What better way to welcome myself back to Berkeley than to invite some people over for dinner. So, Larry Stein drove up, Bryan Loofbourrow drove down, and Steve Edmunds walked over with his harvest-time partner Florida Jim.
To open the eyes
1995 Brundlmayer Zobinger Heiligenstein Auslese
This starts off yellow crisp and stalky, although with air some rich spicy honey notes emerge which Steve and Jim don’t particularly find advantageous. In contrast I do find this quite advantageous for putting in my mouth, with lovely crisp riesling character but also firm bulging riesling fruit character, and then the funky aging riesling character. Such darn overall pleasure.
2004 Edmunds St John Roussane Paso Robles Tablas Creek Vineyard
Quite elegant, which causes Bryan to scream: “Wow, this is refined! I mean where’s the glue?” which then causes the rest of us to wonder at his surprise, considering the winemaker. But, he is of course correct, as it is rich, crisp, floral, refined and very enjoyable if not grand.
Sauteed mushrooms on challah French toast
2000 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Spatlese Auction
When I first opened this it seemed a bit flabby brown appley and I feared it would show all the problems of unfocused 00s. But luckily I was wrong, because with air it is lovely, crisp, full of fruit, but so elegant, and very expressive. Good work Willi.
1999 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Spatlese Auction
This has more viscosity and density than above, which led me to think it would show better than the 00. But, when unveiled for the crowd it is basically spritz and sulfur and pretty much needs time. Of course on days three and four it shows its mindbending finesse with the light lacy yet deep fruit. I gave some sips to my non-wine drinking Korean roommate and now she’s begging to accompany me to the next Riesling tasting.
Red rock cod in tomato sauce, roasted potatoes, sautéed zucchini
1995 Felsina Chianti Classico Berardengo
This is lovely. Everyone says it’s young, although it seems a bit thin and floral to me and I can’t imagine how it would age significantly. But, then arguments go flying about how Chianti doesn’t age on its bulk. Regardless of those prognostications, with air it starts pumping glory and gets prettier and prettier and prettier… Until gone. With the tomato sauce or without, it is just so damned pretty.
2001 Moreira Douro “Poeira”
Dark rich and peppery, but not saying much. Plus, the fact that it is so tannic in the background does not help. Apparently Jim liked many previous bottles of this, but at the moment it was just rich and indistinctive.
2000 Edmunds St. John Los Robles Viejos Rozet Vineyard Paso Robles Red Wine
Mourvedre dominated, and in the beginning it seems a bit sweet and sweaty, but with air it is more enjoyable with fresh greasy black fruits, more character, and more definition. Tasty.
2000 Edmunds St. John “Wylie-Fenaughty” El Dorado County Syrah
This also starts off sweet black and raisin-ey, but it shows more syrah floral aspects with air, which of course are not wasted on me. This is lovely, and although still plenty of back of the mouth chalky tannins, and of course it needs all kinds of air/time, but it has great poise and material, which can be appreciated today.
1993 Edmunds St. John “Grand Heritage” Syrah (58% Durell Vineyard, 42% Fenaughty Vineyard)
This starts off funky and murky with some leafy edges, but with air tastes nice and chocolate-ey, velvet-ey, evolved and perhaps more “rustic” than above. If you will.
1961/62 Antonio Vallana Gattinara Spanna
Bryan was not sure of the vintage, and on open Steve thinks it is corked, while others think it is just the taste of cork in the glass. Debates continue as it shows hard full and simple fruit, which Steve claims is too old, having outlived its vibrancy, while Bryan defends it as not over the hill. The eternal debate.
1998 Balbach (Fritz Hasselbach) Neirstein Oelberg Riesling Eiswein
This is killer, sweet but such fresh golden crystalline acids. Lovely. Such great contours to the rippling fruit.
2005 Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit VdPdJdlFMdB
Not content with the bottles on the table, I dashed away to open this. Steve calls it reductive and scans the room for copper. I think it has great juicy and crisp fruit, which everyone agrees, although they claim that the reductiveness renders the grape varieties anonymous. Still, it was fun.