Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Epic Barolo

Posted by JonDerry, Apr 20, 2014.

In getting together with some LA and OC wine folks yesterday, I brought along this 1961 Oddero Barolo to the party that also featured a '66 Lafite, and a '66 Haut Brion, among others. I had sourced this Barolo just last week as something to throw at the pair of old 1st growth wolves, and spice things up. Sitting here this morning, I can easily call it one of the two best wine experiences of my life. It was an epic, life changing showing, not only for me but for all 5 of us at the table, and even the proprietor of the restaurant, admittedly a wine novice.

It had a drop dead gorgeous nose. Remarkable in how spongy, expansive, and textural it was, like a meal in itself, showing mixed red berries, florals, rubber, and earthiness. There was little to no funk, just incredible depth and freshness to the flavors. This is why many of us hesitate to hang a 100 point score on wines, because you never know when something is going to come along and top your previous high, and this Oddero bested (shattered, really) anything else I've ever smelled, recalling that '89 Beaucastel, but without the funk and with more concentration, texture and alertness.

The palate showed incredibly fresh red fruit flavors, complicated by leather, extracts, tobacco, and spice. Viscosity medium. There was just a bit of eucalyptus showing toward the back, giving a sense of wild acidity and freshness that I appreciated, allowing the wine to soar and stick its neck out that much higher. Still with good energy and tannic backbone on its fresh, flinty finish that went on for the better part of a minute. Rarified air.

 

Replies

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Reply by outthere, Apr 20, 2014.

Strong!

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Reply by GregT, Apr 20, 2014.

There's definitely something to be said about older Barolo and Barbaresco. And you did it the right way IMO, with a few people but not so many that you couldn't enjoy the wine and go back to it from time to time over the night.

It's also kind of interesting how certain producers get reputations. You talk to a lot of Barolo lovers and they don't list Oddero as their favorite producer. But then you open one like you had and everybody likes it.

Happens to producers all over the world. Some get a reputation that may or may not be deserved and the prices reflect that, while other producers, every bit as good, don't get put into the same league. Those are of course the wines to buy!

In Oddero's case I think it's because of the way their wines behave when young. Oddero is pretty old school, although back in the late 1800s they were kind of innovators. When young, their wines are pretty austere and they stay that way for a long time. However, that's exactly the thing that's to me unique about Barolo / Barbaresco and unlike any other wine I can think of - they actually seem to take on weight as they age. A lot of wines take on additional complexity - Tuscany, Rioja, the N. Rhone all produce such wines, but none really seem to actually grow while in the bottle. Seems like you had some really nice wines! Good job.Wish I had been smart enough to buy a bunch of them back in the day.

 

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Reply by dvogler, Apr 20, 2014.

Bravo!  Here's to those times! 

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 20, 2014.

"However, that's exactly the thing that's to me unique about Barolo / Barbaresco and unlike any other wine I can think of - they actually seem to take on weight as they age. A lot of wines take on additional complexity - Tuscany, Rioja, the N. Rhone all produce such wines, but none really seem to actually grow while in the bottle."

Greg, I've found a few others. Latour in Bordeaux is the first to pop to mind. It not only balances out when aged properly, but grows into something larger and magical.

JD, I would never consider a C9dP to be in the same league as a well made well aged Barolo--one of the world's great wines. Though it would've been interesting if you'd had a better vintage for the Bordeaux--say a '61 Lafite or better yet Latour--at the table. Haut Brion was crap during those years, relative to its peaks at other times. They had real trouble at the winery. But to the theme of your OP, congrats! I can remember similar epiphanies (even for the same type dinner with a '59 La Mission), and they are the very special occasions that we treasure, and shape us as the type of wine lovers we are.

 

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 21, 2014.

Well said Greg.

Dave, I'd love to try a '61 Latour some day...I'm loathe to fork over the cash for top Bordeaux but luckily have made some good friends who love Bordeaux enough to acquire such bottles. The '66 Lafite was unfortunately oxidized...the last time we all got together we had a '55 that was excellent. Interesting about HB, the '66 still tasted young, and showed very well and correct but I didn't find much complexity or intangibles. In fact I'm still waiting for that mesmerizing Bordeaux experience...hasn't really happened with Burgundy really either, but I prefer Burgundy because I find it a more "heady" and soulful experience, where as Bordeaux often comes across as sophisticated, but simple.

