Oh, to be so let down.
After having a shockingly delicious 2005 Sanguis "The Bossman" syrah at Blackbird last summer, I slowly started to get my undies in a bunch over California cult syrah.
I never really followed up on it outside of doing some Googling and getting some names. All the ones I might have wanted to buy fell outside my wallet's range and keeping the wine budget within reason has become a bigger concern lately.
But Binny's had the other 2005 offering from Sanguis, "The Optimist", just sitting there, taunting me for weeks until I finally gave in Monday.
Food: Five spice-marinated tri tip with blackberry-black olive-orange zest salsa, soba noodles with braised pistachios and mâche
Tough to say which aspect of the meal was my favorite. I alternated back and forth.
Tri tip is some lean beef, cooked perfectly, and paired with the salsa, the entire thing became rather rustic. Sucked up the five spice in a nice way, letting it come through without overwhelming it.
Braised pistachios and soba noodles = my new favorite starchy-type accompaniment. They're hearty and filling without being Hearty! and Filling!
This meal, from a food perspective, approached the realm of great.
The wine, however, didn't.
Wine: 2005 Sanguis "The Optimist" syrah ($70 - Binny's) & 2003 Pirramimma shiraz ($25 - 20/20 Wine Merchants)
I wasn't let down because of the price. I wasn't let down because of the pairing. I wasn't really let down at all. The Sanguis is fine wine, well crafted and almost delicious.
It just never popped. Decanted for almost two hours. Dark purple with a reddish tinge in the glass. Roasted meat and herbs on the nose right out of the bottle with a nice background of blue/blackberry fruit. Got a lot of anise upon first sip and for the first twenty minutes. Nice, just wasn't integrated.
Nothing wrong with it but I began to wonder about the name in relation to the wine. Seems to have all the elements I wanted from it, even anticipated from it, but it never really got there. Finish was a tad short. Had some nice heat but that seemed to be making up for the fact that the finish wasn't anything spectacular. Fruit seemed to want to become a silky deliciousness but never made it. In order to really like this one, I think I would have had to be in a particularly good mood...or have had another bottle before it, that place where everything in life seems to be a precious little gift. Six of one, really. I compare the Sanguis to this season of 30 Rock. Sure, I'm laughing enough I guess and it certainly fits the definition of an original sitcom not placating to the masses, but it's just not doing much for me.
If given blind, I might have thought it was a darn good wine. I wasn't, though. And if given a few more years, maybe it would open up and become more integrated. For $70, I'm probably not going to find out.
So we cracked a 2003 Pirramimma shiraz, the wine that taught us how wines change. Back in 2005, we were still drinking cheap wine because we were kinda poor, but we were just starting to get into wine ratings and the studying of wine before we bought them. $20 for a bottle of wine still seemed luxurious but Trader Joe's carried this Pirramimma so we gave it a go.
Mrs. Ney flipped over it. I liked it but didn't initially follow her enthusiasm. That changed somewhat quickly. The fruit in the 2003, drinking it in late 2005 and 2006 was just about the most vibrant fruit I've ever tasted. Had a sparkle to it. Just shined. We drank it by the crate for a year or so.
After what was probably only a six month break, we returned to it to find the fruit was started to die a glorious death. Started to dry and a leafy quality showed up. Having already known the ins and outs of this wine so thoroughly, it was a bit of a seminal moment for us. We now had intimate knowledge of how one particular wine changed over time. Even down to the most subtle nuances. Sure, we read about it, even saw it in some Spanish wine but nothing to this extent.
Since we haven't really drunk one recently and the Sanguis left us a bit wanting, we opened a Pirramimma to compare with the meal.
It changed again. Now a bloody consistency appeared with it turning almost port-like. Where the fruit before had shown to be drying, they now tasted macerated and reduced down to a syrup-like mouthfeel. Meaty as well. It's probably approaching death but we're loving every second of its kick toward the inevitable.
Pairing: Good, yeah, fine
Both wines were just fine with the food. Nothing could/would/should have been changed to accommodate the wine. The flavor profiles in the wine matched. Nothing went off the rails and nothing turned funky.
But comparing the two became the focus. Both of us were left with the feeling that, for $20, the Pirramimma, even in a throes of death, performed equally as well as the $70 Sanguis that might have been a wee bit young.