The Social Diary ~
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Parker Collection - March, 2006 Selections
by The Social
Diary Wine Expert Columnist Gary Parker
2006, Offering #64 - 2003 Storybook Mountain Zinfandel, Eastern
Exposure & 2002
Califia, Mount Veeder Red Wine
The Gary Parker Collection for
March 2006 includes two exceptional selections from the
Mayacamas mountain range, which is the western barrier of Napa
Valley separating it from Sonoma Valley. We have had wines in
the past in The Gary Parker Collection from the Mayacamas mountains,
and they are typically characterized as being full bodied and
intensely flavored red wines. These two are no exceptions to the
The 2003 Storybook Mountain hails from
the Northern portion of Mayacamas mountain range, out past Calistoga.
I remember visiting owner Jerry Seps in 1989, as he took us through
the farm and into the caves where he keeps his lavish product.
It was such a contrast, walking around in the sunny vineyards
in 90 degree plus heat, and then tasting his marvelous Zinfandels
in the cool darkness of the caves.
Calafia Winery is located in the Mount
Veeder Appellation, much further south than Storybook. We have
had wines from the Mount Veeder AVA before, and as a reminder,
it takes a love of the vine, unrelenting patience and sheer guts
to grow grapes on this rugged, volcanic mountain. The slopes are
steep, the soils are thin and the viticulture is back-breaking,
but the result is intense, chewy wines with distinctive wild berry
fruit flavors and magnificent spice.
The region's area totals around 15,000
acres, with over 1,000 acres under vine. Some vineyard slopes
here are as much as 30 degrees, allowing more direct exposure
to the sun, as well as providing superior air drainage, reducing
climactic extremes. The wines of Mt. Veeder are a testament to
the efforts of winemakers and owners in the area.
2003 Storybook Mountain Zinfandel,
Storybook Mountain has established a world-wide
reputation for the consistently high quality of its wines. Storybook
Mountain's sought-after estate wines are carefully hand-crafted
from choice grapes grown without the use of insecticides or herbicides.
They are aged at least 12 months in the best French, Hungarian
and American oak barrels, inside century-old caves dug deep into
the mineral-rich volcanic rock underlying the hand-tended vineyard.
2002 Califia, Mount Veeder Red Wine
Ever heard of Hess Winery? Randle Johnson,
the winemaker there since forever, makes a little wine just for
fun under his own label. He knows where to get good grapes, and
has the skills to produce excellent wines. The Calafia is not
widely marketed, as production is very limited. However, even
with limited marketing, a wine this nice will experience no issues
about selling all there is to sell.
2002 Calafia, Mount
Growing Region: Napa Valley, Ca.
Varietal Blend:.. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon,
24% Malbec, 18% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
Alcohol Level:…. 15%
Winery Price $39.00
Case Price $27.99
Notes: Here's a fabulous
wine I doubt you will find anywhere, save for a specialty wine
shop who got lucky enough to be given the opportunity to show
this to their clients. Elegant, full, graceful and with great
focus, the 2002 Calafia is a shoe in for our wine cellars.
Appearance: Nice tall
bottle with a long thin neck. The wine is remarkable in its blackness.
With the hue of a dark berry evenly disbursed across the glass,
it is just about opaque.
Nose: Very intriguing
aromatics are tight and sure. A focused whiff of black currant
is the leader of the pack, rounded by creamy, sweet vanilla oak.
In the early stages, some cranberry acid/fruit is evident. Black
pepper, spices, caramel, toasted hazelnuts and shortcake come
alive as well.
Texture: Seamless, satin
and silk mouth feel is delightful. Elegant and rich without being
overripe,this is a nearly perfect textured wine that makes you
salivate as you drink it. Creamy center, gaining an edge on the
Flavor: Can you say BLACK
CHERRY?. CURRANTS? I can! Raspberry fits in also, with milk chocolate
and a nice note of root beer. Black pepper, blueberry, meaty,
underbrush. It later took on a wild reminiscent of
Chateau Haut-Brion character, with the trademark
of hot stones and gravel . . . totally exciting!
Serving Suggestions: This
wine (I believe) is quite versatile in its use, mainly because
of it being so balanced and even. Can drink by itself, with a
steak, cheese or chocolate. I would give it 5-12 years in the
cellar to continue developing complexities.
2003 Storybook Mountain
Zinfandel, Eastern Exposure
Growing Region: Napa Valley, Ca.
Varietal Blend:.. 100% Zinfandel
Alcohol Level:…. 14.9%
Hungarian, American Oak
Winery Price $37.00
Case Price $31.44
Notes: From the heart
of the eastern facing vineyard slopes, Jerry Seps makes a special
cuvee from these select vines. This 2003 Zinfandel has a 91 rating
from Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate. This is a very extraordinary,
classy bottle of Zinfandel . . . the RED kind!
Appearance: The wine has
a black raspberry hue, which is evenly disbursed throughout the
glass. It is medium in density, perhaps a little hazy versus being
quite clear, and it holds on to the sides of the bowl very well.
Nose: Beautifully intriguing
and erotic, the fragrance is refined and yet still has an assertiveness
that keeps you sticking your nose in the glass for more. Black
cherry and blackberry fruit with undertones of fresh prune, pear,
spice and black walnuts. Dark chocolate and black walnut aromas
bring to mind sneaking a nutty piece of See's Candy.
Texture: Smooth and even
entry, follows the pattern of the nose: forgiving and easy to
sip, juicy and mouth watering fruit, yet it is firm in its acid
and structured very "tall". The finish is very harmonious,
and has a very sophisticated/adult like feeling. You are most
definitely drinking a veryadult beverage.
Flavor: Continuing from
the "Texture" descriptors, it is like drinking a rich,
delightful, complex juice that happens to contain alcohol. It
is nearly sugar-sweet with dark berry fruits, and the lovely complexities
of spices (nutmeg & clove) black and white pepper. Vanilla
and dark wood play to it like a symphony.
Zinfandel wines are made in a vast array of styles. You'll find
light ones, white ones, heavy ones. In my opinion, this Storybook
Mountain Zinfandel is what a fine Zinfandel is all about.
Parker is the Principal, Founder, Chairman and CEO
of The WineSellar Group. From a background of culinary arts, architecture
and art, Gary opened The WineSellar & Brasserie in 1988 with
a pioneering concept of combining a fine wine shop, a state of
the art wine storage facility, and a highly regarded French restaurant
named The Brasserie, all under one roof. With its top rated Zagat
level cuisine, and Gary Parker's hand picked wine list of 2,500
classic wines, The WineSellar & Brasserie garnered instant
notoriety. The wine list has won The Wine Spectator Grand Award
(one of the best 100 wine lists in the world) every year since
1988. Gary subsequently created The WineSellar Club and www.winesellar.com,
an Internet wine auction site. Gary is recognized
as a leading authority in fine wine, and is active as a spokesperson,
appraiser, auctioneer and panelist in the industry.
(editor's note - Gary is a former principal
owner of Laurel Restaurant & Bar. Gary established Laurel
in 1995, which he sold in February 2005).
to New this Week.......Gary
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