Monday, May 04, 2009

JC Cellars "Syrahs and More" Tasting

Wine grapes.Image via Wikipedia

I hosted the April 2009 tasting for the Hayward, CA wine group, The Pompous Twits -- though we had to shift it over to May 2nd, at Hayward's Neumanali restaurant, which is in a restored 1890's Victorian. We were actually in the annex, another Victorian a few doors down (which doubles as owner Julie's office--she's a CPA in her Other Life).

My theme this year was Syrahs from Oakland's JC Cellars, one of the East Bay Urban Wineries, owned by Jeff Cohn and his wife Alexandra. Jeff was for many years the winemaker at Rosenblum, my favorite winemaker, and Jeff's taste in big chewy wines is evident in his JC Cellars lineup. Most of his wines are Syrahs, though he also makes Rhone-style blends and a few Zins.

The 15 Twits in attendance seemed very happy with the results of JC's efforts! The lineup is listed below. Every wine was delicious -- no losers -- but the ones that garnered the most enthused comments included the Rose of Syrah (created using the "bleedoff" method, it was rich and delicious; I'm telling you, you only *think* you don't like roses!); the '04 Rockpile Vineyards Syrah (there appears to be no such thing as a bad Rockpile wine); many liked the Cuvee Syrah, and the Broken Compass Syrah.

The '05 Frediani Petite Syrah surprised me -- I have trouble with PS's, but this one was one of the tastiest wines I've ever had, rich and spirited, and aromatic, without the offputting bitterness some PS's show. I've got to buy me another bottle of that one!

Also a happy surprise was the '05 Arrowhead Mountain Vineyard Zin -- it had an unusual nose that was so interesting that we were all sniffing away for several minutes before we could drag ourselves away from that wonderful aroma to actually taste it -- Zins don't always have a remarkable nose, so that had everyone's attention. And the taste -- geez, I kept coming back for more tries, and so did everyone else! Congratulations, Jeff, on creating such a deliciously unusual Zinfandel! What's your secret?

As a bonus, I brought a bottle of Rosenblum's 04 Snow's Lake Zin -- I had a bottle at my hosting last year, on the Rosenblum theme, and it was so good that Tom and I argued over whether it was actually -- as hard as this seems to believe -- better-tasting than Rosenblum's Rockpile Road! He also said it could be aged another year or two, so I had promised to bring a bottle along this year -- my last bottle of that case, sorry to say.

It was indeed very tasty; some of the leathery character had gone away, which was unfortunately. We were uncertain as to whether it tasted better than it had last year. Unfortunately, I have no more of that year's Rockpile to compare. You always wish you had bought another case. (I'm barely able to buy a couple of cases of anything in any given year; it's always a bottle or two here and there of this and that; when you hit something spectacular, it's always too late to go back and get more!)

Steve Arnold brought a bonus surprise: Two Rosenblum Richard Sauret Zins, one from 2004, the other from 1994! One, as they said, from when Jeff was winemaker, and one after he left. The 04 was delicious -- unfortunately, the 94 hadn't aged particularly well. That's common for Zins, which just aren't built to age more than a few years.

We finished up with a dessert-wine Syrah: Blacksmith 2006 Alexander Valley Late Harvest Syrah; only 15.8% alcohol, it had been picked at (gasp!) 40 brix and was, of course, intensely sweet and intensely blackberry, and a great finish to the evening!

A most successful tasting!

The Wines: A Survey of JC Cellars Syrahs--Plus!
The Pompous Twits, May 2, 2009, Mac McCarthy hosting, at Neumanali's, Hayward.
1. 2008 Rose of Syrah, Rockpile Vineyard, just released - $14
2. 2004 Ventana Vineyards/Arroyo Seca Syrah – Cellar ($30 in 2007)
3. 2004 Rockpile Vineyards/Rockpile Syrah – Cellar ($60 2005/2006)
4. 2005 Caldwell Vineyards Syrah - $31.50
5. 2005 A La Cave Syrah - $28
6. 2006 Fess Parker's Vineyard Syrah - $30
7. 2006 California Cuvée Syrah - $25
8. 2006 Broken Compass - 97% Syrah, 3% Petite Syrah – 460 cases made - $40
9. 2005 Frediani Vineyard Petite Syrah - $45
10. 2005 The Imposter, a Zin-Syrah blend - $32 (Courtesy Mary and John Warner!)
11. 2005 Arrowhead Mountain Vineyard Zinfandel - $35
12. 2004 Snow's Lake (Rosenblum) - $35
13. 1994 Rosenblum Richard Sauret Zinfandel (Courtesy Steve Arnold!)
14. 2004 Rosenblum Richard Sauret Zinfandel (Courtesy Steve Arnold!)
15. 2006 Blacksmith Alexander Valley Late Harvest Syrah - NA

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TzuTse said...

Great lineup of wines Mac! Sorry to have missed your tasting. So much good wine and so little time...

McWong said...

Amen! I just went to a Cabs of Napa tasting this afternoon -- I could only manage a dozen or so, but amazing how good every single one was!

Too much wonderfulness, too short a life, alas!