Review: Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

2009 Skinner Vineyards Syrah Stoney Creek Vineyard Fair Play

Bright purple.  Black and blue fruits on the perfumed nose, with notes of star anise, violet and black pepper adding complexity.  Coats the palate with intense blackberry and bitter cherry flavors, picking up spicecake and floral pastille nuances with air.  Velvety tannins give shape and grip to a long, focused and mineral-accented finish with a lingering smoky note.  (JR) 91 points

2008 Skinner Vineyards Syrah Stoney Creek Vineyard Fair Play

(15.4% alcohol; for those counting):  Bright ruby.  Sexy, spice-accented aromas of candied red and dark berries, incense and woodsmoke.  Heady, expansive and open-knit, offering intense black raspberry and candied violet flavors that gain weight and spiciness with air.  Rich and potent but almost shockingly lithe for a wine of such size; the finish is sweet, smoky and impressively persistent. (JR) 92 Points

2010 Skinner Vineyards Dry Diggins Red Wine El Dorado County

(49% syrah, 30% grenache, 11% mourvedre and 10% petite sirah):  Dark purple.  Assertive aromas of cassis, cherry pit, cracked pepper and violet, accompanied by an exotic spicecake note.  Fresh and precise in the mouth, with vibrant, concentrated blueberry and black raspberry flavors, harmonious tannins and a long, penetrating finish.  This is seductive enough to drink now but should age effortlessly. 91 Points

2011 Skinner Vineyards Dry Diggins Red Wine El Dorado County

(60% syrah, 30% grenache and 10% mourvedre):  Opaque ruby.  Smoke-accented aromas of dark berries, cherry pit and cola, with a peppery overtone.  Spicy and taut on entry, then fleshier and sweeter in the middle, offering juicy blackberry and cherry-cola flavors and a kick of acidity on the back half.  Finishes smoky and long, with very good clarity, soft tannins and lingering spiciness. 89 Points

2011 Skinner Vineyards Eighteen Sixty-One Red Blend El Dorado County

(44% grenache and 28% each of syrah and mourvedre):  Inky ruby.  Smoky aromas of black and blue fruits, olive and tobacco, with a lively floral topnote.  Juicy and concentrated, with mineral and peppery notes lifting the bitter cherry and blackcurrant flavors.  Really showing the syrah.  Finishes on a note of licorice, with slow-building tannins and very good persistence. 90 Points

2010 Skinner Vineyards Eighteen Sixty-One Red Blend El Dorado County

(47% grenache, 23% mourvedre and 23% syrah, 7% Counoise):  Opaque ruby.  Aromas and flavors of fresh raspberry and cherry, with a suave floral overtone.  Lush and expansive on the palate, offering a seamless texture and finishing with very good cut.  Aeration brings up dusty tannins but they fold smoothly into the wine’s sweet, pliant fruit. 91 Points

2012 Skinner Vineyards Grenache Blanc El Dorado

Bright gold. Fresh, smoke-accented Meyer lemon and white peach aromas are complicated  by notes of candied ginger and jasmine. Dry and nervy on the palate, offering gently sweet citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a suggestion of anise. Closes on a spicy note, with very good lift and strong mineral cut. 89 Points.

2010 Skinner Vineyards Grenache Blanc El Dorado

Hazy yellow-gold.  Suave, spice-accented aromas of orange peel, nectarine and honey, with a floral topnote.  Juicy, sharply focused citrus and honeysuckle flavors give way to deeper pear and pit fruit qualities with no loss of vivacity.  Finishes silky and long, leaving spice and orange notes behind.  This wine would be great with a richly sauced shellfish dish. 90 Points

2012 Skinner Vineyards Grenache El Dorado

Bright ruby. Peppery raspberry and cherry-cola aromas are complemented by notes of wood-smoke and spicecake. Juicy red fruit flavors take a deeper turn toward blackberry with air but maintain their freshness and focus. Finishes sweet, spicy, and long, with very good clarity. 89 Points.

