Let me preface this by saying that I am not a score chaser. I have a hard time assigning a numerical score to wine, when it is so subjective.
That being said, when my good friend Chuck Wiedeman told me he had tracked down a bottle of 2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard Proprietary Red at a wine shop in Ventura, I was naturally excited. This wine is a classic Rhone-style blend [41% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre and 28% Syrah] and Parker had rated it 100 points!
The James Berry Vineyard in Paso is to Syrah and Rhones what, to me, the Dusi Vineyard is to Paso Zinfandels. They truly don’t come any better. In fact, we had recently shared with Chuck and his lovely wife Heidi a bottle of 2006 Carlisle James Berry Vineyard Syrah that was superb.
So, when Chuck suggested that he and Heidi meet my beautiful wife Karen and me at The Cellar recently to share the Saxum, I naturally thought of pulling another Carlisle James Berry Vineyard Syrah out of the locker, this time a 2007 to match the year of the Saxum. [For those of you who care, this particular Carlisle was rated 96 points by Parker.]
To accompany the wine, Chuck and Heidi brought a tray full of lollipop-style lamb chops that were incredible, along with some delicious bruschetta. We also ordered some wonderful tapas from The Cellar’s menu, masterfully prepared by Chef Liz Tredway Pack.
[Based on the quality of Chuck’s cooking, I think you can expect to see him on Top Chef sometime soon, or maybe The Next Food Network Star! Which brings up another question – why are there no wine shows on the Food Network?]
The first thing Chuck did was knock over a glass. Fortunately, it was only water. [Sorry Chuck. This is the last time I will mention this.]
Both wines were incredible. Since the Saxum was a blend and the Carlisle was 100% Syrah, it would be difficult to compare the two. The Saxum was slightly more complex with a loooooong finish, and the Carlisle was darker and all about the fruit. Both fantastic wines.
Soon, we were joined at our table by Vic Herstein of All Corked Up and DiMaggio Washington of The Cellar, along with more food [thanks DiMaggio!] and a bottle of Cain Five [thanks Vic!]. And if that wasn’t enough, I pulled another Carlisle out of our locker, a 2007 Montafi Ranch Zinfandel, and Chuck followed it with a 2005 Silver Oak.
Hard to really describe what a great evening this was, with our wonderful friends and drinking these great wines and enjoying the food as well. I guess you would call it…
Just another Thursday night at The Cellar.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.