||And the usual detritus from the BloodyPulpit:
HarlequinViognier: I've followed Calif (and USofA) Viognier from the very
start. It's been an exciting journey to watch the styles evolve. The early
ones clearly were in the direction of the DollyParton style: big/ripe/lush/loads
of Viognier fruit/jiggly/silicone-laden wines. Often they were made like
a Chard w/ a strong hit of toasty/Fr.oak. Over the last 5-10 yrs we've
seen a lot less oak in the wines, more subtlety, more expression of terroir..
much more interesting wines. That being said, I've still not seen that
expression of minerality, combined w/ the perfume and fragrance that you
get in authentic/great Condrieu. The wines, good as they are, just seem
to often lack that little extra kick you find in great Condrieu. Probably
some of the best I've had have been a few of the older Edmunds StJohn versions.
Not great Condrieu, but very complex wines. I first had this '03 Harlequin
at Robert Goodfriend's home at dinner a few weeks ago. Thought it was awfully
good at the time, but there were a lot of very good wines that night. Had
it a few days later at Don & Jan's dinner and thought.."Wow...this
is damn good Viognier/ Condrieu." Then when I had it in my tasting, I was
blown away by it. My statement then was this is the greatest, most Condrieu-like
Viognier ever produced in the USofA; that I've ever had. I was not alone
in my liking of this wine; my group wound up ordering 9 cases of it; an
obstreperous/contentious group of head-strong folk who seldom heed my blatherings.
FullDisclosure: Robert Goodfriend and I go way back as personal friends.
He used to own/chef my favorite SantaFe restaurants of all time, e.k.mas.
I'd go in there all the time w/ my kids and, unlike many restaurants, they'd
get first-class attention and treatment. Even a pour of the wine. Since
he left SantaFe, I've kept in touch with him over the yrs. When he and
his wife, Elizabeth Cook, started Harlequin; I've followed their wines
from the very start. This last batch I tasted when I stayed with them a
few weeks ago are probably the best yet I've had from Harlequin. That being
said, I think the quality of the wines speak for themselves; Harlequin
doesn't need a shill. I am NOT a crook...opps, that was Richard Milhouse...
I am NOT a shill!! Anyway, I think the Viognier is worth a try. The price
is very reasonable. Available at Robert's wine bar in Seattle..The Tasting
Room/Wines of Washington (www.winesofwashington.com).
Harlequin CheninBlanc: Not to sound like a broken record, but this was
probably the best example of a USofA CB I've ever had. Not in the style
of a D'Agneau or Loire CB; but in its own unique style. It reminded me
some of some of the early Chalone CBs w/ age on them, w/o the strong toasty/oak
they always showed. It's a variety that gets no respect in the US and rightlfully
so; most are rather simple/off-dry/drecky examples of the variety. Robert
barrel ferments his in old/neutral oak. There are a fair number of old-vine
(relatively speaking for WashState) CB vnyds that he want to get to afore
they're ripped out. Alas, this '02 is already long sold out. Don Chappellet
also makes a great old-vine CB. Alas as well, those vines have been ripped
out for more profitable Cabernet.
Scott Harvey Wines: This is a guy I've followed from the very start, from
his first days at Santino, then Renwood, then Folie a Deux. The wines he
was making at Renwood afore he left for FaD were probably the greatest
Amador reds, Barberas and Zins and Syrahs, ever made up there. With the
sale of FaD to SutterHome, he has now gone out on his own to focus in his
Scott Harvey wines, with wife Jana. For the time, they plan to remain in
the Napa Valley, but still source grapes from his Amador contacts. These
wines we tasted represent a departure from his style at Renwood. There,
the focus was on the intensity and extract. These new wines are much more
balanced, more polished and svelte, more drinkable; yet I suspect they
will age quite well. It'll be interesting to follow his wines into the
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