2011 Skinner Vineyards Grenache El Dorado

Vivid red.  Pungent aromas of candied red fruits, dried flowers and white pepper.  Sappy and sharply focused, with lively acidity lifting spicy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors.  Finishes sweet and long, with resonating spiciness and fine-grained tannins that add grip. 90 Points

2010 Skinner Vineyards Grenache El Dorado

Lurid red.  Spice-accented aromas of redcurrant, cherry and fresh rose, with a hint of blood orange in the background.  Smells a lot like a pinot noir.  Taut, linear red fruit flavors show a refreshing bitterness and become sweeter with air.  Fine-grained tannins add grip to a long, spicy and focused finish.  I really like this wine’s fat-free, graceful character, which is highly uncommon for this variety in the New World. 90 Points


2010 Skinner Vineyards Mourvedre Estate El Dorado

Deep ruby.  Aromas of blackcurrant, licorice and black tea, with a suave floral nuance building with air.  Rich and deeply concentrated but lively, offering intense dark berry and floral pastille flavors and notes of succulent herbs and cracked pepper.  Fine-grained tannins lend shape and grip to a very long, sappy and penetrating finish. 92 Points

2011 Skinner Vineyards Petite Sirah El Dorado County

Dark purple.  Highly perfumed aromas of blackcurrant, cherry compote, black olive and pipe tobacco, with a spicy topnote.  Sweet, densely packed dark fruit liqueur and floral pastille flavors stain the palate and show very good energy.  The finish is smoky and very long, with a lingering olive quality and smooth, even tannins. 91 Points

2010 Skinner Vineyards Petite Sirah El Dorado County

Inky purple.  Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, smoky oak and pungent herbs.  Juicy, firm and intense, but with an essentially gentle character to the flavors of black and blue fruits, licorice and candied violet.  Grows sweeter and livelier with air, showing a deft combination of density and freshness thanks to a peppery, spicy nuance.  Tannins come on late and add grip but there are no hard edges to the long, sappy finish. (JR) 91 Points

2010 Skinner Vineyards Seven Generations El Dorado

(46% roussanne, 26% marsanne, 13% picpoul, 13% viognier and 2% grenache blanc, all whole cluster-pressed into barrels and aged in a combination of new and neutral oak and stainless steel):  Pale yellow.  Exotic aromas of poached pear, curry powder and white flowers are brightened by a strong mineral element.  Offers incisive, tangy flavors of orange pith, pear and ginger, with good mineral lift and cut.  Finishes on a gently sweet note, with very good clarity and persistence. 90 Points

2009 Skinner Vineyards Seven Generations El Dorado

(made from a blend of 46% roussanne, 26% marsanne, 13% viognier, 13% picpoul blanc and 2% grenache blanc):  Hazy yellow.  A pungent, highly perfumed bouquet evokes poached pear, peach, honey and white flowers, with a leesy element adding depth.  Rich, palate-coating orchard fruit flavors are braced by zesty acidity and pick up floral and spice nuances with air.  Closes dry and firm, with very persistent florality, smokiness and spiciness. 91 Points

2010 Skinner Vineyards Syrah El Dorado

(includes 3% viognier):  Glass-staining purple.  Heady aromas of cassis, blueberry and lavender are deep but also strikingly precise.  Dark berry liqueur and floral pastille flavors show alluring sweetness but maintain freshness thanks to zesty minerality.  Lush but lithe syrah, finishing with sweet cherry and blueberry notes, supple tannins and excellent length. 91 Points

2009 Skinner Vineyards Syrah El Dorado

($26) (aged for 30 months in 40% new oak):  Saturated ruby.  Deeply pitched aromas of cherry, mocha and roasted coffee, with a peppery quality adding lift.  Then sweet and lively on the palate, showing very good definition and energy to its dark berry and floral pastille flavors.  Shows a velvety quality on the finish, which clings with very good tenacity and just a hint of tannins. 89 Points

2008 Skinner Vineyards Syrah El Dorado

Deep ruby.  Smoky, pungent aromas of dark fruit preserves, violet and dark chocolate.  Then brighter on the palate, offering intense black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors lifted by tangy acidity.  Lingers with impressive tenacity and appealing sweetness, with fine-grained tannins adding gentle grip. 91 Points



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