James Mac Phail, one of California’s most accomplished winemakers, is crafting some superb wines under a new project called Tongue Dancer. The unusual name was chosen to reflect his special interest in wines that have texture and mouth feel. Under the Tongue Dancer label he has produced three wines in small quantities that are being sold by subscription. The wines are reasonably priced in view of their high quality and the small volume produced. Mc Phail sources his grapes from excellent vineyards such as Pratt and Putnam and follows Burgundian methods in the cellar. His wines offer lovely texture and mouthfeel with richness in flavor. His Chardonnay from the Pratt Vineyard in Russian River Valley is a real winner.
Tongue Dancer 2017 Chardonnay Pratt Vineyard Irwin Lane Russian River Valley. ($39) 95 This Chardonnay is barrel fermented and offers rich aromas of toast and hints of stone fruit. On the palate it has a creamy mouth feel that is both rich tasting and elegant. This is a quintessential California Chardonnay from a first-class vineyard made by a talented winemaker using Burgundian methods.
Tongue Dancer 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($25) 88 A ripe flavorful rosé from the Putnum Vineyard in Annapolis. Produced via saignée with two days of skin contact and fermentation in stainless steel. Light ruby in color, it offers aromas and flavors of dried strawberry with mineral notes. It has an alcohol level of 14.5, rather high for a rose, and finishes on the tart side.
Tongue Dancer 2017 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($49) 93 A fragrant Pinot Noir exhibiting complex aromas of spicy red berries and pomegranate fruit. On the palate it reveals a silky texture with toasted oak, medium acidity, round tannins, and a long elegant finish. Aged 16 months in French oak, 36% new. Sourced from three Sonoma Coast Vineyards. A lovely wine.