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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 Rhones from the Archives - July 24, 2013

We tried this week (7/24/13) Some Rhones from the Archives:

  1. ClineCllrs Mourvedre/Mataro ContraCostaCnty (14.0%) Oakley 1989: Btl had very loose cork; Med.
    color w/ some browning; slight eucalyptus very slight musty/corked some earthy/loamy faint plummy/ mushroomy rather cedary/pencilly/old red nose; soft rather tangy/metallic/sucking on a rusty nail earthy/ mushroomy/funky/loamy flavor w/ no tannins; seems a bit TCA tainted and a bit unclean like maybe bacterial storage; not doing well. $17.30 (K)
  2. Ridge Calif Mataro PatoVnyd/ContraCostaCnty (75% Mataro/25% Zin; 14.9%; 38 brls; Bttld: Aug 2003; 106 yr old vines; Drk: 6/003-6/08: PD) 2002: Med.color w/ slight bricking; strong vanilla/oak strong plummy/Mourv/berry earthy/dusty/mushroomy bit smokey rather complex nose; soft/smooth rather plummy/berry/Mourv some dusty/earthy/OV strong vanilla/oak/old Ridge red flavor w/ little/soft tannins; long strong vanilla/oak plummy/berry/Mourv bit earthy/dusty/OV/mushroomy complex finish w/ light tannins; still very much alive but a bit clumsy for an old Ridge red. $nc (MR)
  3. EdmundsStJohn Syrah SonomaCnty (12 1/2%; DurrellVnyd) 1988: Med.light color w/ some bricking;
    lovely/complex pencilly/cedary/smokey light roasted/pungent some old Rhone rather attractive nose;
    somewhat tart pencilly/cedary/old red light Rhonish/smokey very gentle flavor w/ no tannins; med.
    long fairly tart pencilly/cedary/old red light roasted/Rhonish/smokey quite gentle finish w/ no tannins; not in the least astringent or drying out; a quiet/gentle old red that whispers across the palate like a gentle zypher in its last rush to mortality.
  4. Ch. de Fonsalette Syrah AC: CdR (MeBalP; 14%; Reserve) CdP/Vaucluse 1988: Med.dark color w/ light
    bricking; quite pungent/smokey/ozone/graphite some Rhonish/roasted quite earthy/Kansas root cellar
    rather strange/pungent nose; tart strong charred/toasty/burnt/oak tangy/grapefruity/metallic bit
    Rhonish/roasted flavor w/ light tannins; long tangy/grapefruity/metallic strong charred/burnt/oak somewhat earthy/root cellar finish w/ little tannins; lots of charred/burnt/pungent character; a rather strangly evolved Syrah and not particularly attractive.
  5. Domaine du Chene Anais AC: StJoseph (12.5%) M&D Rouviere/Chavanay 1988: Med.dark color w/ some bricking; strong beautiful roasted/espresso/coffee/smokey some graphite/earthy/dusty very classic
    NRhone complex nose; tart/tangy/grapefruity some roasted/espresso/coffee/smokey/NRhone bit metallic/
    pungent complex flavor w/ light tannins; long roasted/espresso/meaty some tangy/metallic classic
    NRhone complex finish w/ light tannins; has evolved into a lovely classic old NorthernRhone red.
  6. RogerBlachon AC: StJoseph (11%-14%; KermitLynch) Mauves 1989: Med.light color w/ lots of bricking; light aged/cedary/pencilly light roasted/coffee/NRhone delicate/quiet earthy some complex nose; bit tangy/metallic light roasted/coffee/pungent/tapenade some cedary/pencilly/aged very gentle flavor
    w/ little tannins; med.long light cedary/aged/pencilly light roasted/coffee/pungent finish w/ little
    tannins; a quiet/gentle/feeble old wine that's fading into the sunset but has some interesting things
    to say as she whispers into your ear from her deathbed.
  7. JosephPhelps Syrah Vin du Mistral NapaVlly (12%) 1987: Med.color w/ some bricking; rather attractive
    spicy/blackberry/strawberry/Syrah fairly youthful bit cedary/pencilly/toasty rather complex lovely
    nose; fairly tart bit lean quite pretty spicy/blackberry/Syrah/licorice rather youthful some cedary/
    pencilly flavor w/ light tannins; long tart/lean/elegant some blackberry/Syrah/strawberry/licorice
    some cedary/pencilly/old red light smokey/oak finish w/ light tannins; no signs of drying out; still
    very much alive and showing amazing fruit for a 25-yr old Syrah. $15.00
  8. GuyBernard AC: Cote-Rotie (12.5%) Tupin-Semons/Condrieu 1988: Med.light color w/ little bricking;
    beautiful smokey/roasted/espresso/coffee/pungent some graphite/mineral classic NRhone very complex
    nose; tart very strong smokey/roasted/graphite/espresso/mineral/tapenade smooth/graceful very
    complex flavor w/ light/graceful tannins; very long/lingering intense smokey/espresso/pungent/graphite/
    mineral some tangy/tart finish w/ light/delicate tannins; maybe starting to dry out a bit but a
    beautiful example of a fully-mature C-R. $28.50
    PierreAndre AC: CdP (14.5%) Courthezon 1988: Med.light color w/ some browning; rather tired/earthy/
    dusty slight roasted/Rhonish bit complex nose; tart tired/dried out earthy/dusty metallic/tangy slight
    roasted/Rhonish flavor w/ astringent/bitter/drying tannins; long tired/dried out/astringent/bitter
    slight roasted/Rhonish some earthy/dusty finish; pretty much on its last legs as it limps across the
    finish line w/ tongue a'draggin'
  9. Odisea Devil'sShare Calif (125 cs; 40% Grenache/30% Syrah/20% Mourv/8% PS/2% Viog;
    14.9%) AdamWebb/MikeKuenz/Napa 2007
    : Very dark color; strong blackberry/strawberry/Grenache quite perfumed/fragrant/aromatic strong toasty/oak/vanilla slight menthol lovely nose; tart/tangy intense
    strawberry/Grenache/blackberry/boysenberry intense fruit bit menthol/minty strong toasty/oak/vanilla
    slight smoked meat/pungent rich/lush/mouthfilling flavor w/ some tannins; long rich/ripe/lush slight
    alcoholic strong strawberry/Grenache/boysenberry/chocolaty finish w/ some modest tannins; still needs
    several yrs yet; loads of Grenache fruit and oak.
  10. RosenblumCllrs PetiteSirah NapaVlly TW 1989: Very dark color w/ slight bricking; very strong pencilly/
    vanilla/oak strong plummy/blackberry/boysenberry/PS/peppery/big fruit beautiful/lush nose; soft strong
    vanilla/pencilly/oak very strong blackberry/boysenberry/PS/bit peppery big fruit flavor w/ soft/smooth
    tannins; very long big/rich/ripe/lush strong blackberry/boysenberry/PS slight peppery/earthy strong
    vanilla/Am.oak/pencilly/toasty bit hot/alcoholic finish w/ soft/graceful tannins; an amazing amount
    of fruit for 25 yrs of age; quite tasty and should go on another few yrs.
  11. Ridge Calif PetiteSirah YorkCreek/SpringMtn/NapaCnty (12.9%; Bttld: April'89;
    Drk: 3/89-3/94-3/95: PD) 1987
    : Very dark near black color w/ little bricking; very strong vanilla/smokey/oak strong peppery/PS/earthy some unclean/bretty/horsecollar slight herbal/rosemary quite complex old PS nose; bit tart rather hard/lean/tannic strong vanilla/smokey/Am.oak somewhat bretty/unclean some peppery/PS/blackberry/licorice complex flavor w/ some hard/chewey tannins; long very strong vanilla/Am.oak some pungent/peppery/earthy/PS/blackberry somewhat bretty/unclean finish w/ some hard/gritty tannins; an interesting old PS that's evolved strangly and a bit too unclean/bretty to my taste; needs more age but not sure it'll ever be a pleasure to drink.

