Selections for June 2016

Seen this before?

2011 D.E. FLEMING ‘Founder’s Blend’ SYRAH – Santa Lucia Highlands

We have recently conducted a few different promotions from Paraiso, located on the “back side” of Big Sur in Monterey’s Santa Lucia Highlands.  We’ve bought stack after stack of their Pinot which delivers loads of fruit for a surprisingly low price.  We took all that was made of their upper-tier D.E. Fleming Pinot as well, showing you a $45 wine at a far better rate.  More recently, we bought all that remained of this 60-case-production Syrah and likewise promoted it.  Unlike its Pinot counterpart it didn’t sell out in ten days.  Why not?  It’s Syrah, a wine about which many casual consumers have serious doubts. 

Most of our club members know better.  Syrah is a great varietal not for predictable sameness, but for its wonderful variations.  Its cooler Northern Rhone homeland confers mysterious spice and meat to its renditions.  Alter ego Barossa Valley Shiraz, along with the Paso Robles versions, give you powerful fruit. 

The Santa Lucia Highlands possesses the rare ability to give both Northern Rhone exoticity and warmer weather body and fruit to its Syrahs, and that happens here.  As you may recall, 2011 was a cooler year for California’s wine regions, so this Syrah is a little lower in obvious fruit and higher in the pepper aspects.  The body isn’t lacking, however:  This is a hefty red, worthy of its original $45 price tag. 

Pair this with grilled lamb chops or ribeyes and you’re set to go!            

A Man of Many Culinary Experiences . . .

2014 BAKER LANE ‘Colors’ PINOT NOIR – Sonoma Coast

Stephen Singer is the proprietor of Baker Lane, a winery and estate vineyard located just outside downtown Sebastopol.  This wine comes from trusted fruit sources owned by his neighbors.  You might say it is also sourced from this man’s wealth of culinary experience.

Singer was once married to Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and father to her only child Fanny (remember Café Fanny next to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley?).  He once operated a San Francisco wine shop.  He was the wine director for Chez Panisse itself for fifteen years.  He was the initiator (and remains an owner) of next-door tapas destination Cesar.  He has his own olive oil and vinegar import business.

This accumulation of sensory data has certainly contributed to The Wine Steward’s admiration for Baker Lane wines over the years.  Both Pinot Noir and Syrah have happened on our shelves to very good effect (you bought a lot), but this wine shows more color and depth of ripe fruit and forest floor character than any prior example.  This, my friends, will be a Steward staple; destined to be loved by any with a penchant for delicious Pinot.