Re: the CdP I'd like to try are the Beaucastle Hommage, particularly the '90 and Rayas first, but I'm starting to think of CdP as the Paso of France. I didn't have a reference point for the spongy quality of the nose on the Oddero other than an '89 Beaucastle shared with Fox and OT a couple years back.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 21, 2014.

Not a horrible analogy; there's a reason why the Perrin family is down there.  ;-)

C9dP can be highly pleasurable wine but I rarely get ethereal epiphanies from it, more like wallowing in sensuousness (not a bad thing in and of itself). The winemakers there are, I'm sure, highly grateful to Parker. He managed to up it to a level of respect amongst major segments of the market that it never had before. Back in the '70s when I first encountered it no one took it all that seriously, though it was accorded greater respect than, say, Beaujolais or Muscadet or Picpoul de Pinet  ;-).  Part of the problem back then was, of course, the riotous brett and other issues from relatively dirty winemaking.

I've had those ethereal experiences from both Bordeaux and Burgundy (and Barolo and aged Champagne and syrahs from three continents and Rioja and [even] Super Tuscans and ...).

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Reply by zufrieden, Apr 21, 2014.

Where and how did you acquire the Oddero '61?  Seems like a story within a story there... though I am not trying to promote a new reality program like American Wine Pickers (Damn, I let the cat out of the proverbial bag!).

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 21, 2014.

and California? That was my only other epiphany...a 2002 Shafer Hillside. I suppose a 2005 SQN Syrah was the next closest thing.

Zuf, I got it from a retailer that specializes in such things, shipped just days beforehand.

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Reply by GregT, Apr 22, 2014.

I have to agree with D about CdP. Back in the 70s and before, people called that the fruity, easy drinking wine that you had while you waited for your "serious" Bordeaux to come around. Burgundy wasn't in the same league - mostly tiny production from a bunch of peasants, whereas Bordeaux had chateaux, reputation, foreign investment, pedigree, and wide distribution. Parker essentially bestowed respect on CdP and many producers acknowledge as much. He made his name on Bordeaux and when he turned his attention south, his approval got them attention and respect.

Where Cote du Rhone sits today in the hierarchy of things was where CdP once was.

Another thing Parker did, and for which he should get credit IMO, was champion cleaner winemaking, which he found in California. CdPs were brett factories. Actually so was Bordeaux, the north Rhone, and most of Europe. When CA came on the scene in a big way, people started cleaning up their wineries and winemaking. That came a little later to Barolo, but it changed much European winemaking.

Some people rue the change and say all wine is the same now, with clean fruit and no personality. Uh, OK. That's like saying all wine was the same in the past with bacteria, TCA, and spoilage. Clearly that isn't true and it's a dumb argument IMO.

This is just opinion and I haven't read or heard it elsewhere, but I think that the price increases in CdP have caused people to think that you need to, or can, age those wines. They're no longer just a few bucks, some cost well over $100. If it's expensive, it must be better with age right?

Nope. I have yet to have a CdP that is actually BETTER with 15+ years than it was in its youth. Some, like Rayas, hang on and they're delicious with 20 years or more. But those are the exceptions and that Rayas was pretty good when it was young too. The charm of CdP to me is the fruit. When that goes, what's the interest?

And I wouldn't limit that point to CdP. It applies to many regions and many grapes. Priorat comes to mind, although that's a bit different because there's such a variety of grapes in use. But I remember doing a pretty extensive tasting of 1996 Priorats in 2006 and everyone agreed that they were best a few years earlier. And all of those had been taken directly from the bodegas and stored in perfect conditions. It's just that 6-8 years seemed to be the sweet spot. But again, it's hard to say because the blends have changed and there's such a variety of grapes in use.

Barolo and Barbaresco OTOH, are completely different animals. Whether "modern" or "traditional", they reward aging. For me, after Rioja, if you're talking about a wine with some years on it, those are some of the best wines you can have. Like I said, I wish I had been smart enough to collect a lot of them when I was younger. And Sangiovese-based wines too.

