Climbing the Mountain to Loving CA Wine: A Few Notes

After weeks of drinking insipid French wines, green South American wines, lifeless German and Alsatian Rieslings, I returned to what I love, CA wine. Just kidding, have had some terrific French and German Rieslings recently (haven’t had any South American or South African or Alsatian wines in a while). And really, I love wine, from crisp, minerally Chablis or Muscadet, to ripe CA Pinot Noir and full on 100% new oak Cabernets from Napa.

My palate has evolved to the point where I can appreciate many different styles of wines. Okay a few notes:

With Sasha & Kiara (Eno Wine) and bbq ribs with lemon bbq sauce and salt baked potatoes.

2007 Sojourn “Gaps Crown Vineyard”, Pinot Noir
Somehow when we eat and drink with Sasha and Kiara, we power through wine and this was no exception. WIne was put in decanter for about 30 minutes. This was a favorite of mine at Pinot Days this year and it is drinking very well with a little air. Terrific red fruit, spice and crushed rocks and a little underbrush. The fruit is bright and crisp and the wine has very nice structural balance. Lovely, wine. 93/100

2001 Sean Thackrey, Eaglepoint Ranch, Petite Sirah
I have one of these in my cellar but have never had one. Very interesting and good wine. Has that tell-tell eucalyptus that Thackrey wines exhibit but not overpowering. Color is almost black as you would expect from PS but with sweeter tannins than I was bracing myself for. Coffee, dark fruit, pepper and menthol. Like the Sojourn, nicely balanced although with less obvious acidity and more tannin. Still has some years ahead. 91/100

NV Billecart-Salmon, Brut Rose
Traci picked this up to get us started. Very lovely bubbly with creaminess, strawberry/watermelon, nice cut/acidity. Very enjoyable and worth the $60.

2007 Francois Chidaine Montlouis-Sur-Loire Clos du Breuil
This was an interesting wine and somewhat controversial…not really since we were just having a good time. Seemed like it may have been just a little corky. But I have no experience with this wine. Earthy/mushroomy nose/palate with honey, tropical fruit and minerality. Seemed nice but either slightly corked or not my style…


We also had a 2001 Spanish wine, Palomeres or something like that from Rioja IIRC. Very nice like a cross between bdx (cedar/tobacco notes) and CA (sweet cassis fruit). But expensive and probably not worth the $80 or so I paid for it.

Sunday night:

2006 Lynmar, Russian River Valley, Chardonnay
Have had this quite a bit at the winery and at home. It is a very solid, well made Chardonnay that struts the line between bigger CA wine with ripe tropical fruit, a little spiciness from the oak and something leaner and crisper showing some roasted nuttiness as well. Very nice. 90/100

2005 Sandler Wine Company, Syrah, Bennett Valley
Ed is a good friend so take this note with that in mind. With Paella (along with a couple of interesting Spanish white wines that I didn’t take notes on). I love this wine and have since it was bottled and it continues drinking very well. I believe this was either 100% or 50% whole cluster. It has terrific brightness that comes with more French wine, but also possesses terrific sweet ripe fruit. Red fruits, lots of pepper, violets and a little coffee on the back end. Texture is silky and wine is mouthfilling without being heavy…helping Ed today at the winery, I will see if he has more of this wine. 92/100

2003 Monbousquet (from 375)
This was pulled out b/c the host’s guest was an avowed Francophile - turns out he just doesn’t like wine but that’s another story…some of these anti California folks, I have come to figure just don’t like wine.

I can’t say this 100% new oak (per the back label) wine blew me away. Seemed ripe but then somehow someone tried to dial it back (label shows 13% alcohol). Tobacco leaf, minerals, reddish fruit but again the fruit just seemed a little bit weird…can’t explain it. Oh well.

2004 Rieussec (from 375)
With Traci’s espresso blondies. Nice and with less weight than I expected and less spice than I like and what draws me to my favorite sticky wine, Suduiraut. A little coconut, peaches in light syrup, a little bit of vanillan spice but ultimately I would like a little more push.

Monday night with tomato mac n cheese:
2007 Keefer Estate, “Keefer Ranch” Pinot Noir
Craig Strehlow, who’s mother Marcy Keefer owns Keefer Ranch, is also a friend. I love what Craig is doing (with Ed K and Eric Buffington’s help) with his own fruit. This wine is drinking perfectly right now with a little forest floor/underbrush, darkish red fruit, and a little spice. Good enough acidity to keep it fresh but with terrific plush CA fruit. 91/100

[swoon.gif]

Whew. [dance-clap.gif]

I’d love to hear more about those espresso blondies in EE. You need to get Traci signed up to share some more of her wonderful recipes!

Melissa - yeah, she won’t join. She hates wineboards for various reasons, one of which is the amount of time I spend on them.

I’ll see if I can find the recipe online otherwise, will post it later.

i have opened any of my 07 Keefer yet. you think this wine gets better for a few seasons or no?

I think it is drinking very well and will remain there for several years. It saw less oak than Craig ultimately wants for the wine (about 25% or so IIRC) and so as part of that, is a little more fruit forward than say the 08 (which shows a little tighter structure and benefit of about 35-45% new oak).

You’re a trickster Tony.

At least you haven’t degenerated to the “When I was young and foolish I drank California wine, but now that I am a worldly and sophisticated man my highly evolved palate can only tolerate French wine” stage yet!!! [stirthepothal.gif]

Mike - I couldn’t resist. Certainly my palate (or really my likes and dislikes) has changed over time but I still find I can appreciate, enjoy, even love diverse wine types.