Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fairfield County Wine Tasting Appreciation Society Merlot Dinner

Yes, the name is a bit of a joke. Some friends of mine (6 of them) started coming to BONDA three years ago once a month for Open That Bottle Night.

They would choose a wine theme, Shiraz, California, 2003 Pinot, etc.... and each contribute a bottle and judge who brought the best. Jamie and I would dip in here and there, trying some of the wines and adding our two cents.

The natural evolution turned to pairing 2 people together to bring in better wines, which begat buying wines at auction for the group. I have been participating off an on for the last 18 months, and was lucky enough to make it to last night's Merlot tasting.

The first wine was a 750 ml of 2003 Etude Merlot from Napa Valley. It was sweet on the nose, with a medium body and mild tannins. Not a lot of fruit for a Cali Merlot - which is good -but a handful of oak, and a hint of bitterness in the finish. We were having a bit of Roaring Forties blue cheese, which I thought "muted" the wine - Sam said "it goes well!"


"smooth", "straight forward", "playing it safe", "solid", "I could drink this everyday" - although I think this was facetious.

Next up was a magnum of 2001 Fisher Vineyards 157 Estate Merlot. We decanted this for about an hour, maybe more and drank it with our first course, mostly bacon dishes. I had bacon with fingerling potatoes and onions, which really complemented the vino.

On the nose, I thought the Fisher resembled a Montepulciano, specifically a 1998 Pepe. Super high toned fruit, with acetone, fig and cherry. I was in love with the nose, I wanted to drink the nose. On the palate it was a little disappointing with mild fruit, medium tannins and a touch of bitterness in the finish. It definitely did not live up to the nose. Sam said it tasted like rotten tomatoes.

It was great to try these Merlots as they really bucked the thought of Cali Merlot being big fruit bombs.

The last Magnum we had was a 2003 Peterson Family Merlot. Unfortunately my pen ran out of ink, but this wine was awesome and won the night. Bizarre in that it did not resemble a Merlot, but more like a well balanced Zin. Gobs of black fruit, spice, with a touch of oak. After decanting for two hours, it could have gone longer. This wine with last for at least 15 years. Go buy some now!

Sorry I forgot to take some pics, but it was a busy night at the restaurant and Jamie left early!

Friday, October 24, 2008

2005 Kistler Les Noisetiers

These UStream vids are fun. Here's me and Court talking about Kistler.

No comments: Links to this post

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2006 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red

From Columbia Valley, a six grape blend: Syrah, Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec, Merlot and uno mas, I think - no notes. You know I love Washington State wines and funky blends.

On the nose off the bottle, I thought it was all Napa bomb oak. Jamie tried it first: "I really like it, but you won't."

Is it like the Sous Creek I asked? "Yes, but Sous Creek is much better, this has tons of oak".

Definitely charcoaled oak /ash on the palate and nose. Firm tannins, with hints of cellar floor, high toned cherry - but still super young. Plenty of better Wash wines to drink, but Tamarack shows promise and is not so expensive as others.

Would drink Syzygy Red Wine over this right now, but their current release is 2004, and this is 2006 - so lets revisit in awhile. Not going on the BONDA list quite yet, but at $50 it will be an easy wine to sell for Napa Cab heads and I can get behind it!

More Quick Tweet Style Reviews

I have to say I really like the tweet style review of wines from my previous post this evening. I have some notes on some wines from other tastings, so instead of writing full posts, I am going to repeat my quick shot reviews.

Please comment if you like this style or dislike this style. I will not do it for every wine - after all this is a blog, not posterous, tumblr or twitter!

That being said, here are some quick shots. If you didn't know, this is a blog about drinking 365 Wines in 365 Days, so I better fulfill my promise!

2006 Mudhouse Pinot Noir: Screwtop bliss. BTG Pinot from New Zealand for BONDA. Nose: Bright cherry, moss, vibrant violet. Sauteed raspberry on the palate, zip in the finish. great fruit!

2006 Bastianich Tocai: great BTG for BONDA. refreshingly light, interestingly yeasty, with floral notes, light mushroom depth, high citrus notes in finish, perfect for fall!