Alas. Too soon old and too late smart.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 22, 2014.

So you're saying Clos Erasmus shouldn't be laid down?  ;-)

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 23, 2014.

JD, you should give a serious look to this offering from Chambers St. over in NYC. It's early morning here in Tokyo, I just finished a hefty breakfast, and my mouth started watering as soon as I clicked it open...

 

 


Produttori del Barbaresco 1967 - 2000

We are fresh out of the 1895... but we do have some more recent wine from the Produttori del Barbaresco. The Cantina Sociale di Barbaresco, as shown in the price-list above, ran from 1894 - 1930, and some of the member-families went on to found the Produttori in 1958. The quality of the wines from the Produttori is astonishingly consistent, including the very fine 2009's, offered here by us for the first time.

To see current inventory (and thus perhaps avoiding the disappointment of trying to order something that's already sold) link to the website and click on that page to refresh the inventory listed there.

Produttori del Barbaresco 1967 Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta   |  24 in stock  |  $169.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1967 Barbaresco Riserva Speciale Pora   |  6 in stock  |  $169.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1967 Barbaresco Riserva Speciale Martinenga   |  3 in stock  |  $169.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1970 Barbaresco Riserva Pora

Still doing very well at 40+ years, with intense mature Nebbiolo aromatics, dry and savory; the wine is not overly tannic, but no Piemontese would ever serve this except at table, with a main-course meat dish like ossobuco or something grilled; do so and you will have a memorable treat.

 

 

  |  14 in stock  |  $159.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1971 Barbaresco   |  10 in stock  |  $99.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1971 Barbaresco Riserva Pora   |  6 in stock  |  $159.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1971 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja   |  1 in stock  |  $169.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1973 Barbaresco   |  1 in stock  |  $79.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1974 Barbaresco   |  3 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1976 Barbaresco   |  8 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1978 Barbaresco   |  25 in stock  |  $119.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1978 Barbaresco 3.78 L   |  4 in stock  |  $499.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1978 Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta   |  5 in stock  |  $179.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1979 Barbaresco   |  7 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1979 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja   |  1 in stock  |  $129.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1979 Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo   |  1 in stock  |  $129.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1981 Barbaresco   |  11 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1982 Barbaresco   |  5 in stock  |  $109.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1982 Barbaresco Cavaliere del Tartufo   |  6 in stock  |  $119.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1982 Barbaresco Riserva Pora   |  4 in stock  |  $149.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1984 Barbaresco   |  2 in stock  |  $79.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1985 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano   |  1 in stock  |  $124.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1985 Barbaresco Riserva Paje   |  1 in stock  |  $124.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1986 Barbaresco   |  7 in stock  |  $84.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1987 Barbaresco   |  4 in stock  |  $79.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1988 Barbaresco   |  1 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1989 Barbaresco   |  3 in stock  |  $109.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1989 Barbaresco 3 L   |  2 in stock  |  $499.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1990 Barbaresco Riserva Pora   |  9 in stock  |  $129.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1996 Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta   |  2 in stock  |  $99.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1996 Barbaresco Riserva Paje   |  2 in stock  |  $99.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1996 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja   |  6 in stock  |  $99.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1999 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano   |  1 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1999 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello   |  5 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1999 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello 1.5 L   |  4 in stock  |  $189.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1999 Barbaresco Riserva Paje   |  4 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1999 Barbaresco Riserva Pora   |  4 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 1999 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja   |  3 in stock  |  $89.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2000 Barbaresco Riserva Montefico   |  2 in stock  |  $79.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2000 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano   |  1 in stock  |  $79.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2000 Barbaresco Riserva Pora   |  3 in stock  |  $79.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Asili   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Montefico   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Paje   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Pora   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99  
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo   |  12 in stock  |  $58.99

 

 

A welcome addition to *any* cellar.  OT, ready to expand your horizons across the seas?  Hey, and someone's already laid them down for you so you don't have to worry about infanticide...   ;-)

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 23, 2014.

Absolutely agree Dave, I've been buying some of the newer releases but don't have anything old. Have indeed heard these need about 15 years to come around, so I can imagine that the older ones have some serious staying power.

