Wed Night Pork, Prime Rib & Syrah -- Not for the Faint of Heart

A bunch of us got together for a night of smoked meats, syrahs and cigars in Laguna Beach. A ridiculous amount of wine was opened, pork butt, pork shoulder and prime rib roast was eaten, cigars were smoked. A great time and I’m already prepping for our next gig.

  • 1998 Dehlinger Syrah Estate - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (12/23/2009)
    Popped and poured, consumed over 3 hours. My friend Dennis hits it right on the head. Mature CA syrah. Tasting blind one could be fooled into thinking it is Pinot Noir, with its intense cherry fruit, sage, dusty earthiness. Really enjoyable wine, shows that CA syrah can age well.
  • 2006 Relic Wines Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County (12/23/2009)
    Decanted 6 hours, consumed over three. The consistency of this wine is wonderful. Deep black color. Smoky black fruit nose with dusty overtones. Black plum, asian spices, nice acidity, firm tannins.

Posted from CellarTracker

The other wines…

2004 Reva - 2 stroke motor oil meets road tar meets brush fire meets black fruit. Such a cacophony of flavors, so much better than the last bottle I had.
2004 Pax Cuvee Christine - nearly sucked all of the liquid out of my mouth, tannins completely drying. Next glass an hour or so later was much better, showing smoky black fruits and black pepper.
2004 Red Car The Fight - sharp immediately after opening, with air got better, a bit simple, nothing special.
2004 Harrison Clarke Syrah - very fruit forward wine, not a lot of structure, drink them if you’ve got them.
2003 Copain Hawks Butte - nice, smoky, meaty wine. Love the balance. Fresh and vibrant.

And as if those weren’t enough…

1979 Clos du Val Cabernet Reserve - great mature Cab nose, full of cedar, spice box, leather, evergreen, tobacco. Smooth, balanced wine, a real treat.
1990 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve - Wow what a treat. Full on assault on the nose, red fruits, potpourri, barnyard present not prominent, lavender. Great texture. Balanced, mature, restrained elegance. Delicious!

Brian - Nice notes, particularly on the aged wines. Nice to see how they showed.

I must ask… I don’t mind a cigar on occasion, but not when I’m trying to appreciate wine. I find a good cigar is a palate nuke. How do you handle it?



I don’t smoke cigars. That’s how I handle it. They were lit at the end of the night when palates were, in all likelihood, severly impaired.

Brian, the 2003 Copain Hawks Butte seems to have changed to me over the last year. In late 2008, it still seemed fresh and restrained but when I had it last week, it was more soft and plush, more forward. I am wondering if the setting, the context of where we drank and in the flight in which the 2003 appeared may have affected my perception of it (went alongside the 2004 Novy and Lucia Susan’s Hill, plus the 2004 Carlisle Bennett Valley). Is my point here more rhetorical in that the other three wines affected how I judged the Hawks Butte? Kind of a head scratcher for me but one I am sincere about understanding. See below:

  • 2003 Copain Syrah Hawks Butte Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands (12/13/2009)
    Poured blind. Has a saline and still some residual olive notes, almost sweet olive. Large boned, much moreso than I recall from the past bottles and seems more advanced and softer, too. Would say ready to go.
  • 2003 Copain Syrah Hawks Butte Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands (12/25/2008)
    Big olive and crunchy fruit right after pulling the cork. As it sits, after about 45 mins, a sweet edge of blue fruit mixed against some soy, along with some dusty tannin and pepper. I suspect my final TN will evolve with the wine getting some air. I can see the balance, smooth drive off this wine as it starts to unfold, similarly to how I found it four months ago when it really left an impression on me. I’ll savor this bottle and let the final TN just flow to the surface. At 2 hours, dark color, classy fruit with some red edges but mainly blue fruit, and some tobacco leaf notes on the nose. Still some residual tannin and verve in this wine and it’s so classy. Just tremendous.

Posted from CellarTracker


It certainly may have been the context. The other syrahs were either massive, inky wines (Reva, Pax, Relic), fruit forward (Harrison Clarke), simple (Red Car) or mature (Dehlinger). Maybe this impacted my view of freshness and vibrancy. I certainly feel as though the Hawks Butte was the most balanced of the syrahs that night.