Organolepticians Number Seventy-Two (September 4, 2006)

Me and My Shadow

2002. A numeric palindrome, the kind of year that makes you feel like you don't know if you're coming or going. That's how the harvest seemed for us, that year. At first it seemed everything would be early. Then again, we had ten days in the middle of the month when nothing ripened. So it was either too hot or too cold. Lots of things cooked on the vine. We had raisins. We had high pHs. We had high alcohols. We had some fruit that never got ripe, because it turned so cool around the beginning of October.

We didn't get any Grenache at all.

We had the first crop of Gamay Noir and Pinot Gris from Witters Vineyard in the upper reaches of El Dorado County.

We bottled two white wines under the Edmunds St. John label from the 2002 vintage: Pinot Grigio and a wine called blonk! We bottled two red wines from 2002 vintage under the Edmunds St. John label, our first Bone-Jolly Gamay, and Rocks and Gravel.

And almost all the rest of what we made that year, some 30 tons of Syrah, from some of the best, most well-regarded Syrah sites in California, were blended together, and put into a big tank, where they stayed. For a long time. Languishing in the shadows. Syrah from the famed Durell Vineyard. From Bassetti Vineyard. From Parmelee-Hill Vineyard. From Wylie and Fenaughty Vineyards. This blend was like some big, awkward kid that can't quite seem to do anything right, and so you just don't put any pressure on him, you just give him some space, give him plenty of time to just hang out. Check back in with him every now and again, and just let him know he's welcome to stick around until he's ready to do something else.

In the Spring of 2005 we moved from Audubon Cellars to a winery facility in Green Valley, Solano County, and so the wine came along, getting a little refreshment out of the move. Then in the Fall of '05, it got relocated into different tanks for logistical reasons, and this move, too, seemed to awaken the wine, and enliven it.

This past May the wine seemed to emerge from its long hibernation/incubation, having summoned the various elements that make up its considerable pedigree, and to suggest that it was ready to venture out into the world, to meet its destiny. So in June we bottled it, and gave it its own special label. We named it The Shadow. Because we bottled it at another winery's facility, the label indicates that it was cellared and bottled by Wayward Pilgrims of The Vine.

Here are my tasting notes:
Beautiful deep garnet color. The smell is dominated by the trademark Syrah smokiness; there's also iron, pepper, graphite, a suggestion of coffee. On the palate the texture is silky, there's a broad flavor profile with sweet plummy fruit, pepper and spice, and there's sweet tannins through the finish. (Classy and elegant; if it compares to anything, it's perhaps similar to a nice Crozes-Hermitage from somebody you never heard of. It has a certain Edmunds St. John character, too; I think you'll recognize it.)

It's a late bloomer, you might say, and something that will make any dinner a feast. We expect to make a lot of friends with it at

$11.50 /btl. and $124.20 per case.

Let us know if you're interested: edmundsstj@comcast.net

Steve Edmunds