This was actually my alternate to that '61 Barolo through Rare Wine Co., but the CT TN's for what they had were not as inspiring.

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 23, 2014.

Incidentally, some interesting commentary by John Gilman in response to a similar experience (epiphany wine) someone posted about a '59 Ausone on WineBerserkers.

Dan Rosenheck wrote:[list][*]1959 Château Ausone - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru (4/21/2014)

I'm not really sure where to go from here with this producer though: the estate famously was asleep at the wheel from the mid-60's until it was sold in 1997, and the wines since then are a) Rolland-spoofed b) too young and c) ludicrously expensive--good vintages over the past 15 years are trading in the four-digit Petrus range. I imagine that if I have a taste for mature, traditionally styled St. E, I should start gobbling up old Figeac and Canon. Any other suggestions of producers or vintages would be greatly appreciated.



Hi Dan,

Great note on a legendary Ausone, but you are mistaken if you believe that they went into a slump in the mid-1960s, as the domaine continued to make brilliant wines in most vintages up until their sale. Their faded reputation during this period has more to do with the fact that some folks cannot taste... particularly a wine that starts out so structured as Ausone did back in its traditional guise, prior to its modernization of style under the new ownership. I have had world-changing bottles of '64, '66, '70, '76, '82, '83, '85, '89 and '90 since their "slump" began, and I have not tasted anywhere near as widely as I would like of Ausone vintages during this time frame, so I imagine that there are others ('61, '62, '71, '75, 88, '95?) that arer also stellar, but have not crossed my path. What you described in terms of your love for the textural exotica of the '59 as it blossomed with air is the profound influence of the terroir here at Ausone, which is the filet section of the Cotes section of St. Emilion, with its sublime base of limestone scree and fossilized starfish. Magdelaine, Belair and Canon are the closest here to this stunning base of soil, but no one would dispute that Ausone has the finest section on the hillside descending down from the town. It really is the Romanee-Conti of Bordeaux. Sadly, the new style does not properly highlight this unique and brilliant terroir, though the soil is still there below the predictable veneer of "cuvee de luxe" new wood and micro-oxygenation. Probably the best bet, now that Magdelaine has heard the tumbrils roll, is Canon for an approximation of that rush of terroir that the traditional, mature Ausones delivered in spades back in the old days. Canon is another property that is ludicrously underrated by most commentators on Bordeaux. You will not be able to scale the same heights as the '59 Ausone, but a great Canon at maturity is another sensational experience of why the Cotes in St. Emilion is the most magical patch of dirt in all of Bordeaux. It is a pity that the folks that own most of the vineyards on the slope here really do not have any appreciation for what they have and what they so often squander each year. Figeac, which was also brilliant in its own right, is cut from a far different cloth of soil and cepages, as it really has more in common with a wine like Cheval Blanc or some of its neighborly Pomerols (like VCC) than it does with the best of the Cotes section of St. Emilion. It was a great, great wine in its own right, but you will not find many similarities to your '59 Ausone experience plumming around with wines like '64 or '70 Figeac. 

All the Best,

John

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 23, 2014.

Not the case for Haut Brion, JD. They were living on past reputation far too long back then. Plenty of brett, too. They were only OK wines coming from a great-wine house for well more than a decade. I personally went through a half dozen '61s of my own and a mixed number of almost every vintage from the end of the '50s thru the early-middle '70s. I had a case of well-stored '61s but ended up selling the other half dozen to fund purchases of better wine. The weak ones during that period were so plentiful it has tainted my view of the house to this day. La Mission, on the other hand, earned kudos with just about every bottle. They knocked the stuffing out of their later brothers across the road with every bottle I had during that period.

And listen carefully--you will not go wrong with Produttori del Barbaresco. CT notes be damned--they need to be dosed with several leavenings of salt in most cases.  ;-)   To top it off, PdB's QPR is excellent.

The thing to do is not to buy Ausone and the other ridiculously priced labels in their recent vintages, but look for well-provenanced library-equivalents from older vintages. Their prices are relative bargains compared to what you would have to pay for the newer wines you won't want to drink for a decade (or two), anyway.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 24, 2014.

