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Wines, Wines, Wines – Worldwide Wines Portfolio Tasting

October 3, 2014 5 comments

Every fall I attend 3 or 4 different wine distributor portfolio tastings here in Connecticut. Not this year, though. This year I managed to miss all tasting except one – the Worldwide Wines. According to my friend Zak, the owner of the Cost Less Wines in Stamford, I was lucky, as the 3 tastings I missed were quite mediocre, so I ended up not wasting my time.

The tasting was done in the standard for Worldwide format – 4 hours, 110 tables, roughly translating into 500+ wines. No, nobody can possible taste that many wines in such a little time, so you really have to do two things – 1. Build a plan. 2. Follow the plan. Luckily for me, Zak built the plan, so all I had to do was to follow him. Before I will inundate you with my short, but copious notes on the wines I tasted, let me give you few of my personal experience highlights.

1. Archery Summit wines were delicious – dense, structured, powerful, in need of time and impeccably balanced.

2. Wines from Chappellet were a personal discovery – to be very honest, I’m generally not a fun of Chappellet, but this 2012 release was outright delicious, especially the Chardonnay.

3. Zaccagnini, a well known producer of the Montepulciano wines (I’m sure you are familiar with the bottles with a little piece of wood attached to them), presented a brand new wine – Riesling (!) – and it was delicious. I also re-tasted the Zaccagnini flagship Montepulciano – I have a tendency to avoid this wine because of its sleazy appearance of the bottle, but – it is for sure an excellent wine at $14.99 and definitely worth your attention.

4. I had a pleasure of tasting a RP 100-point wine  – 2010 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon – and … I was not blown away. Moreover, I was not even really impressed – yes, it was definitely a good wine, but to say that it was one of the very, very best wines I ever tasted would be simply not true. The wine was good, but I would never identify it as a “100 pointer” in my book.

5. Be careful with 2011 California red wines from Napa – for sure from Napa, don’t know about other California regions. While the vintage was lauded as “beautiful and restrained”, lots of wines I tasted from the 2011 were simply green and lacked balance. They might improve with time, but based on my experience, nothing suggests that they will. I recommend looking for 2010 or go to 2012 which might be young, but perfectly delicious. Bottom line – don’t buy 2011 Napa reds unless you can taste them first.

6. You know I’m an Amarone geek – and Fumanelli Amarone 2008 was simply outstanding, round and delicious,  and a perfect Amarone value at $54.

Without further ado, let me present you with the list of the interesting wines I tasted. As usual, I’m using the +, ++, +++ and, of course, the ++++ ratings, just to make the rating process simple. Well, you will not see “+” rated wines here, and very few of “++” – the goal is to share highlights and not to drill on what was mediocre. Here we go:

2010 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley ($76) – +++, restrained
2011 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Napa Valley ($139) – ++++
2012 Pahlmeyer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($75) – +++, round, restrained
2011 Pahlmeyer Jayson Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($80) – +++, round, excellent
2011 Pahlmeyer Jayson Chardonnay North Coast ($52) – ++-|, nice, toasty
2011 Pahlmeyer Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($75) – ++-|, nice, but QPR is very low at this price

2010 Bodegas Caro CARO Mendoza, Argentina ($43, Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend) – +++ delicious!

2012 Fumanelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC ($21) – ++-|, excellent, clean
2010 Fumanelli Terso Bianco Veneto IGT ($30) – ++
2008 Fumanelli Amarone della Valpolicella ($54) – +++, round, balanced, delicious. Outstanding QPR

2013 Zaccagnini Riesling Abruzzo ($15) – +++, excellent
2011 Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo ($15) – +++, excellent

2012 Archery Summit Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir, Oregon ($36) – +++, great QPR
2011 Archery Summit Red Hills Pinot Noir, Oregon ($60) – ++++, outstanding!
2011 Archery Summit Arcus Pinot Noir, Oregon ($70) – ++++, power, finesse

