Sat 28 Feb 2009
So, here it is (was) Thursday night, and I’m thinking, “Hmmm, what’s there to eat,” because throughout LL’s sojourn in Los Angeles, I was determined not to go to the grocery store; the goal: only eat from what’s available here at home.
So, I indulged in a childhood favorite — cheese toast! — though not as my mother would have made it.
I sliced a couple of pieces from a loaf of rustic, “country-style” bread and spread some olive tapenade on one side. I chopped some prosciutto and tomatoes and strew them across the bread, scattered some shredded sharp cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses on top, sprinkling liberal amounts of salt and cracked pepper on top, and (once again) crowned the effect with a handful of panko bread crumbs and a little thyme. Six or seven minutes under the broiler brought these to nicely browned perfection.
For wine, I thought, “Oh, what the hell,” and opened the Morgan Winery Double L Vineyard Syrah 2006, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. Lord have mercy, what a great wine! Double L is a certified organic vineyard, the only such in the appellation.
The beginning is pure funkiness, though some swirling and sniffing and a few minutes’ indulgence bring out the details: clean earth, plums, prunes and wet fur, followed by spiced and macerated black fruit, with back-notes of black olive, crushed black pepper, violets and lavender. This is when I start to get really excited by the wine, because the dimension and detail gradually unfold, unfurl, and this, readers, is why I write about and review wine, for that unfolding and unfurling. And then not so much earthy as damp slate and moss. The wine is mouth-filling but not in the least heavy or obvious; the alcohol is a blessed 13.9 percent, a sort of lonely (but eminently sane) low for syrahs in California. Spicy oak — 14 months Burgundy barrels, 25 percent new — and slightly gritty tannins seep in around the circumference of black current, blackberry and blueberry, permeating and building the wine’s structure in the mouth; I mean, the wine is so dynamic and vital that you feel this happening as you sip and taste. Not surprisingly, the finish tends to some briery, forestry austerity, though the wine remains sleek, elegant and approachable. The bad news: 100 cases. My rating is Exceptional. About $40.
Though platonically intended for such fare as roasted squab, lamb shank or barbecue brisket, this wine did not overwhelm, and even contributed to, my open-face, toasted cheese sandwiches.