Introduce Yourself

Snooth User: DaveinDC

Greetings Snoothlings...

Posted by DaveinDC, Mar 12, 2014.

Hi all!

Hoping to wade into interesting wine talk (and food talk).  Me, I've been seriously enjoying and exploring wine for just over 20 years. 

On the red side, right now I'm partial to wines from Spain and the Rhone valley, but other loves are Oregon pinots, really good Italian wines (yes, it's endless, but that's the fun), and wanting to try much more Syrah from coastal Sonoma (I had a life changing bottle recently at Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino CA - they had only one bottle, but I'm now wanting to find out more...).  Also love finding good examples of Loire Valley reds.   But there is beauty to be found in wines from any region (usually).

On the white side, I prefer freshness - love Gruner V, drinking a great cheap South African Sauv Blanc recently, I have explored upper Mosel valley on foot for amazing dry Riesling to which I am dedicated for life, and will never say no to a good champagne or a nice Cava from Spain.  While I don't usually touch chardonnay on the day-to-day, I will occasionally fall in love with a Grgich Hills chard, it's just awesome, or a Kistler with roast chicken when I want to remember what that big California chard taste is all about.  Oh, and Finger Lakes in NY is not to be missed.  Lots of good new stuff there, though I have to say that the original Dr. Frank is still great.  I actually think their chard is the closest thing to French Chablis that I've tasted outside of France...

Favorite current food to make is a paella made on the BBQ grill with some good wood smoke.  And braised pork of many varieties.

While I base out of Washington, DC, I am currently working from Beijing, China where the wine selection generally stinks and is about double the price it would be in the US (for any imports, as there is substantial tax and mark-up)... but I was educated in and spend plenty of time in California so I'm just slightly dangerous on the local wine scene there.  If anyone wants to know anything about emerging Chinese wine, let me know.  Best thing around so far is Sliver Heights from Ningxia Province, from a fabulous Bordeaux educated Chinese winemaker Emma Gao.  I am currently collecting wine remotely in my bunker bank home in the US, with chances to taste a few times a year when I visit.  Have had great luck with the guys at the Rare Wine Co. in Napa on that score.

Looking forward to chatting with you folks.




Reply by EMark, Mar 13, 2014.

Welcome, Dave, and, thank you for the excellent introduction.  I think you'll find a lot of like-minded wine lovers here, and, speaking as a U.S. resident, I look forward to your reports on the emerging Chinese wine industry.

Your "life changing" Syrah story brought  a smile to my face.  There are a lot of big-time Syrah fans here--both California examples and Rhone examples.  Do you remember the maker of that Sonoma Coast example that you had?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 13, 2014.

Welcome to Snooth, Dave.  I went to the website for Alexander's hoping to find their wine list, but they did not have any Cal Syrah listed.  I'm one of those California and N. Rhone Syrah fanatics.  The N. Rhone has gotten so expensive that Cal Syrahs, if made well, can be a relative bargain.  Look around the threads, including the cool climate Syrah thread that outthere, a real Syrah sensei, started for some good wines at reasonable prices.  On the bargain end, Halcon really smashes it, Renard is good for the money if a little less N. Rhone like, and then it's onward and upward from there, including the Lagier-Meredith at a still resonable $45 or so if you can find it, Arnot-Roberts, Hartford Family... all of those push my buttons. 

Reply by dmcker, Mar 13, 2014.

Welcome Dave, from another Dave. We have some similar tastes in wine and food (my paella has beaten Spanish versions in impromptu cookoffs...  ;-)   ).

Rarewineco out of Sonoma is very good (except shipping overseas with them is problematic), as are several options as good or better (internationally, at least). Will revisit when I have time to list them up with links, though perhaps others will step in to help. Up in Napa there are three, and in Berkeley a couple, as well as one in Redwood City, one in Chicago, one in NYC and one in LA that I've used quite successfully (hint to the regulars...) .

What are you doing in China?

Reply by DaveinDC, Mar 13, 2014.

Thanks all.

