Friday, July 18, 2008

Over the last few weeks I have dug into my collection and have drank some great wines. Some were ready to go and had to be drunk now in order to still enjoy them in a period when they are peaking. Others I have had in my sights, but was just waiting for the right timing or meal to have them with. Most of these wines I purchased directly from the winery and are the last of my supply. I would buy any of these again or in the case of some of the older wines, I would buy recent vintages. The only wine I would hesitate with would be the Shiraz. For the price I could buy some stellar Aussie Shiraz or even cult Syrah from California Rhone-ophile Pax Wine Cellars!

On to the wines....

Peay 2005 Marsanne / Roussanne – Sonoma Coast $38

Finally, I have been holding onto this baby for the right time to drink this wine. I have been waiting to consume the Peay Marsanne/Roussanne with a nice piece of fish! One of the best examples of a white Rhone made in the US. Definitely up there with Alban, maybe better because of its restraint and complexity.

Color: Golden Yellow

Nose: Almonds, white flowers and citrus

Palate: Orange peel, crushed white flowers, clove, lemon oil and fresh limes - an excellent dry and crisp finish.

Darioush 2001 Shiraz Signature - Napa Valley $65

Known for liberal oak treatment and over the top winery construction, this Darioush wine was high on my list to consume before it peaked. Most guides had this ready to consume by 2009. I’d consume by the end of 2010. Big tannins, fruit, and oak characterize an amped up, but balanced wine. This is a big wine definitely having the Darioush “Signature”.

Color: Dark purple and red at the edges

Nose: Black fruit, sweet oak, and some black pepper.

Palate: In the mouth this wine was rich and full with black cherry and oak standing out amongst the other cocoa and briary flavors. The finish was smooth and rich. This is a big wine!

St. Innocent 2002 Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard – Willamette Valley, OR $40
Pinot Noir from Oregon, particularly from the Willamette Valley just outside Portland, is to me and many others the closest Pinot Noir gets to being Burgundian in the New World. It is on the same latitude as Burgundy, half way between the Equator and the North Pole. There are many styles in this region, but I like this wine a lot from the folks at St. Innocent Winery from the Shea Vineyard. The Shea Vineyard is owned by the folks at the Shea Wine Cellars. If I could only drink one winery's Pinot Noir from Oregon it would be form these guys at SWC. If I could only drink Pinot Noir from one vineyard in the Willamette Valley it would all have to come from the Shea Vineyard.

Color: Dark ruby red

Nose: Fresh red fruits with a Burgundian, Cote de Beaune-like aroma. The fruit gives it away as New World, yet most Oregon Pinot Noir retains a terroir aspect that Pinot Noir is so famous for, but lost on many new world makers that push ripeness to ever higher levels.

Palate: Excellent; the tannin, alcohol, fruit and acidity played well together to create a round, seamless wine - very well balanced wine. Cherry and some strawberry flavors mingle with lighter spicy and lots of earthy flavors. The finish is dry and clean, with great acidity.

Shafer 2002 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch – Carneros, Napa Valley $40

I was surprised to see I still had a bottle of this lying around and was afraid it possibly would have gone bad, man was I wrong! This is my favorite Chardonnay from California. This Chardonnay from Shafer's Red Shoulder Ranch NEVER sees any malo-lactic fermentation, but is barrel fermented. This is in contrast to how Burgundy makes there Chardonnay, but a great way to make Chardonnay in California, IMO. Malo-lactic fermentation can add extra buttery and creamy flavors to the Chardonnay in New World wines, thus masking the Chardonnay’s real fruit and terroir. In the right hands, “malo” is just fine in California (see Paul Hobbs). But if the fruit is ripe, and from a warm climate with a cooling effect like the Carneros in the Napa Valley, acidity levels can naturally be maintained and malo-lactic fermentation is not necessary.

Color: Golden yellow with glints of green

Nose: Started out with ripe pineapple, toasty oak and some butterscotch notes. The nose later became more refined with a mineral component mingling with the oak and fruit.

Palate: It initially was rich, fruit and oak fanning out and leading to a fresh finish of Meyer lemons and crisp acidity. It later became more complex with a mineral character; the finish was also fresher and drier lasting about 30 seconds.

Stony Hill 2006 – Gewurztraminer – Spring Mountain, Napa Valley $21 (but HARD to find)

Coming from the longest running post-prohibition winery in the Napa Valley, this wine from Stony Hill is unique in many ways. 1) Gewurztraminer is a rare varietal in the new world and not very well known 2) Exotic aromas and flavors emanate from this wine when made in the right hands. 3) Pairs perfectly with Asian foods from India to the Orient! 4) Light and impeccably balanced for a white wine from the US – rare these days 5) Alcohol level is around 12%, very low for new world standards.

The McCrea family was brilliant to settle on this section of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley and to maintain restraint in the making of their wines from day one and even to this very day.

Color: Very light straw color with a bright gold shimmer.

Nose: Exotic for any wine, but not Gewurztraminer. Lychee is always a hallmark and this wine has it. It took about 30 minutes to coax it out of the open bottle, but the Lychee aroma was very apparent along with some lime and lemon citrus notes.

Palate: Citrus fruits, primarily lemon, and mineral dominate with a crisp dry finish. Tasty wine with food, but has enough body to be drunk by itself.
Cheers - I hope you are enjoying refreshing wines in these hot summer days!


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