Wednesday night opened the 1999 Blancaneaux from Francis Ford Coppola. The sister wine to the Rubicon, it is a blend of Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier with a bit of chardonnay thrown in. He makes 300 cases of this wine. Upon opening it I found it immediately a bit tight and closed down. A fair amount of oak, but as the wine opened throughout the next hour the layers of tropical fruit, honey and the wine’s nectar like mouth feel with great weight and depth. It won’t keep me from the great Condrieu’s or white Chateauneuf du Pape’s, but the wine was extremely enjoyable especially with my warm lobster salad appetizer. A pleasant suprise. 90 points.

About the name Blancaneaux? Well, it’s also the name of the luxury jungle retreat Coppola owns in Belize.

After the Blancaneaux, we dove into the 1999 Lewis Syrah. Seductive, slightly sweet with tinges of cinamin, all spice and big bowels of cherries yet with a nice simple earthy backbone. The more I taste this Lewis Syrah, the more I am a big fan. I’ve got to think that for a Napa Syrah, there must be some cabernet thrown in to give it the unctuous texture and long finish. 91 points.

The wine of the night for me was the 1996 Shafer Hillside Select. I have found the Napa cabs from this vintage to be more rustic than its bookend years of ’95 and ’97. And this wine is one of the few in California that is 100% cabernet. The wine had a deep rich nose showing graphite and pencil lead around a huge core of black currant, cassis and black cherry. Shafer never ceases to amaze me with this gorgeous effort from Stags Leap District. The tannins were firm yet sweet and the wine is simply huge but very enjoyable. 97 points.

Direct Wine Shipping. Finally?
If there is nothing more insane than state laws the prevent the shipment of wines to end-user customers direct from wineries or specialty wine retailers including those on the internet. There are 28 states that prohibit (ie. a crime punishable by jail and/or fine) customers from having wine shipped to their homes. And for years California wineries and the Wine Institute have been lobbying both state and federal governments to allow direct shipment of wines. But the large alcohol distributors whose legacy combined with its strong lobbies has been no match. Other organizations including Free The Grapes continue to bring awareness to this silly law. As a result, there has been some progress to allow the wine consumer the simple convenience of ordering and receving wines in the comfort of their own home. But today congress and senate have approved “the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act which allows wine, purchased while visiting a winery, to be shipped to another state, provided the purchaser in accordance with state law, could carry the wine into the state to which the wine is shipped.” The provision is in effect during any period that the Federal Aviation Administration has restrictions on airline passengers to ensure safety. Congress adopted this provision as a result of heightened airline security. It is now on Bush’s desk waiting for his signature. limited direct shipment of wine. Wine Spectator reports on it here.