Emark, sorry I cannot seem to put my hands on the producer of that magical syrah... dang, what was I thinking.  Maybe I'll try giving them a ring - their somm was pretty passionate about it and was lamenting that I got the last bottle, and couldn't readily get more, so if he's still there he may recall.  This would have been this past summer in early August.  My friend may have photographed the label, I'll also try emailing him and will post if I get anything.

Richard, great to hear there is a rhone ranger squad here.  Thanks for the recommendations, my knowledge of the NoCA syrah is pretty thin but I'd love to try more.  I've heard there are interesting things happening on the coast.  Assume the ones you mention are orderable?  May be in SoCal in a few weeks and could order a selection.

Dave, thanks.  My strategy for the moment is delayed gratification.  Shipping overseas esp to China is far too expensive and I also wouldn't necessarily trust the treatment upon arrival.  So... I'm doing online orders to my home in the US and cellaring them.  When I pass through about 3 times a year I get to sample.  It kind of sucks, but at least I don't drink it all too quickly!  Mainly, I am building up wines that will go the distance, though I did just order what sounded like an awesome dry German Riesling which is one of my favorite whites - the 2012 Keller Riesling "von der fels" trocken.  Supposed to be a great example of very dry Riesling from great winemaker and terrior.  It's $29/bottle and they may still have it on hand (Rare Wine).  I will sample this summer!  As to your question, I'm here in China working.  I've been in and out of here for the past 24 years, this time a six year stretch.  I run a US consultancy office here, we do mainly energy and environment / climate change work.  Trying to reduce energy, clear the air, and cool the planet! 


Reply by edwilley3, Mar 14, 2014.

I'm also a fan of Rhone wines, even preferring them to Bordeaux when it comes to reds. I love Gigondas and especially wines from Domaine Santa Duc and their excellent Prestiges des Hautes Garrigues. Don't get me wrong - all syrah wines are great. However, I think that there is much to be said for the S. Rhone.

If you like Sonoma syrah, you might also try the Turley petite sirahs just for fun. I think that their Hayne Vineyard zinfandel and petite sirah are quite good wines and the PS in particular is unlike some others in that it is not overly tannic and has a notable balance of fruit, wood, and tannins. 

I'm jealous of Mr. Foxall for the fact that he gets access to products from smaller producers. Sadly here in Texas the 3 tier "import" and distribution system ensures that the products available exclude many smaller volume producers.

Reply by EMark, Mar 14, 2014.

Ed/Dave, the Syrahs that Foxall mentioned are, pretty much, hit or miss on retail store shelves.  Of the ones that Fox mentions, the one that I have seen retail stores here in Southern California is Lagier-Meredith, but I never count on it.  It is like a Eureka! discovery. I have seen Renard on the shelves of one store.  So, I am getting, more and more, into the the routine of ordering directly from the winery.  (I'm expecting a delivery, today, from somebody.  I received this "heads up" e-mail from UPS that they picked up a package from Alexander Valley, and it is on a truck en route to my adobe.)   Ed, I know that TX has ridiculous laws regarding distribution of alcohol, but I also know that some restrictive states will allow direct shipment from a winery to a consumer.  Is that a non-option for you?

My Snooth wine advisor is a member who uses the handle "Outthere."  Another label that I would add to Foxall's list, and, yes, I learned about it from Outthere, is Myriad.  I had my first Myriad last weekend in a restaurant in Las Vegas, and when I returned home Monday I logged on to their website and joined their mailing list.  

I'm pretty sure that the only way to get Halcon is from the winery.  I just visited their web site, and it appears that the only offerings they have right now are their "Esquisto" GSM (which I like almost as much as their Syrah), their "Prado" 50/50 Marsanne/Roussanne blend and their Viognier.  I anticipate that their next "Alturas" Syrah release will be in the fall.

Ed, I had a bottle of that Turley/Hayne PS in my hands at a store a couple months ago, and I really wanted to buy it.  However, when I considered that I could have 5 X bottles of Alturas or 4 X bottles of Ridge Lytton Springs for the price of that one bottle, I passed.  Have you ever tried Vincent Arroyo PS.  I like it a lot.  They are located few miles from Hayne and, again, their prices are a bit more friendly to us Social Security pensioners.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 14, 2014.

