For The Thinker and The Drinker. . .
2013 VAUGHN DUFFY SYRAH – Sonoma County
Do yourself a favor: Own at least three different wine glass styles (we can help with this). You’ll want a skinnier one for high-acid whites and reds, when you want your nasal cavities to be happily disturbed with perky, Tinkerbell-style mischief. The bigger, Bordeaux-style glass will accommodate all of your richer, fruit- forward reds such as New World Cabernet. Then there’s the Pinot Noir glass, sometimes known as “Burgundy / Barolo” by famed stemware producer Riedel. Maybe you think stocking your cabinet with two different shapes of larger glasses is a redundant exercise. It’s not. Smell the same Pinot Noir from your big Bordeaux glass and your big Pinot Noir glass and you’ll quickly get it: Glass #1 will declaregoodness, but Glass #2 will elaborate on it, grandly. Wine Lovers: You need that “other” big glass!!
… And the wine we put before you now insists your Pinot Noir glass is much more than that. We often like it for Grenache, when that grape is rendered more delicately. White Burgundy more broadly expresses itself in that big space as well. – And Syrah? YES, especially the cooler-weather style!!
I’m proving it to myself here at my desk with a side-by-side comparison. From the Bordeaux glass I’m smelling a deep darkness of fruit, with some pepper; impactful but fairly one-dimensional. Now for the wider Burgundy bowl: Ahhh, here are violets and smoked meat added to those other features. A simply delicious dark drink has become a complex and thoughtful cool weather Syrah. The “Drinker” may wish to stick with his or her Bordeaux glass in order to limit the experience. For you, the impact of smoothly-said dark fruit will suffice. The “Thinker” will want to know this Syrah for all its beautiful eccentricities by deferring to the Burgundy stem . . . and by grilling some lamb to perfectly honor this lovely red.
Here is an archetypical Wine Steward club wine: Delicious and thoughtful, rendered by two hardworkingpeeps who give a shit, Matt Duffy and Sara Vaughn. 135 cases made, and your TWS got the last 21 of those.
What we really wanted to show you . . .
2014 BARTER & TRADE MERLOT – Columbia Valley, Washington State
You’re not seeing double: For the second month we are subjecting you to the smoky goodness of Washington State red wine via a California nurseryman-turned-winemaker (actually, Andrew continues to sell grapevines). When I tasted both the Cabernet Sauvignon provided in January and this Merlot I couldn’t choose between the two, so you’re getting two Barter & Trade experiences – one after the other.
. . . And for the wine scholars (y’all) this Merlot is the more meaningful provision. I believe Washington State is this country’s best champion for an unfairly-maligned varietal. Only Bordeaux produces as manyinexpensive yet dependable examples from its Right Bank. Buy up from “inexpensive” and Washington’s Merlots might trump its Cabernets with their dark power and satisfying mouth-feels. With this Barter & Trade you’re experiencing the in-between price point - better than basic and less than profound – and you’re witnessing all the essential components of Washington State Merlot. The color: Intense. A charcoal briquette-like fragrance includes fresh black and red fruits. The mouth is lithe yet not without flavorful impact; a stylistic tightrope walk which keeps the mouth engaged, unwearied.
Unrepentant copy & paste from January’s notes:
This is the work of Andrew Jones who already represents himself with a more local range of wine labels such as Field Recordings, Neverland, and Fiction – not to mention his Tin City Cider project. Andrew got into winemaking via his work as a nurseryman providing grapevine starts to vineyard owners all over California’s Central Coast. This occupation gave him grape-supplying contacts and a broad perspective of “place” few other California winemakers possess. Want to encourage a hardworking, young small-production winemaker with whom we like to participate? Taste this wine soon (preferably with medium-rare steak and ‘shrooms) and – when you like it – dash back in for more!