Pre-flight - served with dungeness crab in ponzu gelee
Tattinger Champagne (magnum)
Beautiful toasty aromas and flavors, with juicy acidity and seemingly
perfect balance. Delicious!
flight - proprietary white wines served with dungeness crab in ponzu gelee
2000 The Hussey - poured from magnum, this 100% Roussanne from a 60/40 combination of Alban and Stolpman vnyds. Lightly buttery nose with notes of lime, clover, honey and nice hit of ginger. Somewhat waxy in mouthfeel and delicate initially, with a lightly sweet, nice midpalate and very long finish. My second favorite of the flight.
2001 Albino - somewhat more lime than the Hussey, this blend of Chardonnay, Roussanne, and Viognier was also more honeyed and floral than the Hussey. Initially fuller in mouthfeel, with a nice delicate mid and latter palate. (Chard from Stolpman, rest from Alban.) Had a nice smokey quality throughout. Somewhat less crisp than the rest of the flight, this didn't stand up to the food as well as the others. A nicer wine on its own, and a hell of a tall bottle, too!
2003 Sublime Isolation - the table consensus favorite of the flight, this very similar blend to the Albino seemed more full bodied on the palate and smokier, with some clover and a bit of ginger in the nose. (Biggest difference between the two was that the Chard here was sourced from Bien Nacido.) It also got better and better - even with the short time in glass (~20 min), and was the most balanced of the three. This could have been named the "Persuader," given the heft of the bottle.
flight - Pinot Noir served with roasted John Dory and lobster mushroom risotto
2000 a capella - this started the Pinot Noir flight - all sourced from Shea Vnyd in Oregon, though some of us saved a couple of whites to try with the fish. Nose of wild strawberry, with a bit of black cherry and raspberry. Surprising acid balance (kind of like a Hirsch), with lots of spicy wild strawberry and the barest hint of citrus. Not particularly earthy - as one might think of Oregon, largely IMO due to complete destemming. Aside from that, I found this wine almost more ...'er...Burgundian in it's floral scent and balance. Also, arguably the most attractive package on the table.
2001 No. 6 - Lightly sweet nose with lots of black cherry and spice. Nicely balanced, plenty of fruit, somewhat understated and delicate, with a nice - if soft, fade on the back end.
2002 Hollerin' M - wider and more expansive in mouthfeel, this seemed very complete, with a lovely balance, and nice spicy black cherry fruit. With food, however, the balance seemed to tip more toward big New World thickness on the palate - not necessarily a bad thing, but I felt the wine shined better on its own.
2003 Omega - poured from magnum, this represented the highest % of new oak (90%) of the four, and for my $$ made it the more complete of the flight. Lots of sweet black cherry and a touch of licorice, this was very juicy and luscious in mouthfeel, and seemed the most balanced.
flight - Grenache served with duck breast with a cranberry jus
2001 Ventriloquist - this 82/18 Grenache/Syrah blend was big and brawny with lots of dark fruit and complexity. Very approachable, with a nice balance and long lingering finish. Almost Albanesque in it power, I'm sure the 18% Syrah buffed this wine out nicely. Big AND beautiful.
2003 Lil' E - poured from magnum, this wine had a dense nose of raspberry and wild cherry, and was a killer example of the variety which just continued to get better and better with time. With 78% Grenache (over half of which came from Manfred's estate vnyd) and 12% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah, this seemed like really complete package. The addition of the Mourvedre seemed to add a tenor to the bass note of the Syrah, and seemed to amplify the Grenache in the blend. Well, that's my logic, and I'm sticking to it. Wow!
flight - Syrahs served with Kobe beef, root vegetables, and truffle oil-scented jus
1997 Imposter McCoy - okay, moving along to Syrah, we'd broken the 8 wines into two flights - simply separated by vintage. Gorgeous nose of smoked meats, Kirsch liqueur, and spiced blackberry. Full and balanced on the palate, seamless fruit, with a nice grip of acids on the back end. With 5% Grenache, this was my favorite of the flight, and another wow!
1998 E-Raised - the 2.5% of Viognier seemed to lift the nose on this Syrah, giving it a hint of sweet floral quality, along with a glove leather quality. Meaty in mouthfeel, with a nice hint of vanilla to spice of the black fruit. Great balance, and paired nicely with the Kobe beef.
1999 Marauder - this 100% Syrah from Alban, Bien Nacido and Stolpman vnyds got all new oak (as did the E-Raised), contributing to the nice smokiness throughout. Very concentrated in nose and mouth, but it also seemed a bit monolithic as well. Could have just been the bottle, but time didn't coax any more out of the wine over the next 1/2 hour.
2000 In Flagrante - back to a blend for this vintage (Syrah, with 10% Grenache and 2% Viognier), and a reduction of new oak (72%). My 2nd favorite of the flight, this was terrific smelling and sipping, and did better on its own - rather than with the food. Again, I think the other varietals lifted the nose of this wine. Rich and tasty mouthfeel, with lots of black fruit throughout, and something of a red licorice touch toward the long finish.
5th flight - Syrahs served with the same dish as above
2001 Midnight Oil - similar to the In Flagrante blend, but heavier to the Syrah side (96%), this was brighter and spicier throughout. Seemingly less riper in style than the rest of the flight, this was very nicely balanced and stands out from the others as more European in profile - well, to me anyway.
2001 On Your Toes - this was a wine everyone had been waiting for. Seldom seen (there were just 67 cases made), anticipation was high - and it did not disappoint! 100% Syrah from Alban, Stolpman and White Hawk vnyds, the nose was filled with dense black fruit, asphalt, and anise. The mouthfeel was amazing, as the wine kept picking up weight from mid-palate through the huge finish, eschewing sweetness until the very end. The table consensus favorite of the flight - and maybe the night! Killer!
2002 Just for the love of it - everyone's favorite acronym - JFTLOI, this was another eagerly awaited wine. Arguably the jammiest of the flight, this wine seemed more a mix of black and red fruit, and had a really nice hint of orange marmalade throughout. The minor amounts of Grenache and Viognier (2% each) might have influenced things here, but I think it was more the fact that 5 different Central Coast vnyds were sourced, giving the wine a nice smooth refined nose and texture. JSOIFA - just sit on it for awhile!
2003 Papa - no less than 6 vnyds were sourced for this wine, including the Eleven Confession estate. Young and monolithic at first, this wine continued to improve in the glass, and had most of us saying "wow" after about 10 minutes. Seemingly a perfect blend of fruit (7% Grenache, 1% Mourvedre), the wine had a beautiful pepper scent, also undeniable on the palate. Mixed dark fruits, lots of spice, smooth textures, and picking up steam with more air time. My 2nd favorite of the flight. Suh-weeeet!
6th flight - desert wines served with honey and vanilla panna cotta and warm vanilla Madeline
2000 The Straw Man - harvested at 23.8 brix and air dried until pressing. Fat and rich (sounds like a pejorative, except where dessert wine is concerned) and utterly tasty. Soft sweet finish.
2002 The Straw Man - harvested at 24.0 brix and air dried until pressing (57 days in this case). Similar to the '00, but more balanced on the palate with nice acids throughout, and stronger finish.
2000 The Noble Man - well, I'll go out on a limb here and say that for a Chardonnay, this was remarkably Sauternes-like. Lovely sweetness, with great acidity and balance. Lots of stone fruit aromas and flavors, and just...well...noble!