Mystery Solved

Dark clear brilliant amber with no sediment. Near-perfect cork. Purchased new at winery and in my cellars ever since. I say “cellars” because I have moved 8? times since buying these bottles. Big oily smoky nose, heady stew and amontillado nuttiness–almost peanut-butter wraps itself around the candied ripe fruit drizzled with baking spices. Gorgeous deep marzipan and paper-wrapped honey, the whole thing smelling ridiculously if age, but clean and direct with no fatigue.

Short version is: Winery takes delivery of new budwood or plants to plant from large nursery as “Roussanne”. After a few years the winemaker–in this case the late Tim Spencer–starts having reservations about the exact variety based on variables he is noticing in the plant structure and fruit. In the meantime, it makes beautiful wine, winning several decent awards and is a popular sale. Winery notifies authorities of varietal discrepancies and is ordered to stop sales based on mis-labeling. Wine is re-labeled “Le Mystere” with the assumed varietal composition and is allowed to sell out. This was a beautiful wine young, and this bottle is a 20YO testament to that. Hopefully we can say the same thing about Paso Graciano in 20 years.

Tasting it produces a far lighter mouth-feel than anticipated. Still grittily acidified, cantaloupe, peach, elderberry syrup and cassis flow seamlessly into the throat, bitter verve kicking about, reflecting almost-tannic properties. All your velvet-theatre-seat and wet-linen goals are met here, and the bombastic pure decadence of the late-middle and finish are an absolute delight. Not sparkly delightful, but pure disgustingly-rich elegant delightfulness–a SERIOUS mouthful, still rife with structure and perfectly balanced.

This is not a wine I would want to drink every day, but oh man is is a golden step back into what white wine can really do.

2000 ST. AMANT ‘Le Mystere’ Viog/Rous 78/22 Amador Co. Sierra Foothills California 14.5

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