TN: CowanCllrs Isa SauvBlanc '10..(short/boring)

On my last meal in the BayArea Mon night, I went to A16 and tried:

  1. CowanCllrs Isa SauvBlanc LakeCnty (Skin frmtd; “We make wines naturally to reflect their place and varietal character”: FloridaJim;; 13.1%) SantaRosa 2010: Deep golden/burnished bronze/bit orange color; quite strong phenolic/orangey/resiny/savory light smokey/honeyed/mead rather complex nose; fairly tart/tanget quite phenolic/resiny/savory/cidery/mead some earthy/orangey lightly tannic/astringent flavor; very long quite phenolic/resiny/cidery/savory earthy/orangey/honeyed finish w/ some hard/astringent tannins; rather hard/phenolic but seems to be dropping a bit of tannin since I last had it; quite an interesting/complex skin-contact white. $43.00 (A16)

A wee BloodyPulpit:

  1. On my last night of my RibollaFest trip, I decided I’d try the new Rockridge outpost of A16, saving myself a trip down to the Marina. As I expected, the food was outstanding…though I was just eating light snacks.
    A16 has an outstanding wine list, focusing on SouthernItaly from LeMarche southwards; plus a few relevant wines from Calif. I ordered a BtG sample of a Fiano, an offida pecorino, and a Massican SauvBlanc. I had them served blind. Was 0-3 on identifying them blind. Shows how much I know!!
    As I was trying the wines and browsing thru the extensive wine list, I spied the Cowan Isa '10. How often do you see FloridaJim’s wine on a wine list?? Almost never. So I knew I had to order a btl to try.
    The wine was served too cold…at normal white wine temperature. It made the wine, tasted on its own, seem very hard/austere/tannic and quite phenolic. I immediately snuggled the btl into my crotch (hey…that’s why the GoodLord gave us crotches) to warm it up a bit, which drew a puzzled look from my waitress. I told her I just had a special place in my world for FloridaJim’s wines. I don’t think she understood.
    Like most skin-contact whites, this is a wine that badly needs food to accompany it. With the burrata & grape tomatoes, the wine still was on the tannic/phenolic side and not much pleasure. But w/ the fried olives and the spicy almonds, it took the hard edges off the wine and made it much more pleasurable. When I added a small dribble of the ferocious A16 chile oil to the olives and almonds, the wine was really tamed and was a real pleasure to drink. Thank you, FloridaJim.
    I was quite amused by Jim’s above quote on the back label. The wine spoke neither of LakeCnty (which is a good thing) nor of SauvBlanc (another good thing). My experience is that w/ skin-contact whites, the varietal character is pretty much obliterated. At least as I recognize varietal character of SauvBlanc.
    I hadn’t had the '10 Isa in probably 2 yrs. It seemed to have more of a phenolic character than I recall, maybe with a slightly reduced level of tannins. Maybe developing more of an orangey/honeyed character than I recall.
    Anyway, quite a delicious/interesting wine once I got the food pairing right.

At A-16, huh?
I didn’t even know that.
Thanks, Jim

:astonished: But Tom’s crotch isn’t news…? :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s not often that we get the word “phenolic” used six times in a single Tom Hill tasting note. I’m wondering if anyone else on this board has any idea what it means.

On the other hand, Tom Hill’s crotch is famous. It used to be that Google Images would bring up dozens of listings under “Tom Hill Codpiece,” but this is no longer true. Now you have to put in “Tom Hill Wine” to even get a picture of the right guy, and if you add “codpiece” you don’t see any pictures of our Tom. There is a picture of George W. Bush all decked out in his Mission Accomplished gear.

What happened to all those codpiece pictures? Especially the one with the moving parts? Have they been scrubbed from the Web in the name of decency?

Heavens forfend.

Larry’s given me a raft of $hit on my use of phenolic over the last few yrs.

It’s exactly like my use of “botrytis” in describing a Sauternes/BA/TBA. It’s a very distinct smell you get from wines that are made from heavily botrytised grapes.
That kind of peachy/aprocotty/fruit cocktail smell in those wines. Most everybody knows that smell of botrytis because they’ve had plenty of those wines and the
smell is so distinctive. There are, of course, variations on that theme of botrytis. The smell of oak in Sauternes that you don’t get in a BA/TBA. The distinct smell
you get in a botrytis CheninBlanc from the Loire is different from that of a BA/TBA Riesling. But there is that common thread in the smell of all those wines that is
“botrytis” and is very distinctive and few argue with the use of that descriptor in those wines.

