Our dinner group enjoyed a fine dinner at Chuck`s Steakhouse of Hawaii, a long time local fav for steaks, sea food and its fabulous salad bar.
Our wine theme was the usual champagne, white Burgundy and the unusual, top tier worldwide Syrah. We had 13 folks and at least 17 wines. I say “at least” since the wines come from all directions and I usually get most of them, but not always.
NV BILLECRT-SALMON BRUT RESERVE- in magnum; impressive and elegant; lightly mineralised citrus and stone fruit notes, bright acidity, crisp and refreshing on the palate and a cleanser for all upcoming wines; it was best with a good chill.
NV LANSON IVORY LABEL DEMI-SEC BRUT- corked
NV DELAMOTTE BRUT- 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier; it seemed to be on the sweet side although it showed a 7 g/l dosage; for a basic house brut, this consistently gives goodness for my palate; it has a straw yellow colour, nice citrus fruit with lemon and lime most evident; there`s some underlying minerals and toasty brioche as well; a light creamy mousse gives it the perfect mouthfeel to complete the deal.
2006 PIERRE-YVES COILN-MOREY les CLAVOILLONS PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- the nose was redolent of minerals at first, then a hint of citrus comes in and that combination takes it all the way through to the back end; it had a viscus texture that enhanced the taste and length.
2009 BRUNO COLIN les TRUFFIERE PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- a big whiff of flint sets me back a bit before carefully coming in for a second; minerality, bitter sweet pear, apple and stone fruit notes dominate the mid palate and flint and minerals take over at the end. Did someone strike a match?
And now for the “top tier worldwide Syrahs”:
Well not quite. The one who brought it did what I`ve done before, pulled the wrong bottle off the shelf. The Ojai labels and bottle shape for Pinot Noir and Syrah are alike. Nonetheless, a nice and pleasant Pinot eased our plates into the Syrah.
2006 OJAI VINEYARD MELVILLE VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- the colour was a youthful dark purple; the nose was full on with ripe red and black fruit; a streak of spice extended throughout and the silky smooth texture carried all of the treasures to the back end with grace. I like this one and as I recall, I liked the Syrah from this vineyard and vintage as well.
1995 ARAUJO EISELE VINEYARD SYRAH- the last one made by Tony Soter, this had amazingly youthfulness in its colour and taste, this outstanding wine had super concentrated spice and liquorice accented wild plum and blackberry fruit; it was full bodied, had layered complexity and a long finish; a consummate New World Syrah.
2004 ALBAN VINEYARDS REVA EDNA VALLEY ESTATE SYRAH- at first, some sulphur dominated the aromas and I turned away, but after swirling numerous times, it blew off and the true gifts were opened up and available for all to enjoy; my friend John Alban makes some very highly concentrated wines and this is one of them; it`s big and robust, layered with multiple depths and stays the course for a LONG finish; it gave bacon, tar and cedar laced blue and black fruit with a hint of pepper coming in later on; it was rich and full bodied and never quit; it kept talking to me saying "come back”, “come back” and I did and loved it.
2004 RED CAR THE FIGHT ROUND 3 RICHARD PERRY VINEYARD NAPA SYRAH- inky dark and teeth staining colour reminded me I forgot my toothbrush to scrape the residue off; this serious wine had liquorice and black pepper accents to the blueberry, black currant and blackberry fruit; it was full bodied, complex and long; I just made it through round 3 and was happy this fight was a 3 rounder. I was exhausted and my palate was beat up mercifully, but i hung in there and survived for a moral victory.
2006 MYRAID LAS MADRES CANEROS SYRAH- another Mike Smith gem that hits the mark with excellence; it was youthful, vibrant and expressive from the nose through the tail; it had chocolate and pepper spiced blue and black fruit with layers of concentration and an extended length; it was full bodied and had a heavy weighted texture.
2005 BOSSMAN SANGUIS SANTA MARIA VALLEY SYRAH- 15.1% abv; I expected this to fall in line with the brutes above, but it deceived me immediately with a mellow and inviting nose of talc, sandalwood and oak toast notes along with jammy blackberry fruit; it was more medium bodied and had a soft and easy on the palate texture.
2007 SAXUM BOOKER VINEYARD PASO ROBLES SYRAH- 15.5% ABV; 95% Syrah, 5% Grenache; this was another teeth staining inky dark purple wine adding another coat to my already well coated front teeth; after texting my dentist, I dived in further and found some intense aromas and flavours which included chocolate, pepper, spice and tar accents to the blackberry fruit; it was full bodied, complex, deeply structured with broad tannins and had a lingering taste that required rinsing my mouth and starting all over again for the next wine.
2007 DRAGONETTE CELLARS MJM RED WINE CALIFORNIA- 96% Syrah, 3% Grenache, and 1% Viognier; named in honour of the wives of the principles, Mitchi, Jen and Michelle; sourced from the best barrels of the best lots, this highly concentrated and well balanced wine gave and gave of its riches; spicy blackberry and blueberry fruit is delivered in a full body and smooth textured medium all the way to the back end; loved it power and yet finesse here.
2000 DOMAINE des REMIZIERES CUVEE EMILIE HERMITAGE- me and this this group is big on N. Rhones and I was surprised by the absence of any to this point, but here one comes; it was very approachable with vanilla and toast plus tobacco and liquorice flavoured blackberry supported by firm tannins; very nice and a good experience.
2005 JONATA “SANGRE de JONATA” SANTA YNEZ VALLEY SYRAH- intense in every way; super concentrated ripe black fruit with blackberry, black currant and black raspberry most prominent along with a touch of chocolate, liquorice and white pepper; full, dense, round and long.
2011 CARLISLE JAMES BERRY VINEYARD PASO ROBLES SYRAH- 15.2% abv; this was a monster that needs to just take a breath, relax and evolve slowly; it had super ripe dark fruit, lots of spice, liquorice and
smoky minerals with serious depth and complexity and bracing tannins; time is our friend; HOLD.
1999 MELVILLE ESTATE CLONE 99 SANTA RITA HILLS SYRAH- a bit of info about clone 99; it`s a late-ripening French clone that in this case was taken directly from Beaucastel; it shows bigger berries and clusters than most other clones and typically doesn’t get picked until late November/early December; prior to harvest, Melville drops half the fruit to ensure that the other half gets ripe, which give even more intense fruit; that`s what we got here, “more intense fruit” which included blackberry, black currant and plum which was surprisingly really sweet, in fact, to a fault IMHO; it just overwhelmed may palate; I`m pretty sure this was not designed to be a dessert wine.
Two dessert wines:
2005 BODEGAS TORO ALBALA DON PX PEDRO XIMENEZ MONTILLA MORILES- 375 ml; 17% abv; from one of the oldest wine regions in Spain, this dark maple coloured sweetie was thick and sticky; I washed off my hands 3 times while pouring and drinking just a sip, then I had to do a mouthwash to free up my teeth that were stuck together; raisins, almond butter, caramel and butterscotch highlight the taste profile in this syrupy beast which is not a candidate for pancakes, but the next one is.
2011 PEDRO XIMENEZ ALVEAR de ANADA MONTILLA-MORILES- 375 ml; looks like molasses but tastes like honeyed vanilla, caramel and apricot served up in a syrupy texture; it may be really good on pancakes.
I apologised to all of the cells in my taste and olfactory sensory nerves for the onslaught they endured on this evening. Just a few days ago, seriously tannic, young Nebbiolos confronted those same cells and I heard them cry out for relief. OK I hear you. It`s water rehydration time.