Archive for August, 2008

Pinot on the Deck, Peay, Kistler, KB, Stemmler, and more! 25 August 2008

August 25, 2008 1 comment

This Saturday a group of us got together for a casual evening to taste Pinot Noir outside on our deck. Present were Deborah, Dave, Ross, Angela, Denise, Shane, Jenn, and myself. Deborah, Dave, and Ross are former co-workers. While Dave was in Iraq we exchanged email about wine and promised to get together once he returned. The wines were double-decanted within an hour of tasting and all wines were brown-bagged.

The top-ranked wines were:
1st: Dierberg
2nd: Kosta Browne
3rd: Kistler
4th: Peay and Stemmler

The quality of these bottles spanned a wide range. It was of great suprise to Shane and myself that the Dierberg was clearly the group favorite. We drank a bottle one month prior which we thought was good but certainly not remarkable. This bottle rocked. The Kosta Browne came in a close second. The Kistler, Peay, and Stemmler followed in a tight grouping.

I’ve done my best to summarize the tasting notes:

2003 Shea Wine Cellars, Estate, Pinot Noir, Willamete Valley
Garnet in the glass, definitely an older color. A light nose. In the mouth black fruit, some cool blue fruit, and some creaminess. There are minimal tannins. While some found this wine average, most disliked it with comments of “wow, so bad,” “jammy” fruit, or “alcoholic aftertaste.”

2004 Robert Stemmler, Nugent Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Almost as perfumed as the Dierberg but definitely a delicate nose. Angela thought it had a “great smell.” Sour red fruit at first then with air it became cloying and herbed. Heavy-handed in the mid-palate. The tannins were present but hidden by the fruit. I decanted all of the wines myself and when I got to this one I could smell it two feet away. It was intense but the power faded off when it came to the tasting.

2007 Sterling Vintner’s Collection, Pinot Noir, Central Coast
Purple-ruby in the glass. A light nose of bright fruit. Purple fruit and toasted flavors in the mouth. Two people enjoyed the long finish.

2005 Dierberg, Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
The most perfumed and aromatic nose out of all of the wines. Very articulated dark red and blue fruits, black cherries. There was attractive grit to the fruit with excellent supporting acidity. There were fine tannins in the finish. This was deep, lush, and had a long finish. Dave found it “bold.”
Jenn found it “rich.” Deborah thought “It’s almost a religious experience – like being in a rural chapel.” I was certain this was not the Dierberg.

2004 Kosta Browne, Kanzler Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Garnet with slight-brick cast to it. Sweet round fruit that improved with air. Both Deborah and Ross enjoyed the berry flavors. Dave thought that although a high-alcohol wine it was well-balanced.

2005 Peay, Scallop Shelf, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Very light color. A nose that is very lightly perfumed. Red and blue fruits up front then a tad flat in flavor mid-palate. Deborah thought is “very delicate” and many found it a “lush” or “smooth” finishing wine. I think it is a bit young.

2006 Willakenzie Estate, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
A brighter, light raspberry color. Brighter red fruit on the nose. The nose immediately stood the wine out from the rest. Candied raspberry and cherry flavors in this “thin,” “light”, and “austere” wine.

2006 Kistler, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This was a youthful purple in the glass. A “soft” or “delicate” sweet nose. Sweet fruit, though a little cloying. After the initial fruit flavors, the tannins become evident as they build to a short, slightly hot, coarse-tannic finish. Most people enjoyed the wine’s initial flavors but there were many comments highlighting the short finish and aftertaste.

A Pair of California Cabs: Ca’na and Spann, 13 August 2008

Just a pair of Cabs I had during August 2008. My wife had a cold so no comments from Jenn. Anyone else have the Ca’na? It looked really old but tasted younger. The Spann was good though perhaps not the best buy.

