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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some Archive Reds - May 25, 2011

We tried last night (5/25/11) some Archive Reds:

  1. Ridge Calif Zin LyttonSprings (80% Zin/12% PS/5% Grenache/3% Carignane; DryCreekVlly; 14.1%; 35% EstateVnyd/40% NortonRanch/25% MapleVnyd; Bttld: March'93;
    Drk: 2/93-2/98-2/03: PD) 1991:
    Med.color w/ slight bricking; lovely spicy/raspberry/Zin/peppery/ /oak flavor; long smooth/elegant/graceful some raspberry/Zin fairly peppery/cinammon/clove light smokey/oak very complex finish; a beautiful gentle/elegant fully mature Zin.
  2. StorybookMtnVnyds Zin NapaVlly (13.5%; EG) 1984: Med.light color w/ little bricking; some wet woll/Army blanket/ pungent/fusty rather cedary/pencilly/old Zin little fruit somewhat complex nose; tart/smooth rather pencilly/ cigar box/oak very light cherry/raspberry some tannic/dried out bit metallic flavor; very long tart/smooth slight cherry rather cedary/cigar box/pencilly some dried out/tannic finish; on its last legs but not going without a whimper. $10.95
  3. Preston Barbera DryCreekVlly/SonomaCnty (13.5%; EB; www.PrestonVineyards.com) 1985: Med.dark color w/ hardly any bricking; lovely spicy/Italian sausage rather perfumed light earthy some vanilla/Am.oak quite complex nose; rather tart bit lean/tannic some vanilla/Am.oak rather spicy/sausage/earthy very interesting complex flavor; very long spicy/sausage/Barbera slight tannic very complex gentle finish; not a lot of fruit but still in really good shape and not at all tired/dried out; one that's stood the test of time.
  4. Groom Zin BushBlock/BarossaVlly (14.7%) Tanunda/SA 2008: Fairly dark color; strong herbal/rosemary/thyme some minty/eucalyptus strong plummy/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry strong Am.oak/vanilla quite rich/lush nose; rather soft/ lush/very ripe blackberry/chocolaty/plummy/ boysenberry/ Zin some rosemary/minty/eucalyptus quite ripe flavor; very long very ripe/late harvesty candied/chocolaty/plummy/boysenberry strong Am.oak/vanilla finish w/ soft tannins; tastes very much riper than the 14.7% suggests and may have been RO'd; quite a delicious lip-smaking Zin. $25.00
  5. Carlisle PetiteSirah DryCreekVlly (15.9%) 2003: Dark color; strong plummy/blackberry slight eucalyptus slight alcoholic ripe/blackberry/peppery some toasty/oak nose; soft some tannic very lush blackberry/peppery/PS slight earthy/eucalyptus somewhat toasty/smokey/oak flavor; soft ripe/lush/blackberry/peppery/PS some toasty/oak lush/ ripe bit licorice/pungent finish w/ some tannins; very drinkable right now and in a very good place.
  6. Franus Zin LatePick NapaVlly (16.7%; SaH: 27.2 Brix; RS: 1.1%; BrandlinRanch?) 1991: Med.color w/ some bricking; light toasty/oak bit raisened/pruney/overripe/late harvesty some cedary/pencilly/old Zin bit ripe/blackberry/Zin fairly complex nose; off-dry soft rather lush/boysenberry/very ripe/Zin bit raisened some pencilly/cedary fairly complex flavor; long bit raisened/pruney somewhat hot/alcoholic lush/boysenberry/overripe Zin finish w/ light tannins; a bit on the overripe/raisened side but still loads of fruit and in great shape.
  7. EdmundsStJohn LesCotesSauvages Calif RTW (13.1%; 53% Mourvedre from BrandlinRanch/24% Grenache from McDowellVlly/17% Syrah from Durell & Fenaughty/ 6% Carignan from BrandlinRanch & PatoRanch) Emeryville 1989: Med.color w/ some bricking; rather earthy bit plummy/ strawberry/Mourv slight bretty/funky bit metallic/pungent slight cedary/old wine rather interesting/ complex nose; soft fairly earthy/dusty slight bretty/ funky light plummy/strawberry/Mourv bit cedary/old-red light/gentle flavor w/ no tannins; med.short slight metallic light plummy/strawberry somewhat earthy bit cedary/old-wine slight bretty/funky finish w/ no tannins; an interesting old-red that is still hanging in there and offers up some pleasure; almost no tannins and quite gentle on the palate.  $19.50
