Over the last few yrs on the WineBerserkers board, when I’ve posted TN’s on some of the weird Italian stuff I taste, JohnMorris has often made comments on my notes. Noting that John lived in NYC, where I was going to be in a few weeks, and sensing we were birds of a feather; I reached out to John about getting together and tasting a few things. John readily agreed to organize something w/ a few of his friends and even host it at his home and make dinner. So this we did last Monday (9/25). Joining us were:
TheresaRyder: sales rep in Manhattan for MichaelSkurnik imports.
BradKane: Brad & I go waaaay back, back to the alt.food.wine days, when we exchanged a lot of comments. Then onto the eBob board after that.
JayMiller: Another e-friend that dates back to the eBob and WLDG board days, now mostly on WB board.
I brought a few Calif Italian varietals I thought might be of interest, and the others brought various btls to share, no real common theme, though. I was pretty busy chin-wagging thru the evening that my TN’s are kinda sparse:
ClendenenFamily Tokay Friulano 2010: Light gold color; quite fragrant floral/Tokaji bit stony/chalky very attractive nose; fairly tart/stony/chalky/bit metallic rather floral/carnation/Tokaj fairly rich/lush/textured flavor; quite an attractive expression of Tokaj but not as lean/austere as many Friuli versions are.
Ryme RibollaGialla Amphora GeorgeVareVnyd/NapaVlly 2010: Dark gold/burnished bronze color; strong phenolic/resiny somewhat honeyed/orangey earthy quite complex nose; fairly soft/rich/lush strong phenolic/resiny somewhat honeyed complex beautiful flavor w/ very light/smooth tannins; very long/lingering rich/lush rather phenolic/resiny finish; a stunning example of a Calif skin-contact Ribolla.
FrancoisPinon AC: Vouvray (Premiere Trie; 11.4%; CheninBlanc; Louis/Dressner Imports) Vallee de Cousse/Vernon-sur-Brenne 1996: Light gold color; very perfumed/fragrant floral/CB/honeyed slight botrytis/peach quite complex beautiful nose; quite tart fairly rich/lush/honeyed bit earthy/chalky/mineral lightly sweet maybe a bit botrytis/peach quite complex beautiful flavor; lots of textured richness but the acidity makes this wine really sing; a beautiful example of a mature Vouvray.
Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino IlGreppo 1988: Med.color w/ some bricking; bit smokey/pencilly light cherry/Sangio/black cherry quite complex classic mature Brunello nose; light very smooth/velvety somewhat smokey/pencilly light earthy some cherry/Sangio/spicy quite complex flavor w/ light gentle/silky tannins; beautiful example of a fully mature Brunello.
Rioja 1962: Med.dark color w/ some bricking; strong Am.oak/pencilly/tobaccoy/pungent some Temp/cherry/spicy quite complex nose; very smooth/silky/gentle light Temp/cherry/spicy fairly pencilly/tobaccoy/vanilla complex flavor w/ light velvety tannins; in amazing shape for a 45 yr old Rioja, still retains some fruit, and nowhere near over the hill; a quiet/elegant little old lady fading into the twilight of her yrs.
Fetzer PetiteSirah RedwoodVlly 1990: Fairly dark color w/ slight bricking; some toasty/smokey/pungent/oak rather earthy/dusty/bit loamy slight peppery/licorice/pungent fairly complex nose; soft somewhat earthy/loamy/dusty light peppery/licorice/pungent some vanilla/Am.oak complex flavor w/ light bit rough tannins; not a lot of the coarse/clunky side of PS and still holding well; amazingly good for a 27 yr old Calif PS.
CastelliEstate Nebbiolo GreenVlly/SonomaCnty Dry Farmed 2011: Med.color; strong lilacs/violets/Nebb light pungent/smokey/slight road tar bit pencilly/oak classic young Nebb nose; bit tart/lean light pungent/tar/smokey some pencilly/Fr.oak fairly floral/lilacs/violets/spicy bit earthy/dusty flavor w/ some hard/bitey tannins; a good example of what Calif can do with Nebb; a bit resembling an old Valtelline Nebb; still needs more age; the oak is starting to show somewhat.
A wee BloodyPulpit:
The Clendenen Tokay was John’s wine, served blind. The nose had a floral/stony aspect that suggested Friuli Friulano, but it was much more rich & textured to be Friuli Friulano, so I guessed Friuli/Slovene RibollaGialla, never thinking John would have a Calif Friuli white. Shows how much I know. A very varietally correct Friulano.
The Ryme was a one-off that Megan&Ryan made. They had wanted to try their hand at an amphora-frmtd skin-contact wine, but importing a Georgian or JosePadilla (one of the masters of clay amphora, in Spain; tinijas used by ElisabettaForadori) was out of the question; so they got a friend (who I recall fabricated clay sewer pipes) to make them a small vessel. They kept the Ribolla in skin-contact thru the fermentation and then a short period thereafter, afore transferring to neutral oak for further aging. They also made an Aglianico Rose by the same method.
