Friday, April 3, 2009

Tasting Notes: Random Oenophile Selects

Greetings, fellow oenophiles!

I think I might've wasted a good worry yesterday.

Last night, for JavaMonkey's Thursday Wine Series, Jess put together a list from wines that I had rated highly in the past year. I was afraid that a lot of people would turn out for the tasting, and they'd all hate the wines, and then I would be booed and have to slink out of JavaMonkey in disgrace. Of course, none of that actually happened, first because all of six people turned out for the tasting (including me and Hubby), and second because the wines were really good.

I'm trying to figure out why there wasn't a bigger turnout. Maybe the rainy weather had a lot to do with it. That's what I'm going to tell myself, anyway. Or I could blame the economy. Yeah, that's what everyone else is doing, so I'll go with that. Turnout was poor because of the economy, by golly!

Are you as sick of that excuse as I am? Yeah, I thought so. Let's just move on to the wine. Here's the lineup with stories and notes:

Gruet Rose Brut, NV (New Mexico):

Hubby and I are adventurous and want to taste wine in all of the states that grow and make it (no outsourced grape wine from Alaska, pls). New Mexico is definitely on the list of destinations, and I'm glad that this one was on the list.

Gruet is best known for their sparkling wines, which are pretty much what's available here, but I've heard that they have some good stills as well. This wine was somewhat tart with notes of strawberry. It has what I'm looking for in both a rose and sparkling: well-balanced between sweet and dry and something that makes it fun. Even better, it's reasonably priced, too. Okay, and it's pretty.

New Rating: Very Good

2006 Foris Leanne Vineyard Pinot Noir (Rogue Valley, Oregon):

We "discovered" Foris Pinots a few years ago, and since then, we've liked all of the ones we've tried. The distributor didn't have the baseline Pinot, so Jess got this single vineyard one, which is typically a step up. It was a really interesting (in a good way) wine that told a story as it moved over the palate. It had a cranberry nose, and the taste went from anise to spice to cherry to butter. The really neat thing was that it did all that even if I swallowed it quickly. The only thing I didn't like was that there was a little bitterness to it at first, but that smoothed out as it opened.

Rating: Very Good

2008 Campos Reales Tempranillo (La Mancha, Spain):

The only "Old World" wine on the list, this one drinks like a "New World" one. When Hubby and I were in Birmingham one time last year, my father had one of these in his wine stash. We plotted all weekend to get him to open it, which he did for Sunday dinner.

I love this wine. It has a buttery nose, and it's smooth and fruity and buttery on the palate, kind of like currant pie. The dark fruit builds as you sip it. Okay, so it's not the most complex wine in the world, especially not after the Foris, but I'll never turn it down.

Rating: Excellent

2005 Del Rio Vineyards Claret (Rogue Valley, Oregon):

Looking at the blend in this lovely Bordeaux-style wine -- 41% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Malbec -- it's easy to see why I like it so much. It didn't have much of a nose, but it hits the palate full-force with smooth dark cherry and a nice structure. Yum!

Rating: Excellent

2005 Abundance Syrah (Lodi, California):

We visited the tasting room at Abundance during the Wine and Chocolate Festival (and yes, I know I still need to give you all the delicious details of that weekend) and actually got to taste a little bit from a real barrel. Yes, I'm a wine geek -- I found the barrel thing to be really exciting. They had grilled sausages that were really good, too. Unfortunately a bus arrived before we could taste too many wines, and we had to escape the crowds through the side door.

This wine is big and fruity but nicely balanced. It has that overtone that you find with a lot of Lodi wines, just a hint of caramel sweetness on the nose and finish. This one is good on its own or with meat.

Rating: Excellent

2004 C. G. di Arie Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley, California):

Of course an Oenophile Selects tasting would have to end with a Zin, although this was a slightly sneaky blend with 86% Zinfandel (the minimum to label it as a single grape), 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cab Franc, 4.5% Syrah, and 0.5% Mourvedre. Yeah, I'm a bit confused, too.

The wine itself wasn't confused, though, being a berry bomb, as Dan called it. I found it to be a bit more structured than a lot of the really fruity Zins, which made it more interesting. This was also not the baseline product, but a step up, and a nice way to finish the tasting.

Rating: Very Good to Excellent

I'd like to thank Jessica Williams, owner of JavaMonkey and the one who puts the wine tastings together, for doing such a great job. I sent her a long list, and she kept in touch with me during the process of whittling it down according to availability. I really appreciate her persistence, and I'm glad that the first "Oenophile Selects" tasting had sort of a "big ass red" theme.

I hope everyone enjoys the lovely weather this weekend!

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