WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

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WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Brian K Miller » Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:09 am

:lol:

My brother came up from San Francisco today, and we visited a range of wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties (he spit-and quit much earlier than me. He also drove :))

I did enjoy several wines, and it was a beautiful day. The vineyards are beginning to turn now in patches, and the harvest and crush appear to be well under way. Dutch Henry Winery, immediately east of Saint Helena, had a quite pleasant Cab with the kind of dry tobacco character I prefer. Venge Winery, although I did not like their Cab at all (very flat, imo) had a quite lovely, complex, and rich Merlot and a nice light Syrah. Chateau Monetlena-I splurged and bought the reserve tasting, which was awesome (1999, 2000, and 2002). I liked the 1999 the best, but I have plenty of wine readier to drink, and there was quite a price premium over the 2002, which was already expensive enough. Still, a delicious, rich balanced Cab-the 2002 will be very nice in a few years. Finally, Hanna Winery's awesome Bismark Mountain Vineyard provided a quite complex, multilayered Bordeaux blend that was a reasonable price.

My brother was less pleased with the wines than I was.

For dinner that night, we had a very young but delicious Graves wine, Chateau Smith Haut Laffite Grand Cru Classe De Graves. These are the same darn grapes, basically, as the California wines we were plowing through, but the wine was completely different. The richness and savoriness versus the California fruit forward jamminess went amazingly well with dinner (steak with potatos in a merlot sauce that rocked!) My brother commented that this savoriness, this extra something or other was what he found missing earlier in the day. The savoriness was not as pronounced on the nose as the 1998 Saint Emillion that I had opened last week, but if anything, the palette in this younger wine was richer, with more fruit and that delicious herbal savor that appears to be uniquely French.

Was it drinking the wine with food? That could be a factor. But...I will say that I really have a strong palette preference for umami??? the "other" flavor profile (plus sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, I believe). Savoriness-the unattached glutamates-why cheap Chinese restaurants (and others) used MSG for so many years. I love Thai fish sauce, certain salsas, soy sauce, etc.

This is my first Graves wine, and I am impressed at how delicious it was even at such an early age.
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Redwinger » Sun Oct 08, 2006 9:21 am

Brian,
What was the vinatge on the Smith-Haut-Lafitte?
FWIW, I recently had a 1997 S-H-L that was outstanding...so much for so called "off-vintages", eh?
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Carl Eppig » Sun Oct 08, 2006 9:54 am

We usually give the Graves, including the SHL, more time than other agable Bordeaux; say twelve rather than ten.
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Brian K Miller » Sun Oct 08, 2006 1:35 pm

Sorry-I missed the year in my title. it was only a 2001, so I was drinking the SHL in its infancy. But, it was so delicious even at this young age!!!
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Jenise » Sun Oct 08, 2006 1:46 pm

Brian, as I've already said: you're so doomed! But about the SHL vs. the St. Emillion, I don't remember the producer but the latter would have been mostly merlot and cab franc, where the SHL is 70% cabernet, a grape you seem to prefer judging from your tasting notes on California winery visits. And the Graves are so beautifully minerally, can easily understand the attraction. Hint: hunt down a Pape-Clement.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Brian K Miller » Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:18 pm

Thanks, Jenise. I'll look for the Pape Clement.

This was probably my first Left Bank wine, and even given the difference in varietal, I could have picked it out as French-even with my minimal experience :)

Part of my problem with Merlots is California Merlots are usually so soft and bland.

Not always, though-that Venge Merlot we tried yesterday was richer, more intense, and more interesting than their Cabernet Sauvignon (which was twice the price). wierd, huh? (There's also always the eminently affordable Clos Du Val Merlot-$25 and delicious._
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:38 am

Hey! California redeems itself!

http://www.elizabethspencerwines.com/

Savoriness in an Oakville Cab! This may be my first wine club. The wine shop is a beautiful brick post office in the heart of "downtown" Rutherford. Their Cab was not a FRUIT BOMB-it's full of that undefinable "umami" savoriness I love. Go USA! :lol: :lol:
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby James Roscoe » Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:54 am

S-H-L is great stuff. When I put up my new wine shelf I realized I had more Bordeaux than anything else and it's all second and third labels or small chateau. There are plenty of values to be had in France. As another thread pointed out, California is much more difficult in the value department. Have fun shopping!
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Jenise » Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:32 am

Brian K Miller wrote:
Part of my problem with Merlots is California Merlots are usually so soft and bland.

Not always, though-that Venge Merlot we tried yesterday was richer, more intense, and more interesting than their Cabernet Sauvignon (which was twice the price). wierd, huh? (There's also always the eminently affordable Clos Du Val Merlot-$25 and delicious._


Yeah--merlot doesn't have to be bland. A friend has given me a number of Havens (the winery's owner is a client of the firm she worked for) merlots, and they're terrific. Have you tried them yet?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Oct 09, 2006 2:47 pm

Re: Havens: It's a beautiful place, and the courtly older gentleman who runs the tastings is quite charming-he let me butt in without a reservation. I liked their Merlot/Cab Franc Bordeaux blend and their Syrah quite a bit. http://www.havenswine.com/news.html It's a really pretty place on a nice side road south of Yountville.

I really love exploring the cross roads and side roads and dead ends in Napa County on my bicycle. Yesterday, I rode by Caymus, which is not an unknown by any means but has to be one the most beautiful "traditional style" winery buildings in Napa County. Not familiar with their wines, but I'll make an appointment just because it's so pretty.
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Re: WTN: California last splurge and more treason towards my State (Graves 2001

Postby Sam Platt » Mon Oct 09, 2006 2:59 pm

About a year and a half ago I had a '94 S-H-L. I picked it up quite inexpensively because it was supposedly headed down hill. I found it to be outstanding. I have an '01 in the cellar that I paid more for, but still should be a solid QPR.
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