Downhill is a low-key operation. The kind where the person pouring is the winemaker. Frank makes his wines in rented space at Byington Winery. Tasting room? Well, that's a table set up in the barrel room. I like that. Friendly and without pretension. The wines are vibrant, expressive and ready to drink. Complex without being heavy or tannic. This is the type of wine I'd like to see more of on restaurant wine lists. Too often it's either boring plonk or current releases of stuff that needs a few years (or more) to be enjoyable. Oh, and the prices are very reasonable.
'08 Torrontes (California) This is from a Lodi vineyard with a lot of interesting varieties planted. We'll see some Downhill reds from here down the road a bit. Nose - bright and fresh stony white peach, with honeydew melon and yellow peach. Lemon, zesty and waxy, honeydew, peach, lanolin, savory, lime. 91 pts
'07 Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vyd. This saw 20% new oak and half malo-lactic fermentation. Nose - warm and stony. Fuzzy/waxy feel, rustic savory lemon and lime. 89 pts
'08 Barbera Rosato (California) From Sierra Foothills fruit. Nose - amazing fresh light jammy strawberry, very rich. Zesty waxy strawberry, hint of smokiness. 89 pts.
'07 Barbera Cooper Vyds. (Amador County) Nose - rustic, minerally McHenry character Boysenberry, rustic and smoky, minerally, orange, with nice clove and a hint of rhubarb on the finish. 91 pts.
'06 Pinot Noir Peter Martin Ray Vyd. (SCM) Nose - stony, rustic, rhubarb and plum. Soft, rich, rustic, rhubarb, plum, strawberry, smoke, dark spice, lemon zest. 92+ pts This has really opened up.
'05 Cabernet Sauvignon Giuliani Vyd. (Napa Valley) Nose - blackberry, mint and smokiness. Bursting with boysenberry, orange, black plum, dusty tannin. 92 pts.
"05 "Slippery Slope" Syrah/Grenache (SCM) Nose - barnyardy Smooth, glyceriny, blackberry, blueberry and zest. 90 pts.