Saturday, May 8, 2021

Albariño Tasting

As you might have guessed, I went a little crazy planning tastings when the 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition results came out. Why? I can't say. It might have been the weight of the pandemic, or perhaps I needed a distraction from my job, but in the end, I lined up an unprecedented number of tastings. In this effort I tried to pick some varietals that I was less familiar with. To that avail, I added an Albariño tasting. Only a subset of my friends are interested in a white tasting, but thankfully enough. Truth be told, I would do it without interest, but wine is always better with friends.

To find my wines, I started with the Albariño: 2021 Awards. I could not find the Double Gold winning, Idaho Albariño from Williamson Orchards and Vineyards. I contacted them because the wine was not listed on their web site. They told me they had limited sales to club members after winning the award. Apparently, it was flying off the shelves. The idea of trying an Idaho wine intrigued me, but not enough to join another wine club. Fortunately, I was able to find 3 choices I was happy with.

The wines were in my hands and I planned to distribute them with the birthday Sangiovese wines. Coincidentally I received an email from Wine Enthusiast titled "Fall in Love with Albariño from Rías Baixas." I took this as a sign that I should add an Albariño from the region to the tasting, so I ordered one. I then waited two weeks for them to ship it to me. So much for distributing them at the same time. The good news was we had a representative from the home of Albariño!

We met on a Saturday, a little earlier than usual given a Michael Franti virtual concert we planned to attend. We had a great time tasting with everyone.


Results





B - 2019 Berryessa Gap, Yolo County, came in first place with an average of 4.01. It cost $23 from the winery. It won Gold in 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

A - 2019 Pierce, San Antonio Valley, came in second place with an average of 3.88. It cost $25 from the winery. It won Best of Class in 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

D - 2019 Harney Lane, Lodi, came in third place with an average of 3.43. It cost $20 from the winery. It won Double Gold in 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

C - 2019 Paco & Lolo, Rias Baixas, came in last place with an average of 3.16. It cost $21.

Everyone agreed all the wine was very enjoyable and glad to have given it a try.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

More #@%!$ing Merlot

 


ThankfullyTed and Shannon have been enthusiastic participants in my recent drive to taste every wine given any award in the recent 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition. We, contrary to Miles, are very willing to drink more #@%!$ing Merlot.

We found the weekend open, when the Albariño tasting was pushed off two weeks. We had tried to do the tasting the weekend before, but my inability to sleep caused us to cancel; I blame my job. The weather didn't look good for an outdoor, socially distanced tasting, so we decided to do it remotely. I'm not fully vaccinated yet and am hesitant to move things inside.

Some back and forth with Jose after I had informed him of Malbec Day had me thinking it was Sauvignon Blanc Day and regretting that my Sauvignon Blanc tasting was incomplete. More googling indicated that May 7th was the day this year, which may prod me to do something. As if I need prodding.

Ted and Shannon brought over two Merlots to add to the 3 medal winners I had picked up. We bagged, randomized, and sent them home with 5 half bottles. An hour later we met on zoom to taste. We had a great time tasting with them both.

Results




A - 2011 Hartwell, Estate, came in first place with an average of 4.38. Ted and Shannon brought this.

C - 2018 Trujillo, Napa Valley, came in second place with an average of 4.00. It cost $65 from the winery. It won Double Gold in 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

B - 2017 Wild Diamond, Lake County, came in third place with an average of 3.50. It cost $42 from the winery. It won Best of Class in 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition

D - 2013 Chateau St Jean, Sonoma County, Reserve, came in fourth place with an average of 3.13. Ted and Shannon brought this.

E - 2018 Bargetto, Regan Vineyard, Reserve, Santa Cruz Mountains came in last place with an average of 3.13. It cost $40 from the winery. It also won Double Gold in 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition

The winner was obvious from the start. The only question: The order of the other 4. All of the wines were enjoyable. If I can give the ones I brought more time, meaning not drink them for 5 plus years, perhaps we'll try them again.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Stag's Leap Cabs

When we tasted Kuleto Cabs with Paul and Jennifer, Jennifer generously offered to put together a tasting of her favorite, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Jennifer found four different Stag's Leap cabs all from the same year, 2009. We met the next Friday to taste them. We let the wines breath for two hours before we started. Ten minutes before it began, we cooled the wines to the ideal serving temperature, 60-65, putting them in the fridge, and measuring with a surface temperature thermometer.

Jennifer kicked off the tasting singing Tiny Bubbles while playing ukulele, Don Ho style. It was wonderful! Jennifer has used the pandemic to learn new skills, unlike most of us.


We had a great time tasting these amazing wines with Paul and Jennifer.

Results



C - 2009 Chase Creek, Stag's Leap, Estate, Napa Valley came in first place with an average of 4.18.

B - 2009 FAY, Stag's Leap, Estate, Napa Valley came in second place with an average of 4.29.

C - 2009 S.L.V, Stag's Leap, Estate, Napa Valley came in third place with an average of 4.14.

C - 2009 Cask 23, Stag's Leap, Estate, Napa Valley came in last place with an average of 4.03.

