Selections for June 2017

Chip off the ol’ (Ghost) Block

2015 ELIZABETH ROSE ‘Chockablock’ Red Blend – Napa Valley

I took an unkind jab at trophy Cabernet “Ghost Block” at our recent Nickel & Nickel event, but only as a tongue-in-cheek remark.  The Ghost Block folks own the Rock Cairn vineyard, and I ventured that N&N does a better job with their fruit than the GB owners themselves.  What was I supposed to say with Nickel & Nickel’s gifted winemaker Darice Spinelli in the room?! 

The fact is, Ghost Block Cabernet is a different STYLE of Cabernet, so comparing their interpretation with the Nickel & Nickel rendition isn’t really fair.  Ghost Block goes for a leaner, more elegant but no less flavorful wine and this ‘Chockablock’ echoes the idea.

Less purple and more ruby in hue.  Less in the way of violets and blackberries and alternatively providing a more perfumey, sultry redness (sage, raspberry sauce, brined olives).  Less in alcoholic bombast and more in balance, complexity, and graceful length . . . here is a less-is-more Napa red experience which is definitely designed to cost more!

The grapes at play:  41% Merlot, 41% Malbec, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cab Franc, 1% Petit Verdot from Oakville and Yountville. 

The treatment we recommend:  Grilled Boudin Blanc (white Cajun) sausages, filet mignon, good friends!          

“NOT another Syrah?!”


You’re right:  There have been a few Syrah provisions in recent months and we promise to lay off for a while.  - But we defend the trend by pointing out Syrah’s many different manifestations.  We have fulfilled our mandate of providing VARIETY.

This wine is twice as dark in color as Adam Webb’s Cochon Syrah in last month’s pack.  That wine was suave, with a sense of red mellowness.  This is a cannon blast of purple fruit fun.  Take a drag of its perfume:  Fresh asphalt, unsweetened dark chocolate, and blackberry compote indulge.  Black pepper and cured meat intrigue.  This is nearly scary fun. 

In the mouth the blackberries win out, then admit late-arriving blueberries and espresso to the party.  Some grippy tannins creep in at the very end, setting off the “Where’s the protein??” alarm.  Respond to that with anything grilled and this rambunctious beast of a fruit bomb Syrah will be soothed.

Right Hand Man includes 5% Petite Sirah for darkening and structure and 5% of the white Viognier which helps fasten color (yes, white wine enhances the purpleness!) and promotes florality.  The fruit sources range from the very warm region of Paso Robles down to more mild Los Olivos and Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County.   A 22-month rest in French and American oak happened before bottling.

Enjoy this fun expression of a grape worthy of a wide range of renditions!