Saturday, February 11, 2006

Herman Story

2004 Herman Story Wines, Syrah Santa Ynez Valley, Larner Vineyard ($30 est) -- 320 cases produced, clones 877, 3, 470. This is a massive, beautiful, teeth-staining experience. Not for the faint of heart. I think a two-day decant would let it settle down, and also 5 years of cellaring. Big dusty tannins but tons of fruit and aromas. Parker gave the 2003 a 90. This is not surprising as he likes BIG wines. Alcohol clocks in at 15.2% Also, be careful cutting the wax/plastic capsule away. All in all better check your life insurance coverage before attacking this beast, but if you're up for it, you'll be rewarded!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Chateau Saint-Colombe

2001 Chateau Sainte-Colombe, Cotes de Castillon ($16) -- Grand Vin Bordeaux from Vignobles Perse & Reynaud. Mostly Merlot with Cab Franc (70/30%). Full-bodied with fruit and good acidity for paring with food, but also a fine quaffer by itself. Reasonably elegant, balanced. Even better after an hour. Enjoyable until the very end after several hours. A definite re-order!

To Remember Peel Here

2005 Houghton Chardonnay Western Australia ($14) -- I think this is an import only US wine from the Houghton Wine group of Australia. Besides the clean, not-over-oaked flavors, what I thought was brilliant is that on the back label above the bar code, next to the pregnancy warning, was a 1 inch square that peeled off with the brand name of the wine with a tab labelled "To Remember Peel Here".

I cannot tell you how many customers walk in asking me to help them find that great wine they had last night, you know the red wine with the white label, you know it had an animal, or something on the front, you know what wine I'm talking about?


A peel-off ID sticker on the back!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bonny Doon

Usually when the wine reps visit we gossip about local stuff (what restaurants are going out of business, what sommelier is leaving to work at a big-box retailer) but today when the topic of some recent brands switching distributors was brought up, one of the reps mentioned that with Bonny Doon going over to Glazers, the plan was to increase production 10 fold to be one of the "big boys". Bonny Doon is now doing about 400,000 cases annually.

"Randall sold out! Better get your Cigare Volant now from the old distributor."

Has anyone else heard this?

I always admired Bonny Doon's irreverence and his value approach to making very good wines for the people. If it's not true, I will update this post.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Barrel 27

2004 Barrel 27 Syrah Paso Robles ($18 est) -- Today for some reason a few bottles showed up at the shop after a discussion with a California winemaker. I am not saying who or why because I don't want to get anyone in trouble due to the antiquated shipping and distribution rules in some parts of the country.

I had no idea what this wine costs in Ohio and still don't, but a little research gave up the fact that it is under $20. After tasting I was figuring it was a small block/barrel reserve Syrah from Henry Story for about $40. For Superbowl Sunday I had enjoyed a bottle of 1999 Terra Rouge Ascent, which I consider the best Syrah in California, and this wine reminded me of the Ascent. (The Ascent clocks in at about $80.) The huge aromas and soft fruit were there. Of course, the aromas of the Ascent filled the room but the Barrel 27 was close.

Production notes are scarce (and I didn't wait for the email response from the winemaker) but this is a beautiful, big, soft, lush Syrah with balance and a lingering finish, and it got better after being opened an hour.

I heard this wine is scarce in California, but I hope we can get a few cases thrown our way next year!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Indiana Shipping Shut Down

I am sure others have reported on this and can tear apart the arguments but my take on the final bill is that Indiana wineries have lost the ability to ship to customers and to sell direct to restaurants and retailers. Some wineries will not survive. The picture is from the Butler Winery and Vineyards web-site which has an entire section on the "Shipping Legislation" proclaiming "Indiana wineries fight for their lives."

I missed this one in Indiana (and I read that Kentucky is on the verge of doing the same thing), but I am getting the sense that more states are shutting down all shipping versus opening up markets for consumers. Tom, what is the scorecard after the Supreme Court decision to strike down the shipping regulations? Are more states opening up their markets or are more states shutting down all shipping?

South Beach Wine & Food Festival

This is my birthday present to myself. I just booked my flights, car and room, but forgot to get a ticket to the event itself. The Main Tasting Event and most of the specialty dinners and food demos are SOLD OUT. Guess I will be working with the scalpers or swimming in from the beach to get inside! If you go to one wine event this year, make it this one but don't forget to get your tickets in advance!