August 10, 2009

The Best California Wines You're Not Drinking--Edmunds St. John

I decided to post about one of my favorite wineries after enjoying another stunning $15 botttle wine from them this past weekend. I hesitate to post, I don't actually want to turn you on to them and jeopardize my ability to get more.

Edmunds St John wines are the brainchild of Steve Edmunds, who started the winery with his wife, Cornelia St. John in 1985. Steve's wines are brilliant examples of, in Steve words, a place and a time. They are decidedly old-world wines, they speak of the earth, the best grapes, and non-interventionist winemaking. Many of Steve's red wines, like the Syrahs from Durrell and Wylie-Fenaughty Vineyards, are built for the long haul, often rewarding drinkers after 12-15 years of cellaring. A 2000 Wylie-Fenaughty opened this spring is just starting to strut its stuff.

This weekend I opened a 2005 Edmunds St. John Rocks and Gravel, a red rhone blend composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre. It's a fantastic bottle of wine for the $16 I paid for it. Full of smoke and meat, pure red and blue fruit, with slate and spice. If I had to drink only this wine for the rest of my life I could probably be happy. That about says it all. I didn't see God, I didn't shit my pants, I just drank a damn good $15 bottle of wine!

You need to poke around for Steve's wine, he has limited distribution, and as a nearly one-man operation, a rather byzantine website. Nonetheless, ESJ wines are readily available and highly recommended.

A quote from Steve:

As a winemaker, I've deliberately chosen not to court the market, i.e., the commercial context out of which so much modern wine is being formulated. Our wines may or may not receive the highest numerical ratings bestowed by the most popular wine journals. At the moment when the wine is in the glass, and the glass is placed before the taster, the numbers are meaningless; if I can offer someone a wine that is thrilling to smell, that is unforgettable to taste, that taster, being only human, cannot help but respond. If that response is forthcoming, I will have done my job.

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