Fri (6/22) Lunch w/ Lee Sobon
I have, of course, followed Lee Sobon's wines from the very start, in the late '70's; first as
ShenandoahVnyds and later as SobonEstate, when they purchased the old d'Agostini Wnry. I was a big fan of
Lee's wines from early on and bought many of them thru the mid-'80's. He was particularly fond of dessert wines
and made some pretty exceptional ones over the years.
All of their production is now in the main wnry on SteinerRd. The old d'Agostini facility, originally where the
SobonEstate wines were produced, is no strictly a tasting room and the home of their AmadorCnty museum. Production
is now around 40,000 cs/yr. Lee, in his mid-'70's, still works at the wnry several days a week. Son Rob runs mostly
the business side and other son, Paul, is the primary winemaker. Interestingly, asst winemaker is HankBeckmeyer, who
makes his wines there for his LaClarineFarms label. I've had several LaClarine wines that I thought quite good.
Hank is one of sweet Alice's darlings. Despite that fact...he seemed a straightforward/no-nonsense/practical kind
of guy that totally did not fit the kook/wild-eyed crazy image I had in my mind.
Over lunch, w/ son Rob joining us, we tried three I brought out from my archives:
1. Calif ShenandoahVnyd Zin SpecialReserve AmadorCnty (13.1%; EschenVnyd; SaH: 22.7%; 970 cs) 1982: Med.color w/
slight bricking; lovely pencilly/old Zin light berry/raspberry some dusty/earthy complex elegant nose; tart
slight tannic/dried out strong pencilly/cedary/charred/oak/old Zin some herbal/spicy/raspberry flavor w/ no
signs of oxidation; med.long bit tannic/dried out pencilly/cedary/charred/old Zin light raspberry/spicy/herbal/
cherry bit dusty/earthy complex finish; starting to show signs of its age, but still a pleasure to drink; very
lovely example of old Zin.
2. ShenandoahVnyds CabernetSauvignon AmadorCnty (15.5%; DeaverVnyd) 1978: Dark color w/ no bricking at all; lovely
blackcurranty/chocolaty/ripe/Cab/plummy/slight herbal very youthful some pencilly/toasty/charred/oak smokey rather
complex nose; soft slight tangy/metallic strong blackcurranty/Cab/chocolaty/ripe pencilly/smokey/oak smooth/
polished flavor w/ light tannins; very long pencilly/smokey/oak some blackcurranty/Cab/chocolaty/ripe finish w/
smooth/graceful tannins; no overripe character and no overt alcohol; a really lovely/youthful Amador Cab that
is probably ready to sail off gracefully into the sunset.
3. ShenandoahVnyds Calif OrangeMuscat AmadorCnty (Estate; 16%) 1984: Dark golden/orange slight browning/burnished
bronze color; intense orangey/orange blossom/muscatty slight tinny/metallic youthful complex; slightly sweet
intense orange muscat/orange blossom light muscatty complex flavor; very long/lingering slightly sweet very
fragrant/intense orange blossom/orangey soft very rich/lush very complex finish; a bit like a Moscatel de Setubal
w/o the oxidation; shows no signs of alcohol; a lovely youthful orange muscat that will live on for yrs.
And a wee BloodyPulpit:
1. The '82 Zin had over 1/3'rd the bottle ullaged away. By conventional wisdom from the "wine authorities", the
wine should have been totally oxidized; dead & gone. It was not. So much for wine authorities and their
authoratative knowledge. The cork had a tight fit and there was a lot of gunk under the capsule; but it came
out as a solid cork.
The Cab was Lee's first Cab, coming from KenDeaver's vnyd across the hill. In its youth, it was like most
Amador Cabs (thinking mostly Montevina here); it spoke mostly of briary/blackberry AmadorCnty Zin and had none
of the herbal character you get from Calif Cab. This btl was amazingly youthful and did show ample old Calif Cab
character. Quite impressive longevity.
The OrangeMuscat was amazing; still quite youthful. It resembled some an old Moscatel de Setubal w/o the
oxidation those often show from long aging in barrel. This was a late hrvst OrangeMuscat that was bottled young.
Many Calif OM's are made in a lighter style and lower alcohol. This was made as a blatant late hrvst, in-your-face
dessert wine. Delicious stuff.