Friday, May 23, 2008

Cellar report: Owen Roe '00 Merlot; Brick House '03 Gamay Noir

Sorry for the paucity of posts, but I'm on this little thing called a honeymoon, and there's so many other more, um, "interesting" things to do. When I get back I'll give a quick rundown on some good dining places around Calistoga, Ca., and share other trip highlights. But a couple of quick wine impressions from bottles I've brought with me from the cellar to have at dinners out....

2000 OWEN ROE Merlot "DuBrul Vineyard"
We had this at our dinner at my favorite mecca of meat, Jack's Bar and Grill on our first night out. I'd love to tell you that six years have holding it in great anticipation left me speechless in search of the proper words to describe its wonderfulness, but sadly this wine was a goner. At first, the nose seemed to hold out some hope, but the longer it sat open, the more the fruit just disappeared, with unpleasant, aged aromas and flavors rendering it undrinkable. I've kept this well-stored so that wasn't the problem. I always wonder about theses highly extracted, high alcohol wines. Will the fruit hold, or do they just fall apart? In this case it is sadly the latter. If anyone else has had experience with this wine, I'd love to hear about it.

On the other end of the pleasure spectrum was this lovely bottle from Doug Tunnell's organically oriented Brick House, a tiny Oregon winery who makes what I think is the best American gamay noir (the grape that goes into France's Beaujolais). This three year old from the ultra-war '03 vintage was superb. Still young, with the fruit starting to smooth out, enticing hints of strawberry and spice coming through. As it sat open, it revealed a beam of ripe, fresh cherry fruit backed with good acidity that made it perfect for our dinner. Another stellar Brick House effort, and exactly the reason I throw some in the basement every year.


Richard said...

A few weeks ago Owen Roe held a tasting at the Ecotrust building, and it included a vertical tasting of quite a few DeBrul merlots. I don't have the list handy, but believe the list went back to 1999. My partner and I disliked all of them, and the older they were, the worse they seemed.

A disclaimer may be in order: we discussed these wines with the owner of a reputable wine bar in NE Portland who was also at the tasting, and he was incredulous with our assessment. "You are kidding, aren't you? Is this an April Fool's joke?"

bb said...

I assume since you went to the Owen Roe retrospective that you know something about the wines, so just because someone else says you're wrong, it doesn't mean you are (unless of course it's me telling you!). But with great David O'Reilly clearly is...sometimes people are more willing to overlook flaws in their wines. The thing to do, like I tell my customers at VINO, is to trust your own palate.