John Paul Kaminga
Updated: Feb 25, 2022
We have some of the best people visiting us at Craft and Cru. Seriously. I won't go into too much detail here, but long story short, I had my eye on A Natural History of Wine since I'd first read of its publication a few years ago, and under the most heartwarming of circumstances it was gifted to me earlier this year by one of our favorite patrons. I just finished the chapter on phylloxera and the last paragraph deserves reprinting:
In his excellent Dying on the Vine, George Gale, a philosopher of science, makes a point that is of particular relevance in the United States, where in far too many domains we seem to feel that we are not bound by the rules that apply to the rest of the world. He identifies "California exceptionalism" as the single most important influence in the unnecessary phylloxera debacle of the late twentieth century. Gale quotes one University of California, Davis, expert, writing shortly before the tragedy struck, as claiming that "both the climate and soils of California are natural agencies which tend to reduce the dangers of phylloxera." This insouciant attitude was particularly remarkable given the abundant evidence to the contrary supplied by dreadful experiences that had unfolded a bare half-century earlier. Yes, it can happen here. Or anywhere.
Hard not to sit with that for awhile.
On a lighter note, we have something exceptional, from California, that you can count on to be much easier, rather delicious, to swallow: Piedrasassi Santa Barbara County Syrah 'PS' 2018.
Cooler and longer than usual, the 2018 growing season yielded some of the most elegant wines we've ever tasted from California. Sashi Moorman, the inestimable talent behind Piedrassi, has more than two decades of experience working with California Syrah, and he really seems to have developed a magic touch with the grape. His juicy 2018 Santa Barbara Syrah is a wine that everyone who likes a good red should try. One might imagine all New World Syrah as rich and thick, but a new generation of wines is set to prove otherwise, and there's no better example than this refreshing darling from California's Central Coast. At a mere 12.7% alcohol (the label says 13.5%, but it is not accurate), this wine is fully ripe, with effusive fresh berries backed by airy flowers and spice, as well as intoxicating meaty and mineral notes. Dense yet lively, it reverberates on the palate, lingering long and bright. Delicious now, it will also be worth cellaring. If you're not a fan of Syrah, you still need to try this; it will change your mind. If you do like Syrah, don't miss it.
Piedrasassi Santa Barbara County Syrah 'PS' 2018 - $25