Saturday, February 26, 2005

Easton Update

I have already reviewed the line of Easton wines, but it is always interesting to watch a winemaker and his wines develop from one vintage to the next. So while I struggle over my review of the ‘vin nature’ tasting, I’ll follow a path of less resistance and offer up the skinny of one my favorite Californian winemakers.

Enigma 2002, Sierra Foothills, Terre Rouge ($34.. saq)
While the 2000 was a delicate and refreshing mix of honey and flowers, the 2001 is much more Rhone style with those typical ‘heady’ aromas of tea and smoke. With less acidity than the 2000, this Enigma compensates with more length and richness. Both are great but I could see Bill’s pride swell when I made the Rhone style comment. This could be an early favorite for lobster season.

California House 2003 ($20.. importation)
A blend of Syrah and Cabernet and Easton’s first foray into a new price bracket, I found it very Californian with super ripe fruit and a hint of residual sugar, but with none of that suffocating oak. An interesting bouquet with whiffs of horse fart made me laugh and like it even more. One of the better under $20 Cali reds that I have tasted.

Mourvèdre 2000, Amador County, Terre Rouge ($35…saq)
Five dollars cheaper and way better than the 1999, this is Mourvèdre Bandol-style wrapped in a silky Californian bath robe. More of that ‘funky,’ animal bouquet and with way softer tannins, the 2000 is rich, tasty and very ready to drink while the 1999 was a bit austere. A great buy and bring on the filet with a blue cheese and wild mushroom sauce.

Late-Harvest Zinfandel 2000, El Dorado County ($33… importation…500ml)
My first ever late-harvest Zin, it had just enough residual sugar to be a late-harvest as opposed to a botched, over-ripe ‘dry’ Zin. Interesting but how to use it was a bit of a puzzle. Perhaps a spicy, red-wine sauced fois gras or maybe some sort of chocolate, mushroom and cassis cake… or probably just straight up, or maybe….?

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