The results from last nights Brown Bag Dinner
1st Place – Chappellet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2003 – Cellar Selection (55 pts)
2nd Place – Still Waters, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Barrel Select, Paso Robles, 2005 (45 pts)
3rd Place – Chappellet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006 (38 pts)
4th Place – Sextant, Kamal, Paso Robles, 2006 (less than 50% Cabernet) (38 pts)
5th Place – Ovid, Experiment No. M936, Napa Valley, 2006 (36 pts)
6th Place – Darioush, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2007 (34 pts)
7th Place – Regusci, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2007 (34 pts)
8th Place – Merryvale, Cabernet Sauvignon, Saint Helena Estate, Napa Valley, 2006 (34 pts)
9th Place – Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, 2004 (33 pts)
10th Place – Gallica, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2008 (29 pts)
11th Place – Robert Pecota, Kara’s Vineyard, Napa Valley, 2000 (27 pts)
12th Place – Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2009 (24 pts)
13th Place – Turnbull, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Grown, Napa Valley, 2008 (24 pts)
14th Place – Kirkland, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2008 (23 pts)
15th Place – Cousino-Macul, Antiguas Reserve, Maipo Valley, 2008 (22 pts)
An interesting showing from looking at all of the score sheets with the 24 critics showing a divide with only the Chappellet 2006 scoring big across the attendees. A total of 66 pts were possible.
Notable Publication Scores:
Chappellet, 2006 – WS 94, RP93
Darioush, 2007 – RP 93
Merryvale, Saint Helena Estate, 2006 – RP 88
Paul Hobbs, To Kalon, 2004 – RP 95+
Gallica, 2008 – RP 94+, WS 94
What fun it is to have a restaurant and get to really know a particular wine over a few weeks. The past two weeks I have spent a lot of time with Edna Valley newcomer Center of Effort, Pinot Noir, 2008 from winemakers Mike Sinor and Nathan Carlson.
I have known Mike Sinor for a little while as we having hosted a few dinners at Trelio for both his Sinor LaVallee label and daytime work at Ancient Peaks Winery. I have been a fan of his work since his breakout at Domain Alfred back in the early 2000’s. Obviously a gifted Pinot Noir craftsman, as well as an all around good guy. In addition having heard good of Nathan Carlson (but only recently meeting him), I went out on a limb and purchased all of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from this new project that my distributor would allow.
At first taste I knew we made a good decision with these wines. At its first showing here at Trelio during our bi-annual Massive Wine Tasting, Center of Effort performed, the Chardonnay moved a case or so and the Pinot was solid in its price range showing very well next to wines from Kosta Browne, B. Kosuge, Parr Selection, Samsara, Drew and Ketcham Estate. Second showing, I was just playing around at our Pinot Noir Brown Bag Dinner this week and decided to sneak it into the tasting. Sure enough the wine won the 20 person tasting with 43pts out of 60pts (that is pretty damn good for one of these dinners) and started a buying spree that has sold us out (other than the three bottles I hid).
What makes this wine so compelling? For the Non-Pinofile it carries a lot of fruit very elegantly. The core is mostly red and black cherry with tinges of darker berry mingled in, but it is not a typical Central Coast fruit bomb. A nice dark spice character, herbal tea leaf and sweet mushroom note back up the fruit and really keeps the nose in check. The oak is definitely noticeable and would be attractive to those that love wines that show sweet toasty styling. The mouth comes across slightly darker than the nose expressing a brambly blackberry character and a darker-more anise flavor in the spice. The texture is already weighty and plush for a 2008 with a very good chance that it will silken up over the next two years in bottle. Appealing structure is with a slight advantage to the tannin that will certainly resolve in a year or two only adding to the enjoyment of the wine between 2011 and 2013.
With a price point just shy of $40 a bottle, Center of Effort is a great wine that holds its own with the legendary Talley’s and early work of Domain Alfred.
Several years ago when I was a serious wine guy, an article in the Fresno Bee, Aging Gracefully, quoted me saying “The potential of the region is not even born yet..”, but on Saturday night I believe we gave birth…
Local Winery owners/winemakers Ray and Tammy Krause again walked into wine stadium (four or so months ago they took on Bordeaux over several vintages with their Fait Accompli). This time was to use all the wines in their upcoming release. Bravely they left the rest in my hands to find befitting competitors to taste blind against, but in a way that I would not be using higher price points than the release price… I also wanted to throw in some twists.
