Sunday, December 03, 2006
Andrew Murray Tasting Room, Los Olivos
After we finished over at Bridlewood, we took the short trip along Rt. 154 to the charming town of Los Olivos, where there is a string of tasting rooms extending down Grand Street. (you can click on this map to enlarge the view, and you will see all the tasting rooms listed). Boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and other shops fill the streets of this small town.
We wanted to taste some Andrew Murray wines, and since their vineyards on Zaca Station Rd. are closed to the public, our goal in Los Olivos was to stop into the tasting room pictured here. On the way we picked up sandwiches at the branch of Panino just off Grand in the heart of town.
Andrew Murray is a UC Davis graduate who has received all kinds of press for his distinctive wines. He plants only Rhone varietals in his own vineyards, though he does also serve as wine maker for his neighbors at Oak Savanna. Murray is devoted to syrah in particular, and crafts his wines with the philosophy that good wines are made in the vineyard, and the winemaker "merely takes care of them" in the cellar. This is a winemaker who specializes in small production wines, and although you can sometimes find his Tous les Jours Syrah in shops, most of these wines are sold directly through the winery or in the tasting room. The Andrew Murray wines website is full of information, so I encourage you to take a look.
In the tasting room, you received 10 pours (9 Andrew Murray wines, and 1 Oak Savanna wine) for $10, and got to keep the Andrew Murray glass. Contrary to the tasting room website, it is not a Riedel "O" series glass, but at least it doesn't have a rounded edge! The wines poured for us included:
2005 Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley ($25): Aromatic with flowers, pineapple, and citrus, which come through as you sip the wine, too. Crisp, clean-tasting, and complex. 550 cases made. Good QPR.
2004 Enchante ($22): A blend of two white Rhone varietals (Roussanne and Marsanne). Rich tasting with melon and oak aromas and flavors. More full-bodied than the Viognier, and a nice change from chardonnay for lovers of that varietal. 800 cases produced. Good QPR.
2004 Oak Savanna Vineyards Chardonnay Rancho La Zaca ($30): An exceptional chardonnay, with pronounced pear aromas and flavors with a bit of citrus and a real streak of minerals. Bright acidity is kept in check with a little bit of oak. Round, complex, delicious. 350 cases produced. Very good QPR.
2004 Esperance ($22): Murray's red blend intended to translate Chateauneuf du Pape to the soils of Santa Ynez. Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre are blended into a wine with black cherry, blueberry, cinnamon, and black pepper aromas and flavors. Delicious, and will be more delicious in a few years. 850 cases produced. Good QPR.
2004 Grenache Central Coast ($28): Murray only bottles his Grenache by itself if the vintage is of sufficient quality, and the 2004 lived up to his standards. Raspberry, cranberry, and currant aromas and flavors. Unusually soft and drinkable for a 100% grenache wine, only 300 cases were produced. Good QPR.
2004 Syrah Estate Santa Ynez Valley ($25): Made only with Syrah grown on the hillsides of the Santa Ynez appellation, this wine is full of cherry flavors and aromas with an interesting note of black tar. Oak is used, which makes it nice and smooth, but the bright acidity keeps it interesting. Perfectly drinkable now, or cellar it if you can wait. 1100 cases produced. Good QPR.
2004 Syrah Roasted Slope Vineyard ($34): This is a big, interesting wine made from Syrah and Viognier grapes that are interplanted in the same hillside vineyard (just like in the Cote Rotie in France). The grapes are picked and fermented together. Black cherry, plums, and a hint of strawberry in the aromas and the palate. Would benefit from 2-10 years in the cellar to help round out all its edges, but I have no doubt in time it will be spectacular. 800 cases produced. Good QPR.
2004 Syrah Westerly Vineyard ($36): Made from grapes from the eastern part of the Santa Ynez AVA. This produces Syrah with higher alcohol and lower acidity due to ripeness and less marine influence. This monster wine had 15.4% alc./vol. and didn't even taste alcoholic. Flavors and aromas were typical of the varietal, with blackberry and spice notes. 284 cases produced. Good QPR.
2005 Viognier Late Harvest ($20/375 ml): A yummy dessert wine, with peach jam and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. On the back end you got a bit of apricot. Not as sweet as most late harvest viogniers, it would be excellent chilled and served on its own as a dessert, or with fruit-based desserts. Very good QPR.
I was really impressed with all the wines I tasted, and for Rhone lovers Murray is a name to watch. Murray does have a wine club, and given how few cases are made of these wines it is appealing to think of receiving them on a regular, reliable basis. The prices are a bit steep for me, but I did leave with a bottle of the Chardonnay, the Esperance, and the Late Harvest Viognier because they were so darn good.