||And a few words of wisdom delivered from the bloody pulpit:
Jaffurs Whites: Craig's whites, namely Viognier, have always been on the
lean/hard/ restrained side; not the effusive ripeness of many Calif Viogniers.
They seem to be a Viognier that actually benefits from a yr or so in btl
to develop. Less Dolly Parton and more Julia Roberts type of Viognier.
This '99 version shows a bit more richness & lushness than previous
ones. Julia Roberts w/ a bit of silicone enhancement perhaps??
Roussanne: Craig's Roussanne is from Stolpman vnyd; which is authentic
Roussanne, not (super-clone) Viognier. I guess it's about as good as any
Roussanne to try to understand Roussanne varietal character. Which doesn't
seem all that distinctive or easy to categorize to me. It seems to be a
bit like Marssanne in character but w/ a bit more lushness and aromiticity.
Still trying to figure out Roussanne; those who have certainly sing its
Prices: The prices on all the Jaffurs were pre-release prices, including
shipping. They'll be a few $'s more now at retail, but not greatly higher.
Very good values, even at full retail.
The Grenaches: These three were just another few pretty faces but nothing
profound. Nothing like the kind of things John Alban gets from his Grenache.
I was expecting a lot from the two Neyers Grenaches, given Ehren Jordan's
winemaking. They were a bit unthrilling to me. John Alban feels you have
to really crop Grenache at a very low level, sometimes riduculously low,
to get any sort of character and extraction. Assuming that these 3 Grenaches
were cropped at typical 3-4 tons/acre; they certainly lend credance to
Swanson Syrahs: I've followed the Swanson Syrahs from the very start. They
purchased the vnyd around '92-'93, up in the foothills to the west of Oakville.
The grapes from this vnyd went into the original Thackery Orion. Sean was
not very happy when the vnyd was purchased out from underneath him. Marco
Capelli has been very cosistent in his vinifing of this wine; one of the
more Aussie in style I've found from Calif. Like most Swanson reds, they
have a very consistent pencilly/Fr.oak component to them, but not particularly
overdone I feel. This '98 version probably reflects the difficulty of that
vintage; it seems rather more harder & tannic and less big/ripe/lush
character than previous vintages. Nonetheless, another successful effort
Neyers Syrahs: I've followed Bruce Neyers Syrahs from the very start. They
have all been pretty big/powerful wines w/ an abundance of toasty/pungent/Fr.oak
to them. I've not been absolutely convinced that Lee Hudson's Carneros
vnyd is a great site for Calif Syrah. They seem to have a sort of earthy/clunky
underlying character to them and not the bright/fragrant character of some
other Calif Syrahs I like. Nonetheless, I like the wines immensely and
feel they're one of the better Syrah efforts in Calif. This '98 version
seems to me the best one yet. It seems not as strongly oaked as previous
ones and a bit more fruit to it. Another fine effort from Bruce Neyers/Ehren
Jaffurs LastBarrel: When Craig was bottling is '97 Thompson Syrah; he came
to this one barrel that was (in his opinion) unacceptably bretty/stinky
and so he didn't include it in his regular '97 Thompson Syrah. The barrel
languished in his cellar space up at the CentralCoast Wine Coop in SantaMaria
until early 2000. As Craif was preparing to run the stuff down the drain
(or whatever they do w/ defective wine.... sell it to Coturri??); he took
one last taste for old times sakes. Much to his amazement; the wine had
lost most of it's stink and evolved into a beautiful Rnonish-like wine.
Craig & Lee brought it to a dinner at Larry&Laura's in SantaBarbara
in early June and I was quite impressed with it. The bulk of it was sold
to GrapefulPalate, w/ a small amount saved for his Fall-release mailing
list. Sometimes you win one!!
Jaffurs Syrahs: I've followed Craig Jaffurs wines from the very start.
His Syrahs are typically a bit leaner higher acid more restrained and less
of that fat/lush/very ripe character of other SantaBarbara Syrahs. These
'99 Syrahs struck me as a bit bigger (bigger not necessarily being better)
than his previous Syrahs. I thought, overall, they were Craig's best Syrahs
yet. As previous yrs, the Stolpman seems the more restarined/ elegant of
the batch and the Thompson the biggest & most interesting/spicy of
them. A dynamite effort from Craig Jaffurs. Do not hesitate if you see
them at retail.
StolpmanVnyd: I'm not sure I'd yet classify the Stolpman vnyd as one of
the great SantaBarbara vnyds.... yet. The wines from here seem a bit more
elegant/restrained w/ more bright fruit than other Syrah vnyds in the area.
Two yrs ago, afore HdR, I toured Stolpman vnyd w/ Jim Cross (Vega$Jim)
w/ Jeff Newton, the vnyd manager. It is an impeccably-tended vnyd w/ a
total comittment to quality. As the vnyd gains maturity, I expect it will
rise to one of the top-tier SantaBarbara Syrah vnyds.
Thompson Vineyard: Clearly one of the GREAT Syrah vnyds in Calif, not just
the SantaBarbara region. The wines all seem to have a big extraction w/
lots of very spicy/peppery character to them. Too bad their own wines,
under the Bedford-Thompson label, don't/ seldom achieve the quality levels
of what other winemakers do with those grapes.
Return to the Tom Hill Archive Index