Monday some good friends invited us over for dinner. When we arrived we were offered a glass of the 2002 Five Vintners Syrah (Napa)
, a favorite wine of my (non-geek) friend Joe. Sweet thick fruit, low-acidity, well-made but in a style that doesn't really appeal to me. B-/C+
I think my offering appealed to me a bit more than my jammier-leaning friends, it was the 2003 Edmunds St. John "Rocks and Gravel."
Perky acidity, bright red fruit, light and lively. By bottom of bottle there's a nice hint of smoke and meat. Mineral finish, fine wine, A-/B+
The main course was a pasta with shrimp in spicy red sauce. They're mostly red drinkers, but also offered around the 2003 Silverado Sauvignon Blanc (Napa).
I approached with trepidation - I'm not a big fan of US SB, and I've never been too impressed with Silverado. But this ends up being a pleasant surprise- bright clean acidity, sprightly citrus and tropical fruit, light touches of jalapeno and herb. No sign of oak. A good competitor for basic NZ SB. This probably deserves a B, but gets a B+ for exceeding my expectations, the old overachievement. boost.
Overall good wines, but the good easy conversation with great longtime friends is better than any vino.
Tuesday Betsy went to the city to attend a Sufi music concert. I was on freezer-clearing detail, and thawed a couple of filet mignons for David and I, pan seared in a redwine/shallot sauce. Wine was a 375 of the
1996 Ch. Talbot (St Julien).
Warm cassis and red plum fruit, round but with a core of tannins that is a good counterpoint for the meat. Some cigarbox and damp earth. Not compelling but a nice midweight Bordeaux for a midweek meal. B+
The wine I had used for the sauce was the 2004 St. Cosme Cotes du Rhone.
Usually a QPR fave of mine, not quite as enthused over this vintage. Dark berry fruit, bigger style CdR that maybe could use some time for some gritty tannins to integrate. Following night fruit had faded more than the tannins. B-
Wednesday we had some friends over. Betsy made a broiled chicken with mustard, accompanied by potatoes, carrots,and onions. I knew Ron and Nancy were more red drinkers, but worried re the mustard. So I put out an offdry white -the 2002 JJ Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett
- as well as some leftover Cosme CdR. The Kabinett was light-to-medium bodied, with pleasant spiced Granny Smith and white peach flavors. There was just the tiniest bit of petillance, a few bubbles in the glass. Nice Riesling for the blowout price ($
that PC has had this and the 2003 for. B
They had brought the 2004 MacMurray Pinot Noir
. Lighter styled PN, with soft strawberry and cherry fruit. A hint of sweetness, approachable but a bit simple. B/B-
Evening stretched on, and I decided to open another bottle, the 1995 Beringer's Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
. The '91 to '94 KV was my "house cab" but when '95s came out with a big price increase, and I thought quality dipped, I passed. And continued passing till the 2002. But I was recently buying some other California wines and wanted to ease the shipping pain by picking up some more, so I got two of these. The good news is that this was actually showing very nice blackcurrant and black plum fruit, with fully resolved tannins and some earth and leather on the finish. The only real downside was a tiny bit of greeness/herbiness that lingered. Overall, a nice if not outstanding mature CalCab. B/B+
Thursday Betsy announced she was trying a diet, the "Sonoma Diet". Big thing is reduction in white carbs, she said she wasn't expecting me to follow diet. I said I like your cooking no matter what, just give me what you're having. First night was good- steak in a garlic-chile sauce and broccolli with red peppers and goat cheese. She won't have wine the first 10 days of diet, but I'm not on the diet, am I? So I opened the 2004 Ch. d'Oupia Minervois.
Big enough to stand up to the steak, yet light & agile enough to stand up to be served straight out of cellar. Nice bright acidity and clear blackberry and raspberry fruit, with some nice provencal herbs and earth. Medium-bodied though with enough tannins to last a bit (or to be served with a steak). Good value. B+/B
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent
wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't
drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no
promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.