EW3, once again you show your excellent taste and, if we ever get together here in the Bay Area, you have now made yourself the drinking partner of choice for my 2005 Santa Duc Haute Garrigues--just one bottle, so we'll back it up with something else equal to the task.  Speaking of Grenache wines, I had a 2009 Jemrose Foggy Knoll Grenache last night.  Spot on for Grenache tastes--that dirt and strawberries funk, some garrigue and licorice in the back.  But it failed the second day retronasal test--I didn't smell or taste it when I woke up this morning. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 14, 2014.

Emark, that might be Mauritson/Rockpile.  When it ships from them, it says something like Alexander Valley Winery.  I know because I just shipped a case to my wife's nephew in FL--belated wedding present. 

Yes, most of your best Cali Syrah is hard to get in retail establishments.  Smallish producers with dedicated lists.  OT is also my secret to getting hold of these wines.  Cabs, Sauv blanc, chardonnay, even merlot somehow makes it around the country, but Cal Syrah is still finding its way.  Not being helped by some of the bigger Central Coast producers who bottle it in Rhone bottles but make it more like Aussie Shiraz or something even less recognizable.  (And, yes, I'm talking to you, Sashi Moorman.)

Reply by EMark, Mar 14, 2014.

Yup, it was Mauritson, Fox.  Oh boy, fun tonight.  Staying on the Syrah topic, today's delivery included the '12 Madrone Spring, but I also picked the '12 Madrone Spring PS which I am pretty excited to try.

On the Central Coast thing, I might fight you a bit on that.  I have never tried a Stolpman.  So, I really don't have a vote, there, but I do have one in there for some night.  However, I really like wines from Ojai Vineyards.  I opened a bottle of Ojai 2006 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah a few weeks ago, it was excellent.  Some years ago we were tasting with friends in the Edna Valley and stopped at Wolff Vineyards.  I thought their Syrah was outstanding.  Who knows, though, my tastes have changed so much.  I may not care for it now.

The research continues.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 14, 2014.

Yikes, Emark, let 'em rest.  They've just taken a long journey!

I drink the Stolpman (no choice unless I can sell them) now and again.  They are okay for what they are.  But they aren't meaty or olive-y, at least not to the degree I like. 

Is that the '12 Madrone Syrah or the '11? Clay holds it back for a year longer than the other wines, and I just picked up my '11.  Which will actually probably be great, because Rockpile is more consistent in its summer weather than a lot of places, so they still got a good amount of sun. 

Ill try some White Hawk from one of the makers one day soon, Emark, and let you know.  I've been intrigued.

Reply by GregT, Mar 14, 2014.

Hey edwilly - haven't seen you around for a while. I know you know this, but that Dom. Santa Duc has very little Syrah in it - maybe like 2 or 3%. Grenache is a very different sort of grape - it likes heat and sun and tends not to be particularly tannic, unlike Syrah. I like both grapes quite a bit though, so don't need to choose.

Daveindc - you like wines from Spain and the Rhone valley, which is like saying I like Cleveland and  Texas. The differences are orders of magnitude. Still, you are lucky - Spain is the home of Grenache if you look at places like Zaragoza - e.g. Campo de Borja and Catalayud, you can find pretty good examples. These days, Gigondas is what CdP used to be and that's what Hermitage used to be, so the Rhone, particularly the S. Rhone, is getting really expensive for what you get. I'm drinking through my CdP 98s and 2000s now and wishing I burned them earlier. They're great young and don't really turn into much with time. But now they cost a lot more then they used to.

CA is still pretty much unexplored for many grapes. There's good Syrah from Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbera and elsewhere, but I've only had a bit of Garnacha that really was something to write home about. And oddly enough, I think much of CA should be a great place for Garnacha, Mourvedre, Bobal, Aglianico, Nero d'Avola, Touriga Nacional, and other sunny weather grapes. It's just that there's no market for them and people drink CA wines by grape. It's a shame really.

