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Enjoying Stolpman Syrahs with Lou

Lou was interested in trying a selection of his Stolpman Syrahs for some time.  It was at his house that he first introduced me to the wines of Stolpman by pouring the 2008 L’Avion.  I subsequently purchased the 2009 L’Avion which I enjoyed a bottle of in August.  When Lou brought up Stolpman Syrah as the focus for our gathering I quickly agreed.  With my offer of Salus and Miner Chardonnay our tasting was set.

Stolpman Vineyards, Image by mreidphillips (flickr)

It is rare that we start with beer but I could not resist opening the Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder.  Almost a year ago Clark told me about how much he enjoyed Pliny the Elder.  I checked the availability in the DC area and there was none to be found.  Suffice to say even Clark’s corner beer store (with several hundred different beers) did not get any in stock until this summer.  Julia monitored the store’s Tweets and eventually it was made available at the limit of one bottle per person!  Fortunately Clark is a good customer and was able to part with a bottle for myself.

Russian River Brewing Company, Pliny the Elder
This double IPA beer was lovely, balanced, delicate with citrus acidity, and easy to drink.  The hops are controlled in this complex beer.  I found it quite refreshing. Thanks Clark!

Aaron and Lou

We drank small glasses of the Pliny while bagging the wines and setting the table.  We then moved outside to tasted the Chardonnays and Syrahs.  As always, the reds were double-decanted a couple of hours prior and all wines were served brown-bagged.  The leftovers were split between us, filled with Private Preserve then tasted the next night or two.  I have listed the wines in the order they were tasted.

I preferred the Salus over the Miner since the later was a bit too loose with too much toast notes.  In terms of the Syrahs Jenn and I preferred the 2005 Hilltops followed by the 2006 Estate, both are amazing!  On the first night I preferred the  2007 Estate over the 2009 Originals but my preferences flip-flopped on the second night.  The 2007 is very young and the 2009 is not giving up much, perhaps a revisit in three  to five years might help my perspective.  As far as for current drinking the 2005 and 2006 are an easy step up.  All of the Stolpman wines were lovely and shared a common floral quality.  I strongly recommend these wines.  The member prices are a good value with the higher-tier Hillside and Originals future-priced in the mid $30s and the others much less.

2007 Miner Family Vineyards, Chardonnay, Wild Yeast, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented with wild yeast then aged for 15 months in 70% new French oak.  This medium-bodied wine was softer and creamier in the mouth than the Salus.  There are ample notes of vanilla with a soft and loose delivery, some minerals, then it lets go as wood toast comes out in the finish.  On the second night the creamy texture remained, perhaps a bit more notes of toast, but a nice inky, pervasive note developed. *** Now-2015.

2009 Staglin Family Vineyard, Salus, Estate Chardonnay, Rutherford, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was barrel fermented then aged for 11 months in 61% new and 39% used barrels.  This was a tad darker than the Miner with a crisp, clean nose.  It was rich in the mouth but with good acidity, a creamy midpalate, and notes of lemon drop.  On the second night it was quite mouthfilling, well-balanced, and surprisingly fresh. ***(*) Now-2015.

2007 Stolpman Vineyards, Estate Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier that were co-fermented.  A tad more purple in color than the 2006.  This was very scented at first.  In the mouth there were crisp, violet flavors, with more tart red flavors throughout.  This savory, salty wine carried fine grain tannins, juicy red fruit, with a little toast and heat towards the finish.  On the second night the wine was quite primary with grapey red fruit.  There was the slightest hint of white pepper.  The fine, spicy tannins made this the most tannic of them all.  This is quite focused and might require many years to open up. ***(*) 2015-2022.

2006 Stolpman Vineyards, Estate Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 85% Syrah and 15% Grenache that were co-fermented.  This was powerful and concentrated.  It effortlessly filled the nose with aromas each time I was about to swallow.  There were clean, floral notes of lavender.  In the mouth the lingering flavors of hard, black fruits mixed with some spice, a wee bit of salivating acidity, a bit more spice, and some tannins.  With air it became a tad inky.  On the second night the nose was darker than the 2007 and fine textured tannins came out midpalate.  This wine was more enthusiastic in personality than the 2005 Hilltops.  Lovely. **** Now-2017.

2009 Stolpman Vineyards, Originals Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
The inaugural release of the Originals Cuvee is made from 100% Syrah sourced from the oldest vines.  This wine gave the least.  Purple in color and with flavors of tart red fruit mixed with a bit of Christmas spice.  On the second night, it sported the lightest nose but showed more concentrated flavors. **(*) 2015-2019.

2005 Stolpman Vineyards, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from parcels located at the highest elevations of the vineyard.  The wine is aged for 12 months in 100% new French barrels.  After the L’Avion Roussanne is moved from barrel to tank, the Hilltops is racked into the L’Avion barrels which still contain the lees.  The Hilltops is then aged a further 8 months.  This leans towards a garnet color and clearly looked like the oldest of the wines.  This was powerful and integrated with riper fruit, prominent blue flavors, a floral aspect, and richer mouthfeel.  There were herbs and complex, sweet fruit in this denser, meatier wine.  Really quite lovely.  On the second night the nose became more refined and the flavors were still the richest of all the bottles.  On the palate it became almost jammy and had developed chocolate notes.  Quite nice! **** Now-2017.

The Revealed Bottles

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