SKULLS! (Twisted Oak)

Twisted Oak WineryDisclosure: I received this wine as a media sample from Twisted Oak Winery.

Twisted Oak Winery in Calaveras County has built a rather phenomenal, staid reputation since it’s founding by Jeff and Mary Stai in 2001.  Stuffy and beautifully constructed wines bearing boring labels such as “*%#&@!” and “Pig Stai” have built their reputation as a very traditional, elitist winery. Indeed, their focus on New World safe haven varietals such as Tempranillo, Verdelho, Grenache and the ever popular Graciano prove that despite their penchant for such hip Iberian Peninsula grape varieties, they still know that winemaking is an incredibly serious and noble endeavor.

*%#&@! - Twisted Oak[Extracting tongue from cheek] AHEM! Jeff Stai (El Jefe), winemaker and blogger himself, has managed to create some outstanding wines and an even more obsessive following in the wine world.  It is always incredibly refreshing to find a winery that revels and excels at fashioning wines from underappreciated and less popular grapes.  To then find that said winery also manages to NEVER take itself seriously?  Well, that’s just cooler than a bucket o’ chicken!

Twisted Oak is taking a new step in next month, when they release their first limited run, allocated wine, the 2006 Twisted Oak Calaveras County River of Skulls.  It is a single vineyard wine hailing from Calaveras County, made from old vine Mourvèdre with some Syrah tossed in. It is named for the legend that surrounds the discovery of the Calaveras River.

River of Skulls - Twisted OakI was a bit unfair with this wine starting off.  I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot in my heart recently for wines that feature Mourvèdre, a red grape that is a major component of many Rhone reds from France. I’ve had some great Californian old vine Mourvèdre‘s recently, both at the WineTwo NRO and from the hands of another “staid” winemaker, Kaz.  I was rather anxious to get my palate on this wine (or wine on my palate…?).

After having some pals decant the wine for us 2.5+ hours ahead of time, I realized that I needn’t have worried!  This is a very inky blue-toned wine in the glass.  That dark blue pallete then translates into some great blueberry fruit in the nose followed by some menthol and mint and then some nice herbal characteristics.  The palate then opens with some young, but good oak that will need some time to integrate with the rest of the fine structure of round grippy tannins and good food-philic acidity.  Dusty blueberries start the long finish which ends with some more vanilla.  Great stuff and a 4/5 in my book.  The hardest part will be waiting the 3-4 years before I crack open another bottle! (Fortunately I bought two more!)

Please see my full review of this wine below.  Add it to your own WineLog and or hurry and get on the list to enjoy your own night of Twisted fun!

Red Wine

Twisted Oak Calaveras County River of Skulls 2006

Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo

View posts by Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, former West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for and former Le Wine Buff for (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. Check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Like #Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.
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