Sunday, October 19, 2008

Results of the October 18 Wine Tasting

A cool and clear night with a steady flame in the firepit on Dawson's patio was the backdrop of the first winetasting in nearly two months for us. This first of it's kind 'pot luck' theme was simple to follow--bring two bottles of something you haven't had before, red or white, already masked in either a paper bag or foil for a double-blind approach to this event. With the autumn air rolling in, it certainly made sense that we'd likely be tasting more reds than whites. The final count was two whites and 6 reds.

The results of this tasting (from worst to first using the traditional 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest) are listed below:
1. 2004 Chateau Gardey Minervois (French blend, $7.99)--a lot of pepper was detected on the nose and pallate with this one. It also offered up a vanilla and oak scent, with some vegetal tones as well. Despite the length this wine presented to the group, it's awkward delivery and finish did not convince us of it's overall drinkability--Total Score 7.0, Average Score 1.75

2. 2003 Chateau Greysac Bordeaux (French blend, $18.00)--this wine offered the anticipated oaky and vanilla components on the nose, but upon tasting seems to have somehow been 'watered down', quickly killing any lasting efforts on the pallate--Total Score 9.5, Average Score 2.375

3. 2006 Frog's Leap Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (California Cab, $40.00)--the group was in agreement that a very tight nose gripped this wine. A sweet yet very dry impression was had upon tasting, with the group also catching strong tanins. Dark fruits were abundant, but not enough to slot this effort any higher than 6th place out of 8 wines, especially at this price point--Total Score 11.5, Average Score 2.875

4. 2003 Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (Italian Montepulciano, $12.00)--a candylike scent was sensed early on, with the expected oak, vanilla, and pepper components to the smell and taste. It had a nice length and reasonable smoothness. For the price a nice job! Total Score 12.0, Average Score 3.0

5. 2001 Hunt Cellars Syrah (Paso Robles, California Syrah, $27.50)--no recent tasting has been complete without some contribution from Paul Santinelli's arsenal of California faves. This reasonably sweet effort had a nicely balanced oak and vanilla nose and taste, with subtle pepper and seasonings in the mix. It was deemed serviceable and one to seek out again up the road. Total Score 12.5, Average Score 3.125

6. 2007 Cederberg Chenin Blanc (South Africa Chenin Blanc, $14.99)--the first of three to have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack was this white, which came across on the nose with a citris rind. It also had minerality and grassy hints to the smell. The taste was acidic and dry, having a minimal but detectable amount of lemon and/or lime in it's profile. Total Score 14.0, Average Score 3.5

7. 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Reisling (Columbia Valley, Washington Riesling, $9.00)--just edging the Cederberg out for 2nd place honors was this pear and melon scented effort from the Pacific Northwest. The citris and mineral tones to it's flavor composition were nicely organized, and when complimented with it's acidity and dryness, the group had no choice but to give this terrific selection a resounding 'thumbs up', except for Anthony, who preferred the Cederberg as the white of choice this evening. Total Score 14.5, Average Score 3.625

(Before unveiling the winner, it should be made clear that this was a major upset)

8. 2006 Alba Vineyard Old Mill Red (New Jersey Chambourcin, $17.00)--wow, the Garden State edging out Italy, France, South Africa, and the West Coast? This time, YES. The nose on this gem was very enticing, bearing lots of candylike tones, such as cinnamon and caramel. Vanilla and oak were detected both on the nose and pallate, and the medium tanins made this a VERY drinkable and enjoyable play. Upon tallying the scores, it was obvious this 8 wine contest had a clearcut winner--Total Score 16.5, Average Score 4.125

Once again another wine event has come and gone, so be sure to check on Wine Legends for updates on the next event!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winemaking 101: Part I

Okay folks, Friday was the first part of our winemaking experiment. Myself, Mike, Hany, and Mike's friend Pete, (DUMB AL, not showing up!) met at a “Littletasteofpurple” on Dorsa Ave in Livingston, N.J. and began the crushing. We crushed enough grapes to make 1 barrel and 1/2. When finished, we will have created two types of wine, Bordeaux blend and an Old vine Zinfandel. We all pitched in and getting the grapes into the crusher and watched how the machine amazingly removed most of the stems and fed the juice, skins and seeds into a huge vat. We sampled the mixture after straining it and I have to say it was the best grape juice I've ever tasted. Tasted much like a grape milkshake, minus the milk of course.

Once in the vat, sulfites and super food were added and we began to punch it down and mix it. Once thoroughly mixed we covered the vat with plastic and set it aside for a week. In this time, the super food will help the mixture produce the yeast needed for fermentation. We are going back in a week’s time to press the mixture and siphon it into the barrels. Below are some pics of the process. I can't speak for the others, but I had a great time and would highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Return to Wine Library

Hey folks. In a last minute decision, I dragged my son down to Wine Library in Springfield, N.J. to take advantage of some heavily advertised sales today that I've seen on Wine Library TV over the past several weeks. In particular, 2005 Bordeaux was an offering discussed (see that was available in vast quantities. So, I thought I'd take a look and see if I could find something at a decent price that I could pick up or even sample. Before starting my shopping, of course Max wanted to poke around and see the place. He found the huge aquarium on the 2nd Level not too far from the Wine Tasting tables. Well, call it good timing or call it whatever else you like, but right when we were there looking at the fish (and dodging the folks browsing all the sampling stations) an employee from the Wine Library came out stating that Gary Vaynerchuk would be doing a taping of Wine Library right where we were at the tasting table in a few minutes. As that was said, Mr. Mott appeared carrying his camera and tripod ("Mott", as Gary refers to him on Wine Library TV). Soon enough he and his guest(I think he said his name was 'Joe') came out and began talking to a few folks nearby as well as ready their set. I took an opportunity to introduce myself to "Mott", and he seemed appreciative for my acknowledging me being a regular viewer of the show. Afterward, Gary took a look over and saw Max staring at him (since he's seen him enough times on the computer while I watched shows) and said 'hello', to which Max quickly responded back with a hearty 'hi'. I waved to Gary figuring he had recognized me previously at Costco, but he went right into the start of his show--oh well.

After a few minutes Max had his fill of watching the taping of the show as well as watching the fish, so we had to take a walk and began our search for something to buy. We headed back downstairs and looked at the numerous opened cases of French wines available. I came across a small tasting station and began reading about a wine on sale for $14.98 ( The fellow at the station had me try a small shotglass sized cup of this wine (it had been decanting for a few hours). The nose was very fruity, mostly a dark berries type of aroma--a very nice start! The body was medium- heavy and fruit filled, high in tanins, and very complex. It also had earthy, almost vegetal, overtones to it. What I really enjoyed was the tremendous length across my entire pallete. Nice wine. So, with that experience, I thought a bit, and after thinking back to my experiences with previous medium to medium-heavy reds like this, they really mixed nicely with hard cheeses and cream-based pasta dishes (such as my Tri-Color Tortellini Alfredo). This compelled me to pick up not one, but two of them--I also visited the gourmet foods part of the store, and decided upon a wedge of California Monterrey Jack cheese (I did originally have my heart set on picking up a package of Cowgirl cheese-any variety, but for $28, I had to pass on that). I didn't get a chance to chat with Gary this time around, but I think Max got a kick out of being acknowledged by him!