2012 Laetitia Pinot Noir Estate, Arroyo Grande ($20) – +++, excellent
2012 Laetitia Pinot Noir Reserve du Domaine ($32) – +++, excellent

2011 Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau ($20) – +++, excellent
2011 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneauf du Pape ($31) – +++, excellent
2011 Domaine de Beaurenard Boisrenard Chateauneauf du Pape ($50) – +++, concentration! excellent

2012 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee ($27) – +++, young, delicious
2012 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($39) – +++
2012 Chappellet Chardonnay Napa Valley ($30) – +++, round, vanilla

2011 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($26) – +++, nicely green, restrained
2012 Clos du Val Chardonnay Carneros ($20) – ++-|, nice, round
2010 Clos du Val Merlot Napa Valley ($22) – +++, round, excellent

2010 Santa Carolina Reserva de Famiglia Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile ($21) – +++, beautiful
2008 Santa Carolina Herencia, Chile ($60, 100% Carmenere) – +++, excellent

2010 Coho Headwaters Red Napa Valley ($33) – ++-|
2011 Coho Summitvine Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain ($42) – +++

2013 Hetz Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($16.49) – +++
2009 Hetz Wine Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) – +++, delicious
2009 Hetz Wine Cellars Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($59) – ++-|, nice, restrained
2004 Hetz Wine Cellars Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($62) – ++++ wow!
2009 Hetz Wine Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($175) – ++++, tannins!
2004 Hetz Wine Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($263) – ++, past prime or corked?

2012 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($35) – +++

2010 Venge MaCauley Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($51) – +++, excellent, needs about 10 years…

2012 Shafer Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley ($50) – +++, restrained
2011 Shafer Vineyards One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) – +++, perfect Cab nose
2011 Shafer Vineyards Relentless Syrah/Petite Sirah ($79) – +++, dark, concentrated
2010 Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($250) – +++, clean, round

2013 Honig Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($15.49) – +++
2012 Honig Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford ($20) – +++, acidity!!
2012 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($35) – +++, earthy
2010 Honig Bartolucci Cabernet Sauvignon ($62.49) – +++, dense, needs time
2007 Honig Bartolucci Cabernet Sauvignon ($N/A) – +++, excellent!

2010 Boyanci InSpire Cabernet Sauvignon ($47) – +++
2010 Boyanci InSpire ROMAnce Cabernet Franc ($47, Stagecoach Vineyard, 70 cases produced) – +++, tannins!

2012 Far Niente Chardonnay Napa Valley ($45) – +++, round
2012 EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir RRV ($50) – +++-|, outstanding, luscious

2010 Hooker Blind Side Zinfandel California ($11) – ++, spectacular QPR

2012 Dr Frank Rkatsiteli Finger Lakes ($16) – +++, excellent!
2013 Dr Frank Dry Riesling Finger Lakes ($16) – +++
2013 Dr Frank Gewurztraminer Finger Lakes ($17) – +++
2012 Dr Frank Semi Dry Riesling Finger Lakes ($16) – +++

2012 St Supery Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc ($36) – +++, very interesting, unusual
2013 St Supery Sauvignon Blanc ($17) – +++
2012 St Supery Virtu Estate Napa Valley ($17.49) – +++

2011 Amisfield Pinot Noir Central Otago New Zealand ($27) – +++, round, perfectly clean

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And we are done here. Cheers!

 

Serious Fun With Wines

January 28, 2014 11 comments

wine lineupWe do drink wine mostly every day, thus we do have fun with wine every day. But then every so often, we are lucky to get together with the other wine crazy people aficionados, usually to celebrate some sort of occasion (Birthday, etc. ), and this is when from everyday simple fun we advance to the area of “serious fun”.

What makes the wine fun “serious”? It is age and pedigree for the most of the cases, where just a quick glance at the bottle makes your heart race. “Wow, this is so cool” the brain sings, and you literally start to salivate even though it will be a long time until dinner will be served and the wine will be opened. If you will look at the lineup in the picture, you will easily get my point.