2005 Betz Family Clos De Betz: sitting down after long night at BONDA with Betz and a filet. much softer than expected. super soft, super mild tannins, hints of oak, black fruit, simply divine.

2005 Betz Family La Serene Syrah: no one buys this at BONDA. cracked a bottle, it was off. Jamie called it!

2006 Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir

When I was sick a few weeks back, some friends of Court came to visit and went to dinner at BONDA. I asked Jamie what they cracked and he paused. He then told me this Cristom is drinking mighty fine. As soon as I got better, I opened a bottle for myself.

Here are my notes:

The nose is pure heaven: oregano, green pepper, ripe red fruit, basil, driftwood, yeasty bread dough with a touch of alcohol.

On the palate, medium tannins, tame fruit, touch of oak with roasted plum.

Not as killer as Jamie would have led me to believe, but definitely drinking well now.

Tweeted Wines

Man this blog sucks. You should really follow my twitter feed @365Wines to get an accurate picture of what I am drinking!

Onto the many wines I have to review. Here is a compilation of my wine tweets over the last two weeks or so. These are directly copied from my twitter feed.

If you do not understand Twitter, it is a micro-blogging, instant messaging, text message blast, service that limits your "tweets" to 140 characters.

Mostly people answer: "What Are You Doing?" but it has become a way to share information and to inform your network of followers about your passions of the moment.

I try to tweet about the wine I am drinking and what I am experiencing, as well to ask the question, "What are you drinking?"

2004 Cadence Coda: just cracked a bottle of 2004 Cadence Coda. What are you drinking

Coda is sweetish on the nose, with blackcurrant, tannic dark cherry deliciousness. Classic American Cab Franc. they do it so well in Wash.

chill from the cellar is warming up. developing mocha, rosemary, thyme, stewed tomatoes. really sings with the sausage I am cooking.

2005 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc: got home from a K Vintner's wine tasting and my wife was opening an '05 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc /Viognier blend. oh well. might be dying

05 Pine Ridge Chenin much sweeter than I remember. lacks the sophistication it had in '07 - could be turning? i remember austerity

refreshing on the nose, with honeysuckle, thyme. almost reisling like on the palate: slight viscosity and touch of bitter finish

2004 Montenidoli Tradizionale: last night a had a 2004 montenidoli traditionale that was on the edge of turning. still have 4 bottles or so. maybe a BTG at BONDA

1998 Quintarelli Valpolicella: also drank a '98 Quintarelli Valpolicella. pure bliss. in-laws were over for spiral sausage and saffron risotto w/ spinach

2004 Drew Hearthstone Vineyard Syrah: cracked a bottle of '04 Drew Hearthstone Syrah. only 80 cases made. lots of cherry on the nose, robitussiny on the palate. will work.

2000 Manzoni Pinot Nero: just cracked a 2000 Manzoni Pinonero from the Langhe region. What are you drinking?

@winedrip Manzoni Pinonero its peak.a little hot.hints of tannins but dry.tasty but not fav

@winetweets Manzoni Pinonero its peak.a little hot.hints of tannins but dry.tasty but not fav

lots of stinky feet and mushrooms on this pinonero. not too much fruit and still a lot of heat. acidic on the tummy as well.

2005 Yves Cuileron Les Pierres Seches: just cracked a 2005 Yves Cuileron Les Pierres Seches from St. Joseph. What are you drinking?

stinky on the nose, violets, mud, rootstock, coffee beans. on the tongue, firm tannins, muted plum, green peppercorn, little bordeauxish

nose is opening up.although beginning to feel that this syrah needs food. not a luscious as new world, not entirely tannic but bone dry

2006 Ramey Carneros District Chardonnay: is drinking the 2006 Ramey Carneros District Chardonnay. charred oak.little effervecence. not as delicate as the 2005 Sonoma coast

anyone had the 2006 Ramey Carneros District Chardonnay? Any thoughts? Going to write blog about it after dinner.

i let the Ramey breathe a bit and warm up - much better. also needed a bit of food and fat on the palate

Wines I did not tweet about, but can wrap up in a tweet-style review:

2007 Cuilleron Marsanne: totally awesome! peach notes, with full mouth feel, hints of acidity, round finish - awesome for the price. maybe WBTG at BONDA.

