C'mon, it's Monday night. Nobody pulls out the 1978 Guigal La Landonne or the 1985 DRC La Tâche for a Monday night. This is when you pop the bottle you can't remember where you acquired it from, or maybe the bottle from the off vintage from a producer too good to give to the neighbor who loaned you their lawnmower when yours wouldn't start. Monday night wines are what you drink when you need to drink something with dinner to help you get over the shock of just how much you have to do in the coming week before you can relax over the weekend. With Monday night wines you want a respite from the day (and a slight buzz), not enlightenment and inspiration (and a slight buzz).
The 2003 Drew Family Cellars Morehouse Vineyard Syrah is not your normal Monday night wine. It's the sort of wine that grabs your attention because it tastes entirely unlike anything that in your supreme wisdom of all things enological you might have even deigned to think it would taste like, particularly if you were tasting it blind. If Syrah had been planted in Martha's Vineyard instead of Cabernet Sauvignon, maybe that's what this wine might have been. It's about mint, spearmint, and a touch more mint, with a little bacon fat, dark chocolate, and some black cherry fruit holding things together.
We had this on a cold (well, cold for Malibu) Monday night with a pork roast that had been smoked over grapevines in a Big Green Egg and this all amounted to about as perfect a pairing as you might have imagined, perfect at least until you tried it with the bacon shortbread cookies baked by the chef from Cliff's Edge Café in Silverlake. Now that's a pairing! Monday night has never seemed so monumental either (at least not since BBC America stopped showing "Top Gear" here within six years of the episode's original air date).
The label says this wine is 14.4% alcohol and despite the impression of lush creaminess on the palate, the ultimate sensation is of lightness, balance, and elegance. Not exactly what you'd expect from 1: the vintage, and 2: the vineyard location (freakin' SOLVANG!!!), but there it is. It's not the sort of finish that goes on forever, but it certainly goes on long enough to hammer home the fact that this is way more intriguing than it ought to be. Morehouse Vineyard is a 1.8 acre vineyard just east of Solvang, planted to Durrell and 5C Syrah clones. Jason Drew produced wine from the site for a few years before he and his family decamped northward to Elk, on the coast almost to Fort Bragg. The wines he makes nowadays are a little leaner than this one but equally focused and no less compelling.
Jason Drew has a thing for cool-climate wines, be they Syrah or Pinot Noir. I'm looking forward to the wines he'll make from his estate vineyard in Elk, but the vines (planted in 2011) are still a few years away from maturity. You can get apples from the property now and apple cider too if you're in a hurry. I'm also anxious to taste the Drew Family Albariño. In California, this is one of those varieties that has gone from intense obscurity to seeming almost normal in the course of a decade. There's some stylistic variation in domestic Albariño that seems due more to growing conditions than winemaking approaches, but I think it's in pretty good hands at Drew, given Jason's ability with Pinot Noir and Syrah.