Petite Sirah is, as you know, a progeny of Syrah but has little in common with it. It tends to be monolithic and lacking in much complexity, somewhat along the lines of Aglianico IMHO. That said, the Turley's are some of the best and I think their Haynes PS may be their best wine period. Not that it's Rhone-like, but it's just a damn good wine.

Anyhow, what do I know.


Reply by dmcker, Mar 15, 2014.

Dave, I understand only too well about the need to delay gratification on bottles stored in the States while you're off for extended periods of time in Asia (I still have bottles stored under my sister's house in Oakland in a roughed out semi-cellar that I wish I had my hands on for a get-together on this coming Monday). Exact parallel to my situation in several ways. Also the hassle and cost of dealing with purchasing wine from distant vendors and having it shipped to you via whatever method. Was a lot easier before 9/11 when you could just carry a case of wine on board with a handle attached and put it in the overhead bin. Did that every trip possible for a long period of time. Times have certainly changed, and not necessarily for the better.

I'll start another thread about online wine vendors I've used successfully and that ship overseas (in almost every case). I haven't used any of them for a couple of years, so I'll toss their names out and see if anyone's had any particularly good or bad experiences with them during that period. You could use them not just for a theoretical shipment to China, but also for your US stockpiling. Nice to have multiple options since most vendors end up evolving into their own specialty niches, to whatever degree.

Reply by DaveinDC, Mar 15, 2014.

Dave (cmcker), yes a thread on online vendors would be excellent, many thanks.

On the subject of delayed gratification, or rather, forced delayed gratification, I have a funny story.  We were here in 1995 for the first ever Beijing international wine fair (or some similar name).  As one of the first early wine events in a market that everyone was eyeing, all the heavies showed up from serious estates in Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc.  One winemaking family that showed up were the Chiarlos from Piedmont which you probably know.  It was one of the younger sons (late 20s?) in the business, very fun guy.  Anyway, in a seminar and tasting on the Chiarlo wine, he brought out a decently aged example of family's best, I can't remember what it was.  But it was of course great.  He said that it was the last of that great vintage, and then related a funny story.  He said the wine was so good that he and his brothers basically drank down the family cellar.  When they realized they had only a few cases left, they went down to the old family cave with bricks and mortar, and literally walled it in.  Then several nights later, after a few glasses, they tore it down and raided the wine.  So... even those who are more than accustomed to great wine are still seduced by the magic of a great bottle! 

Incidentally, at that same wine event I got to sit next to the original (elder) Miguel Torres, who drew me pictures of rootstock in a napkin...

Reply by dmcker, Mar 15, 2014.

Nice story about the Beijing wine exposition (and Miguel Torres), and great story about the Chiarlos. Those impulsive, obsessive, passionate Italians...   ;-)

I put up the thread, with a link to it in my post above.


Reply by outthere, Mar 15, 2014.

Let's not forget Apsara, Wind Gap, Quivet, Cabot, Baker Lane, Eric Kent, Bedrock, Copain, the list goes on (along with all those mentioned above)... when talking about cool climate Calif Syrah. Great Syrah production in Calif is still unfolding and really in its infancy.

Main problem is that a majority of them area allocated to mailing lists so some due diligence is necessary in getting on those lists. For overseas customers have the wine shipped to a storage facility that can ship out of country. Someone like Vinfolio. Then after all the individual offers have been compiled have them do one shipment for you.

Reply by EMark, Mar 15, 2014.

Back to you, Fox.  No panic about the Mauritson getting its rest after a long journey.  What I picked last night was one from last fall's shipment.  (I do have to concentrate on writing more clearly.)

Yes, you are right.  Both the Madrone Springs Syrah and the PS were '11. My bad.  the '12s that I received were the Rockpile Ridge and the Uncle's Block Zins and the DCV SB.

Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
11 posts
357808 Snooth User: vin0vin0
7 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
6 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network