Report on the Susie Selby wine dinner - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 06-20-2005 04:28 PM

Great evening!
Ashley's menu consisted of North Carolina lump crabmeat salad with fried green tomatoes and creamy verjus (whatever verjus is--literal French translation might be towards juice) with 2003 Monkey Business Sauvignon Blanc

lamb carpaccio with Barnier olive relish and Sinolea olive oil with 2003 Russian River Pinot Noir and 2001 Dry Creek Zinfandel

Niman ranch pork in three preparations--roasted tenderloin, braised shoulder and carmelized ribs with 2001 Sonoma Merlot and 2001 Alexander valley Cabernet Sauvignon

El Rey bittersweet chocolate tart with fresh local berries with 2000 Alexander Valley Syrah

Susie Selby was charming and enthusiastic.
She grew up drinking French wines at home and says she has more a French palate so her wines aren't typical California wines. She knows the importance of the grapes and while she doesn't own any vineyards, she spends significantly more time in the vineyards than in the cellar, advising and working with her grape growing sources. She produces about 12,000 cases a year and her wines are in about 20 markets. She's originally a Texan and still rides horseback through the vineyards. She was also very gracious when I commented that I hoped to visit Sonoma and her winery in 2006. She gave me her e-mail and phone number and told me to contact her before my visit.

My end of the table included a pharmaceutical researcher new to Raleigh, a pharmaceutical salesman (competing company), and his date who works for Nortel.

The Monkey Business name of the Sauvignon Blanc was Susie making light of herself. She says any monkey can crush grapes so she has a line of less serious wines with that label. This Sonoma S.B. tastes like it was kept in stainless steel, not wood, all to the good IMO. I liked it but wasn't ready to go purchase it.

The 2003 Selby Russian River Chardonnay was a big hit at my table and others. Medium gold color. I was surprised by the depth of color and by the fullness on the palate.
Nice nose of appleskin. Sourced from four different vineyards. Light, spicy note. Buttery (reminiscent of popcorn), yet not flabby--more Burgundian possibly? (well, not really but not usual Cali Chard either).
Maybe some lemon and apple and pineapple to mingle with the butter. Luscious and smooth and lots of mouth presence.
Susie Selby's chardonnay has found a fan in Robert Redford. He bought her total 2002 vintage for Sundance Festival. (When she got the phone call, she thought it was one of her friends pulling a prank.)

2003 Selby Russian River Pinot Noir (her favorite Pinot Noir vintage to date and she did mention how Pinot Noir is such a finicky grape and has to be gentled throught the winemaking process)
(Tip: She says her '04 Pinot Noir from French clones may be the best wine she's ever made--I may have to get on the mailing list for that one)
The '03 was viscous, with legs running down the sides of the glass. Raspberry nose with some dark berries. After aeration and swirling--a light touch of prune (but not offensive). I liked this and ordered three bottles at $24.99 each ($19.99 by the case)

2001 Selby Dry Creek Zinfandel
Didn't taste harsh on the finish as I recalled from the tasting at the Carolina Wine Company. I wouldn't go out to purchase this one but liked it better than on my first try and thought it complemented the raw lamb dish.

2001 Selby Sonoma Merlot (the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon both have a little Cabernet Franc and Malbec in the blend)
California Merlot is not a favorite with me (although I like some left bank Bordeaux wines) so I didn't take notes on it.

2001 Selby Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Another big hit at my table.
Soft tannins. Very approachable now. Red and black currants on nose and palate. Pretty smooth drinking. Short to medium finish but overall very nice. I would rate 89 points.

2000 Alexander Valley Syrah Dark and opaque. Syrah nose and flavors but I thought the spice was more subdued than in the Chardonnay! I had heard good things about her Syrah but may have been unable to judge it at that stage of the evening.

I thought the Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon were worth seeking out and the Chardonnay was unusually appealing for someone who doesn't like many Cal Chards.

The food was delicious! The pork was marinated in a brine for hours and was so flavorful and tender (falling off the bone).
I cleaned my plate except for one or two bites of pork and a bit of the chocolate tart.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 06-21-2005).]