Magnum, P.I. (California, pt. 1)

12 November 2005 – Los Altos, California

[pool at Sheraton]Sheraton San Jose – Actually in Milpitas, and way harder to get to from the San Jose airport than it should be, thanks to closed onramps and construction around the airport. It’s a good, solid business hotel with a lovely pool area, as “near to stuff” as anything can be in this sprawl.

Jeff & Lisa Cuppett’s house – We’re very close to fresh off the plane, so a low-key gathering chez Cuppett, with Jon Cook and Kira Maximovich (and the Cuppett’s sleepy progeny) in attendance, is just the thing. There’s crab “cakes” with remoulade, steaks on the grill, broccolini and blue cheese/bacon potatoes, but mostly there’s wine and conversation.

Christophe Pichon 2001 Condrieu (Rhône) – Pine needles, sweet white flowers, and floral spice with light, rindy bitterness on the finish. There’s good acidity, but this is generally a light-bodied and soft wine; not necessarily a criticism, though it’s not quite up to my other experiences with C. Pichon. It’s still one of the best available, however.

Bollinger 1992 Champagne Brut “Grande Année” (Champagne) – Very full-bodied (no surprise there), with biscuits, burnt peach skin and baked orange supported by big acid. I like it, but it’s either in an odd stage or not my favorite vintage Bolly, because I don’t love it.

mystery wine – From unlabeled magnum and from Thunder Mountain…that’s all we know at uncorking. The wine shows sweaty plum liqueur, strawberry eau de vie, and a soft, light-fruited but high-alcohol palate with low acid and little remaining tannin. Jon opines that it’s zin and either a ’93 or ’96, while Kira is certain that it’s a ’96 and that she knows the source. Bowing to their vastly superior experience, then, this is a Thunder Mountain 1996 Zinfandel Dusi Ranch (Paso Robles).

Freemark Abbey 1991 Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché (Napa Valley) – It’s my once-per-year positive tasting note on a Napa wine! Gorgeous, mixed powdery peppercorns with bright cherry and lovely tobacco notes. Balanced and structured (less tannin than acid at this point). I’ve had decidedly mixed experiences with Freemark Abbey – some horrible, some reasonably positive – but this is a really nice wine, and ready to go now (though it’s probably in no danger of immediate death, either).

Edmunds St. John 1994 Syrah Durell (Sonoma County) – Boozy and flat, with smoked leather and a heavy payload of tannin. Dead and hot. Something’s wrong here, and I don’t know that “closed” quite covers it.

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