The Ones That Got Away – Summer 2017

2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery

I deserved this bottle. Yeah, I said it. I was bone weary last night, the final day in a work week that included late nights, crazy travel, and unyielding deliverables, but not too tired to take a moment to savor one of the finer things in life. Because that’s what a Buena Vista bottle is–it’s a “stop and smell the roses” event each and every time.

West Coast client deliverables meant I got a late start on this 2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, but it also meant I was ready to fully immerse myself in the experience by the time I got to pour and enjoy a glass. Made the deliverable, confirmed with the client, and here we go. I’ve had a couple Buena Vista Karolys before, and this one was equal to the previous.

2014 Karoly's Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The 2014 is delicious. It needs a moment or two to breathe, but when it does you can really pull on the black cherry or blackberry scent. There is a smoke of some kind here too…not quite earthy or a spice but an accent that I can’t quite isolate. It is full, it is robust, it has a great finish. If you drift toward Cabernet Sauvignon or other big reds in your wine tastes, you’ll dig the 2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah. If you prefer lighter Pinot Noirs this might not quite be your bottle–but you’ll be missing something fun!

Okay, a quick summary of the foodstuffs: What you see here is a seared chicken dinner and a creamy couscous with an olive and raisin sauce. The chicken came out great (for a change!)–pulled from the heat while cooked through but still juicy. The couscous was a blend of cool (that’s from the verjus blanc and creme fraiche plus celery) and hot, courtesy of red pepper flakes. I’m not sure a full-throated red was the right pairing for this dish, but I figured the best of both worlds was a suitable strategy regardless. Here’s how the Buena Vista folks describe the vino:

“Our 2014 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah offers seductive aromas of black cherry and dark chocolate with hints of anise. Upon the palate, flavors of blackberry pie, brambles, and a slight touch of granite are well-balanced with good density and a juicy structure.”

Can’t tell you what ‘brambles’ taste like, or if this 2014 Karoly has such flavor in it, but the black cherry I can very much confirm. This wine is aged 17 months in Hungarian Oak and I’m glad it escorted me into the weekend.

2014 Freakshow Red Wine, Michael David Winery

It is no secret that I am a fan of the Michael David WineryNotes has featured the Petite Petit with regularity over the years, and I recently tasted their best-selling zinfandel too with much enjoyment. When my father mentioned having sampled their Freakshow I knew it had to be part of my next wine tasting experience, and here we are.

2014 Freakshow, Michael David Winery, California, USA.

2014 Freakshow Red Wine, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

You’re going to love this wine. It has elements common the Petite, particularly its mash-up of different tastes and flavors, but this one is less jammy and has a bit more heft to it. A little more spice and chew. The 2014 Freakshow has more dark fruits, black berry and black cherry, with some dark chocolate underpinnings. In that way it sort of reminded me of the Apothic Dark that I sampled in Chicago many moons ago, but at a higher level of execution. I was not sure what grapes comprised this red blend, but surely it has some Syrah (yes) involved and a quick bit of research shows there is some Petite Sirah as well. I have no idea what the Souzao grape is, but some of that’s in the mix too. Incredibly rich and unmistakably Michael Davis in all ways.

Here is the winemaker’s explanation of what’s going on in the 2014 Freakshow Red Wine: “Aromas of blackberry cobbler, toasted walnuts, espresso bean, and hints of brandy. The wine is weighty with a velvet-like texture boasting flavors of ripe brambleberry jam, toffee, and dark chocolate mousse followed by wisps of pipe tobacco and mesquite.

They do have a way with words–and wines. This 2014 was aged both in French oak barrels (15 months) and American oak (18 months), and I’d like another already.

2013 Freakshow Cabernet, Michael David Winery, California, USA.

2013 Freakshow Cabernet, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

My first shot at the Freakshow actually dates back to September, when I pulled the cork on their 2014 Freakshow Cabernet. This too hails from the Lodi-based winemaker and it is similarly excellent. Lots of cherry in this solid Cabernet, but my notes from that time are less specific other than to say it was a great value and accompanied a delicious grilled steak and asparagus side. Have to get another one of these soon too! This winery always stands tall and will definitely go on the “must visit” list for the next time life winds me through California wine country.

 

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista

You should always cap off a day of wine tasting with a good wine–the 2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County is assuredly one of those. It’s a dark, spicy red blend from my favorite winery and culls grapes from AVAs throughout Sonoma County into one fantastic wine. This was a birthday gift and came out to play just this weekend.

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

This vintage is mix of Petite Sirah (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (29%), Syrah (18%), Grenache (12%), and Malbec (11%)–what I’ve heard termed a “kitchen sink” wine by more experienced tasters because of the mash-up. It’s hefty, and I do not mean just the special bottle. The glass, adorned with this badge thing, is the heaviest bottle I’ve ever tasted and almost instills some gravitas into the tasting experience. What I mean is the actual wine itself. The Sirah/Syrah is very much present in this wine, an undercurrent beneath a rich Cabernet/Merlot layer. It is really magnificent and a worthy successor to the Caymus that I sampled just hours beforehand.

Last night the Sheriff accompanied bacon-wrapped filet mignon steaks, sizzled to perfection on hot NC evening, and sides of potato and salad. Tonight the 2013 complemented mixed salad greens (including freshly chopped basil that is fighting hard against some hearty sun…and getting some good love along its journey), waxed beans, and a couple of pork chops grilled up to taste and also accented with crushed black pepper and basil.

Say the Buena Vista folks, “Inspiring dark red fruit aromatics arrest the senses while rich raspberry, blackberry, and semi-sweet chocolate flavors are deliciously unleashed on the palate.” Yup, good friends all, those flavors, and accurately described.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.16.22 PMThe winemaker explains they have sourced the grapes from Rockville, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley in the 2013 The Sheriff of Sonoma County. I understand that it’s performed very well in competition and with reviewers, and this guy is no exception. It’s my second Sheriff of this year (neglected to post Notes on the first…story for another time…) and I’m truly appreciative of the gift and wish I had saved more to share. Fun beverage to write about, and even better to drink.