2020 Healdsburg Wine Tasting Recap- Sweet 16

Our annual trip to wine country went down over 4th of July weekend, virus be damned. With two kids along for the ride, we decided to focus on quality over quantity in the greater Healdsburg area, and couldn’t have been happier with our decision. Visits to new stops like Bedrock, Carlisle and Wilson proved worth the diversion from our usual itinerary, while the experiences at old favorites like Seghesio, Limerick Lane, Hartford Family and Sbragia continued to deliver high quality wine and service. We didn’t get to enjoy March Madness in 2020, so in lieu of that here is a snapshot of my “Sweet 16” wines from the 32 new offerings I tasted and scored. As always, ties are broken by price point.


  1. Seghesio Cortina Dry Creek Valley 2017, 95 Points, $40- Texturally flawless, and burlier and broader than usual for this offering, as juicy, polished blackberry, wild berry and black cherry fruit explode into terroir-driven Dry Creek briary spice and white pepper. Finish lingers for minutes with baking spices, contains the full essence of the region in perhaps the best Cortina ever made, and should only improve with time.


  1. Carlisle Syrah Sierra Mar Santa Lucia Highlands 2018, 95 Points, $45- Amazing aromas of perfumey black fruit and leather. Velvety and deep, with blackberry, dark plum and black licorice above a blast of black pepper, wet leather and understated smoke. Long, elegant and constantly expanding finish. Incredible balance of earth and fruit complexities over a lean yet powerful texture, a great, terroir-driven expression of Syrah.


  1. Bedrock The Heritage Sonoma Valley 2018, 94 Points, $39- A rich and intense field blend, with a pure core of crushed blackberry and dark raspberry fruit that picks up white pepper, allspice and orange peel complexities through the long, refined finish that lingers for minutes. Notable for its combination of elegance and unabashed expression of terroir, carrying a steady beam of mocha, baking vanilla and cream that adds depth through the finish. Zinfandel and Carignan.


  1. Carlisle The Integral Sonoma Valley 2017, 94 Points, $45- Tremendous nose of smoked meat, leather and loam. Elegant texture shows blackberry and blueberry fruit above its earthy spice and smoked meat and game complexities. Combines polish with power. Long, intense finish, with fine-grained tannins and powdery mocha flavors adding grip. Syrah and Mourvedre.


  1. Bedrock Heritage Pagani Ranch Sonoma Valley 2018, 93 Points, $39- Deep and inky, as purple fruit flavors of braised plum, blueberry, dates, fig and licorice carry over a powdery texture, showing elements of rustic herbaciousness and finishing with dark chocolate spices, black pepper and tar. A brusier! Thick, chewy tannins add grip. Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.


  1. Carlisle Zinfandel Montafi Ranch Russian River Valley 2018, 93 Points, $50- Big, perfumey aromas and flavors of blackberry and dark plum fruit. Elegant and powdery, with cocoa, anise and mint notes that build toward round tannins. Long finish with bay leaf and minty spice notes lingering long with the fruit. Well-balanced.


  1. Limerick Lane Hail Mary Russian River Valley 2018, 93 Points, $60- Aromas of leather, chocolate and smoked game above dark red berries. Driven by subtle earth components, combining bright berry fruit with elements of leather, smoke, graphite/chalk and black pepper spice. Super refined for its depth, contrasting burly earthiness and minerality with feminine fruit. Lingers long with notes of cocoa powder. Syrah and Grenache.


  1. Hartford Family Zinfandel Dina’s Old Vine Russian River Valley 2018, 93 Points, $60- Thick and intense, with chewy blackberry, black licorice and dark plum flavors that show undertones of leather, smoke and black pepper. Elements of orange peel spice add complexity. Long finish shows gripping tannins, needs time to soften.


  1. Hartford Family Zinfandel Highwire Old Vine Russian River Valley 2017, 93 Points, $60- Balanced and complex, with a concentrated core of juicy, briary wild berry that shows cracked pepper and tobacco spice undertones. Shows a complex finish with orange peel spice and mineral through the long length.


  1. Quivira Sauvignon Blanc Fig Tree Dry Creek Valley 2018, 92 Points, $24- Remarkably crisp and clean, with juicy tropical fruit flavors of guava melon, nectarine and quince that glide over a floral texture and finish with enticing acidity and balance. A perfect poolside wine.


  1. Seghesio Zinfandel Old Vine Alexander Valley 2016, 92 Points, $40- Plush and ripe, with dark raspberry, blueberry and black cherry fruit flavors backed by a blast of black pepper. Full finish, with cracked pepper influences lingering longest of all behind polished tannins.


  1. Wilson Zinfandel Ellie’s Old Vine Dry Creek Valley 2017, 92 Points, $42- A dark and rich style, full of ripe blackberry and steeped plum flavors with undertones of licorice and spice box. Picks up briary undertones and a touch of chocolate through the long finish, with black pepper spice lingering. A mouthful.


  1. Bedrock Syrah Bien Nacido X Block Santa Maria Valley 2018, 92 Points, $48- Cool-climate aromas, reminiscent of the Northern Rhone, with hot brick and clay minerality shading dried berry, cherry and rustic red licorice flavors. Lingers with intense white pepper spice and wet slate nuances, finishing with a hint of smoked meat. Lingers with a firm tannic grip.


  1. Seghesio Zinfandel Rockpile 2017, 92 Points, $50- Intense flavors of dark raspberry and wild boysenberry fruit, with a backbone of peppery spice, floral violet and wet rocks. Elements of caramel add depth and richness. A bit all over the place compared to the 2016, but full of potential. Long finish shows a firm, intense tannic grip.


  1. Limerick Lane Zinfandel Marquis Russian River Valley 2018, 92 Points, $72- Medium-bodied and plump, with red plum and wild berry fruit combining over a super elegant texture, gaining complexity from a lingering white pepper spice aftertaste. Delicate and balanced.


  1. Limerick Lane 1023 Russian River Valley 2017, 92 Points, $80- Balanced and elegant, with crushed dark raspberry, blackberry and black cherry flavors above complex undertones of oak, briary spice, tar and leather that build toward firm tannins, darkening steadily as it evolves. Long finish. Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah.


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