This was my first time trying a Bandol and I liked it quite a bit. At first, I was put off by the nose and palate. However, as I gave it more time, the wine opened up and it grew on me. I understand why there is a cult following of Bandol wines. This particular wine was 97% Mourvedre. It had a deep, very opaque purple-ish color. On the nose the wine was very aromatic. In particular, I got some dark fruits (particularly blueberry), some smoked meat, maybe some savory herbs, wet earth, some metallic (iron kept coming to mind), and floral quality (maybe lavender). The palate was dry, medium body, and had some smooth acidity (lots of acidity). The palate had some black pepper, dark fruits (blueberry like the nose), and earth. It also had the metallic component that I described on the nose, and it was bitter at the beginning (this slowly went away as it breathed). After 24 hours open, the bitterness completely went away and gave way to a fruiter/meatier wine. This is the kind of wine that warms you up during a cold winter day. The tannins on this wine were quite strong and round. There was a good balance. This wine would benefit by being paired with food. I am also confident that this wine could age very well. Probably another 3-5 years in the cellar would do it some good and would allow it to mellow out. Overall, this wine had a good balance and I would not hesitate to buy more.
The Telegraph’s Victoria Moore recently interviewed Robert Parker and asked if his taste had altered over the years. He answered:
“I don’t think so. The wine has to be interesting – make you want to go back and smell it and taste it again. Everything has to be in balance. And I think a wine has to be made from ripe fruit. I’m completely against unripe fruit. The people who say, ‘We’re looking for lower alcohol,’ or ‘We’re looking for more terroir, transparency,’ I’m saying it’s completely fucked up. The best terroir is the fully ripe grape.”
This is an old debate. It is often cast as a New World vs. Old World debate (or perhaps more accurately as modern vs. traditional style regardless of country of origin). And it is divisive: either you are in the extra ripe camp or you are in the less ripe camp. One of my issues with very ripe wine is that it makes it difficult to determine where the wine is from (let alone the terroir). So if it is true that the general consumer’s palate is shifting increasingly towards riper wines, it would make sense to argue that wines will eventually lose their sense of place. It will make little difference where the wine is produced. This, to me, is quite sad.
I would argue that there is room for both styles of wines. Vive la différence! Would we argue that there should be no Indian or Mexican restaurants because an influential food critic prefers French cuisine and, by extension, French restaurants get better ratings? No! I like all of these cuisines and I am sure that a lot of other people do too. Rather than dismiss a style of wine, I think that we should educate people about these wines and accept them for what they are: different.
Personally, I do not prefer one “ripeness”/style over the other consistently. There are times when I prefer a “fruit bomb” to a wine in which the fruit is more subdued and vice versa. So I have a bit of both in my cellar. I am a lover of wine of all styles and think that there is a place for both.
Note: In this post, I am not referring to overripe wines, which generally are unbalanced due to their lack of acidity, or overly underripe wines that are generally extremely “green.” Balance is key, a point on which Mr. Parker and I agree 100%.
During this tasting, I sampled seven wines: 2013 Big Sissy Chardonnay, 2014 42 39 56 Rose, 2011 The Bully, 2011 The Pixie, 2012 Zachary’s Ladder, 2011 The Evil Twin, and 2011 The Albatross. I visit Gorman winery on a semi-regular basis. I love their wines and their terrace. When I attend events in Woodinville, I will usually leave an hour or so earlier to either do a tasting or grab a glass of Bully on their terrace. I have had all of their wines (except the F.O.G. wines which are reserved for club members only) for the last two or three years (depending on the wine). Needless to say, I am generally a fan of the Gorman style. The following are my impressions and tasting notes:
2013 Big Sissy Chardonnay – This is a 100% Chardonnay that is sourced from the Connor Lee Vineyard and aged for nine months in 100% new French oak. This is a big bold Chardonnay. The color is yellow to gold. As is to be expected based on the amount of new oak used, there is buttery popcorn both on the nose and on the palate. On the nose, there is also some apples, pears, and apricots. There is a tiny spice component to this wine. On the palate, this wine is luscious and very rich with a creamy texture. The wine seems quite ripe. There is some acidity although I would argue that it could use a bit more. That would have it a better balance, in my opinion. Back to the palate, there is some apple, some stone fruit, and some lemon. The finish is of a good length.
2014 42 39 56 – This is my go-to wine for the summer. It is readily available in Seattle and not overly sweet like some of the other roses available. Both on the nose and on the palate, this wine definitely has some strawberry. There is also good acidity. I think that the balance between sweetness and acidity is much better in this wine than in the 2013. Overall, this is a beautiful wine and I would not hesitate to purchase this if it is available near you!
2011 The Bully – This is definitely not the best example of Gorman’s Bully. The 2010 was much better. This wine, to me, seems unbalanced. There is an earthiness to this wine that I cannot usually find in many other Washington State wines. There is a heavy use of oak in this example and it masks a lot of the fruit. The fruits are dark fruits, which can be found after a short while in the glass. If you have some of this wine, I would recommend holding onto it for another couple of years to let it integrate.
2011 The Pixie – As some of you may know, I am not a huge fan of Syrah. That being said, some of the WA State Syrahs are starting to grow on me. There are hints of dark chocolate and coffee on the nose. I also get some smokiness from this wine. There are hints of savory herbs (think maybe some mint). Personally, I find this wine quite heavy. It gives a warm feeling while drinking it. This I have found, as stated above, is a characteristic of Gorman Winery wines. In terms of fruits, there are definitely some darker fruits (maybe stewed here) such as dark cherries and maybe some figs. Overall, this is a well-made wine. Just not my cup of tea.
