2007 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Fairview Ranch – $35.00


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of BigBasin for a few years now.  I should say up front, I have only had their non Pinot Noir wines.  Their big reds are generally fairly full bodied but very balanced.  I think they are one big score from a major wine publication away from hitting the big time.


Winery history

Our mission is to create wines that reveal the complex nuances of the vineyards that inspire them – cool climate, ocean-influenced, mountain vineyards.  To this end, we spend long hours in our vineyard to insure that the grapes we grow represent the fullest expression of the vineyard and vintage.  We believe in and employ sustainable and organic farming practices.  The steep hillsides, cooling ocean breezes and fog, and mountain soils promote the development of color and complex flavors.  By keeping the yields very low and harvesting small sections of the vineyard at perfect ripeness, we strive to achieve the most important part of winemaking – great fruit.


Much more information available at:  http://bigbasinvineyards.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby to maroon color.  The impressive nose has blackberries, charcoal, smoke, blueberries, dark chocolate, minerals, freshly ground dark roast coffee, and a touch of wild flowers.  This is full bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  This is a big and ripe wine on the palate, but the tannins and acidity hold it in check.  The elevated (15.5%) alcohol is also nice concealed behind the solid wall of fruit, spice, and dark chocolate.  The lingering finish has nice berries, earth, minerals, and some dark chocolate.  (93 pts)

2007 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Fairview Ranch




1992 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese Fuder #8 – $38.61


My comments

We are BIG fans of nicely aged German Rieslings.  The sugary sweetness these wines show in their youth melds with the citrusy acidity over the years to form a magical elixir that becomes a rich wine with just enough acidity on the back end to leave you grabbing the glass for another sip.


Winery history

As is usual for a lot of the smaller, European wineries, not a lot of information seems to be available on the internet.  I can recite Jon Rimmerman’s (from Garagiste Wine) silky prose, but I don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch.  All I will say is, if you like older German Rieslings that have generally been in perfect condition, at really nice prices, check out http://garagiste.com/ and sign up for the list.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium golden yellow color.  The fresh smelling nose has apples, pears, honey, petrol, minerals, Spring flowers, pineapple, lemon zest, and a touch of spice.  This has light to medium body with very nice acidity and a ton of richness.  The sugar and acidity have melded into a very nice, rich, silky wine.  On the palate the rich, honey dipped apples and pineapple are joined with minerals and a touch of spice with a bit oc citrusy acidity coming in on the back end. The finish has nice length and ends with a touch of flinty minerality and citrus zest.  Very nice and at a peak drinking window.  (92 pts)

1992 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auslese Fuder #8




2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra – $37.00


My comments

Even though I have a few bottles of this wine in my cellar, this one was from a friend’s cellar that he graciously opened for a small holiday event.  Clarendon Hills wines are generally not timid wines, these pack a wallop with their massive flavor profiles.


Winery history

In 1990, Roman Bratasiuk embarked on a truly remarkable wine making journey.  His vision: to create single vineyard wines equal to anything in the world.  Quite simply.  Working with old, dry-grown vines and performing every step of the process by hand, Roman sought to redefine the Australian fine wine landscape by solely conveying the imprint a vineyard forges on the varietal expression.  Every year a pragmatic and calculated Clarendon Hills learns a little more about our vineyards and pushes a little further to propel each one of our 100% varietal wines to the pinacle of their capability.


Please join Roman and the Clarendon Hills family in celebrating our 19 single vineyard, 100% varietal wines.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark ruby to maroon color.  The intense nose has blackberries, earth, smoke, meat juices, black pepper, dark chocolate, charred meat, and dying charcoal embers.  This is full bodied, fairly solid tannins, and good acidity.  The palate is greeted by deep, dark fruit and spice with solid earthiness and considerable smokiness.  The finish adds a solid dark chocolate element.  This is a massive wine that at times seemed a touch muddled, I think it could use some additional cellar time or a quick decant to pull all the elements together.  (91 pts)

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra




2009 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing – $49.87


My comments

I knw I’m probably in the minority, but I’ve never had a Sea Smoke wine.  For a long time these were generally only available via the mailing list, but probably due to the economy I’ve actually seen them on retailer’s shelves.  My favorite local wine store received a nice stash of Sea Smoke wines a while ago, so I had to grab a couple.  Besides this wine, I also grabbed some of the Sea Smoke Ten.  This wine has been asleep in the cellar for over a year, it’s now time for me to try one.


