Last of the Holiday gifts and surprises

The Holidays are over. Everyone breathe a big sigh. Eleven months before the intense commercialization begins again. Dotoré already senses the approach of a long summer. The best thing about the Holidays for a wine aficionado is the chance to taste stuff that would otherwise go unnoticed, even avoided. There are always surprises. Here were a few of the last we encountered.
chimneyrockelevage2002.jpeg2002 Elevage Stags Leap District Napa Valley Red Wine $70: Why why why? Another Meritage with rich Napa fruit that is not quite in balance and is priced way beyond its relative quality. There used to be a modest if unnecessary 9-hole golf course on this property now planted to modest if unnecessary vinifera. This is the winery’s Bordeaux blend, something once known as a Meritage – is that term still in use? tBoW opened this alongside three 2005/2006 Beaujolais wines, a 2006 Gigondas and a 2005 Argentine Malbec; each around $20, light to medium weight, internally harmonious and at peace with the food. These other bottles were drained by red-wine-crazed VINpires [ed. VINpires – ¬© that] and the Chimney Rock was shoulder-full four hours later. 14%
sigrab1983-2.jpg1983 Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes $16 in 1985 and about $80 online today: This is why you should come to this wine blog; to read about a rare and extra special late harvest French wine like this one. Note the original price tag on the bottle. Very few wine drinkers consumed sweet wines in the mid-80s and the same holds true today. This wine is stupendous. Incredibly rich, definitely liqueur-like in its intensity. Rich ripe peaches drenched in honey. Pooh Bear would flip out. Golden brassy color. Thick. Spectacular. The wine is absolutely perfect right now. You can be sure there are not many wines that can go 25 years and hold it together like this. Naturally we must compare it to the 1983 Y’Quem opened over Labor Day. The Y’Quem was still young. This wine is ready. Otherwise, these wines are equally wonderful in what they present. Testimony to a truly special vintage. 13.5%
Thoughtful recess: Why is it more wine drinkers do not enjoy dessert wines? This is perennial question ignores the principles of price/quality relationship. The two wines above illustrate the good fortune for those who know better. The Sauternes is from one of the top vintages in the past quarter century. The Napa blend is from an ordinary vintage. There must be about 100 times as many Napa cabs available like the one reviewed as there are quality Sauternes, Barsacs or Cadillacs. Read this outstanding and enlightening blog post that articulates the differences. In the matter of Chimney Rock vs. almost any old Sauternes, the Napa blend wine is difficult to distinguish according to most criteria while the other is distinguished simply in terms of limited availability. The same is true for Port. The exception within dessert wines as a class is Auslese level Rieslings considered by some to be the choice when you-can-only-take-one bottle-with-you. You do need a crowd to finish a 750ml bottle of French sweet wine but tBoW can only think of a very few with whom he might share his 1983 Maximin Grünhaus Riesling Auslese. 14.5%
2006 Alma Rosa Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
$29: Richard Sanford rises like the phoenix with his new Santa Rita Hills winery. This is a modest effort, fruity and straightforward, cherry flavors. As notable as the wine are the screw cap and the low alcohol. 13.9%
nagy2.jpg2006 Nagy 2 Garey Ranch Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir $30: Winemaker form Byron Vineyards. Husband and wife tram from Byron and Bonacorsi, respectively. Low production, interesting wine worth a plunge. Masculine style, dark color, dense liquid. Somewhat feral, slightly rugged and sinewy. High toned fruit, plums, dark fruit. Quick finish. Finally a good pick from the new local store! Nice. 14.5%
cargasacchiPN04-2.jpg2004 Cargasacchi Pinot Noir ~$40: This is the first Cargasacchi 2004 Pinot Noir tasted and his first release. Peter C is a grower whose grapes are highly coveted by California’s foremost Pinot Noir winemakers. He does not appear to release the wine to critics for scores. Good. Peter’s wines under the Point Concepcion label are fairly forward while remaining distinctive. Mrs. tBoW once described the nose on a young PC Syrah as reminiscent of her hair salon. Hold that yech. It was not bad. Just funky. The eponymous label is more serious. tBoW tasted and reviewed the 2005 version in a former post. The 2004 is stylish, almost elegant. Formal. Structured. Moderate smokiness, strong dark fruit. Bacon fat and tannic. Seductive and masculine. If Point Concepcion expresses Peter’s playful and quirky side then the Cargasacchi label is all about his very serious and intensely focused persona. He will probably be upset I did not use the label image from his website. Glad I am holding several more bottles. If you would like to sample Peter’s wit click here. 13.7%
cremant rose nv.jpgAllimant-Laugner Cremant D’Alsace Ros√© $16: Steal of the holidays. Fresh, sweet. Pink and brass color. Cherry fruit, pomegranate too (acidity). Tart. Loving this. tBoW made the commitment to half a case. Found it at Palate Wine shop although K&L also has it (for a couple bucks more!!). 12.5%
capdefaugeres01.jpg2001 Cap de Faugeres Cotes-de-Castillon $20: Picked this one up at the new Wine Cask “outlet” in our neighborhood [ed. parent is in Santa Barbara]. The Wine Cask was never about its international selection. However, there seems to be a move afoot to enter the U20 market. The buyer has yet to impress with the U20 selections. Internet notes for this wine describe a dense, dark wine when released in 2002. Tanzer reviewed it and liked it kind of. Scored it 85-ish which is kind of OK. Six years later it remains a serviceable drink. Nothing great. Here is what tBoW thinks of as he sips this wine. How many richer, fruitier Napa wines are there (it is a cab blend) that are no more memorable and pricier. Two for two for the locals. 13.5%

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