Last week I went to a wine dinner & met Phillip Staehle from Enkidu Winery. I had tried his wines in the past, but had never had a formal tasting on them. The food was great (The Funky Door in Lubbock Texas) & the conversation was excellent. Phil was enjoyable to chat with & was a wealth of information about his wines.
Enkidu Winery, named after the character from Gilgamesh, is a Sonoma Valley Winery. They do not own their own vineyards, but they have long term relationships with their growers. They make fewer than 5,000 cases of wine a year. They consistently win medals in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition & they get great reviews.
Here’s what we tried the other night…
2011 Tin Cross Chardonnay (Alexander Valley)
This has a bit of a buttery taste from 30% new oak, but it doesn’t have that over the top, pour it on your popcorn taste. That’s because it doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation. So it is more of a hint of butter. Since it doesn’t go through malo, the acid is higher, which makes it crisp. There is a little mellow spice& vanilla. There is some minerality to begin with, which really grows as the wine opens up. I also noticed some lemon, or maybe lemon cream. The nose really shows the mineral character of the wine. This was a terrific example of what you can do with Chardonnay in Alexander Valley. It runs about $30, so it isn’t an everyday wine for most people, but it is certainly a nice treat.
2009 Tina Marie Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley)
Meaty isn’t the first word you usually think of with Pinot Noir, but it isn’t a bad starter for this one. On the front it shows blackberry, fairly deep red fruit, & spice. As it settles in the meaty, almost bacon flavor showed through. It also had some plum that was almost pruney, in a good way. I liked this wine a lot more as it opened up. My first sip seemed like a solid, but light California Pinot Noir. After it had some time to breath though, it revealed a much more complex wine & I greatly enjoyed it. I would recommend pouring this wine about 20 minutes early, or decanting it. I also read recently about a chef who has been sticking his red wine in a blender to aerate it. That is so weird that I have to try it! This wine runs about $42. I liked the wine, but that may be more than I would pay for it.
2010 Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley)
This is a big boy Zinfandel. The vines for the grapes are as much as 125 years old. When the vineyard was planted, there were some vines of other grape varietals interspersed. So this wine has some Alicante Bouchet, Petite Sirah, Peloursin, & Carignane mixed in with it. That blend adds complexity to the finished product. It is a tough trick to pull off because you have to pick at the right time. not all of the grapes will be at equal ripeness at the same time. This wine was fermented on native yeast, which really surprised me. I asked Phillip about it because the wine showed some alcohol, balanced, but clearly higher than usual. He said it was 15.7%, which is pretty high. Most yeast dies around 15%. I asked what he used, since I figured he was using a special commercial yeast that had been shown to be tolerant of high alcohol. Nope, just native yeast. In case you don’t know about making wine with native yeast, it was the way all wine was made for thousands of years. There is yeast on the skins of the grapes or in the vineyard. Wineries will start to build up colonies of yeast as well, not always good ones, but that is a different story. That yeast gets into the juice & starts to eat the sugar & convert it to alcohol. Some native grapes work great & you get great wine. Some don’t & you get stuck fermentation (where it is hard to get the sugar to convert to alcohol) or you can get stinky wine. Anyway, this yeast worked well. The wine has strong fruit on the nose & a long finish. The alcohol does show a little high, but it is balanced by the fruit. The fruit itself tends toward older, dried fruit flavors. It spent 15 months on French oak & the tannin exchange with that new oak has left it softer than you might expect. This is a wine that you can pair with meat with a lot of flavor. It would be great with lamb or a Montreal steak. It sells for about $34.
2008 Diener Ranch Petite Sirah (Red Hills Lake County)
This won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition this year. There are some really nice tannins here, which is the signatyre of Petite Sirah. It has a great mouthfeel with a little spice & a distinct cocoa taste. It is dry, & not exactly austere. Maybe “reserved” is a better word for it. We had this with a chocolate dessert, which was a nice match. If I were to have it at home, I would be more likely to have it with grilled meat. I think some ribs would be great with it. I prefer beef, but it would be nice with some pork ribs as long as they had a little spice. This wine throws sediment, so if that bugs you, you might want to decant it. Otherwise, just grit your teeth! This is $34.
