Dinner with Steve Sigmond and Chris Larson

Tasted Monday, March 5, 2007 by Dave Dalluge with 411 views


Steve Sigmond, Chris Larson and I met at JP's American Bistro for dinner and some big california wines. I got there early and had some time to kill, so I sat in the bar and ordered a simple Spanish white. All wine is half price on Monday, so this cost $14 per bottle -- not much more than a couple of beers. JP's has excellent food and the service was very good. They only charged us $15 corkage on four bottles of BYO, which is also an excellent deal.

Flight 1 (2 Notes)

Served with pommes frites (with smoked paprika and aioli) and tuna tartare (with chipotle in adobo sauce on house-pickled pineapple wtih baby arugula). I thought the best match for the pommes frites was a glass of water. The tuna was excellent, and paired very well with the Calera (although the Calera paired even better with the risotto described in the next flight).

  • 2005 Adega Condes de Albarei Albariño Rías Baixas Salneval 86 Points

    Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas

    Served way too cold. Light, watery gold in color. The nose gives pleasant apricot and pear notes. The taste is a little sweeter than I expected. Plenty of good fruit, but lacking acidity. No minerality or other flavors -- just simple fruit. This may have shown better if the temperature was correct, but we moved on to the real wines before this happened. Certainly a decent value at $14 per bottle on the restaurant wine list.

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  • 2005 Calera Viognier 90 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan

    The color is an attractive pale yellow. On the nose this gives a melange of orchard fruit (lemon, orange, apricot) and floral notes. The weight is medium with some obvious oak. The taste is slightly spicy,with plenty of fruit and no minerality. This is very well balanced and has a nice, long finish.

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Flight 2 (3 Notes)

Served with appetizers of carnaroli risotto (with roasted portoobello mushroom, garlic confit and parmesan) and JP's rustic pizza (with applewood smoked bacon, cashew/currant pesto, and pecorino-romano). The risotto paired best with the rest of the Calera Viognier, and the pizza paired very well with the Pax. We then moved on to an excellent entree that paired very well with all three big reds: black angus hangar steak on yukon gold potato puree with carmelized red onions, oven roasted grapes, and red wine demi-glace. This was really an excellent dish. Steve and Chris then split a dessert of Hazelnut tuille stacked with fresh banana and chantilly cream.

  • 2003 Pax Syrah Castelli-Knight Ranch 95 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    My first Pax. Deep red color. This had an exhilarating nose that changed and developed throughout the night. Flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, pepper, lavendar, mushroom, iron, and animal notes mixed and matched in multiple intriguing combinations. On the palate this really showed its youth -- concentrated, tannic, and not giving all it has to offer. There is oak, but it is well controlled. It remains light on the palate despite the concentrated fruit and oak. I thought the flavors were reminiscent of CdP in a very clean style despite the fact that this is 100% syrah. An awesome introduction to this producer. Thanks Steve.

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  • 2004 L'Aventure Estate Cuvée 93 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

    This was decanted for three hours and then put back in the bottle for 24 hours before being poured. The color is inky black. It makes the Pax and Etude look pale by comparison. The nose is deep and brooding, offering blackberry liquor, black cherry, smoke, and tapenade. A bit monolithic at this point, but promising. On the palate this is brawny and concentrated giving a subdued blend of black fruit, licorice, and coffee. What I appreciate about this wine is that whatever oak was used was well concealed by the concentrated fruit and this did not come across as artificially sweet or manufactured. It has a genuiness that I wouldn't have expected. This is obviously still extremely tannic (despite the decant). It will be interesting to try this again in the future and see if it can become more expressive. Thanks Chris.

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  • 2002 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Popped and poured. Dark red in color. The nose is an interesting but fairly simple blend of dark fruit and cedar with a slight earth/leather note. Really really nice but common. On the palate this is very smooth and restrained with liquor-like concentrated black fruits. Very well balanced with decent length on the finish. Surprisingly approachable now considering for a 2002. The score will be higher if additional secondary characteristics emerge with age.

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All of the wines we brought showed very well, but WOTN for me was the Pax. I returned to it over and over, and it kept getting more and more interesting. I signed up for the Pax mailing list today. I wonder how long until I am offered wine?