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June – What a Month, in Wines and Pictures

July 10, 2019 1 comment

The Vessel Hudson YardsJune might be my favorite month of the year. There are many reasons for me to say that. For one, it is the very beginning of summer. It is like a Friday night when the whole weekend is still ahead – the same thing with June, the summer is just starting. Then it is the month of my birthday and Father’s Day, which means I get to celebrate a few holidays which are related to me. Throw in the end of school celebration and occasional graduation, and you can clearly tell June brings a lot of reasons to be happy.

This June of 2019 went particularly overboard with all the goodness. At the beginning of the month, I got invited to so many wine tastings and dinners that I had to simply decline the number of invitations. Those which I managed to attend were an absolute standout. Tasting of South African wines was small, but superb, with lots of simply delicious wines. Right after the South African wine tasting, I met with Stefano Ruini, the winemaker for Bodegas Luce, tasted through yet another excellent set of wines and finally realized that Luce, the wine I tasted and admired before, is a Merlot Sangiovese blend produced in the heart of the land of Brunello.

The last event of the same day was a dinner with Michael Benedict and John Terlato of Sanford and Benedict Winery, a pioneer of California Pinot Noir, which took place at the spanking new Hudson Yards, at the Wild Ink restaurant, overlooking freshly minted The Vessel.

My next day was even more memorable, with two hours of the pure joy of talking to Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone Winery in Napa Valley, and tasting (a better way to put it: been blown away by) Stu’s wines, which were simply a standout.

That eventful week ended with the L’Ecole 41, iconic Walla Walla producer’s lunch and vertical tasting, where I finally discovered for myself what is all the fuss about Ferguson.

Then there was Father’s Day, with all the cooking fun and an opportunity to open a special bottle of wine – it is always easier to pull a better bottle when you have a good reason to do so.

My cooking fun was more of the usual – BBQ. However, I experimented with the way the meat was prepared. The chicken breast was marinated overnight in the onion juice if this is a thing – simply a big Vidalia onion pulverized in the blender and then used as a marinade – with the addition of the bbq spices. The lamb was marinated overnight in the buttermilk also with the addition of rosemary, sage, and the spices. The result was outstanding – both chicken and lamb came out juicy, tender, and delicious.

The wine story started with the 2018 Field Recordings Morro View Edna Valley (13.9% ABV, 100% Grüner Veltliner) – fresh undertones of grass, Meyer lemon, bright, crisp acidity – a perfect sip for the summer day.

Two of the Martinelli wines joined the party. Martinelli is most famous as the grape growers, however, they also produced a number of wines under their own name, albeit those are rare. First, we had 2009 Martinelli Syrah Zio Tony Ranch “Gianna Marie” Russian River Valley (15.4% ABV), which took a bit of time to open up into the a delicious, blackberries and pepper concoction, firm and supple.

I only had two bottles of Martinelli so I had no plans to open both on the same occasion. However, when my oldest daughter came and said “Dad, I can have a glass of wine over the next two hours and I want California Pinot Noir” (she has medical condition which generally prevents her from enjoying any type of alcohol), the only wine my brain could think of was 2010 Martinelli Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (15.5% ABV), as I saw this bottle in the fridge the day before. This was a classic California Pinot Noir, which I generally describe as “plums and smoke” – soft, layered, good amount of fruit without going overboard, delicious long finish – an excellent example of the California Pinot Noir – and by the way, perfectly balanced – 15.5% ABV was absolutely unnoticeable.

The last wine I had high hopes for … well, didn’t work out. Back in 2012, I had 2004 Retro Petite Sirah, which was one of my top dozen wines of 2012. This time I opened 2007 Retro Petite Sirah Howell Mountain (14% ABV), hoping that 12 years is enough for this wine to at least start opening up. Nope, no such luck. The fruit was nowhere to be found, the wine mostly had sapidity, coffee and roasted meat notes on the first day, despite being decanted. It slowly improved day by day and showed some glimpses of the fruit on the third day, but still, it didn’t deliver the pleasure I was hoping for.

Well, let’s stop here. I will tell you about the rest of June in the next post – with lots (lots!) more pictures.

To be continued…

Daily Glass: Before Its Time…

October 14, 2012 3 comments

It’s been awhile since I posted in the Daily Glass category, and by design of this blog the plan was actually to have the posts exactly as it said – daily. Well, we all have plans, and then we have the reality – whether we like it or not.

A couple of months back, I got an email from Benchmark Wine Company with an offer to buy the wine. It was about Petite Sirah, and the way it was written, it was hard to resist (besides, Petite Sirah is one of my favorite wines in general) – so I got  a few bottles of Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah. To be more precise, I got one bottle of 2004 and 2 bottles of 2007.

I was visiting a good friend and decided that today would be a good day to open the 2004 Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah (14.2% ABV, $35). From the moment the wine went into the glass, it was very clear – the wine was opened way before its time. In one of the wine classes I learned a simple way to find out if wine is ready to drink – you pour the wine in the glass, and hold the glass tilted above some text written on the white paper – if you can read through that glass, the wine is ready to drink. This Petite Sirah was practically black – very concentrated very dark garnet color, without any possibility of reading through. On the palate, the wine had lots of sour cherries, ink and a touch of very dark chocolate – almost a baking chocolate level, the one which practically has no sweetness. Firm tannins. structure and perfect acidity were completing a very balanced package. This definitely was a great wine – drinkable now, but in reality, needing probably another 20 years to shine fully. Drinkability: 9-

That sentiment (needs time!) was also confirmed when I turned the bottle over – it was made by Mike Dunn, the son of Randy Dunn, one of the best winemakers in the Napa Valley. known for making Cabernet Sauvignon wines which require a very long aging period (some stories about Randy Dunn were mentioned in the last issue of Wednesday’s Meritage).

I definitely enjoyed the wine – but when it comes to the 2007 which I still have, patience ( and a lot of it) will be my best friend. Cheers!

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