EMERGENCY TASTING AT THE LIGHTNING CLOSET: DEVON’S PALATE IMPERATIVE

Things were a bit crazy heading into Thursday afternoon, and it was looking like there was no way in hell I was going to keep my appointment with good friend and Tramonte rep, Devon, but she was unfazed.  “You cannot miss these wines,” she said to me via a text, so I told her, being stuck in my office, she could meet me there instead of the infamous Whino’s studio.

“I’ll be there in ten,” she replied.

She showed up at the Lightning Closet with quite an eclectic bag of tricks, a blush from Washington State, a new Zin from the Treasure Hunter guys, two new releases from our Mendocino amigo, Greg Graziano, a monster red from JC Cellars, and some truly unique jewels from a Cal-Ital producer:

Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese Columbia Valley 2010.  Grade=Outstanding.  Very pretty rose petal nose, this crisp, lively rosé is full of ripe strawberries, raspberries, slight red tea leaves and a hint of thyme.  Delicious.

Pretense Zinfandel Napa County 2006.  Grade=Outstanding.  Pretty solid Zinfandel from the Dark Horse/Treasure Hunter folks, this shows off slightly peppery, brambly black and blue fruits, some nice baking spices, and hints of vanilla.

Monte Volpe Primo Bianco Mendocino 2009.  Grade=Outstanding.  A very unique blend of Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Arneis, this exuberant white wine is full of mineral, citrus, stone fruit and white flowers.

Monte Volpe Primo Rosso Mendocino 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  Primarily Zinfandel and Sangiovese, this red blend has its roots steeped in a veritable panorama of Italian topography.  Cherries, tobacco, cigar box, olives and rosemary abound within its lively, balanced red fruit character.

Giornata Vermentino Paso Robles 2010.  Grade=Amazing.  I never thought I’d ever taste a Vermentino from California!  This stunningly pretty white wine displays lychee nut, starfruit, lime and slight passionfruit notes.  Really nice.

Giornata il Campo White California 2010.  Grade=Outstanding.  Light, lively white blend of Tocai Friulano, Moscato Bianco and Chardonnay, it shows brilliant orange blossom and white peach skin notes in the nose, abundant apricot, peach and nectarine flavors across the palate, and finishes with wonderfully-balanced acidity.

Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita Vineyard 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Fantastic single-vineyard Cab from Paso Robles.  Loads of jammy, ripe black cherries, dark plums and black currants, hints of pepper, vanilla, cedar smoke and tar, finishing with a good grip on the palate.

Giornata il Campo Red Central Coast 2009.  Grade= Outstanding.  Primarily Sangiovese, this drinks like an affectionate homage to Chianti, with its dried cherries, olives, dusty earth, mineral and dried herbs.  Great for everyday drinking!

Giornata Aglianico French Camp Vineyard 2009.  Grade=Amazing.  My first California Aglianico, this is really nothing like the dark, dank earthy black cherry bravado of Southern Italy.  Here it’s softer, gentler, more poetry and less goth.  Splashy cherry and plum fruits intertwine with supple baking spices, hints of rose petals and violets, and a sprinkling of dusty earth.

Giornata Gemellaia Red California 2009.  Grade=Amazing.  An impressive homage to the “super-Tuscan” style, this blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Petite Verdot is rich, dense and concentrated with bold tannins, slight chocolate, baked cherries jubilee and blackberry coulis.

Giornata Nebbiolo Paso Robles 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  I’ve had a few Nebbiolos from California before, and they’ve always left me extremely disappointed.  Not here.  This is reminiscent of a fine Barbaresco, with its tar, Oolong tea, cherries, blackberries and violets intermingling throughout its Old World spirit.  Incredibly done!

JC Cellars The Imposter Red California 2008.  Grade=Amazing.  Big, bold and rich with its layered nuances of red and blue fruit aromas and flavors, baked earth, spices, black pepper, tea leaves, chicory, and chile-infused chocolate.  Primarily Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah.

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