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- Written by Jeff Binney
Jeff’s Corner 8-11-17
Petite Sirah is my very favorite red grape. I have to say this again, a little louder, Petite Sirah is my very favorite red grape! I like it because it is dark, brooding, mysterious, moody, morose, and extremely romantic. Petite Sirah is like Hamlet, only darker and more complex.
Son of Syrah, Petite Sirah came to life one chilly March day around 1862 in the nursery of Dr. Francois Durif in the Rhone Valley of France. Pollen from a Syrah vine had its way with some flowers on a neighboring Peloursin vine, and the bastard Petite was born.
Poor Petite, however, had a confusing youth. Debate about his lineage raged for over a century, and it wasn’t until 1997 when DNA fingerprinting at UC Davis, along with Jerry Springer, concluded that, “Syrah, you are the Daddy!”
Anyhow, all this silliness brings us to how lucky I am today to write about the release of our 2015 (you guessed it) Petite Sirah. It’s a great example of a grape that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.
The color is an intensely dark purple/violet (textbook for a well extracted Petite), and when turned on its side the hue in the deep part of the bowl is impenetrable. It is 100 % Petite Syrah, with an ABV of 13.5%.
Just out of the bottle, the aroma is very rustic and earthy, dominated by layers of ripe blueberry, blackberry, and black raspberry. After 10-15 minutes in the glass the fruit becomes laced with black pepper, clove, cinnamon, licorice, and hints of spearmint.
The palate shows a round, soft mouthfeel with lively acids that compliment the richness of the fruit. With moderate oak and tannin our new Petite features a soft, elegant finish that makes the wine accessible and easy to drink.
Here’s a pretty cool photo I thought you might enjoy from the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This is the grid on which our scores are recorded for the 12 wines in each round. There were 34 wines in that Petite Sirah flight, and it was our favorite flight in the 3 days of judging. Our panel was monitored by the incredible Ginny Barnett, responsible for the very sweet and personal touch on the scoreboard.
Next week we’ll check out the new 2016 Viognier.
- Written by Jeff Binney
Jeff’s Corner 8-3-17
I began selling our Grape Creek Cabernet Blanc (and Cabernet Trois) at Seafood and Spaghetti Works Restaurant in Port Aransas in 1993. I worked there 26 years. My friend Jay and his wife Stephanie are still the owners, and with their encouragement it was there my passion for wine really blossomed.
I was always looking for unique wines to sell that were different from what was seen on many mediocre, mundane wine lists. Rather than Sutter Home or Beringer White Zinfandel, I featured an upscale Buehler Vineyards White Zin and an elegant Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon by Simi Vineyards. They were a little pricey and not quite as sweet as their commercial counterparts, and both are still being produced today.
Then, on a fortuitous (little did I know how fortuitous) trip to Fredericksburg with Kathy, we discovered Grape Creek and Cabernet Blanc. Ned was making a White Zin at the time as well, but it had nowhere near the intrigue of the Cab Blanc. Back then it was a pale coppery/salmon color (very hip, very chic) with lovely floral aromas and fruit flavors. And the best part, it was from The Texas Hill Country! We sold a bunch of it!
By now, you have probably figured out where this is going. That’s right, today we are going to check out the new 2016 Cabernet Blanc. The oldest vintage I could find in the library is 1990, but there may have been an ’89. That makes this the 27th or 28th vintage of our beloved “Hot Tub Wine”.
The 2016 is a delicate pale pink in color, with a near transparent rim. It reminds me of the first rays of sunshine in a west Texas sunrise. The aromas are fanciful, with lots of strawberry, raspberry, honeysuckle, and carnation. Lots of strawberry, along with cotton candy and candy apple.
At 4.6% residual sugar (the ’15 was 4%) it is sweet, sweet, sweet. It reminds me of the strawberry snow cones at Mission Stadium (a beautiful old ballpark where the AA Missions played in the 60’s) on the south-side of San Antonio. To accent these memories of youth, it also reminds me of Double Bubble bubble gum, not to be confused with Super Bubble bubble gum.
Like all our wines it finishes with great balance, the acid is high enough to transition the sugar to the back of our palate, and the fruit lingers with a crisp, sweet finish. At 10.9% ABV, this is the perfect picnic, pool, or porch wine for our sweet wine lovers.
Cheers to 27 more years!
- Written by Jeff Binney
Jeff’s Corner 7-26-17
Hello and Howdy from the Hill Country
Last weekend we released the new and highly anticipated 2015 Mosaic. We had a quick tease from it at our staff meeting in June (it paired well with our breakfast tacos) and we have been eagerly awaiting some more. We weren’t disappointed.
All year I have been a huge fan of the ’14 Mosaic (a Gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Competition), and Saturday after work I tasted it beside the new ’15. I had the ’14 first and thought, “This is a great wine!”; but when I tried the ’15 (with a years less bottle age), my mind went “Wow, this something truly special!”.
Mosaic is our “Bordeaux-style” wine, and people often ask me what that means. Well, the phrase “Bordeaux-style” has no legal, regulatory definition, but it implies that the wine is a proprietary blend of grapes indigenous to the Bordeaux region of France. These grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
To me, the ‘15 personifies the sum and substance of Jason's winemaking style. It is complex yet delicate, and shows incredible finesse and balance. I’m afraid I might have to drink at least a glass or two in order to write a review that does it justice.
At 13.9% ABV, our new Mosaic is about 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% each Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot. At only 9%, the Petit Verdot (the same one that stole the show at our Tank Tasting Party) brings a lot to this wine in terms of complexity, color, and tannin.
The color is a vibrant, richly extracted dark ruby/violet. Turned on its side in a glass there is no transparency in the deep part of the bowl, much like looking into the bottom of an ink well.
Layers of aromas (and flavors) are massively complex, a collage (I almost said mosaic) of black fruit, leather, cedar, cinnamon toast, cocoa, black pepper, and Mexican vanilla. The palate is full-bodied with a round, elegant mouth-feel.
The ’15 Mosaic has a finish worthy of its aroma and flavor. It lingers on our palate a long time, featuring great balance between perfectly integrated fruit, acid, oak, and tannin. As lovely as it is now, it will become even more graceful in years to come.
This wine is built to pair with just about any well-marbled steak, finished with just about any classically prepared sauce. I’m kind of thinking about it, however, with some red-wine braised short ribs and wild mushroom risotto.
Cheers to all!