2017 Vintage Reviews (and the 2018 Whites)
Single Vineyard Syrah
Buffalo Hill - Rockpile
94 Aged in 100% new French oak, this wine offers substantial layers of leather, black pepper and blackberry jam. Luscious and opulently over-the-top in style, it packs remarkable power and flavor into a satisfyingly cohesive whole.
Silver Eagle - Russian River Valley
93 From a Ulises Valdez-farmed vineyard, this tastes of strawberry jam, nutmeg and white pepper. Secondary layers of meat and garrigue develop along a full-throttled, softly round and rich palate of lush opulence and ripeness, leading to a hit of leather.
So Serine - Rockpile
92 Brawny in tones of gamy meat, leather, blueberry and graham cracker, this wine is velvety on the palate. It offers a rich and boldly ripe take on the variety from the high-elevation appellation. Rockpile's rocky, volcano soils figure into the mix, contributing to an overall appeal of garrigue and crushed rock.
Zio Tony Ranch - Russian River Valley
92 Explosive in red fruit, earth, mushroom and gamy meat, this wine is textured in blue fruit, with a soft grip. Farmed by the Martinelli family, the site leaves you with specks of mineral-like crushed rock.
Domaine des Chirats - Rockpile
91 Truffled earth, dust and garrigue coat along a viscous, full-bodied concentration of burly black fruit in this collaboration between winemakers Jeff Cohn and Yves Cuilleron. Black and white pepper pop on the lengthy, textured finish.
Rockpile Haley - Rockpile
91 Condensed and concentrated, this high-elevation-grown wine is burly in black fruit, leather and oak. The tannins are firm and substantial, adding to the ripe wine's overall girth and intensity.
Single Vineyard Rhônes
2017 Sweetwater Springs Petite Sirah - Russian River Valley
92 Jet-black in color and thick in tannin, this vineyard-designate offers bold, integrated layers of lavender, plum and gamy meat. Leather and black pepper season the core of big fruit and integrated, grippy texture.
2017 El Diablo Grenache - Russian River Valley
90 Tar, leather and thick blue fruit combine to form an intensely concentrated, full-bodied wine here, from a well-farmed site in the heart of the appellation. Soft and supple tannins provide a foundation upon which the ripeness can balance.
2018 Two Guys · Two Barrels Viognier - Napa Valley
90 A partnership between winemakers Yves Gangloff and Jeff Cohn, this hearty white from the famous site opens in floral aromatics of jasmine and apple blossom. From there it leads to stone and green apple on the palate, which is opulent and oak-driven with lasting grip and power.
Single Vineyard Zinfandel
2018 Orcio Sweetwater Springs - Russian River Valley
94 Fermented and aged in terra-cotta amphora, this hearty wine is perfumed in white pepper and thickets of wild raspberry. Buzzy acidity keeps it fresh and balanced amidst the concentrated jammy nature of the wine, giving it enduring complexity.
St Peter's Church - Alexander Valley
93 Winemaker Cohn has made this wine since his days at Rosenblum Cellars, starting in 1996, and his deftness with the site shows here. Thick in blackberry jam, pepper, leather and bacon, it is thick and structured and leaves a trace of dust and black pepper as it finishes.
Sweetwater Springs Isabel - Russian River Valley
93 This is a smooth, textured vineyard-designate, from a hillside site, robustly opulent in red and black cherry. Black pepper, leather and tobacco weave their way in across a seamlessly integrated, complex core of varietal intensity.
Rossi Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel - Sonoma Valley
92 From an organically farmed site, this full-bodied, ultraripe wine is pruney and viscous, with meaty elements alongside vanilla oak.
Rinaldi Zinfandel - Fiddletown
92 Ripe delicious berry flavors mingle with earthy, peppery notes in this full-bodied and complex wine. Moderate tannins beef up the texture for great balance and let a classic briary expression come through. - Jim Gordon
2018 The First Date White - California
90 Made from a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne fermented and aged in both concrete egg and new French oak, this is a hearty, full-bodied and robustly grippy white. Peach, apricot and potato skin are lifted by floral aromatics and a smooth, lasting finish.
Pure Yum Syrah-Grenache - Sonoma County
92 This is made from 67% Rockpile-grown Syrah and 33% Grenache from El Diablo Vineyard. Aged in large-format French barrels, it is robust in graphite, garrigue and dark, brooding black fruit. Shocks of white and black pepper complement and enliven the richness.
Iron Hill Vineyard Zinfandel - Sonoma Valley
91 From a hillside site where the vines are planted in solid volcanic rock, this wine is surprisingly bright and inviting blue and red fruit. Thick and rich on the palate, it has powerfully firm, structured tannin to support the concentration.
Smoke and Mirrors Red - Sonoma County
91 Textured, powerful and velvety, this combines 60% Zinfandel with 28% Syrah, 6% Petite Sirah and 6% G renache. Aged in mostly concrete and large-format barrels, it is characterized by iron, garrigue and blueberry jam.
Sonoma-based Boone began her writing career in 1997 with Lonely Planet travel guidebooks, contributing to titles on South America, Northern California, France and America’s Deep South. Travel assignments led her to California-focused wine coverage, including regular features for the New York Times regional newspaper Santa Rosa Press Democrat, for which Boone has been a contributing wine writer for several years.
She is also the author of Napa Valley and Sonoma: Heart of California Wine Country, and a regular panelist and speaker on wine topics in California and beyond.
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