I like that comment at the top re: the 2009 PdB Barbaresco, especially since I just bought a pair of the normale right before the reviews came out and the prices in the US went up by a good 20%.  (Rare Wine was plugging them, but K&L had the lowest price--love the search engines.) GdP is not hot on the '09 Baroli, but there you go.  Anyway, D, while you were off the boards, I had dinner with David Parker of Benchmark (we both brought wine to an event--guess whose was nicer?) and he was extolling the '64 Baroli as just hitting their peak. The '79 Jaboulet Hermitage he brought was pretty good, and he seems to know a thing or two. ;-)

"Too soon old and too late smart?"  That settles it, GregT: I am confronting my father about his illegitimate child from Michigan.  

Booked my flights to Milan and back last night.   Piedmont beckons indeed. Investors still welcome.  

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 24, 2014.

When do you take off Fox?

I depart 5/30 for Paris.

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 24, 2014.

Thanks for posting the Produttori's...was thinking about those Rabaja's, but they went fast.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 24, 2014.

I'll be in Piemonte from 5/13 to 5/24. 

I liked GdP's article today about Marcarini Baroli tasted recently and previously in 2007.  Of course, great Barolo at $40 ruins my idea that there's a market for nebbiolo grown outside of Italy and priced as something more reasonable than Monfortino or Gaja.

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 24, 2014.

Doesn't exactly ruin it Fox, though those Italians sure run lean and mean and create some of the best values in the world of wine and food.

But CA Chard still does well even though Chablis is cheaper to quality and there are many more examples...That '11Billaud Simon Grand Cru had this week was $59.99, crazy.

I guess folks like CA products. Something about drinking local, especially if its a small, sustainable practice except it kind of needs that good dose of hype with how flooded the market seems these days.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 24, 2014.

"Thanks for posting the Produttori's...was thinking about those Rabaja's, but they went fast."

Why only them? There are plenty of other potentially great bottles in the list...

 

"I guess folks like CA products"

BTW, though this might better go in a syrah thread, I started the evening yesterday at an industry event--a birthday party for a company that lets you manage your bank accounts, credit cards and digital money from your iPhone (350k downloads last year in the Japanese market, app-of-the-year from Apple, etc.--it was a good year). Free beer and Kentucky whiskey (Suntory was sponsoring the event). Decided to walk home with one of my coworkers, ran into an old friend who has maitre d'd and somm'd a few of the better French restaurants in Tokyo. He was just closing up shop at his current restaurant and invited us down to his apartment for some late night drinks and banter. It was near my place so I swung by to pick up and then get rid of some of those leftover rubble bottles from the auction event I mentioned earlier.

Grabbed a Barrel 27 syrah from Paso Robles and a Sardinian bottle of mild potential interest, picked up some prosciutto, olives, avocados and a baquette (knew he'd have plenty of cheeses at his place), and rejoined my coworker and him and his wife (also French, from Savoy).

OK, there was plenty of alcohol already on board me and my coworker. The friend and his wife (a yoga instructor) were pretty sober.

Unscrewed the cap on the bottle labelled syrah, sniffed it and my suspicions were confirmed. Hot, sloppily blousy, something that apparently wanted to be a syrah but made by people who must've worked from rote based on one of those bad CA merlot models. Fruit oozing all over the place, obviously harvested too late. The French were suitably shocked ('Sacrebleu! This is NOT syrah!!'), and even my coworker (also a long-term offshore American who long ago lost an 'American palate') got a twisted look on his face. Uncorked the Sardinian, and it smelled like what I had half-expected/half-hoped, which was a good daily wine, perfect for pasta and maybe even some boar. Unfortunately the bottle now is a dead soldier in his trash bin and I don't even remember its name, but I could tell they'd kept the stems in though we were stumped trying to identify the varietal at that time of night (he's a bit of a Luddite and still doesn't carry a cellphone, and the rest of us were starting to get too buzzed to fuss about it). Nobody made any effort to Google the wines. The only thing we subsequently discussed was whether it would be better that the 'syrah' be used in a braising sauce, or rather head straight into the vinegar cask.

Bottom line is I guess that winery sells its products and some even made their way across the Pacific, but when it comes to 'folks like CA' when the CA representative is something like that it's definitely not the case outside of some brainwashed CA/USA consumer segment.

 


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