2003 Harrison Clark Syrah

2003 Harrison Clark Santa Ynez Valley Syrah This has improved a lot since release.  Killer nose with a ton of roasted blackberry, espresso, tar, licorice, cocoa, full bodied but not over the top. Great structure, solid tannins with some slightly elevated acidity. One slightly strange thing going on, there seems to be a very small amount of residual sugar.  Absolutely no secondary fermentation going on in the bottle and the sugar was pretty much imperceptible on day two.  ??  Makes me wonder if they had some problems during production?? N 9 P 8+ C 8 S 8+ B 8- = 91+

2001 Belle Pente Estate Reserve Pinot Noir

2001 Belle Pente Estate Reserve Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir Lightly colored with deep bricking around the edges.  Very aromatic, pretty and pleasing, sweet red cherries and raspberry, forest floor with pine resins and hints of earthy mushrooms, medium weight, 14.3% ABV, I can remember thinking this was a bit ripe in youth but I pick up no sense of that now, seems very nicely balanced.  Some mild tannins and slightly elevated acidity that makes the fruit seemed fresh and juicy.  Overall a very enjoyable Pinot in a good place but it should still have a few years to go. N 9 P 8+ C 8 B 8+ S 8+ = 92+/100

2010 Paul Lato Santa Barbara Syrah

2010 Paul Lato Matinee Santa Barbara County Syrah Very smoky nose with hints of lees and French oak, tar and smoke throughout, nuttiness as well, fruit shows plum and blackberry, brown spice, moderate intensity, seems like a higher yield than his vineyard designates, not terribly complex but very well balanced.  Needs time, perhaps still a bit backwards, fairly savory.  Moderately structured. Smooth. N 8 P 8 C 8 B 8+ S 8+ = 91/100

2010 Paul Lato Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Chardonnay

2010 Paul Lato Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Belle de jour Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay Very tropical with a ton of pineapple, along with pear and apple, some brown spice, butterscotch and prevalent ginger spice.  Mild to moderate tannins and fairly crisp acidity.  Intensely flavored, nicely balanced and good length. Fruit is fairly forward but not over ripe.  Perhaps just a small bit of residual sugar.  Very nice wine.  N 9 P 8 B 9 S  8+ C 8 = 92+

2000 Venica Prime Note Colio Italian White

2000 Venica Prime Note Colio Italy Not sure on the blend. It has Chardonnay, Tocai friullano and Sauvignon blanc from what I remember. Maybe some other obscure Italian grape that I can't pronounce. ??? Anyhow, I liked this a fair amount. Very savory, not much fruit left, a little guava, a little pear but full of a nutty diesel character with citrus zest and minerals. Medium full bodied with impressive balance. Those who are inclined to think wines are over the hill would undoubtedly say this wine was done, but I would scoff at them and drink their portion. It was even better on day two. N 8+ P 8+ B 9 S 8 C 9 = 93/100

2000 Chateau La Louviere Pessac-Leognan Graves

2000 Chateau La Louviere Pessac-Leognan Graves Red Bordeaux Blend 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. This is solid. Nose took awhile to show itself, compared to the Pride. Fair amount of cigar box, violets, black cherry, blackberry, currants, loamy earth, white pepper, medium to full body, deeply colored garnet, solidly structured with slightly drying tannins and moderate acidity. N 8+ P 8+ C 8 S 8+ B 8+ = 92/100

1998 Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley

1998 Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Best bottle of Pride I have ever consumed. Tannins are mostly resolved, acidity is still sticking out a bit but very nicely balanced, complex and smooooooth!! Tons of cigar box and cedar, black cherry, blackberry, currants, cocoa, some sage and thyme rich herbs, a little tar. Super aromatics. Served this with our rack of pork. N 9 P 8+ C 8+ B 9 S 8+ = 93/100

Chatoe Rogue First Growth Dirtoir Black Lager

Chatoe Rogue First Growth Dirtoir Black Lager Funny name but this stuff was pretty darn terrific. Darkest Lager I have ever seen. Thick oily texture. Loads of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee and caramel. Some earthy topsoil notes. Amazing that this stuff is only 5% ABV, I was guessing closer to 9% just based on the heaviness of thickness of this lager. It seems close to being over the top but then finishes with a fairly classic black lager character. A bit of a chameleon but I really enjoyed it. 4/5

Deschutes Black Butte XXI Imperial Strong Porter

Deschutes Black Butte XXI Imperial Strong Porter Wow, age hasn't slowed this puppy down at all. Still huge and boozy. This was brewed with cocoa nibs and roasted coffee beans and a good portion was aged in whiskey barrels. This is the biggest porter that I can ever remember tasting. It was a bit hard on the palate until I got to my second glass and my palate adjusted. Big dark monster, dark chocolate, espresso, burnt caramel, whiskey. Very rich and thickly textured. Honestly this is a great after dinner quaff, not the best kind of beer for dinner. Calling this balanced is like calling a huge Paso Syrah balanced. Even most of the good ones aren't really about balance, more about power and that is what I would say this is about. 4.3/5

Grand Teton Brewing Company 5 O’Clock Shadow Double Black Lager

Grand Teton Brewing Co. 5 O'Clock Shadow Double Black Lager Super imperial in style, drinks like a medium bodied stout. 7.6% ABV. Supposed to be a schwarzbier in style that was doubled up. Dark brown to black in color. Very creamy and rich, loads of dark smoky flavors, moderate foamy head that lasted awhile. Killer nose with loads of malty aromas. Chocolate, brown sugar and some root like earthiness. Nice lager but a little over the top for the style. Easy drinking 3.6/5 FWIW, we had a small bottle of Bell's Special Double Cream Stout along with the 5 O'Clock Shadow. The Bell's blew it away. Way more structured, smoother, richer better balanced, more complex. I would give this one around a 4/5, maybe a little higher.