Winery history

For years, vintners have coveted a stretch of land in the western end of Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills AVA known to have the perfect microclimate, soils, and exposure to grow world-class Pinot Noir.  In 1999, fulfilling a long-held dream of owner Bob Davids, this sought-after stretch of land became Sea Smoke Vineyard.


At Sea Smoke, we produce Pinot Noir grown exclusively on the south-facing hillsides of our estate vineyards.  On summer evenings, the Santa Ynez River canyon funnels a cool maritime fog layer (sea “smoke”) across our hillsides, slowing the ripening process and providing the extended maturation period essential to the development of top-quality Pinot Noir.


Our shallow clay soils are planted to French clones on vigor-reducing rootstocks, resulting in fewer grape clusters of intense flavor, and our artisanal approach to winemaking results in wines that are a reflection of the unique land on which they are grown.


We believe that Sea Smoke’s rare geography and commitment to quality have produced wines of exceptional complexity and grace.  We hope that you agree and welcome your comments.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to violet color.  The sexy nose has black raspberries, cherries, Asian spices, wood smoke, violets, vanilla, minerals and some earthiness.  This has medium body, moderate, ripe tannins, and very nice acidity.  The palate shows nice, rich, smoky, spicy, dark berries and cherry flavors with some subtle earthiness adding depth.  The finish is fairly long with the fruit giving way to the more savory elements.  This is still on the young side and improved with air, but is very satisfying and enjoyable.  (93 pts)

2009 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing




2006 Pasanau Priorat Ceps Nous – $18.99


My comments

This is another wine I grabbed from a Garagiste Wine offer a few years ago.  This is a blend of 60% Grenache, 23% Manzuelo(Carignane), 9% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate’s younger vines.  The Priorat and Rioja are the only regions in Spain that merit the highest wine region rating in Spain, Denominació d’Origen Qualificada or DOCa.  The Priorat is a harsh region for grapes.  The “soil” is very rocky which does not allow for the retention of water, the Summers are extremely hot and the Winters get very cold. These extreme conditions mean most of the wines produced in the region are generally powerful and rugged.  After my first day back in the office after being off for five days, a powerful and rugged wine sounds perfect.


Winery history (An online translator was used to translate from Spanish to English)

Our family has cultivated vines for centuries in the priory of Scala Dei.  Written references date back to the thirteenth century, when the first settlers, under the tutelage of the prior of the Carthusian monastery, landowner, settled in the area.  In the late nineteenth century phylloxera devastated the vineyards and all of the family moved to the city to survive.


He was the grandfather Juan Pasanau who after his liaison with Maria Estrems Cornadó early twentieth century, recovered the family land and planted new vineyards.  The grape was used for the cooperative, keeping the wine needed for consumption and leaving the rest for sale.


In the decade of the eighties his grandson Richard, master in viticulture from the University of Barcelona, ​​took over land and other properties acquired.  Introduced new varieties and new farming systems.  In 1995, one hundred years after the attack of phylloxera, Pasanau siblings, with the encouragement of his father John, decided to build a winery where the wines develop.  The address was commissioned Ricardo Pasanau I had already experienced several years in winemaking.


At the time the firm has tripled its initial production.  Right now want to consolidate their production around 50,000 bottles a year, of which 50% goes to the domestic market and the rest to the main world markets.


If you would like to read more and are fluent in Spanish, visit http://www.cellerpasanau.com/es/index.html


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet color.  The sensuous nose has black cherries, minerals, dried herbs, raspberries, vanilla, wildflowers, blueberries, black pepper, and a slight hit of eucalyptus.  This has medium body, moderate, very ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  The wine is rich and velvety on the palate with lush fruit up front and minerals, dried herbs, spicy oak, and pepper kicking in on the backend and carrying through the long finish.  This is an outstanding bottle of wine, not as rough and tumble as I was expecting.  This can be enjoyed over the next half decade, perhaps longer.  (92 pts)

2006 Pasanau Priorat Ceps Nous





***** Shameless Self Promotion *****


Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.







Wines bought or received this week


The long delayed case from Bedrock finally landed:

(2) 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Pagani Ranch

(2) 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon Bedrock Vineyard

(2) 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard

(2) 2011 BedrockWineCo.SyrahNorthCoast

(4) 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine


Winery Sample:

2009 Elyse C’est Si Bon Naggiar Vineyard




Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.