Organolepticians Number 85
After a certain number of vintages, keeping track of them all becomes more and more difficult. But don’t ask me what that number is, I’ve long since lost track. I liked 2010 a lot, mostly, though it wasn’t without problems (which I’ll get to momentarily). In 2010 conditions were, generally, cool enough, and mild enough, that the accumulation of sugar in the grapes was held back sufficiently to permit ripeness (defined by flavor and aromatic development) to occur while those sugar levels were fairly low, and, at the same time, acidity was strong and pHs were low. When grapes are picked under those circumstances the result is somewhat lighter, more vibrant wines that are fresh, energetic, beautifully balanced, and brilliant at the dinner table. For me, that’s an ideal vintage.
But there was a brief cold snap in the Spring, after the vines had begun to grow, and in the Witters’ Vineyard, our main source of Gamay, the result was a severe frost that wiped out every primary bud on every vine in the field. Eventually the plants pushed some secondary shoots, and we were able to get a small crop, but only about 25% of what the vines normally produce.
In a week we’ll bottle a few of our 2010 wines, and a couple of them will be available on April Fool’s day (No, Really!):
2010 Heart of Gold As these vines, planted in 2005, have begun to get established, the dominance of Vermentino has begun to make itself felt; this bottling features 72% Vermentino, and 28% Grenache Blanc. More and more, I’m finding the blend of backbone and finesse that makes Vermentino such an exciting wine variety. This one is lemony, briney, savory, and mineral, all at once. And delicious.
$20.00 per bottle, $216.00 per case (298 cases produced)
2010 Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rosé We reduced skin contact for the ’10 rosé to about an hour and a half, and discovered for ourselves how less is more! This pretty pink wine is electrifyingly juicy and vivacious. Because of the aforementioned frost at Witters—less than 75 cases for the world. (Ouch!)
$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case
I’ve been in the basement, you know I’ve been out of touch;
I’ve been drinkin’ that red wine, I like it way too much…
I used to routinely set aside a number of cases of each wine we released, to have a chance to see how they developed in the bottle, over time. At first, it was hard to keep my hands off these wines, because there were so few of them in the early days, and if I wanted to show someone what we were up to, there weren’t a lot of choices. And in the first couple of years there were only two or three wines we produced each year. Then, as we branched out a bit, more choices emerged, and as the vintages accumulated, it became easier to let wines lie, for longer periods of time, without opening even single bottles of some of them for several years. Even as the library grew I continued to ferret away more and more wines, imagining perhaps that at some future point there would be epochal successions of grand events calling for examples of many splendid vintages of Les Cotes Sauvages, Syrah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Gamay, and so on.
From 1986 until Spring of 2007 we warehoused our bottled wines, including library wines, at a facility in Sonoma Valley. Then, almost without warning, that company shut down their operation, and we had to scramble to relocate all our wines. Things got consolidated in such a haphazard fashion (a number of items in my inventory had, according to them, disappeared) by the Sonoma Valley warehouse, that, for several years, I didn’t really know quite what all I had at our new location in Santa Rosa.
So a few weeks ago, I spent several days sorting through and cataloguing what’s there, (which included finding some of the missing stuff) and it became apparent that there were more bottles of various things than I would ever find the occasion to drink or to use for special events or dinners. So I’m going to make some of them available for sale, here, and I hope you’ll see some things you’d like to have, and take advantage of this current sense of abundance. The wines have been well-stored, mostly undisturbed. And they’ve aged beautifully.
(Please note; these wines are available in very limited quantities, and will be sold first come first served. All sales are final. Wines will be shipped only during mild weather, in order to get them to you in the best possible condition.)
1990 New World Red: Zinfandel (from Durell Vineyard in Sonoma Valley) and Grenache (from Ukiah Valley, in Mendocino County). $25.00
1992 Zinfandel (Howell Mountain, Napa Valley) Picked on the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ appearance in the Americas. Big stuff. $30.00
1992 El Nino (Barbera from Shenandoah Valley, Charbono from Mt. Veeder, Grenache from Ukiah, and Syrah from Placerville) Take that, Columbus! $30.00
1993 Zinfandel (Story Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley, 50-60 year old vines) Textbook Amador spice. $30.00
1993 California Syrah (fruit from Sonoma Valley, El Dorado County, Knight’s Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Ukiah). $35.00
1994 Zinfandel (Story Vineyard, again) All the spice, without the jam! $30.00
1995 Syrah, California—375ml (Durell and Fenaughty) $20.00
1995 Durell Vineyard Syrah the legend $50.00
1997 Viognier “Alban-Durell” this baby’s still kickin! $30.00
1997 Fenaughty Vineyard Syrah this one, too! $40.00
1997 Matagrano Vineyard Sangiovese (El Dorado County) big and bloody, and mighty fine. $28.00
1998 Matagrano Vineyard Sangiovese the ‘97s pretty sister. $25.00
1999 Matagrano Vineyard Sangiovese the Keith Richards of the family $24.00
2000 Los Robles Viejos (Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, Counoise, all from Rozet Vineyard, west-side Paso) lightning in a bottle, very special stuff. $35.00
2000 Syrah “Wylie-Fenaughty” Treasure of the Sierra Nevada $40.00
2001 California Syrah the Second Coming $25.00
2001 Rocks and Gravel ooh, baby! $28.00
2001 Bassetti Vineyard Syrah firing on all cylinders! $45.00
2001 Peay Vineyard Zinfandel scarce as hen’s teeth $30.00
2004 Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir pretty, older Gamay, nicely developed. $21.00
Let us know what looks enticing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or (510) 981-1510