Just a head's up. Kurt Beitler, who manages the Caymus TaylorLane Pinot vnyd over on the SonomaCoast, has just released his first wines. Info can be found at http://www.BohemeWine.com . I've not yet tasted the bttld versions yet, but my edited notes from barrel tasting some of them a yr&hlf ago are reposted below. We'll be tasting them next week.
My interest in the wines was sparked by my friendship w/ QueSyrah owner, AlRago, which dates back to my days at Argonne Natl Lab, back in the mid-'60's. We've both have gotten only a little older since those days. Smarter and wiser, too.
QueSyrah is one of the coldest Syrah vnyds in Calif, and the wines reflect that. The Caymus vnyd is rather interesting...well...downright weird for California. It is up on the pergola system most commonly found in the Trentino region of Italy. Other than some table grape vnyds, this, and the Caymus'LasAlturas vnyd down in the SantaLuciaHighlands are probably the only Calif vnyds on pergola. Kurt estimates it probably costs 2X as much to farm as VSP. He finds that during final ripening, the acids don't drop a fast as the sugars are rising compared to the VSP system, closer to the ground. Anyway, it's great to have QueSyrah back on the Calif Syrah scene.
Tasting Boheme Cellars
I've been a big fan of AlRago's QueSyrah vnyd ever since they were first
being made by EhrenJordan under the Failla-Jordan label. Some of them have
been the greatest Syrahs I've had from Calif, very NorthernRhonish in character.
The QueSyrah vnyd is a unique site way out on the SonomaCoast and one of the
truly cold-climate Syrah vnyds in Calif. A vnyd I've frequently called one of
Calif's great Syrah vnyds.
Al ended his relationship w/ Ehren several yrs ago after not being able to
reach agreement w/ Ehren on the farming of QueSyrah. He has since partnered w/
Kurt Beitler of CaymusVnyds. Kurt is part of the Wagner family and has responsibility
for farming the Caymus TaylorLane Pinot vnyd. The grapes goes into the BelleGlos
TaylorLane Pinot and is just down the road from Al's vnyd. It is a very bizarre
looking vnyd, trained on the Italian Pergola system of Trentino/AltoAdige.
Al's QueSyrah vnyd is planted to Clone 1 (Durell) and ENTAV Clone 877. When he
was sourcing his vines from the Kunde's SonomaGrapevines, they ran out of Clone 1,
but offerred him some of the new stuff, Clone 877, that they were propagating.
Al really lucked out. This is the first Calif vnyd planted to 877 and the clone
that is looking more and more to be far superior to Clone 1. Al expects he'll
probably graft over some of the Clone 1 to 877. He gets noticibly higher yields
from 877; yet the wine is darker/more interesting/intense than Clone 1. And, as
RussellBevan also pointed out to me, the 877 seems to be able to soak up the new
oak much better w/o becoming blatently oaky.
Al's son Vincent lives nearby and is growing Pinot and Chard grapes that are coming
on-line now. They will also be vinified by Kurt. Kurt will be releasing his wines, vinified at the Caymus/Rutherford wnry, under a label call Boheme, in honor of The Bohemian Grove camp for young men there near Occidental, where Kurt lives. I recall that Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney spend time there in the Summers. He also will have a SantaLuciaHighlands Syrah under that label. He points out that the Wagners are very supportive of his efforts.
So, afore RhoneRangers in March '06, I made an appointment to hook up w/ Al and Kurt down
at the Caymus wnry and taste thru the Boheme wines. Man...it felt really weird to
be in a wnry loaded to the gills w/ Cabernet wine, I must admit, not the kinda place I normally hang out. We tasted:
1. QueSyrah Section 1/Clone 1 2004: Very dark color; intense smokey/spicy/peppery/
forest floor nose; hard/tannic very tart peppery/blackberry/Syrah flavor.
2. QueSyrah Section 2/Clone 877/new oak 2004: Very dark/black color; beautiful
cracked black pepper/spicy intense blackberry/spicy/Syrah slight roasted/toasty
nose; tart very spicy/intense cracked black pepper/blackberry/Syrah flavor;
loads of interesting cracked black pepper character and more intense blackberry
3. QueSyrah Clone 1/Rocky section/neutral oak 2004: Very dark color; slightly reduced/
pungent very strong spicy/blackberry/Syrah bit closed/tight nose; tart very spicy/
blackberry/Syrah bit simpler flavor
4. QueSyrah Section 3/Clone 1/more nearby woods&less sun 2004: Very dark color; tight/
closed very black strong blackberry/Syrah nose; tart/tight/hard spicy/blackberry
bit simpler flavor.
5. QueSyrah Clone 877/new oak 2004: Black color; beautiful intense/blackberry/Syrah
very spicy/cracked black pepper roasted/toasty/espresso complex/aromatic nose;
big/intense/extracted/tart toasty/roasted/espresso intense blackberry/black cherry/
Syrah flavor; easily my fave of the 8 barrels; terrific Syrah.
6. QueSyrah Blend/60% Clone 877/40% Clone 1 2004: Very dark color; intense blackberry/
Syrah spicy/peppery/cracked black pepper slight toasty/roasted nose; tart more
forward/blackberry/Syrah slight cracked pepper/spicy flavor
7. BelleGlos TaylorLaneVnyd PinotNoir 2004: Very dark color; intense black cherry/Pinot/
black cherry cola/DrPepper very spicy complex nose; tart/rich very spicy/black cherry/
Pinot/black cherry cola light toasty/oak flavor; a big/intense beautiful Pinot that
reminds me some of Cargasacchi Pinots by Bruno d'Alfonso.
8. QueSyrah Clone 877 2005: Tasted outside in cold/drizzly weather, not optimal: Dark
color; bit herbal/green olive rich/juicy/lush blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry loads of
juicy fruit slight peppery nose; tart juicy/fruity/blackberry/Syrah lush slight
pepper flavor; loads of juicy fruit at this point w/ slight green olive/herbal notes.
9. QueSyrah Blend 2005: Much like above w/ loads of juicy fruit; bit simpler w/ more
10. Boheme SantaLuciaHighlands Syrah 2004: Very dark color; slight SLH/herbal ripe/
chocolaty/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah fruit nose; slight softer ripe/chocolaty/herbal
very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah flavor; strongly SLH Syrah.