It’s been a busy week here in San Diego; lots of friends over for various social events, which usually means lots of wines drunk and no proper tasting notes as I’m loath to whip out the laptop in social situations. So! Here’s a quick rundown of interesting things tasted this week:2004 Clonakilla shiraz viognier: beautiful as ever, all cedary wood and fading violets, with interesting smoked meat notes throughout it all. Tannins are wonderfully textured, and this wine really seems to be hitting its stride lately.1994 Meerlust Rubicon: I didn’t know quite what to make of this. Unlike the 1993, drunk earlier this month I think, this one seems to be very much dead or dying. Weirdly redolent of camphor and mothballs, this wasn’t entirely unpleasant – yet not pleasant enough to actually drink. Interesting, though: there might be a target market for this, but I’m definitely not it.2005 J Rickards ‘Sisters’ meritage: Wow, this was a surprise. The first JR wine I’ve tried, I think the best way to describe this one would simply be ‘classic California.’ Rich, boisterous red wine that isn’t minerally or refined, but a pure joyous expression of sunshine and warmth. Really well judged oak kicks in as well for a very sensuous experience; this has got to be one of the best California wines I’ve tried lately. Delicous.2005 Hamilton Russell pinot noir: This wine is weirdly on again off again for me. Two years ago it was great, last year not so much, and now it’s great again, turning distinctly earthy with a cigar box aspect, yet still managing to remain relatively light and delicate. This has got to be one of the best wines from South Africa.2005 JK Carrier Willamette Valley pinot noir: To a certain extent, this wine is so correct that at first it’s a bit underwhelming. Give it time and air, though, and it broadens out into an earthy, kola nut thing, dark and brooding and somewhat less delicate than the HR. Pretty fantastic, though, with an undercurrent of earthy minerality that’s very uncommon. Damn good value, too, at $36 or so.Finally, I did want to post a shout-out to the fine folks at Coopers Creek in New Zealand: they gave me two styrofoam shippers at no charge last January, so I bought a bottle of their fanciest Chardonnay (and I’ve stupidly forgotten what it was called). Turns out it was damn good, very similar to the Ridge in style (oak, but not too much; good acidity, tasted of cashews and cream), and all around a lovely wine.