Brother Lou dropped in Tuesday with Sharon Marsowicz, the regional rep for Row Eleven wines from California, a very cool producer featuring winemaker Richard de los Reyes and founder Ken Conner:
Stratton Lummis Chardonnay Carneros 2010. Grade=Outstanding. Single vineyard Dijon clone Chardonnay + No oak + 100% Malolactic fermentation = one straight up wonderful Chardonnay that is medium-bodied, fruit-driven and stunning. Really impressive for the price.
Civello White California 2010. Grade=Outstanding. This uniquely-refreshing blend of Vermentino, Verdelho, Albarino, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay is fresh and floral in the nose, showing freshly-shaved ginger, Bosc pear, Meyer lemon and white grapefruit on the palate, finishing up with bright minerality and acidity.
Row Eleven Pinot Noir Vinas 3 2009. Grade=Outstanding. A truly wonderful Pinot Noir, expressive with pretty red cherry fruit, soft vanilla bean, nutmeg and cinnamon, and just a touch of white truffle.
Row Eleven Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2009. Grade=Outstanding. (Editor’s note: First bottle opened was corked, second bottle showed well) There is a bit more black cherry fruit here, smoky meats, black truffle and touches of sage and black pepper. Much richer across the palate than the Vinas 3.
Row Eleven Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2007. Grade=Outstanding. I thought the age on this one would be sketchy, but it actually is quite shy, with only the promises of gorgeous black and red berry fruits, oak spices, cola nut and Oolong tea leaves – this is still in its infancy; be patient.
Stratton Lummis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009. Grade=Outstanding. This remarkable value Cab is a blend of Rutherford and Oakville fruit, lending to its big, bold, full-bodied presence on the palate, and its demonstrative characters of blackberry, anise, cassis, tobacco, leather and spice. A great deal in Napa Cab.
Stratton Lummis The Riddler Lot 2 NV. Grade=Outstanding. The blend is a secret, a riddle if you will. And why geeks may be quite befuddled as to its ingredients, novices will no doubt be pleasantly surprised by its medium-bodied display of red fruits, lively spices, violet, cigar box and black pepper nuances.
Stratton Lummis The Magician Lot 11 NV. Grade=Very Good. I had tasted this one last year and it found itself in the WTF! Files, with its almost-psychotic mixture of Petite Sirah, Shiraz, Petite Verdot and “frankengrapes” Cabernet Doursa, Maxime Rouge and the infamous Drunkenfelder. What I tasted back then was a friggin’ mess, but here, some 4 months later, it has settled into a pretty tasty, well-balanced red, not too heavy on the RS, just right on the fruit and the acidity. I’d definitely drink this wine again and again.
Rosé by Row Eleven California 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Also tried this wine last year and while it wasn’t the H.R. Geiger-fest in the mouth the Magician was last time out, my taste buds certainly met it with something of a lackluster embrace. Again, this time out, I was greeted with a completely different wine – rich strawberries and raspberries with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and rose petals. A pretty voluptuous pink blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache and Merlot.