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J. Bookwalter Subplot No. 23 Release

2009 April 25


One of the few winery clubs I belong to is John Bookwalter’s Book Club. I like the wines that John produces and they’ve really improved over the years, but mostly I think John is just a truly nice guy who happens to be a winemaker. I wouldn’t expect him to remember Sheri and me from 3 or 4 years ago when we attended a winemaker dinner with him and his wife, Gretchen, but I just named the venue and he placed my face to the event. Not bad for a guy who meets over 7,000 people each year.

20091198Last night was the release party for the J. Bookwalter Subplot No. 23 non-vintage red wine and think they threw a great little party over at their Woodinville Wine Studio. They served barbecued pulled pork sandwiches with blue cheese and bacon slaw, Cajun-spiced shrimp with avocado in a wonton shell, mini chocolate torts, barbecued meatballs, salamis, cheeses and, of course, plenty of their wine. They were pouring all their white wines, the 2008 Tercet, 2008 Couplet, 2008 Anecdote along with the newly released Subplot No. 23 red wine. But knowing the winemaker afforded us the privilege of sampling one wine not being poured to everyone else last night, the 2007 Antagonist Syrah, of which I have two bottles at home. But first, the star of the evening.

J. Bookwalter Subplot No. 23 – Deep garnet in color with complex sweet aromas of molasses, violet and autumn leaves. It bursts onto the palate with ripe cherry, mellowing to plums and blueberry. The finish is a bit spicy with a hint of chocolate. It was pleasantly balanced with great structure. It opened up more after a few minutes in the glass but I think it could do with a few months to a year of cellaring. I give this release 90 points. I think this release will even be better than the Subplot No. 22.

2007 Antagonist Syrah Elephant Mt. Vineyard – Inky purple in color. It needed time to open up since John popped open this bottle just for us. After some time and lots of swirling, it offered up aromas of black fruit, blackberry jam and mocha. I think this wine needs another year before I even open one of my own. The black fruit flavors were almost overwhelmed by the oak in this wine. It will take some time before the oak becomes well integrated—possibly a year or two—but when it does, this will be a very interesting Syrah. The finish is long and smooth with some black pepper and spice. This Syrah has backbone and the tannins are under control. I believe patience will be rewarded and reserve my judgment for another time.

I offer my thanks to John for opening up a bottle of the 2007 Antagonist so prematurely, but that saved me from opening one of my own. The kind act of a true gentleman. If your friends and relatives ever get tired of your overnight visits, you’re welcome to stay at our house anytime.

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