It’s the same thing w/ my use of “phenolic”. When you smell skin-contact whites, made either in a reductive manner (like this Isa) or in an oxidative manner
(like Radikon or Georgian qvervi wines), you find a common, very distinctive, smell to these wines that transcends terroir or varietal character. I choose to use
the descriptor “phenolic” in describing that smell. It is not the smell of phenol, whose smell is very much a function of its concentration. Chloraseptic is
a sore throat spray that is primarily a dilute solution of phenol (alas…it is often dosed w/ cherry or strawberry flavorings to ameliorate the unpleasant smell of
the phenol). The smell of Chloraseptic is not the same smell as you get in skin-contact whites. Maybe a bit similar…but definitely not the same. Maybe a bit
similar to the smell of BandAids, but still different. Maybe a bit like the smell of phenolic circuit boards…but still different.
Line up a set of 4-5-6 skin-contact whites. They all have a common smell that transcends terroir and oak and varietal character and acetaldehyde and oxidative
character and whatever. That smell is what I choose to call “phenolic”. It is not the smell of phenol, but something else. Until somebody give me exactly
the name of the chemical I’m smelling (and I’ve put that query out there on the wine boards several times…zero response), I’m gonna continue to call it “phenolic”…by dammies.
Larry has tasted enough skin-contact whites & orange wines with me that he knows exactly, like botrytis, what that comnmon smell is (I think). He just objects
to my usage of the term “phenolic” as the descriptor because he doesn’t understand that term. Neither do I…but it’s the term I choose to use for now…even though
its meaning is a bit vague. Until somebody gives me a better term that I understand.
Like DollyPartonViognier, I predict the term “phenolic” will eventually enter the common wine lexicon as more & more folks taste these skin contact whites.
When the ManInMonktown puts up a TN w/ “phenolic” in it…I know it has arrived. Alas…he doesn’t taste wines made from god-forsaken grapes…so it’ll never happen.

Awwwwright, Larry…you want me to take on the descriptor “mineral” now??? [snort.gif]

As for codpiece pics…we’d best not go there on a family-oriented forum like WB.

I can help with the codpiece photos

AwwwRight, Mel. You stay outta this…no help is needed. [snort.gif]

Well Tom, it’s going to cost you a mag of 1995 Turley Napa Valley Smoot-Hawley Vineyard White Zinfandel
to keep this thread codpiece free :smiley:

what the heck… keep the wine!
neener [pillow-fight.gif]

Once you’ve seen those codpiece photos, well . . . your life just ain’t ever the same! All I know is that Tom says they’re all too small.

As far as phenolic is concerned, one of the problems is that Tom describes pretty much all these skin-contact whites as being phenolic, so that just when I think I know what he’s talking about then a wine will come along where he says it’s phenolic and I don’t get any of the character that I’d been thinking he meant when he uses the word phenolic.

Since no one else uses the word that way, it makes for a problem. Unlike the term botrytis, which pretty much everyone understands.

And especially unlike Dolly Parton Viognier, which everyone understands even if they don’t drink wine! Perhaps it’s the hand gestures with which Tom accompanies his use of that term.

Now minerally – that would be a great one to take on.

Was this bottled under screwcap?

For the last few weeks, we have been sampling 2012 Rieslings [Germany and Austria] which were bottled under screwcap, and unless the acid corrodes through the caps, and some oxygen works its way into the bottle, then goodness only knows what is going to happen to those wines.

Either they will last [effectively] forever, or else some weird hitherto unknown reductive reaction is going to destroy them.

Screwcaps on high-octane white wines is venturing into unknown territory.

And to think I almost didn’t open this thread having had this wine and knowing Tom’s opinion on most skin fermented whites. Now to go find something to do, anything, that can help me forget those pictures.

Isa is under cork and under 14% alcohol - no high-octane wine is it.
But interestingly, the industry now has a screwcap with a semi-permeable layer that actually allows some oxygen transfer. If someone can convince me that it resembles the oxygen transfer in cork, I may start putting everything under screwcap.
Best, Jim

Hi, Tom, been a while. Great notes, as always. Hope you’re well. I’m still waiting for an explanation of the difference between front porch dust and back porch dust. :wink:

Jim, I hope you’ll save a few bottle for me. I’ve just been swamped but emerging and will get an order in soon. Best to your Dianne.

I meant “high octane” as in super-intense flavors and palate-penetrating mouthfeel.

I never get that sort of intensity from red wines.

If you take that witch’s brew of acids in a big white, and trap it all under a screwcap, then goodness only knows what it might “reduce” to.

Or not. Maybe the archaeologists will uncover some of these screw-capped whites 100,000 years from now, and they’ll still taste like the day they were bottled.

But I just have this nagging feeling.

Enough about the wine [cheers.gif] , how was A16 - was it the Oakland branch? I might be going next week.

Wow, Jim…now there’s a voice from the dim/distant past. I was just thinking of you last week…but couldn’t come up w/ the last name.
My girlfriend, Susan, was planning a trip, a girl’s high school reunion get-together, in Oct for Carmel. My recollect is that you lived
in that area.
All be fine w/ me. Drinking well…which is what counts.

It was the Rockridge/Oakland branch. Just south about 2 blocks from Oliveto.
I was just eating “small bites”…so didn’t have any pizza. It has a different feel from the Marina outpust.
The Marina branch is filled w/ hot chicks/cool dudes, where I, obviously, fit right in. The Rockridge branch
is not as crowded and huckelty-buck and a bit more relaxed. Plus not the parking hassle you have in the Marina.

Getting slightly off-topic but I had dinner last night with Jim Cowan (+ Steve Edmunds and Eric Lundblad) at Bay Wolf in Oakland, and we all brought our own wines to check out. Jim’s new 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (not the Isa bottling) was fantastic, and his new 2012 Bennett Valley Syrah took awhile to open up but by the end of dinner it was really starting to show its stuff. Steve’s new 2013 “Heart of Gold” and “Rocks and Gravel” were both delicious too, as were Eric’s 2011 Pratt Vyd. and Moore Ranch Pinots.

Living large.