2012 Zachary’s Ladder – Unfortunately, I did not write any tasting notes on this wine. I find that this wine is “rough.” I tend not to be a fan of blends with a large amount of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon mixed together. If I had to choose an entry level Gorman wine, I would prefer to go with the Devil You Know, which is better in my opinion. For those who like Syrah, you could also consider the Devil You Don’t Know. However, these two wines tend to sell out quickly so if you find them, you should not hesitate to give them a try before they run out!
2011 The Evil Twin – This is, again, not a favorite of mine. The blend on this wine is 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The fact that I am not of fan of this particular wine, though, does not in no way imply that this is not a quality wine. I can appreciate the quality. This is a wine that I would characterize as being “glass staining.” It is very dark and purple. There are some dark fruits on the nose and palate, mostly dark cherry and plum. There is also some smokiness to this wine, as one would expect from Syrah. There are also some chocolate notes, some spice, some earth, and maybe a bit of minerality. Again, like most other Gorman wines, this is a heart-warming wine. This is a wine that I would enjoy drinking on a very cold winter night. This wine is definitely full-bodied, with good acidity, and medium round tannins.
2011 The Albatross – This is my favorite wine from the entire Gorman lineup. In some years, I would argue that The Bully is like its little brother. However, there is something about this wine that just keeps me coming back for more. Every year, I tell myself that I will not continue to buy it because of its price. That is, until I taste it at the winery. At that point, I remember that this wine is special and unlike anything I purchase from Washington State. It has the typical Gorman style with a little something that makes it, to me, irresistible. To be fair though, the 2011 is my least favorite of all the years that I have been tasting (since 2009). This has the typical characteristics of a Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon. It has plenty of dark fruits (some blueberry and black currant), a good amount of minerality, some earth, a bit of smokiness, some spice, and some tar as well. It is full-bodied with some good acidity and round tannins. Overall, this wine has a good balance and a very long finish. As I said before, this is a definite buy for me. Such a lovely expression of what Red Mountain fruit can give.
Such a beautiful wine! This was my first dry Riesling and I now understand what the fuss is all about. I’m sure that as I progress through some “better” Rieslings I will understand this even more.
The wine is yellow with a slight green hue on the rim (similar to a Chablis).
On the nose, there is a slight petrol component. In particular, I think that I would describe this as petroleum jelly. This is going to sound weird but I think that I agree with Ian Cauble from the movie Somm. In the movie, he describes an Australian Riesling from Clare Valley as having a nose of newly opened tennis balls. When I watched the movie, I thought that that was kind of weird. But, now I understand. This does smell like newly opened tennis balls. I also get some minerality on the nose, specifically slate. There are also some citrus fruits: some lime rind and some ruby red grapefruit. There are also some white flowers on the nose.
On the palate, the slate is definitely there. More so than probably any other wine that I have ever had before. I also get some very good acidity. Overall, there is a lot of citrus going on. The predominant fruits that I get are lime and some mandarin. There is possibly also some apricot as well as a tiny bit of tropical fruit. This wine is quite dry. It also has a surprisingly long finish. The body was medium and it had good balance overall. It was flavorful. Really impressed with this wine. This is a definite buy for me! Highly recommended. If I had to score this wine, I would probably give it around 91 points.
My first impression of this wine was that it was probably over the hill.
There is a tartness to this wine. I drank it alone but it would likely have been better with food. I did not get a whole lot of fruit (barely any to be honest). It also definitely lacked some complexity. What I sensed was a dominant tobacco (more like a cigar box) aroma that overwhelmed everything else about this wine. It was all that I could get.
This wine might be a reflection of the poor 2007 vintage. This is not normally a vintage that I purchase so I have little tasting experience with it. It is very possible that this is a quite good wine but based on the year, I am thinking that it is not great. I should probably check into some of the better vintages to get a better representation of what this producer can do in “better” years.
Kept a little more than a glass for the next day. The wine was much better and more integrated. The tobacco/cigar box aroma that I felt was overpowering on the first day had given way to a little bit of fruit on the second day and was much better (although there was still not a lot of fruit to be had here). The predominant fruit here was dark. There was maybe a touch of cranberry both on the nose and on the palate. There was a bit of toffee as well but this was mostly on the palate. There was also a touch of cedar. I got some raspberry on the mid-palate.
Overall, I think that this wine was a decent value but needs a lot of air. If I was to buy this wine again, I would open it the night before or give it a good decant before drinking. The finish is quite short.
The color on this wine is between brick and brown. You can see that it is shifting towards the brown spectrum, but not quite brown yet. It still had a reddish hue to it.
On the nose, you definitely get a good amount of mushroom, some forest floor, some stewed red fruit, and leather. To me, the leather component was very interesting. The smell took me back to my father’s belt factory when I was growing up. Having worked in a factory that manufactured leather products (and going to the factory my whole life), I know what leather smells like and I have always felt that, when people describe wine as smelling like leather, it is because they are not clear on what leather smells like. I would say that this wine had a good smell of leather!
On the palate, a lot of these descriptors come back. The fruits, however, seem to be a bit more prominent. I got some tart red cherry, a mixture of stewed red fruits, as well as forest floor and mushrooms. There was a lot of acidity on this wine. I drank the wine on its own, but I think it would have been better with food. The tartness and acidity made it hard to discern every component of the wine. The tannins are smooth at this point. The finish was quite long.
Overall, I would say that this was a good wine. Based on what I have heard from others though, there is a lot of variation between bottles. If I had more, I would definitely drink up. I do not believe that this wine still has a long time to go. I would argue that it is going downhill from here (it may have already started to decline in quality).