Mailing lists. Ahhh, memories. In my earlier wine drinking days I was a listaholic. Not as bad as some, but somewhere between 15 and 20 lists and winery clubs at my peak. Now I’m down to two regular purchases.
For those uninitiated, mailing lists are offers from wineries to purchase wine directly from them. In some cases, this is the only way to purchase wine from a particular winery. In some cases, demand so outstrips supply that wineries have waiting lists to get on their mailing lists, and in a few, the wineries have actually closed their waiting lists because those lists are so long there is no realistic prospect of new waiting list members ever getting onto the mailing list.
I was always fan of the mailing list model (when not abused by means of hostage wines and other nonsense) as it allowed me to cut around the idiotic three tier system of wine (and beer and whisky) distribution that we are cursed with. My money, and all of it, went directly to the person making the wine (less the shipping costs). I like that idea. However, with the advent of children, school tuition, and other fun elements of “real life” virtually every mailing list had to go. This was relatively painless as my palate was finding itself most pleased by wines that are, politely put, not sold by mailing list.
As I admitted, there are two exceptions. First, Edmunds-St. John, an old favorite, and the single largest domestic presence in my wine cellar by a long shot (8.54% of my total cellar, and actually passing Dönnhoff for #1 overall – thanks, Cellartracker!). Love the wines, love the way I can actually match them easily with food, and really enjoyed meeting Steve Edmunds both on line and in person. Edmunds-St. John is somewhat available in Missouri, but I’d just as soon get them directly from Steve.
The second producer is new – Rhys Vineyards. I was turned on to them by Florida Jim, as fine a gentleman as I’ve met through the various wine fora in which I’ve participated over the years. Jim and I have similar palate preferences, and when he was impressed by an early visit to the property I threw my name on the mailing list (they had yet to release a wine). I had to pass on the first offering due to life priorities at that moment, but bit when they made a second chance offering to those who had passed.
The pinot noir I purchased, the 2004 Alesia Sonatera, was really delicious. Definitely Californian, but with a refreshing acid structure that kept it lively. I also had purchased the 2004 Alesia Chileno Vally Syrah Sonoma Coast, but based on some wine board notes that it was extremely reduced, I had not opened one yet. Well, since the next Rhys mailer is expected to hit sometime this month, I thought it was time to crack one to see how they handled Syrah, so I could make a better decision about whether I would pick any up or not.
As I’d been warned, it was heavily reduced on opening. So I splash decanted it last night, returned it to the bottle and saved it for tonight. Much, much nicer tonight, though there is still a hint of reduction. The color is a deep, almost black purple. The nose has bright red fruits (cranberry, tart cherry) mixed with a good dose of black olive and wet clay. It lacks the over ripeness that plagues a lot of California cracks at this variety. Prior to tasting it, I’d probably guess Northern Rhone from a relatively ripe year (or so I’d like to think). In the mouth, it’s much bigger with more richness than I expected from the nose, but there is substance there too, in the form of decent acidity and a firm, but fine, tannic spine. A very nice effort, and I’ll leave my other bottle to age for a couple of years. I may pick up a bottle from the next offering, but I know I love what Steve Edmunds does with Syrah, and he doesn’t make any Pinot Noir . . . .
Alright, I’m adding a bit to this as I finished this bottle last night. It was at its best yet. More fruit, less olive, but still distinctly Syrah. Just lovely stuff. No rush here.