Novy offers well-made California Syrah

July 2, 2012

I was quite surprised by an article that listed the top 11 wine-consuming countries. The list was based on per person relative to population. Here is the listing in order: Vatican City, Norfolk Islands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Turks & Caicos, Denmark, Slovenia and Andorra. Vatican consumes an average 54.78 liters per year and Andorra 33.84. The United States was below 20 but not listed. What is surprising to me is that most of the top 10 don’t produce much wine. The info is from Greg Dal Piaz, writing in Snooth.

Keep your eyes peeled for a new product from Kirin. Frozen beer is all the rage. I also ordered in a West Coast beer named Pliny the Elder. A terrific double IPA that satisfied me on several levels. Make sure you are seated and not driving if you plan on drinking more than one. Kick butt beer indeed.

The second half of the double was knowing that Gaius Plineus Secundus is historically significant, a factoid driven into my skull during four years of high school Latin by an extraordinary teacher name Theresa Rossi. She also taught French, which I enjoyed for four years under her tutelage. Pliny the Elder was one of the earliest naturalists whose work, “Naturalis Historia,” is extant. He was a noted military commander during Vespasian’s reign and died while attempting a rescue by sea of friends trapped during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Pliny brought to mind Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici. These are made from Aglianico grapes mentioned by Livy more than 2,000 years ago. The Radici is an effort to recapture the best of old Roman wines. After an exhausting research effort, Mastroberardino began producing Radici in 1986. The 2004 can be found under $55/bottle. Rated 94 IWC and 92 by Parker on release in 2008, it is ready to go now. Radici is aged 30 months in barrels and another 18 in the bottle before being released. Opens ruby with a brick edge; the nose is a lovely bouquet of ripe cherries, herbs and pie spice. As it aerated, the mid palate developed sweet red fruit, mint, tomato and tobacco notes. Big full palate, the tannins are beginning to incorporate but indicate it is still improving.

This is a ton of wine at the price. I say 2 price points above IWC. Will improve two years and drink through 2014-15. I think the 2004 are the best of recent vintages but all I tasted were above 90 points. The 2007 shows promise, 93 points.

Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Les Trois Soeurs 2009 can be found under $170/case. This 90-point Cotes du Rhone blended of 60 percent Grenache, 30 percent Syrah, 10 percent Carignan from old vines is a huge mouthful of barbecue or grilled accompaniment for cheap. Dark plum colored. Complex nose with crushed berries, earth, white chocolate and licorice. A huge wine ready to drink. Buy only enough for a year or two. Rated 91 points and 1 price point. The 2010 are also lovely and can be found under $150 case; they should hold longer. Orange-tinged dark pink. Raspberry and cherry aromas, hints of dried flowers and orange pith. Dry with zesty citrus, red fruit flavors and hints of licorice. Clean finish repeats the flowers.

Novy has truly hit its stride with well-made Cali Syrah. The 2006 Susan Hill Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands is a great representative. You may remember it was written up here in 2008 when you could buy it under $240/case. WS hit it with 94 points and it rocketed skyward. Blackberry, pepper, spice, sage and mineral notes riding firm, ripe tannins. Finishes long, focused with lingering aftertaste of blackberry and spices plus a bit alcoholic. If you bought it, start to drink it now, as it is reaching the end of its best era

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