We started our evening with the 2013 Paumanok Chenin Blanc North Fork of Long Island, New York (11% ABV)  – it had a nice nose of white fruit, white stone fruit on the palate, fresh acidity and overall very uplifting character with residual sweetness on the finish. Drinkability: 7+

The next wine was quite unique and different, at least for me – it was Sauternes, but – it was a dry Sauternes. 2007 Chateau Suduiraut S de Suduiraut Blanc Sec, Bordeaux (70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, some oak aging) was definitely an interesting wine. I’m still trying to understand if this wine was already past prime, or was simply in its slumber. It is unfortunate that the Chateau Suduiraut’s web site lists no technical information about the wine, only implies that it underwent the oak aging. The wine was showing as full bodied and plump. At the same time, the fruit was very muted and initially the wine showed a hint of oxidation on the finish, which disappeared as the wine was breathing. I think this wine left all of us puzzled – it was not bad by all means, but it was not great either. It would be interesting to try the same wine maybe in 5 years – not sure it will be easy to do as it is quite rare. Drinkability: 7

And then there were reds. We opened both 1994 Tignanello and 2001 Quilceda Creek, and Tignanello was exhuming the pleasure, while Quilceda Creek was clearly asking for decanter – which was provided. Meanwhile, another fun and rare bottle was opened. I’m sure you know Bollinger. Yes, the Champagne producer. But – according to Champagne AOC rules, even Champagne producers are allowed to make … yes, still wines! 2002 Bollinger Ay Rouge La Cote Aux Enfant Coteaux Champenois was a bit tight first in the glass, but after about 10 minutes, it opened up into a luscious, complex goodness. Dark garnet color in the glass with some orange hue, an earthy nose of mature fruit with just a touch of characteristic Pinot Noir smokiness. Soft, supple and round on the palate, good amount of dark fruit, well integrated tannins and balancing acidity. Definitely a very interesting wine and experience. Drinkability: 8

1994 Antinori Tignanello (80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) didn’t even show any signs of age! Dark ruby color in the glass, intense nose of dark cherries with a touch of leather and herbs. Fresh fruit and fresh acidity on the palate, cherries, leather and sage, perfectly balanced and ohh so enjoyable! I believe I tasted Tignanello before at some of the trade shows, but this was my first one on one encounter with this wonderful wine, with the ability to slowly enjoy and savor every sip. Drinkability: 9-

2001 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Washington (14.9% ABV, 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 22 month in New French oak) spent about two hours in the decanter – but even that was not enough. Dark, brooding, concentrated, powerful – but not yielding much of the fruit, all closed up behind that power. After a first glass, we decided that we were simply wasting this wine, and we moved on to the another bottle.

1999 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Oakville, a classic Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Dark ruby red in the glass, blackberries and blueberries on the nose. Powerful and concentrated on the palate, with black currant, eucalyptus and espresso notes on the palate, soft tannins, very balanced with the medium long finish. Drinkability: 8

And last, but not least – dessert! Yes,the liquid dessert. 1977 Grahams Port. The first challenge was to get the cork out – this is where I regretted not having the Port Tongues available. The cork was pulled out almost completely, with a few little crumbles going back into the bottle, so we used a little mesh to pour the wine. The Port was beautiful – fragrant, fresh, with good acidity, palate full of not overly sweet dried fruit – dried cherries and may be dates come to mind. Perfectly balanced and very very enjoyable. Drinkability: 8+.

And the drop of Scotch to finish the meal properly – very unique and different, Bruichladdich 14 Years The Italian Collection Sassicaia French Oak – the scotch was beautifully mellow, well integrating a touch of traditional Bruichladdich peatiness with round and polished, almost sweet finish imparted by Sassicaia French Oak casks.

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That concludes my “drool report” for now – well, life is an interesting thing, so it seems that couple of upcoming weeks will lead to more of the “great wine” reports.

Whether you had or had not any of the wines I’m talking about here, your comments are most welcome! Cheers!

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