2015 Azienda Agricola Marianot, Garblet, Barolo

About two years ago I snatched up several of these “Garblet” bottles from Azienda Agricola Marianot, and slowly I’ve worked through them without providing a Notes summary—until today. This is a classic Barolo from Italy’s Piedmont region, with Nebbiolo fruit harvested from vineyards (ranging in age from 10 to 40 years) in Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, Novello, La Morra, Ceduno, and Grinzane Cavour.

The 2015 Barolo vintage, I’ve come to learn, is pretty exceptional and I half-question the good deal that delivered the Marianot Garblet to me. I mean to say, if 2015 is indeed a great year for Barolo (and acknowledging Barolo as the “king of wines”) doesn’t it suggest this a fledgling offering if I obtained at less than $20 per bottle? Freely I share that the previous bottles I sampled felt slightly undeveloped, but that could have been me drinking too early or without allowing the wine to breathe as much as I did tonight.

2015 Azienda Agricola Marianot, Garblet, Barolo, Italy.
2015 Azienda Agricola Marianot, Garblet, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy.

This bottle I liked much better, and not just because I was savoring the UNC victory over Duke tonight. The wine is light red in your glass, clearly not as deep-hued as a Cabernet or Syrah, but delivers excellent cherry flavors. Call it garnet red? The 2015 Marianot Garblet has notes of strawberry and earthiness on the nose too, a dry wine overall. It grew on me over time and I’m wistful I had not allowed the previous bottles to set up properly. We had this wine with dinner, a Saturday night special with steak, wedge salads, and asparagus—and though light in color its tannins stood up well to the task.

Of the 2015 Marianot Garblet, James Suckling comments, “A fragrant Barolo that adds a spicy, herbal edge to the impression of dried rose petals and caramelized orange peel. Medium-bodied and grainy. Medium-chewy and medium-long on the finish.

The Marianot team fermented the Nebbiolo in stainless steel tanks and ultimately let the wine mature for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels. Fining consisted of 4 to 6 months in stainless steel tanks and at least 6 months in the bottle. The result is an intense, harmonious 2015 wine that I really enjoyed. Looking forward to more Barolo in the days and weeks ahead. 

2019 Conundrum 10th Anniversary Red Blend, Wagner Family of Wine

Conundrum is always a great option for your vino fix, a proprietary red blend that Notes has covered many times and in many ways over the years. This site has covered bottles going back nearly a decade, and be sure to cruise notes on the 2012, 2013 (there are several) and even the 2014, or others at your convenience. I am not sure how I missed a vintage in this vertical but looking to make up for that here.

2019 Conundrum 10th Anniversary Red Blend, Wagner Family of Wine, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2019 Conundrum 10th Anniversary Red Blend, Wagner Family of Wine, Napa Valley, California, USA.

It’s a flavor bomb, a tooth-stainer of a red that has fans all over the world. As with previous vintages, the 2019 Conundrum is jammy and packs in the dark berry goodness. Sampling Conundrum for the first time or the 100th you’ll surely detect the dark cherry or plum notes, the leggy red tumbling full and inky into your glass. I have occasionally whiffed a little hint of vanilla in the mix, but this particular bottle had more of the fruit than the spice as defining characteristics. It had a few minutes to breathe but was essentially ready to enjoy right away without decanting, filtering, or similar preparation.

Yes the label is eye-catching, but less so than the Wagner name (Notes covers many of those, too) for most oenophiles. On the other hand, I’ve missed recent vintages of Conundrum so the silver did work as a marketing tool.

Polished off this 2019 tonight with a healthy tilapia (white wine, butter, garlic/caper goodness), broccoli, and apple sauce dinner. Trying to make good decisions early and often in 2022, and hoping your new year is off to a similar good start. Thanks for reading and best in the year ahead.

2015 Prelude Francs, Chateau Marsau

Always intriguing when you’re drifting back to older vintages, those that are perhaps less available than selections more readily available on the shelves of your wine store. The 2015 Prelude grabbed my attention—partly because of its catchy label, and partly because it goes back a few years before the recent 2018s I’ve been sampling.

2015 Prelude Francs, Chateau Marsau, Cotes de Bordeaux, France.
2015 Prelude Francs, Chateau Marsau, Cotes de Bordeaux, France.

Unfortunately, this 2015 fell short of my expectations.  It’s Bordeaux profile should have lined up well with many recent bottles covered (with admiration, I might add) in Notes, but the Prelude was just underwhelming. It was very dry, even more tannic, and did not work either solo or with foodstuffs. The 2015 does have aspects of cherry and smoke—which are positives—but it’s just way harsher on the finish.

I don’t usually compare my thoughts to other reviewers, but did on this occasion to see what I missed. Others raved. One crazy guy called a “poor man’s Petrus” and, though I have yet to sample Petrus among these more than 500 tastings, I imagine it has a richer flavor profile by far than the Prelude. A less severe mouthfeel. 

“Coming from the youngest vines of the estate, it is also made of 100% Merlot”

Says the winemakers at Chateau Marsau

Maybe we chalk it up to an over-exuberance of youth? This reviewer is a Gen-Xer, so yes I understand that not everyone is a winner. Not every bottle gets a ribbon or a medal. The Prelude is okay, but only okay. My table has lots of favorites, and more repeat bottles than I have time to write about here…but this one needs no such repeat performance. Thanks for reading and enjoy your vino!

