2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, Juggernaut Wine Co.

This is the 2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet and yes, for those of you asking, this guy can be swayed by cool branding. Check out this crazy fierce label! It’s as big as the wine itself, and you’ll do well to go looking for it in your favorite wine store / source.

Juggernaut

2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, Clarksburg, California, USA.

The Juggernaut is produced by the Bogle family, and you know they’ve been at this game for quite some time. My winestore source said they’ve been growing grapes for winemaking since 1968 and in the Clarksburg area in particular. Here they combine grapes from the North Coast, Livermore Valley, Alexander Valley, and the Sierra Foothills–all hillside terrior and vineyards going into this luscious bottle. Obviously with all the hillside talk you have this inference of “hard growing” and “extreme” (and hell, isn’t just about every vineyard photo you see on some kind of a mountain?!?) but know for our purposes it ultimately translates into really nice, easy-drinking California cab. Yes hillside can mean fewer grapes and smaller berries, but that also means concentrated flavors and complexity in the wine itself.

Not every hillside wine gets this right, but the Juggernaut does. There is big, dark blackberry-type flavors in the 2016, and maybe just a whiff of vanilla too. I suspect the new French oak barrels (its aged 12-18 months) have something to do with that. The 2016 Juggernaut (I have two more of these) is really nice value for the price. It’s accessible wine, both for your wallet and your palate. I enjoyed over a couple of nights and will look forward to the next such occasion. Thanks for following Notes and feel free to share with a friend.

 

2016 6th Sense Syrah, Michael David Winery

All things Michael David turn my head. That goes for their Petite Petit (which I’ve been drinking since the ’11 vintage) and Freakshow (yes the red and Cab) in particular, and even my favorite cellar defender–the market-leading 7 Deadly Zins. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the 6th Sense makes an appearance on Notes.

2016 6th Sense Syrah, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

2016 6th Sense Syrah, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

It’s an affordable Syrah bottle, capturing grapes sourced from the Phillips family vineyard that is just a stone’s throw from the Michael David winery. The wine is aged 14 months in French oak, and the ’16 vintage was originally bottled in December of 2017. It has not had that long to set up but makes a good impact on your evening. You get the usual red berry richness of a Michael David, that fruit-forward ‘pow’, as well as the spicy underpinnings and earthiness that you’re seeking in a Syrah. I’ve sampled probably 50 or more (some 40+ are currently posted here on Notes) Syrahs since starting on this vino adventure, and this holds up pretty well to bottles with heavier price tags. Like other Michael David wines, it does forgo nuance for a sledgehammer of fruit flavor, but at this price tag you’ll appreciate it.

Tasting notes from the winery claim, “…the 2016 Syrah shows stunning depth and balance in its youth and will continue to evolve in comings years.” And I’m sure that, while sort of general wine-speak, it’s an accurate call. Most people will opt to uncork and go right at the 6th Sense (as I did) rather than store it but an interesting thought nevertheless. I had my bottle with a well-appointed garden salad (inclusive of mushroom, yellow onion, green olive, and fresh ground black pepper) and chicken breasts and it was an easy sipping wine. I’ll surely do it again and am interested in your thoughts, fans, as always.

2012 Barbaresco Riserva, Roberto Sarotto

My first Barbaresco for Notes this evening, and breaking quite a domestic run that I’ve been enjoying over the past several months. Before this Italian gem, the only “offshore” wines I’ve sampled as of late have consisted of Orin Swift‘s Locations, so even that means international grapes through the lens of a US winemaker. Many years ago at a client dinner in Buffalo I had my only previous Barbaresco, and since I don’t remember that very well this one is getting a good up-close glimpse.

2012 Barbaresco Riserva, Roberto Sarotto, Barbaresco, Italy.

2012 Barbaresco Riserva, Roberto Sarotto, Barbaresco, Italy.

The wine is really nice, an easy-drinking red that runs lighter than a Napa Cab but heavier (and smokier) than a Pinot Noir. At its core the 2012 Barbaresco Riserva is cherry in flavor, albeit with some definite spice and smoke on the palate. It is made from Nebbiolo grapes and a nice break from the fruit-forward reds I have favored as of late. This fruit is grown in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and mixes “tart berry flavors with dray earth, spices, and potpourri.”

Vivino (from where I purchased this bottle) says of Barbaresco, “If you ever wished that Pinot Noir had the punch of Cab, this might be the wine for you!” A truism and I just might be that dreamer–at least on a summer nights where a Cab is a bigger commitment.

This evening the 2012 Barbaresco Riserva from Roberto Sarotto accompanied a simple meal consisting of grilled steak (seasoned only with salt and pepper) and a garden salad. Enjoyed the meal; enjoyed the bottle of wine even more.

It’s the first Barbaresco for Notes but I’m pleased to report it will not be the last. Thanks as always for your readership!

I4, Locations Wine

Yes a Dave Phinney wine, and the first Locations covered in Notes in months. This is the second I4 that I purchased before the holidays (the first review got away from me…), and somehow I had enough restraint to hold off opening it until this evening. And open it I did.

I4 Locations Wine, Italy.

I4 Locations Wine, Italy.

Loved savoring this wine, this mix of black cherry and spices. It classed up a nondescript dinner that isn’t worth sharing here. The I4, however, is. This red blend is rich, it carries faint scents of raisin, and it has a smooth lasting finish.

The grapes? Well, these I had to look up as we are definitely straying from the California vineyards I travel so frequently. In the I4 blend are negroamaro and nero d’avola from Puglia and barbera from Piemonte. I’m searching my memory and think the only time I’ve sampled this fruit previously was the I4 I drank nearly six months ago.

Of the I4 Locations, the winemaker’s notes are as follows: “Black cherry, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cured meat–which are complemented by shades of sandalwood, vanilla, balsa, and evergreen. The entry is silky smooth with a textured mid-palate of velvety fig, blueberry jam, and soft oak.

I suspect the fig is what I called raisin, but good to know I’m not too far off the pace. Black cherry is a no-brainer too. And “cured meat” sure sounds awesome but this escaped my unrefined palate. You’ll have to try it yourself and make a call.

I am aware that most Notes photos show label fronts, and perhaps I surprise you by avoiding Phinney’s iconic lettering? No matter; I just like the clean lines and striking red of the back label and decided to show this to you instead as a change of pace. Pull one from the shelf of your favorite wine store and share your thoughts–I’ll be waiting.

 

2016 Meiomi Pinot Noir

Call me a Wagner disciple, because this 2016 essentially makes a flight of Meiomi that started in 2011, 2012, and continued through 2014. First thought–how did I miss the 2015?

2016 Meiomi Pinot Noir, Rutherford, California, USA.

I’m not sure I did, quite frankly. It has to be somewhere among the “Ones That Got Away” quarterly updates on Notes, so feel free to continue exploring these tastings as your time permits. Meiomi has been much discussed for its mass market appeal, and if you haven’t made up your mind about these grapes after the Notes coverage or among the consumer media, nothing I’m going to write here is going to change your mind. Just know this is always an enjoyable wine and you’ll enjoy.

My best tip? Be sure to buy it at the right price.