Friday, May 13, 2011

Norman Vineyards Current Releases

Norman Vineyards in Paso Robles is the antidote to stuffy wineries.  Fun, funky, and hospitable, it's a great place to visit.

A while back they sent us a sample line up of their wines.  Semi-easy to put your hands on, these wines have traditionally been surprising in the wallop they can pack.  This round was not quite up to par with the caliber we've enjoyed from Norman in the past, though it's worth keeping your eyes out for the less-famous Cab and Chard which tend to be excellent.  The high octane, high end Mephistopheles Zin is also an extraordinary experience and worth the money.  Finally, we liked these wines more when they were a few bucks cheaper...such is the price of notoriety.  Keep reading...

2008 Norman Chardonnay Reserve Edna Valley $20
Fruitier than Ricky Martin (except with a backbone) with cream, juice, and oak flavors. Almost unwieldy and disorganized in its structure. No balance from the noticeable acids, but that's not going to keep you from gulping it down. Lacks the sophistication that earlier vintages of this same wine have had - and what a $20 Chardonnay should have.
3/5

2006 Norman Meritage Paso Robles No Nonsense $20
With a name like "No Nonsense" you'd expect a linebacker of a wine. Not the case. While the color suggests seriousness, it's straight down the middle drinkable red wine. Nothing crazy, nothing remarkable, but also nothing lacking. Maybe that's what they mean by the name; a red wine - no nonsense. If intensity's what you're after, turn to the Monster and Mephistopheles.  A day after open the flavors begin to harmonize but still not unwound.
3.5/5

2007 Norman Zinfandel Paso Robles The Monster $28
Unequivocal crowd pleaser.  Clear, fine, ruby legs are a sexy intro to the fast, hot nose.  The label says 14.6%, but it feels higher - almost in contrast to the soft texture.  Fresh, bright fruit flavors are braced by unmistakable oak and amount to a smiling linebacker structure.  So, this is why they call it The Monster!  The lighter body is a juxtaposition the big flavors.  Long finish and dry, persistent red fruit flavors.
4/5

2004 Norman Zinfandel Paso Robles Mephistopholes $32

From the cork's pull you know this wine has got the goods.  Hearty and substantial aromatics that brood.  Flavors embrace you like a warm bear hug and for more than a few seconds you may wonder if this isn't a game-changing wine.  Sensational.  Tight tannins barely keep the massive fruit in check.  Awesome.  Despite all the superlatives, a balanced wine delivering nuance and brawn extremely well.  But at 16% (+?) it hits like a right hook - watch out!
4.5/5

2007 Norman Petite Sirah Paso Robles $20
Infanticide.  Dark as a moonless night and as opaque as a burqa, this is a stain-your-teeth-instantly wine.  Promising nose of massive fruit and oak spices, the palate hits a wall early.  Flavors are simple, though intense and finish with chalky, puckering tannins.  Way too young to attempt to enjoy now and too hard to tell if the fruit will emerge.  Three days open and little has changed, but finally managed to tame it with a rich, fatty steak on day 4.
3/5
 
2008 Norman Pinot Grigio Santa Barbara County $18
Surprisingly appealing.  Bright, fast flavors, fresh citrus acids and - minerals?  In a California wine?  Whatever, it works.  Enough body to keep it interesting and keep you reaching for it.  Round finish.  Yum.
4/5

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