Tag Archives: wine tasting

I Swear I’m Not a Blog Slacker! (Read about this wine tasting instead…)

I’m really not trying to be MIA on the blog, but I was in PARIS last week – yippeeeee!!!  It was so much fun, it will definitely have to take up one or more posts in the coming weeks.  The more pertinent problem is that when I updated my iPhone operating system to 7, it was no longer compatible with this old MacBook I’m rocking.  Which meant that I am either emailing myself photos off the phone, or downloading them to our PC, putting them on a zip drive and then downloading them onto the Mac.  Which makes me feel overwhelmed, and then I procrastinate.  Ugh.

But not to fear, I have an appointment with the Geek Squad at Best Buy tomorrow to update this Mac’s operating system, mainly so I can easily download my phone pics once again.  So today will be spent backing up…fun times 🙂

To entertain you until I can find time to download the mass quantities of photos from the trip (and some other local outings), please go over to my friend TheWineGetter’s blog to read about a wine tasting he held that I attended a few weeks ago.  We sipped Chardonnays, Gewuerztraminers and Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region of NY.  TheWineGetter is often invited to participate in these Twitter wine tastings, and so in doing, various wineries or marketing regions (as in the case of the Finger Lakes) ask him to taste a bunch of wines so that he can comment during the live online chat.

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Some friends gathered at his apartment with cheese, meats and breads to sit around and discuss wine prior to 9, when he had to jump onto Twitter to chat.  He hasn’t (yet?) posted his thoughts on the wines, but he did post some pre-tasting interesting info on the Finger Lakes region, etc.

The wines were all quite unique, and I had a blast sharing ideas with people who have a keen appreciation for wine and its subtleties – I really learned a lot – which you know I always appreciate!

Okay, so apologies for not a lot a personal content….but off to TheWineGetter!

Wine Tasting Wednesday: California Bottles

Mark and I brought home about 12 bottles of wine from our Napa Valley trip in October.  Since we don’t drink wine on a daily basis or a lot at one time, we do a lot of skipping around and trying new things rather than sticking to one excellent grape/vineyard/region (although see my post on pinot noir which also factors in my love of pinot grigio).  So we ended up with a 12 bottle hodge podge of things we tried an liked on the vacation.

Some of these bottles will need some aging, but there were a few that I felt comfortable opening sooner rather than later, knowing I might be foregoing better tastes ahead.  Two of these were Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc (2009) and Sofia Rose by Francis Ford Coppola (2012):  (Side note: I don’t know how to do accents on this Mac, so forgive my spelling of Rose, which is actually pronounced rose-ay.)

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1. Chimney Rock – Elevage Blanc, Napa Valley, 2009 (Estate Grown): This white blend is 59% Sauvignon Blanc and 41% Sauvignon Gris and is quite smooth.  My initial smells were of honeysuckle and grapefruit and the taste was of vanilla and pear with a citrusy kick at the end.  Chimney Rock is a Terlato Wine and this is where I first saw Anthony Terlato’s book Taste that I subsequently read on the Kindle (where it was much cheaper).

2. Francis Ford Coppola – Sofia Rose, Monterey County, 2012:  This rose is 55% Syrah, 35% Pinot Noir and 10% Grenache (one of my favorite grapes that goes into Cotes de Provence Rose).  I smelled bright crisp florals that reminded me of Napa mornings’ aroma. I got some tangerine notes that turned to strawberry.  The taste was crisp, not sweet, like juicy green apples with honey, giving a little acidity in the back of the mouth.

I wrote down my impressions upon tasting, and then, per usual, fact checked myself against internet descriptions.  I’m pretty proud of what I tasted and smelled in the Rose as compared to the Winemaker’s Notes on wine.com:  “Our 2012 Sofia Rose bestows a beautiful nose of strawberries, cherries, and orange blossom. Perfectly balanced with a zesty acidity and just the right amount of body, this year’s rose highlights bright, juicy fruit impressions of pomegranate, strawberries, kumquats, tea leaves and spice.” [Check on the strawberries, floral, tangerine/citrus]

As for the Elevage Blanc, I was in the ballpark.  According to community reviews on cellartracker.com:  “Pears on the nose, spicy and acidic on the palate with grapefruit/citrus notes. Long finish.”  And: “white wine for red wine lovers” which is the perfect description because I chose to drink this white in the winter because I thought it could taste a little heavy – a great white wine for cooler temps!  [Check on the pear, grapefruit]

I would definitely drink the Elevage Blanc again because it’s interesting and quite a different type of white wine.  It would go nicely with winter comfort food like light stews or tomato-y pasta dishes (I wouldn’t do it with creamy dishes).

