Thursday, March 26, 2009

Report from ... More Wines from California, the Wine Writers Tasting - February 20, 2009

On a Friday afternoon the Wine Writers’ Circle got together to taste “Wines from California over $20”. There were a few under, but most fell into the price range set out and all were available in Ontario in some form or another: consignment, private order, LCBO or Vintages. 53 wines were tried, some were worth their price tag, others, not so much; but I tried the ones that interested me (ones I have not tried in a while or at all) and below I give you a run down on the wines that I thought were worth a sip and the shekels.

Looking for a bubbly without paying those high French prices, check out the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($27.95 - #265678) it’s a very good foreign bubble without the hefty price tag, and it’s got what you’re looking for in the fizz, yeasty, toasty and tasty.

I love interesting grapes done well, and I especially love them done well at a good price. So the Fleur de California 2006 Petite Sirah ($19.99 - Consignment) was very appealing to me. Nice dark colour, slightly muted on the nose, but I suspect it opens up with time and a bigger piece of glassware … why do I say that? Because the palate was just too good with lots of delicious strawberry and raspberry and hints of pepper …and oh what a smooth palate - delicious.

At a recent California Wine Fair pre-tasting I found the Cabernet Sauvignons tasted similar - not bad, just similar, as if they were all being made by the same winemaker or taken from the same vat. I guess I am just looking for something more from California than the same old same old (I was like that last year with their Chardonnays). Looking for something tasty at a good price in Cali-Cab? Well look no further than the 337 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($20.79 - Consignment). Does it deliver more than you’re usual Cab? I would have to say not really, but it does deliver what the higher priced Cab deliver, for less. The nose is jammy with red fruit, cherry and chocolate while the palate adds vanilla and juicy cherry to the finish.

Here’s an under $20 Cab that gives you nothing more than what you’re looking for … fruity as all get out - easy on the palate and sippable: Gnarly Head Cellars 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.95 - #68924).

The highest priced wine on my list is this one right here: Treana 2005 Red ($40.95 - #11221) - big in alcohol, 15.5%, big on fruit and chocolate, there’s blackberries, sweet vanilla, fine ripe tannins and juicy blackberries along with lots and lots of plum. It blends 70% Cabernet and 30% Syrah with very tasty results.

Final wine on my list is from Beaulieu Vineyard, their 2005 Zinfandel ($25.95 - #80242 - Vintages); the first bottle open for us was corked (or off in some way) – the second was much better, offering up typical Zinfandel smells and flavours with the mainstays being plum and chocolate - this was the best Zin poured this afternoon.

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