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Wine notes #1

DavisbynumSo en route to Sea Ranch we made a slight detour up Westside Road to drop in on perhaps our favorite winery, Davis Bynum. We generally prefer Sonoma to Napa wineries, and Davis Bynum embodies all the reasons why. It’s family-owned, and despite being barely more than a mom-and-pop operation, they churn out phenomenal wines with great character. They are best known (and rightfully so) for their incredible Pinot Noirs (my fave!) but they produce some very respectable other varietals and a meritage as well. Of the various pinots they produce, each is distinct and remarkable in its own way. The Russian River Valley pinot is classic in form, full of fruit and black pepper; their estate Lindley’s Knoll Vineyard is more in the French idiom, leathery, earthy and smoky. We didn’t get to try the very coveted Le Pinot ($100/bottle!), but we’ve had it in the past and it’s (almost) worth the price. We picked up a couple bottles and joined the club.

This week is shaping up to be a major wine extravaganza. Aside from the Bynums, we brought a few items from the depths of our rack. So far we’ve had:

1997 York Creek Meritage
We found a split of this wine in a wine store in San Francisco that was going out of business. No real bargain, but just a great find. This wine was incredible — garnet red fading to black, with a seriously heady bouquet of dried fruits and plums. It had an almost port-like quality. And amazingly it retained much of its structure — it could have sat for another couple of years and not suffered in the least. This was was so big, I’m glad we only had a split. A whole bottle would have been difficult to tackle.

1997 Chateau St Jean Cabernet Franc
We love cab franc, and have been ferreting away a couple of ’97s for just such an occasion as this. Our timing was perfect — the wine still held its structure but clearly was just at (or even very slightly after) its peak, yet the chalky dryness and overpowering perfuminess of cab franc had mellowed nicely. Also almost black in color, it tasted like the best blueberry pie you’ve ever had, with faint hints of spice and chocolate. Worth the wait.

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