Late Christmas Presents

Does Christmas wear you out?  Yes, I love being with family and friends throughout the whole season, but I’m exhausted by the 26th.

That’s why our little post-Christmas get together with good friends who also enjoy wine was so enjoyable.  Everyone brought very tasty food and some outstanding wine.  In fact, considering the quality of what everyone offered, it was almost like getting some late presents.

Elizabeth and Steve Hopp came with an outstanding 2010 Kistler Chardonnay.  An austere wine that pairs excellently with cheeses, fruit, fish, and chicken, it surprised many folks who are not big white wine fans.  A lingering taste of citrus, it’s done in an Old World style.

Terry and I offered the 2010 Aubert Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay.  This white could not have been more different than the Kistler.  Tropical, like biting into a mango or honeydew melon, it also had a taste of white pepper.  To my untrained eye, it seemed that the Aubert is unfiltered, unlike the Kistler.  Both the Kistler and the Aubert are tremendous Chardonnays but they delight differently.  I can feature having the Kistler at a fine restaurant with poached salmon, while I picture having the Aubert outside during a perfect California spring afternoon.

Allen and Diane Eggers brought another Pinot Noir, the 2010 Cargasacchi Pinot Noir.  Peter Cargasacchi, from Santa Rita Hills, is both a vineyard owner and a winemaker.  His grapes are so good that many other (perhaps better known) wineries use his fruit.  Places like Siduri, Loring, and Hitching Post.  It boasts great bouquet of berries with a pepper and spicy cherry taste.

Marlee Lauffer and Laine Hedwall gave us the only 2009 wine, Ken Brown’s Pinot Noir.  This pinot has layers, with a dried cherry, earthy bouquet.  The taste was of raspberries with a soft, delightful finish.  I hadn’t heard of Ken Brown before, but if this is a fair representation, he makes great wine.

John and Debbie Heys supplied the 2010 Saxum Broken Stones.  After Saxum achieved Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year, the waiting list to buy anything increased like the killing hoard in The Walking Dead.  But somehow John procured a bottle and brought it to share.  It’s a Rhone blend (Syrah and Grenache) that could last 20+ years.  But we polished it off that night.  A berry nose, tight and tannic (“almost like a fist” someone said), with a licorice and tart cherry finish.

Jane and Myles McNamara finished the evening with the 2010 Donelan Walker Hill Syrah, which proved to be a crowd pleaser.  Robert Parker apparently agreed with our assessment – he gave it a 95, describing it as “a profound effort.”  It was delightfully smooth, with bites of pepper and notes of blackberry.

Overall, a great way to cap off the year.

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