First Flight: Riesling
1st Place Westbrook Wine Farm, Uber Rhenish, Kenwara Vineyard, Madera County, 2008 – 7 votes
2nd Place Pey Marin, Shell Mound, Marin County, 2007 – 5 votes
3rd Place Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace, 2007 – 1 vote
Amazingly enough in this flight, many of the judges were commenting on the aromatics of the Pey Marin over the other two wines, but it seemed the structure and fruit of the Westbrook Uber Rhenish was what won over enough votes to take it.
Second Flight: Viognier Blends
1st place Westbrook, Viognier-Valdiguie Blend, Simpson Vineyard, Madera County, 2005 – 7 votes
2nd place E. Guigal, Cote-du-Rhone Blanc, Rhone Valley, 2007 – 4 votes
3rd place Westbrook, Viognier-Valdiguie Blend, Simpson Vineyard, Madera County, 2008 – 4 votes
This was a little spin I wanted to put on this tasting… The truth of it, I knew the 2008 Westbrook VV would be a bit more like the E. Guigal, so I pulled a bottle of my 2005 Westbrook VV to prove a point that although these wines can have awkward points in their lives, Viognier can age well if properly structured. The 2005 won over the judges with its more developed and voluptuous nose and palate. Even though Ray and Tammy had not brought this bottling in they still took the win.
Third Flight: Cabernet Sauvignon
1st Place Westbrook, Cabernet Sauvignon, Peterson Valley Vineyard, Lodi, 2007 – 10 votes
2nd Place Ceago, Cabernet Sauvignon, Del Lago, Lake County, 2005 – 4 votes
3rd Place Cousino Macul, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, 2006 – 1 vote
In this flight I was trying to confuse the judges on what wine was Westbrook Wine Farm. Chosing the Ceago for its big tannin and dark fruit and slightly vegetative nose, I hopped the dark density of the wine would have the judges thinking it was the Westbrook. With the older world style of the Cousino Macul that it would come off like a young Westbrook wine, but alas, neither were convincing enough especially since the Cousino had a bit of a mercaptan like taint.
Fourth Flight: Bordeaux Blends
1st place Peter Michaels, Les Pavot, Knights Valley, 2006 – 7 votes
2nd place Westbrook, Fait Accompli, Estate, Madera County, 2007 – 6 votes
3rd place Cain Cuvee, Napa Valley, NV6 – 1 vote
This one I tried to win. And did successfully, but cost a bit more (four times the bottle cost) to do so. This was a point was trying to prove… You can win any sensory competition if you put enough money and skill behind it. I think it was well-proven though that Westbrook’s Fait Accompli could be considered in the top wines of California (and especially after our Bordeaux experiment).
Fifth Flight: Petite Sirah
1st place Chronic Cellars, Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, 2006 – 7 votes
2nd place Westbrook Wine Farm, Petite Sirah, Simpson Vineyard, 2007 – 4 votes
3rd place Elyse, Petite Sirah, Napa Valley, 2006 – 4 votes
This flight was a bit more difficult, as quality Petite Sirah is just not hanging out every where. The Chronic took it with its broad fruit range, tightly packed dark berry fruit and a good amount of oak. The Westbrook was just suffering from being a barrel sample.
I can’t really remember, but I think last night (February 2nd) was the first time we have featured Sangiovese as a blind varietal. Sangiovese, the thin skinned grape varietal that is capable of extraordinary quality at the same time is the work horse of Italy’s red wine production being planted in 3/4 of the country’s 20 regions. Starting off the dinner we had a brief discussion on Sangiovese and its character whether it be the highly regarded and collectible Brunello, inconsistencies of Chianti, or the fruit forward soft New World wines. Dinner was served traditional family style in four-courses lended to a good evening.