  8. EdmundsStJohn LesCotesSauvages CuveeWahluke American RTW (13.6%; 49% Grenache from WahlukeSlope & PalliniVnyd/32% Mourvedre from BrandlinRanch/19% Syrah from Durell & Fenaughty) NV (1990): Med.color w/ some bricking; very strong musty/TCA slight strawberry nose; quite musty/fusty/TCA very slight strawberry flavor; hugely corked and robbed of everything; so sad.
  9. EdmundsStJohn Syrah DurellVnyd/SonomaVlly ("12 1/2%") 1990: Med.dark color w/ almost no bricking; beautiful rather Rhonish/smokey/roasted slight funky/earthy very light blackberry/Syrah slight pungent/cedary quite complex nose; soft/gentle/smooth light roasted/Rhonish/smokey/mocha rather smokey/pungent light blackberry/ strawberry/Syrah complex flavor; long some roasted/smokey/ Rhonish/mocha/coffee light blackberry/strawberry/Syrah bit cedary/pencilly/old-wine finish w/ light/ smooth tannins; a lovely/gentle/elegant old Syrah; a classy old biddy that you just know was one hot chick in her day.
  10. Jaffurs PetiteSirah ThompsonVnyd/SBC (ArchibaldCuvee; "15.7%") 2003: Very black color; very intense boysenberry/ blackberry/PS/peppery huge fruit very ripe bit alcoholic nose; soft bit hot/alcoholic intense boysenberry/ blackberry/PS/huge fruit light toasty/oak flavor w/ soft/plush tannins; very long huge fruit/boysenberry/peppery/PS bit hot/fumey light toasty/oak finish w/ soft tannins; a pretty huge wine but doesn't show the oafish/clunky side that PS often has. $28.00
  11. CarnerosCreekWnry CabSauv TruchardVnyd/CongressVlly/NapaVlly (13.4%) 1977: Med.dark color w/ slight bricking; lovely herbal/Cab some plummy/blackcurranty smokey/toasty/oak rather Bdx-like very complex beautiful nose; smooth/polished/graceful some herbal/old-Bdx bit blackcurranty/plummy fairly cedary/cigar-box/old Cab very complex flavor w/ little tannins; very long smooth/polished/graceful cedary/cigar box bit toasty/charred/oak bit herbal/Bdx light plummy/blackcurranty/Cab very complex finish w/ gentle/graceful tannins; a fully-mature old-timey Calif Cab in a place that Colgin or Schraeder will never see; amazing stuff.
  12. Ridge Calif MontteBello (70% CS/24% Merlot/5% PetiteVerdot/1% CabFranc; 12.4%; 119 tons
    from 83.5 acres; Selctn: 47%; Drk: 3/01-3/?: PD) 1998
    : Very dark color w/ slight bricking; beautiful pungent/ smokey/licorice some herbal/Bdx-like/blackcurranty/Cab some toasty/charred/oak complex nose; rather tart/tannic/ hard strong herbal/Bdx-like licorice/tarry/blackcurranty/Cab/earthy some smokey/pungent/oak some complex flavor; very long/lingering hard/tannic/tart rather herbal/Bdx-like some licorice/blackcurranty/Cab/earthy fairly charred/ toasty/oak complex finish; from a difficult yr and shows lots of Bdx-like character; still needs more age.
  13. EdmundsStJohn Syrah Calif GrandHeritage (14.2%; 34% MansfieldVnyd/Eldorado; 34% DurellVnyd/Carneros; 32% DurellVnyd/SonomaVlly) 1992: Dark color w/ slight bricking; quite complex smokey/pungent/slight tarry some spicy/blackberry/Syrah very Rhonish/smokey/roasted/ espresso/ Hermitage-like nose; tart very Rhonish/roasted/smokey/ coffee/mocha some earthy/ spicy/blackberry/Syrah very complex flavor w/ light tannins; very long/lingering smokey/
    pungent/ roasted/Rhonish/espresso light blackberry/Syrah/earthy/spicy finish w/ light/smooth tannins; very Rhonish/ Hermitage-like Syrah; one of the best mature Calif Syrahs I've had in several yrs; stunning/beautiful Syrah probably at its peak.

