Hasty Tasting Reviews #2
My wife and I attended a tasting this weekend as our Valentine’s Day gift to each other. This was the second time we attended this particular tasting and find it to be an incredible value for the wines presented. The tasting is small featuring roughly 40-50 wines from all over (slightly USA-centric), with many different styles available. Below are some of my extremely brief notes on the more memorable wines of the evening (in no particular order):
2006 Coniglio Diamond Mountain Merlot ($40): It’s “merlot-ness” is apparent, but the structure and texture are impressive. 89 pts.
2005 Coniglio Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($30): The merlot had more guts, but this certainly delivers Napa Cabernet character for the price point. 88 pts.
2008 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($50): Tasted side by with the Coniglios and on this night, this one stood above the rest. Dark fruits and some herbal notes with good structure and smooth tannins. 90 pts.
2008 Justin Isosceles ($59): Definitely a crowd pleaser, but it tastes like they left in a good helping of residual sugar. In a big sturdy wine like this, I am skeptical when they taste sweet because “rs” (residual sugar) tends to be used like make-up to disguise an otherwise unimpressive wine; still great. 91 pts.
2008 Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta ($84): Even the snootiest of wine aficionados would have to admit that this wine is well made and delivers the goods on a silver platter. In a tasting of 40+ wines, I tend to pour out a lot to limit my intake, but I took the time to savor this one. 91+ pts.
Non-vintage Justin Obtuse Port ($29): This Cabernet based fortified wine was surprisingly and pleasantly un-sweet. Some toasty character, but I would suggest eating dessert with it. It is a bit much to take all alone. 87 pts.
Chocolate Shop ($11): This is not wine. No score. Tastes like tootsie rolls.
2008 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel ($18): OMG! May be the best Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted for the money. Dark brooding fruits and perfect balance and complexity, For The Win! 91 pts.
2009 Klinker Brick Farrah’s Syrah ($18): Also very good, but the Zin stole my heart this time. Definitely a worthwhile value Syrah. 89 pts.
2007 Spring Valley Vineyards “Frederick” ($47): Cabernet Sauvignon. Comes across as very young (read: bright and tannic) but with a ton of potential. Needs cellar time, probably 3-4 years. The brightness and good acidic backbone remind me of a Barolo. 90+ pts.
2006 Col Salare ($62): Cabernet Sauvignon. Darker and more luscious than the Spring Valley, but didn’t ring my bell quite as well. 89+ pts.
2009 Erath Estate Pinot Noir ($33): Good representation of Oregon Pinot Noir; more delicate than many from California but retains good concentration and length of flavors. 88 pts.
2007 Franciscan “Stylus” ($45): They claimed this is normally a $100 bottle, and it is very good; I just don’t know about a whole $100 of my hard-earned dollars. Certainly worth $45 for a nice home-cooked meal in a few years. 90+ pts.
2009 Beringer Knights Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($56): A lot of regular wine drinkers might not even be aware that Beringer makes some higher end wines, but this one is a blockbuster. If you love the inviting structured fruit, well-integrated oak, and a future full of complexity, then Sonoma Cabernet may be right in your wheelhouse. Sort of brambly and young now, but I would say buy 2 and drink one now and one in 8 years. 92+ pts.
2007 Sbragia Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($28): After tasting this wine, I would have guessed it to be in the $50-60 range. When I found out it was under $30, I was fairly floored. This is another wonderful Sonoma Cab; consider it a younger brother to the Beringer. 89 pts.
2009 Bodegas Penalba Lopez Ribera Del Duero Finca Torremilanos ($15): You could easily enjoy this wine and finish the bottle in the time it would take you to pronounce the name. Good complexity and full of flavor for this price point. 88 pts.
2009 Hope Family Wines Treana Red Wine ($30): The label on this bottle is sort of goofy looking, but I was surprised at the quality. Well made Cab blend that drinks just fine all by itself, or would perfectly compliment any manner of hearty dishes. 89 pts.
2006 Steltzner Stags Leap Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($80): This wine is dynamite, but at the same time hard to appreciate at this point. When a wine is built for greatness (high extraction, a fair amount of oak, high tannins, etc.) it will be in relative balance throughout its life, meaning that no single aspect will stick out no matter when you drink it. At this point, however, all of the flavors seem sort of simplistic and muted. I would give this one 10 years at least and I can almost guarantee that it will blossom into a sexy seductress of a wine. 91+ pts. now, could be 94-96 pts. given that you pop it at the right moment.
2009 Cellar Cal Pla Mas D’en Compte Porrera Black Slate Priorat ($20): For the price, this is the clear winner of the evening. It smells like a bowl of roses and is perfectly balanced on the palate with a finish that goes on for days. Imagine eating a bowl of black cherries in a cedar lined closet with a bouquet of flowers in your hand and you’re half way there. 92 pts.
2005 Rocche Costamagna Barolo ($29): For thirty dollars, this had a lot of the good character of a Barolo. The trouble is, I can’t tell if it is just too young or if it might not have the stuffing necessary to outlive the tannins and the fruit and spice will die before it smooths out. 88 pts.
2009 Chateau Foria Chateauneuf Du Pape ($40): Another stand out wine of the evening. I actually re-tasted this one at the end of the night to relive the wonderfully integrated oak and vanilla character along with the spice box and leather character that is beginning to become apparent. Harmony in a glass. 92 pts.
2007 Viader ($100): This wine is way too young to even say much about. The couple next to us were gushing about it, but I felt it to be extremely tight and muted at this point. I can tell it is well made by the balance and good acidity, but not much else can be said at this point. 90+ pts.
2007 Dare by Viader ($45): This wine is so named to help people remember how to pronounce Viader ;). Meant to be the baby brother of the namesake above, this one is much more approachable at this point with more resolved tannins and secondary flavors and aromas. Certainly a good Cab for the price and prestige. 90 pts.
2009 Chateau La Croix De Berney Puisseguin-St. Emilion Bordeaux ($20): Sorry to end on a down note, but this wine seemed sort of grapey and one-dimensional to me. Would probably be a good Tuesday night pizza wine. 86 pts.
That pretty much wraps it up. The good news is that if you live in Ohio, there are currently distributors with these wines available, so feel free to ask for them at your local wine shop if you feel so inclined. Cheers to my longest post to date (congrats if you made it this far), and Happy Valentine’s Day!
P.S. I type this as my lovely wife prepares a home-cooked meal of scallops fettucine alfredo :)