Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.
2013 Spann Vineyards Smoke Vineyard Syrah
Spann Vineyards might be familiar to many of you. We’ve carried many of their wines over the years and, when possible, have tastings with Peter Spann, the winery’s owner when time allows. This month’s offering, his 2013 Syrah is typically only available at the winery, but through a little string pulling (and some begging and pleading), we managed to secure a few cases for you all.
Like so many of Peter’s wines, this is actually a blend, in this case of Syrah and Viognier (95/5%) in the style of the great wines from France’s Cote Rotie region of the Rhone river valley. The Viognier, a white wine, here actually adds color and body to the wine. How does a white wine make red wine darker? When the two grapes are fermented together the white grapes pull more color out of the red resulting in more color and flavor extraction.
I recently asked Peter about his propensity for blends, and why he makes them almost exclusively. “We started our winery during the 2001/2002 recession,” he said. “The dot-com bust happened, followed by the 9-11 attacks and wine consumption dropped dramatically…Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots [were selling] at half price so we decided it would be foolish to make the same wines that the market already had too much of. Betsy and I grew up on French wines, most of which were blends so we simply made the style of wines we knew and enjoyed.”
I highly recommend decanting this bottle for several hours. It’ll bring out the wonderful gamey and earthy aromas that make it so special. When I first began drinking this wine, I was overwhelmed by the “rustic” aromas that came to me: desiccated summer grasses and dried earth. Once it had time to open up it showed the most intriguing aromas of smoke, truffle, and ripe blackberry. For being a Californian wine, the fruit here is decidedly subtle, a fact that makes this stand out among Peter’s other wines.
This is an ideal wine for the grill – I feel like I’ve said that about most of the wines we’ve shared with you this summer, but I think there is no better wine that goes with grilled meat better than Syrah.
If, after you try your bottle, you think you’d like some more for aging (and this could easily age a decade), please let us know. We’ll have a few extra bottles that weren’t allocated to Shamrock Selections, but they won’t last long.
2012 Notre Vin Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon
We just couldn’t let summer end without another rosé. This one, like the Spann Syrah, is a limited release that we’re happy to be able to share with you. A rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, this bottling comes entirely from vineyards on Howell Mountain, one of the most prized growing sites in Napa Valley. It’s rare to see fruit from a site of this renowned being used for rose (with many Howell Mountain Cabernet running north of $100/blt, it’s understandable why many winemakers would choose to focus solely on their red offerings). But not Denis ‘Denny’ Malbec.
Denny grew up with wine. His grandfather was the winemaker at Bordeaux’s famous Chateau Latour and his father was the winery’s, Cellar Master. Eventually, after stints in Bordeaux and Champagne, Denny began making wine in northern California. As a shop, we’ve been carrying his wines for quite a while, most notably his Alienor Syrah and the beautiful Alienor Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.
Unfortunately, Denny passed away in April of 2016, leaving many vintages of unreleased wines. These wines allow Denny’s spirit to stay with us as we enjoy the fruits of his final years of winemaking.
This rosé is unlike almost any other rosé I’ve tried. It’s age and fruit quality give a depth of flavor that is so different from the Provencal style of rosé that most people are used to. Though the wine is completely dry, I immediately picked up the strong candy-like aroma of cotton candy. On the palate, it reminded me of the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. It’s okay to serve this chilled, but you don’t want it too cold. An ice bath would dull the intense fruit flavors (though we fully support drinking this in the bath…). Pair this with food a little heavier than you otherwise would for rosé. Mushroom risotto or pasta come to mind.
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