WTN: Some Old DavidBruces...(long/boring)

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WTN: Some Old DavidBruces...(long/boring)

Postby TomHill » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:45 pm

We tried ystrday some (mostly) Old DavidBruce wines:
1. DavidBruce Calif PetiteSirah Select (14.2%) Vinted&Bttld by DavidBruce 2011: Dark color; light toasty/oak
rather earthy/loamy bit peppery/PS simple nose; soft/fat rather earthy/loamy/mushroomy light peppery/PS/blackberry
light toasty/oak flavor w/ very light tannins; med.short earthy/loamy/mushroomy slight peppery/PS/blackberry
light oak finish w/ little tannins; a rather dull rendition of PS much like a Bogle; overpriced at $19.00 (SFW&S)
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2. DavidBruce PinotNoir RRV (14.7%) Produced & Bttld by DavidBruce 2011: Med.color; rather toasty/smokey/
oak strong black cherry/PN pleasant enough nose; tart bright black cherry/PN some smokey/toasty/oak slight earthy
pleasant/simple flavor w/ little tannins; med. bright/black cherry/PN some earthy/dusty light toasty/smokey/oak
finish w/ light tannins; a pleasant rather simple RRV PN; overpriced at $31.50 (SFW&S)
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3. DavidBruce WhiteRiesling SantaCruzCnty (16.2%) 1979: Dark gold/browning oloroso sherry color; very intense
old German Auslese/R slight smokey/toasty/oak incredibly complex nose w/ no signs of oxidation; soft/rich/lush
rather old German R Auslese some smokey/piney/toasty/oak textured/mouthfilling flavor; very long/lingering old
German Auslese/R slightly bitter rich/lush/mouthfilling some toasty/smokey/oak very complex finish; no signs of
either oxidation or alcoholic heat; a dead ringer for a '59 or '75 Rheingau Auslese; one of the most incredible
complex aged Calif Riesling I can recall; amazing stuff for a 35 yr old R from any country.
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4. DavidBruce PinotNoir SantaCruz/CA (13.8%) 1975: 1/4'th the btl ullaged away; Med.dark murky/cloudy rather
browning color; some oxidized/wet wool/funky bit sherry-like some smokey/toasty/oak rather tired nose; somewhat
oxidized/wet wool strong toasty/charred/oak bit tangy rather tired flavor; long strong toasty/charred/oak/smokey
bit wet wool/oxidized fairly tired finish w/ light tannins; some character of old RedBurg but rather tired; not
really bad tasting but just doesn't offer up much pleasure.
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5. DavidBruce CabernetSauvignon Calif (EB; 14.7%; HomeVnyd; NeverOak; "Tastings are held between 1AM and 3pm on
Saturdays") 1974
: Med.color w/ some browning; strong smokey/toasty/oak light rather herbal/Cab somewhat
earthy/dusty/slight wet wool very old-timey Calif Cab very complex nose; somewhat herbal/Cab rather earthy/dusty
strong toasty/smokey/oak fairly structured flavor w/ light/bit drying tannins; very long rather herbal/Cab/dusty/
earthy strong smokey/toasty/oak structured finish w/ light/bit dried out/astringent tannins; still very much
alive and offering up good/pleasurable drinking; a fully-mature old-timey Calif like they don't make anymore;
resembles some of the old MountEden Cabs I've had; my favorite of the 3 reds by far.
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6. DavidBruce Zin Calif (LateHrvst Sweet; 17.5%) 1970: Light rather murky/brown color; very strong raisened/
pruney/late hrvsty strong toasty/charred/oak complex/earthy rather tired nose; off-dry bit tawney-Porto-like strong
raisened/pruney/late harvesty strong toasty/oak complex flavor w/ some dried out/tired/astringent tannins; very long/
lingering overripe/late hrvsty/raisened/pruney strong smokey/toasty/oak slightly alcoholic finish w/ slight drying/
astringent tannins; dominated by raisened/overripe Zin character & oak and not stood up to the test of time.
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And the usual blatherings from TheBloodyPulpit:
1. Since it's been some time since I'd tried any DavidBruce's, I picked up the only two I could find on the shelf
here in NM. The Vinted&Bttld on the PS label indicates that it was probably mostly/all purchased wine. At one
time, DaviidBruce used to make a PS from the Miller's ShellCreekVnyd down in Shandon/PasoRobles that was pretty
decent. I don't think they have access to those grapes anymore.
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2. I have, of course, followed DaviidBruce from the very start, a '66 PinotNoir. DavidBruce was a dermatologist in
LosGatos, got bitten by the winemaking bug, purchased land up on BearCreekRd and planted his Estate to PinotNoir,
CabernetSauvignon, WhiteRiesling, and Chard. Before he went commercial in 1964, he made ho-made wine from Concord
grapes following Burgundian techniques. I never tasted that wine but, reportedly, it fooled many a wine expert.
PinotNoir was David's passion. I tasted, in the early '70's, many of his Pinots, made by traditional Burgundian
techniques, from the '66 thru the early '70's. There were probably the best Pinots being produced in the
SantaCruzMtns at that time. Not sure if MartinRay was still producing Pinots then or not. David's Pinots carried
