Celebrating National Boss’ Day, Lush style

SUNDAYS WITH LUSH: 10.16.2011

Mitch’s picks
You know him. You can’t miss him. Big n’ burly, bearded, ponytailed, and larger-than-life, the captain of this crazy Lush ship is the magical Mitch Einhorn, and this Sunday is devoted to wines that he chose himself. His palate is as big as his personality; expect lots of crazy California Rhone blends, but also weird, super intense Austrian powerhouses, and maybe some northwest loving throw in there, too. Get inside the brain of our fearless leader by sipping on some of his favorites this Sunday.

Sunday Afternoons with Lush is our way of sharing our love of wine and thoroughly enjoying the last moments of the weekend. We believe that tasting is the best way to learn about the endless flavor possibilities in the world of wine. Leave the text books at home; we are all about hands-on learning. Practice makes perfect, so the more tasting you do, the better you become at discerning the subtle nuances of aroma, flavor, and essential terroir of each wine. Each Sunday from 2 - 5 pm, Lush will have focused tastings guided by friendly wine geeks to help make you the practiced lush you esteem to be. These events are always complimentary. Feel free to bring your mother and anyone else who would appreciate exploring their Lush side.

Sundays with LUSH: Mitch’s Picks
Sunday, October 16th

Celebrating the big man the right way. The wine way.  These are his most current favorites. Yes, they are a bit indulgent. Yes, they are a bit expensive.  But, the wines are OPEN and free to taste today.  If you can’t make the tasting at the shops, at least you can peruse these notes for some delightful eye candy.  Enjoy!

[Buy ANY four bottles from this tasting array, and recieve a 10% discount from your entire purchase. ‘The Man’ thanks you!]

2009 Ambyth Priscus, Paso Robles, California - Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Rousseanne, Marsanne

AmByth (Welsh for ‘forever’) Estate is Paso Robles’s first and only winery to produce Demeter certified Biodynamic wines. The winery gained certification from the Demeter Association in 2006.  Ambyth utilizes the Biodynamic method of farming to enhance their observations of nature, and use these intimate insights as tools that allow our 20 acres of vineyards to express their true character through the grapes it produces.  They want these grapes to be as unique to AmByth Estate as your thumbprint is to you.  The estate consists of 20 acres of vineyards and 600 olive trees dedicated to Biodynamic farming principles since their initial planting.  There are cows. Chickens. And bees, too!

AmByth Estate believes in producing wines that are made with minimal intervention: letting the wine make itself.  Well, if it had hands.  Which is where the very talented winemaker comes in…but also the steep hillsides, head trained vines,  Priscus in Latin means ‘venerable’.  This white is aromatic to the extreme, with peach blossoms and apricot jam, tart green apple skin, leafy greens and ginger, as well as buttered toffee.  On the palate, the green apple crispness resonates with a creamy, textural mouth feel and minerality. This white wine is a rich wine, not for the faint of heart. Plump and rounded, but crispy and bright, too.  $58.00

2008 Umathum, Burgenland, Austria - Gelber und Roter Traminer
Weingut Umathum (pronounced OOM-a-TOOM) is dedicated to the unification of tradition and innovation. Though Umathum makes a small amount of white wine, it is the reds that they are best known for. The Austrian red wine varieties of Zweigelt, St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch make up about 85 percent of the 30 hectares under cultivation. On both banks of Lake Neusiedl a wide range of different soils are cultivated including slate, lime, clay and pebble.

Umathum is a Demeter certified biodynamic estate. “Lively soils and alert plants point us in the right direction and give us the necessary inspiration on how to interact with them” says Josef Umathum about his attitude to wine-growing. He continues: “Our wines are food for the soul…these are liquid folk-tales.”

Liquid folk-tales, indeed. The wines of Umathum are testaments to the unique soils and grapes that Austria has to offer. Some describe Umathum as a modern estate. Though Umathum does use more modern winemaking techniques, like the use of barrique-aging, the estate couldn’t be more traditional in its faithful expression of the land. This particular wine is a BLEND of the white AND red Traminer. Wha?! Yeah.  They did that.  The wine smells of rose petals, white tea, and yuzu jam with lemon zest.  On the palate, the texture screams red, but the acid and flavors whisper white.  Roses are a dominant flavor characteristic, with red currant and lemon, ripe pear and fresh green herbs, cilantro. Chalky minerality and jasmine and coriander.  Just wild. Check it out. In the glass. Again.  $30.00

2005 Ecluse ‘Ensemble’, Paso Robles, Califronia - Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon

Ecluse is the Frenchie term for ‘lock’. Not on the door, silly, but in the canal. For the boats.  Nestled into the high and dry ravines and rough n’ tumble country of West Paso Robles, Pam and Steve Lock grow grapes. Yup. They are farmers.  Grape farmers. Turned winemakers.  They figured that if other people using their grapes were getting amazing ‘scores’, than they sure as heck could do just as well or better. Thus, they made juice that they would like to drink. In their barn.

Ms. Rachel visited their vineyard for lunch. With hummingbirds and wild panther on the property. A barn for making wine.  And a house plopped down right in the midst of the vineyards.  The view from the dining room table is to the southeast, across the hills of the west side. Extremely rural. By invitation only.  Dig it.

