But we persevered and tasted the 4 wines blind. Interestingly the least expensive bottle was virtually the unanimous favorite while the most expensive was the least favorite. Blind tastings like this are always full of surprises!
Mike – Wine Enthusiast
Evan – Wine Enthusiast
Jim – Wine Professional
Karen – Wine Enthusiast
Eddie – Wine Professional
Jamie – Wine Enthusiast
2006 Pedroncelli Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley 13.8% $10.75
Group's #1/My #1
Mike noted that this had a “very fragrant nose violets and a little oak” while Jim added “this smells like Cab with cassis, blackberry and cherry fruit.” Jamie felt that “at first this smelled warm, then it smelled Christmassy, but finally it really smells like S'mores!” Karen enjoyed the wine's “rhubarb-like finish and bright fruit on the palate” while Evan felt the fruit was “very light burnt cherry” but he did enjoy “ the quality of the tannins and balance with the acidity.” This is a wonderful little wine that perhaps won't wow but is sure to please.
2005 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Creek Valley 13.5% $12
Groups #2/ my #3
Jim enjoyed this wine for its “ sweet cassis and tobacco nose” and found the wine “ more open in the glass with hints of mint, big tannins for a medium bodied wine, an elegant lush feel and a long finish.” Mike was less enthusiastic noting the wines “ black cherry cola and green pepper” notes on the nose. Evan straddled the line somewhat noting that the nose “ is just big, immediately big with tarry jammy fruit and hints of vegetal that follow through to the palate with more big, jammy, tarry flavors and very big tannins that lead to a woody finish.” That sums this wine up quite well.
2005 Perrucci California 14.4% $32
Groups #3/ My #2
Eddie was the least enthusiastic about this wine finding “oak and dark cherries on the nose with a little coconut and an oaky, unstructured midpalate.” Karen found this to be “quite vegetal then jammy on the nose with cassis, dusky violet, and black ferry fruit and a silky texture with spice and oak notes on the finish. Jamie found notes of “ Indian spices, mango and a little mustiness” on the nose but added, “ The overall mouthfeel is nice, a little dense and spicy on the finish.” I thought this showed a decidedly Southern Rhone like quality and while a solid and interesting bottle of wine may be a bit of an outlier for many Cab drinkers.
2004 Kenwood Artists Series Sonoma Co. 14.6% $56
Groups#4/ My #4
Jim found the nose full of “ vanilla oak and coconut oil, a little smoky and a little hot. In the mouth he found the wine to be “ A little linear, a little short and a little too tannic.” Eddie also found the wine to be “ kind of hot” and Evan felt the “ wood overpowered the fruit.” Jamie enjoyed the “ organic nose with notes of vine vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, and an underlying sweetness.” Mike felt the nose showed “ muted black and red fruits, cherry cola and a bit of leafiness” an added “ it has a decent mouthfeel but the finish is a bit short.” All in all a decent showing for a wine I would expect more of.
This brief blind tasting was followed up by a virtually live vertical tasting of Gundlach Bundschu's Rhinefarm Cabernet Sauvignon, with Jeff Bundschu on the video monitor.
We were thrilled to be able to not only taste along live with Jeff but to delve into the past via the generosity of Gundlach Bundshi. For this, their 151st Anniversary, the winery generously supplied 6 wines going back to the 1985 vintage. It is always a treat to get to try older California Cabernets, admittedly on of my weaknesses. The wines all showed well and are a testament to the age-worthyness of both the Rhinefarm Cabernet and Sonoma Cabernet in general.
Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley
An older nose with lots of tea, light blond cigar smoke, leather and dried beef tones, red fruit, smells spicy and high acid – still vibrant with red currant and tobacco notes, drying tannins, earthy, still has good body, touch of fudge on the warm finish, decent length, light wild cherry finale 89pts
Jammy but with bright herbal tones, backing spices, vanilla, fresh smelling and quite sappy, earthy like crazy with tons of green, forest floor, nopales and fern notes over a background of carob and cocoa 84pts
Downright meaty and roasted herb garden almost remind of Chateauneuf with gamy, herbal garrigue floral, very complex and increasingly attractive scents, soft round entry, great bright acids, balanced tannins, a bit of camphor, red currant reduction, tobacco, balanced in the mouth, clean fresh finish with wild red berry fruits and just a touch of spice on the moderately long finish. 91pts
Earth, oak, roast meat, iron rust, spice, red fruit, vanilla, classic typical Cali cab aromatics from a very good vintage, jammy wild cherry fruit - full entry, nicely focused a touch soft but with plenty of crisp tannins to support the earthy, herbal fruit that has just a hint of sweetness on the edge, nice cherry pit tone on the back end turning fruitier on the finish with a nice pairing of vanilla- and spice- with red fruit, decent length 90pts
2005 14.4% $35
A bit tight still with woody note covering sweet cocoa tinged fruit, mocha cherry with some crushed herbs flittering in the background, soft yet juicy with dark spice tones and dark slightly jammy fruit notes, black cherry and plummy, medium full, nice mouthfeel, good, classic fruit profile touch minty on the finish, a touch tight but with good length 90pts
2005 Gundlach Bundschu Vintage Reserve Estate Vineyard 14.2% $80
Tight and fine with a tobacco, oak, soil tone that recalls Bordeaux but with redder, warmer fruit. Nice depth and savory complexity. Beefy. Polished and smooth with an initial fair bit of wood yielding to a very balsamic character with a smattering of forest floor and medicinal licorice. Nicely balanced and focused, easy and fresh but not simple. Nice fruit on the finish which is a bit tight at this point, very nice depth and almost elegant. 93pts
We spent over an hour online with Jeff and he was funny, gracious and offered a wealth of information about his wines as well as Sonoma Valley in general. Thanks Jeff!
Gregory Dal Piaz