Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reviews: Tastings, Argentinian wines at Java Monkey, and a truly random tasting

According to Blogger, this is my 50th post! w00t! Thanks to all my loyal readers. You may be quiet, but I know you're out there; I've got software that tells me so. Don't worry, you don't have to go put your aluminum foil hats on, it only tells me numbers, no personal information. And maybe what you're drinking. Hey, you over there! Put down the white zin and slowly walk away. Refer to my notes on pink wines if you really wanna go there.

I'm a little dopey tonight because Hubby and I returned from the beach yesterday, and then today we talked to an accountant, who put the process in motion for me to start my own small business. No, it's not anything to do with wine, but it should make my other life and the job I get paid for more interesting. Hopefully it will also give me more time to blog once I get everything set up.

Between my travels and real-life craziness, I have some catching up to do, so here we go...

As I mentioned in my last post, Hubby and I ended up at Tastings a couple of Saturdays ago with our friends the Vegetarians. It's part of a chain with an interesting concept. You get a glass and load up a card with money, then stick it in machines that have tubes stuck into bottles of wine and attached to dispensing nozzles. It looks like a trendy mad (drunk?) scientist layout, down to the "Enomatic wine serving systems" labels. You can choose a taste, a half glass, or a full glass, and the prices cover a wide range. I did a DIY tasting of some random reds. Here's what I had:

2004 Fife "Redhead Red" Zinfandel (Mendocino): My little sister has a t-shirt that says, "Not only am I perfect, I'm a redhead, too!" This wine needs that t-shirt. It's a fruit bomb, full-bodied and smooth. I think that non-redheads would like it, too.

2005 Antis Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza, Argentina): Dark fruit on the nose and palate with cola. I noted that it's "chewy."

2006 Hahn Estates Meritage (Central Coast, California): A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, this wine has hints of leather, plum, and currant. It had a rough nose that got better as it opened.

2006 "Artezin" (Mendocino): This wine, a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, has aromas of ginger and berry. The notes described "sweet tannins." I got Splenda (TM) aftertaste. Hubby thought it tasted like cough syrup.

Overall, we found Tastings to be fun, maybe a little noisy and crowded. We didn't eat, but the menu looks promising. I think I may sneak over there for lunch one day after I make my job change and am no longer working in an office on Fridays.

Last Thursday's tasting at JavaMonkey took us to Argentina.

The 2007 J.F. Lurton Pinot Gris (Uco Valley) was the favorite of the evening. It has a "steel magnolia" nose (sorry, apparently I was feeling a bit creative that evening with my notes), nice body with lots of fruit and melon, and a floral finish.
Rating: Very Good

The J.F. stands for Jacques and Francois, who are the two sons of the winery owner, I think. The details are a little fuzzy. They also made the second wine, the 2007 J. F. Lurton Torrontes. The Torrontes grape is part of the Muscat family, and it's definitely apparent in the wine with its sweet, floral nose of honeysuckle and jasmine and honeyed taste. Hubby and I found it to be a little bitter on the finish.
Rating: Good
Note: This one, or something similar, has appeared in a blind tasting, courtesy of a devious wine rep from Grapefields. Nobody guessed it correctly.

The third white of the evening was the 2007 Maipe Chardonnay (Mendoza). It is 85% Chardonnay, 15% Viognier, and "slightly oaked." It's mineral at the beginning, then citrus and vanilla, and grapefruit on the finish. If someone had put the first one and this one in front of me without telling me what they were, I would have guessed this to be the Pinot Gris, it was so light.
Rating: Good

Finally, some reds! This next one was the first red we'd had in a JavaMonkey tasting in 6 weeks. Jess, please don't deprive us like that again! Okay, we're far from wine-deprived, but still... Here are the Argentinian reds we tried:

2007 Maipe Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza): This is a beautiful cab with dark fruit, smoke, and leather on the nose. It's smooth with licorice and caramel on the finish. When I asked Hubby what he got for this one, meaning the flavors, he merely replied, "Happy!"
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

2006 Punto Final Malbec (Mendoza): Pepper and cloves at first, opening up to berry, especially blueberry.
Rating: Good

2005 Cueva de las Manos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza): This one is very smooth with dark fruit and chocolate. It made me happy.
Rating: Very Good

And now for something truly random...

Hubby and I joined my parents in Destin this past weekend. We were to meet up with them for a dinner cruise on Saturday but got to the area a little early. Hmmm... How to kill time at the beach? We remembered seeing the Emerald Coast Wine Cellars tasting room before but had never made it when they're open. We stopped in and found that in addition to muscadine, they import grapes from New York and California and make some "real wines" as well. Lorraine was very happy to help us with the free tasting. We didn't try everything on the long list but did have the following:

The Chardonnay is made from grapes sourced from Sonoma County, California. It is steel fermented, but still buttery.
Rating: Good

The Merlot, also from Sonoma grapes, has a super fruity nose but didn't follow up on it. It was light and had an acid bite to it with a little chocolate on the finish.
Rating: Okay

The Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma grapes) has a "relaxed Cab nose" (at the beach, the Cab is perhaps too relaxed to jump out of the glass and smack you), and is more medium-bodied with that strange acid bite in the middle, but with a nice finish.
Rating: Good

Our curiosity satisfied about the dry wines, we moved on to the sweeter wines:

Noble Muscadine: smelled like grape juice and had the "funky muscadine" finish
Rating: Okay

Sugar Sands White (Niagara grapes): smelled like muscadine skins, but had flavors of honey and peach
Rating: Good

Sunset Red (Concord grapes from New York): Smelled and tasted like grown-up Welch's juice without the syrupy texture. Supposedly very good in Sangria, it would be one of those sneaky ones that makes you tipsy before you realize it.
Rating: Very Good

And then it was time for dessert:

Sherry (Carlos grapes, fortified with Brandy, aged in whiskey barrels): Teriyaki sauce nose, but good. Hubby noted that it "tasted like Sherry" but wasn't too sweet.
Rating: Very Good

Chocolate Port (Noble grapes fortified and aged in oak barrel, then bottled with cocoa beans): This is liquer-filled chocolates in a bottle.
Rating: Very Good

Spumante (grapes from Niagara region of New York): Mild and creamy, off-dry.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

We came home with bottles of the Chocolate Port and the Spumante and the knowledge that we are one state closer to our goal of tasting wine in all of the states that make it.

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