Not long after interviewing Stillman Brown [aka Swilly Idle, among other things] on the telephone for my recent article about the opening of the Zeppelin Wine Hangar in Morro Bay, I found myself in his vicinity. I asked him if he would be around if I stopped by, and he said it would actually be a great day for a visit, as the band Meth Leppard was going to be using his tasting room for a photo shoot.
So, I showed up around noon. Stillman and tasting room minion Frank had stepped out to run an errand to pick up the original artwork of the label art of Stillman’s latest release of Death to the Infidel Zinfandel. [That’s not the real name of it, as Zinfandel is not the primary variety, just one of many. But, it sounds good. The real name is just Death to the Infidel. Really. That’s the name.]
We chatted for awhile and I officially became a minion myself, by picking up a dropped nail and offering opinions on the positioning of various pieces of artwork on the tasting room walls.
Then, we got down to tasting. These are the wines I tasted that day, with Stillman’s comments.
2008 Pink Zeppelin Dry Rose, Paso Robles $15
A bone dry blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Tenturier; medium pink, medium acid, aromas of plum, dry cherry, and floral notes. Finishes very clean and fairly long for a pink wine.
2006 Red Zeppelin Chardonnay, Santa Barbara $12
Unoaked but very ripe apricot and pineapple, showing maturity at this age, full and almost sweet. Full and rich, softer acidity, some oxidation. Alcohol 14.7! Love or hate.
2007 Red Zeppelin Riesling, Santa Lucia Highlands $20
Ripe green pineapple Riesling with floral and petrol notes, just off-dry (.66% rs) and acidic. Racy, rather Germanic for a Monterey Riesling! Long finish with a bit of astringency – white grape tannins?
2007 Stillman Zeppelin Syrah, Bear Valley Vineyard, Monterey $20
Ripe plum and oak with cedar notes and some firm tannins, moderate alcohol and acidity, softens with air.
2009 Stillman Infidel Zeppelin Syrah, Arroyo Seco, Monterey $25
Pepper bomb and black plum, high alcohol (15+) and high acidity as well, some French oak and moderate to light tannins.
2005 Red Zeppelin Syrah, Bear Valley Vineyard, Monterey $25
Ripe red plum, toast and spice and cedar nose, medium acid, very full plum and cherry palate, long finish. Tannins are very integrated and almost sweet. Reminiscent of a high-end Aussie Grenache to some?!?
NV Red Zeppelin Vinidiction, Cabernet/Syrah, Monterey and SLO Counties $30
Red plum and black cassis fruit with herbal and cedar notes, medium-soft tannins and acid, black fruit finish.
2007 Red Zeppelin Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $50
Big complex nose of black fruits, clove and oak, higher acid, rich firm tannic palate of fruits, clove and oak, ripe very long finish. Mainly Halter Ranch Cabernet with several percent each of Merlot, Syrah, and Petite Sirah.
2009 Stillman Red, Monterey $40
Big plum and black fruits and some pepper from the Petite Sirah and Syrah, fine but denser tannins, high alcohol (15%+) medium acid, somewhat slow to develop. Massive wine.
2009 Stillman Syrah, Templeton Gap, “Longboard Ambassador” $20 / 375 ml
Very okay ripe nose and palate of black fruits with berry notes from the 22% Zinfandel, almost sweet, medium acid and tannins, medium-high alcohol. Long finish.
2009 Stillman “Death To The Infidel” Durif, Shiraz, Primitivo (thus, Death To The Infidel) $40
Similar to the Stillman Red but softer and richer, very dark red fruit, some pepper. Powerful swill.
I don’t have much to add to Stillman’s comments. My favorites of the tastings are in bold italics.
My absolute favorite that day was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which will probably surprise anyone who reads this who actually knows me. But, it just blew me away.
Well, the clock was ticking and it was time for me to be on my way. Meth Leppard hadn’t yet shown up, but I needed to hit the road. Armed with my purchases, and a poster of “Elvis Died For Your Sins” signed by Stillman, I headed out to my car, despite Stillman telling me that the band would be there soon.
This is what I missed:
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.