A very sexy sip! Versatile, festive and sophisticated, this inky purple wine has an unexpected elegance. The enticing aromas smack of ripe summer blackberries and dark plums, with undertones of violets, wild mint and a dash of spice and smoke (thanks to the 12% of Zinfandel grapes). Complex and concentrated, it explodes on the palate with heady flavors of dark rich fruits and lashes of licorice. It's lovely on the mid palate, too, and has good length, with tannins that are firm but docile. This wine will do you proud with any full-flavored food, particularly grilled and roasted meats.
Dark berry, black cherry, meat, caramel, smoke, cocoa, rosehips, licorice, sandalwood, coffee and menthol.
Once garage winemakers in Los Angeles, Art and Bunnie Finkelstein left behind careers in architecture and teaching to pursue their true passion in the Napa Valley. In 1979 they purchased a ranch outside of St. Helena and built Whitehall Lane Winery, eventually turning it into a very successful 30,000-cases-a year vineyard. A decade later, wanting to get back to more hands-on wine production and believing smaller is better, they sold Whitehall Lane and purchased a 14-acre hillside vineyard in Napa's eastern hills. Art designed and built a second winery, Judd's Hill, to focus on creating small lots (up to 3000 cases annually) of premium handcrafted wines. Thanks to his reputation, Art was also sought out to help craft small lots of ultra-premium wines for others and Custom MicroCrush was born. In 2004, son Judd and his wife Jill moved to Napa to help run the family businesses. This wine is crafted from grapes harvested from a 45-year old block of Petite Sirah vines. The Cranston Brothers, long-time family friends, own said old-vine vineyard and farm 400 acres of grapes near Lodi. There the soil is enriched by the Mokolumne River, which flows west from the Sierra Nevada, and yields silky textured and intensely fruity grapes. The wine was aged in mostly neutral oak barrels, which helps showcase the great fruit and facilitates the wine's food-friendly character.
This Petite Syrah is terrific with meat and can handle some pretty complex flavors. It's happiest when paired with something a little spicy and rich. I know a recipe from my dear friend Sara, which I think pairs perfectly. I even nicknamed it Sara's Chinese-Style Baby Back Ribs in her honor. It's an easy rib recipe, and the wine will love the Asian influence. Serve it alongside my Radicchio Slaw with Warm Honey Vinaigrette. If you really want to go all out, make my Michael's Warm Potato Salad. And when the compliments pour in, you're welcome.
According to Judd Finkelstein, "Crushing grapes is nasty, grungy, necessity-fulfilling labor. Romantic? It's barely pleasant. (But) you romantics can keep your ideal visions. I know the harvest has toil, trouble, heat and vermin, and I say 'Bring it on!' Because in the end, it makes me happy." Here's to romance prevailing and happy winemakers.
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