July 13, 2008

Great tasting at Storyteller

Just back from a nice long vacation, on which I promised myself I’d take some time to catch up on blogging. Of course I didn’t. But I’m back, so some belated notes from a delightful tasting at Storyteller Wine Company here in Portland a few weeks back to celebrate the visit of noted wine blogger Nilay Ghandi and fiancé from Chicago. Definitely check out Nilay at 750mL.

First, another sample of the 2007 Tempier Bandol Rosé. Just as a month earlier, this is terrific rosé and worthy of Tempier’s reputation as a standard bearer of the genre. Fresh, bright, great balance, just delicious.

Then the 1999 Radikon Riserva Bianco Oslavje Riserva Collio, with its turbid orange color and initially slight ethyl acetate aroma. With air, this became wonderfully complex aromatically with great texture and length, hard to pin down with flavor descriptors beyond aged apples, but simply excellent if hardly typical white wine. A revelation.

The riches continued with the 2005 Faury Condrieu, so precise and pure a wine from viognier that puts any domestic version of this grape to shame. Rethink viognier if you’ve never tried Condrieu, the real thing.

We tried a local cider from I believe the former winemaker or assistant or something from a McMinnville winery. There were suggestions that this was made from grapes, but cider apparently is always from apples or pears. Sure enough, this had clear apple and pear flavors and was refreshing. The maker remains a mystery.

Returning to wine, we tried a rare bottle of the 1998 Yamhill Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir “Tall Poppy.” This special bottling in the ripe 1998 vintage seemed long in the tooth, with some volatility and zinfandel character, good enough wine but not so good pinot noir. This bottle at least. I’ve heard much better things about this one.

Then something completely new to me. The 2005 Holdredge Schiopettio from the MacBryde Vineyard in Sonoma County. This Italian grape variety is extremely rare in the US, probably also in Italy, I imagine. The wine was dark purple with an herbal, boysenberry aroma that evoked merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, and the Rhone valley. In the mouth it was peppery with gravelly sweet boysenberry fruit balanced by pleasantly bitter grapefruit pith flavors. Very bright with fine tannin and a lingering, attractive bitterness, I really enjoyed this wine and think it would be most interesting on the dinner table. Good on winemaker John Holdredge for stumping the chumps with this one. Have you tried Schiopettio?

Then a California change of pace, the 2004 Lillian Syrah from the White Hawk vineyard in Santa Barbara county. Winemaker Maggie Harrison worked for many years with the Krankls at Sine Qua Non. Now has her own label Lillian, and recently acquired the Oregon winery Antica Terra with a few partners. The label reports 15.4% alcohol and the wine is intense, with strong raspberry and slight dill aromas. In the mouth it’s thick and rich with sweet pie fruit flavors, fine tannin and a bit hard textured but so gushing with fruit that you might not notice. The alcohol burns a bit, but this is obviously attractive wine for fans of big, intense red wine.

Finally, the 2001 Muga Rioja “Aro,” a luxury label from this old bodega. From a decanter, I guessed this was mid-‘90s Chateauneuf, maybe Pegau. Instead, it’s much younger but perhaps a bit too evolved already for its age. Finely tannic with dried cherries and raspberries, tight and more tannins on the finish. Perhaps this was difficult coming after the Lillian, perhaps this is simply nice but not outstanding Rioja, or perhaps this bottle wasn’t up to snuff. No one seemed concerned about it though. The price is very high here, and notes I’ve since read suggest there’s lots of new oak. I didn’t notice much, so who knows. But thanks Michael for this tasting, each and every bottle. What a treat.

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