Wine Talk

Snooth User: Stephen Harvey

California Wine

Posted by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2011.

I have finally got my hands on some Californian Wines

Justin 08 Justification 65% Cab Franc 35% Merlot - Paso Robles

ZD 08 California Chardonnay - Napa Valley

Groth 07 Cabernet Sauvignon - Oakville Napa Valley

Flowers 08 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast

I am keen to get opinions on what I should expect from these wines.

Also what you would eat with these wines during your late summer/early autumn

I am thinking of arranging a group of friends and doing a typical Californian Dinner party so any tips on how you would do one with these wines would be greatfully received

Thanks in advance

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 7, 2011.

I wouldn't pull them all into the same party, but maybe split into two, Bordeaux blends one, and Burgundy varietals the other, also pulling in recognizable standards from both Oz and even France. Though that's just me....

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 7, 2011.

Had the Groth 07 Cab a while back.  Classy, but not very exciting.  Seems like that's the range of these wine, about 89-90 points.

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Reply by outthere, Feb 7, 2011.

I remember when you couldn't get your hands on a  90pt wine. Now they are "not very exciting". My how the ratings game has changed.

Decent lineup Stephen. Mixed up the AVA's nicely. Like Dmcker said, I would put the Chard and Pinot in one flight and the Cabs in the other.

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 7, 2011.

Sorry that may not have come off well...It's a fine flight, though I've seen how SH likes to indulge in top notch stuff and just wanted to try and manage expectations.

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Reply by outthere, Feb 7, 2011.

It came off just fine. I was just noting how it was real hard to get a 90 score 10 years ago but now a 90 doesn't hold as much weight.

I'm sure Stephen is aware that these are not top flight examples of California wines but still of good quality. At least I hope he is. Uh, Stephen? 

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2011.

Outthere

Yes, I am aware of the place these wines have in the food chain.

I have been very keen to get hold of wines in this quality/price point range as they hopefully represent what a lot of the Snooth community drink on a regular basis and I have always believed the true guide to a region is what it produces that has the "seal of approval" from its local consumers.

Importantly for me as part of my wine journey and why I subscribe to Snooth is to enjoy and understand what people drink on an everyday basis.

To Jonderry's point, yes I am lucky that I get to consume so wine at the upper end of the food chain and I recognise I am lucky that I can do that.  But I have many friends here that I enjoy drinking the local good stuff that you pay between $15 and $50. 

So I am hoping to try and replicate a typical Californian wine dinner at home [which I suspect is not much different from what we do anyway] so any tips would be great

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Feb 8, 2011.

I think the Flowers is a decent example of a better CA PN.  It's fairly Burgundian in style, with lower ABV than many CA PNs, higher acid and less in-your-face fruitiness.

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Reply by gregt, Feb 8, 2011.

Agreed.  And I haven't had that vintage of Justification, but it's usually a decent example of a wine that would cost much more if it were from Napa rather than farther south. 

But I'm not sure those are the "average" wines people drink either.  I'd think that the basic Justin Cab or Syrah, which are also decent wines, would be more likely the daily drinkers.  The Groth too - it's a bit pricey for most people's "every day" wine.  But a decent line up for certain.  I'd drink either of them.  The Groth is from Oakville, which is like Napa central - they've been bigger and riper in recent years, but you get the Napa experience.  As a counterpoint to the Justification, it should be rather interesting for you to see the different areas- stylistically both are on the riper side of things and you don't get the tannic bite that you might get from the mountain fruit from Howell or Atlas Peak. 

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 8, 2011.

Personally never been a big ZD fan, though I drank a batch back in the late '70s and early '80s. Moved away from them, so I suppose it'd be interesting to experience how the wine tastes now. Of all of those, the Flowers is the only one I'd buy without hesitation.

Don't know if this qualifies as everyday for Tokyo these days, but last night (Monday night) here, got together with four friends and we did 2007 vs 2004 for mid-range Bordeaux. Potensac vs. Calon Segur, so four bottles there, and someone brought a Guigal CdR which wasn't a horrible opener as it turned out (though the to-remain-unnamed Aussie shiraz a surprise guest brought was only useful as an educational tool on how the sodapop model has transferred to wine). Just a few years ago that was an everyday lineup. Now, even Calon Segur is getting pricey. My only regret was that it was infanticide on the Potensac, esp. the 2007. Reconfirmed that I've always liked CS's nose better than its palate.

Since the locally made wine in this country is generally crap, this level of wine from this type of source, in effect, becomes the everyday, depending of course on income levels. For the surprise guest that shiraz is apparently everyday....

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 8, 2011.

Some interesting Bordeaux names I haven't heard of Dm. 

Very rare that a nose significantly outperforms the palate for me.  I can distinctly remember this happening with the 07 Shafer - One Point Five Cabernet I had on my birthday last year.  Good wine, though not worth the $70 or so tariff.