The following is how things ended up when the score cards were tallied:
1st / #8 Flora Springs, Sangiovese, Napa Valley, 2007
2nd / #13 Seghesio, Sangiovese, Alexander Valley, 2007
3rd / #2 Showket, Napa Valley, 2003
4th / #6 Castello di Amarosa, Napa Valley, 2006
5th / #5 Rosso di Montalcino, Castello Banfi, Tuscany, 2006
6th / #10 Curran, Sangiovese, Santa Ynez Valley, 2005
7th / #11 Chianti Reserva, Il Valore, Tuscany, 2005
8th / #12 Chianti Classico, San Leonino, Tuscany, 2006
9th / #7 Belnero, Castello Banfi, 2005
10th/#9 Tuscan Moon, Sangiovese, California, 2008
11th/#3 Pietra Santa, Sangiovese, Cienega Valley, 2006
12th/#4 Chianti Classico, Fontodi, Tuscany, 2006
13th/#1 Chianti Classico, Castello di Bossi, Tuscany, 2000
Makes 10 lbs.
7 lbs Pork Shoulder
3 lbs Pork Belly
12 cloves Black Garlic
6tbls Grated Fresh Ginger or Galanga Root
3tbls Malden Sea Salt
1/2tbls fresh ground Schezuan Pepper Corns
1/4 cup Off Dry Riesling
Chop all pork into 1 inch cubes and refrigerate. Pulse in a food processor the black garlic, ginger, pepper corns, salt and Riesling. Mix well into the cubed pork and refrigerate for 3 hours. Process through a meat grinder and either form into patties or case into links.
For those in the know, Trelio’s Brown Bag Dinners are not only a great social dinner event, but also quite educational. The chance of experiencing 10 to 16 bottles of a single varietal while having a dinner created to complement their flavor is one of the best ways to experience wine. Even better is when your wine comes in first place and your trophy is a bottle of Kosta Browne, Rosella’s Vineyard, 2007 Pinot Noir and dinner for two-free.
So here are January 19th’s Pinot Noir rankings:
1. J. Thomas Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 2005
2. Keller Estate, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 2005
3. Sinor LaVallee, Anniversary Cuvee, Edna Valley, 2005
4. Martin Alfaro, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2007
5. Cambria, Julia’s Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 2007
6. Domaine Alfred, Chamisal Vineyard, Edna Valley, 2006
7. Castle Rock, Mendocino County, 2006
8. Jack Creek, Kruse Vineyard, Central Coast, 2006
9. Fiddle Head, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Seven-Twenty-Eight, Santa Rita Hills, 2005
10. Castle Rock, California Cuvee, 2008
11. Spell, Weir Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands, 2007 <–my favorite of the night
12. Siduri, Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 2006
13. La Crema, Sonoma Coast, 2007
14. Domaine Alfred, Califa, Edna Valley, 2004
15. Hendry, Hendry Vineyard, Napa Valley, 2007
16. Lane Tanner, Block 7, Santa Maria Valley, 2008
An absolutely tremendous wine. This is an example of what is to come from the 2007 vintage releases from Napa Valley.
This wine’s finese and styling is nearly flawless. The initial aromatics exhibit sweet tobacco, leather, vanilla latte and cocoa. Hints of blackberry and toasty sweet spice start to break through afterva few minutes in the glass. Not over extracted, yet it’s density and weight are powerful without being dead palate weight. For the ripeness and full bodied weight there is a suprising amount of acidity that keeps the wine from becoming cloying. The palate is filled with creamy dark berry, bitter chocolate and coffee.
A wine well worth it’s hefty price tag.
Everyonce in a while I teach a class about wine that I am the most interested in experiencing. There is a lot to be said about learning by experience. Most folks out there won’t open $400 worth of wine to teach three or four people paying $45 to learn… but we always manage to.
So the priceless experience last night was a very insightfull line-up and each of the wines performed perfectly.
– 2005 Lake County Cabernet @ $25 retail
– 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet @ $25 retail
– 2006 Santa Barbara County Cabernet @ $22 retail
These selections worked well both for showing how each of the vintages perform upon opening, how each of the region’s fruit characteristic is different, and how winemaker technique effects each wine.
From there we looked at a few other wines.
– 2000 Napa Valley Cabernet @ $50 retail
– 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet @ $50 retail
– 2006 “Cult” Napa Valley Cabernet @ $125 retail
The point of this flight is to not only show how Cabernet changes in the bottle with aging, but also how price can relate to style of winemaking in Cabernet… Any guess as to which wine I sold the most of?