...put him to the test. 96 points? The 2001 Old Bastard Shiraz from Kaesler? Huh? Let's see about that.
The tenderloin is soon in the pan, the mushrooms are almost ready, as are the onions.
Then we're gonna see what that old chimp/gorilla/whatever from Monkton really goes for. My wife is eagerly anticipating greatness in the glass, based on his review of this particular wine. Somehow she has grown fond of him and trusts his palate. I'd hate to disappoint her...
well, I will have to admit one thing from the start. TheMissis wasn't happy. You can interpret that in many ways. She wasn't happy because the bottle is already...emptied. She wants to relax on the sofa with a red wine in the glass while just watching the TV. So I had to look around the cellar for yet another pop this evening. My choice was the 2005 Pax Obsidian Syrah from Knights Valley. bought at that, what's its name again? Acker, Merrall & Condit on 72nd street. I've heard of that place lately... ;-)
Hm, 95 points according to the gorilla from Monkton. Well, our verdict is that we have a winner among the two.
2001 Kaesler Old Bastard ShirazThe main problem with the Old Bastard was that the bottle was emptied in no time. The Missis just said "mmm..." and after that I had to fight for the bottle. Rich, succulent but very fresh and already notes of development so the pirch black fruit I'm sure this beauty displayed in its youth has now become more of a mixture of black and red fruit. The wine feels...soft. That's the best description I can offer. Absolutely no hard edges anywhere, with the fruit and tannins in perfect harmony, just aiming to please in the background and serving as support to the center core of dark cherries, blackberries and lovely spices. A vivid and fresh texture throughout the mid-palate with lovely, velvety layers of fruit and spices, only to finish with a long, succulent afterburn. Simply irresistable. 95 points. Have to agree with Bob on this one.
2001 Pax Obsidian SyrahWell, opened just minutes after my wife had conquered the last sip of the gorgeous Old Bastard, this offers a completely different canvas. While the Old Bastard is soothingly velvety with rich, "sweet" fruit, this feels much more sturdy and bone dry. Here you can't find a hint of anything red at all so think black. Really black, as in dark chocolate, blackberries, blueberries and forest floor, the kind you get in those really Nordic old growth forests where the soild is mostly black humus. Oh, and smoke! This is thick and massive, yet retains a sort of elegance on the palate. Maybe it's because of the bone-dry feeling, almost like a full-scale Hermitage, or maybe because you feel much more minerality in this one. As always, scoring a wine is also a lot about the mood of the day and the food pairing and today we both seemed to favor the rich, oozing Old Bastard compared to the pitch dark Obsidian. 93 points.
Interestingly, Pax Mahle has since stopped making this style of wine after a dispute within the company and is now producing some truly noteworthy wines with low alcohol yet with considerable ripeness. This formula only works because he's growing grapes in some very cold-climate plots close to the sea a bit north of Wine Main Street in California. To me, some of these wines are very good but feel to sleek for maximum enjoyment. But sometimes he hits a nerve in my palate when ultraripe fruit from a very cold spot into a wine that feels like a fresh, spicy, smoky Cote-Rotie - massive if you isolate the fruit and spice flavours only, yet extremely light and elegant in texture. I'm sure these wines will seldom evoke an average responses in the middle of the what-do-you-think-spectrum - either you like this style or you feel something is missing. However, if I understood Pax correctly, there might be a chance he might once again produce a wine in the style of the Obsidian. I guess it has to do if he can lay his hands on that type of vineyard again. I hope so!
In any case, I've got to give it to Bob. I've lost count of how many times I've picked up a bottle on his recommendation and then enjoyed the wine as it has delivered its goods. The very essence why I trust and follow the advice a particular wine critic.