2007 Drouhin Saint-Veran: present from friend. wife did not like so much. palate flat, notes of oak, crisp and steely but no bite, a little flabby.

2006 Kingston Vineyard Alazan Pinot Noir: Killer Pinot for the price. Soft oak, medium tanins, nice fruit with that Kingston edge of charred vinestock. on list at BONDA.

So, part of me thinks this is a half-assed post, but I covered a lot of wines and in a very condensed format. You don't have to read me prattling on about every sip, and get a succinct review of each bottle.

I promise I will not get behind so far again. Two kids. Corporate gig, co-owner of BONDA, social responsibilities. I love my blog and I love writing about wine, so sorry to keep you waiting for new posts!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Charles Smith /K Vintners Tasting

Has anyone been following my twitter feed @365Wines?  You can also see the last 5 tweets on the left hand feed. I am finding that I can tweet about a wine that I am drinking at the moment - to live the tasting - then go back and create a blog post about how I experienced the wine. If you are on Twitter, please follow, and let me know about your feed and I will follow you back!

I had a focused tasting tonight at BONDA for the Charles Smith /K Vintners' portfolio in CT - a fantastic Washington State producer. Artisan Wines (run by our friend Rob Makin) had K Vintner's in CT and NY for many years, but they decided to go with a larger NY distrib, and thus Rob let them go in CT, as it is a much smaller market. We have carried their Syrahs by in the past and currently have the '04 Milbrandt Syrah on the list.

Luckily, Opici picked up the portfolio and I got to try all the new wines. The wine maker, Charles Smith sold his House Wine label, and with the profits started an eponymous second label, focused on single varietal, single vineyard wines. The wines are all "entry level" at $12 to $20 a bottle, but definitely do not taste like wines that inexpensive.

Our Opici salesperson Anna Lisa arranged the tasting for me with her K Vintners rep who regaled me with tales of the winemaker and the history of the wines. It was the last stop of their for the day at 5:45, so it might have been a little rushed.

First up was the Holy Cow Chardonnay, which was a treat. Great Northwest fruit with little maloactic fermentation, a bit of oak - but great fruit. Very European in style. I think the rep called it a New Old World wine. Next was the Kung Fu Girl Riesling which was also tasty - not at all cloying - with a touch of viscosity, but a great expression of Riesling that wasn't sweet, nor bitter.

The K Vintner '06 Viognier was next. I ordered a few bottles for the restaurant. It was heavenly. Great floral notes, with mild oak, and a great mouth feel. On the red side, Charles Smith Holy Cow Merlot was quite delish - for a Merlot. Sweet notes, but not cherry soda - great backbone of spice, with dark Northwest berries and balanced by soft tannins. I bought a case to do by the glass.

My favorite was the Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah which was named after a voluptuous red head he once dated.  Awesome fruit bursting off the bat with blue and black berries, roasted pluots, mild tannins.  I ordered two cases for the future.  I would definitely have this wine as my winter house wine.

I did not like the Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon, which had 10% Malbec and 5% Cab Franc.  It's not that I didn't like it, per se, but I thought it was a bit over-priced for $20 a bottle retail, and the rep oversold it a bit. If it was served to me I would drink it, but I would be disappointed if I bought it at a store or ordered it at a restaurant.

We have carried the Milbrant Waluke Slope Syrah for a few vintages, '01 - '04, but missed the '05.  The '06 was super tight and showed little fruit.  The rep said it had been flown on on Monday, so it was probably bottle shocked.

Overall I really enjoyed Charles Smith's new wines and would recommend buying a bottle or having a glass if you find it.  Especially the Boom Boom Syrah and the Kung Fu Girl Riesling - because you know, Girls and Rieslings kick ass!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Once Again, I am Behind