||And to celebrate the return of some long-time friends,
and a BD, we had a cake (pears & gorgonzola) and a few dessert wines:
And casting out a few pearls of wisdom from the Bloody Pulpit:
Jaffurs Santa Barbara County Late Harvest Viognier
(16.5%) 2001: Med.gold color; rather alcoholic creamy very strong/grapey/passito
very ripe slight peachy some pencilly/toasty/oak nose; some sweet very
grapey orangey/peachy bit hot/alcoholic some pencilly/toasty/oak flavor;
very long some sweet grapey/peachy bit alcoholic finish; very good passito-style
dessert wine. $30.00/hlf
Chateau Rabaud-Promis Sauternes (13.5%) 1988: Med.gold color; very
strong peachy/apricotty/botrytis slight earthy some complex nose; very
sweet strong botrytis/peachy/apricotty slight earthy/creme brulee flavor;
very long very sweet soft peachy/botrytis finish; a classic Sauternes and
still a young wine. Larry's contribution to dessert.
Olde Shandon Port Works Lmtd Release Port (18.5%) NV: Med. slight
bricking bit murkey (should have decanted it) color; strong alcoholic/porty
very grapey rather ruby porto some complex/spirity nose; sweet soft very
grapey/spirity alcoholic/porty slight pencilly/toasty very licorice flavor;
quite sweet spirity/alcoholic very grapey finish w/ light tannins; very
good slightly-aged Ruby Port.
Derek Benham: Not a name I'm familar with. He & brother Courtney were
founding partners of the BlackstoneWnry up in Graton/Sonoma. recently they
sold their interest. They still retain ownership in MartinRayWnry and MarkWest
Koli Hamblin: Another new name to me. Ain't Google wunnerful!! This is
apparently Koleen Hamblin who apparently runs KOLI Communications, a public
relations/communications firm out of Santa Barbara. Obviously she has access
to some pretty terrific grapes.
Kiddush Hashem: Yet another new name, about which I can find nothing. The
grapes come from the GreatOaks Ranch, out on the east side (across the
highway) of Los Olivos, next to Bridlewood. Both the wines from this
Vineyard tasted like the Vineyard may have been cropped on the high-side.
Would guess this wine was made at the Central Coast Wine Coop in Santa
Maria, home of many a small operation.
Qupe Central Coast Syrah: This is a wine I've sort of struggled with over
the last few yrs, but have sorta come to terms with now. When Bob Lindquist
first started making this wine it was entirely Santa Barbara fruit, loaded
w/ lush blackberry/Syrah fruit, and a steal at the low-teen$ price it went
for. Around '95, Bob started adding Syrah from the Miller's FrenchCamp
Vineyard, out on the far EastSide Paso, and some interesting old-vine Carignane
and Zin from Lodi. It changed the character of the wine considerably. The
wine was no longer an expression of bright/pure Santa Barbara Syrah. The
FrenchCamp gave it a bit plummy/mushroomy/funky character. More like a
Cotes-du-Rhone style Qupe rather than a Santa Barbara Syrah. Furthermore,
the wine is often released at SantaFe Wine&Chile Fiesta in October,
shortly after bottling. It usually comes off a light & thin. Then around
late December/early-January, it seems to start putting on weight and developing
a lot of character. That being said, the Qupe CentralCoast is a wine that
I keep returning to. One of my favorite restaurants (Andiamo) usually has
it in hlf btls and it's often my wine of choice. If you accept the fact
that the CC is an inexpensive/Cotes-du-Rhone style of wine, not Bob's purest
or greatest expression of Syrah, than it's a mighty fine wine for what
it is. This 2001 CC strikes me has having more bright Syrah fruit than
any over the last few yrs and probably his best since the '94 or so.
Rancho Arroyo Grande Vineyard: This is a new property up above Lake
Lopez near Saucelito Canyon Vineyard. It's much higher in altitude
than most of the EdnaVlly Vineyards like Talley or Alban. And much
more warm, I would guess. They also make Syrah & other wines under
their own label as well.
