How good is good? (TN 2011 Quivet Syarh Las Madres Hulda Block)

As I sit here on my back deck on this beautiful early fall day where temps are not expected to go above 73, I sip upon on of my favorite Syrahs coming out of California, the 2011 Quivet Las Madres, I ponder the question posed above.

I cannot imagine ancient Rome having wines this good, or else they would not have allowed her to fall. It’s a wine Caesar would have killed for; lucky me all I have to do is be on the list, and have been so since the 2009 vintage, so I ask: How good is good?
Deep dark berries surrounded by plushy pillowed tannins within a structure that defies gravity. The nose is an intoxicating brew of red/black & blue fruits with a hint of cola, spring flowers and wet cool river stones-- The closest I have come to the latter was twenty plus years ago while staying at a family house in the Adirondacks, we would ‘do’ the two mile trek down Schroon River on inflated truck tire tubes. We would just float carelessly downward. If it had been a wet winter we could count on some near white water speeds in certain parts, but we always looked forward the slow ‘poolish’ areas where we would linger and even stall; once we realized we were going nowhere fast, we had to get up and walk a bit and beneath our feet we would feel those ‘wet cool’ river stones. That is my best recollection to this quality I call out in this particular wine; it’s a wine that can evoke those memories of a time long gone and that can’t be all bad, right? As a matter of fact, it’s quite amazing.
Fruits come and fruits go, but the fruits I want in to keep coming in my Syrah happen to keep me interested, and this one has it all;
small berries, densely packed with perfectly phenolically ripened qualities that assures me that the person behind the decision to pick these grapes awoke with an ‘Angel’ on their shoulder that morning. If they had waited a day more we might get just a wee-bit more ripeness, and a day earlier some of the fruit cohesiveness would certainly be different. This ones alchemy is spot-on, so much so that that very person must have had sleepless nights for all the vintages that come after, trying to re-capture that ‘moment’ again. This my friends is a special skill you can only achieve by tasting the grapes and possibly throwing the sugar refractors away. Paying attention to the grapes and not getting ‘too’ hooked up on the science shows what is possible.
Mouthfeel on this is perfectly balanced with nothing standing above anything else; finish long and true.
I figure if I have to ask how good is good, I have already answered my own question. This wine is a perfect expression of Cali-Syrah, probably as good as I could ever expect. It’s that good.
Too bad for you, Caesar!

I’ve tasted this wine twice. Once while in barrel and again right after bottling. The nose sets it apart form anything I have ever had before. Truly exciting wine.

  • 2011 Quivet Cellars Syrah Hulda Block Las Madres Vineyard - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros (8/27/2012)
    Monday afternoon with Mike Smith (Envy Cellars, Calistoga): Not yet released. This vineyard is in the southernmost edge of the Carneros AVA. You can see the SF Bay from the vineyard. It produces some great cool climate fruit. It’s made up of two blocks. Hulda block, which is comprised of clone 300 syrah whose cuttings came from Crozes-Hermitage in the Northern Rhone and Esther block, which is clone 174. 2011 was one of those years where Las Madres almost gave up because the fruit was not going to ripen. Then came a heat spike in October that pushed the vineyard through to the finish line. I had a barrel sample of this back in April at the Las Madres Luncheon. The nose on this wine is unreal. Mike credits the Remond Allier Forest MTL barrels for the incredibly savory, smoky, merde quality to the nose that just jumps from the glass. Really intoxicating but also polarizing as some people are put off by this aroma. The mouth is again silky smooth with creamy ripe red and blue fruit on the attack. Good balance of acid that lifts the palate right through the finish which does not exhibit a whole lot of tannin but brings a little bitter citrus zest into the fold late. I love a wine with personality and this one has a whole lot of it. It’s on my buy list for February.

Posted from CellarTracker

Epic notes…sounds like we all need to find a way to taste this stuff.

Maybe I’ll smuggle one into the Pinot Throwdown next month [highfive.gif]

Great idea, couldn’t think of a better invader than a Carneros Syrah.

Never had it, but that sure was an enjoyable read, and sounds like, a nostalgic experience!

Sounds great. I have a lone bottle of this. Would you drink now or hold for a couple of years?

I have 1 -2009, 2 -1010s and a few of the 2011s left. I would drink them sooner than later as I could not imagine what else I could be hoping for by holding them. I would be disappointed to lose the vibrancy I love so much, but truth be told, I may be the worst guy to ask about aging a wine. The good thing about these is Mike makes them yearly!