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 8, 2011.

I suppose the fact you haven't heard of those is one reason why they still remain a relative value proposition in Bordeaux. Potensac isn't even a classified growth, though they likely would be if the reset button were punched on the old classifications and they were redone today.

Calon Segur's nose was as usual quite expressive, very cedar boxy and everything else on the 2004, but the vintage being what it was the palate couldn't reach the heights the nose did. Some Bordeauxs from that vintage are great, others not, since a lot more work was required in the vineyards to get the grapes to where they needed to be in the autumn.

Before giving a final personal rating on the 2004s, I need to give both the Potensac (which showed more potential, I thought, than the CS) and the Calon Segur at least another five years of aging to see if and when they'll truly open up.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 8, 2011.

D - no hints on the unanmed Aussie shiraz

Just a warning on 08 Aussie Shiraz - Anything picked after early March will be overcooked.  We had 15 days over 37C in a row and I think about 10 of those over 40C and some in excess of 42C [108F]

I suspect there is a lot of very ordinary 08 stuff floating around so please be aware of any enticing deals

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 8, 2011.

This is as close as I'll go--ever see the movie or been to the part of London known as Notting Hill?

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 8, 2011.

Are yes - made by a company that sounds like large cluster of stars headquartered in the land of super bowl.

I have avoided that aforementioned wine like the plague, I actually hated it even when I was poor, just married graduate accountant preferring to drink beer and save may shekels for something resembling a wine made from the shiraz grape.

If the person who bought the wine was Australian, please take whatever action you feel justified to compensate that unnecessary assualt on your vinuous senses.

I think it is actually worse than a certain Aussie critter wine popular in your homeland.

Maybe we should get James to test it against Layer Cake!

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 8, 2011.

Sounds good Dm, will keep an eye on both the CS and Pontensac as I have a feeling i'll always be on a value hunt in Bordeaux.

One buy call i've been turned onto is the 2005 Château Gigault Cuvée Viva for $20-30.  I'll be picking up a bottle soon to see how it is. 

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Reply by gregt, Feb 8, 2011.

Jon - I'm not a Bordeaux guy by any stretch, but Potensac is one of those wines around $20 or so, at least in NYC, that people use to show that Bordeaux still has value wines.  It's like Poujeaux or Beaumont or Tronquoy Lalande, all of which can be decent wines for fractions of what you'd pay for more well-known wines. 

D's take is interestinhg because Calon Segur, from St. Estephe if I'm not mistaken, is about twice the price of those others here in NYC, and for me, is usually better than most of them.  I have no opinion on the 2004s however, as I haven't had it. So now he has me interested.

The question is:  " for $25, what do you buy?" 

If you're limited to Bordeaux, then those are the wines you pick up and they're not offensive at all and in some vintages, are quite nice. But for the same price, you can buy the aforementioned Justin Syrah or Cab, or you can buy Steltzner Claret, or something from south France, Spain, or Italy.  I used to buy those Bordeaux wines and even got them as futures so I'd have a case or so of a decent wine around.  But they were like $12 a bottle then, even for the 2000s. 

Today?  Forget it.  Some of the Rossos I had today are better values.

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Reply by outthere, Feb 8, 2011.

Are yes - made by a company that sounds like large cluster of stars headquartered in the land of super bowl.

Come on now, they don't make wine. They ruin good winery names then sell them off. ;-)

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 8, 2011.

Yes in both our worlds

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 8, 2011.

I hear ya Greg.  At least, there was a widespread price reduction in 2008 Bordeaux, as i'm sure the wineries were seeing a drop in exports through the sub-par 06 and 07 vintages.  However 2008 seems average to slightly above average while 2009 and 2010 figure to be blockbusters, so it'll be interesting to see how it evolves.

No doubt better bargains can be had in Rhone, Spain, most of Italy, etc.  But if you like Bordeaux blends, it's either Bordeaux or California.  Both of these regions have plenty of over-priced wine, and they're both big regions with values to be had.

From the pricing research i've done recently, it seems that Burgundy is a bit more over-priced than Bordeaux, what do you think?

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 8, 2011.

My dad bought some varietal of the unmmentionable Aussie wine, and it can be had very frequently at my fave discounter (where he bought it), but it really is dreadful.  Dmcker, I have the same feeling about ZD wines fairly uniformly.  Haven't tried one in years because I had a bad experience with one at a restaurant I used to patronize with a girlfriend.  Bev manager who knew us well as customers really sold us on it, and it was the only bottle I have ever sent back just because it was massively disappointing.  The GF agreed.  The place went out of  business soon after, and I think the wine program should be blamed.  I wasn't sold on ZD before that, and that sealed the deal for me.

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