Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Enkidu Tasting

I had the pleasure of tasting through six offerings from Enkidu Wine with winemaker Phil Staehle last week. These are small lot wines coming from grapes sourced from Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties. I love everything about this winery - from Staehle's commitment to French oak to the quirky literary names to the dedication to making the best wines from individual lots from small growers.

The first wine we tasted was the only white of the evening. The 2009 Enkidu Tin Cross Chardonnay, Alexander Valley was a beautiful, hypothetical blend of Chablis and Mersault that Staehle is striving for. Mineral, dry pineapple and even a hint of truffle on the nose. In the mouth it features creamy/earthy flavors with high acid and a long, toasty finish with a hint of matchstick. Overall, this is a beautifully restrained, perfectly balanced Chardonnay. No malolactic fermentation. 215 cases made. $28

The 2009 Enkidu Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast is a blend of grapes from four vineyards that sees just 10% new oak. Raspberry, spice and tart cherry aromas and flavors tantalize the nose and palate on this medium-colored, light-bodied Pinot Noir. Strawberry flavors emerge after the wine has had some time to open up in the glass. The acid here is the key to keeping this a very food-friendly rendition of the grape. $28

How many times have I had the 2008 Enkidu Rosso Fazekas, Napa Valley over the past 6 months? I have no idea. But I do know that I've enjoyed it immensely every...single ...time. Dried cherry, spice, licorice, coffee and French oak on the nose and palate. Thick, yet a perfectly balance of high acid, coarse tannin, sweet fruit and alcohol. 86% Sangiovese, 7% Petite Sirah and 7% Syrah. A ridiculous $20

The 2008 Enkidu Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley is aged in 100% French oak (20% new) and gets an infusion of 15% Petite Sirah. Super sweet cherry, vanilla and licorice flavors with huge dusty/coffee ground tannins that promise to reward a few years in the cellar. I always look for licorice and coffee flavors in Sonoma Cabernets and this one has both in spades. $24

Next up was the super peppery 2008 Enkidu Diener Ranch Zinfandel, Lake County. Mocha, French roast coffee, black pepper and French oak run amok with chalky tannins, nice acidity and a long, peppery finish. Co-fermented with 10% Petite Sirah. $23

The final wine of the evening was the 2007 Enkidu Humbaba Rhone Blend, Sonoma County, Lake County and Napa Valley. Whereas the previous wines were mostly driven by fruit and oak flavors, this blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Petite Sirah evokes flavors of France's Rhone Valley with its meaty, oil-cured olive aromas and dried blackberry flavors. Insanely dark with monstrous tannins, aeration brings out the much-coveted garrigue bouquet of sage, rosemary and pine resin found in the great wines from France's Mediterranean coast. $25

These wines are fantastic across the board and represent outstanding value in the very competitive $20-30 range. I look forward to following this winery over the next few years.

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