Tasting with Best Cellars

I seem to have picked up a bug yesterday and am currently in my pjs on my couch, sitting up for the first time today and eating some ice chips…yum, ice chips. Basically, it means I had no wine last night (or really nothing at all, yum, ice chips….) and I will not be imbibing tonight either. Instead, I have a report on a tasting we attended a few weeks ago (part of my backlog of posts) with Best Cellars in Dupont Circle. It was organized by my college’s alumni club and cost us $30 for the evening for lots of yummy appetizers and 6 wines. A little pricey, but all the profit goes to the scholarship fund, so at least it’s a good cause.

We were presented with 3 white, 2 reds and a port to taste. It was done very nicely, with a new glass for each wine, the server explaining all the wines and asnwering questions that the participants had.

First up was a Botter “Spago’ Prosecco from Veneto, Italy. The bottle cost $11, is 11% alcohol by volume and is non-vintage. On the nose, it was sweet and fruity with a distinct scent of almond paste, plus a little honey. In the mouth it was very slightly fizzy, light and slightly slight, but with a nice crisp note to keep it in line. In the taste I got fizzy peaches and apricots. A good value.

Second was a 2005 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc from Napa. The bottle cost $15, is 13.5% alcohol by volume and has a screwcap closure. On the nose, this one showed grassy herbs and a tiny bit of apple. I was surprised when I sipped it and got a large amount of pear in the mouth, with a bit of apple and finishing with big grapefruit. Overall, this one had a very good structure and acidity. It’s exactly what I wanted with my crab the other night when I got an oaked sauvignon blanc instead.

Third up was a Crisol Torrontes from Mendoza, Argentina. The bottle cost $9. This wine showed honey, sharp white flowers (I’m not really sure what I meant by that) and passion fruit on the nose. In the mouth, there was a slightly sour note, but the rest of the flavor was all crisp green apples. At $9 this was a great value, I would definitely get it again.

Next we moved to the reds. First up was a 2005 Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir from Pays d’Oc, France (I didn’t get a chance to look at this bottle, but I was under the impression that the French didn’t name their wines by the grape….am I totally wrong?). This one was $12, was 13% alcohol by volume and had a screwcap. An odd fact about this one is that it is stainless steel fermented. The wine was ruby red in the glass, with a nose of raisins and black currants. In the mouth, I got more of the currants, plus a little earth. This one was a bit mouth drying, though smooth until the end and showing some cherries. My overall impression was “eh.”

Second for the reds was a 2006 Altos las Hormigas Malbec Reserva, again from Mendoza, Argentina. This one cost $13 and was 14.3% alcohol by volume. I got alcohol and plastic on the nose of this one, with a little spice. After that cleared, I got raspberries, cedar and black currants. In the mouth, some currants, and not much else. This was my least favorite of the evening.

Finally, we had a Ramos Pinto Tawny Port from Douro Valley, Portugal. This wine cost $15 and is 19.5% alcohol by volume. This wine smelled sweet and had alcohol on the nose. I also got some dark fruit on the nose. In the mouth, this was really full of alcohol, but I also managed to discern dried raisins, dried currants and dark fruits. Overall I thought it tasted like Robitussin cough syrup. But I’ll admit I’m not a big port drinker, so I don’t really know what makes a good port.

Altogether, a very nice evening and I’m glad we attended. I also really enjoyed some of the whites and the price was right for everyday wines. When I am in need again I will be seeking out the 2 whites I really liked, as I thought they were very good values.

5 Responses

  1. If you want to try a really awesome Argentinian Malbec, you should look for a bottle of Tikal or El Felino. The Tikal Patriota is a Bonarda/Malbec blend that knocks my socks off every time. The El Felino was delicious a week or two ago in Phoenix…I assume it would be good in VA. *)

    Get well soon!

  2. sounds like fun. the Joel Gott sauv blanc I’ve tried, I found it a bit too citrusy for my taste (maybe I wasn’t having it w the right food!)

  3. Thanks huevos. I’ve been looking to try a Malbec, as that in the tasting has been my only one and I wasn’t such a fan!

    Cookingchat-I’m really a fan of the citrusy sauvignon blancs, so it worked well for me, though I can see how it would be overpowering if you aren’t a fan of that style.

  4. Hope you’re feeling better Sonadora.

    I’ve got heaps on the Vin de pays of France on my site if you are interested. Sometimes it’s the grape used in these wines that forces them to adopt “pays” status instead of an AOC appellation, like AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape or AOC Minervois, for instance. Whether that is the case or not, the majority are blended wines (my last post excluded!), and like many French blends, are not described in terms of grape variety. (Also worth mentioning: low-end Midi wines generally are unoaked; the next level of reserve wines at around $20 tend to be oak barreled.)

    By the way, I had some fantastic vintage Port over the past week. A whole different ball game than Tawny or Late Vintage Port… worth the price and the wait. Croft Quinta do Roeda 1997 for example. Totally unbelieveable stuff!

  5. Thanks Marcus. I am finally feeling better today, phew, that took a while. I will head on over to your page and check out your info now that I can stand to look at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time.

    I should raid my father’s stash, in addition to his beer, he’s a big port drinker. In fact, we brought him back some Zinfandel Port from California this summer as a souvenier and as something different.

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