Monday, December 15, 2014

Report from ... Sonoma in the City - October 9, 2014

From the tasting booklet ... "Sonoma County's sixteen AVAs define the diversity of this renowned wine area and exhibit a far greater variety of wine styles and grapes than you will find in most any other premium wine area.  From the highly regarded Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, to the dense flavorful Zinfandels of Dry Creek Valley, to a comparison of Syrahs from different regions throughout the county, Sonoma County's range of geography - valleys to mountains, coastal ranges to inland beach lands - is second to none."

Sparkling Wine ...
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine ($27.95)
fresh, lively and fruity with good bubbles and acidity
- a nice balance between the sweet and acid (****)
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs ($28.95)
92% Pinot Noir / 8% Chardonnay and slightly pink from a little more skin contact
acidity sings, this is vibrant and fresh, delicate and delicious with gentle raspberry (****+)

Cabernet Sauvignon ...

Kunde 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($23.95)
smooth blackberry and cassis, black cherry and nice balance of tannins (*** 1/2+)
Decoy 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($33.95)
a nice richness of flavour mixing cassis, chocolate and black cherry (****)

Arrowood 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
blackberry, black cherry, strawberry,
hints of cherry-tobacco and mocha-spice on the finish (****)
Anakota 2009 Helena Dakota Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($90.00)
big and juicy yet balanced Cabernet full of mocha, blackberry, and cassis
- quite the mouthfilling wine (****)
Chardonnay ...

La Follette Wines 2012 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay ($50.00)
lovely fruit mixes with butterscotch ripple and hazelnut with
nice spiced-vanilla and peach (****+)
Flowers 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($64.95)
rich and round with nice apple sauce, vanilla and smoke
with a nice butteryness on the finish (****+)

Ramey 2011 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay ($90.00)
rich and buttery, almond and hazelnut; touch of vanilla, caramel and apple (****)
Hartford 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($49.95)
fresh fruit, vanilla, apple with a dusting of butter and spice (****)
MacMurray Ranch 2012 Chardonnay ($21.95)
gentle fruit and acidity make this a pleasant sipper (*** 1/2)
 Pinot Noir ...

Siduri 2012 Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir ($75.00)
black cherry, hint of plum and smoke with white pepper (*** 1/2+)
Buena Vista 2012 Private Reserve Pinot Noir ($75.00)
delicate and delicious showing nice acidity
as well as cherry and plum (*** 1/2+)

Deloach Estate 2011 Olivet Bench Pinot Noir ($69.00)
a single vineyard Pinot with nice acidity, sour plum and
black cherry with a richness of fruit and balanced flavour (*** 1/2+)
Patz & Hall 2012 Jenkin's Ranch Pinot Noir ($75.00)
good acidity with sour cherry and cranberry wrapped in plums
and covered in pepperyness (****)

Dutton-Goldfield 2012 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir ($60.00)
generous of red fruit with raspberry and cranberry coctail notes;
the finish is a pleasant mix of acidity and spice (*** 1/2+)
Wild Ridge 2011 Sonoma County Pinot Noir
ripe red fruit but very well-balance; hint of cranberry and raspberry;
great mouthfeel and good acidity (****+)
Hartford 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($49.95)
cran-cherry fruit, great acidic backbone. (****)
Red Blends ...

Trentadue 2012 Old Patch Lot 37 Red ($18.95)
a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Syrah
gives a wine that raspberry dominated with touches of white pepper (*** 1/2+)
Buena Vista 2012 The Count Founder's Red ($24.95)
another raspberry dominated blend with plum, cherry and vanilla-smoke backing (****)
Zinfandel ...

Carol Shelton 2011 Rockpile Rocky Reserve Zinfandel ($48.00)
almost sweet with vanilla, cherry-cola, rich mouthfeel and floral nuances (****)
Carol Shelton 2011 Karma Zin Bastoni Vineyard Zinfandel ($40.00)
plum, black cherry, cola and vanilla balanced by hits of minerality
amongst all that fruit - which gives it added complexity (****+)
Quiviera 2012 Reserve Zinfandel ($44.00)
lovely, rich, sexy plum notes with just a touch of spice and pepper (****)
Pedroncelli 2011 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel ($24.00)
vanilla, red fruit dominated with a healthy dose of tannins;
a finish that has lip-smacking strawberry and mocha (****+)
St. Francis 2012 "Old Vines" Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($27.95)
raspberry, black cherry, plum, vanilla and spice
- quite silky and elegant - made from 50-110 year old vines (****+)
DeLoach 2009 Forgotten Vines Zinfandel ($43.00)
pre-prohibition vines; rich and succulent, vanilla, raisins,
plum, blackberry, cherry, cola and spice; good complexity
- nice acidity barely shows its 15% alcohol (**** 1/2)

