Photos: Kim Adams
courtesy of Matthew Cooper
(The Mad Scientist)
t. and Mark Looker right before they slept the sleep of the
on Satyr's Day We
The Lounge in the Inn
We woke when we would, breaking fast in ones and in twos. Then, some of our number went off to the city, to haggle in the marketplace and explore. I lounged the morn away leisurely, revisiting a disturbing dream, courtesy of Neil Gaiman. After a while, I made my way to the pool, and though nobody spoke, I went into a dream of my own, in a slow motion fantasy world underwater, I in my deep end, and a few families with their gaggle of squawking offspring in the shallows.
Queen of the Universe, Kim Adams, got dealt all nines and tens.
We began to gather again at around 3 in the afternoon, for a few offhand games of Scrabble and Euchre and some friendly conversation. And, of course, there were corks being pulled anew.
Larry had made arrangements for us to rent a meeting room for our party, but due to the slow traffic, the Inn's Lounge was not staffed, and we were allowed to use it the entire evening by our gracious hostess.
By 5 PM, we were joined by
Tim Thomas, aka Zindiana, and our way cool Mo'Cool friends,
Sally Goldberg. And so, the second eve's festivities were underway, as we drank fine wines and gnashed on a variety of breads, cheeses, cold cuts and sundry other items of gastronomic delight. And though I didn't sample everything, here are notes for what I did; we started with some decidedly un-Rhone varietals.
1996 Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrechet Les Caillerets (13.5 % alc.): One of two white Burgundies opened, and the only one I sampled, given the irresistible pull of the big reds. Medium straw with big oak over pineapple/pear flavors and aromas and some mineral on the finish. The oak gives a not quite sour aspect to the fruit, and almost reminds me of a Californian. A nice white with good acidity that needs some time in the cellar to come together.
1997 J. Rochioli Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Three Corner Vineyard (13.5 %): The
Overborg immediately noted the cocoa/coffee bean nuances to the perfumed smoky black cherry character of this ruby garnet beauty, and professed his love for it, as did a number of others, including The Director and this taster. A nice kiss of oak adds to the attraction here. A gorgeous wine that will only get better over the next several years, and one of the weekend's best.
1986 Robert Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (12.5 %): This dark garnet was poured from a magnum, and featured a lovely perfumed cassis/violet bouquet with some secondary cigar box. The flavors weren't quite as impressive, but then maybe this just needed a good cut of beef. Nice California claret, but not a great one.
1986 Dominus Estate: The
'deauxnut's designated Euchre wine, this dark garnet has a cassis nose that is somewhat perfumed; it loses the perfume in the flavors, but is still richer than the Mondavi.
Mystery Wine: Ruby garnet with some brick, with wet dog fur over red currant on the nose and red currant/leather/tobacco flavors. Very much alive and drinkable, this was something of a revelation when it was pulled from its brown bag by
Matt Cooper and shown to be a
1975 Henschke Hill of Grace
Shiraz, which he'd purchased at a local hardware store that day(!?). "Assessed, recorked and recapsuled at the winery" and
"released in 1994," this was a weekend favorite of some participants.
1994 Tom Eddy Napa (13.7 % alc.): Dark garnet with an oak/mint/red currant bouquet and added chocolate on the palate. Very smooth and velvet-y,
Bill Paumen says this has really opened a lot in the last six months.
1985 E. Guigal Hermitage Blanc (13 % alc.): Joel and Sally brought this pale-medium gold; it has a slightly funky nose in a nice way, with star fruit/green apple/bee's wax, and some added mineral in the flavors. Slightly pungent, quite alive and very intriguing, this would show better with the right food; Joel suggested a roasted chicken. A blend of Marsanne and Rousanne.
1998 Pride Sonoma Viognier (14.5 % alc.): Medium straw, with a perfumed citrus nose that
described as "zippy." Flavors and aromas of Bartlett
pears/ apricot/ honeysuckle, dense and spicy with a finish that lingers longer than many Viogniers. A little too intense for some in attendance.
1997 Alban Central Coast Viognier (14.1 % alc.): Even spicier citrus on the nose than the Pride with added honeysuckle, the flavors of this pale gold tone down with a noticeable stone component. Almost more "Euro" in style compared to the last wine, I preferred the Pride.
1996 Tablas Hills Cuvee Rouge Paso Robles (13.5 % alc.): Medium straw with a pear/mineral nose and an added sweet quality on the palate; I preferred the Viogniers, but a nice wine nevertheless.
1991 M. Chapoutier Ermitage de l'Oree
(11 % alc.): Medium straw, with pear/straw on the nose and nice pungent fruit on the palate;
Chairman Moe described it as "oily," with a hint of "petrol." Nice white.
1985 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle (13.5 % alc.): Dark garnet, with smoke/plum/black olive and hints of brett and chocolate flavors and aromas and some earth on the finish.
Larry added "cedar/currant and a little pepper," calling this "very young." I agreed, but still, this was my wine of the day, and a toss-up with the '90 Summus for wine of the weekend.
1988 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle (13.5 % alc.): Some described this dark garnet as "almost disjointed and not up to the '85," and while I agreed that the '85 was better, I very much enjoyed the rich plum/smoke flavors and aromas.
