ESJ in the house
A tasting of the wines of Edmunds St. John
by Thor Iverson
And that's meant literally: Steve Edmunds was staying at my house. Assume the usual disclosures, etc.
Edmunds St. John “Heart of Gold” (El Dorado County) – Grenache blanc & vermentino. One of the best whites I’ve had from ESJ, with an immediacy formed of bright acidity and intense, white-out fruit with complexing rindy components. It’s long and a bit linear at the moment, but there seems to be a lot lurking, and I expect great things in the near future. Right now, however, it’s a very “immediate” wine. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2006 Pinot Gris Witters (El Dorado County) – Though Steve remains baffled, I still think this tastes like a crisper form of viognier. It’s floral, perfumed, and slightly honeyed, with neither the spiced pear of Alsace, the squiggly citrus or crystalline minerality of northeastern Italy, or fruity fennel of the more innocuous versions from Oregon, New Zealand, and so forth. I will, however, note that after three days open (only part of that time refrigerated), a little bit of pear does emerge…while the wine fades around it. I do like the wine, despite my struggle to embrace its varietal turmoil, so Steve and I will have to agree to dis a gris. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2007 “Bone-Jolly” Gamay Noir Rosé Witters (El Dorado County) – A clear step down from the previous vintage. It’s still very tasty, with medium-light red fruit, some spice, and a fine foundation of gray-grained pebbles, but it’s a lower-volume wine in which the more delicate treble and bass have become difficult to hear. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2006 “Bone-Jolly” Gamay Noir Witters (El Dorado County) – Darker but more sullen than the previous vintage (on the rare occasion I tasted it intact), with a refreshing underbelly of crushed-cherry acidity and old potpourri on the finish. There seems to be some dark soil to it as well, but it’s hard to get at right now. Beyond benefiting from time, I think this needs time. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2006 “Bone-Jolly” Gamay Noir Witters (El Dorado County) – A second bottle, this one put through several days of uncorked chilling, warming, re-chilling, etc. The soil has receded, with some compensating expansion of the fruit and a rounder, fleshier mouthfeel. For me, the changing form of this wine is further evidence that time is required for this wine to show its best. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2005 Syrah Wylie-Fenaughty (El Dorado County) – The most easily-accessible W-F I think I’ve ever tasted, already fully-formed but not seeming to sacrifice any of the usual promise. Blueberry with a touch of black, nuts (again with a touch of the black), and plenty of dusky soil. Very balanced. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2005 Syrah Parmelee-Hill (Sonoma Valley) – The nose is mercaptan-dominated and difficult to assess at the moment, but what’s underneath seems to be nutty and dark, full of charred (not in a bad way) blackberries and chunky black soil. This needs time to be drinkable, and much more time to reach its peak, but it should be great in a decade-plus. (5/08)
Edmunds St. John 2005 “Rocks and Gravel” (California) – One of the most complete young versions of this wine I’ve tasted; like the Wylie-Fenaughty, whatever he’s doing to make these wines more immediately appealing without sacrificing structure (or maybe it’s just the vintage), it’s working; this is a brilliant, well-knit, deceptively soft expression of California Rhônishness, with restraint applied to the usual stew of old-growth herbs and dried-out soil, lightly animalistic notes, well-baked red fruit, and a fine dusting of seed pepper. What a terrific wine! It might not have the pure aging potential of other vintages (though these wines can be deceptive, and I may well be wrong), but certainly many ever-shifting years lie ahead of it. (5/08)
Copyright © Thor Iverson.