||And stepping up to the bloody pulpit to pontificate a bit:
Tom Hill (preparing for a week of assaulting his palate w/ Zin & Syrah
The Viogniers & Rousannes... all very very good wines. I usually through
in a few Viogniers at my Syrah tastings & they're almost always met
w/groans & sighs of resignation. Maybe I've finally won the battle
to convince them how good Calif Viogniers can be w/ this bunch; everyone
really liked these ones. But it's been a long 10+ year struggle.
I've often expressed my disappointment w/ the Calif GWT & Riesling
and always puzzled why they couldn't/wouldn't make DRY Alsatian-style wines
in Calif (I know... the Navarro and the Claibourne&Churchill are nice...but
just that). That is, a very fragrant/perfumey/aromatic fairly rich sorta
Z-H style white wine. I'm now more & more convinced that they can.....
'cept it won't be GWT or Riesling; but Viognier & Rousanne, maybe Marsanne.
Many of the early Viogniers were sort of Chardonnay wannabes.... too much
oak. That seldom happens anymore.
The Rousannes/Viogniers above were all very big rich perfumed aromatic
whites, some so intense they seemed a bit off-dry, but doubt they were.
Very much in a Z-H/Alsatian style. I feel a bit strange praising these
wines so highly after whining so loudly several weeks ago about the Z-H
style being so non-traditional a difficult to match w/ food. Wines this
intense do take a bit more imagination and creativity to match w/ food
because of their intensity. They aren't just mere Chard alternatives.
The Alban wines.... stunning wines all. This latest release of his wines
are clearly his best ever; and puts him into the top tier of Rhone/Syrah
producers in Calif w/ Bob Lindquist, Adam Tolmach, and Steve Edmunds; my
favorites. I've followed John's wines from the very start; obviously because
he's a Rhone producer. I first met him at Vail, when he was a total unknown,
& nobody was much bothering to come up to his table to taste his wines.
I was very struck by his passion for making Rhones and his vision of where
he wanted to go; his commitment for doing things right out in the vnyd.
His first Syrah was pretty hard & rustic & pretty heavily oaked.
His whites were rather hard & lean & austere w/ I tought too much
toasty oak. But I suspected he'd probably figure out the winemaking.....
making wine is trivial!! His wines have been progressively getting better
year by year; with this batch of wines he's hit it outta the park. You'll
be reading a lot more about Alban Vnyds.
Bill Easton's two Terre Rouge wines were very impressive. Amador/ShenandoahVlly
has long had a reputation for great Zin, but they've been sort of a Johnny-One_Note
because that's all they've been known for. Especially not having a white
variety that makes very good wine has impeded there reputation. But his
'96 Viognier makes a clear statement that the ShenandoahVlly CAN make great
Calif white wine. His '95 Syrah is probably the best Syrah I've yet
had from Amador. It has that distinct briar of Amador but is still clearly
Syrah. I think the challenge up there, like Zin, is to make a big ripe
extracted wine w/o letting the alcohol get out of hand. Definitely another
Rhone producer to keep your eye on.