Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wine Review: Syrah, Babcock, 2003 Frying Pan

Syrah, Babcock [link], 2003 Frying Pan [My Rating [Link], 9] Very good. An excellent Syrah. Rich and elegant. Big and bold with a strong taste of black cherries and cinders, finishing long with a lingering oakey and smoky taste that makes me think of the sun and the hard earth this wine came from.

Retail $50, Terrior Exclusive, Received Nov 05 Wine Club. Winemaker's notes:

Alisos Vineyard, Los Alamos Valley. At this point, the Alisos Vineyard is considered one of Santa Barbara County’s preeminent sources of fine Syrah. Being fairly close to the ocean in the Los Alamos Valley, it is slightly cooler as Syrah climates go. But within the property there is a small north-south running canyon, the direction and depth of which hides it from any prevailing breeze. It is one of my least favorite places to take cluster samples because anytime after 9:00 AM on a warm day, you get cooked as you traverse the canyon. Because of the way the vine rows are laid out, it makes no sense to walk all the way to the ends of the rows to turn into other sections of the vineyard. You have to poke your body and your bucket of grapes through the vine row. The sweat on your body always insures that you wear home a layer of dust. The soil is said by grower Loren Colahan to be a “shattered hardpan”, a marly looking chert hardpan to be precise. Our side of the canyon, where this wine comes from, faces west, drenching the perfectly stressed vines in sunshine all day. Its wines are epic. For its name I condensed the concepts of the canyon’s heat and its hardpan soil; FRYING PAN.

Technical Notes: VARIETAL COMPOSITION: 100% varietal VINEYARDS: Alisos Vineyard, Los Alamos Valley, Santa Barbara County FINISHED WINE: Residual Sugar: Dry, pH: 3.69, TA: 7.5 gm/L Alcohol: 14.8% TIME IN BARRELS: 18 months, 33% new French oak BOTTLING DATE: December 2004 TOTAL PRODUCTION: 132 cases 12/750 ML RELEASE DATE: November, 2005 SUGGESTED CA RETAIL PRICE: $50.00 per 750 ML

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Wine Review: Syrah, Babcock, 2003 Nook and Cranny

Syrah, Babcock [link], 2003 Nook and Cranny, Estate Grown, Santa Rita Hills.[My Rating [Link], 8.5] Good. An excellent syrah but not as rich and elegant as the frying pan. Bold with a tart taste of black cherries and smoke. It starts out big and ripe. It is high in alcohol and it tasted it right away. Still, nice with a lingering oakey and smoky finish. Retail $50, Terrior Exclusive, Received Nov 05 Wine Club. Drank 1/7/06. Perhaps more time in the bottle would have taken off some of it's edge? Winemaker’s Notes:

Syrah grown west of Highway 101 in the Santa Ynez Valley can be extraordinary. The trick is in getting it thoroughly ripe. Our vineyard is under a heavy influence from the ocean, and like the rest of the Santa Rita Hills, it’s very cool and breezy through out the growing season. In fact, most of our ranch is too cool to consistently ripen Syrah. But, as luck would have it, we have a couple of small sites that do accommodate this noble Rhone varietal.

With the exception of Burgundy, the prevailing wisdom says that great vineyards in the northern hemisphere ideally face west or south, so as to insure that their vines get plenty of sun. But with Syrah we have found it necessary to plant on east facing hillsides, out of the wind, where it is actually a couple of degrees warmer through out the day. With 95% of our vineyards facing the wrong way, we are only talking about a couple of tiny adjacent hillsides. Making it even more extraordinary is the fact that their soils are a matrix of gravelly loam and shattered sandstone, the kind of stuff that intimately governs the vigorous nature of Syrah, while still allowing it to ripen. What we have are two little viticultural sweet spots, indeed on our ranch, the NOOK & CRANNY for the growing of world class Syrah.

The downside is that we can’t make very much of this stuff. The upside is that 95% of our ranch is Mecca for growing Pinot.

Technical Notes: VARIETAL COMPOSITION: 100% Sryah VINEYARDS: Babcock Estate FINISHED WINE: Residual Sugar:Dry, pH: 3.57, TA: 7.3 gm/L, Alcohol: 15.0% TIME IN BARRELS: 18 months, 33% new French oak BOTTLING DATE: December 2004 TOTAL PRODUCTION: 169 cases 12/750 ML RELEASE DATE: November, 2005 SUGGESTED CA RETAIL PRICE: $50.00 per 750 ML

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Wine Review: Zinfandel Russian River Valley, Lake Sonoma, 2002

Our Comments:
This Lake Sonoma Winery [Link] wine came to us in our wine club in Dec. 2004, Drank 12/24/2005.

[My Rating [Link], 9] I like this a lot and would buy again without hesitation. Just a bit Jammy, but not too raisiney. In a family tasting at Christmas Eve 2005 this was our favorite among three good ones, including Coyote Creek. A bit bigger than the Paso zin, but not as smooth. this was fun. Bought one During Sonora Trip 2004, received the other 12/04

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Restaurant Review: Gilley's Coffee Shoppe, Los Gatos, CA

My opinion of Gilley's Coffee Shoppe

Gilley's Coffee Shoppe
(408) 395-3318
47 N Santa Cruz Ave
Los Gatos, CA 95030

[My Rating [Link], 6.5]
Susie and I went to Gilley's this morning and I am still suffering from the heartburn. We went there on Monday, January 02, 2006. The food was mediocre in my opinion. The menu raved about the coffee. The menu writer must not have tasted it. I have had better coffee at truck stops. Before breakfast I asked the waitress about the hash browns and she said people raved about them. They turned out to be typical undercooked mushy glop with a little brown crust on the outside. I ordered the Italian Scramble, that was marginally okay, a little overcooked with globs of goopy cheese. Next time, if there is one, I will stay away from anything fried there. There are a lot better places to have breakfast in the same area, in my opinion.

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