All the wines were incredibly smooth. It's amazing what age will do for a wine. Although the wines were all earthy, a taste that typically throws me off, I thought it was well integrated and worked really well.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Intimate Remote Kuleto Cabs Tasting

Years ago we attended Taste of the Town in San Francisco with Bob and Carolyn. Out of the literally hundreds of wines to try there, Sue found a favorite in Kuleto's Cabernet Sauvignon, India Ink. Bob agreed she had found a good one. They both went back for a couple of retastes. Years later we visited their beautiful winery. We learned they had renamed India Ink to El Coyote. Given Sue's love of the wine, I would occasionally purchase some for her as gifts. This last time I went to acquire some, I thought it would be fun to put Sue to the test, blind taste all of the Kuleto Cabs I could find in the same vintage, seeing if she truly knew what her favorite was. Worse case scenario: She would find one she more preferred. You may have noticed, I like to think of ways to do more blind tastings.

I picked up all these 2016s

  • El Coyote, Napa Valley
  • Lone Acre, Napa Valley
  • The Point, Napa Valley
  • Villa Vista, Napa Valley

On a whim I pinged Paul to see if they were interested in doing it over the weekend. We had wanted to involve them in our Valentine's Day tasting, but the timing didn't work for them. Knowing how much Jennifer loves Cabs, I hoped we could find a time this tasting would work for both of us. Paul confirmed it would work.


Sue thought my zoom wine tasting attire, complete with my lucky Andrew Neeme sweatpants shorts, was funny. She said her only concession for remote tastings was that sometimes she wore slippers, instead of boots.


We're all on our way to being fully vaccinated, but we're not there yet. It was to be another remote tasting. We split the bottles and Paul picked them up. I failed to properly open A and shoved the cork into the bottle with spurts of wine all over the place. We're talking wine on the ceiling! We worked around this and I switched to the AH-so wine opener for the rest of the bottles. The corks were fine, but sometimes the bag makes it difficult to get our usual opener attached properly.


We had a great time tasting with Paul and Jennifer.

Results




D - 2016 Kuleto, El Coyote, Napa Valley, came in first place with an average of 4.18. It cost $100 from the winery.

C - 2016 Kuleto, The Point, Napa Valley, came in second place with an average of 4.06. It cost $100 from the winery.

A - 2016 Kuleto, Lone Acre, Napa Valley, came in third place with an average of 3.88. It cost $100 from the winery.

B - 2016 Kuleto, Villa Vista, Napa Valley, came in last place with an average of 3.55. It cost $100 from the winery.

The wine was all very good, lowest average 3.55, and Sue may have found a new favorite.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Birthday Sangiovese

As I've said, we've watched al lot of WINEKING. Peter Koff's love of Sangiovese inspired me to plan a Sangiovese tasting. I figured if I could use his company, Great Wine 2 U, even better. A lot of the choices were unavailable, but I found my way to a selection if 4.

I was concerned about the age of two of them. I contacted the company with this concern. Peter responded, saying he had tried one of them recently and it was "lovely." He said he hadn't tried the other recently, but would. He responded later that he was trying the other and it was "delicious!"

Despite the assurances, I was still concerned. A couple of days before the tasting, the latest WINEKING tasted some Sangiovese. I decided to add one last minute, if I could get it to everyone involved.


The front tree always looks beautiful my birthday weekend.

It was yet another celebration via remote tasting, but there's light at the end of the tunnel, and I look forward to in person, vaccinated gatherings.

In an effort to reduce the cost of the tasting, 4 of us split bottles the day of the tasting. I was worried about some of the corks being problems, since they were over ten years old. I used an AH-so wine opener and didn't have any problems.

We used these great half bottles I found on Amazon, inspired by Jose's suggestions.

When Jose picked up his bottles, he dropped off a box of Alfajores Lili had made for me for my birthday. What a wonderfully delicious surprise!

We all joined up at 6 to taste and enjoy each other's company.


Results




E - 2017 Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, came in first place with an average of 3.59. It cost $30.50 from TotalWine.

C - 2013 La Fornace Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOC, came in second place with an average of 2.66. It cost $76 from Great Wine 2 U.

A - 2003 Cupano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, came in third place with an average of 2.50. It cost $92 from Great Wine 2 U.

B - 2012 Stellekaya Hercules Stellenbosch South Africa, came in fourth place with an average of 2.20. It cost $27.50 from Great Wine 2 U.

D - 2005 Lombardo Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Italy, came in last place with an average of 1.45. It cost $70 from Great Wine 2 U.

Overall I did not enjoy the wine. I was surprised at how much taste A had, given its age. In the end, everyone reminded me that it's more about the social interactions, which was close to a 5. Many expressed an interest adventuring out into different varietals. Overall it was a great time and I discovered that Alfajores pair wonderfully with a number of the Sangiovese we tasted!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Intimate Remote Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Tasting

As I mentioned before, we've watched a lot of WINEKING lately. One of the episodes involved a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. I had never heard of this. Given my recent love of whites, I set about gathering a tasting. I could only find 4 of them, 2 from TotalWine and 2 from K&L. K&L had six or so for pre-arrival, but I wasn't willing to wait. Overall, it was slim pickings.

