2006 Gainey Merlot

2006 Gainey Merlot
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2009.12.21 Sipped through the evening
Pretty tight in the nose and mouth when uncorked, but opened up very nicely over the evening. Deep ruby color. Fruity nose with black cherry and ripe plum, coffee, cigar, and pencil shavings. The fruit carried through into the mouth with concentrated, ripe cherry and plum. Herbal notes emerged late in the taste. Plenty of earthiness. Tannins will subdue a bit with another year or two in the bottle. Easy drinking wine.

$24.00 Gainey Cellar Club

Gainey Vineyard Website

2005 Château Greysac

2005 Château Greysac
France, Bordeaux, Médoc

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.12.23 Wine to sip through the evening, pizza dinner
Easy drinking Medoc and a steal at $9.89 (after case discount). A bit tight right out of the bottle, but fairly expressive after a few hours. Cherry, plum, tobacco, and cedar in the nose. Ripe fruit in the mouth with dark earthiness. Tannins are a bit thin. Nicely balanced but fiarly simple. Excellent QPR. Glad I bought a case.

$10.99 (case price = $9.89; normally approx. $25.00) Chuck’s Fine Wines

Chuck’s Fine Wines Website

2002 Zaca Mesa Syrah

2002 Zaca Mesa Syrah
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.12.04 Dinner at home – homemade pizza
Concentrated flavors and aromas with lots of subtleties. Dark red color with dark fruit, pepper, and a bit of smokiness on the nost. Nice fruit flavors in the mouth with plenty of earthiness. Blackberry, ripe cherry, and plum with ground pepper, red bell pepper, hints of smoke and toasted oak. Nicely balanced flavors throughout the palate, finishing with firm tannins. Nice drinking wine and excellent value.

$22.00 Zaca Mesa Wine Club

Zaca Mesa Winery Website

2006 Evan’s Ranch Pinot Noir Clone 114 Lone Oak Vineyard

Evan's Ranch Pinot Noir

2006 Evan’s Ranch Pinot Noir Clone 114 Lone Oak Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.11.26 Thanksgiving Dinner
This was a fine pairing with the Thanksgiving meal of roasted foods. Beautiful ruby color as it cascaded into the decanter. Cherry, cranberry and sawdust on the nose. Plenty of body, complexity and firmness to stand up to the meal. Surprisingly dark flavors in this wine with concentrated black cherry and dark raspberry. Tree bark, cloves and allspice flavors bring a spiciness to the wine. Bigger than I expected with an almost loamy-like soil undertone. Rounded tannins with a long finish. Noteworthy wine.

$52.00 Evan’s Ranch Cellar Club [Gainey Vineyard]

Gainey Vineyard Website

2006 Tercero Grenache/Mourvedre Rose

Tercero Rose 2006

2006 Tercero Grenache/Mourvedre Rose
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2009.09.11 Dinner on the Deck – served with grilled salmon & shrimp
I’ve been drinking several of the wines I discovered on my visit this summer in the Santa Ynez Valley. Some of the wines won’t find their way into these reviews for several years, but at least a case of the wine that came home with me is intended to be enjoyed in these final days of summer and early fall.

So there have been several notes about Larry Schaffer’s Tercero Wines. I have to say, this is a winemaker to watch out for. He is working magic with the fruit of the Santa Ynez Valley (with is a treasure to begin with), bringing a purity and clarity to wine that is pretty unique. His wines are an extension of the vineyard — good fruit into the process, tending it carefully, and bringing to the glass a wonderful sip of the Valley itself. Seriously — I taste the Santa Ynez Valley in every sip of these wines. But it’s not old musty “terroir” — it is the freshness and life of the vineyards and valley. Combine that purity and place with a luxurious feel in the mouth, and you’ve got Larry’s wines.

This wine is one of the first two wines that Larry Schaffer made. If he weren’t so ernest and honest, I wouldn’t believe him. This wine tastes like it was made by an experienced master. Yet it is fresh in style and exudes accessibility. It’s no surprise, then, that this is the third or fourth wine from Tercero that I have written about in the past few weeks. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I REALLY like these wines! The only reason I’d tell you to not go buy every bottle you can find (mostly from the winemaker himself — they’re small production and not yet widely available), it would be because I’m selfish and want to drink it all myself. It’s also an amazing bargain. GO BUY THIS WINE. On with the tasting notes…

Soft in color. texture, and flavors. Not wimpy, but gentle with a good backbone. Very well balanced in the nose and mouth. Citrus, honey, and strawberry on the nose. Cashmere feeling in the mouth with fresh summer fruit flavors and firm acid that make for a wonderfully balanced, easy drinking, summer wine. Wonderful to drink on the deck on a warm afternooon. Went very well with grilled salmon and shrimp.

$12.00 (special pricing right now for like $10) purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

2006 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard

Tercero Grenache Blanc 2006

2006 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.09.06 Picnic at Blossom – Cleveland Orchestra
What a wonderful wine to enjoy on a summer evening, particularly at NE Ohio’s Blossom with the Cleveland Orchestra!

A bit softer than the 2008 we’ve already had, undoubtedly the result of more time in the bottle. The aromas were a bit muted, but still had plenty of citrus and honey with a refreshing smell of wet stones. Very round, almost velvety feel in the mouth. Plenty of fruit flavors, mostly sweet fruits, but without the accompanying sugar: apricot, honeydew, even slightly tart pineapple. Plenty of citrus and minerality with nicely balanced acid. Very enjoyable and easy to drink. Excellent QPR.

$18.00 retail Purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

1992 Château Bel-Air (Domaines Henri Martin)

Chateau Bel Air

1992 Château Bel-Air (Domaines Henri Martin)
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc

Wine Rating: 83

Uncorked: 2009.09.04 Dinner with Neighbors
This poor little bottle had been forgotten in the cellar. I’ve got a couple more down there — an ’88 and a ’94. These are pretty simple, low-end Bordeaux bottlings, but it’s always fun to find forgotten bottles, and interesting to endulge in a bit of mystery since it’s hard to know what’s gone in under the cork over these several years.

We had dinner with some of our neighbors, and this was one of seveal wines we sampled. We opened the bottle and let it decant for about an hour. It was tight and a bit unwieldy. Not a crowd-pleaser, but I had a sense there was more to this little bottle than the turned-up noses as we first tasted the wine. So I drank it over the next three days. This was a good example of “good things come to those who wait.” While the wine never became anything extraordinary, it was fun to see that this little bottle wasn’t just going to roll over and be forgotten.

Obviously beyond prime, but surprising how it balanced out on day 3. Aromas of dark chocolate, elderberries, and smoke. Soft feel in the mouth with skin-on plum, currant, and bell pepper flavors. Softened but ripe tanins endured through a moderate finish. Remarkably easy to drink, even in its twilight.

I encourage even novice wine drinkers to find a couple of bottles that can be hidden away for a few years. It is a treat to see how wines develop over time. This one went beyond its best drinking window, but how fun it was to blow off the dust, wake it up a bit, and let it give the gifts of aromas and flavors that have been bottled up for fifteen or sixteen years.

$8.00 in 1994