Qupe Vineyard Designates: Life used to be so much more simpler when it
was just: CentralCoast, BienNacidoReserve, and Hillside Estate Reserve.
With the 2001 vintage and more Syrah sources becomming available, Bob has
launched his Vineyard Select series with these 5 new Vineyards. I
believe he has taken grapes from some of these Vineyards before that
went into the Central Coast. With more Santa Barbara Syrah grapes to work
with, it's probably the reason the CentralCoast is so much better this
year. BobLindquist is one of the icons for Syrah in California. His '82
Calif Syrah, from Estrella River Vineyard grapes was the first Calif
Syrah to really grab my attention, to make me realize that, yes, Calif
CAN produce world-class Syrah. A btl of that seminal wine a year ago at
HdR was still in wonderful condition. It's always been sort of a puzzle
to me why Bob is below Arpy's radar; hardly ever see any reviews of them
in WA. Maybe since they don't have that "gobs of hedonistic fruit" and
aren't "sexy", that he misses them. His loss, our gain I say. Of this series,
my clear favorite was the Alisos, closely followed by the PurisimaMtn.
I was expecting,based on the Tensley and Beckmen Syrahs from this Beckmen-owned
Vineyard to be the biggest & the richest. The Alisos was, though. The
Stolpman and the PurisimaMtn Vineyards are right adjacent to each
other, but seemed quite a bit different in character; the Purisima showing
more cold-climate character than the Stolpman. Could be the difference
in clones, or the difference in crop levels; don't know. Anyway, this series
of 6 (didn't get the BienNacido in here) Syrahs are very well done, classic
Qupe in style, yet all speak of their individual Vineyard sources
(that "terroir" thing again). They're all worth trying as a set.
LazyAcres Cuvee: This is a blend assembled by Bob Wesley at Lazy Acres
grocery store (calling Lazy Acres just a grocery store is like calling
Tiger Woods a golf hacker). It seemed a bit bigger/richer than the other
Vineyard designates, but with a softness and roundness that suggests earlier
drinking. But the balance you find in most Qupe Syrahs gives them surprisingly
long lifetime. This was first served to the SantaFe wine group in late
May and was even more impressive than tonight's version. So impressive
that Howard Sherry even bought a case of it... high praise indeed.
Foxen Tinaquaic: This is a new wine for Foxen, although they've made a
Cabernet from this Vineyard for a number of yrs. Its got a bunch
of eucalyptus trees nearby, I understand, though it's much stronger in
their Cab than in this Syrah. Almost a Thackery Jr; it's easily the best
Syrah yet made by the Foxen boys in my opinion.
Mondavi Syrah: Almost never include Mondavi wines in my tastings as I find
them rather on the clean boring side. This mystery wine was given us by
Andrew Willingham. I thought it a dead-ringer for an Oz Shiraz; very un-Mondavi-like
in character. It is apparently for purchase to the Mondavi shareholders,
of which Nadrew is one. The way the Mondavi stock is going, Andrew best
keep his day job.
Jaffurs LateHrvst Viognier: I really liked this wine on my first btl that
I cracked fresh off the boat. The btl we had at Downey's seemed pretty
hot/alcoholic. This btl seemd more like the first. It has no evident botrytis
and is much more like an Italian passito wine. Still think it's good dessert
Olde Shandon Port: Totally new wine to me, a gift to try from Fabrizio
at Alloro in PasoRobles after our dinner there. It comes from a tiny new
winery (about 700 cases/yr) out by Shandon, on EastSide Paso. Tarrica makes
a number of dry varietals and this port. The grapes are 100% Merlot from
the St.John's River Vineyard in Woodlake. There are two Woodlakes
in Calif, one down in Tulare Cnty on the east side of the SanJoaquin Vlly,
one just to the east of Lodi. Would guess the grapes are from the Lodi
one. The wine is like a somewhat aged Ruby Porto, so has apparently seen
a number of yrs in old oak barrels. It actually is quite a nice Port and
probably reflects the highest calling that Merlot grapes can achieve!!
Thanks to Fabrizio for exposing this to us.
Return to the Tom Hill Archive Index