Saturday, July 30, 2011

Andrew Murray Vineyards

To say that Andrew Murray strives for perfection in each of his wines might be a bit of an understatement. In tasting his 2010 RGB, 2008 Espérance and 2009 Watch Hill Vineyard Syrah, I was very impressed with the consistency in balance and obvious craftsmanship by whom Food & Wine Magazine named "Taste Maker of the Year" and described him as, "One of the most fearsome talents in food and wine."

The 2010 RBG is a wine inspired by an early visit that Andrew made to the Rhone Valley. Andrew was tasting a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape and got very excited when he realized the wine smelled like "Juicy Fruit". He has been chasing that aroma for over 10 years and he feels that he has finally achieved it. I would have to say I agree.

This blend is 50% Roussanne and 50% Grenache Blanc, both from the Camp 4 Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Upon pouring this wine into my glass and taking a smell, I was surprised and excited by the "Juicy Fruit" aroma, which blended perfectly with some light floral notes and a bit of honey. Such a great and refreshing smell for a hot Arizona summer night.

With the first taste, a very crisp and balanced, as well as fruit forward first impression consisting of a bit of pear with a bit of that honey from the nose. The body and structure were very impressive for a white wine and the finish lingered with a pleasant balance that was consistent through each step of tasting this wine.

At $25 a bottle, only 200 cases of this wine were produced. This wine is a perfect summer wine and paired beautifully with the cheese board and fruit that we started the night off with. It is available online at Andrew Murray Vineyards' website or in the Los Olivos, CA tasting room.

Rating: A

The 2008 Espérance is a true Rhone style GSM blend. Consisting of 60% Grenache Noir, 25% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre and at $30 a bottle, 400 cases of this Central Coast wine were produced. As the name of this wine states, Espérance translates into Hope from French, Andrew Murray "hopes" to inspire your senses, as his were over a decade ago on his visit to Southern France.

With the body and structure of the Grenache very evident, as well as providing the fruit forwardness of that grape, the Syrah adds a bit of spice, both on the nose and in the mouth, as well as providing the body and finish that the Syrah is known for. The Mourvedre steps in to provide a very nice floral note that rounds out this very balanced and incredibly food friendly wine.

When I first opened this bottle, I poured and tasted a bit too early and the wine was a touch hot on the nose and finish, so I decanted it and set it aside for about an hour and this wine opened up into a truly complex wine. This wine was clearly my favorite of the three I tasted. Andrew has created a masterpiece with this wine.

Rating: A+

The 2009 Syrah, Watch Hill Vineyard comes from the cool Los Alamos Valley, which allows the grapes to reach a nice maturity level that is evident in this full-bodied, yet not over powering, Syrah. I must admit, I am not a big fan of overly peppery, big Syrah wines. While the characteristics of a Syrah were clearly there in this wine, the balance and complexity set this wine apart.

The nose is bursting with deep red fruits, a touch of spice, some smoky oak and a hint of gun powder. I couldn't stop smelling this wine! The taste delivers on each of the aspects of the aroma, but add to that a very delicate floral note, provided by the 5% Viognier that was added to this vintage. The finish doesn't disappoint on this wine either and it left me longing for a big smokey rack of bar-b-que ribs to really pull out all of the complexity that this wine has to offer.

Although this was probably my least favorite of the three wines, that isn't saying I would not drink it again. It is coming with me to the next big summer bar-b-que I go to. At $36 a bottle, only 212 cases were produced.

Rating: B+

This sampling of Andrew Murray's wines made it clear as to why Robert Parker, Jr. called Andrew, "One of the shining stars in the Santa Barbara Firmament", and his wines "a breath of fresh air given their exceptionally high quality and realistic prices."

(These wines were generously provided by Andrew Murray Vineyards as tasting samples.)

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