2001 Tamayo Family, Ca’na, Cabernet Sauvignon, Contra Costa County – $21
This is a medium opaque with a garnet-brick-brown color throughout the glass. It looks rather ancient. There is savory dark fruit, chocolate, and some tea flavors. The fruit is soft and becomes stewed with air. There are moderate tannins in the finish and aftertaste. A bizarre wine that I didn’t much care for. Maybe it was cooked?

2003 Spann, Mayacamas Range, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley and Sonoma County – $27
This wine is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot. Of which 55% is sourced from Napa and 45% from Sonoma. This is medium garnet-ruby in the glass. It has a light nose of green olives and brine. In the mouth there are somewhat savory red fruit with underlying dark fruit flavors. Toast and light mineral flavors develop with air. There is bright acidity from the beginning that give liveliness followed by minimal tannins noticeable on the tongue-tip. The fruit is slightly soft.

Six Aussies Including the Tasty 1998 Maxwell Grenache, 09 August 2008

August 9, 2008 1 comment

Jenn and I decided to shake things up and try a number of Aussie reds. The 1998 Maxwell Grenache was by far our favorite and a very good value. After that, but a notch down are the St John’s Road and Warrenmang. I wouldn’t recommend the Yalumba, Hazyblur, nor the Rockford.

2005 St. John’s Road, Blood and Courage, Shiraz, Greenock, Barossa – $20
Very opaque purplish color. A light to medium intensity nose of gritty blue-red fruit. Tart blue fruit, slightly salty, in this medium bodied wine. The acidity is strong, causing puckering, that is wrapped up with a good finish and strong aftertaste. Young. A nice wine that doesn’t have the elegant of Solitary Block Shiraz from Greenock.

2003 Yalumba, Handpicked Shiraz Viognier, Barossa Valley – $20
Medium plus opaque purple with a hint of garnet. A light to medium intensity nose of candied red and purple fruits. Tight, dark fruit, toasty oak flavors, some acidity, and fine noticeable tannins. It never developed into much after three days. Our least favorite of the bunch.

2002 Warrenmang, Estate Shiraz, Pyrenees, Victoria – $20
Medium plus opaque ruby-purple, younger looking than the Hazyblur. A medium strength nose of bright, black gritty fruit, with some eucalyptus. In the mouth there was bright, tart fruit. The acidity is up front followed by a decent finish and aftertaste with some fine tannins coming through.

2001 Hazyblur, Barootra Shiraz, South Australia – $16
This came from 8-year-old vines. Medium plus opaque garnet. A nose of tart red fruits and some rubber/tar component that eventually blew off. In the mouth there is savory, dark red berries, enlivened by high-toned acidity. The flavors drop off to reveal minimal tannins, a simple finish and aftertaste. It did not change much on the second day. Second least favorite.

1998 Maxwell, Grenache, McLaren Vale – $25
Medium garnet in the glass. A medium nose of gritty, mildly sweet blue fruits. In the mouth there are cool, blue fruit, minerals, with good supporting acidity. The finish is refreshing. It still has textured tannins. This was by far our favorite and drinking beautifully right now. The nose makes one interested and the flavors do not disappoint, well-balanced.

1996 Rockford, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley – $19
This was fermented in open-top slate tanks and aged for two years in American and French oak hogsheads. Medium garnet in the glass with a core of darker purple color. A light to medium nose. There are red and blue fruits at first, a slight amount of minerals then the acidity comes through. There are some cedar/wood flavors in the finish, followed by a tart fruit finish. This isn’t that complex and there are still some new oak tannins. Kind of boring.

1994-2003 Pride Mountain Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting

August 7, 2008 1 comment

1994-2003 Pride Cabernet Sauvignon

This past Saturday eight of us gathered to taste the 1994-2003 vintages of Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting was held at Bell Wine Shop in DC where we were provided with unlimited glasses and table space. Present were Dave, Deniz, William, Lou, Todd, Marissa, Jenn, and myself.

The 1994-1997 vintages were sourced from JJ Buckley, the 1998-2000 from HDH, and 2001-2003 from Dave’s and William’s stash. All of the wines were double-decanted only to remove sediment. We started off with NV Pol Roger to get us going then after the Pride wines we freshened up with an excellent 1998 Henriot Millesime.

