EdmundsStJohn Rocks&Gravel UntiVnyd/DryCreekVlly (40% Syrah/39% Grenache/21% Mourv; 13.1%; 2’nd yr; Vinified in concrete) Skin of Our Teeth/Alameda 2010: Med.color; quite attractive strong/blackberry/Syrah bit strawberry/Grenache/raspberry very spicy some floral/violets/lilacs very high-toned/bright fairly complex beautiful nose; fairly tart bright/raspberry/strawberry/Grenache quite blackberry/Syrah/very spicy slight peppery/dusty lovely/balanced some complex flavor w/ light slight tannic bite; very long/lingering blackberry/Syrah bright/electric/Grenache/strawberry bit peppery slight dusty/earthy very pretty rather complex finish w/ light tannins; really has developed into a beautiful complex Calif red but not very Rhonish nor CdP; turned from a simple dullard to a beautiful red; has the balance to go another 5-6 yrs.
A wee BloodyPulpit:
I have always been underwhelmed by Steve’s R&G when I taste them on release. Plenty of simple strawberry/Grenache fruit but nothing I can hang my hat upon. But they have this uncanny knack of rising up and biting you on the a$$ when they get some age as to how good they are. Ohhhh…yee of little faith…should know better that the guy knows a thing or two about making wine after all these yrs.
Alas, the '16 was the last yr for R&G. GeorgeUnti decided to keep all the grapes for his own production at Unti. In 5-6 yrs down the road, I’m sure the '16 will, once again, leave teeth marks in my a$$.
I was at Unti last week and they finally seem to have really nailed grenache with the ‘14 vintage. In prior years, I found it a bit too extracted and tannic. It’s ironic that they seemed to moved in Steve Edmunds’ direction now, just as they’re keeping it for themselves.
(FYI, their '15 barbera and '14 Montepulciano were also the best ever for my tastes, and I’ve been visiting for 11 years now.)
Bummer that they were out of it when you were there. I’ve had their first release a couple of times and found it to be more intense than the few from Italy that I’ve tried but very true to the varietal character. I think they’ll tone it down a notch and dial it in with a few more vintages. Still can’t figure out what kind of food to pair it with though - any suggestions?
Thanks for the note, Tom. I should still have a bottle of two of this. 2010 was the first year I gave Steve a hand with the “Rocks and Gravel” at the winery - this one was made at Rock Wall in Alameda and IIRC all the fruit was destemmed. When Steve moved the R&G production to his old place in Berkeley a few years later (2013, I believe) he went to 100% foot-stomped whole cluster for this wine. He also bumped up the Mourvèdre component in the last few vintages, particularly the 2015. I miss helping Steve on the “Rocks and Gravel” - that was always fun.
Much of it is fun, and sometimes it can just be a tedious slog. As I’m sure you know, cleaning stuff takes up a lot of time, some days more time than doing the actual work with the grapes/wine itself. Helping to foot-stomp the Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes for Rocks and Gravel with Jim Cowan and Steve in Berkeley was fun…the Grenache, not so much.
I don’t drink a lot of fiano, so I don’t really know. Oliver McCrum would be the one. He brought one to lunch last week with me and Mel Knox, Greg Tatar and Claude Kolm. I would guess that Oliver knows Unti’s, as he knows George and Mick.
It has that lean Fiano structure, the Unti perhaps not quite to the same extent as the Avellino examples. Maybe seafood, or roast chicken; I like Hugh Johnson’s suggestion of roast chicken whenever you want the wine to taste good.