Beauty deeper than skin
2013 OUTCAST ‘The Drifter’ - Mendocino
Some of you will admire the hyperactive label design. Others will deem it ghastly. I’m siding with the latter, but upon closing my eyes and TASTING this wine I was forced to give The Drifter the time of day. Actually, I kept my eyes open long enough to admire the deep maroon-purple color, then put my nose to work: As dramatic as its label, the scents of violets, black pepper, blueberries, blackberries, licorice, and smoked meats happened in abundance. On the palate, dark fruits vied with bacon and gutsy tannins. In the finish: Violets once again. Here, surprisingly, was a very serious wine.
Sold on the winery’s website for $45, we had other ways of accessing it for a much lower price and can extend that to you. The only downer is our lack of data for you. Sometimes our best deals happen with less disclosure. We know only 400 cases were rendered and that the varieties involved are Rhone-ish. Considering the color and scent I’d say Syrah is the dominant player. Grenache may be hiding in there, and Mendocino-frequenting Carignan could be responsible for the substantial structure. What’s for certain: This is remarkably expressive wine for our lower price and very worthy of grilled lamb chops or bistecca fiorentina. Drunk alone, the astringency might challenge your tongue. With the aforementioned proteins you’ll find delicious resolution. Hate the label? Get over it and admire a great wine – as I did!
Another year, another label
2014 STOLPMAN VINEYARDS ‘La Cuadrilla’ – Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara County
Because it’s always delicious and because this winery near Los Olivos is dear to us this may be the FIFTH vintage of La Cuadrilla we’ve brought you. It suffers but one way, with the marketing disadvantage of a different label design each year. Even those most faithful to all things Stolpman might have a hard time remembering this shape-shifting wine.
No matter: Let’s celebrate yet another successful bottling of La Cuadrilla! This time the bottle sports an image of Pete’s dad Tom Stolpman donning mariachi gear at one of the winery gatherings (Stolpman’s crew [“cuadrilla”] probably talked him into it after a tequila or two). Those hard workers deserve to have their say now and then, and they have it in this particular wine which comes from a particular plot farmed to their own specifications, blended per their annual whims. 10% of Stolpman’s total production is devoted to this bottling and the resulting profits are returned to the crew.
This time the cuadrilla went for 80% Syrah, 12% Sangiovese, and 8% Grenache; all vital varieties to the Stolpman program. 15 months in neutral oak calmed the textures but added no woody interference to the exuberant fruit you’ll certainly detect. A deep mocha and blackberry perfume welcomes the nose. Soft and syrupy textures indulge the palate. Here is hedonism barely under control, worthy of this weekend’s barbecue (will you be hiring a mariachi band?).