Specialty Club – April 2011

2007 Shafer, Napa Valley Syrah “Relentless”
Longtime club members will remember that this wine was Bear’s favorite Napa Valley Syrah, and he put four vintages of it in this club. It’s a powerhouse blend of 84% Syrah and 16% Petite Sirah, universally praised by all major critics, Parker, Tanzer, the Wine Spectator, the Enthusiast and on and on. It is a very smooth and round wine that starts with luscious aromas of dark fruit, truffles and grilled meat, and then fills the glass with meaty flavors, black cherry, black tea, and licorice. You could cellar it for up to ten years, although you could also drink it sooner with judicious decanting. The Relentless would nicely complement rich, savory dishes, such as short ribs, smoked lamb, and roast duck. Dry cheeses like Manchego or aged Cheddar also pair with it very well. It’s $65, and we can get more. We also have a bit left of the 2003 and 2004 vintages, if you’d like to preview what this wine will become with a bit of bottle age.

2009 Woodward Canyon, Chardonnay
Everyone knows about Woodward Canyon’s fabulous Old Vine Cabernet, but we were glad to see that Rick Small’s wonderful 2009 Chardonnay received its share of acclaim this year. We would rate this wine as highly as our two favorite Washington Chardonnays, from Abeja and Buty, and that is very fine company indeed. The fruit from the cooler Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge (64%) provides high acidity and crispness, while the estate fruit from Walla Walla (the other 36%) is responsible for the silkiness and rich depth of flavor. Rick ferments this wine in French Burgundy barrels, 20% of them new, imparting subtle notes of vanilla, cream, and toasted hazelnut to the Chardonnay. It’s $38 and currently in good supply. It would be a great match for any dish with a cream sauce, or you could visit the Woodward Canyon web site to pair it with Rick’s own recipes for Baked Brie or Eggplant Caviar.