OC KB and Shane Dinner--With Michael Browne and Shane Finley

The Murray Casa

Tasted August 15, 2009 by Frank Murray III with 700 views


What a pleasure to do these dinner with Michael (MB) and Shane. This is our thrid time with MB, last year having the dinner at Antonello and tasting the 2005s, and of course this past December, when Shane came down separately and we tasted through all the 06 and 07s here at the house. Thanks again for both MB and Shane taking the time to fly down, do dinner and spend some time with us. And to Antonello for this time cooking in our kitchen--well done Thad and thanks to Jaime for cheffing and Carlos for the support work.

Flight 1 - The Cheese Course (purchased from The Cellar in San Clemente) (3 notes)

Bleu de Basque (France)--sheep
Robiola (Italy)--cow/sheep/goat
Tomme Crayeuse (France)--cow
Bucheron (France)--goat
D'Affinas (France)--cow, double cream
Cocoa Cardona (Wisconsin)--goat with cocoa

2001 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills
Holding up very well and cruising right along. Some stone fruit, melon and a finish that shows both some slate and spicy edges.
2008 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Delicious texture, a smoky note on the nose, with fig and nectarine. Doesn't show the grassy features of some sauv blancs. Very nice.
2008 Jemrose Viognier Egret Pond USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley
This wine really shows lovely and engaging aromatics--very seductive, floral. Palate flavors include banana, guava and peach, wrapped around a creamy texture, finishing with anise and a lift of acid. Michael Browne, who made the wine, told us that it was done in 4 year old barrels--no new oak.

Flight 2 - Z Pizza Rustica Oragnic Whole Wheat Flatbreads w/ Chicken Curry, Yam and Cilantro (3 notes)

2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
A blend of Kanzler, Terra di Promissio, Gaps' Crown and Dutton Manzana. Wow, is this wine in a great trajectory. I say it this way because while the wine shows layers complexity and nuance now, it also shows the structure and reflects the road ahead of it. And looking back at the last few vintages, I am now at the place where I prefer the SC bottling versus the RRV, and the SC at this stage and what I think should endure, will outclass the RRV for the 07 vintage. Woodsy/cedary nose with a hint of leaves. This wine is a palate filler, broad and expansive but not syrupy or weighty. Shows a juicy core with dark cherry, dark berry and cinnamon, with a stony finish. Delicious and probably next to the 2007 Koplen, my WOTN and I'll state for the record that this is the best SC that MB has made.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
A blend of Amber Ridge, Copain, Nonella, Gastaldi, Koplen, Ketcham and Keefer. I have to say, and this wine followed the SC in the same flight, the RRV is not in the place that the SC is. As opposed to the SC, the RRV lacks the nuance and complexity. It does show some rose water and dark raspberry, like dark fruit meeting a rose. Like the SC, juicy with nice acidity but doesn't wow me at this stage. I will be curious to taste this wine again in another six months to see if it will raise its game.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Amber Ridge Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
In looking at my impression of this wine just 2 months ago, when we tasted it from bottle in the KB barrel room, I found the wine to be significantly better. I expect that the drinking temperature this time added some elements to the wine not present last time, when I think I got the wine at too cool a read. Served this time, like all the other 2007 KBs we did, at about 65 degrees--ish. Expressive nose, with a dark fruit core and a cedary, even lightly tannic edge. What is the most different this time versus June's perception is the wine showed more weight, more density, almost pushing up the edge of jammy but in defense of the wine, it stops short of that place and really pulls off the balance. Dark red apple, some cola nut and mineral. I think the best Amber Ridge that MB has made to date.