1990 Lindemanns Sparkling Shiraz: About this remarkable "spurgle",
BD said, "I'm torn between interesting and disgusting" as descriptors. Most of us were much more enthusiastic about this bubbly sweet plum/black raspberry/yeasty
red though; obviously not as heavy as a still Shiraz, this shows very nice rich fruit. One participant added "all kinds of meat and leather; more effervescent than bubbly."
1988 A. Clape Cornas: Dark garnet, with olive/plum flavors and aromas, somewhat thin and lacking on the mid-palate. A bit of a disappointment.
1997 Behren and Hitchcock Napa Syrah (14.7 % alc.): Just too over the top for Joel, this dark garnet explodes with big toasty oak and sweet plum/black raspberry/maple syrup flavors and aromas, and a velvet-y texture. The polar opposite of the Rhones, but I enjoyed my short glass.
1995 E. Guigal Chateau d'Ampuis
Côte Rôtie (13 % alc.): This dark garnet is surprisingly approachable for its youth, with big black fruit/cracked pepper and a sweet flavor profile. Larry commented on a "flinty-stoney" quality, and was surprised at how rich it is. Nice stuff!
"Everything tastes young tonight!" - Matt Cooper
and Sally Goldberg
1994 Stellenzicht Syrah (14 % alc.; South Africa):
described this dark garnet as "a little hot, a little thin," but many of us were more kind. Coffee/plum/earth bouquet, with added iodine in the flavors. "The best it has been drinking in quite a while; it's just starting to open up again." -
Joel and Sally
1990 Penfolds Shiraz Magill Estate (13.5 % alc.): Dark garnet, velvet smooth, rich sweet plum/black cherry. A seamless Oz Shiraz that didn't end up on
many list of favorites, but probably should have.
1994 Domaine du
Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape
(13.5 % alc.): I brought this, knowing the
was bringing the '95 version. Ruby dark garnet with a hint of brick; slighty musty vegetal prune/herb bouquet, with nice rich fruit. Stands up to the competition, even if it doesn't stand out.
1995 Domaine du
Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape (13.5 % alc.): Dark garnet with rich perfumed plum character; amazingly approachable and even better than the
and Bill Paumen
1998 d'Arenberg The Ironstone
Pressings: A favorite of
Bill Paumen's, showing tar/smoke/plum/black cherry with a candied aspect in the background. Very nice.
1996 Paul Jaboulet Aine Cornas (13.5 % alc.): Purple garnet, with a candied black cherry/plum bouquet that the flavors echo. Good tannins, acidity and a certain vegetal element; typically astringent for a youthful Syrah, but still approachable with air.
1996 Neyers Napa Syrah Hudson Vineyards (14.4 % alc.): Very rich and intense, with tar/olive/blackberry/plum/buttered popcorn and some sea air on the nose; not cough syrup sweet, but not far off. Very tasty
stuff courtesy of Tim
At this point, I put down my pen, weary of writing, but not of tasting. I poured myself a glass on the
'98 Neyers Contra Costa Zinfandel Pato
Vineyard. I'd brought this knowing that the Mad Scientist (Cooper) might be bringing the aforementioned Syrah. So, while I didn't take notes, I can say that this is a terrific Zinfandel, and both of these wines disappeared soon after we opened them around 10:30.
Early in the evening, we had decided not to uncork any more bottles, thinking that we'd never finish what we'd already opened, but that may not have been the case. By the end of the evening, there was little left to pour, and that was for the best. But before then, some of us had the most singular experience...
The Pool Chant
At some point, shortly after 11, when the other guests in the Inn had retired to their rooms to put their children to bed, several of us reconvened to the pool area, some to swim and some simply to watch and take a change of scenery. How the singing started I don't remember; perhaps it resulted from my remark that, during my 2nd swim of the day earlier that afternoon, I had noticed the room had a wild acoustic to it, with a deep echo.
Almost at once, the anonymous five of us were lost in song, of a sort; there was no melody, per se, but rather a group modality that worked perfectly, hauntingly. Our chant was not unlike the howling of wolves or coyotes, but our voices did not so much rise and fall as they did shift subtly, like some shimmering sonic Aurora Borealis. There was real power in our song.
How long we sustained our incantation, I can't say, it had to be at least thirty minutes or more, with different voices joining as others became silent. It was as if we'd become one with the song of the spheres, hypnotic yet transcendental.
It was a magical experience that went almost entirely undocumented, save for here and
there in the treasure rooms of our memories. And perhaps that's fitting.
It was certainly well and good that the room is sound proofed to the outside, however...
Sun Day, as we drove
back to Day-twah, I couldn’t help but regret that we weren’t able to
spend a day or two more with our companions of the vine. Our time
together had been brief, yet wonderful, and indeed old friendships were
strengthened and new ones were forged. We were most pleased that all
could attend, and especially grateful for the Meehan’s
efforts in making
it happen. And lest our jests be misconstrued, we’re also very much
obliged to our own Chairman
Moe for his good
work in not only finding us a suitable site to wine and dine on Fire’s
Day Eve, but also for his concern that this should be the best possible
time for all.
We spoke of visiting
each other on our various home turfs when our schedules allowed. And if
circumstances should dictate otherwise, Master Meehan put it best when
he said, "We’ll
always have Toledo…"