December 26, 2008

Los Angeles

I've been visiting Los Angeles for the holidays there's been more wine-related goings on than usual. Most of it surrounds the release of my own wine, noncommercially of course. But lots of people want to try it, so it seems we're opening a bottle of it each day.

On our first night here, my parents opened a bottle of my 2006 Pinot Noir and it tasted pretty good, if a little oaky. The other day, my dad and I had lunch with an acquaintance of his who's in the wine business. Then, the wine seemed very fruity -- cherries -- but a little simple and tart in the mouth. Then more bottles for Christmas Eve at my sister's in-laws, then Christmas dinner here at Fritzsche central. Everyone seems to like the wine, some more vocally than others. It's always an adventure in nerves opening a bottle and I suppose that won't ever end.

Meanwhile, I've had the chance a bunch of other wines. A few nights ago, my brother brought the 2007 Seghesio Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley, with the blue capsule. He was excited that it got a 93 point rating from Wine Spectator magazine and was number 10 on its recent 100 most exciting wines of the year list. Of course, this 2007 didn't taste as good to me as prior bottlings, the bright fruit and spice replaced by darker, sweeter, and noticeably oaky aromas and flavors. Where's the zip and zing?

Then a family friend brought over a bottle of the 2001 Rosenthal Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in nearby Malibu Canyon. I've tried a few of these wines from the early '90s back when they were released, and I simply wasn't impressed. This 2001 isn't great wine, but it's certainly interesting and I found it pretty tasty. The wine is older looking than its years as I recalled the earlier examples. It smelled a bit like merlot-dominated Bordeaux, with smokey oak integrated nicely with berries and roasted red peppers, sweet and pleasantly herbal and savory at the same time. Clearly this is from grapes grown in, if not a warm climate, a place where night time temperatures don't get very low. The structure is very soft, and I wouldn't think of holding this wine too long. Still, it's an interesting drink.

We had the 2006 l'Hiver Syrah from Copain here in California. Alice Feiring mentioned Copain as a California producer of her sense of natural wine, meaning no yeasts, no ML bacteria, not much if any new oak, etc. This bargain bottling was terrific, indeed northern Rhone like as I've since read and void of any oak flavors. There is a smokey element that may be soil or some volatility in the wine. But it was honest, flavory, and juicy syrah for a few bucks less than a twenty. That's a pretty good deal in good California wine.

With Christmas dinner we tried a few other things, including a soft but pure 2005 Nigl Gruner Veltliner Freiheit. Very gruner, with citrus and green pea notes, even a little white pepper if you smell enough. There's also NV Korbel Brut, which again isn't bad at all. Yeasty, citrus, otherwise neutral tasting but not bad at all. Then a 2006 Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz, which seemed a little bretty but otherwise fine in a warm climate, not wooded syrah kind of way. May a little rubbery, but maybe we can blame the screw cap for that reduction. Everyone else is.

Tonight, we'll open another of my bottles, with maybe another Oregon Pinot and perhaps an oddball I picked up at Wine Expo in Santa Monica, the 1998 Balgera Valtellina Grumello, a nebbiolo from Lombardy in Italy that is surely dry, tannic, and requiring better glasses than we have to capture the aroma. I just can't resist these kinds of wines, even if I'm sure no one else will like it. We'll see.

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