be even better. They have a rare sense of depth and richness paired with purity and precision, as well as singular characters, and these truly are special wines. The 2016 James Berry is quite possibly the greatest wine ever produced from the region and is a legendary wine in the making. Do whatever you can to latch onto a few bottles of this magical elixir. The majority of the 2016s will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age, but good luck keeping your hands off of them."
"Leading off the 2016s and checking in as interesting blend of 46% Mourvedre, 19% Syrah, 15% Tempranillo and the balance Petite Sirah, Grenache, and Zinfandel, the 2016 Paderewski shows how good these eclectic blends from the west side of Paso Robles can be. Offering a rocking bouquet of ripe currants, plums, forest floor, truffle, and orange zest, this beauty has no hard edges and offers full body, incredible intensity, and a seamlessness pared with density that needs to be tasted to be believed. This hedonistic yet also elegant 2016 benefits from a decant and has a good 10-15 years of prime drinking ahead of it."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 94-96 POINTS - "The 2016 Paderewski Vineyard is lovely, revealing complex aromas of ripe black fruits, licorice, aromatic bark, candied peel and dried flowers. On the palate, it's full-bodied, layered and savory, with rich structuring tannins, excellent energy and concentration and a long, stony finish. It's a blend of 46% Mataro, 19% Syrah, 15% Tempranillo, 8% Petite Sirah, 7% Zinfandel and 5% Grenache, maturing in 16% new puncheons, 67% foudre and the balance in used wood. The 2016 will be bottled this June."
- Item #: i_259780Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 95+Vinous Media: 92-95ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "The 2014 Relentless, made up of 89% Syrah and 11% Petite Sirah, is deep garnet-purple with a pronounced nose of black plums, blackberries and black cherries with touches of fragrant earth, black pepper and Indian spices plus a waft of lavender. Very big, full-bodied, opulent and laden with vibrant black fruits and spicy layers, it has firm, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and peppery."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92-95 POINTS - "Shafer's 2014 Relentless is fabulous. The most expressive and varietally expressive of the three vintages of Relentless I tasted. In 2014, Relentless has 11% Petite Sirah, which, along with the personality of the year, kicks up the aromatics and flavors in a meaningful way. Lavender, mint, violets and crème de cassis notes are laced into the super-expressive finish. The 2014 is shaping up to be a real gem."
- Item #: i_276540Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92Vinous Media: 93ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Few people are as passionate about Ballard Canyon as Peter Stolpman is. As President of the Ballard Canyon Winegrowers' Alliance, Stolpman is focused on bringing producers together to promote the area. To be sure, Ballard Canyon is a very distinctive region, especially for Syrah, so it will be interesting to see how things develop here in the coming years. As for his own wines, Stolpman's A-list team of winemaker Sashi Moorman and vineyard guru Ruben Solorzano keeps ratcheting up the quality level at the estate. In addition to these wines, I also tasted a few selections from the estate's library, including the 2004 Roussanne L'Avion, Syrah Estate and Syrah Angeli. Although those wines have aged pretty nicely, they also show just how far Stolpman has come in the last few years, especially with regards to cooperage. Simply put, these wines have never been better.
"Explosive and perfumed to the core, the 2012 Syrah Originals captivates all the sense with exuberant perfume and super-intense fruit, all with plenty of underlying structure. Cloves, lavender, mint and an array of spices inform the fragrant, highly expressive finish. The 60% whole clusters are impeccably balanced. This is a gorgeous showing from Stolpman."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - 'In the same ballpark, the 2012 Angeli is 100% Syrah that comes from a single block of own rooted vines. It too is medium to full-bodied, rich and textured, with pretty violets, purple fruits, spring flowers and edgy minerality. Seeing 80% whole clusters and 18 months in puncheons, it has bright acidity and clean, nicely focused feel. It is another outstanding Syrah that will evolve for a decade."
- Item #: i_275640Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93Vinous Media: 93Tablas Creek was founded by the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and their importer, Robert Haas. The goal was to produce California's best examples of southern Rhône varietals and Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blends. The partners chose a 120-acre property in the hills of westside Paso Robles for its similarities to Chateauneuf-du-Pape: limestone soils, favorable climate, and rugged terrain. Tablas Creek emphasizes dry farming (no watering) to seek maximum expression from their grapes, and they farm organically. Their signature white is named Esprit de Tablas, and is modeled after the Beaucastel wines from the Rhone Valley. A blend of 55% Roussanne, 28% Grenache Blanc, 17% Picpoul Blanc, this wine has an appealing nose of fresh pears, wildflower honey and candied pecan, lifted by a spicy notes of anise and orange blossom. The mouth shows flavors of salted honeydew, honeycrisp apple, and more pear, with floral notes of jasmine and citrus blossom reemerging on the long, clean, spicy finish.
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 93 POINTS - "Brilliant yellow. An intensely perfumed bouquet displays mineral-accented orange, pear and jasmine scents, along with a deeper suggestion of honey. Energetic citrus and orchard fruit flavors coat the palate and show excellent clarity. A suave floral nuance emerges steadily as the wine opens up. Impressively concentrated yet nervy; the very long, focused finish features suave, lingering florality."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "Composed of 55% Roussanne, 28% Grenache Blanc and 17% Picpoul Blanc, the 2015 Esprit Blanc de Tablas is a bit of an animal—in the best possible way! It opens with a nose of charcuterie, salted nuts and dried herbs over a core of lemon curd, fresh peaches and hay. The medium-bodied palate delivers loads of savory layers, matched by a lively backbone and satiny texture, finishing long with herb and nut layers. 1,875 cases were made. This should age beautifully over the next ten years!"
- Item #: i_267080Bottle Size: 750mlThis wine is a joint venture of wine gurus from two continents. The blend is a true collaboration of winemakers Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste Michelle, along with two juggernauts from France, Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie! They have combined their decades of experience to produce a wine that demonstrates why Washington State is one of the best growing regions in the world for Syrah!
Approximately 22% of the lots were fermented as whole clusters, with the remaining lots fermented as de-stemmed grapes. The inclusion of stems during fermentation contributes earthy, savory aromas and flavors that perfectly complement the pure fruit character of the grapes. To further enhance these complexities, about 20% of the lots also underwent extended maceration. After fermentation, a majority of the young wine was placed into neutral French oak barrels for aging, with the remainder aged in tight-grained new French and American oak barrels. The use of neutral and tighter-grained barrels helps to preserve the unique character of the wine itself. This year the wine is a blend of 90% Syrah, 4% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier.
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 90 POINTS - "Bright, full ruby. Slightly reduced aromas of dark berries, dark chocolate and spices; less expressive and wild than the 2015 version was at the same stage. Concentrated, silky and fine-grained, displaying sexy spice and violet lift to the concentrated dark berry and licorice flavors. I find more sweetness and primary fruit character--and more generosity of texture--than in the 2015 version of this bottling. The long finish hints at chocolatey ripeness but also shows lovely violet lift and a fine dusting of tannins. This needs aeration or a year or two in the cellar to shed its reductive quality. (I should note that a second bottle was a bit less generous and sweet.) (14.5% alcohol)"
- Item #: i_270050Bottle Size: 750mlA blend of 45% Viognier, 45% Marsanne, and 10% Roussanne, Treana Blanc is a stunning example of a new world Rhone blend with aromas and flavors of pineapple, dried apricot, peach and Clementine orange that combine with floral notes of honeysuckle and elder flower. Sweet notes of marzipan, honey, graham cracker along with cinnamon and vanilla round out this complex, full-bodied and racy wine.