On the (yet-once-again) first day of spring in the Bay Area, we gathered at César to toast Mark Lipton’s visit though his home turf. Myself, Max Hauser, Christian Miller, and an Emerging Ernie, complete with his Redolent Charles Shaw Syrah, ready for a round of “Guess That Flaw”…
The food was fun and the energy was flowing, but the wine…
We started with 2004 Nikolaihof Gruner Veltliner Hefeabzug which was quite nice indeed, a ripe round burst of slightly tropical fruit offset by a “verdancy” and a lovely mineral structure, this was pure fun.
After passing the wine list ‘round and ‘round and ‘round we decided to move forward with the 2003 Cantina Santadi “Cala Silente” Vermentino di Sardegna, which was showing its vintage with yellow round funky cheesy notes. It had a bit of fresh herbal snap in the beginning, and was not bad, but then it warmed, and didn’t win me over.
We/I wanted to like the 2004 Domaine du Closel Savennières “La Jalousie” but it was not showing all that much. Flinty minty herbalness, crisp then soft, juicy and loose, but the fruit was a bit quiet (a little early for shutting down?) and not in its moment. Mark thought it was very un-Savennières like, and while I tried to find typicity in the mint crisp, it was definitely a unique beast, unlike what I remember from last fall (when it had a more layered texture), and hopefully it will rise again. For all those who own some that is.
Still thirsty the 2001 Edmunds St. John Syrah “Wylie-Fenaughty” started off smelling like ripe red round syrah, but on the palate was unformed and awkward. A little air did wonders however, as it got more seamless, silkier, more elegant, more effusive olives, more vibrant character. This was “nice”. The other edumacated folk started throwing around technical words like “varnish” to describe the evolution, and at one point Mark declared it perfectly nice but anonymous and dull syrah as evidenced by the fact that it could not be compared to any one Northern Rhone appellation (I voted Chateauneuf), but then I badgered him and I think he acknowledged its merits. Who knows how long this will age, but nice wine at a very low markup.
At this point someone in the Dark Recesses of the restaurant stuck some Artisanal Absinthe in our glasses, which had such a lovely pure murky cloudy fresh color that mutated before our eyes in interaction with the ice. The taste was a gorgeous medley of herbs’n’stuff, and then next thing we knew the entire restaurant was imbibing. This prompted the staff to send around their Spanish Knockoff Absinthe, which was remarkably Dish Liquid-ey in Smell, and Fluorescent Jade in color. Taste followed. But it was a nice gesture.
And then I ended up here.