Before you ask… yes, I am still not quite up to the full-on feature articles, and am woefully behind. Look, I’ve got major issues on the homestead, people, so you’re going to need to be patient (or, simply enthrall yourselves with any of the other billion English-language wine blogs out there for now).
The issues have not stopped me from imbibing wine, however (even after having mouth surgery – oh yeah, who’s your drinkin’ daddy?!??). Hey, this is me we’re talking about, here!
Fortunately for both of us, the sample pool gods hath been smilingly generous towards me in my time of personal woe. Thanks to them, I can throw the following wines and resulting frissons of gustatory excitement out at you, my friends.
Just so long as you don’t mind a penchant for wagon pictures on wine labels, or Pinots that clock in at over 14% alcohol (please… leave that abv-hate at the virtual door before entering here, ok?); trust me, James MacPhail knows what the f–k he’s doing with his Pinot…
2014 MacPhail Rosé of Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, $22)
It’s rare for me to highly recommend saignée rosé wines, or those that clock in at 14.5% abv (this is supposed to be rosé, right?), but in the case of this sexy black dress of a number, we can happily make an exception. Several different vineyards, at least ten different Pinot Noir clones, high-ish alcohol, saignée… it reads like a recipe for high-end, kitchen-sink rosé disaster, but this is anything but disastrous. The dark salmon color is alluring, as is the cherry- and strawberry-laden nose. This rosé wears its curvacious body well, accentuating in all the right places and coming off as full but also full of life. Think gourmet pizza, or salad with grilled Salmon, and you’ll be on the right track with this one. Only about 500 cases were made, which might piss you off but not as much as the next MacPhail I’m gonna highlight…
2012 MacPhail Mardikian Estate Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, $85)
…because under 300 cases of this were made. This Pinot is from the Mardikian vineyard, planted in 2008. The vines are young enough that this wine has no business being quite as excellent as it is just yet. One gets the feeling that the young upstart has yet to pay its full dues. Earth, abundant spices, dark cherries, wild strawberries, dried herbs, and even hints of exotic fruits (pomegranate, anyone?). It’s also one of those rare cases in which the PR materials describing the wine are so spot-on that you have to do a double-take because it looks like they were reading your mind or copying from your tasting notebook (yes, I still write tasting notes in a notebook… get over it…). The oak is noticeable but subtle, the power is impressive, the vivacity is refreshing, and the finish is fantastic. If there’s something to complain about here, it’s the relative unavailability (ok, and the heavy metallic-type-embossed label).