Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wines tasted during week in Chicago Area

I had another opportunity to entertain my increasing interest in tasting new wines while travelling for work to Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Despite having training during the day and catching up on work at night, I did find a few brief periods during each day to do a couple of relaxing things--jog and dine with new wines to try.

As I did in my post highlighting wines I tried in Colorado Springs, I'd like to list the wines I tried in order of worst to first in preference (prices listed are per bottle)

1. 2007 Mirassou Pinot Noir-Central Coast, California ($7.99)--this effort had an extremely fruity odor, heavy body and very dark. It had the weight of prune juice, leaving a coating of what tasted like cranberry sauce and sweet red grapes in my mouth. The alcohol was not that bad, but the overly sweet, gritty, shellaq-like layer of film felt in my mouth left my palate (and me) scratching my head--a major pass. Rating: 1.5 (yeah, it was that bad).

2. 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Reisling, Columbia Valley, Washington ($8.79)--this wine was very stingy with it's odor, giving me only a slight hint of lemon soap. Though it had the traditional lighter coloring of reislings I've had in the past, it came across as unusually heavy. It was pretty high in alcohol, almost hot to the taste. It had long length, and after some light puckering I felt in my mouth in the end coupled with the high acidity, it suddenly resembled drinking a Corona right when the lime piece gets caught in the neck of the bottle. That said, I was expecting to taste wine and got beer. I've had better reislings. Rating: 2.5

3. 2005 Big Sky Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington ($17.95)--this light bodied wine had a terrific reddish brown, almost rusty color to it. However, the only odor emanating from it was rubbing alcohol--plain and simple. Suprisingly, the taste in the beginning was a very nice mix of berries and green vegetables (like lettuce or cucumbers). BUT, the fire began about 5 seconds into the experience, when it became extremely hot on the backend, almost resembling my experiences with doing shots. I couldn't even settle it down with some steak I had ordered. Maybe if this Merlot sits in prison for a few years and calms down, or possibly something as simple as decanting could help this wine out, but since we evaluate on actual taste, not potential taste, it pays the price in this review. Rating: 2.5

4. 2005 Castello Banfi Centine Toscana (Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese) ($11.98)--this was the only Italian wine sampled during the week. It had all the classic characteristics of an old-world Italian vino (despite its 'Super Tuscan' status). The nose was fresh fruit salad with a hint of vinegar. It's medium body and coloring reminded me of the numerous Sangiovese and Barberas I've had in the past few years. Hoping to taste something resembling my elusive 'Nobbio', I did catch much of the same low tannin and low fruit properties I've come to enjoy with Italian wines that have had some chance to mature, but this one nuked it when it blindsided me with a suprisingly hot finish. Though the hot ending impacted the score, somewhat, I can say I would probably try this again, perhaps after another year or so of aging or decanting. Rating: 3.0

5. 2004 Fire Station Red-Sonoma, California (Shiraz) ($11.98)--this was the first of three difficult rankings I needed to make, as this along with the next two screamed of terrific taste and balance. This particular effort bore a terrific nose, combining sour red grapes with berries of all sorts (raspberries were most predominent). The taste, while heavy bodied (a trait I'm not too big on), had a great balance of cranberries and grape drink, less most of the sugar. It was low on acidity and alcohol. The most intriguing characteristic is the consistency of the flavor for the entire duration during each sip. The length was particularly long, which suprised me. I suspect Anthony might not be too keen on this New World product, but even he might give it some props. I liked it, and would purchase. Rating: 4.0

6. 2005 California's Jewel Viognier, California ($7.98)--I found it laughable that I continue to gravitate to a number of 'very expensive' wines. This pale golden drink smelled of canned fruit cocktail with a slight odor of alcohol. The taste was unreal--it was the juice you find in a can of Pear Halves with the right amount of alcohol and acidity. Having no other taste I could detect, it reminded me of the Kim Crawford 2007 Sauvignon Blanc I had in Colorado for its concentrated taste (the sole flavor of grapefruit for that one). This wine "Brought the Thunder". Rating: 4.0

7. 2004 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France ($19.98)--Wow. Just wow. This treat had a beautiful floral and candied (almost like Life Savers) aroma. The taste resembled a flat, diet lemon/lime soda with hints of pepper. There is acidity, but not enough to offset the nicely balanced effort, and the alcohol is enough to be noticed but just enough to make the drive home from the club fun, not dangerous. I really liked it with Halibut, and am curious if another seafood dish (perhaps my current favorite, Swordfish) would nudge this up or down in points. For now, it settles in comfortably in the number 1 position amongst these other wines. Rating: 4.5.

Ironic how a 'French' wine settles in as the favorite for my week away, with just a few weeks until my Dinner and Wine Tasting on the 19th of July, featuring red and white wines from France. It's no coincidence, really:-)

Until next time!


Dawson said...

JP...Real good variety here. The Trimbach is a solid Alsace producer. Surprised at the Pinot, but at that price, maybe not so surprised.

Anthony F. LaVista said...

I can't believe the Pinot was heavy bodied and had the texture of Prune Juice. I've never come across that. Pinot are usually on the ligther side of the fully body scale. My guess is it was not 100% Pinot, despite what the labels said. In any case, we will know to stay away from this producer.

Jon-Paul said...

Thanks for the comments on the pool of contestants, Daws and Ant. I'll admit that while I did blast the Pinot in the ratings, I didn't have much to go on, as I really don't recall knowingly trying many other Pinot Noirs. I agree with you that since Pinot Noir is supposed to be lighter on the body scale, it must be a blend. In either case, perhaps I got a bad bottle or something, but man, it was far from the characteristics you've mentioned it should be. Articles I've checked(to double-check the reliability of my review) indicated a few folks noticed lots of plums, so my mentioning of prune properties wasn't too far off.