Archive for December, 2005

Tasting: Sparkling/Champagne

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Here is the skinny on a few pink bubblies just in time for your New Years madness. Generally we agreed that rating sparkling is not the easiest thing to accomplish because the CO2 can impact perception of certain flavors. Nevertheless the quality parameters we looked for were not that different from still wine: complexity, balance, mouthfeel, and length.

On the other hand, another way to rate sparkling wine is to determine, as JD put it, whether or not this is a wine that one will be able to score with. Even Korbel has recognized how sparkling wine may impact and enhance then end of your romantic evening. On the Food Network they are running an ad laden with sexual overtones as the woman magically transforms once generic emmasculated male pops open a bottle of Korbel Brut. As Honore de Balzac has said, “great love affairs start with Champagne…” Thus the two reviews below reflect the two reveiw methods used by various members of the group (Avg scor; low and high). Happy New year!

Roederer Estate, Brut Rose, ~$26 (Avg: 6.5; 4 and 9). A very nice wine with wonderful crisp acidity, bright clean citrus and strawberry flavors. Fruity, bubbly, and well balanced. This wine reminded me of golden pancakes topped with strawberries, butter, and whipped cream. Yum!

Gloria Ferrer, Blanc de Noirs, Sonoma, ~$20 (Avg: 6; 4 and 8 ). Not my favorite, but most agreed that this was a good scoring wine. Approachable, inexpensive. I think the score is a little inflated.

J Brut Rose, $30 (Avg: 6; 4 and 8 ). Charles Ellner, Champagne Epernay Brut Rose, $33 (Avg: 5.5; 4 and 8 ). Gruet Rose, Brut, Albequerque NM, $15 (Avg: 5; 3 and 7). Comte Audoin de Dampierre, Champagne, $40 (Avg: 4.5; 4 and 8 ).


Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

The Red Wine Haiku Review is a fun blog. What does it really tell us about rating wine? Here are a few gems:

127)’The Fifteen’ (15% alcohol) Grenache 2001 (France)
Frankenstein grenache
Amped up like a crackhead Rhone
Two percent too high

125)Frei Brothers Redwood Creek Syrah 2002 (California)
Like a candy cane
That fell into the toilet
Gross, but kinda fun

Winemaker to Watch

Friday, December 16th, 2005

Come on ride that train, Choo Choo. Our good ole mate Diane Choo is already getting great press in addition to building a fantastic resume. Based on the quality experiences she has been receiving, and the quality person she is, I’ll say right now that we should keep our eye out for Choo Choo. We expect superb wines Diane!! Enjoy Craggy, it is a beautiful winery.

Tastings: bordeaux varietals

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

I really wish I could come up with some creative, witty description to introduce this tasting and describe the wines. However, deep down I am a scientifically bent, somewhat uncreative winemaker, not an arts and humanities bent ‘channeling my creativity’ winemaker. Yes we could debate the merits of both and how they would impact the quality of my wines, and yes…arts and humanities bent people would be wrong…except lawyers. No, instead I give you the number crunching of a slightly above average but disappointing tasting (though I personally enjoyed several wines). I’ll describe a couple and list the average scores (from 1-10) in addition to the low and high score for each wine.

Havens, Reserve Merlot Napa Valley, Carneros, 2000, ~35$ (Avg: 6; 4 & 8 ). I am going with GB on this one. Many of us detected aged character on this wine, ~ early 1990s. Well, you can see it is a 2000. Personally, I tried not to fault it for age because the flavors of soy, leather, and cola were mixed nicely with cassis and chocolate, and the mouthfeel was concentrated and seamless with a long finish. GB has had the wine before and swears it is all the good and none of the bad normally…we’ll trust him.

Columbia Winery, Reserve Merlot, 2001 ~20$ (Avg: 6, 4 & 8 ) . Perhaps the real winner because of the pricetag. Lean bright fruit, a little aritifical. Good amount of tannin, slightly overripe in mouth with a decent finish.

HdV Wines, Proprietary Red, Carneros 60$ (Avg: 6.5; 5 &7). Pellegrini, Alexander Valley Merlot, ‘Cloverdale Ranch’, 2003 ~22$ (Avg: 6; 4 & 8 ). Sebastiani, Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 ~15$ (Avg: 5.5; 4 & 8, WS:90, WE:84). Padthaway, Henry’s Drive, Australia Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 ~ 38$ (avg: 5.5; 4 & 8 ). Pahlmeyer, Napa Valley Merlot, 2003 ~90$ (Avg: 5.5; 3 & 9, very ripe wine). Columbia Crest, Columbia Valley Merlot ‘2 Vines’, 2001 ~ 8$ (Avg: 4; 3 & 5).

Enology: 2005 Yummy adolescence

Monday, December 12th, 2005

In a word, junior high is best summarized as awkward. Even the hot, developmentally advanced popular girl and the big dude that can grow a beard by the end of the day seem out of place amongst sheepish youngsters who always look ashamed as if each momrning they wake up with mixed feelings about last night’s erotic dream. The is a wonderful analogy of where the wines are currently. The great thing is that perhaps much like great parents might indicate the future quality of the awkward youngster, wonderful fruit and a superb vintage is giving us confidence in the outcome of our adolescent wines.

Most of our blocks have now been sulfured, and are improving by the week. Others, still in malolactic, are trying to hide their beauty between buttery lactic flavors and reduction. Nevertheless, we are confident in the wines this year. The Chardonnay is uber concentrated, silky, and the increase in new oak this vintage is integrating seamelessly. The reds are equally dense, with a bit more structure this year, slightly greater acidity and less alcohol. My kind of wine. Reserve some space in your cellar for ‘05, it is going to be a winner as long as we don’t screw it up!

Tasting: Critics

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

After recent discussions regarding the wine rating system of a member of the tasting group, I found this aritcle and couldn’t help but pass on the gossip. I don’t think our group spats have ever been elevated to this degree of name calling and whining.

As I have implied in previous tasting notes, I am inclined to side with the score of the competitions because multiple people are scoring a single wine. However, Parker does make a interesting point about the inherent bias in using people within the industry to judge the wines of said industry (in this case Australian). Is there another beverage out there that can inflame such passions? Oh how I love wine.