The wine was made in tiny quantities, fairly expensive for a Ryme ($60/btl as I recall), and I had never tasted it.
So I thought this would be a good opportunity to share it with friends.
The Vouvray was Theresa’s contribution. Every time a taste a fully mature Vouvray, I kick myself for not buying more Vouvray.
Alas, didn’t get the name on the producer of the Rioja.
The Fetzer PS was served blind. Don’t think anybody guessed it as Calif or PS. This comes from an era where the Fetzer wines were well into their decline as worthwhile wines of note. Think GregGraziano was winemaker then.
I vaguely recall an older red Bdx towards the end, but didn’t make any notes.
At this point, we wrapped things up w/o doing the Harrington
Barolo Chinato that I’d brought. John did a terrific job on the simple fare we had for dinner. Lots of good wines/good food/great company/renewed & new friendships. Sure beat staying at home w/ Susan’s grandkids and drinking Susan’s boxed Provence rose. We must do it again.
It was a fun evening – so much so that I took no notes, so comments below are from memory.
This was rounder and less refreshing than I remember it from a few months ago when Jim Clendenen was pouring it at Astor Wines. Still, a very interesting, balanced wine on the riper side. Interesting to try this with seven years of age. Pretty good value at $25.
This was nice. It came at a point where I was shuttling back and forth to the kitchen, so I have less recollection of it.
Gorgeous! Very rich, unctuous, botrytis. Just sorry I didn’t have pâté to serve with this.
Lovely, fully mature. As I told Jay, who brought this, it was a treat because I’ve had bad luck with old Brunellos. Most of the ones I’ve bought have been cooked. This was very much alive, elegant and balanced. Silky.
I think I would have enjoyed this more five years ago, when there was a little more fruit. Jay double decanted this before bringing it. I wonder if the trip to my place hadn’t mandated this, and it could have been poured directly, if it would have been a tad fresher.
I still have the bottle, so I filled in the name. Elegant is the word. I didn’t find the oak that conspicuous.
This was OK but didn’t do that much for me. Wasn’t this the one Theresa brought that had a trace of TCA?
Where was I? Getting the cheeses? I have no recollection of this. I think I may have had a small pour and not liked it.
A bottle of 1990 Montus “Cuvee Prestige” Madiran was, sadly, corked.
I was curious about whether the Rioja was a Reserva or not (thanks goes to John for the details!).
I recently re-read an article in a Wine & Spirits magazine back issue that speaks to the virtues of aged Petite Sirah. This might be the first time - that I can recall - where Mr TomHill didn’t complain of a PS sustaining its youthful fruit (versus “developing/evolving”) over time.
The Am.oak on the Rioja was obvious to me…but didn’t dominate the wine like it does on many.
The Fetzer was, I believe, Theresa’s wine. I recall she thought it had TCA but it was nothing I was able to pick up. I thought the Fetzer
was probably the least wine of the night, but I was quite surprised how much I liked it.
By the time we got to the Castelli, we’d had quite a bit of wine. I didn’t think it showed as well as previous btls had.
Thanks for fleshing out my impressions, John. We’ll have to do it again.
Brad and Jay got some TCA on the Fetzer from the get-go, and Theresa had her suspicions when she opened it. I eventually picked up some, but it was one of those occasions where there were plainly some people had lower thresholds for it.
Apart from some Ridge York Hills and a few Concannons from decades ago, I don’t think I’ve ever had a mature petite sirah that lifted my boat.
Great to finally meet you after all these years, Tom and thank you, John, for hosting! A fun evening.
I know you work in Los Alamos. You didn’t happen, by chance, do the original mathematics for Hubble? A wine from '62 makes it 55 years old, not 45! I was happy with the showing. It showed good fruit with classic, old school Rioja character. Like, John, I didn’t find the oak conspicuous. I believe we had a conversation about the character of “worn wood.”
As John mentioned, Jay brought the '96 Pinon, which I love every time I have it. Vouvray like this redefines the word “mature,” though, as the '53 from them is still drinking very nicely. the '96 has a long way to go.
Btw, no props for me guessing the corked Fetzer was either Petite Sirah or Nero D’Avola?
Sorry, Brad…didn’t remember you called the Fetzer as being PS.
It was probably the least wine of the night but I was not picking up TCA in it, or maybe at a very low level.
Great to meet you, too, at last, Brad. Takes me back to the old days on alt.food.wine when this tasting room lady
from up in Mendocino had the hots for me and was stalking me. Women…they always go for the guy who carries a sword!!