2018 “El Primitivo” Primitivo, Hill of Graceland, Paso Robles
A floral and fruit spectrum explodes out of the nose, the palate is bogglingly rich, and the finish surprisingly soft with less heat than expected, though I don’t claim it bears much resemblance to lowfat milk and would advise against pairing with ghost peppers. If you’re a native Californian, perhaps nothing stronger than avocado. I’m not certain of the wine’s longevity, though since you’ll only have two bottles at most I think you know what to do.
Finally, this beast of a kissin’ cousin of Zinfandel has lived up to its potential! One of the more difficult varieties grown on the property; head trained and dry-farmed - to give the vines a mere sip after harvest, as it often doesn’t rain until November or December, would mean hand watering with an aging Polaris (the off-road gas engined golf cart, not the submarine launched ballistic missile) and a portable water tank heavier than the brakes would tolerate. So we don’t. Over the last decade, several times these grapes have not fully ripened, or a sluggish fermentation has stuck with over a percent RS, or there’s been something else I didn’t care for - in which case I forego bottling any for myself, and graciously present the wine to GWH, who invariably asks me to figure out what he should do with it and then - pretty please with not enough or too much sugar on top - do it for him.
Not this time! Nearly thirty percent sugar at harvest, it fermented quickly at first, then slowly all through winter and spring, down to a third of a percent RS, where it stopped a fortnight before bottling - functionally dry and at 35 proof. (Yes, that’s an authentic, unadjusted 17.5% and no, I didn’t fortify or chaptalize, and I don’t rely on neighborhood yeast.)
TA: 6.4 g/L
2018 “TNT” Tannat, Hill of Graceland, Estate Bottled
The fortuitous location of the vineyard and our don’t-try-to-squeeze-every-drop-out-of-the-must-you-beano-abstaining-cog methods show that this variety isn’t naturally or unnaturally tannic or rustic, just because it sounds and was once made that way in a far corner of France: (Mad I ran, from the first I tasted.) In the paws of our cellar monkey, it’s closer to a lost Bordeaux variety, without the leafiness; while it rivals our Zinfandel in focus and purity, it has more weight with lower alcohol (30 proof). Two-thirds aged in new oak barrels from the forests below Dracula’s castle. I can’t explain the label now, or never, and tomorrow will be too late. It’s explosively serious wine.
TA: 6.9 g/L
2018 “Dynamite Hill” Tempranillo, Hill of Graceland, Estate Bottled
Parsimonious plants on a savage slope, probably the steepest on the Hill of Graceland - not difficult to grow but a real Pendejo to pick. Spicier than the Tannat that crowns the hill and often complements it, but it’s more than distinct enough to not blend them every vintage - I kept the wines apart this year rather than fusing them. We have no “house style”: within the limits of scientific enology (is that Fecaldynamic salad dressing really $140 a bottle?) fine wine should be unique, varied, interesting. Interesting less than fascinating and delicious, though. About the label: we still haven’t bombed the damn rock.
TA: 6.3 g/L
2018 “BLACK ZEPPELIN IV” Petite Sirah, San Luis Obispo/Calaveras
Though legally (77%) and . . . tannicly . . . Petite Sirah from a high Sierra Foothills vineyard I can’t rat out, the remaining Various Vinifera Varieties from the Hill of Griefland help tame its structure and add complexity to a variety that’s Generally and admirably - (Admiralty?) known for firepower. It really should say ‘29’ proof on the label, so it’s the only one of these wines under 15% alcohol - but it’s quite extracted, complex, and structured to last as long as I do. Can I call it a cellar candidate? Well, you may only get a bottle, as I don’t have enough Primitivo to go around but have even less of this one…
2017/8 “LE CADEAU DU ROI” - Syrah, Paso Robles/Calaveras
My pet project of the year: a kissin’ cousin of La Mort Du Roi, 34 proof of Hill of Graceland and Syrahs with other little bits and pieces. There’s whole lotta things going on inside the bottle. (Why isn’t Jerry Lee Lewis on the label? That’s easy, but who is? Nobody knows the man in the blue suit, and yet he’s the only one watching le cadeau de Cadillac). The wine’s really spectacular, though it will benefit from as much time as you can stand to give it. I know $60 is a swanky price, but rather than drone on defensively about what it costs to make, or what my risibly rich or studiedly rustic neighbors, are charging for their best wine - some of which might come within thrown-wine glass distance of Le Cadeau. This ‘might’ be my best wine of the last few vintages.
