Archive | June, 2011

Brief Wine Notes – 2010 Alexana Riesling

26 Jun

The 2010 Alexana Riesling – Willamette valley is vinified in a dry style, with 0.53 Residual Sugar (RS).  Apparently, the typical human limit to sense RS is 0.50%, so this has just the tiniest hint of sweetness.  The pH on this wine is 3.1, which makes it quite bracing and an excellent food wine.

The nose speaks of honeysuckle, gardenia,wet stone, and white peach.  The palate is similar to liquid SweetTart, or your favorite sweet/sour candy.  As noted above, the acidity will grab you, and the finish is long.

I could see this wine pairing well with simply prepared seafood, a variety of Asian dishes, particularly Thai and Vietnamese, or making a great porch wine after a hard day.

Brief Wine Notes – 2000 Vilmart Grand Cellier Rubis Rose Champagne

25 Jun

2000 Grand Cellier Rubis Rose Champagne
(40% Chardonnay, 60% Pinot Noir, aged in new wood for at least 10 months)

Has sort of a strawberry shortcake aroma, with a bit of springtime flowers (iris, cherry blossom, rose).  Has a strawberry velvet-tinged palate, with a good dose of tannins from the wood aging to indicate that this is a wine of substance.  A decent dose of acid further indicates that this wine might last a while.

Brief Wine Notes – 2001 Spottswoode Cabernet

25 Jun

While I may be considered to be guilty of infanticide, I had reason to open this bottle this early, and am quite happy that I did so.  This wine may indeed improve with age, but there is something to be said for enjoying things while you can.

The color of the wine hides its age, showing more purple than garnet.  The aromas are of anise, black currant, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, and spice box.

94% Cabernet Sauvignon with 6% Cabernet Franc-it is amazing how large a role the Franc portrays given the makeup of the wine.  This is a wine of finesse and elegance, although there is a sense of power to the wine as well.

The palate follows the nose.  Black cherry, violets, cassis, blackberry, dark chocolate, and a hint of herbal and floral character from the Franc.  I am intrigued by the different levels of this wine, showing nuance and hints of things to come.

Brief Wine Notes – 2009 Diatom “Huber” Chardonnay

24 Jun

The Huber Vineyard Chardonnay from Diatom is vinified from the old Wente clone, and was planted almost 25 years ago.  I have previously reviewed wines from Diatom on other forums and expressed my concern regarding the ability of this wine to be interpreted as “Burgundian” while boasting an alcohol level labeled as 15.9%.

There is no doubt in my mind, after sharing a bottle of this wine with my tasting group, and the remainder with my wife, that the alcohol level shown on the label is accurate, but equally undetectable (until it is too late).

Aromas of white flowers, citrus blossoms, lime zest, stones fruits (nectarine, white peach), wet slate, and honey.  Palate follows through with citrus, honey, stone fruit, and wet stone (as if you did not see this coming).  In addition to the prodigious alcohol level, this wine boast a medium ++ acid level and a long finish.

A huge wine certainly by Burgundian standards, and even by Californian standards.  Pair this wine with rich seafood dishes, poultry with cream sauces, or drink on its own for simply pleasurable reasons (and at your own risk).

Oregon Pinot Noir – Send In The Clones – A Simple Primer

24 Jun

Surely there are differences based on growing region, from the microclimate, to soil type, elevation, exposure, etc., but particularly the clonal selection within the vineyard plays a huge role in how the terroir is translated or expressed into what we perceive in the glass.

Many of the early Oregon vineyards were planted to the Pommard clone, the Wadenswil clone, and or the Coury clone of Pinot Noir.  The Pommard clone (4A, 5) was first introduced to North America in the 1940’s, from cuttings taken from Chateau de Pommard, the longest continuous vineyard in the Cote d’Or region of Burgundy.  The wines produced from these vines are valued for their deep pigmentation, concentrated fruit, marked spice, and velvety texture.  This clone lends itself both to be a blending component, or a stand-alone wine.

The Wadensvil clone (1A and 2A) was imported into the U.S. in the 1950’s from Wadensvil, Switzerland, and current estimates are that approximately 30% of the Pinot Noir vines in Oregon are the Wadensvil clone.  This vine performs well on sedimentary soils such as the Willakenzie, Laurelwood, and Carlton soils typical in the Ribbon Ridge and Chehalem Mountain AVAs, as well as in the areas north of the towns of Carlton and Yamhill.  The vines do tend toward over production, but with proper management and dropping of green clusters, will yield wines marked by bright red cherry fruit character, spice box, and floral aromas.  This clone excels as a component in blends, adding high end accents.

The Coury clone (4) is alleged to be a “suitcase” clone, supposedly smuggled into the states from Germany in the 1960’s by the late Charles Coury, who planted one of the first Pinot Noir vineyards in the Willamette Valley in the mid 1960s.  The black tea and spicy components that characterize this clone lend themselves to blends with the Wadensvil clone.

A large number of the Pinot Noir vineyards throughout Oregon and the United States are planted to Dijon clones.  According to many sources, Domaine Ponsot in Morey-St-Denis served as the original budwood source for these clones.  Introduced in North American in the late 1980’s, these clones generally tend toward early ripening, with fruit forward qualities and a general tendency to benefit from being blended in some combination rather than as monoclonal wines.

