Monday, September 29, 2008

Big Basin Vineyards Harvest Celebration 9/27/08

'06 Sri Syrah
Nose - Would guess Pinot Noir. Rich, warm, spicy, hint of ***, black & red fruit.
Integrated resin, cranberry, blackberry, green peppercorn. (88 pts.)

'06 Fairview Syrah
Nose - Blackberry, black plum, green peppercorn, slightly sweetish, hint of vanillin.
Lavender, red plum, blackberry, grapefruit. (90 pts.)

'06 Mandala Syrah
Nose - Dark wood, black plum.
Hint of resin, clove, black fruit, rhubarb, sulfur zing, lavender, cranberry. (89 pts.)

'05 Mandala Syrah
Nose - Darker, rustic McHenry-like, sandalwood.
Wonderful, zingy, rich, black plum, mandarin, some glycerin, blackberry. (93 pts.)

Four barrel samples:

'07 Alfaro Vineyard Pinot Noir
Nose - Light, gorgeous, black plum, strawberry, purple basil.
Wood spice, blackberry, rhubarb, red elderberry, some sweetness, cranberry, with allspice lingering on the finish. (92 pts.)

'07 Black Ridge Vineyard Cab/Syrah (~50/50)
Nose - Blue fruit, vanillin, pine tar.
Saturated, resiny, blackberry, blueberry, tingly. (90 pts.)

'07 Coast View Vineyard Syrah
Nose - Heady, intense, oak spice, blackberry, hint of butterscotch, vanilla cream.
Zesty, blackberry, dusty tannin, touch of spice and resin. (90 pts.)

'07 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah
Nose - Boysenberry, pine, spice, vanilla cream.
Saturated boysenberry, resin, firm dusty oak tannin, mandaring, meyer lemon zest, blackberry. Needs 3 years. (92+ pts.)

The kicker:

'03 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah
Nose - Wow! Heady elegant spice, complex rustic black fruit, vanilla cream.
Saturated, resiny, blackberry, a bit rustic, lovely, tight. This needs more age or a couple hours decanting to open up. (95 pts.)


Tim Corliss said...


did you think you were not as crazy about the younger syrahs as you were the '03 rattlesnake because they were young?

Also, any addtional thoughts on their new pinots?

tim corliss

Wes Barton said...

Yes. I rated them as they showed. They are a different style than I have experience with aging. The levels of ripeness and resin are beyond my usual preference, but these are so well made they work for me. I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see most of them improve

Note that I am a very merciless scorer. Byington wines, for example, tend to have excellent fruit ruined by a harsh resin character, and I rate them accordingly. I only wine I rated under 90 pts. was the Sri, which goes for about $20. It's a "buy" at that price.

Another point of interest is that when I had the '06 Fairview in June it was very expressive and exciting. The nose had a Cote Rotie signature, and was very primary, smoky, meaty and showing raspberry. On tasting I wrote: Deceptively timid, expanding to roast fruit, with chalk and limestone, good acid and a hint of vanillin. It blew away the other wines that day (say 94+), this time it seemed rather simple and straight forward. Hopefully that's all hiding and will come back.

I haven't tried any other new Pinots, just the '06 Branciforte back in June. But this Alfaro Vyd. blows away what the Alfaros have done with their own fruit. (Their best is their Schultze Vyd.)