The Enkidu wines aren’t found everywhere, but if you run across them, they are worth checking out.
My football thoughts of the day are about the Darrelle Revis trade story going on at the moment. I think it is going to be almost impossible for the Jets to get full value in a trade for Revis.
In 2007, Darrelle Revis was the 1st round pick of the Jets (14th overall). His play at cornerback has been excellent. He has been named to the Pro Bowl 4 times and named an All Pro (which is much more prestigious) 3 times. He even has a cool nickname, “Revis Island”, because he can be left on an island to defend the other team’s top receiver without expecting Safety help over the top. SO why would the Jets want to trade their best player & why is it going to be so hard? There are 2 ways of looking at it.
Revis has been surprised about the trade talk. He has said “It doesn’t make sense to trade your best player.” I am usually bothered when a player talks like that, but in the case of the Jets, I guess it isn’t bragging when there isn’t anyone on the roster who has a clear claim on second best. Here is one way of looking at it if you are want to trade him
1) How often can you acquire an elite player in the league who is under 30 years old? Revis is 27.
2) Revis can shut down the other team’s leading receiver, so your other corner can get safety help, or you can free a safety to blitz. Basically, he can make your entire defense look better & he can disrupt an offense. They have to game plan for him.
3) If you feel like you are a team that is 1 cornerback away from winning a Super Bowl, possibly the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos, or the Atlanta Falcons (or The New England Patriots, although the Jets would never trade him there) shouldn’t you give the Jets a Herschel Walker type deal so that you can get over the hump & win a Super Bowl?
Here is the other way of looking at it & it’s why I think the Jets won’t get what they want…
1) Revis tore his ACL last year & is still rehabbing it. There is a perception that players are coming back from ACL injury more quickly than they used to, but cornerback is a harder position than running back to rehabilitate because it is inherently more reactive than the running back position. The running back can pick his angle & protect himself more easily than a cornerback. Rod Woodson did come back in the same season after an ACL tear, but he wasn’t the same player & eventually moved to safety.
2) If he can’t play at his best this year you are in trouble, because he is in a contract year & you would have to decide what to pay him going forward without knowing if he would ever be as good again.
3) You can’t franchise him because after he renegotiated his contract in 2010, he was able to add a “no franchise” clause. So you couldn’t keep him for an extra year to see if he can get back to 100%
4) He might hold out again. He missed the first 21 days of training camp his rookie year holding out for more money. In 2010 he missed all of pre-season holding out for a 4 year $32 million, fully guaranteed contract. He didn’t make any interceptions that year. In 2012 he threatened to hold out again, despite language in his contract that attempted to prevent it. He has been talking about needing $16 million a year on his next contract, so it wouldn’t be out of character for him to hold out for a long term, expensive contract before reporting to his new team.
5) Most of the teams that are mentioned as being a cornerback away from a Super Bowl win can’t afford to pay him what he wants. The 49er’s are now 14 million under the cap, but that is less than Revis wants & even if they trade some of their 15 draft picks to the Jets, they will still have their own free agents to sign & new draft picks to pay. The Falcons might make the most sense. They cut cornerback Dunta Robinson the other day & are now $15.9 million under the cap. They might sign a new contract with Matt Ryan & gain some cap room as well. That still isn’t enough for Revis & they are still probably going to pick up a running back & some defensive help in free agency. They have been linked to Steven Jackson & Osi Umenyiora. They are also hoping that Tony Gonzalez will come back for another year. The Denver Broncos have about $18.5 million in cap space. They have some other needs though (like running back) & unless the Jets are just writing off the year, it would be odd to trade Revis in the conference. John Elway has been known to roll the dice on a highly paid player who is coming off a major injury. It would mean a ton of cap money tied up in two players though. If they paid Revis $16 million, they would have almost 30% of the salary cap tied up in Revis & Manning. You can put together a team that way, but it is hard to do.
Here’s the question that I think a GM has to ask. What would you give to pick up a player that you may only have for a year, who probably won’t be in top condition until late in the year…if at all, who can’t be franchised, who has a history of holding out & griping about his contract, & whose salary demands could kill your salary cap? When you look at it that way, it is hard to see someone giving up much to get Revis. Of course they only need to find one GM or owner willing to make the deal. I just don’t see it as likely to happen.