Below is a list of the Dijon clones, borrowed (with permission) from Alexana winery in the Dundee Hills of Oregon…

113 – typically seen as an aromatic component with very high-toned elements in the nose.  When properly managed, the wine can possess nice weight and body as well.  In comparison to clones 114 & 115, 113 is the highest yielding, with the largest clusters.

114 – sometimes overlooked despite the fact that it is very dark, soft, and rich, making it a great cohesive element to the final wine.  In comparison to clones 113 & 115, clone 114 is the lowest yielding, with the smallest clusters.

115 – reputedly favored in Burgundy for its production consistency.  The most
widely planted Dijon clone in North America due to its good perfume, rich texture, full flavors and notable red fruit characters.  Clone 115 works very well on its own.

La Tache (828) – delivers low yields with small berries marked by dense pigmentation. Currently experiencing a significant surge in planting similar to clone 115.  Reputed to produce very dark, rich wines.  Potentially appropriate to be produced on its own.

667 – offers inherent firmness, excellent aromatic complexity, and marked impressions of blackberry and plum.  Tannins are strong and often angular, contributing great cellaring potential.

777 – conveys up front black fruit flavors in a fairly tannic framework, adding age-worthy qualities in blending.  Below average production results in high quality fruit.

As the coverage of Oregon Pinot Noir on this blog continues, I hope to explore a series of wines and will seek to discern differences and similarities within the wines stemming from particular clonal selections, as well as AVA, winemaking styles, and terroir.

Brief Wine Notes – 2009 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir

13 Jun

The 09 Evesham Wood – Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir.

Popped and poured to accompany Cascade Natural Oregon burgers and truffle fries.  Beautiful nose of red fruit, baking spice, earth, and wild mushrooms.  Feminine in style, with red cherry, wild strawberry, cinnamon, tobacco, and almost a minty greenness.  Bright acidity, fine tannic structure, and beautiful balance.

Brief Wine Notes 2005 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir

7 Jun

Popped and poured to accompany spice-rubbed pouisson.   Huge nose of black fruit, french vanilla, milk chocolate, and cinnamon.  Follows through on the palate with black cherry, blackberry, cinnamon, and cassis.  The wine is huge and mouthfilling and balanced, with plenty of tannic oak grip and a decent dose of acid that leaves your mouth watering.

I would typically say that this was not my style of Pinot Noir, as I prefer what I characterize as a “feminine” style of pinot, light, delicate, with layers of nuance and finesse.  This wine is more of a Pinot Noir for Cab lovers.  However, with the complex flavors of the spice-rubbed pouisson, this wine was a great match.

Thoughts on the State of Wine Social Media Events

6 Jun

#Chardonnay Day was on Thursday, May 26.  Although I had not planned to officially participate (I was just going to pop open a bottle at home), my buddy Keith contacted me Tuesday evening asking if I was doing anything, noting that he was thinking of organizing a local gathering.

Only a few of our local group could attend, so Keith and I settled in and compared the array of bottles that we had selected for the evening’s festivities, set the order of appearance, and started to taste and post to Twitter while we waited for our friend Russell to arrive.

The first thing that Keith and I noted were the sea of tweeters who had no other goal than to tell everyone that they wanted nothing to do with the event or the varietal.  While this most recent event dealt with Chardonnay, we also saw this backlash with the social events for Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Grenache, etc.

No matter what the post or tasting note that was shared, several tweeters consistently brought up other varietals or stated that they could not wait for the event to be over so that they could drink something else.  I saw several that really wanted to discuss Riesling, several who wanted to highlight Malbec, and the like.

The other beast that reared its ugly head was the “chronic retweeter.”  These people seem to live for nothing else than to repeat the thoughts of others.  No original thought, no addition to the fabric of the conversation.  Their goal would appear to be to rank near the top of the statistics of those who sponsor or organize these events.  Ultimately, for those of us to follow these events on sites like Twitterfall, it ends up looking like double vision, with each post appearing at least twice.

I don’t know if there are any real solutions to these issues, as Twitter and the most of the “social media” are nothing if they are not about free and open discussion of thoughts and ideas.   Perhaps these folks will tire of dissent and the contrarian approach, and choose to either abstain from the event or join the discuss with insight and thoughtful posts.

Brief Wine Notes – “Black Velvet” 1996 Dominus

4 Jun

Black Velvet, the song from 1988 by by Alannah Myles immediately came to mind when I tried this wine.  While the 1991 Dominus may well be one of my all-time favorite wines, this 1996 gave those memories a run for the money.  The wine has a heady aroma of red and black cherry, leather, tobacco, and freshly turned earth.  The palate is pure creme de cassis, and the depth of flavor and mouthfeel is what really sets this wine apart.  The wine is deep and rich, with fine tannins, medium+ acid, and beautiful balance

Brief Wine Notes – 2004 Chateau Haut Brion

4 Jun

This wine is a bit of a departure for me when it comes to Haut Brion in that it is much younger than any of the wines that I have tried from this chateau.  Most of the wines I have tried have been at least 10 to 15 years older or older, so having a Haut Brion with fruit was a bit of a novelty.  This wine had a lovely nose of violets, red fruit, and earth.  The palate shows black currant, black cherry, tobacco, and leather.  The tannins are relatively finely structured, and the wine has a decent dose of acid, and is seamlessly balanced.