And the usual bloviations from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. EdStJohn: According to Steve, this non-vnyd-designate Syrah came entirely from the DurrellVnyd.
This yr was not a year that his Syrahs were particularly ageable...though Parker went "ape-shit"
over the wine. Given the marginal growing conditions, I thought the wine was in remarkable shape.
A quiet little old lady winding her life down to the final chapter.
2. PhelpsSyrah: JosephPhelps was, of course, the first Calif wnry to release a varietal Syrah, in 1973.
Made from a badly virused ChristianBros vnyd in StHelena. Made by WalterShug in the style of the
Pinots they were making in that era w/ lots of charred/toasty oak. It was not very good and probably
set the market back for Syrah in Calif by ten yrs. They planted Syrah on their Estate in the mid-'70's
and continued to make unthrilling Syrahs from those grapes. They then planted Syrah down in Carneros, which may be where these grapes came from, after they pulled their StHelena Estate stuff. They also planted Rhone varietals down in the ArroyoSecco area of Monterey and actually made some pretty good, if pricey, Rhone blends under the Vin du Mistral label. From their WebSite, it appears they no longer own those Monterey vnyds.

It has always puzzled me why JosephPhelps, who knows how to make truly great Calif wines, as been such a failure w/ Rhone varietals. The only truly great one I can recall was an Insignia/Syrah blend they did one yr for the NapaVllyAuction. So I had very low expectations for this JP Syrah and expected a totally dead&gone wine. It was not...it was amazingly youthful...not profound..but still quite good.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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