I remember the first time I read about Randall Grahm. I think he was recounting an Ostertag Riesling and, if I recall correctly, he described it as 'shaking hands with a mountain.' I could do a quick search and verify this, but I prefer the memory - I like that it's a touch vague and that I can't recall when or where I saw the article in the first place. I assume I read it around 2002. I've no idea when the incident took place, though I'm tempted to say early nineties. I don't mind the inaccuracy (and don't think anyone else will) as the time and place weren't really that important. What was important was reading about a Californian wine-maker talking about terroir. What was important was that 'shaking hands with a mountain' is still the best description of experiencing terroir I've ever read. Oddly, I didn't really get into his wines until some time after that. The only other wine of his that I've reviewed is here. I don't know why it's taken so long for me to give his flagship red the attention it deserves, but there you go. It's been a long month and I've tasted a lot of wine under 'tasting' conditions - this was opened after a long day tasting and enjoyed with a meal, as wine should be.
Violet and ruby run from the rim to the core. Still youthful without being foreboding. Nice brilliance in the light.
Savoury nose - hickory smoke with plums and blueberries, a touch of spearmint and bramble. Soft floral notes on the edges.
This is soft, gentle and deliciously understated. Quite fleshy plum and blueberry fruits on the palate, surrounded by that slightly smokey, savoury edge. Wild herbs arrive after the smokey notes and it's all balanced by a brilliant mid-mouth black olive brine acidity that I'm going to say is coming from the 35% Syrah in the blend. I may be wrong, but that's my guess. Long and lingering on the finish while being tremendously more-ish. You want another sip before you've finished tasting the last. Bravo. This is cracking stuff and just what I needed coming off a long day and the tail end of a cold.
Tasted 1/3/2010 at Shorehead