2018 Chronicle Cabernet Sauvignon, Rebel Wine

The attributes of this wine line right up to the preferences of this oenophile. The 2018 Chronicle is produced on California’s North Coast, it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (88%) and Petite Sirah (12%), and has an intriguing label that just may include an individually numbered bottle. Let’s dig deeper…

Generally, the North Coast includes Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and Marin counties. St. Helena is just west of the Mayacamas Mountains, located in the Napa Valley AVA, and is home to many of California’s best-known wines. The Valley itself extends about 30 miles from Napa at the south to Calistoga in the north, right along Route 29 and including St. Helena.

Fog in the region impacts its vineyards in meaningful and very specific ways. The complexities of cool and warm climates, sunlight, ocean airs, and earthquakes makes for diverse appellations and even subappellations conducive to different types of grapes (e.g., Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon), even among neighboring growers and towns. It’s a place that beckons to my soul even while I’m jotting a few notes for you all here.

2018 Chronicle Cabernet Sauvignon, Rebel Wine, St. Helena, California, USA.

The 2018 Chronicle is a medium- to full-bodied dry red blend, with dark fruit notes that I’m calling more blackberry or black cherry than plum. Sometimes my palate can pick that up; other times it’s less clear so use your own judgment here. I do smell a bit of leather in my glass, and the peppery finish is suggestive of both the Cab and Sirah grapes for the wine.

We had the Chronicle with Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon, served with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was flat-out great, with tenderly seared beef and vegetables so tender…wow! Those who follow Notes regularly know the meal is often less relevant to this taster than is the accompanying wine, but this is not one of those occasions. The dish was so rich and savory that I really thought less of the Chronicle and more of the food flavors. Understand me: the wine is tasty but the stew even better.

The label (but less easy to support with online research) suggests that Joel Gott and Charles Bieler are the vintners here for the 2018 Chronicle. Thanks gents for your contribution to a great evening. I enjoyed your wine and will buy more in the future, but what I’m really excited to repeat is the Beef Bourguignon.

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Justin

I’m fairly certain that I had a Justin many years ago, a Reserve or similar high-end split courtesy of my brother George, and that memory sparked my purchase of this 2017 for the holiday weekend. Those memories may be suspect, however, as I do a search and see no results returned. Regardless, the vineyard’s 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is here for your consumption.

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Justin, Paso Robles, California, USA.

Winemaker Scott Shirley does nice work with the 2017, which commemorates 30 years of producing this Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s traditionally crafted, right from the hand-picking of the grapes from their limestone-soiled, Paso Robles vineyards to the hand-sorting and small oak barrel aging (for more than a year) of the fruit. This craftsmanship implies care, quality, and consistent berry quality as well.

In your glass it pours deeply, fragrant purple, with really nice cherry aromas. We taste it and think of earth notes and leather too, so there’s more than some of that in the 2017 vintage. The wine is full and has an excellent mouthfeel and a fresh finish. Loved the taste for the price point, and it went very well with our dinner of grilled (okay, and partly roasted too) chicken thighs, corn, and a delicious rice-black bean recipe that’s years in the making.

Here’s your notes from the winemaker: “Dry, nearly full bodied, with ripe black cherry, cassis and red fruit, baking spice and oak accents on entry with sustained ripe primary and mostly black fruit, dried autumn leaf, cocoa and a pleasant suggestion of camphor on the mid-palate into the finish.”

I purchased this bottle from a grocery I (unfortunately!) don’t often frequent so I’m not sure how often the Justin will make an appearance in Notes. I’ll look forward to the occasions that it does. Try one for yourself!

2017 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Decoy Wines

The Decoy. Having had the complete pleasure of tasting the Duckhorn Cab flagship for my birthday (thanks bro), I pulled this  bottle from the shelf of my local grocery store when looking for options to start off the weekend. The Decoy is also a favorite of my best friend, for him a cellar defender that gets a lot of run. Now I know why.  

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Decoy
2017 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Decoy Vines, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The wine is really nice, a plum-infused and blackberry treat. Definite dark fruits on the nose and on your palate! The 2017 is even and balanced, a medium red that has a simple finish. You’ll find yourself trying to access other tastes, other ways of describing what’s in store here in the 2017 Duckhorn, because it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon with subtleties that continue to occur to you as you make your way through the glass.

The 2017 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon from Duckhorn Vineyards is produced in Sonoma County, one of my favorite AVAs on this little planet of ours. Cara and I had this one with roasted chicken, accented with lemon and garlic, as well as roasted sweet potato, carrots, and fennel. Oh yeah, with an arugula and onion salad too. The wine was well paired with our meal and enjoyed by us both.

Here’s a description from the winemaker: “Aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, cigar box, toffee, and mint lead to fresh dark berry and red currant flavors and dried herbs.”

All that comes from the blend, a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and others. It’s an enjoyable one and accessible from a price and value standpoint. Get a couple of these for yourself and we’ll compare notes. 

 

WA5, Locations Wine

This day started with a quest for martini fixings, but since all the local ABC stores are closed for the holiday, it’s wine time here. Yes I am a fan of all things Dave Phinney, and I thought the WA locations would be more than a great fill-in for the missing well drinks.

WA5, Locations Wine, Napa, California, USA.

Importantly, know this bottle fits all the beats of a Phinney wine. Ripe, layered, and kitchen-sink style in its blend overall. This one is blueberry, it is blackberry, and it is hints of merlot to be sure. I found it to be fruit-forward but not the flavor bomb that some of Dave’s creations can embody. I assert here it was the right bottle for the evening, one where I’m recuperating from weeks of overwork and singular focus on a particular outcome. 

The WA Locations 5 accompanied a green salad (complete with mushrooms, yellow onion, radishes, arugula, and cucumbers) and a kick-ass chili that was kicked up with the heat—cumin, chili powder, and all the accoutrements. A nice give and take between the grapes and the food!