Another Grand Tasting

On the second day of the Wine Blogger Conference, we attended a few sessions at various wineries including the one I told you about at Cuvaison. Mid-afternoon we headed to Quintessa for the Napa Grand Tasting. This event happened in the tank room at Quintessa, with wineries lining up between each row of tanks. I barely made it through the first row…I like to actually talk to people about the wines rather than a quick sip and spit and moved on.  I heard I missed lots of other good wines, but that’s ok, I enjoyed the ones I did taste and I liked talking to the people from the various wineries. I also didn’t really get any pictures….it was crowded and I already had a notebook, pen, informational materials, and my glass in my hands. I only have 4 hands at times it seems!

2007 Quintessa Illumination:nutty, lemon, melon, citrus, tart, herbs, grass, little green pepper, white pepper.

2006 Elizabeth Spencer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry, black plum, black berries, pepper, flowers, spice, tannins, vanilla, licorice.

2006 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry tart, spice, leather, pepper, meaty, vanilla cream, black plums, blackberry, spice.

2006 Duckhorn Napa Merlot: Spicy, black pepper, black plums, tart cherry fruit, acidity, nice fruit.

2006 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon: Black fruit, earth, tight, leather, vanilla, spice, tart fruit.

1996 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon: Brick red. Dirt, earth, spicy, anise, pepper, peppers, red fruit, raspberries, still nice structure with some tannins left.

2005 Conn Creek Anthology: Cabernet Sauvignon heavy blend with Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc rounding it out. Spicy black fruit, peppery, lots of pepper, peppers, chocolate, nice smooth integrated fruit, blackberry, black plum.

2005 Clark Claudon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Nice creamy black nose, black cherries, blackberries, spice, roses, flowers, licorice, really nice fruit.

2006 Charnu Cabernet Sauvignon: Spicy, coffee, blackberry, fruit, anise, dusty milk chocolate, herbs, really smooth and well integrated, chewy tannins on the finish with a hint of red berries.

2006 Diamond Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon: Lots of milk chocolate, black cherry, blackberries, espresso, black licorice, black currants, pepper, nice fruit.

2006 Gargiulo Cabernet Sauvignon: Pepper, dark chocolate, black fruit, violets, spice, tart, long finish, tight, brigh blackberry, red fruit on the finish, anise, herbs.

2006 Grigich Hills Chardonnay: Pear peach, stone fruit, spice, vanilla, spice, peach, tart fruit, nice finish.

2006 Quintessa Cabernet Blend Napa Valley Red Wine: spicy, red fruit, plum, red berries, tannins, smooth finish.

All in all, a nice tasting….I just needed another hour or two to even make a dent in the wines available. Ah well, just an excuse for me to go back to Napa and taste around a bit more. I only managed to get two tables into the second row of wineries, though I did get through the whole first row. Some folks seemed to jump around the room but it seemed less efficient to me to do that than to just move up and down the rows. Thanks to the Napa Valley Vintners for hosting us! It looked like there were some nice food displats too, but who has time to eat when there’s wine to be tasted? 🙂

High Rollers

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Sort This Out Cellars

On my weekend of wine disasters, I had two successes…the J. Keverson Zinfandel and the 2007 Sort This Out Cellars Zin City Old Vine Zinfandel Rollers Reserve.  Apparently I should have just stuck with Zinfandel all weekend and I wouldn’t have had to dump anything! The Rollers Reserve Zin clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for around $34. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the wines from Sort This Out Cellars so far…I have a couple more hanging around the basement yet to try too!

On the nose I got cedar, pepper, smoke, spice, black cherry, cranberry, and brown sugar.  In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, pepper, tart fruit, cranberry, pomegranate, and milk chocolate. Overall, the wine had nice structure and acidity, with some tannins on the back palate holding it altogether.  This is the second Zin in a row I’ve had that’s shown more red fruit and is more restrained than jammy or in your face. I’m digging it!

Goldilocks Finds Her Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from J. Keverson Wines.

This one is too small, this one is too big, this one is just right! After opening 5 bottles of wine and finding none to my liking, I gave up on whites and Rosés and decided a Zinfandel would do the trick. Zin almost always puts me in a better mood since it’s one of my favorite grapes…so I pulled a bottle from the sample pack that J. Keverson sent and I wasn’t disappointed!  The wine was the 2006 J. Keverson Hales Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel.  It clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for $30.

