Saturday, August 5, 2023

Diverse Reds for Duck Dogs and Ground Sirloin Burgers

Diverse Reds for Duck Inn Hot Dogs and Ground Sirloin Burgers

Returning from a overnight trip to Indiana, a day in Lafayette and a day in Indy, we stopped in St John to visit fellow Pour Boy Dr Dan and Linda for a impromptu dinner. Dan grilled 'Duck Dogs', produced by Duck Inn in Chicago as a tribute to the classic Chicago Hot Dog, all beef hot dogs with a small amount of duck fat, and grilled sirloin beef burgers. Both were delicious.

The Duck Inn Dog has received numerous local and national accolades, including being named Top Dog by Food Network and Best Hot Dogs in Chicago by Food & Wine magazine.

We dined at Duck Inn with the Pour Boys together back in 2021 as presented in this blogpost - Duck Inn Chicago Unique Dining Experience.

With dinner, Dan pulled from his cellar a medley of diverse reds. Putting a call out for requests, I asked if we could start with a California Pinot Noir, following our recent tastings of a flight of such wines. 

Dan served an ultra-premium Seasmoke Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, followed by an ultra-premium Aussie Shiraz.

SeaSmoke 'Ten'  Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2015

This is from Sea Smoke's estate vineyard in the Santa Barbara's Santa Rita Hills AVA.

Dan is a member of their wine club and gets access to these highly allocated very popular wines.

Owner/producer Bob Davids acquired the property in 1999. They produce Pinot Noir grown exclusively on the south-facing hillsides of the estate vineyards. 

The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. It is known to have the perfect microclimate for growing world-class Pinot Noir, with crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soils. The Santa Ynez River canyon funnels the cool maritime fog layer (sea "smoke") across the hillsides, slowing the ripening process and providing the extended maturation period essential to the development of top-quality Pinot Noir. The shallow clay soils are planted to French clones on vigor-reducing rootstocks, resulting in fewer grape clusters of intense flavor, ripening optimally while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance. 

Sea Smoke's "Ten" is named for the ten different Pinot Noir clones planted in their estate vineyard which all find their way into this bottling. 

Sea Smoke notes is "the most masculine wine of their multiple labels, brooding and intense, with firm, mature tannins and a long, velvety finish. Ten is not for the faint-of-heart and has been known, on occasion, to convert even the most fanatic Cabernet lover."

Winemaker Don Schroeder explains, “The wealth of clones at our vineyard is one of the keys to the complexity of our wines.” This bottling is made from all ten clones farmed directly from the organic- and Biodynamic-certified estate vineyard: Aged 16 months in French oak, it shows scents of chocolate syrup and baked plum pudding. A solemn Pinot, it remains extravagant with flavors of black cherry washed with rose petals and rhubarb. Tilled soil, beet root, and firm tannins prove its profundity."
Winemaker Notes - A brooding and intense wine. The dark fruit dominant aromas begin with notes of cola, Black Cherry and Blueberry, then some Asian spice, chocolate and a hint of Rose petals. Firm, mature tannins—evidence of Ten’s ageability—are followed by a long, velvety finish. 

The wine was aged for 16 months in 60% new French oak before bottling. 

This was rated  95 points by the Tasting Panel and 94 points by Wine Enthusiast and a Cellar Selection.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, bright concentrated black cherry and black plum fruits with notes of clove spice, vanilla bean, pepper and earth.

RM 92 points.

Next Dan pulled one of our favorite labels, a big hearty Aussie Shiraz.

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

I wrote about this label in an earlier blogpost. "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.

Dan then pulled from his cellar this surprise label. We both acquired this label as part of our wine club allocation from the producer. Linda and I actually took this label to Florida on our recent trip to enjoy but never got the chance to drink it and brought it back to have at a future occasion. Tonight, we got to try this new label bottling we've been eager to try! 

Force Majeure Walla Walla Estate Syrah 2020

This is from Force Majeure, an ultra-premium producer winery located in the Walla Walla Valley, specializing in estate-grown, single-vineyard Bordeaux and Rhône-inspired wines. Force Majeure wines are the handicraft of Todd Alexander, former winemaker for Bryant Family Vineyards and a couple of other notable Napa producers. He and his wife Carrie relocated their family to Walla Walla to take on the Force Majeure estate and brand. I featured Todd in these pages when he took on that role back in 2016 - Todd Alexander joins Force Majeure Winery.

We visited the Force Majeure Walla Walla Estate back in 2018 and wrote about that visit in this blogpost at the time - Force Majeure Vineyards Site Visit and Tasting, as part of our Walla Walla AVA Visit that provided the opportunity to visit this vibrant emerging wine region, meet some legendary winemakers on the Washington wine scene, and experience the best of Red Mountain and Walla Walla appellation wines. We walked the estate vineyards, source for this wine with the rocky soil, and thus were excited to eventually receive this release of this wine as part of our club allocation.

Force Majeure had recently acquired two new vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley. The site is within the boundaries of the The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, just across the Oregon side of state line border. The portion of the vineyard outside The Rocks District is within the borders of the Walla Walla Valley AVA.

The Rocks District is named for the rocky deposits left by the Walla Walla River where the river exits the foothills of the Blue Mountains and enters the Walla Walla Valley. It resembles the gravelly soil of the Southern Rhone River Valley in Chateauneuf du Pape. The Rocks District of Milton Freewater is the country’s newest AVA. Wine Spectator calls this AVA “perhaps America’s most distinctive example of terroir."

The unique riverbed of cobblestones and pebbles is as much as two hundred feet deep, formed 12,000 years ago from massive floods that swept through the region caused by ruptures in the ice dam that held Montana's glacial Lake Missoula. The Rocks District is a 12-square mile alluvial fan of 3,770 acres. 

Force Majeure Walla Walla Estate Syrah 2020

The property is partially within the boundaries of the The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, on the Oregon side of the border, and is located adjacent to the site of our new winery. The portion of the vineyard outside The Rocks District is within the borders of the Walla Walla Valley AVA. The Rocks District is an alluvial fan, and the cobbles that define the area are a result of deposits left by the Walla Walla River. 

This vineyard was planted between 1992 and 1994, and has a diverse soil profile covering the cobble stones, highest at the north end of the property and most shallow at the southern end. This gives us a lot of diversity within a small area, and the grapes will have different characteristics depending on the soil composition where they are grown. This vineyard is in an area proven to have very distinct terroir.

The unique topography and geological variants in these vineyards provide fruit characterized by stunning intensity, depth, concentration and complex flavors.

This wine was rated 20/20 points, Rand Sealey, Report on Washington Wines 

All Syrah that saw 30% stems and roughly 30% new barrels,

Inky dark purple garnet colored, medium to full bodied, bright vibrant complex black cherry with some blue fruit tones, with notes of earth, violet, pepper and herbs, with chalky minerality and tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 93 points.