The 1997 was the WOTN followed by 2001 then 1999. In general, all three of these wines were very well received.

Ready to taste

Jenn and Aaron

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is still very opaque and deep in the glass with slight bricking/garnet on the edge. Blackberries, cherries, and raspberries in the nose along with pencil lead. In the mouth there are light fruit flavors of cherry, cassis with underbrush and some smokey oak coming through. There is still much grip from the ample tannins that seem to be upstaging the fruit. When the last half of the bottle was poured it was obvious that the wine was fading. This was initially the most aromatic of the ten wines. Deniz really enjoyed it.

1995 Cabernet Sauvignon
Again, very opaque and only slightly bricked at the edges. A muted nose as compared to the 1994. Some aromas of cherry and earth but hard to say. There are flavors of cassis, tar, and cigar box that developed a slight medicinal/menthol/iodine component with air. Smoother tannins the the 1994. I found an overall impression of softer, older fruit.

1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
Again, dark and deep with slight bricking in the glass. A markedly different nose of red fruit. I personally found a mustiness to the nose and Jenn smelled nuts. Cherry is the singular flavor that comes through the dominant tannins right from the start. There was a dry finish. Dave felt that wine could last longer but doubted that the fruit would hold up. While others liked this wine I couldn’t get past the nose.

1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
Very opaque and deep red to the edges. A great lifted nose of ripe cherries and violets. In the mouth, this massive wine burst with sweet black fruit and cherries. It is energetic throughout with lively acidity. Tight at first, this smooth, powerful, and confident wine developed a rippling and long-lasting finish. This really good wine is clearly the best of the first four vintages.


1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Corked. Rats.

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon
Very opaque purple/red to the edges. People found this the msot claret like. A bright nose of cherry, blueberry, and blackcurrant with some cigar-box and smokiness. Ripe but balanced fruit of cassis and dark berries. An interesting coffee/toffee/caramel flavor developed with air. This is a nice bottle of wine that some felt marked the start of more prominent oak.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
Very opaque and dark. A very weak nose of tar, caramel popcorn, and oak. The fruit fades fast the wine becomes austere with tannins and light acidity. Somewhat out of balance. Lou found some Band-Aid component.

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
Very, very dark. There is tremendous color in the wine that just clings to the side of the glass. A very elevated nose of red and blue fruits. This young tasting wine, is huge and intensely extracted with kirsch and cherry flavors. This dense wine has massive fruit, huge noticeable tannins. The high-quality fruit stands up to the tannins. This is a wonderful time to be tasting this wine. Could the 1997 have been liked this a few years ago?

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
A light nose that is very fruity and flabby. Very fruity in the mouth, jammy, flabby, not enough acidity from the begnning. This wine had the least amount of tannins. This “fruit slut” of a wine got better with air. I found an interesting paraffin aroma developed with air.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
Again, very opaque. A very light nose of some dark red berries. There is much less fruit in this leaner wine. More prominant, grippy oak that gets in the way of the fruit. This wine is just OK and like the 2000, a step down from the 2001 and 2002.

The table

Lou brought a half bottle of 1978 Quady’s Zinfandel Vintage Port as a treat. He bought a number of half bottles almost 20 years ago. This was a great way to wrap up the tasting. I don’t think anyone would have guessed that this was 100% Zinfandel.

Lou discussing his 1978 Quady’s

1978 Quadys, Shennandoah School Road, Lot 2, Zinfandel Vintage Port
Lot 2 came from barrels that showed more character than Lot 1. This is a very light amber in the glass. It looks like a 20-30 tawny port. A very delicate, sweet nose of some brown sugar, almond, and some tobacco
In the mouth this nutty wine has a sugary component of apricots. There is some heat but still some acidity to keep this 30 year old 100% zinfandel port going. I would drink this now while it is still holding together.

Jenn, Lou, and Deniz