Been wanting to try these wines for quite a while, and BAM there they are on a list at a local restaurant (that has a great list, LIDO, btw). Quite interesting packaging. The bottle is screenprint in gold a large two-digit number below the shoulder the vintage. On the opposite side, a small seal with AVA, vineyard, and variety–also screen-printed. The bottle is hand dipped in a matte-paint or vinyl coating on the bottom half. There is no capsule, but a liquor-like paper seal containing surgeon-general’s warning, alcohol content and such TTB necessities is affixed to one side of the neck and over the top of the cork. Underneath is screen-printed a tiny owl. I’m not making any of this up.
Pinot Noir light garnet–perfectly transparent. Green edgy graphite and lemon peel climb out of the glass, easily over-powering what is clearly very ripe fruit. Chinese 5-spice and musky rubber-band lay a spicy, dirty slab of peat and loam over and between the fruit. There’s SO much Pinot going on here. Each swirl brings out more candied fruit, before all the gorgeous pinot-ish-ness gathers fresh steam. I guessed Anderson Valley on this initially.
The Cab is a deep–but still transparent–ruby with just a smidgen of garnet at the edge. Powerful black cherry, heady spice and the dirty slurry of a million stones held together with honey and Drambuie. A perfect barnyard brings the funk to town, bestowing warm blessing on the conifer and vegetal which never gains much of a foothold in the swirl with all this sticky fruit.
In the mouth, the Pinot continues to surprise, attacking thin and light in viscosity fruit, but making up for it in commodity and texture. A mere wisp of an entry suddenly envelopes the palate in all that wondrousness you smelled. Sharp fruit stings, pie cherry doing its best ripe painting on cornrows of tannin. It fades the way it entered, astonishingly delicate, but vibrantly fruited, definitely ripe and SO. RIDICULOUSLY. PINOT.
The Cab is kinda the opposite: where the nose left off, the mouth runs away with everything, expanding on themes and expounding on contrasts, making luxurious sweet magic all over your tongue. Calm and sedated in the lush-fruit & oak department, the fruit is instead razor-sharp, a pinpoint of mind-boggling flavors pulling memories of long-ago enjoyed Cabernet masterpieces and aged classics from the mind as waves of fennel, black walnut and Luxardo saturate your tongue. Like the Pinot, the tannins are so perfectly worked into the finish–they ARE the finish, but the deep fruit marries SO well–the seamless package merely sweetens black tea with blackberry clusters.
Buy a case of each of these and drink one per year.
2014 VOCAL Pinot Noir Lilo Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 13.5
2016 VOCAL Cabernet Sauvignon Bates Ranch Santa Cruz Mountains 13.9