So. Back to the wine.  Pam and Steve grow all sorts.  Primarly Zinfandel, for this is Paso.  But, also Rhone varietals and a smattering of Bordeaux varietals, too.  Their style is incredibly earthy, dusty, and mellow.  No ‘blockbuster’ adjectives here. Only well crafted wine that is in balance. Thus ‘ensemble’, a harmony of flavors working together, never one more than the other. This is a truly unique, handcrafted wine reminiscent of a beautiful Bordeaux. The nose draws you in to a deep palate of exquisite flavors ranging from dark fruit, baking spices, and cocoa with a deliciously velvet mouthfeel. The subtle harmony unfolds layer upon layer of flavor, the smooth tannin and long finish keep you coming back for more. Harmonious, indeed. $45.50

2005 Black Zeppelin, Paso Robles, California - Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Cabernet
Dude.  Seriously.  This man, Swilly Idol = Stillman Brown, is crazy. The best kind of crazy. The one you want as your friend. A party mad reveler. The last to bed.  A man with stories…and probably the scars to prove it.  Obsessed with Elvis. Weathered. And awesome.

Red Zeppelin winery is a small producer of awesome and outrageous wines, based in Paso Robles and Cayucos, California. The name, and label, come from a rip on the band, of course, but also the winery Bonny Doon and the wine ‘Cigare Volant’.  A mind train brainstorm crash of epic proportions! Witty and silly, but serious, too.  No stranger to all things eccentric and perhaps a bit on the wild side, winemaker Stillman Brown allows his wine to also embody distinctive personalities, concentrating on low yields and cool climate terroir, but allowing for a little boldness and panache. This wine is an ode to indulgence and a prayer for it to work in the bottle.  Toss ‘em all in, stir, and sip. Only nine barrels of this Black Zeppelin were made from a vineyard of clone 3 Petite Sirah in the Hames Valley in southwestern Monterey County, and was blended with a single barrel from the Brady Vineyard in Paso Robles.  The Hames Valley is normally one of the warmer sub-appellations of Monterey; however the 2009 vintage was cooler, enabling the fruit to keep more of its blackberry and plum flavors.  The Brady wine added structure and a different type of oak flavor; the finished wine shows dark fruit, pepper and spices, and a variety of oak and cedar flavors that contribute to the structure and long finish.  Stillman expects to win a bunch of awards for this wine.  After it’s all gone, of course. This eclectic blend is Red Zeppelin’s flagship wine with intense aromas of vibrant dark chocolate, toasted coconut, raspberry compote, olive, bacon fat, and tobacco with a juicy, fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body and a sweet spice and cherry finish. Tasty, complex, and hedonistic.  $49.50

2006 Coeur D’Alene ‘Opulence’, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho - Syrah & Viognier
Grown in Washington. Crafted in Idaho.  Coeur d’Alene is a small, family-owned winery located in the beautiful inland northwest dedicated to the fine art of wine. Kimber Gates is the owner and GM of the winery, and all-in on this project.  The land. The grapes. The artist labels, painted by a friend.  The legendary vineyards of eastern Washington provide the ultimate setting to grow classic Rhone grapes. Syrah is making a name here, a daunting proving ground.  Here, the soil, climate and weather patterns converge to create an absolute haven for grapes filled with flavor. This small winery was founded to create the best quality Rhone style wines from the best vineyards within Washington.  While they source their fruit from Washington, the actual winery is located in the wonderful little community of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The Opulence harkens back to Cote Rotie, in France.  With a dash of white wine in the red to bring brightness and balance, a punch of white fruit, cherry blossoms, and fresh herbs mingle with the roasted dates, black plum and raspberry, cured meats and crumbly black dirt on the nose.  The palate displays huckleberry, blueberry, cracked pepper and spice notes. Great fruit intensity and pronounced vanilla, smoky, woodsy flavors linger on a long finish.  Textured and tasty. $48.00

2005 PAX ‘Griffin’s Lair’, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma California - Syrah
Once upon a time (okay, so in the year 2000), a winemaker named Pax Mahle paired up with with Joe Donelan, a Connecticut-based investor, to produce some of the world’s finest single-vineyard Syrahs out in California. Over the years, they developed quite the cult status, and their tiny-production bottlings garnered lots of well-deserved press for being remarkable, age-worthy, and varietally correct expressions of the all the tiny microclimates around the Sonoma area. With more than two-thirds of the wines earning 90+ points from the people at Wine Spectator, etc., the wines’ renown spread far and wide.

Fast forward a few years to 2008, when Joe and Pax had a heartbreaking divorce, wine-style. The winery kept the name, but Pax departed his position as head winemaker. The wines (now known as Donelan Wines) have since lost a lot of their buzz, and nobody really knows what is happening with Pax Mahle. Good thing we Lushies have been carefully cellaring many vintages of their past wines!

Griffin’s Lair, beautifully named, harks from a hillside Sonoma Coast site that is wind-swept, and harsh. But, the wine is full of well poised character. This wine expresses both intense, almost jet-black color in the glass, and also concentrated fruit and big, rigidly structured tannins. It exhibits beautiful flowery bacon and lead pencil notes intermixed with some meat juices, blackberry, and cassis. Freshly ground spices and smashed strawberry with balsalmic. The wine is full-bodied, rather opulent, fleshy, and mouthfilling with no hard edges. Yet there is a smooth, glycerin mouthfeel that smooths out those rough compounds, and with a nose full of blackberry, fig, acacia, brioche, white chocolate, and toast, as well as a spicy, opulent texture,;this guy is exactly what’s needed at this time of the year. Decant it ahead for an even better drinking experience. $128.00

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