Several years ago, as I was just beginning to take my interest in wine seriously, we wandered into a small tasting room in downtown Los Olivos. The winery was Andrew Murray Vineyards and my experience in this tasting room is what set me on my path of being a bona fide Rhone Ranger.
We’ve enjoyed Andrew’s wines ever since.
Recently, there was a glitch with a bottle of 2005 Andrew Murray Zee Clones. We opened the bottle and tasted the wine, and the wine was just dead. It did not taste bad; it just had no taste at all. We shared it with some friends to get their opinion, and one comment was it tasted like the fruit had been sucked out of it.
So, I sent an email to the winery to inquire if they knew of any issues with this particular bottling, and Andrew himself responded.
Here are some excerpts from the email exchange after I contacted him:
I just popped a bottle…here are my impressions… The wine still smells and looks appropriate for its age…quite a full aroma of sage, black cherry, tar, toasty oak…not a “fruit bomb” style by any means, but it never really was…this is the first wine from our then newly planted “French Clones” vineyards from our old property…the grapes were quite ripe and the wine was quite dark during fermentation…the wine is still dark, just showing some age in the rim (appropriate).
The flavors are quite full and rich in the mouth…the alcohol feel is still present, yet there is ample mid palate weight to bear the alcohol…the finish still ends a bit abruptly…it seems that the tannins are still hanging in there…I found the wine to be very much alive and actually worthy of 6 months, 1 or 2 years more age…the fruit will continue to diminish, but the structure should soften and the wine should have a longer finish…
I will taste it after it has sat in the glass a bit longer (maybe at the end of the day)…the tannins should be noticeably smoother by then…simulating a year of two of bottle age.
To be honest, I am quite proud of the effort that I just tasted…perhaps you should taste the wine that I am sending right away (before sharing with friends) and see for yourself…the wine I just tried was definitely not off and still had enough fruit to make it really interesting… Let me know what you think…could have been a corked or quirky bottle…it is one of the many reasons why we switched to Screwcaps…
Thanks for alerting me rather than just dismissing our wines…
PS…I have been drinking our 2005 South Slope and 2005 Roasted Slope recently…both taste really yummy…they are still a big hit with customers and friends…so our 2005 vintages are holding up quite well…
I really appreciate the personal attention here. I’ve been a fan of your wines for a long time. In fact, yours were probably some of the first wines that got me into the whole Rhone Rangers thing.
Thank you very much. I still have a couple bottles of the 05 Zee Clones in my locker. I’m thinking of doing a side-by-side tasting — one from my locker and the one you are sending.
I’ll report back.
And Andrew’s final reply to me:
Cool…the bottle that I am sending has lived in many different cellars…first in our old winery, then moved to our new winery in the barrels, bottled here at the new place, sent up to Paso Robles to a warehouse then sent back to Buellton to a warehouse then on to the winery…so, I trust that your bottle has had an “easier” life than the one that I just sent you…BTW, our current wines go from here to Buellton, some never leave, then back to here for sales, etc…always temp controlled…
Well, we got the replacement bottle and let it sit for a while. Although I did not conduct the side-by-side tasting [my bad, sorry Andrew], the wine was excellent and actually one of the highlights of the evening.
Thank you to Andrew for not only the great customer service but for taking the time to deal with this personally. It won’t be forgotten.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.