Tasting at Saddleback w/ Lars (6/27/18)
When I arrived in the NapaVlly from Healdsburg, I made a bee-line to Saddleback Cllrs to taste w/
Asst winemaker Lars Bjorkman (sorry...no detailed notes):
1. Vermentino '16: Grown on FrankMahoney's estate (but not at LasBrisas); very perfumey/fragrant classic Vermentino;
resembles some the Ryme "Hers" but a bit more structured and not quite as rich; a lovely Vermentino.
2. Verdelho '16: A bit leaner & more restrained; lightly floral/stony.
3. Pinot Blanc '16: Some toasty/pencilly oak; ripe melony bit leaner than the Chard and quieter.
4. Chard NapaVlly '16: Strong toasty/pencilly oak fairly ripe/melony/Chard bit spicy; good acidity & balance; a solid/
4-square NapaVlly Chard. .
5. Freisa Rose '17: Wow...very perfumey/fragrant bright/floral/strawberry Freisa nose; lightly tart/brist very strong
strawberry/Freisa/alpine strawberry/spicy flavor; a terrific expression of Freisa.
6. Charbono FriedianiVnyd/Calistoga '14: Very dark color; very strong plummy/earthy/Charbono perfumed nose; soft big/
rich some earthy/rustic/brawny rather plummy/Charbono flavor w/ modest rough tannins; avoids the oafish side of
some Charbonos.
7. Nebbiolo '17 (in barrel): Med.dark color, dark for a Nebb; strong floral/lilacs/violets/classic Nebb very light
pungent/tarry nose; lightly tart floral/violets/lilacs/Nebb slight pungent slight oak flavor w/ light ripe tannins;
not as hard/tannic as I expected; quite a good Calif Nebb.
8. Teroldego '17 (in barrel): Dark color; rather dark classic black cherry/plummy/blackberry Teroldego slight earthy
nose; bit soft ripe/blackberry/black cherry/Teroldego flavor w/ light smooth tannins; a classic expression of
Teroldego; not at the level of a Foradori, but a solid producer like Mezzacorona.
9. Montepulciano '17 (in barrel): Very dark color; strong plummy/black cherry somewhat earthy/loamy/rustic nose; bit
soft some earthy/rustic strong plummy/black cherry flavor w/ modest slightly rough/coarse tannins; shows to somewhat
sauvage/rustic/earthy side of Montepulciano.
10. Tannat '17 (in barrel): Very dark/near black color; very strong Tannant/licorice/bousenberry/plummy slight earthy
fairly ripe nose; bit soft rich/ripe/structured somewhat licorice/boysenberry/Tannat slight oak flavor w/ modest
hard/ripe tannins; a pretty big/structured Tannat but more polish than most Tannats.
11. Dolcetto '17 (in barrel): Med.dark color; pretty classic Dolcetto/grapey/bit locorice/boysenberry light earthy
fairly fragrant nose; bit soft light earthy grapey/Dolcetto/licorive/boysenberry slight earthy flavor w/ light
ripe/smooth tannins; pretty classic Dolcetto w/o the hardness of Piemonte Dolcettos.
12. Nils Trousseau LateHrvst RRV/SonomaCnty (SaH: 40.0 Brix; RS: 6%; 16.6%) Oakville 2015: Very dark/near black color;
very intense grapey/licorice/chocolaty bit alcoholic some complex nose; quite sweet bit alcoholic intense grapey/
chocolaty/licorice/plummy slight cedary/oak bit complex flavor w/ ligh smooth/ripe tannins; very long/lingering
intense grapey/chocolaty/licorice soft/ripe/lush complex finish w/ some ripe tannins; lots of ripeness but not
stray into overripe/late harvesty/pruney territory; no Trousseau character that I can pick up; carries the high
alcohol very well and not at all portish; very much resembles a good Banyuls; probably not an ager and will become
more raisened/prunish w/ age.
A wee BloodyPulpit:
1. Saddleback: Most people blow off Saddleback (www.saddlebackcellars.com) as just anuther NapaVlly Cabernet house.
That, is, of course their speciality from the very early days. I was first attracted to Nils wines early on by his
Zins. But Saddleback is much more than Cab & Chard. They make a pretty broad range of very interesting wines.
Most of them are for their wine club members. Lars has a good connection w/ Matt Gallo over in the RRV and has
access to a lot of interesting Italian varieties.
2. Freisa Rose: Having had two Freisas the day before w/ SamBilbro, I was mightly impressed by the rose expression of
Freisa. In fact, so much so that I bought a btl to give to SamBilbro and DarrellCorti. A rose may just be the
ideal expression of Freisa in Calif.
3. Nebbiolo: As I was out here for NEB#8 (Lars came to our NEB#7 the yr before), he was eager to show me his Nebb.
I was rather impressed w/ it for hs first stab at Nebb. It ranked right up there w/ any of the Nebbs we tasted at
NEB#8. Alas, there is only a small barrique & a carboy of it...only 33 cs worth...too small a release for the
Saddleback WineClub program. He may purchase it & put it up under his Grow label.
4. 3T Red: Since the have so little of the respective wines; they blend the Teroldego/Tannat/ and Tempranillo
together to make what they call their Three T's blend. It's quite an interesting wine if a bit on the rustic side.
5. I was pretty impressed w/ what Lars is doing w/ the Italian varieties. Oftentimes, when a Cabernet producer
ventures afar into Italian (or Spanish or Rhone) varieties, I'll think "Yup...this tastes like an XX made by a
Cabernet producer". Not so in this case. I thought the oak levels were pretty modest (at least in this point
of their life) and all the wines were varietally correct. Too bad they aren't made in larger quantities.