Flight 3 - Porcini Risotto (3 notes)

2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Garys' Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
In drinking this Garys' next to the KB Rosella's, I much preferred the Garys', which is a reversal from my feelings about the 2006, and especially the 2005, when I think the Rosella's bottling really kicked ass. Anyway, the Garys' here has about 25% whole cluster, which shows up in the bouquet, almost like a graphite or metal shaving note. Like was my experience tasting this wine back in June, lots of blue fruit this time, as well as juicy strawberry and what my notes say as "complete". The stems add structure to the finish, girding it. Very nice and I have about 3 ounces left to try again tonight........so after a full day decant in bottle, the wine still shows the stems in the aromatics, along with a cherry/plum core and even a gamy, clay/loam note tonight, finishing with stony tannin. I would characterize this wine as medium-medium + in weight, but not full throttle. I do think this wine will improve even more and knit more together so let's check back in 6-12 months.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
I didn't seem, per my June TN, to have a full handle on this wine. So in tasting it again last night (it followed the 2007 Garys'), I was not as geeked on it, and I think the Garys' beats it this vintage. As to the wine itself, dark fruit, citrus, some vanilla, plum syrup and open textured but it does not show for me the depth or signature that I found in the 2005. In the end, and with my June TN for context, I will have to see how this wine carries through in time.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
In looking at my June TN on this wine, I have to say I enjoyed the Keefer much moreso now. In fact, my notes are starred next to the wine, which is typically my inside comment that the wine really hit me. Floral with a brown note, red apple, delicious juicy and has dark edges with a stony finish, along with some kiwi. I think what makes this wine a 'wow' wine for 2007 is that it takes the red fruits and the apple of what for me is Keefer, adds plush and sex to it, and then finishes all the elements together. Excellent.

Flight 4 - Rigatoni Caruso--rigatoni with chicken, veal, peas in a light creme sauce (3 notes)

2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Koplen Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Man, is this wine in a good place. As with my June TN, I'll just keep it brief and to the point: opulent, flashy and sexy. Spicy with a deep and long finish that shows bright raspberry and I think will beat the Kanzler in 2007. The best Koplen ever......maybe, and while the 2005 is just for me a wine of great caliber and prestige, this 2007 may turn out to eclipse the 2005 for me. My WOTN, no question, and the best of the 2007 KBs.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
So if the Koplen is seductive, this is even moreso. It's stuffed and packed. Pure, long , big flash and dense. Richness, probably the most rich of all the 2007s. This wine in the flight followed the Koplen and I still prefer the Koplen. Why? I think the Koplen shows more complex edges, a broader expression of the fruit but look, don't take this as a knock on the Kanzler here, as I think the Kanzler probably will win more acclaim, more high marks because it will flash fry your pants off, it's so flashy and seductive. Take this bottle out if you really want to show someone what CA pinot can do on all cylinders (and for anyone looking for heat or to knock this as too ripe, forget it....that won't fly here). Delicious.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir 4 Barrel USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
A blend of Kanzler 667, Koplen (which of course is only 667), Amber Ridge 115 and Keefer (I think Michael said Clone 23). This wine for me is balance, the essence of it. Dark fruit, cola, earth, with less richness of say the Kanzler, which still makes this wine sexy but it keeps all the elements in check, even. Some tannin on the finish. The class of the "Ks" and damn good. I have some left from last night, which I will finish up later and check back with a final impression........so like with the Garys', this too has been decanting in the bottle since last night. In thinking about the core of this wine, given it's 4 components, I can taste the Keefer, through the red apple notes, the jammy addition from the Amber Ridge, the sexiness from the Koplen and potentially the cola nut and plushness added via the Kanzler. Some herb, juicy raspberry, kiwi and a mineral stoniness pull through the finish, which carrries on pretty long in length. What shows tonight are layers, probably moreso than any of the wines from last night--I am sure these layers, along with the balance, is what will characterize this wine as it moves through others who enjoy it in the future. Delicious.

Flight 5 - Short Ribs (3 notes)