    Ridge Zinarch 23, 201
And a wee BloodyPulpit:

1. Ridge: We had this same wine at dinner a week earlier and I thought it was starting to show a decline. This btl was far/far better and about as good an example of a fully mature Zin as you can find. Across the board, Ridge did an exceptional job w/ their '91 Zins.
2. StorybookMtn: This is JerrySeps wine. Because he makes a more restrained/less bombastic style of Zin; he seldom gets big points from the critics. He should get more recognition than he does. His Zins age better than most of the big-pointy Zins. I was expecting this '84 to be totally dead & gone. It was not, though it was clinging to life and oferred up some pleasure.
3. Preston: Back in the mid-late '80's; LouPreston made some exceptional wines; some of the finest coming out of the DryCreekVlly. His Zin/Barbera/PetiteSirah were outstanding. He had one of the very first plantings of Syrah in the area and made a Sirah/Syrah blend that was excellent. In the '90's, I found the wines dropped off in quality and became rather quotidian; just not very exciting. I seldom bother to try them anymore. But, last time I tried it some 6-7 yrs ago, Lou's bread was some of the best around.
4. CarnerosCreek: I, of course, followed FrankMahoney's wines from the very start; the '72 Gamay. Frank's passion was (and still is) PinotNoir, where he did some of the pioneering work on clones (well before the Dijon clones were imported and became all the rage) of Pinot. He used to make Zins in the mid-'70's from John&Ernie Esola's and ChetEschen's vnyds up in Amador. They were amazing Zins; some of the best of that era. When his Pinot vnyd was first producing there at CarnerosCreek, he made some of Calif's first truly great Pinots. And he also dabbled a
bit in Cabernet; from ErnieEsola's vnyd; as well as from NateFay's and Dick Steltzner's vnyds. They were good; but just that. I don't think he got much recognition for them. He should have.

So....I served up this Cab last night w/ very low expectations of it being any good. Frank was instrumental in convincing Tony&Joan Truchard to plant their vnyd. This Cab was probably the first crop off Truchard. The wine was in beautiful condition....a truly old-timey kind of Cabernet that they just don't make nomore in the NapaVlly. It had just enough herbal character to make it resemble a RedBordeaux (old-timey...like they used to make..not a MichelRolland slutted up version of Bdx). Almost...almost....enough to make me drink NapaVlly Cabernet again.

Out of curiosity, I went to Frank's WebSite (www.MahoneyVineyards.com). I was astounded at the variety of wines he is making nowadays...some of my favorite varietals. Could...not....resist; so ordered a mixed case to try. I'm very much looking forward to trying. But...danged...if only he'd make Eschen and Esola Zins again....my wine world would be complete again.

And whilst we're tripping down memory lane here....Frank was instrumental in getting PaulCassayre&MikeForni into the wine biz. I believed they designed his CarnerosCreek winery. And he was also instrumental in getting CharlieWoods/NapaWineCellars into the wine biz. It was located in the geodesic dome winery near Mustard'sGrill. And Frank's marketing guy at CarnerosCreek, Bill Bishop, was a real hoot. Curious as to what happened to Bill. Those were the most special of times.
5. EdmundsStJohn: No secret here that SteveEdmunds is a master of Rhone varietals. I have, of course, followed him from the very start. They may not be that appreciated in Monktown; but he sure has his fans in LosAlamos. The '89 LCS was a bit faded, but still offered up considerable pleasure. The Durell '90 was probably starting its downhill slide, but in wonderful condition. Steve indicates the alcohol level was well above the quoted 12 1/2%. SteveSterbenz brought the GrandHeritage (sure sounds a lot like Grange Hermitage to me) as a mystery. Pretty much everyone was guessing it to be a NorthernRhone. LarryArchibald did suggest it might be the GrandHeritage but he waffled a bit and didn't state it with enough conviction to be credited with guessing its identity. But it was as magnificant a mature Calif Syrah has I've had in some time. Kudos to Steve on that one.
6. Jaffurs: This was the first PS that Jaffurs produced. It was originally to be a DaveYates project because Craig didn't think much of PS as a Rhone variety. After it was made and they started pouring it for events, it was such a big hit that they decided it should be under the Jaffurs label after all.

This is one of the very rare "Archibald Cuvee" bottlings of this PS. All of the Jaffurs PS that come to
LosAlamos (and there is a pretty fair amount I admit) receive the famed "Archibald Cuvee" stamp to honor LarryArchibald's contribution to its making. He was hanging out at Jaffurs wnry the day the load of PS came in from Thompson, so was commandeered to help w/ the sorting. The pay was $0...but he could have all the earwigs to eat he wanted. And he was, of course, wearing one of his ugly Hawaiian shirts.

Larry indicates the alcohol was nearer 16.5% than the quoted 15.7%. The fruit, though huge, is starting to fade a bit. I expect, as the wine continues to age and drop fruit; the alcohol will come more to the forefront. So it's probably best that this wine be drunk over the next few yrs.

The Jaffurs PS is probably one of my favorite PS's produced in Calif. It has much more fruit than most others made out there. But it never shows the coarse/oafish/clunky/clumsey side that many Calif PS's have.


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Updated 5.24.11