Dylan's Ghost: Darkly Complex Wines From Joseph Carr
The idea for Dylan's Ghost wines grew from conversations between owner Joseph Carr and consultant winemaker Aaron Pott. Exploring vineyards in the Stags Leap District, they were struck by the dark, rugged landscape prompting literary conversation and discussion of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who penned the appropriately dark poem "Do not go gentle into that good night". As we approach haloween, it seems timely to explore this new wine mystery.
This is a completely new collection of wines to me, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to taste them. The wines are an expression of Pott's non-interventionist philosophy, and if you want me to cut to the chase. Here I tasted Hell Hollow and The Beast - Both wines are delicious, sell for $55 (from the winery) and are well worthy of exploration.
2010 Dylan's Ghost US Red Blend "Hell Hollow" is a “Meritage” blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc. In the glass, it’s a wonderfully dense (but not opaque), rich ruby color. Effusive aromatics of boysenberry, cherry, coffee, cocoa, and oak-infused caramel spill from the glass. With time in the glass, great herbaceous notes begin to appear as the wine begins to unwind.
The palate is intricately woven and complex and displays great focus on the attack. Immediately impressive, it progressively floods your senses. Spiraling layers of black fruit, cherry, toast and herbs spill across the palate. The mid-palate retains a great density, with grippy tannin. A wonderful acidic verve drives cleansing notes to the edge of your palate. The finish rises with each sip, deepening and elongating. With further airtime, this lovely blend begins to reveal notes of sage, eucalyptus and bell pepper.
I love a wine appears to tell a story, adding detail with every visit to the glass. Here, the finish adds an echo, reverberating with a wonderful mounting minerality, across an earthy tannic spine. For me, this readily warrants a 93+ point score. I look forward to trying it again with 3-5 more years of bottle age. I expect it will evolve throughout this period and I expect it to drink well over the next 15 years. A simply wonderful effort!
2010 Dylan's Ghost US Red Blend "The Beast" – with nearly equal parts Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Petit Syrah The Beast is densely colored, an inky, opaque purple. Sweet currant and cassis-laced nose with vanilla and mocha, the aromatics are given an edge by pepper and herb.
Sweet blackcurrant-driven fruit dominates on an even palate. The attack/mid-palate are broad and open, bathed in great swathes of black fruit and youthful dusty tannin. To me, the mid-palate feels a little unfocused but the finish builds on ripe fruit tannin, pepper and earth, with a herby, bitter cherry pith kick and lovely minerality. Ample acidity, elevate this to provide a palate-cleansing food-friendly wine – think marbled rib-eye.
Despite the obvious delicious factor, the wine seems a little off kilter to me. I’m left a wanting a little more definition here. Delicious if somewhat amorphous at this stage, I see it around a 91 point score, although this may improve after a few years of bottle age give it a chance to gain greater definition and complexity.
Disclosure: Wine was provided as a Media Sample for the review process.