2006 Shane Syrah The Unknown USA, California, Sonoma County
Hints of pepper, dark chocolate, tar and berry compote. The flavor in the palate left me with an impression that was hard to describe but what kept resonating was liquid tar, pure with char on the finish and a dark plum sauce. This was from Shane's fist vintage and I think this wine is in a real good place, will get even better as the structure continues to refine. Glad I have 2 left in the cellar.......as a final note after 24 hours of air, and I suspect I will again drink more of this tomorrow as there is still at lease a glass left, the wine still shows that neat peppercorn note, both in the aromatic and in the palate, along with a juicy and round blackberry feel, finishing with licorice. At this level of decant, I would say the wine is ready to drink and further aging may soften some of the remaining tannin (although my opinion, the 2006 Shanes do not have near the level of tannin or structure of the 2007s, hence my drink suggestion here) so decant a bit and enjoy. Probably at peak by 2010.
2007 Shane Syrah The Unknown USA, California, Sonoma County
Ok, so this followed the 2006 Unknown so there was so context to compare. Clearly for me, the wines are different and while vintage age can be offered as part of the difference, stylistically, the 2007 is just denser. Tannin, earth and berry, dark and tarry with more dark chocolate. As I have said before about the 2007 Shane wines, let them age or decant well.......and as a circle back TN, with the wine open 24 hours and still enough I think to drink for at least 1-2 more days (!!), and in comparing this wine to the 2006 Unknown, the 2007 is just more of eveything--more stem notes, more color, more chalk and extract. Perhaps a bit less peppercorn but the sweet saddle/leather and tarry notes far exceed that of the 2006. In general, I like the 2006 for now but see the potential (with patience) of the 2007. Needs time......and, since I was fortunate to have a good amount left, still enjoying the wine after being open 3 and a half days, it's still cruising along. Dense,medium to full weight, earthy black fruit with red, iron/ferrous edges, along with crushed rocks, minerals and light chalk and black olive and bitter chocolate with a long finish. This will evolve into a very nice wine so let it age some, be sure to decant if you enjoy before late 2010. With nearly being open 4 days resting in the bottle, I bet this wine is still fresh tomorrow when I finally finish it off.
2008 Shane Syrah The Unknown USA, California, Sonoma County
This followed the 2006 and 2007 Unknown bottlings so we got to try them all in a vertical context. While those 2 wines are in bottle, this was a barrel sample, which is going to bottle in about 3 weeks so taking a bit of a leap, I believe the wine is blended and done so I'll add this to the database as the first TN. Black olive, plush and dense, along with berry cobbler and lots of chalk. Just stuffed and primary but a wine I can easily seeing going long on and tracking over time.

Flight 6 - No food, was an extension of the last course (3 notes)

2007 Shane Syrah The Villain USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County
Peppercorn nose, some florals. Big, dense and dark with lots of chalk. Deep black fruit. As Steve Nordhoff said during the dinner (who also tasted the same wine with me back in December), "Shane, this thing has not moved since". You know, he's right, as this wine is so dense and large in tannin and stuffing, if you open it now and try and judge it right from the bottle on pour, then shame on you. Like with Shane's other 2007s, either air the hell out of it or age and enjoy down the road.
2007 Shane Syrah Jemrose Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley
Black olive, saddle, cooked meat, and like the 2007 Villain, big and tannic, as well as dark as night. I have 1/2 bottle left from last night, so I plan to retaste the wine and see if some of the structure has softened.......and like with the other wines retasted tonight following last night's dinner, I close with the Jemrose here, with a full 24 hours of bottle decant. I'll say this is the darkest of the Shane 2007s, for sure--opaque. The nose reflecting a molten quality, rocky with some pepper. What I like most about this cuvee tonight is the mouthfeel--rich with some chocolate and dark berry, along with chalk but a seductive, flashy quality underneath and a further element of the black olive and game/meat from last night. The plushness, once it can overtake some of the youuthful structure, should be delicious.
2008 Shane Syrah Judge Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley
Like with the 2008 Unknown, I'll go ahead and add this wine now, as I believe it is done and ready to go to bottle in a few weeks. As to this 2008, what I immediately thought when I drank it..........my god, this reminds me so much of the 2005 Pax Castelli-Knight, which is also a wine that made me stop and reflect, really take it in. Why? It's got a 'wow' factor, a captivating draw of flash and purity, just as that Pax CN does. In addition to the purity and flair, deep flavors, bittersweet chocolate and dense. And, if that was not enough, 100% whole cluster, 40% new oak. I expect big things for this wine and will be very keen to see where it heads once it gets bottled and settles in. Tremendous sample.
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