Cellar Raiders Strike Again

xmaswinerack.jpgChristmas has passed…finally. I have a strongly ambivalent relationship with the year-end holiday. I hate the hype, ruthless and relentless marketing. Wreaths on car grills always make me sneer. But Ray Charles singing about kids…I tear right up. That’s right. Big wet eyes. And my kids are adults! I also greatly appreciate my wife and our friends this time of year. That is why we throw a Christmas Day party and invite everyone we know and love.
Jenner-seals-%231small.jpgAnother holiday tradition which usually inspires bland disinterest is lists of the past year’s greatest whatever [these are similarly disinterested seals on the beach in Jenner] I know what you’re thinking…he’s going to list his favorite wines from 2007. Why would I do that when I list them for you every week. No, I am going to post some of my favorite photos…and not from this year necessarily. And I am going to post these photos adjacent to the reviewed wines since, for the most part, I was unable to find corresponding labels.
Finally, I expect to taste great wines and unusual wines over the holidays. I bring some and I drink what others bring as well. [Chicago’s Fulton Alley was unusually pretty on this night]Fulton-Market-alleysmall.jpgI really look forward to the holidays for that reason…to enjoy wines with which I am not necessarily familiar with good and new friends. This season did not disappoint.
1996 Cantina Vignaioli Barbaresco Elvio Pertinace Vigneto Castellizzano ~$50: I continue to work through the 1996 and 1997 nebiollos. Forgot where I got this one but if I had to, I would guess K&L. Cherry cola. Ready to go. Delicious. Not the expected tar and roses…and so what? Excellent bottle.
2001 McKenzie-Mueller Pinot Noir ~$30: Believe this came in a mailer for wine club. Opened in a restaurant with following wine below. had this one first. Good idea. Elegant, cherry Carneros pinot. Dining with L&L and they both loved the wine. Absolutely ready, need more. Bob Mueller is one terrific winemaker.
[Regusci winery off the Silverado Trail in Napa]Regusci-%26-Alice-%231small.jpg 2002 Point Concepcion Syrah Jalama Cuvee ~$40 in mag): Took the mag to celebrate the birthday of somebody special. Did not disappoint. Already developing in bottle. Showing nicely. Softer, some white pepper (I think we say white pepper when it is not black), syrah dark fruit character. Peter Cargasacchi did a fine job with this wine.
[West Coast Choppers celebrate the holiday their way]WC-choppers-small.jpg

2001 Tobin James James Gang Reserve ~$28
: A guest at same party brought this one. I am not a zin drinker. There are a few producers I like – Franus and Nalle. Both make their zins in a claret style. I have never found the big tooth stainers to my liking. This wine is very nice. Has the characteristic prune flavor, like an Amarone. Sweet, with some spine. Has aged well in the bottle. I hit it a few times and not just to be nice! Tobin James is an under-the-radar winemaker from Paso with a strong following.
[Santa did not bring me this Gaja stash]scan0001.jpg
1997 Pacific Star Petite Syrah
: These wines were brought out at Carlitos’ holiday party (best one I get invited to attend). Carlos puts out non-Kirkland shrimp (in Carlos’ view Costco shrimp are a little tired – agreed) that are plump and firm. A couple hours later out comes the filet side that is simply outrageous. Oh yeah – the wines. If you like under-the-radar then check out Pacific Star. PacStar.jpgBeen around for decades. Mendocino Coast winery sourcing Mendocino County grapes. This is the first petite syrah that I have tasted that has been properly aged. Petite Syrah is a legendary grape in NoCal. It is one of those wines where it helps a lot to know the producer. And it has to age. Well this was pure cherry coal (there is that flavor again). My first one. I see what you mean brutha.
1997 Pacific Star Sirius Red: This wine was 40% Charbono blended with Cabernet, Zinfandel, Charbono and Petite Syrah. Charbono is another one of those field blend Italian farmer grapes that was on the table every night in the Cesare Mondavi and Cesare Gallo households. Classic. This was not cherry cola. It was more like a chianti, sweet-ish, light weight. No tannins. House red that goes with everything. I found a good news piece about Pacific Star that you can read here.


  1. Wavatar
    Anonymous says:

    Charbano – the classic old school red! Throw in some Mataro, a little zin and some petite syrah and you have the classic California field blend.

  2. Wavatar
    bacchus says:

    Thanks for this comment. Wonderfully and amazingly there are still quite a few vineyards throughout the state that produce a field blend. Here is a link to a 2006 article that does a good job describing the history and present-day “elevated” status.

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