And while I wouldn’t turn down a bottle of the Sofia Rose, it was a standardly delicious rose – nothing earth shattering.  I can’t wait for a little more springtime to spring so we can get into the real heart of rose season – the best time of year!!

Wine Tasting Wednesday

After our October Napa trip, I came away with some great bottles of red, but most of them were a bit above my normal wine-buying price range, and many of them could stand to be aged a few years before drinking.  So this has left me with a gap in my “everyday” red wine consumption (which isn’t to say that I’m drinking wine everyday, not to worry 🙂 )…something drinkable with or without food, not too expensive, and not hard to find.  My test is this: can I sit on the couch and watch a movie on a weeknight and have a glass without feeling like I have to finish the bottle (because it was expensive) or save it for a special occasion or drink it with a specific meal.

I have my go-to white, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, that I stock up on every year at the Stella Maris Wine Tasting, held each April in Baltimore (tickets for the April 26th event are on sale now if you call the Development Office 410-252-4500 ext 7570).  I love this event because bottles are marked down from retail and proceeds benefit the long-term care facility.

And I have my favorite rose: anything from Cotes de Provence which can be more difficult to find and is way marked up from the ~5 euros per bottle I found in France.  But reds…I’ve had great bottles here and there, but nothing that I’ve pinpointed as “I can buy a case of this and know that it can be drunk at virtually any occasion.”

I generally like Pinot Noirs that are light and can be sipped over the course of an evening, rather than anything that is definitely better with food.  Knowing this, I decided to do a head-to-head Pinot Noir wine tasting last Wednesday.  I was at Kroger anyway (not the best wine selection obviously, but I wanted to find something that I could pick up on my typical errand route), so I pulled three Pinot Noirs in the $10-$20 range from various regions.

The contenders:

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1. Louis Jadot, 2010, from Bourgogne (Burgundy, France) for $18.99

2. Toad Hollow, 2011, from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County (California) for $17.99

3. Hedgeline Vineyards, 2011, from Oregon for $12.99

They were each incredibly different.  Here are my thoughts, but first some caveats:

1. I’m trying to practice really smelling and tasting wines such that I can discern scents and flavors, rather than “I like this” or “I don’t like this”…but note I said “practice” which is to say that I could be way off the mark and I get really excited if someone corroborates what I’m describing.

2. I didn’t decant any of these initially, just swirled them in the glasses.  I’ve since tasted each after they’ve had time to breathe and I’ll discuss that more below.

3. I think I probably went in the reverse order of how I should have tasted these: it seemed like I went from boldest to lightest, but again, maybe that was just my impression.

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So here they are in the glasses.  All looking pretty similar to me in terms of color.

1. Louis Jadot – When I smelled this initially I got a lot of wood, and specifically pine scent, running into the smell of tobacco.  The taste was smooth and smoky with a little bite at the end (which definitely mellowed out over time in contact with the air).  When I tasted it later, I got more raspberry flavor, and I could drink this alone (slowly) or with dark chocolate.  In comparison to the Toad Hollow, it was less tannin-y.

2. Toad Hollow – I instantly got whiffs and flavors of vanilla from this bottle.  I was quite pleased with myself when I read the label and confirmed it had been aged in oak barrels (I learned at least this one point from our Napa trip).  At first the taste was tart with kind of an acidic finish, but as it opened up, it felt sweet, which I think is really just that buttery/vanilla-ness that the oak imparts rather than actual sugar.  It had more of an aftertaste than the Louis Jadot.

3. Hedgeline – Woah.  Should’ve gone with this first.  The initial smell was pungent and stiff with alcohol.  It definitely needed some decanting.  At first the taste was biting and acidic, but it completely smoothed out to a bit of strawberry and light vanilla with time.  I felt those tannins on the sides of my tongue and I would want this with food.

I had second glasses of all three in the ensuing days, and each was better with time and air.  While all three were enjoyable in their own ways, here are my conclusions:

1. Each was more enjoyable when it was the first and only glass of the day.  Comparing them side-by-side left me not really loving any of them.

2. Since each of these was better with some time after opening, I can’t see how any would become my go-to red.  The beauty of a go-to is that you can open it with unexpected company or on a whim without forethought and decanting.

3. I would buy any of these again in a pinch knowing what I was getting, but I’m going to continue searching and tasting because that’s half the fun!

Any recs on what to try next?!?!