Saturday, April 10, 2021

Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range Vineyard" Syrah Duo

Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range Vineyard" Syrah Duo followed by pair of Rubissows

With the ladies gathered in town for a bridal shower for daughter-in-law Vivianna, the guys hung out sipping a medley of fine wines. Dr Dan brought from his cellar a Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range Vineyard" Syrah so I pulled another vintage of the same label for a mini-vertical comparison tasting. 

We've had several memorable tastings of this label going back to the '97 vintage including a special anniversary dinner and several of our wine group special events featuring this 2004 release. Links to these various tastings are featured below. I wrote about Clarendon Hills in one of those earlier blogposts

This Piggott Range vineyard designated label is by far my favorite of the Clarendon Hills portfolio even when compared to their flagship super premium Astralis label. I wrote about a trio of Clarendon Hills labels in a blogpost comparison tasting last fall, "Trio of Clarendon Hills labels - Astralis, Bakers Gully and Romas".


Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range Vineyard" Syrah McLaren Vale South Australia 2011

This vintage release of this label was not as big or fruit filled as the other releases I have tasted, taking on a little bit more menthol and acidity than the more complex concentrated fruit flavors of the 2004 that we paired and compared. One Cellartracker reviewer MMack gave it 92 points and compared it to a CDP (Chateauneuf du Pape). Vivino reviewer DcLaxFan also likened it to a Rhone, he wrote "From a winery founded by a biochemist, the Syrah opens with a nose of smoked meat, mulberry, tapenade, and plum. Savory mouth of prunes, brisket, cassis, and earth. A wild, smoky, meaty feel like a Rhône Vacqueyras."

RM 91 points.

Tasty and big never-the-less, the 2004 put it in its place with a more classic big powerful concentrated fruit Piggott Range profile.

Clarendon Hills Syrah Piggott Range Vineyard 2004

Consistent with earlier tasting notes, this exhibited a rich dark purple color, full bodied, and full smooth polished aromas and flavors of raspberries, blueberry, blueberries and smoked meat with notes of spice and floral elements with hints of oak with nicely integrated silky tannins on the lingering finish.

The rich extracted fruit however did not succumb to the last tasting of this label when the fruit seemed more ripe or extracted so as to be a bit more raisiny with a subtle tone of graphite or a metallic note - perhaps or most likely attributable to aging at this stage of life - fifteen years of age.

RM 92 points.

Previous tastings of this label: 

Rubissow Mt Veeder wines for comparison tasting ..

Rubissow Mt Veeder wines for comparison tasting ... and remembrances ... 

With Dr Dan and Eric and their 'better halves, ladies' in town for our daughter-in-law Vivianna's wedding shower, the men hung out and opened a series of interesting labels for a comparison tasting. In commemoration of the newlyweds bridal shower, and the gathering of special friends with a common memorable wine experience, I pulled from the cellar a special label, son Alec's birthyear vintage wine from Rubissow-SargentMt Veeder, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This bottle was acquired by Eric at a special auction and brought to one of our Pour Boy's wine tasting events. We didn't get to it that evening and I pulled it and set it aside for a special tasting such as tonight. This label had additional special significance as it was discovered when Eric and Cathy joined us for a visit to the Rubissow estate and vineyards high atop Mt Veeder during our Mt Veeder Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 2011

For a producer comparison tasting, I pulled another Rubissow label, tasted and acquired during that visit to the Rubissow estate, a Rubissow Mt Veeder Merlot, 2006.

The Rubissow estate was purchased in 1983 and planted to vines by the family partnership of George Rubissow and his children, Ariel & Peter Rubissow. 

Rubissow Wines was started in 1986 as Rubissow-Sargent named for founder George Rubissow, a scientist, engineer and musician, and Tony Sargent, a Napa Valley winemaker. 

Rubissow was born in Paris to Russian and Ukrainian parents, and in Napa Valley Rubissow struck up a friendship with the legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, who was Russian by birth. The pair conversed in Russian and Tchelistcheff offered viticultural and winemaking advice for Rubissow’s new winery. In the early days, the wines were produced in a winery down in Berkeley. That winery has since shut down.

In 2004, second generation owners Peter & Ariel Rubissow-Okamoto dissolved Rubissow~Sargent and founded Rubissow, with new winemaker Timothy Milos.

The Mt. Veeder estate sits high atop Mt Veeder at the southern end of the Mayacamas Range that separates Napa Valley from Somoma Valley. The vineyard sitting up at the summit overlooks beyond the Carneros region to the south with views of San Pablo Bay in the distance. 

The 46 acre property consists of 26 acres of native oak and redwood forest with the remaining 18.5 acres planted to estate vineyards in 1983 and replanted in 1994. 

Rubissow produced a limited number of red wines, from estate grown fruit of the Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, and some Syrah. 

In their peak production, Rubissow produced about 5000 cases per year. In 2016, with their vintage release, they announced that after 37 years, the property would be taken over by new ownership. With their 2016 release, they wrote at the time, "When Tim made this wine, he and we didn’t yet know that it would be our final Rubissow Reserve, but just as well."

During our visit to the estate back in 2011, we tasted a flight of Rubissow estate Carbernet Sauvignon, estate Merlot, Les Trompettes, their flagship Bordeaux Blend, and Rubissow-Sargent Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (shown below). 

Rubissow-Sargent Mt Veeder, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

Produced in an authentic 'old world style,  Rubissow and Sargent never went in for the thick jammy 'Parker' style. At thirty one years, this was respectably still hanging on, showing remarkably little sign of diminution from aging. Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, still holding blackberry fruits with notes of black tea, tobacco, bits of cedar and bell pepper subtle with some lingering tannins on the finish. 

RM 88

Eric, Bill and George Rubissow

The Pour Boys crew with George Rubissow
and Barbara Jiro, Director Hospitality

We also opened this ...

Rubissow Napa Valley Mt Veeder Merlot 2006

We tasted and acquired during this visit to the estate. Late last fall I wrote this about this label, "Tonight's tasting was consistent with that earlier experience, this showed dark garnet purple color, medium body with black berry fruits, slightly tart black cherry with a hints of spice, tobacco, touch of mocha and coffee bean. Then iI wrote it was a bit flabby and lacked structure and therefor was a bit underwhelming, perhaps due to comparison with the bigger, bolder, brighter Yates Mt Veeder Cab."

That tasting was fairly consistent with the previous tasting back in 2013 when I wrote ,"This was leaner and lighter than I remembered from earlier tasting - it showed dark garnet purple color, medium body with black berry fruits, slightly tart black cherry with a hints of tobacco, touch of mocha and coffee bean."

Tonight 88 points, previously I gave it 87 points.

Rick and Linda with George Rubissow
We discovered and acquired this wine during a winery/estate visit during our Napa Wine Experience Mt Veeder excursion in 2011 - Rubissow Mt Veeder Napa Valley Vineyards

This is another Napa Valley Bordeaux varietal that we've enjoyed visiting the producer's estate. We acquired later vintages of this wine during the visit and ordered more of this varietal and joined their wine club, but we have never heard anything more or received and further wines from the producer. 

We had much better experience tasting the earlier vintage of this label which raised the anticipation of opening selections from our cellar, and raises the disappointment of not obtaining more (despite having placed hard orders.)