Jeb Dunnuck from Wine Advocate visits Denner Vineyards
Jeb's tasting notes and scores on Denner Vineyards individual wines
2010 Denner Vineyards Mother Of Exiles | 94
The only Bordeaux blend I tried (comprised of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Fran and 5% Merlot fermented with 10% whole cluster and aged 22 months in 80% new French oak), the 2010 Mother of Exiles gives up classic Cabernet aromas and flavors of black currants, tobacco leaf, lead pencil shavings and hints of chocolate on the nose. Showing thrilling purity and richness on the palate, with a big texture that stays focused, it is a superb Bordeaux blend from Paso Robles. It’s certainly a knockout drink now, yet I suspect it will have no problem evolving for 15+ years. Drink 2014-2025.
2010 Denner Vineyards Syrah | 94
Moving on to the Rhone blends, and a smoking Syrah, the 2010 Syrah (100% Syrah fermented 20% whole cluster and aged 18 months in 80% new French oak) is classic Paso Robles in style with its locked-and-loaded profile, decadent richness and blockbuster finish. A full-bodied, sexy effort that gives up an assortment of blackberry fruit, licorice, roasted herbs and hints of violets, it is drinking beautifully now and should continue to deliver the goods through 2018, possibly longer. Drink now-2018.
2011 Denner Vineyards The Ditch Digger | 92
The 2011 The Ditch Digger also needs another year or two to round into form. Offering up beautiful black fruits, smoke and pepper intermixed with spice and earthy nuances, it flows onto the palate with a medium to full-bodied, elegant feel that carries rich flavors and sweet tannin. It’s nicely done and possesses an outstanding mix of richness and freshness. Drink 2015-2021.
2011 Denner Vineyards The Dirt Worshipper | 92+
Co-fermented with 5% Viognier and showing classic cool climate Syrah qualities on the nose, the 2011 The Dirt Worshiper is loaded with gamey, northern Rhone-like qualities of olive, bacon fat, charcoal and violets that are grounded by a rich core of Syrah fruit. Medium-bodied, elegant and supple, with fine tannin, it’s not a blockbuster, but it impresses for its purity and length. While approachable now, it has the balance and mid-palate depth to evolve for 10-12 years easily. Drink 2015-2023.
2011 Denner Vineyards Grenache | 90
Looking at the 2011s, which are more straightforward and linear across the board, the 2011 Grenache is made in a medium-bodied, supple and ripe style with quality licorice, assorted spice, dried cranberry and floral aromas and flavors all emerging from the glass. It still has some tannin to integrate and will be better with another year in bottle. Drink 2015-2019.
2012 Denner Vineyards Mourvedre | 92-94
Fermented with 100% whole cluster and with loads of potential, the 2012 Mourvedre (includes 25% Counoise) exhibits classic crushed berry fruit, new leather, roasted meats, licorice and underbrush-styled nuances as well as a pure, vibrant and richly textured palate. Incredibly impressive, with a great mid-palate, this is one barrel sample I can’t wait to taste from bottle. Drink 2015-2022.
2012 Denner Vineyards The Dirt Worshipper | 94-97
The 2012 Dirt Worshiper looks to be spectacular. A blend of 95% Syrah, 3% Viognier and 2% Roussanne, it offers awesome purity and freshness, with notions of black and blue fruits, coffee bean, violets and toast carrying into a medium to full-bodied, rich and concentrated, perfectly balanced Syrah, with a great mid-palate and knockout length. As with the majority of Yount’s 2012s, it should benefit from short-term cellaring and age gracefully. Drink 2015-2024.
2012 Denner Vineyards The Ditch Digger | 92-95
An impressive barrel sample, the 2012 Ditch Digger is tight and chewy, with solid aromatic complexity to go with beautiful density and depth on the palate. Medium- bodied and with ample concentration, it should benefit from short-term cellaring once released and have 10-12 years of longevity. Drink 2015-2022.
2012 Denner Vineyards Grenache | 88-91
A vintage that’s compared to 2007 by Yount, the 2012s here are particularly strong. A structured, if not tannic effort, the 2012 Grenache (fermented with 65% whole cluster) offers up a fresh, perfumed array of raspberry, underbrush, dusty soil and spice as well as a medium- bodied, firm palate. I like the overall purity here, but the overall balance between the fruit and structure will be something to watch. Drink 2015-2020.
2012 Denner Vineyards Theresa | 92
A superb Rhone-like blend that’s primarily Roussanne, the 2012 Theresa gives up plenty of poached pear, mineral, lemon rind and spice to go with gorgeous purity and freshness on the palate. Building in richness with air, it’s a classy, medium-bodied effort that will be versatile on the dinner table and have 4-5 years or so of longevity (although it wouldn’t last that long at my house). Drink now-2017.
2012 Denner Vineyards Viognier | 91
A rich, textured yet also pure white, Denner’s 2012 Viognier offers up solid stone fruits, hints of flowers and juicy peach to go with a medium-bodied, mouth-filling profile on the palate. Finishing with clean acidity and beautiful focus, it’s an outstanding Viognier that has both richness and freshness. Enjoy it over the coming year or three. Drink now-2016.