Sunday, November 20, 2016

2007 Cayuse En Chamberlin Syrah: tasting notes

We had this wine for my birthday yesterday. First, let me show you a rating and review, from 2011:

100 points Wine Enthusiast
  In a stunning lineup of Cayuse Syrahs, the En Chamberlin wins by a nose. It’s smooth and silky, with a tongue-bending blend of flavors that include blood and iron, umami and salt, at first overtaking the pure fruit, but adding tremendous depth and power. The endless finish unfolds into a wine with exotic spices and complex layering.   (2/2011)
Parker gave it 98 and Spectator gave it 94, saying it would peak through 2020.

When our bottle was opened and poured, there was a brief bouquet of nice fruits, and then a smell of some kind of chemical showed through; it was a wine flaw and mildly negative. On the palate the wine was OK but very plain, not showing much of anything. There was a long finish but it was of alcohol only. Both of us agreed this was not a 100 point wine. We swirled it in our glasses a lot, hoping to wake it up, but it didn't change, all through the dinner. This bottle was a poor pairing for a great dinner; it fell very far short of expectations. Later on, the wine was throwing out the smell of celery, which was an improvement. And at the very end--the last couple of milliliters of wine in my glass, after an hour and a half and the dinner long over and when we were getting ready to leave--the wine had finally blown off the chemical smell and I smelled and tasted cherries. Who knows whether this experience would be repeated in another bottle, and it is dangerous to overdraw conclusions from just one bottle, but I am leaning towards drinking my Cayuse within five years, and not letting it get nine years old, no matter what the reviews say. I know that Cayuse wines have characteristically very high pH, and protective sulfites in a wine don't work as well when pH is high, which suggests perhaps the wines will be better when relatively younger and worse when older.

FYI: I paid about $85 for this bottle, from the winery.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The bucolic farm

Some of you think life on a farm is bucolic and peaceful and wonderful. About 2% of the time, it is that, if you are very lucky. Today, I found myself with my back to an absolutely demolished raspberry bed--chewed down to nubs--and my front to a deer fence crushed by a fallen tree, only two days since I last walked the fence, which was perfect at that time. So you get fence repair tools and materials, and a saw. You cut the fallen tree at the spot where the heavy end can fall outside your fence, and you horse around the lighter end, to get it off your fence. Then, as you stand in 4" deep muddy muck, the rains start up again. The sharp ends of barbed wire cut you as you make patch after patch, on a five-wire barbed wire fence over crushed Davis field fence. An hour later, you have patched the deer fence, but it looks so crappy compared to itself when it was new that you are embarrassed. You realize that trees are not these majestic, permanent, botanical silent sentinels displaying Nature's majesty--no, they are instead diabolical time bombs waiting to go off by crashing, in numbers you cannot believe, onto whatever is important to you. You realize that the "experts" who know the country well--the ones who said, "Oh, if you have a dog, you will never be bothered by deer" are idiots. Ah, yes, the glory of the farm.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sugar Cane corks!

Yes, oak corks are a renewable resource, but they can't be recycled. And what it requires doing to the trees is awful-looking. Enter the sugar cane cork--a cork that is made from sugar cane fiber that remains after the juice is extracted to make brown sugar. The cork is too perfect-looking for consumers, so the manufacturer stamps a "cork pattern" of little lines and dots on the sugar cane cork, to make it look right. This is a novel closure, and worth following.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's so important to avoid herbicide drift

Usually, the negative effects of herbicide drift (the wafting-in of a killing spray applied by a neighbor, which damages or kills your own crops) are limited to loss of your own crop, but in the bootheel of Missouri it can lead to human death. Two farmers got into an argument about drift and how it killed the neighbor's crops, and it led to one's being shot to death. The story is here.

I can understand how this could lead to a heated argument, after you put in so many hours planting and caring for a crop. The murder of a neighbor over it is a result of our gone-mad gun culture. But neighbors need to be MUCH more careful with their spray drift. Even better, NOBODY should be growing crops that require a killing spray, just to keep the crops alive--there are always alternatives. Just as we are far too quick to ask for a drug to address our own personal health symptoms, we are far too quick to spray inorganic poisons onto the earth, which have major unintended consequences. My own modern varieties of grapes (and my apples) never need spray of any kind.

But the overall takeaway is this: If you are planting grapes, which BTW are VERY sensitive to herbicides, it's best if you chose a site that is not farmland being treated with inorganic sprays. In the case of my Epona Farm, we're surrounded by native Doug fir forest, so spray is not an issue.