Anthony, Joe, and I (the smallest group to date for an organized, themed wine tasting) converged on my house for an afternoon of sampling wines, dinner, and post-dinner relaxation around a fire pit against the backdrop of classic 80's/90's dance favorites.
This collaboration of wine and drink consisted of the following menu items:
Anthony: Various imported block cheeses (Swiss, Gouda, etc.)
Joe: Chocolate Cappucino cake
Jon-Paul: Marinated London Broil and Tri-Color Torellini Alfredo
Before eating dinner, of course, was the sampling of 6 wines from France--3 whites and 3 reds from various regions (one of which was a curve ball, not quite from France). Below are the results of worst to first in scoring (using our standard 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest):
1. Domaine des Grecaux Hermera Coteau du Languedoc 2002 (Red Languedoc, 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache), 13.5% ABV. This wine had a pronounced odor of tobacco, leather, and over-ripened (possibly even rotten) berries. The slight brown color to it concerned Anthony and Joe that oxidation had reared it's ugly head. The taste was also that of tobacco leaf, high in tanins, and not much in the way of good flavor. It was a turnoff to everyone, and at $19, or any price for that matter, is a major pass--Average Score: 2.166
2. Chateau D'Auvenier 2006 Neuchatel (White from Switzerland, the "curveball"), 11.5% ABV. This effervescent wine had a nice color to it, but very little in the way of odor. Upon taste, slight pear and lime flavors were detected, and was high in acidity. Though the lower alcohol made the wine an interesting experiment, it was an overall pass for the whole group, particularly at the price level of $32--Average Score: 2.333
3. (This ranking was a MAJOR surprise to me) 2005 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, (White Alsace wine), 13.5% ABV. Having a nose of pineapple and grass, this medium bodied white had a nice color to it. Upon tasting, it bore the flavors of sour apple (Granny Smith, maybe?), accompanied with citrus and other sweet components to it. While I adored the 2004 vintage (see http://winelegends.blogspot.com/2008/06/wines-tasted-during-week-in-chicago.html), this one for me was only a solid performer, not an 'above and beyond' kinda effort. Anthony and Joe, however, were not impressed with it. For the price point of $18, I'll stick with 2004. Average Score: 2.66
4. Daniel Rion Vosne Romanee Les Beaux Monts, 2001 (Red Burgundy), 13% ABV. This very light, interesting wine had an unusual odor profile, combining tobacco, berry juice, and cherry-flavored Nyquil. It's slight rust coloring to it resembled more classic reds, an appealing characteristic to me. Upon taste, it was a nice, light effort, with dark fruit and medium tanins everpresent. It was a solid effort to Joe and me, but not a favorite to Anthony. For it's steep price of $65, it will likely not be purchased by any of us, despite it's not-so-bad ratings. Average Score: 3.0
5. Chateau Haut Redon 2004 (Red Bordeaux blend, 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc), 12% ABV. This by far had the nicest nose of all the red wines sampled, with the recognizable vanilla and oak scents. The medium body and pure red coloring was also interesting. Upon taste, medium tanins with not much length were accompanied by a creamy vanilla flavor, similar to a Werther's Original candy, less most of the sweetness. Coupled with cheese, this wine elevated itself from "good" to "marvelous". Considering this blend was only $7.99, it could be argued this wine "brought the thunder" (to echo a common quote of Gary Vaynerchuk). Joe was the least impressed with this wine, but still felt it was good enough for a solid score. Average Score: 3.5
6. La Moussiere 2006 Sancerre Alphonse Mellot (White Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley), 13% ABV-this very light colored effort had a strong lemony scent (lemon cleaner to me). Upon tasting, it continued it's citrus theme, high in acidity, and very dry. It was very light and had GREAT length. Everyone detected a lemon peel flavor on their pallates, and were impressed with this Sauvignon Blanc. Despite being one of the highest priced efforts of the tasting, this one would be worth purchasing again at $32--Average Score: 4.0
This was the first tasting I can recall where such a large percentage of the wines were not up to snuff. While recognizing not every day can be a sunny day (so to speak), I can say that it was nice to finally get the opportunity to host a tasting, and look forward already for another chance to participate in (or host) another event.