On the nose I found cedar cranberry, pepper, smoke, boysenberry, pomegranate, chocolate, red fruit, and cherry. Loved the nose!  The wine followed through in the mouth showing tons of red fruit.  I got cherry, cranberry, red raspberry, pomegranate, cedar, and juicy red fruit.  Overall, the wine was smooth with nice acidity. It’s a light bodied Zin, so if you are looking for a restrained Zin with lots of red fruit that would be great with your pizza, this one is for you!

A Bad Week for Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Pasternak Wine Imports.

I did not like this wine. At all. In one weekend I opened 6 bottles of wine and dumped 5 of them.  1 was corked, 1 was cooked, and 3 were just not good.  I pulled the 2007 Le Jaja de Jau Syrah from the sample pile. I popped it open, without much thought…it’s a Syrah, no thought required right? I started tasting it…I didn’t like it. So I read the label…it suggested serving the wine well chilled. By now, I’m going….really…you want me to chill a Syrah? Seriously? Being ever game when it comes to wine, I shrugged my shoulders and stuck it in the fridge…I thought maybe that would help it.  I’d suggest not chilling it.  It didn’t help…actually I think it hurt it even more.  I got sweet plums, sweet black berry, oak, vanilla, cream and licorice. In the mouth, I found the wine to be overly acidic and astringent with pomegranate, red fruit, and red cherries.  Chilling it didn’t help with the acidity or astringent flavors…it just muted the whole thing.  NMS.

Boring Wine

This is one of those wines I talked about last week that landed me in boring wine land. Boring wine land seems to me the wino’s equivalent of purgatory—being stuck drinking wines that make you think “meh” instead of making you want to dive into the glass and swim around or at least appreciate the wine for being a good value or some such feeling that’s not just “meh.” I find that around the $10-$15 price point there’s a lot of “meh” wine, but there are gems too and that’s what makes me keep plugging away, looking for that inspiring great value well made $10 wine. Of course, I might just be searching for the Holy Grail, but a wino’s gotta dream, right?

I picked up the Riondo Pink Prosecco at the Madison Wine Exchange. I think it cost about $13, weighed in at 10% alcohol by volume, and had a cork closure. Earlier this year I’d tried the Riondo Prosecco and found it to be pretty good especially given you could buy it for $10. So I pretty much expected a decent inexpensive bubbly…nothing to ponder too long, but at least something worth drinking.  While I loved the color on the wine, I found the nose to be waxy, with strawberry and candy and nothing else.  It had extremely tiny bubbles and not in the good these bubbles are tiny and there are lots of them kind of way…in the, these are tiny bubbles and there are hardly any of them kind of way. In the mouth, the wine was overly sweet, with not enough bubbles, some candied strawberry and pomegranate.  I ended up thinking it wasn’t worth the calories so I dumped it.

Grapes Go Marching One By One

We are into the home stretch for our Century Club application! This bottle marks grape 99!! I’ve been monitoring what grapes we’ve been tasting for the last two years or so, but have rarely gone out of my way to pick up lots of new ones, a few here, a few there, and it has all added up, When my dad offered to buy some wine while we were visiting in CT, I thought, why not, let’s go for some ones we haven’t tried and attempt to finish the Century Club, we were only 6 grapes away anyway!  Tonight, we opened the 2007 Vigna a Solatio Vernaccia di San Gimignano. That’s a mouthful. It’s made of the Vernaccia grape, hails from Italy, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. We got it at the Madison Wine Exchange and I think it ran about $14.99.

On the nose I found meyer lemon, spice, citrus, light orange, apple, peach, and white pepper.  In the mouth I got peach, stone fruit, citrus, lime, wet stone, and spice.  Overall I’d call this wine crisp and racy with nice acidity.  It reminded a bit of a Sauvignon Blanc, but without any of the grapefruit or grass characteristics.  Would probably be good with some light white fish seafood dish, though we just enjoyed it on a hot afternoon.

It’s Chocolate. It’s Wine. It’s Chocolate Wine!

This is an interesting wine. We bought it for my dad at Trentaude Winery a few years ago. He let it sit around for a few years since we bought it and opened it when we were visiting a couple weeks ago. The wine is the Trentadue Chocolate Amore port style wine.  It has a real cork closure, clocks in at 18.5% alcohol, and cost us $20. The wine has 8% residual sugar so it’s pretty sweet and is made of Merlot grapes with a tiny bit of chocolate infused into it.

So it tastes and smells like dark chocolate syrup.  There’s some red fruit and blackberries lurking that must come from the Merlot with some dark chocolate and baking chocolate there too.  In the mouth, it’s all chocolate and blackberries. Matt really likes this wine, it’s a touch too sweet for me, but it is what it is.