When good friends come to town, there’s usually lots of wine and, as goes wine, always surprises.
Earlier this week, on a school night, I hooked up with two old friends -- Andy Katz and Greg Gorman -- both of whom are extraordinary photographers and wine lovers.
Katz just finished another beautiful book, this one on New Zealand. Gorman is one of the finest portrait photographers in the world. We met a few years ago in Mendocino on an abalone dive. (You can check out their work at their web sites.)
Katz is known for his vineyard and winery photos around the world, and now he has a vineyard in Alexander Valley. Gorman is a genuine wine connoisseur--the most enthusiastic wine lover I’ve met. His work, like Katz’s, has taken him around the wine world, shooting people, vineyards and wineries.
We dined at Richard Reddington’s “Redd,” in Yountville, the hottest new restaurant in Napa Valley. Seated outdoors, as the sun set, we started with a bottle of Champagne, followed by a 1993 Vollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Auslese, which was in wonderful shape, young, with slate and earthy dried apricot notes that were complex.
Then we opened one of the wines I brought, a 2003 DuMol Green Valley Pinot Noir, the Ryan bottling. It was amazingly complex, sleek and elegant, with a complex aroma and lively beam of acidity that kept the wild raspberry flavors refreshing.
Then came a 2004 Sea Smoke Botella from Santa Rita Hills that Greg brought. It was rich and fleshy, with great depth – powerful yet graceful.
I also brought a bottle of the 2001 Paloma Syrah, from the winery’s Spring Mountain vineyard. It’s an old favorite, ripe, dense and chewy. I don’t think it’s made anymore. One comment about the wine from the table: “You could cut this with a knife.”
Just as I thought things were winding down, and we were ready to order espressos, up walked Larry Stone. He’s working a new job in Napa, as the general manager of Rubicon, Francis Coppola’s winery, after years in the restaurant business.
I guess he still has some of that restaurant night owl left in him. He joined us at the table, then quietly excused himself, and then returned for the next course.
He had gone inside to order a bottle of wine, which came to us in a decanter. Dark hued, super rich and concentrated, we marveled at its color and layers of fruit complexity.
We took a few guesses before Larry gave us a few clues, which led to its Stags Leap appellation. At that we guessed the Shafer Hillside Selection, maybe 2002. But it turned out to be a 1999. Simply delicious and a reminder to me and Larry that 1999 was a tremendous vintage in Napa Valley for rich yet supple Cabernets.
Not to be outdone, Greg then ordered a 2003 Colgin Syrah IX, which I gave a 98-point rating to last year.
It was simply stunning. “This is like being on a roller-coaster ride with all the flavors you could imagine,” Greg said.
The Colgin 2003 Syrah is the best red wine I’ve had from Napa in this vintage, and if more California Syrahs tasted this good, Cabernet would face a real challenge.
Brandon Redman — Seattle, WA — August 17, 2006 2:21pm ET
Chris Lavin — Long Beach, CA — August 17, 2006 2:33pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 17, 2006 2:33pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 17, 2006 2:40pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — August 17, 2006 3:24pm ET
Anthony Clapcich — August 17, 2006 3:30pm ET
Mark Mccullough — GA — August 17, 2006 3:51pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 17, 2006 4:00pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — August 18, 2006 8:44am ET
Gilbert Vasquez — San Diego — August 18, 2006 6:15pm ET
Fred Daner — Tampa, Florida — August 19, 2006 1:31pm ET
Don R Wagner — Illinois — August 19, 2006 10:23pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 21, 2006 12:43pm ET
Mark Swenarton — nj — August 27, 2006 7:17am ET
Greg Hedrick — Virginia — August 29, 2006 2:52pm ET
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