Wines of the Week: Paul Dolan T.A.S.T.E-ing Edition

Vinted on November 5, 2010 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, overachiever wines, wine review

Ok, technically they were wines from last week.  So sue me.

[Editor’s note: please do NOT actually sue me.]

Last week, I had another run-in with those tiny T.A.S.T.E. 50ml bottles, taking part in an on-line UStream live tasting with winemaker Paul Dolan, going through the majority of his portfolio.  Paul has the advantage of exuding a calm and commanding presence even over a tiny video window (I credit his kick-ass mustache), and he also happens to make some compelling wines.

Those wines happen to be made from biodynamic grapes, which is a veritable conversation powder-keg when thrown into any gathering of two or more wine lovers these days.  And we all know what I think about BioD, which is that I don’t know what to think about it yet.

I’ll admit, whenever Paul got to talking about BioD during the tasting, I found myself wondering if I should go looking for some weed and a bong to put my mind in the proper perspective, you know, to really understand what he was on about, man!

The BioD conversation did yield this fantastic tweet during our tasting, though:

“@PaulDolanWine: Some call it voodoo, we like to call Biodynamics Moo-Do.”

That is just sooooo good…

Anyway, while I found the whites a bit to rough-around-the-edges, the reds from Paul Dolan for the most part were very, very good, and in at lest one case offered what I felt was a downright amazing bargain…

06 Paul Dolan Deep Red (Mendocino): Big, pruny, rough, but as pure & true-to-place an expression as you’re likely to find in the U.S. $42 B+ #

The 2006 Deep Red is not a perfect wine, nor is it a wine of deep complexity. But it is a wine that exudes place so well and offers such pure dark fruit, it just feels comfortable in its own skin, irresistible and attractive because it couldn’t be anything else other than itself. And talk about a steak wine, this will ably tackle just about any cut of beef you could throw at it.

07 Paul Dolan Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino): So much chocolate you’ll feel like you’re at a tasting with the Easter Bunny, & like it. $24 B #

I got the distinct impression that the 2007 PD Cab would be a very, very popular guest at a dinner party.  I’m not going to say that it’s BioD that’s responsible for the vibrant acidity and food-friendly liveliness in this wine (let’s just not go there today, it’s almost the weekend after all), but I am going to say that the chocolate notes on this wine will get wine geeks talking while i t gets those just looking for a high-ish end tasty Cab smiling.

07 Paul Dolan Zinfandel (Mendocino): One of the best, most complex, complete and ageworthy Zins I’ve had in what seems like forever. $25 B+ #

An over-achiever and a bargain at $25?  Damn straight, it is. The entire time I was tasting this wine, I was thinking “WTF… this is Zinfandel… how am I so enthralled?” Eventually I just realized – or, I should say, was reminded – that better Zins (like this one, and the brooding but balanced examples from Draconis) stop you in your tracks with their awesomeness (not just because they’re so good, but also because there are so many bad Zins being made that it makes the gulf between the bad and good seem so grand-canyon-style huge). Rich but not overbearing, peppery but not “green,” jammy but not cloying, and worth more than every penny you’ll shell out for it.


(images: Ustream (taken live),





  • Sam

    Is it a coincidence that Mendocino County is known for Biodynamic and Organic farming and as the Napa Valley of Weed? I'll let you be the judge. I was talking with Mark Beaman, a winemaker in the Mendocino Wine Company, and that's what he constantly preached: we dont' make soda pop wines. Maybe they aren't always the best, but they'll always give you something interesting.

    • 1WineDude

      Sam… probably not a coincidence :).

      Also – interesting is good; not only that, it's necessary and the freakin fabric of life, and personally I'd take it over squeaky-clean/too-polished any day!

  • Jenny

    Do you like the small bottles of wine that you can get as a sampler? I only ask because we are looking at doing this to introduce some of our inaugural wines.

    • 1WineDude

      Hi Jenny – for consumers trying something new, Yes; for reviewers like me, No (I just wish they were larger for reasons already explained in other posts here – ideally a 1/2 bottle for review purposes).


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