Ted and Shannon were eager to try the varietal, unsure they had ever tried it.

We let the wine breath and warm up for 30 minutes before we joined Ted and Shannon on the zoom. The ideal temperature for tasting these wines is 64-65 degrees. They were a little cold when we started. We had a great time tasting them.

I don't usually get much on the nose of the wines, but for the third wine I was thrilled to get a strong note of warm bread.

Results




A - 2019 Domaine de Marcoux, came in first place with an average of 3.63. It cost $60 from K&L.

B - 2018 Clos St Michel, came in second place with an average of 3.44. It cost $45 from TotalWine.

C - 2019 Domaine de Beaurenard, came in third place with an average of 3.25. It cost $60 from K&L.

D - 2018 Domaine Presidente, came in last place with an average of 3.00. It cost $36 from TotalWine.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is interesting. All the wines were well made, but I'm not certain I like the flavor profile. More research may be required.





Saturday, March 13, 2021

Intimate Remote Sangiovese Tasting

The results of the 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition inspired me to pick up 5 different tastings. If you snooze, the wine is unavailable. Even after springing into action the day the results were published, I found an Idaho Albarino unavailable to non club members after its Double Gold win. I was also disappointed to find that Texas Heritage Vineyard was unable to ship their Best of Class Barbera my way. Sue was somewhat relieved. Needless to say, I would have added a Barbera tasting, had they been available.

We've been watching a lot of WINEKING. Peter Koff's love of less familiar varietals has inspired me to expand my blind tasting. Sangiovese was the perfect place to start. Fortunately our good friends Ted and Shannon are always willing to try, indulging my madness.

The cherry blossom tree out front always looks beautiful when Spring is in the air, and my birthday near.


We let the wines breath for an hour before we joined the zoom session. We had a great time tasting with Ted and Shannon.

Results



Results

A - 2016 Procedo, Red Willow Vineyard, Columbia Valley, came in first place with an average of 3.83. It won Double Gold at the 2021 SF Wine Competition. It cost $76 from the winery.

C - 2017 Las Positas, Estate, Livermore Valley, came in second place with an average of 3.58. It won Double Gold at the 2021 SF Wine Competition. It cost $48 from the winery.

D - 2017 Deer Hill Vineyards, Tiffany Hills Vineyards, Lamorinda, came in third place with an average of 2.96. It won Best of Class at the 2021 SF Wine Competition. It cost $55 from the winery.

B - 2016 Idle Cellars, Speedy Creek Vineyard, Knights Valley, came in last place with an average of 2.81. It won Gold at the 2021 SF Wine Competition. It cost $60 from the winery.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Intimate Valentine's Day Remote Tasting

Silverado sent me an email at the right time, offering a Valentine's Day Tasting, a bottle of their 2016 Geo and some truffles. It sounded fun to me. I added all of their 2016 Cab offerings and decided to do a blind tasting.

February a number of our friends participate in a dry month, promoted by a friend. We mostly refer to it as Teduary. This limited our participants. I pinged Paul, knowing Jennifer loved cabs, but they were unable to attend. I promised Paul we would do something in the future. I knew Jose had a new love of cabs, and had expressed a fondness for Silverado, which is why I was on their email list. He joined us.

We split the bottles, and let them breath an hour before we zoomed. We had a great time tasting with Jose.


Results




A -2016 - See Selection, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, came in first place with an average of 4.50. It cost $90 from the winery.

D -2016 - SOLO, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, came in second place with an average of 4.03. It cost $125 from the winery.

C -2016 - Oakville Station, Napa Valley, came in third place with an average of 3.73. It cost $90 from the winery.

B -2016 - GEO, Coombsville, Napa Valley, came in last place with an average of 3.70. It cost $75 from the winery.

Friday, January 15, 2021

#@%!$ing Merlot

 I've been wanting to try the canonical Merlot: Duckhorn Three Palms. Articles like The Napa Legends Making Iconic Wines You Can Actually Buy and Duckhorn Vineyards And The Unusual Triumph Of Merlot In Napa Valley further convinced me. It also showed up in 15th place as the only Merlot on the 2020 Wine Spectator Top 100 List.

I reviewed a lot of "Best Merlots" lists and found my other two bottles:


We met on a Friday night over zoom. We raucously tasted the wines. Remote wine tastings can be challenging with so many people. Michel introduced us to his new friend, Linda. She was brave to join us. It was nice to see a new face. She fit right in.


Results





B - 2017 Duckhorn, Three Palms Vineyard, Napa Valley came in first place with an average of 3.62. It costs $100 from K&L, $110 directly from the winery.

C - 2017 Sequoia Grove, Napa Valley came in second place with an average of 3.60, a virtual tie. It costs $50 directly from the winery.

A - 2018 Trefethen, Oak Knoll District  came in last place with an average of 3.06. It costs $50 directly from the winery.

All the wine was good and will taste even better in a few years.