Included in the Box
1x 2018 “TNT” Tannat, Hill of Graceland, Estate Bottled
1x 2018 “Dynamite Hill” Tempranillo, Hill of Graceland, Estate Bottled
1x 2017/2018 “Le Cadeau du Roi” Syrah, Paso Robles/Calaveras either
1x 2018 “El Primitivo” Primitivo, Hill of Graceland, Paso Robles or
1x 2018 “Black Zeppelin IV” Petite Sirah, San Luis Obispo/Calaveras
3x 2018 “TNT” Tannat, Hill of Graceland, Estate Bottled
3x 22018 “Dynamite Hill” Tempranillo, Hill of Graceland, Estate Bottled
3x 2017/2018 “Le Cadeau du Roi” Syrah, Paso Robles/Calaveras and a 3x mix of the following:
2018 “El Primitivo” Primitivo, Hill of Graceland, Paso Robles or
2018 “Black Zeppelin IV” Petite Sirah, San Luis Obispo/Calaveras
Not for sale online:
2018 “El Primitivo” Primitivo $648/case MSRP
2018 “TNT” Tannat $672/case MSRP
2018 “Dynamite Hill” Tempranillo $648/case MSRP
2018 “BLACK ZEPPELIN IV” Petite Sirah $672/case MSRP
2017/8 “LE CADEAU DU ROI” - Syrah $720/case MSRP
About The Winery
Owner: Stillman Brown
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Authorized in subordination a mere decade ago by consulting winemaker, cellar monkey, and rock band mismanager Stillman Brown of Red Zeppelin infamy, and his footloose and still insufficiently silent mouthpiece and de factoid attorney GD Lewis of Jory Winery, Zeppelin Winery makes wines that at least one of them believes are at least more than good enough to have pretty much anything on the label, though certainly not ghost pepper extract. Over the last several years, most of the wines have been from grapes grown by our infamous client (redacted) and located in two hilariously concocted subappellations of west Paso Robles that split the hidden Hill of Graceland vineyard. Visitors are generally discouraged; if they find us they often become despondent… Sales are almost exclusively to our email list - there is no club to join or quit, just an invitation to a FREE party when the one who isn’t dead yet has a ‘major birthday’. firstname.lastname@example.org
AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY
I can’t recall when I first heard that one. I’d love to claim that it was Skip Spence after successfully! panhandling me, but I don’t remember what all he said. I didn’t know who the acid casualty was until somebody told me later that day.
I’ve opened a few ‘very last bottles’ of '05-'09 reds recently, but not that one. Nothing was shot or ‘on the downhill slope’ in old school parlance- the damn '07 Arroyo Seco Syrah was still just a bit too tannic for the 3 tons/acre fruit it has, and was definitely overpressed after fermentation - still pissed off about that. The PSs were NOT as tannic as that originally, so impure guess says if you have only one bottle of '09 open it now.
Medium dark red, more cab/zin than pinot light
Light purple almost strawberry-ish tint to it
Very dry, low sugar low alcohol feel, kind of sour, unlike anything I can recall drinking before, zin-like raisin smell but sharper/bitter
Not high tannin or alcohol feel, which is kind of surprising now that i can see the Alcohol: 15.2% (the label lists zero details about the wine, period)
Seeing the online notes of Bordeaux variety, I would say yes, but much better than any Bordeaux I have had (mostly Costco labels), no leafiness (I am not big on dirt / nature reds), definitely more in the zin / tempranillo range, but less bomb / jammy and more smooth, which I guess is the Bordeaux side rounding it out.
Not knowing what varietal of wine I was receiving, I had to make short notice of what to enjoy it with
Had a high end bistro brewery burger with tots, and later on with ye ole favorite m&m’s
Popped it early afternoon to let it breathe after it’s long bumpy boxed journey to hot SoCal
Definitely smoothed out
I would say jammy but not in a big bomb zin way but in a smooth dry sour jammy way
You can definitely drink this with food, meat, high end date-night quality dinner, but it is so smooth you can enjoy solo
I would most certainly buy and drink this again. 20 years buying and enjoying wine and had never heard of Tannat before. Glad I know now.
Highly recommend, at least for the TNT Tannat bottle. If this was a 4-6 pack of Tannat I would buy instantly.
Thank you for the opportunity.
Why, thank you! It is rather high in acid perception, and as we have two different ‘blocks’* of Tannat with different vine ages, exposures and training that I pick on the same day there is something of a Zinfandel-like effect: a higher range than usual of ripeness: some clusters are near raisins, and some nowhere near. Mean Brix was 26, but a fifth or so was over 28 and another fifth under 24.
“blocks” ha ha: two rows 750’ long on 12-20% slopes along the top of the main Syrah block, and a several 50-75’ long rows, older and shaggier, on very steep ground near the top of the north hill.
Had the opportunity to sample the Dynamite Hill Tempranillo last night. SWMBO right out the gate said “Oo I like this. Might be too sweet for you.”
I’m generally a big fan of tempranillo, but this is not like any other’s I’ve had. It’s more reminiscent of a jammy Zinfandel to me. Very strong blackberry with a bit of black pepper mixed in. Characteristic of most east side Paso Robles wines, ripe fruit. I don’t think this has enough acidity to hold up in the cellar, but it’s very tasty right now. If you’re a fan of jammy wine you’ll love this one.
Had to buy. I opened up a Zeppelin a few months ago…don’t remember exactly, but I think a 2009 Black Zeppelin from the old site…and it struck me that this was one of the most well-made wines I’ve ever had.
Sure hope I get a PS!
@losthighwayz To allocate between the people who really want the Primitivo and those who really want the Petite, well, “That’s not my department, says Swillhelm von Brown!”
Someone could probably figure it out. The man in the blue suit on the Le Cadeau label certainly could; he was smarter than Einstein.