Ravenswood 2011 Teldeschi Single Vineyard Zinfandel ($44.95)
shows and elegance of fruit and smoke to plum and cherry -
richness and power with lots of acidity (****+)
Folie a Deux 2012 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, Sonoma County 
there's a sweetness here that Folie is known for in its Menage a Trois,
but it's not overpowering and fits with the wine (*** 1/2)

Dry Creek Vineyard 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel ($39.95)
average of 90+ year old vines (ranging between 70-120 years)
stunning raspberry with elegant earthy, cherry, plum, vanilla
and gentle spice; there's also 15% Petite Sirah in here for colour (****+)
 Other Reds ...

Quivira Wine 2012 Creek Ranch Grenache ($45.00)
plenty of raspberry and cherry with plum backing (*** 1/2+)
St. Francis 2011 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley ($60.00)
this is a real limited edition wine, but so worth it:
smoky, tobacco and spice - BIG spice (****)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Report from ... Port & Douro Tasting - November 17, 2014

A month (or so) before Christmas and the Portuguese came to town for a minor tasting of Douro wines and their most well-known, and winter-ready wine, Port.

The majority of the wines were red, I think there was but one white in the whole place, and it wasn't all that impressive anyway ... but there were some very good Ports on the tables and some pretty decent red wines.

Alas the organization of the event was pretty shoddy - no booklet about the wines, or to even list the wines being poured, doors were 20 minutes lat in opening and there was a surprising/shocking lack of nibblies - the Port should have at least had some blue cheese to go with it.  Good thing I found the best value LBV I've tasted in quite a while and that made this tasting so worthwhile.

The Table Wines of Note ...

Bulas 2009 Grande Reserve Touriga Nacional
black cherry, plum, spice and good acidity for backbone
*** 1/2+
Vila Regia 2012 Reserva, Douro
spiced cherry and plum
*** 1/2+
Quinta de Azinhate 2007 Reserva
nice dark fruit, plum, cherry, mocha and silky tannins
Prats & Symington 2011 Post Scriptum de Chryseia
smooth and sexy - plum, blueberry, black cherry and chocolate;
a real beauty and a must try wine
Quinta do Portal 2008 Mural Red
a mix of cherry and sour cherry with a hint of herbal and plum
*** 1/2+
Quinta do Portal 2012 Colheita Tinto
smooth and silky with mocha-coffee hints and blackberry and red plum

Quinta dos Murcas 2011 Assobio Red
nice, almost creamy, cassis, raspberry and cherry
with elements of plum and chocolate
(this is a special label to stop the dam of the Tua River "Salver o Tua")
*** 1/2+
The Ports of Note ...

Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny
creamy cherry, hint of almond, smooth mid yet with good acidity

Taylor Fladgate 2008 Late Bottled Vintage Port
rich cherry, smooth yet with good acidityalong with plum and chocolate
Taylor Fladgate 2009 Late Bottled Vintage Port
richer, creamier, plummier with deep black cherry,
a chocolate seam - pure hedonistic Port pleasure
The best value LBV I've tasted in a long time ...
**** 1/2+
Sandeman 2009 Late Bottled Vintage Port
silky smooth cherry with a lovely length
*** 1/2
Sandeman 2000 Vau Vintage
ready to drink with nice sour and spiced cherry
with notes of almond and hazelnut

Bulas 2009 Vintage Port
rich and juicy cherry/blackberry, plum, chocolate and
well-balanced acidity
Senhora do Convento Ruby
light and flavourful with plenty of cherry,
a Port for those just starting out with the style
*** 1/2+

Senhora do Convento Tawny
spearmint/menthol/slightly medicinal
very young with decent acidity
*** 1/2
Warre's Optima 10 Year Old Tawny
cherry, plum, spice, plus a chocolate mid-palate
Warre's Optima 10 Year Old Tawnyunctuous, cherry and spice with a lovely almond woodsy-cherry-caramel finish
Quinta do Portal 1999 Vintage Port
pepper-cherries, creamy smooth mouthfeel, good acid for balance