Put 'em up

(September 30, 2009) Maybe *Fisticuffs Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley just needs another six months to take off the gloves. Fruit is plentiful, finish is good, but tannins are out in force right now.  Swish it around in your mouth, make those wine geek sucking sounds and you'll find exotic flavors -- pomegranate, allspice and other stuff that keeps you hoping it'll come out and clobber you like the label promises. For now, it's frustrating. To be revisited.


I never much liked Ayn Rand’s books, but…


This Fountainhead is a different deal. With only 501 cases made, **-2006 Fountainhead Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Borges Vineyard won’t be easy to find, but if you find it, fork over the forty-some bucks and pull a cork. It’s fragrant as all get-out and even more so the following day. Think cassis and a dash of kirsch. With a bit of grit on the palate as befits a Rutherford Cab, it fills the mouth nicely and finishes well. Fresh, juicy and just delicious for drinking now.



Ah, youth

When a wine critic says “this profound stuff should age effortlessly for 20 years”… ever wonder how the heck he arrives at that guess? I don’t have a clue. But I do have a trick for figuring out if a wine should be cellared at all.

Drink half the bottle, ram the cork back in and stick it in the fridge. Then come back to it in a couple of days and see if it’s still worth drinking. If it actually tastes better, you’ve got a winner. If it’s worse, well, poor you.

Both things happened to me yesterday. Out of the icebox I drew:

1997 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Once a firm-framed, three-star seductress, this wine had softened up quite a bit when I tasted it a couple of years ago. Now it’s fading at an alarming pace. Ashy notes prevent much pleasure until it airs for half an hour. Then a core of fruit shines forth — but not enough for my liking. Drink up!

*++2005 CrauforD Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Tattoo” I really think this one is a bit better three days later. Blackberry, a hint of licorice and a smidge of cranberry jam — just the same as it was on opening, only louder. Nice texture. Fills up the mid-palate pleasingly. If the finish were fuller, this discovery would merit two stars, maybe more. Anyhow, at under 25 bucks, it’s a buy for Napa Cab addicts like me.



Screwcaps: The Future?

Adam Lee of SiduriAdam Lee of Siduri is not only a terrific winemaker, but a relentless innovator (September 12, 2009) Adam Lee of Siduri is not only a gifted winemaker, but a relentless innovator. He's also amazingly generous with his time. I collared him for a few lines right before the full fury of crush struck. We spoke about what Siduri is doing with screwcaps. This is scarcely an interview, but as I scramble for time to revive this Website, hey, it'll do!

APJ: Question, Adam ─ you've been using screwcaps on some of your regional bottlings, a practice that I heartily endorse. What drives the decision to screwcap some wines and not others? Do you have a cutoff price-point, or is it something else? (By the way, congrats on your Sonoma County bottling getting awarded "Best American Pinot Noir under $20" by Food and Wine magazine. What took 'em so long to discover it! )

Adam: We've used screwcaps thus far on our Appellation wines, but it isn't a price point thing. We've got a number of customers that have been aging our single-vineyard Pinots for 5-7 years or perhaps more. We've been doing some trials on those wines, bottling them mainly under cork, but a few cases under screwcap to see how they do with more years. We are 3 years in and so far so good. With the Appellation wines, we seem to have far fewer folks aging them for more than 3+ years so we feel pretty good about going that way. Does that make sense?

APJ: Yes, it makes plenty of sense, but I also noticed that some of your appellation wines come with corks, and some with screwcaps?

Adam: Not any more. We did that trial as well for fewer years...just a couple. We were pleased, so now all appellation pinots are screwcaps.

APJ: So I take it that restaurants are okay with this?

Adam: With the screwcaps? Or with our gradual process of getting there? They seem to like the screwcaps.

APJ: I meant with the screwcaps. That's great news. If the sommeliers are okay with it, I would guess they'll educate the consumers.

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