Dark leather cherry licorice flows effortlessly out of the glass. Sweet perfume far deeper than Teen Spirit and less flowery than White Shoulders… somewhere between Jo Malone and Avon Wild Country. Dark cola and a little bretty green fairy tosses twinkle-toes onto the tannins you can SMELL. Rich cherry and rhubarb dress the graininess of the nose–sharp mineral and bruised jalapeno curl the eye-lids.
See, normally I would throw in a paragraph here about how much I adore Carignane, but that is all old news now. At one point the heaviest-planted grape in California–and even France–I am sure there are probably many acres of *filler* left for the valley wines, but it has been reduced to mostly bottles like these: smallish wineries who love it by itself or seeking a geeky revival of historical vines.
When you taste it, all your early California visions come true–without the sweetness common in those wines. Thick rich plum, pomegranate and date explode on a gritty foundation of acid. Literally one of the most balanced versions of this variety I have experienced–and it is a FAVORITE variety and one I grab ALWAYS in a line-up. The dreariness of the classic grape is there, slight subtleties almost alluding to Sierra Foothills in its density and rusticity, but the clarity of fruit and cleanliness of spirit steer you FAR to the opposite side of the valley. Here the coastal influence creeps down into the hot sunny days and the result is magic.
Well done. VERY well done.
2016 WEST OF TEMPERANCE Carignane Poor Ranch Mendocino 14.2