a lot of new/Fr.oak and were rather Burgundian in style to my palate but some of Calif's best Pinots during the
'70's, well afore Pinot got much traction in that state.
The Chards were also pretty incredible and mentioned in the same breath as StonyHill and Hanzell. The were
barrel frmtd and barrel aged in new Fr.oak. They were large-scaled and very intense Chards. He even made a
LateHrvst Chard in '73.
David's WhiteRiesling was the bizarre one of the foresome. It was widely reviled by the wine geeks of that era.
It was made much like his Chard; barrel frmtd & barrel aged in new Fr.oak. Because it was not anything like
German Riesling, it received much scorn & abuse. The new oak pretty much obliterated the R fruit when young.
Not being one to worship at the altar of varietal typicity; I thought the wine an unusual expression of R and
actually loved the wine.
In the late '60's, David started purchasing Zin and other varieties from MaryCarter's vnyd down in Gilroy.
In '68, he (and DaveBennion/Ridge) made the first Calif WhiteZin, using bled-off saigne juice. Contrary to what
most folks believe, SutterHome did not invent WhiteZin. In the late '60's-early '70's, David began to push the
boundaries of Zin...harvesting later & later and making huge/extracted/black Zins. In the '70-'71 vintage;
he made a whole set of Zins...regular (around 15%), LateHrvst Dry, LateHrvst Sweet, Essence...all w/ alcohols
well north of 15%. Those two yrs, he also made equally formidible PetiteSirah/Carignane/Grenache...again all from
MaryCarter's grapes. Some of the biggest Zins I can recall. The late JohnBrennan, a wine critic of the day down in
SanDeigo, predicted the wines would peak between 2010-2020. They, by&large, expired by the late '80's.
David would hold these legendary tastings in his home in the early-mid '70's (though not starting at 1:00AM
like was reported on his labels). Around '74, Blair & I were prevlidged to attend one of these. David was a
very genial and generous host, opening many btls from his stash. It was a heroic drive down BearCreekRd that
afternoon.
In the late '70's, David also begin to purchase GWT grapes from up in MendoCnty. The first ('78?) was made
exactly like his Chards/WhiteRieslings; distinctly GWT, but heavily overlain w/ oak. It, too, was highly reviled
by Alsatian GWT fans. I liked it quite a bit. In the '79 vintage, he held back on the oak and the GWT was
absolutely beautiful....maybe one of the most Alsatian GWT's I can recall. Alas, GWT was way too dificult to
sell and David dropped the variety.
In the mid-'80's, David's SCM Estate vnyd was devastated by Pierce'sDisease and the entire vnyd had to be
replanted. At that time, the WhiteRiesling was dropped, though I've heard that there may still be a few vines
surviving. I believe the Cabernet was also dropped at that time. In the replant, they added Syrah to the mix.
The early Syrahs David released were simply stunning...a harbinger of what BigBasin would eventually do with
that variety in the SCMs. The WebSite indicates that they now use those grapes to make a PetiteSyrah/Syrah
blend. Not sure if they now have PetiteSirah planted there in the mix or not. It always sort of puzzled as to
why David would label the wine PetiteSyrah, rather than PetiteSirah.
My sense is that, has DavidBruce expanded production over they yrs; they were relying more & more on
purchased grapes. I think that has led to the diminishing image many have of that wnry. The occasional ones
I've tried over the yrs have not been bad...but not very thrilling as the DavidBruce wines of yore.
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3. Several months ago, it occured to me that I no longer saw much of the DavidBruce wines around nor heard any buzz
of them on the InterNet. I took a look at their WebSite (www.DavidBruceWinery.com) and found it totally stale.
The "Featured" wines are all of the 2000 vintage. Most of the wines in the storefront are from older vintages in the
early-mid 2000's. Many of the wines are being bombed out at very low prices. The WebSite is pretty archaic,
difficult to navigate, and provides nothing in terms of descriptions on the wines. It ominously cautions that
ground shipments may be delayed due to weather. In the dead of Winter?? It badly needs some IT work. All not a good
sign of a thriving winery.
One of my tasting group members, Blair, had a stash of older DavidBruce wines, all stored in very good conditions.
When I told him about the uncertain future of DavidBruceWnry, he suggested we get together and try some from his
stash. These old wines were from Blair.
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4. Since 2004, the winemaker at DavidBruce has been Mitri Faravashi. I'm not sure how much David is involved in the
day to day winemaking there, but my sense is not a lot. My sense is that Mitri is a talented winemaker and
probably the glue that's holding the whole operation together. David has made some great contributions to both
Calif winemaking and SCM winemaking over the yrs and I certainly hope his legacy will live on.
Tom
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Re: WTN: Some Old DavidBruces...(long/boring)

