The thing about Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants is that they get stuff you can’t find just any where. And sometimes they bring in a winemaker or an owner. Occasionally the guy isn’t very interesting but most of the time you get the likes of Michael Keenan, Pam Starr and Billy Grant. Who? He’s one of the partners at Four Vines. Christian Tietje is the winemaker and founder with Susan Mahler. Basically three of them make this wine. And they are all outlaws. And you know I love an Outlaw.
Nice video that tells there story better than I could. And these guys make great wine. I could hang out with these guys. But since Paso is a long haul right now, let’s just drink up at PHWM.
The 2008 Naked Chardonnay is an awesome summer Chardonnay. You can all say this along with me, not one of those big buttery, oaky California style Chardonnays. I should probably have an abbreviation for that one. Maybe “not Cougar crack”. Yeah, that’ll work. Stone fruit on the front palate, long finish for a chard with a hint of citrus ending with a nice minerality. Scallops, they said oysters but I’m not an oyster fan. So scallops. Light seafood. A sunny afternoon. I love this little wine.
The “Old Vine Cuvee” is their everyday Zin. If you can call a wine that’s priced this well and tastes this good “everyday”. Jumping spices on the front end, cherry cola, anise and spice on the finish. It drops off pretty quickly but at $14 retail this is an everday Zin that will knock your socks off. The Maverick is a fruit bomb that’s full of high heat. I thought of sugar plums in the mid palate, the finish has some vanilla toastiness to it. The Sophisticate is from Sonoma County. It’s spicy, vanilla-y a little Jolly Rogers in there with a nice velvety finish. I really liked this one. The Biker is just what it says it is. It’s rough and tumble, blackberries, anise, spice, vanilla, it’s rock candy baby! The Dusi Vineyards was full of cherry cola, ripe plums and spices. They dry farm that vineyard.
Then they have a line that they refer to as their “Freakshow”. I love a freakshow. Actually, one time I nicknamed an employee “Freakshow”. Yeah they tell you that you’re not supposed to do that stuff. Well, if you’re not an asshole and you do it from a good place in your heart you can get away with it. And MAD still answers to Mad Dog. And when Freakshow calls, she says “Hey it’s Freakshow!” Play to the postive. That is all.
The Heretic. The Heretic is a bit of a streetfight. It’s a Petite Sirah, kind of a pedestrian blend for these guys. Cream soda and black cherries. Boysenberries. Full bodied and meaty. Anarchy. They call it an unconventional Rhone. Syrah, Mourvedre and Zinfandel. Guys, it’s an Outlaw Rhone. And the back of the bottle mimics the Sex Pistols album. Because it wasn’t a CD back then. Hello? This thing was full of vanilla, had some cigar box and leather on the back end and was just ridiculous. Was it an Outlaw? A punk rock wine? Or Anarchy in a bottle.
The Dusi was full of vanilla coke and black cherry ice cream. It’s the sort of Zinfandel you pair with Cuban or Cajun food. It’ll take the heat off and finish off the complexity of that sort of food beautifully. The Loco is a Tempranillo from Templeton. There was a young lady from France…. High heat for a Tempranillo but I had some that had been opened for longer and it had calmed down. This one is going to need a Vinturi or a Wine Soiree or something, maybe time in the bottle. She’s just fighting to get out. She’s loco. Big with dark fruit, a long finish. This one is one to lay down for a few years and revisit once she quits fighting with the bottle. They follow that up with the Peasant. This is a traditional Rhone GSM blend. It’s smokey and earthy. It’s the kind of wine that you want to sit down grilled steak and mushrooms. A little licorice sneaking in on the nice finish. And whenever there are peasants, there’s Monarchy. This is a well structured, well balanced wine that was a lot less of an angry mob than most of their offerings. This one is sexy and smooth. Smooth as silk with beautiful mouthfeel. 51% Petit Verdot. Really a special wine. The Phoenix was cream soda and black cherries all around. This one had great structure and I would like to revisit it next year. Because that’s how I think. Billy talked about how wine was a living organism. I’ve heard a couple of wine folks give their spin on that concept. But really it is and it changes. It changes from when the bottle is opened until it goes into the glass, be that 5 seconds or two hours or the day after. And some wines need more opening up time. Because they’re living organisms. They ended the night with their Zinfandel Port. I am not allowed to ever purchase a bottle of this stuff. It was straight up coconut. I’ve never had a port that had this much coconut in it. It was silky and had a little caramel, certainly some dark chocolate and all coconut. We all know how much I love coconut. Yeah, you could probably roll cat crap in coconut and I’d eat it. I love coconut that much. That much love in a bottle that finishes with a lingering coconut? I’d drink the whole thing and have to cut my head off the next morning. But for you normal people, it’s a really fun port.
Two quick postscripts.
p.s. If you can and haven’t supported Ike, click on the I Like Ike tab above, it’ll tell you all you need to know. And thank you.
p.s.s. Don’t you read this kind of wine post and wonder why PBE is consistently snubbed by the WBC? Me too.