Friday, December 28, 2007

Cellar Report

It has been mentioned to me more than a few times by friends and customers at the wine shack that I should use this self-indulgent forum as a platform for commenting on a few of the wines I drink with semi-alarming regularity that might be of greater interest to the ever thirsty public. So occasionally when I have something that catches my attention, in either a good or bad way, I'll make mention in case you have a few of these bottles lurking in your collections.

w and I recently went over to my sister and bro-in-law's house for a pre-holiday weekend dinner of a quite delicious pre-holiday ham. Since I had been at work at the wine shack enabling others drinking needs and didn't have any culinary treats to contribute (and since my sis is thankfully an outstanding cook herself), I assigned myself the task of bringing a couple of bottles out of the basement archives. The good thing about ham is it is ever flexible and appreciative of almost any kind of wine you pour with it. My favorite hammy accompaniment beverage is probably an ice cold bottle of dry rosé from France or Italy. But then again this was almost the end of December and it was freaking cold outside, so something a little warmer seemed in order. I grabbed what is poroabbly about as yin-yang in the red wine world as you can get: a 2002 Shotfire Ridge Shiraz from Australia, and then a forgotten treat I recently came across while organizing the bottles that were in disarray in the basement, a 2001 Brick House Wines Gamay Noir from here in Oregon; Brick House making what is perhaps the best gamay in America.

2002 in Australia was by reputation one of the best vintages in recent memory in the land of Oz. This Shotfire '02 Shiraz from the Barossa even garnered a whopping ninety-something point score from the Wine Spectator and a spot in their Top 100 Wines of 2004. I'm the first to admit that I find most Aussie Shiraz a little too one dimensional....kind of flabby, jammy, a little high in alcohol, good but rarely great...and I have almost none in the cellar. But I had thrown three of these down there when it was released, and was curious to see what had happened in the intervening three years. Well, it was still good, full and rich, but the fruit had lost its bounce and seemed a little flat. It didn't really wow any of us, I don't see it getting a lot better with more time. One of those wines you go "oh, that's pretty good" but nothing that really grabs you, especially odd given its high rating. Hm, I think there is an object lesson in there for all you point-buyers.

The 2001 Brick House Gamay on the other hand was stellar. This organically grown and meticulously made red by Doug Tunnell is always fabulous, and given the great 2001 Oregon vintage I was thrilled to find I still had a bottle of what I was hoping was a hidden gem. When we first poured it I was wondering if it had lost some fruit, as the acidity seemed to have it all over the fruit. But given time to open up, this blossomed in the glass, its still-bright cherry and spice fruit jumping from the glass, and showing that time had mellowed its youthful exuberance into an elegant, absolutely delicious, seamless red that worked perfectly with the roast ham. If you have this or any '02 or younger BH Gamay's rest assured they are only getting better!

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