Ok, I've been completely derelict in my duties, due in large part to work commitments and a tight deadline.
So, just under 2 weeks ago, I received 2 sample bottles from Twisted Oak Winery, courtesy of Jeff "El Jefe" Stai.
I received these on a Thursday and consumed them on a Saturday evening, so it's quite possible that they suffered from some travel shock. Ordinarily, I'd have let them sit for a while longer, but reviewing free wine is a different schedule than drinking for pleasure. I let both wines breath in-bottle through the neck for about 5 hours before the first taste, and went back and forth between them. They were accompanied by cheese and crackers.
TWISTED OAK 2006 River of Skulls Mourvedre (90% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah) Twisted Oak Geek Sheet Ordering Info
First Taste: Color: dark ruby, transparent edges, translucent depth. Nose of tobacco and spice, like a dark-leaf cigar wrapper, wrapped around black cherry pie filling with a dash of liquid smoke, maybe raspberry reduction, some hints of vanilla bean ice cream. With some swirling, the fruit came more to the forefront, tobacco towards the back. In the mouth, thin but not unpleasantly so. Great acidity, very soft tannings, very food friendly, feels almost too young. Strawberries on the 15-20 sec finish. At the moment (bottom of first glass) not enough fruit to carry the acidity and alcohol, but opens up after 20 mins of sitting, sipping, and swirling. Some of the heat blows off, cherry fruit rollup notes as well. But also something bitter in the midpalate, almost like cherry pit, but not unpleasant. It works.
One hour later: fruitier and drier, smokier and creemier. The finish is longer and much more integrated.
Another 20 mins later: very nice, bright cherry fruit really towards the forefront.
I think this wine had some bottle shock and is very, very, very young. Let it sit for a while after getting it, and I think it has a few years to age as well.
TWISTED OAK 2005 Petite Sirah Calaveras County Geek Sheet Ordering Info
First taste: Light reddish blueberry juice in color, but less depth of color than most PS I am used to. some heat on the nose, blueberry, and creamy oak. Not as extracted as most PS I am used to. Thinner in the mouth as well, but perhaps would pair better with lighter foods -- some plums, a bit of blackberry, baking spices on the background. Softer tannins than I expected and than I prefer; high acidity and fruit for a PS.
One hour later: Same on the attack and midpalate, but finish still has not quite come together yet. Still a bit sour/bitter.
30 mins later: Finally integrated, still soft on the tannins.
I thought both wines were pretty good for the price. Having never had either wine before, I had trouble separating out the winemaker's style from the effects of travel shock, with which I am familiar. I enjoyed both bottles but found them to be leaner, more acidic, and less full-bodied than I expected from the nose and my familiarity with the varieties. I'd definitely try and even buy both again (I've bought more Twisted Oak since this tasting), but I'd give them some more time in the cellar.