||And more blatherings from Ye Olde bloody pulpit:
Greg Graham wines: This is one producer of Calif Rhones who never seems
to receive the recognition I feel he deserves. He makes two Viogniers,
one from Knight's Valley, and one from NapaValley. The KV version tends
to be more bombastic/overblown/DollyParton in style of Viognier; whilst
the Napa Valleyversion tends to be a bit leaner and more elegant in character.
But his Napa ValleySyrahs are some of the best. I find character of Edmunds
StJohn, some JadeMtn, some Qupe in them. They tend to be a bit harder and
leaner and more structured and peppery than most Napa Valleyones. A great
Rhone producer and worth seeking out.
Hug Grenache: Augie Hug, no stranger to these parts of CyberSpace, is a
good friend of John Alban's and has made various wines over the last few
yrs at John's winery, often from Alban fruit. In real life, he is I believe
in the oil-drilling business. And, like all of those folks down there;
his bowling skills are very marginal. But his winemaking skills are as
good as they come. He is presently making his wine up at Mat Garretson's
winery in PasoRobles. This Grenache, from John Alban's fruit, is as good
as they come. Augie poured it this yr at HdR & I was mightly impressed
there with it. It had a bit of a reductive stink in the nose, but that
blows off and is not a problem for its long-term development. Worth seeking
out, in lieu of an Alban Grenache.
Garretson Wines: were all bottled, even the Alban Syrah, with the hard/plastic
SupremeCorq. Not quite sure Mat wasn't using the far superior (IMHO) NeoCork.
But clearly another quality producer who's solved the cork-taint problem.
I've followed Mat's wines from the very start... but then so has everyone
else in this here part of CyberSpace. It sort of gives you a nice warm
fuzzy feeling to watch somebody follow their passion and suceed at it.
The best thing about it is... the best of the Garretson wines are yet to
come. In Mat's unique position, he's probably tasted more Rhone-style wines
from anywhere than anybody.... so he knows what great wine is. As more
and more Rhone varietal vnyds come into production in Paso and Edna Valley,
especially in WestSide Paso, and Mat has access to those grapes; it's just
gotta get better. Definitely a winery to keep your eyes on in the future.
And, maybe, just maybe, he'll someday be able to upgrade his bowling skills
to the level of his wines!!
John Kerr: When you talk to many of the SantaBarbara Syrah winemakers about
what winemaker they respect and admire his work; John Kerr's name always
seems to come up. Yet I've never met the guy (that I know of) and have
had only a handfull of his wines, that he's made as winemaker for other
wineries. They wern't particularly impressive. He apparently was of the
Lindquist/Clendennan cabal that came out of ZacaMesa under Ken Brown (another
legendary figure I've not met). This wine was impressive...mightly impressive.
I'm looking forward to more of John's wines and maybe even meeting him
sometime in the future.
Passito wines: These wines are commonly made in Italy and some, especially
from Southern Italy, are some of the great sweet wines of the world. Though
often made by laying the harvested grapes out on trays to dry/raisen
in the winery; they can be left to raisen on the vine as well. This kind
of dessert wine is a no-brainer for Calif to be making & there have
been several stunning ones I've had over the years. There oughta be a lot
more. Augie's Encantada is one of the better examples I've had.
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