Loose Tasting Notes from Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin — August 27, 2020


Colterris 2017 Petit Verdot ($24*)
Spicy oak, tobacco and deep, dark black and blue fruits on the nose with hints of black pepper. Oak overwhelms the palate a bit in the form of raw oak and campfire smoke. Bursts with fruit up front but fades quickly leaving oak, acid and tannin. 85pts.


Bel Lago Winery 2017 Auxerrois ($16*)
Made entirely in stainless steel. White peaches, just-ripe pineapple and pear fruit on the nose with just a bit of rainwater minerality. Fresh on the palate with mixed citrus joining the peachy, tropical fruit. A little oily across the palate with a long, gravelly-minerally finish. 90pts.

Bel Lago Winery 2017 Moreno Vineyard Reserve Auxerrois ($16*)
Spent 11 months in oak. Citrus-driven with notes of exotic spice, sage and tropical fruit on the nose. Less verve-y. Nice fruit flavor with a faintly nutty edge. Good, but the stainless version is better. 86pts.


Adam Puchta Winery NV Cellar Select Norton ($20*)
Black cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose with a strong dose of oak-born vanilla and chocolate. The palate shows juicy black fruits with some obvious oak too. More chocolate and vanilla. Not very long with a bloody/iron-y not on the finish. 84pts.

Noboleis Vineyards 2017 Vignoles ($20*)
Juicy, ripe pineapple, startfruit, pear and apricot on the nose. The residual sugar is very well balanced by the grape’s trademark acidity. Tropical fruit forward. Plump and juicy. Long, off-dry finish. Well done. 87pts.

St. James Winery 2018 Cynthiana ($13*)
Cynthiana is another name for the Norton grape. The nose is all black cherry and black raspberry with hints of sweet spice and cocoa nib. Lighter bodied, but plummy with cherry cola flavors. Tannins are rounded. Nice bit of acidity and a distinct blood orange note on the finish. Fruity but not jammy. Really nice value. 88pts.

St. James Winery 2017 “Winemaker Series” Dry Vignoles ($25*)
Fresh nose of grapefruit and pineapple fruit with layers of bee pollen, white peach and white pepper. Juicy pear and pineapple fruit flavors on a fresh, crisp palate. Bit more complex than the others in this lineup. Well-balanced. 88pts.

New Jersey

William Heritage Winery 2019 Pet-Nat Nouveau ($25*)
Smells of pizza herbs, fermentation and bright red fruits with a little funky/natty edge. Not super carbonated, but quite delicious. Fresh with berries and a meaty minerality. Fresh. 87pts.

New York

Buttonwood Grove Winery 2019 Melody Pet-Nat ($19*)
Forward floral-fruity combination on the nose. Peachy and melony with faint yeastiness. Feather-light on the palate, the fruit is delicate as are the floral flavors. The finish brings a distinct pineapple note. A bit saline on the finish with a faint honey note. 87pts.

Buttonwood Grove Winery 2018 Riesling ($16*)
Scents of peach, tangerine and a hint of green fig lead into a lean palate that lacks a bit of concentration in its peach and citrus flavors. Brisk, fresh feel. Some RS but feels nearly dry on the finish thanks to pithy, gritty acidity. 87pts.

Idol Ridge Winery NV Sparkling Rose ($19*)
100% noiret. Peppery edge to bright red berries on the nose with a little lemon peel and almost none of the ashtray notes typical of this grape. Off-dry and very peppery, the palate also shows nice berry fruit and citrus oil. Nice fruity-savory balance. Soft carbonation. 87pts.

Johnson Estate Winery 2018 Ives ($11*)
Fruity and foxy – almost in a concord-y way. Light bodied and sweet, but pretty well balanced. Straightforward but fun and a well-made example of this style. 85pts.

Johnson Estate Winery Feelings Creek Reserve 2017 Pinot Noir ($18*)
Mostly oak on the nose with some red berry and black tea. Nice freshness but very diluted — almost watery. Lots of oak over the raspberry and red cherry fruit. 81pts.

Johnson Estate Winery 2017 Sparkling Traminette ($20*)
Very tropical on the nose along with rose petals and honey. Soft with more RS than you might expect. Fruity and tropical with good-not-great acidity. Finishes a bit sweet. 84pts.

Nathan K. Wines 2017 Dry Riesling ($25*)
Slate-driven nose with some lemon-lime, lees and delicate floral notes. More lemon-lime on the dry, focused palate with layers of jasmine tea, grapefruit zest and Bartlett pear. The background note of nutty/earthy lees is really nice and brings some breadth too. 90pts.

Wagner Vineyards 2018 Dry Riesling ($15*)
Classic Finger Lakes aromas of lime, citrus blossom and slate lead into a lighter-bodied (not the vintage to push) palate with similar citrus flavors and hints of peach and slate. Dry but not austere. Fresh, well-balanced acidity lengthens the dry, citrus-and-slate finish. Maybe the best riesling value in the Finger Lakes in the sub-$20 category. 90pts.


Rosemont of Virginia 2018 Extra Brut Sparkling White ($25*)
100% chardonnel and charmat method. Lemon and grapefruit aromas with hints of peach as it warms a bit and even a little white pepper. Very dry and refreshing. Citrus and citrus zest dominate the palate. Not complex, but pure and focused like a laser beam. Gritty acid on a long finish. 90pts.


American Wine Project 2018 “Switch Theory” Marquette ($25*)
Sweet herbs sprinkled over aromas of cranberry and raspberry with subtle notes of autumnal leaves. Juicy on the palate – which wears the 14+% abv well – with the fruit stepping forward and the herbs back just a bit. The acidity is fresh but balanced. Long, clean cran-cherry finish with a subtle bit of earth too. 88pts.

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