Postby Craig Winchell » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:57 pm

The Riesling showing any residual sugar? I noticed it is not labeled "Late Harvest" or anything of the sort, and carrying a pretty heft 16.2% alc. Wondering what the brix at harvest would have been, if it had been carrying any residual sugar. 16.2% alc. on a barrel fermentation is probably on the order of 28 brix unless the fermentation was very hot. You're comparing it to old auslesen in terms of body and mouthfeel, and saying it is like a '59 or '75 (and while never having tasted '59s, I did taste '75s, which was a very nicely balanced year of little botrytis), I'm thinking this stuff must have started life at 30 or more brix, fermentation stopping due to alcohol inhibition of the yeast. Such a wine could be produced again in a minimal winery. Could there be much of a market now for that wine in its youth? If so, there may be a future for Riesling in California.
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Re: WTN: Some Old DavidBruces...(long/boring)

Postby TomHill » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:22 pm

Craig Winchell wrote:The Riesling showing any residual sugar? I noticed it is not labeled "Late Harvest" or anything of the sort, and carrying a pretty heft 16.2% alc. Wondering what the brix at harvest would have been, if it had been carrying any residual sugar. 16.2% alc. on a barrel fermentation is probably on the order of 28 brix unless the fermentation was very hot. You're comparing it to old auslesen in terms of body and mouthfeel, and saying it is like a '59 or '75 (and while never having tasted '59s, I did taste '75s, which was a very nicely balanced year of little botrytis), I'm thinking this stuff must have started life at 30 or more brix, fermentation stopping due to alcohol inhibition of the yeast. Such a wine could be produced again in a minimal winery. Could there be much of a market now for that wine in its youth? If so, there may be a future for Riesling in California.


Craig,
There was no RS that I could tell, nor do I recall any RS way back then. Went back to my old notes (took me over an hour to find them,
'twas back before the InterNet days) and it didn't mention any RS. But w/ that alcohol level, it would be hard for me to say.
16.2% was not all that high for DavidBruce back in those days. He had a few that topped 18% as I recall.
Like I mentioned, the wine was widely reviled because of all the oak. Not German at all. I had a sneaking suspicion it would be
the best of the lot...and it was. I've only had 5-6 '59 Ausleses and a bunch of '75's (still have 6-8 left). Both yrs were lots of
ripeness and not a lot of botrytis. I was struck by how much this '79 smelled like those I'd had and the oak, though there, was
pretty subdued.
Should David or somebody make a WhiteRiesling like that nowadays...they'd be hammered by those who worship at the altar
of varietal typicity. And because of the alcohol, even JonBonne would cast his scorn upon it.
I believe there is a market for Riesling in Calif. Alas, those who are lovers of GermanRiesling pretty much reject any from
Calif out of hand. The '72 Wente Auslese, at 20 yrs of age, was a beautiful rendition of German Auslese.
Tom
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