Pondera Winery was established in 2005 by award-winning owner and winemaker Shane Howard. They are a small producer, averaging about 3000 cases annually, creating high quality, bordeaux focused red blends, although they offer single varietals as well. Sourcing is from several excellent vineyards such as Stillwater Creek, Dionysus, Dineen, Discovery, and Bacchus.
2021 Viognier Tropical fruit, white pepper, white flowers, honeysuckle aromas. Rich and weighted, slightly creamy on the palate. Juicy pineapples, grapefruit, lychee and citrus zest. Lengthy finish. $28. Score 93. 2018 GSM Toffee and pepper aromas. A peppery GSM with layers of cherries and blackberries, and heavy white pepper. The body is light medium, with lingering drying tannins on the finish. $44. Score91. 2017 LTD Living The Dream 56% Cab franc, 29% Cab, 12% Merlot, 3% PV. Plum, cigar, mocha, black pepper and touch of smoke on the nose, same with additional coffee notes on the palate. Finish with heat and gripping tannins. Cellar potential. $42. Score 93. 2018 Entwined 45 % Merlot, 40% Cab, 8% PV, 7% Cab Franc. Smooth and rich dark chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, black pepper. Long finish, drying tannins. $36. Score 93. 2019 Cabernet Franc Smooth blue fruits, initially fruit forward, followed by black tea, cigar and tobacco, vanilla. Lengthy finish with dusty tannins. $38. Score 93. 2020 Malbec Layers of dark fruit, blackberries, blueberries, dusty cocoa, caramel and flecks of black and white pepper. Big bodied, complex with chewy tannins. Very gratifying and ready to go. $36. Score 95. 2019 Discovery Syrah Wet concrete, black fruit aromas. A full and satisfying, velvety mouthfeel with crushed blackberries, blueberries and currants. The heat of black pepper and baking spices, and vanilla rise, followed by a cool lingering finish with notes of eucalyptus. Incredible balance and totally ready. No future production. $48. Score 95.
Pondera's current releases are excellent. I tended to enjoy the single varietals over the blend. In particular, the 2020 Malbec was fantastic, and I was also fortunate to have a pour of their exceptional 2019 Discovery Vineyard Syrah. For the summer, their 2021 Viognier is a solid white.