Tasting with Ken of Ala Wine

As I’ve mentioned at least a few times now, Matt and I did some excellent wine tasting with Ken of Ala Wine and his wife while we were in the Sonoma area (which I probably should have been more clear about as I think many people, including Ken, thought we were actually in Sonoma, rather we were staying just outside of Healdsburg). While visiting the in-laws I received an email from Ken inquiring about our schedule and asking if we would like to do some tasting with him and his wife Cori (sorry if I didn’t get the spelling on that right!). I quickly said we would be delighted and thus we headed to their home on Thursday. Sadly, I underestimated the traffic and we were a touch late, but we eventually made it! You can head on over to Ken’s blog to read full details of all the wines we tasted, I’ll just give you some brief tasting notes here.

But first, Ken and Cori are wonderful people and we had the best time with them (and their really active cat, seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cat move that fast!). Their home is lovely and it was so incredibly kind of them to have us over. This was Matt’s first experience in actually talking about wines and writing notes while he tasted, he usually leaves it up to me and will occassionally offer an opinion if I prod him enough, but he enjoyed it and is already talking about getting tasting sheets and hosting a tasting at our house. After we finished tasting Cori suggested we all go grab dinner and we went to a great Italian place where I just had to get fettucini alfredo as we had been talking about how a cream based sauce would be great with one of the wines we tasted and the craving stuck in my head. We got to taste some great wines and meet some interesting new people, all in all a fantastic evening in my book! Thanks again for having us!

Onto the notes:

First up, a 2005 Unionville Vineyards Chardonnay, from New Jersey. Now, I know you must be thinking, Huh? New Jersey? But actually this isn’t the first wine I’ve had from New Jersey as I had a friend in law school in that area and she would frequently bring back wines from various vineyards. The Unionville Chardonnay could best be described as having a damp nose with a slight hint of oak and undertones of lemons. In the mouth there were lemons and pears. It had a short finish, but was smooth with a good mouthfeel. The wine was slightly tart and left a clean feeling in the mouth. We discussed having this wine with an herbed chicken or a pasta with cream sauce and decided it would be really food friendly. It doesn’t appear on their website, but the last 2 vintages were $19.99 a bottle.

Second on the list was a 2004 Cliff Creek Syrah. The nose of this wine was full of dark fruits, specifically black cherries and blueberries with a touch of maple syrup, as odd as that sounds, but it worked and was a very pleasing nose. The wine clocks in at 14.6% alcohol by volume and I can see from their website runs for $35. In the mouth there were black cherries and the wine was fairly smooth but appeared to have tannins that would allow it to age, and hopefully bring out more of the flavors we found in the nose.

Next up was a 2002 Meola Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. On those nose of this one we found oak, black currants and peppers. In the mouth there was a distinct taste of dried fruits, mostly currants and raisins. We all liked this wine, but thought that it would be even better if we decanted, so Ken did so and we went back to it later. After an hour or so decanting, this wine was much better. It had opened up and the powerful impression of dried fruit was gone, as were the peppers, showing a sweet nose with strawberries and more strawberries in the mouth. I would venture to guess you should age this one and it will be an excellent wine in a few years. Looks like the winery is sold out, but it goes for $50 and has 14% alcohol by volume.

Fourth bottle of the evening found us drinking a 2004 EOS Reserve Petite Sirah from Paso Robles. I love Petite Sirah, so I may be biased, but this was my favorite wine of the evening. The wine does not appear on the website, but the 2003 vintage does, which was also a big award winner and goes for $25 a bottle. If that’s the price of the 2004, I say run and get some. On the nose was an enticing aroma of raspberries, plums and pipe tobacco. In the mouth, gobs of raspberries, strawberry jam and a bit of blackberry, plus a note of the tobacco from the nose. The finish was long and very pleasant, overall this was just a lovely wine.

Finally we tried what would be my first ice wine and my first Fingerlakes wine, a 2005 Casa Larga Fiori Delle Stelle Vidal Ice Wine. It appears to cost $25/375 ml and was 11.5% alcohol by volume with 17% residual sugar. I can’t find a website for the winery. On the nose there was peach, honey, apricots, with honey, mandarin oranges (yes, like the ones in the can), pear and green apple to be found in the mouth. The wine was tart, not cloying or palate coating at all. It was well balanced with excellent structure. It really was a dessert in and of itself. I may now be spoiled to all other dessert wines but ice wine.

WBW #33 Languedoc-Roussillon Value Wines

Wine Blogging Wednesday #33 had been announced by our host for this month, Marucs over at Doktor Weingolb. All the details can be found in his post here.

Our task is to pick a value wine, in the $15-$30 range only, from the Southern France region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

Our entries are due on May 16 and Marcus has requested that we simply post in the comment section of his announcement where our reviews are located. Easy enough. He is specifically looking for us to evaluate the cost-to-quality ratio of the wine we drink as the premise of this WBW is that the mid-range bottles are are the best values.

So I guess I will break out of my California zone and head on over to France for this WBW! I’ve already promised Marcus that I WILL play this time, as I had to sit the last WBW out. We’ll have closed on the house by the time this month’s rolls around, so while things will be crazy I am sure we will be drinking plenty of wine to celebrate! Off to the wine store I go!